Kayak & Body Type

It appears that when people give opinions or reviews on Kayaks that body type must be taken into account. Is this true?

It seems that someone with higher weight and a higher center of gravity would find a Kayak tippy that someone with a lower weight and lower center of gravity would find ideal.

I am 6’, have long legs, low weight for my height, and am slim so my center of gravity is low.

Because of my longer legs I might not be able to fit into a Kayak that someone else at 6’ and shorter legs could.

It seems that for my body build I would need a longer, narrower Kayak with very high efficiency.

Any thoughts?


good point
I think it was over a year ago that I sent a suggestion to this web site (feedback@paddling.net) suggesting that a person have the option of filling out a simple form to give some critical body dimensions (ht, wt, inseam, foot size) when reviewing a boat. This would give the reader some valuable help in determining if a particular boat might be an option. It would be simple to do.

Not sure that CG changes with body slimness or weight, provided all are proportional. If it does maatter , it’s a small effect. And unless you legs are unnaturally long, the effect is also small.

The boat style you choose depends on your intended use.<

As long as you can get your legs into the boat and out when needed, and fit without being crammed against the forward bulkhead, then it is ok.

In my case, 6’0" 150, 5k runner build, I chose an 18’ 21.6" wide boat that flys and meets the touring sea kayak class.


Fit your legs, you’ll be fine
As long as your legs are comfortable, you will be fine. Tippiness is something we all have to deal with to some extent in longer kayaks. I’ve seen guys your size cram their Daddy long legs into 6.5’ WW boats and look as if they have no legs at all. Part of it is positioning and part is comfort. If you’re touring, you want your legs and butt to be comfortable and able to get out in a hurry if you tip over. The rest is up to what your comfortable with in long boat. As I’ve heard here many times over; DEMO, DEMO, DEMO.

Women have much lower CG
There are very few good boats designed for good women paddlers with their lower CG. Most could get by with much narrower and less-bouyant craft than the big bungee barges designed for the lowest common denominator - fat overweight men.

Most men are in boats that are too bouyant and stable for them. The better (intermediate to expert) men would find very significant improvements in speed and endurance in more slender kayaks. Of course this only matters to paddlers who care about speed and efficiency.

QCC kayaks
Order a QCC kayak and they will ask your dimensions before they make your kayak. Fit is important . Comfort and performance are intertwined.

Tippiness is a very vague area and it probably has as much to do with body types as it does with individual feelings. Many paddlers talk about feeling an imaginary “secondary stability” phenomena even though such a thing does not exist in boat design.

Good point
America is getting fatter, and most boats are designed to fit a range of paddlers. The result is usually another compromise. Design a performance product for a narrower range, and you annoy the overweight crowd that want to look cool. Efficiency is misunderstood, and most think length means speed. It does, provided you have the motor to achieve that potential. If you don’t, then all you are doing is working harder at touring speeds due to wetted surface, increased windage, and leverage in a big sea. Women, and most men would net better overall speed in shorter boats that they could control well. I’m talking touring here, not racing. Sea Kayaker reviews do a good job of illustrating this drag Vs length concept via two different calculation methods. It’s real, but I suspect few understand it, or even want to. Most women get tossed into a big long boat by some ignorant guy who means well. Mariner Coaster, Impex Mystic, Romany 16 LV, etc. come to mind as great women’s boats.

secondary stability doesn’t exist?
did i read this right, or did you mean something else? secondary stability is very real, and probably the single most important aspect of good boat design (after speed, of course!!)


secondary stability
Secondary stability is BS. It is a myth. A boat loses stability at a certain point…that’s it…there are not varying points. The boat either tips or it does not.

There is no concrete definition of secondary stability…it is usually described as a feeling. It is not a principal of boat design. It is merely a feeling that some paddlers describe when the lean a kayak near its tipping point.

If anyone can find this “secondary stability” defined in writing in any boat design manual by a respected scource (ie;U.S. Navy) I’d love to know of it.


– Last Updated: Jun-01-04 12:07 AM EST –

US Navy does not design kayaks - or any vessels with an island structure capable of initiating leans or being edged! *L*!

So for a "respected source", if afraid you will have to rely on kayak designers and related sources.

Here's a start:



Another illustration (scroll down):

Other definitions/info:
http://www.oneoceankayaks.com/kayakpick.htm (scoll to "Advanced" section)

Like I said, that's just a start...

Jim, you should buy time on local
access TV and start your own tv show. Get Tim Ingram to be your side kick and call it Jim’s World. Jim’s World, Jim’s World, Capsize Time, Capsize Time!

in general

– Last Updated: Jun-01-04 12:34 AM EST –

narrow = fast =tippy

long=fast (if you've got a good forward stroke otherwise the increas in wetted surface area just slows you down)= harder to turn

Just get in a boat and get out there and you will know more.

For a lake kayak a qcc700 might be a lot of fun but so might an epic endurance or foster legend or ... I have great respect for Derek Hutchinson and love the Gulfstram and the Orion and the gulfstream and the sirius (did he design that) but as a lake kayak the andromeda is not my first choice at all. Not that fast, hard to turn and rather tippy for most beginnners. rolls well, good transition in rough water I guess, (only paddled on flat water). Beginners with dedication could probably handle an Epic endurance or 700 and could certaily enjoy a gulfstream, which would be a bettter choice for developing paddling skills as it has no rudder. The caribou is midway between the two types, while fast to go from point to point and demanding some skills, it is stable enough for most beginners, and requires skills to turn with any facillity. All of the above are boats worth having. What about the Wilderness systems t180 in kevlar or an imnpex susquehanna or assateague. NIce boats as well. What about a futura 2 surfski with ahuge rear hatch? Almost race Fast and you could camp out if it if you have the mind of a backpacker. Might need to buy a drysuit and would certainly need a wetsuit for that though but you will end up wiht a wetsuit at least anyway.

If you have the slack, go take a couple of lessons, go to a paddlefest for a few days, try a bunch of boats, one will just speak to you and off you go. Local paddling club perhaps? Lots of boats to try there if you are nice to folks.

If it were not for your excellent post on the spyware thread you would be wearing thin with me. That's OK I wear thin with folks fron time to time.

In reality, I wish

Good paddlin to you.

um, jim…
you are totally wrong. you need to go take a good bracing and skills class somewhere. you will gain a very real understanding of what secondary stability is.



Sorry if I have frayed anyone’s nerves but as a newbie I am trying to gain as much information as quickly as possible.

I think I will just order a QCC today.

I do know a fair bit about computers so glad I could help out on the Spyware.


Great choice. I am 6’3" and it fits me fine.

frayed nerves
Neo, don’t let that remark discourage you. Some of these guys get cranky and complain but they read the the posts and sometimes can offer good advice

I love my QCC and you will finds it is a good boat for a dedicated beginner as said above.

You are always good for a chuckle

Thanks, greyak
I will review those sites when I have some more time. I hope there are some reliable designers listed there as contributors because I have a name or two to ffer as well.

I can brace. Bracing is an intuitive reaction to tipping. If it is done quickly enough, any beginner can use it to avoid a tip.

again, you may find an increased appreciation of the secondary stability characteristics of your boat if you take the time to learn correct low, high and sculling brace techniques. given that you have an excellent boat with terrific secondary stability, you’d probably enjoy learning to use it.