Kayak and sizing question

Can anyone tell me or provide a link to a resource that talks about kayak sizing?

I've seen some references to people's height and weight in relation to their boats.

I'm guessing there are a million variables - as there are with most things -- but I also figure there must be some common consenus.

Reason I ask is becuase I'm thinking about getting a boat but I live in a condo and really can't store anything longer than 12 ft.

I'm about 5'9'' and 160 and looking at a boat like the WS Tsunami 120.



(please don't bother to jump all over me -- as I've seen in other posts -- to just go to a shop and try some boats and talk to people etc. I will, of course, be doing that soon. Meanwhile, I'm trying to put together as much info as I can.)

Other options
This does not answer your question, but there are other ways to deal with “no room to store it” for longer kayaks.

You could buy or build a folding kayak.

You could buy a sectional kayak.

In some places (admittedly few) you can store kayaks by the water for a reasonable fee.

You could even buy an inflatable kayak, though I personally would not do this.

Just something to think about.


didn’t know there were folding or sectional kayaks. good to know.

yea, I ruled out inflateable already.


kayak sizing for the most part is based upon weight. Almost all boats have adjustments for leg length and it really depends on your weight. If you are to heavy then you will sit to low in the water if to light you will sit to high.

The best place to look would be on the manufactures web sites and just look under specs for suggested weights. If you fit in the suggested range than it is not a problem. Some sea kayaks have hi, regular and lo volume models to fit a variety of people but that does not sound like something you are looking for.


Search “Kayaks” on the internet
When I was first interested in Kayaks, I just put the word “Kayak” in the search engine, and searched away. I found listings of many different companies that made kayaks. This is also how I found out about Paddling.net.

I just went to the web pages I found, and looked at the weight capacities of the kayaks. That gave me a start. After I found some that would handle my weight, I researched them deeper asking more questions. P-Net has a wealth of information in the review sections too. If you are interested in a couple kayaks, look them up in P-Net to see what others have said about them.

Good Luck in your search.

It’s all bs
really, it is. a so-called weight cap that most manufacturers list, is, first of all probably as in-accurate as the cockpit measurments they list,and second of all depends hugely on body type of the paddler.take three 5’10 200 lb people for example. One would be a body builder type, lots of upper body mass thus resulting in higher center of gravity.Then take a couch potato of same weight/height, with a lower center of gravity due to a gut instead of shoulder-arm mass.

Then take a woman with a big butt/hips/thighs and she’d have an even lower center of gravity and a totaly different ‘fit’ than the 2 previous examples. Then someone will have a better natural sense of balance and someone will be a clutz,regardless of body-type given center of gravity.

Certain amount of weight cap goes to gear, certain amount to paddler of ‘average’ build. just because theoretically my cape horn 170 can supposedly handle 425 lbs load, don’t mean it’ll be sea worthy with a 400 lb sumo wrestler with a 25 lb lunchbox. Actually i don’t think it would be a good idea to load it up past 300-350 tops. Some companies lie more than others when they list specs. Wilderness Systems lie a lot for example, so does Azul. P&H seems more or less true to the advertised specs.

Tsunami 120 should be a good day use and light overnight recreational and coastal poke around boat. just don’t buy the ‘don’t have to be long and skinny to be fast’ bs from the advertising,in short it will be slow. the 145 is noticably slower than 16-17 footers. And stay away from duralite because, it trully is total shit.

Not Exactly

– Last Updated: Mar-04-06 8:36 AM EST –

The original question was about both dimensions, weight as well as height. And I haven't paddled a lot of the boats that would fit into that shorter length needed, so stayed out. But it is not BS that those combinations taken together can make a diff in what boat will be the best for a given paddler and purpose. Anywhere under about 5'9" and 180 pounds, you start finding that out fairly quickly.

I am 5'4", a pretty typical height for a female, and so of course my thighs and legs are correspondingly shorter than a 6' tall guy's are. As a result, in a standard sized cockpit with a deck that is considered to be relatively low for a guy, for example an Impex designed for an "average sized to small paddler", or a standard Explorer, or all of the Necky Chatham series boats, my thighs never actually hit the thigh brace. What has contact is mostly my knees. As a result, my ability to easily control the boat in conditions is seriously compromised compared to someone who is taller and has contact into the braces well up into their thighs. Rolling a loaded boat, sculling, coming up from an extreme high brace - all of that is more difficult when you don't have a lot of contact in the thigh braces. If that's not what you need to do in a boat, no matter. But if it is, you really have to spend some time finding the right boat. (And by the way, knees into braces for a long time hurts my bony middle-aged versions.)

The solution for me has been an Explorer LV, with a lowered deck and an extra small cockpit, and a Vela. Both are decidedly smaller persons' boats. The smaller cockpit and lowered deck in the LV give me a tight enough fit that I can fully relax while paddling because if things do start to happen, I don't need to in some way tighten up my leg position to handle it. The thigh braces are already lying right over my thighs.

This was not as transparent in my CD Squall, another smaller person's boat but it had a very high front deck compared to newer boats. So if I got into conditions I usually had to tighten up a bit more than usual, which was doable but tended to leave me a lot more tired and tense than in the LV. In fact making the Rumour has been CD's response to the portion of the market that includes my size and many women, which is pretty neat of them.

That all said, if you are heavy in the posterior or midriff and have shorter legs, it can get to be a compromise between a cockpit sized so that you could re-enter on the water and one that'll put those thigh braces in the right place.

As to weight - I consider it fairly non-critical myself, and haven't deemed it a tie-breaker in choosing a boat. But I am under the design paddler weight for the hull in my LV, and as a result when it is out on a day trip I frequently have less of a waterline and a higher degree of liveliness than a typical guy would get in the same boat. That extra action can translate into wanting to trim the boat a bit with my gear when things get windy, since the Explorer already has a loose bow. It's not anything that would keep me away from a boat, but being above the intended waterline can affect a boat's behavior.

South Florida Demo opportunities
The people who urge demos are right, and much easier to do here in S FL than many other places.

Some options for you:

Blue Moon Outdoor Center at Oleta River State Park. http://www.bluemoonmiami.com/

Atlantic Coast Kayaks in Pompano:


A bit farther North in West Palm is Adventure Times Kayaks. The are having “Kayak Expo 2006” March 10-12 where you can try many kayaks: http://www.kayakpeanutisland.com/

Broward Paddlefest is being held at West Lake Park in Hollywood on April 1st. Smaller event generally (who know what will be there) but would definitely provide demo opportunities from dealers and fellow paddlers:


If you want a really well stocked paddle shop with larger staff you need to go a little farther. Be sure to check out Florida Bay Outfitters in Key Largo (MM 104.5). Great shop and people.


Another excellent option on the Gulf side is Sweetwater Kayaks. They hold demos the first Saturday of every month: