I have been looking for some time now for a new/used touring kayak that can accommodate me and my needs. I am 5’10" 185lbs and wear a size 14 shoe. I know, I am a little disproportioned!! Anyhow, I have a Necky Narpa right now and am looking to upgrade to something with a more comfortable seat and more performance (ie: speed, tracking) that I can still fit my BIG feet in. I’m afraid if I go with a kayak made for a larger paddler to fit my feet, I may have to sacrifice performance.
Join the Club!
Hey Brian, Welcome to the next official meeting of the BFIB (big feet in boats) club. We’re always recruiting new members!
Anyhow, I’ve got size 15 and just got a new boat this past season. I found large boats were often designed for wider people and taller at once and I didn’t really need the width. I settled on an Impex Force 5 which has plenty of foot room and is nice and thin. I tried a CD Extreme (aka Nomad GTS) and found it very comfortable too. Both of these are wicked fast. WS tempest 170 or 180 also fit nicely, but the 160 was a bit too small, as was the Epic 18. I decided not to try a QCC 700x after others said the foot room was tight.
Try boats that have decent depth, I found 12-13" was the right for me.
Try the Nordkapp and NDK Explorer. Both are OK for medium weight folks with big feet.
Kayak for BIG FOOT
I have size 15 feet and the NDK Explorer could not accomodate my feet. The NDK Romany XL was fine, as was the Romany S (in plastic). For Wilderness Systems, the Tempest 180 and the Zephyr (esp in plastic). Most Prijon boats fit ( I have the Combi, Kodiak, Marlin, and Yukon). The larger old Dagger boats were usually a safe bet (esp the Specter). The Necky Manitous were a good fit. For Current Designs, the larger Kestrels, the Solstice Titans (which were actually uncomfortably large), and the CD Isle (which I also have). I could not fit my feet in the new CD Infinity. The CD Gulfstream was a tight fit, but barely doable. Hope this list helps. One word of caution: many people give ideas about suitable boats, not realizing that there is a world of difference (aand fit) for those people with size thirteen feet and those with size fifteen.
Speed + Tracking
The CD Extreme (aka Nomad) in normal volume will fit you and it is fast and with the rudder tracks very well. It did my size 15's and I'm 6'4 at 180 (the longer legs further complicates things. The Rapier 18 is even faster but tippier. Prijon Barracuda fits too as do some other Prijons. Quest LV is a snug fit but fits...
The KayakSport Marlin also has decent foot room and is fast and the rudder pedals almost fit where they should and there is a possibility to raise them a bit.
Point 65 XP fits.
Although not a rocket, the Tempest 170 also fits nice and snug, but I also fit in the 165 just fine (however in both boats I need to move the seat/foot pegs somewhat as they are too close together).
Tons of "fast" kayaks fit. However, you will fit in a surprisingly larger number of boats if you forego the foot pegs and use a center board or foam block in the middle where the deck is highest (and conisidentally, the leg position most natural).
The QCC 700x is too low with anything on your feet but a sock and the rudder pedals are too low. And most models with rudders will have your toes and foot balls in the wrong position - way above where the pedals are designed to be pushed.
Barefooted gives you many more options where even light footwear will restrict you. Yesterday I sat in the Avocet RM and barefoot it was just fine as far as foot room is concerned (foot pegs of course were too close but without them there is enough room).
Interestingly enough, this year I fit comfortably in a lot more kayaks than I did last year -;) Many of the same models I thought were unreasonably snug last year, this year feel just fine while I'm still the same size, just like they have not changed...
I’ve got size 13 feet, and I don’t know if my experiences help someone with size 14 feet or not, but here they are.
I fit just fine in a Pintail, which is a fairly shallow hull. Tempest 170 has plenty of room for me, and the 165 is snug but works with my heels squished together.
I think the length of your legs makes a big difference in whether your feet fit, since boats get a lot smaller the further forward your feet have to go. Someone with size 13 feet who is 6’4" will probably have more trouble with foot space than someone with size 14s who is only 5’10".
Foot position also matters. Feet take up more space if you prefer a wide-knee duck-footed stance, than if you sit more greenland style with knees closer together and toes a little more forward. Lately I’ve found that position more comfortable, and that may contribute to my fitting happily in the Pintail.
This probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it just in case - make sure your footware is low-profile, flexible, and has no extra material on the heel. Round-heeled paddling booties will give you much much more space than tevas or running shoes.
I’ve got the same problem
I’m a little bigger than you, 6’2" 245 with size 14 feet. I’ve just started paddling an NC Kayaks, NC-19 with the lighter, LT, layup.
“The NC19 best fits paddlers measuring 5’6”- 6’8" weighing between 190-350 lbs. with up to a size 15½ shoe.
So you’re a little light for that boat at 185.
My feet fit but there’s not a lot of extra foot room for me, but since you’re shorter, I think you’ll have more foot room - the deck tapers down towards the front. The NC-19 is fast, stable, easy to paddle, and tracks very well. It’s not so good at sharp turns.
Ditch the shoes, wear neoprene socks.
Epic v10 sport surfski
Very stable. Just bought an used one for my wife. She has spent 5 years paddling and racing her 24inch wide Prijon Kodiak. She is rapidly adjusting to the 18inch width of this surfski.
socks vs shoes
I tried to wear just neoprene socks like many here are suggesting and gave up on them. It’s a little dangerous to step out of a boat onto who-knows-what without protection. Sharp rocks, shells, razor clams, slippery seaweed are all good reason to wear shoes. I started wearing vibram 5 finger shoes over my neoprene socks, after cutting the toes off the socks. They take up almost zero space in the boat and while my toes aren’t as warm, keep them safe from cuts. I highly recommend them!
SOTs are for. I could wear clown shoes on mine (no offense)
Custom built kayak!
How about a custom built wood strip ? I can make the front as tall as you need!!!
for all the great advice, I’ll keep the suggestions in mind while I’m shopping around.
QCC 700 x
I have a 700x and size 12 feet. I fit ok if I do not wear shoes. I do not wear shoes in any paddlecraft though because of entanglement issues. Many years ago my shoelaces got caught in the rudder controls of my Necky and I nearly drowned. Had to cut my legs off to get out. (actually was rescued by a friend) Still…good to keep in mind.
Laces are definately a bad idea when paddling.