Kayak for extremely WIDE paddler

I have done my searching and admit defeat. Thus referring to the more experienced paddlers. I have a friend who had been wanting to buy a kayak for many years. She is down to 300 pounds and although there are kayaks to handle that weight, her hips width is 36" across. Thant’s not the circumference around but the diameter, from outside of one hip to outside of the other. I have not been able to find a sit in (her preference) or sit on top kayak with a wide enough cockpit or seat. Any suggestions?

do not know of any sit in kayak

Sit on or Canoe

– Last Updated: Jan-23-16 1:45 AM EST –

I can't think of any sit ins with a cockpit that wide.

She might want to look at fishing sits ons with high seats. For example, http://www.austinkayak.com/blog/2015/10/keep-dry-stay-high-acks-top-5-high-seat-kayaks/

Otherwise, she would probably fit better in a canoe.

Custom Made
You could contact a kayak builder about having a custom wood stitch & glue kayak made.

I’m not sure that there are any production kayaks made at that width.

Change dimensions
The lady might consider changing her dimensions.

Read the OP
work in progress.

That SOT fishing kayak might work… you can always build up the seat.

I was thinking the same thing
I’m glad you said it first though.

There was a similar post here three or four years ago, and I got blasted big time for suggesting that.

Jack L

sit on top is likely the way to go
but is the paddler wanting to paddle solo or as a double team? Knowing that might help to narrow the possibilities. For SOT singles, look for something that has a shallow depth seat, not a deep bucket, so that the pressure on the hips is not as significant. If the person has some difficulty getting up and out of the boat when coming to shore, consider adding a pullup strap attached to the bow.

I’ve seen a number of photos of paddlers in wheel chairs on SUP boards, some of them competitively racing. How about a wider SUP (they do make fishing SUPs) and attach a low beach chair to it? She could sit, kneel or stand.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Reply to replys
ShadyClip; I’ll have her try some high seat SOT kayaks but believe the seat back straps would have to be removed. There goes any back support. She is wider than all the kayaks in the link except one with the same width dimensions. I suggested a canoe but she is a short person and canoes are tippy. Watching her try to paddle a canoe is a Youtube worthy event.

esstyle: Custom kayak I’m certain would be thousands more than she can afford.

magooch: According to her, not going to happen. Although she has lost 60 lbs, her hip dimensions she says will stay the same if not wider when she sits from sagging butt skin. Family genetics.

alpalmer: She would like to paddle solo. I have a tandem Wilderness Systems Palmlico and 3 other kayaks. All are a no-go. Looking into high seat fishing SOT’s.

Marshall: Brilliant!!! Never would have thought of that as I know nothing about those boards. Googled some photos of SUP boards with seats. If there is no wide load sit in kayaks on the market with a beeper which sounds when she paddles backwards, the SUP board idea just might work.

Diablo Kayaks

– Last Updated: Jan-23-16 4:18 PM EST –

Diablo Kayaks are wide SOTs with low sides. The beach chair style seat would not work, but that can be removed and reworked. I am not sure of their dealer network and your location.


being realistic
I think it’s important to be realistic about how one’s particular body can be adapted to various sports and in some cases to accept that it is not going to be practical. I would love to be able to downhill ski, but hip rotation (that I was born with and that was not fixed when I was young) makes me unable to snowplow - I can herringbone all day long but my feet turn out at a significant angle past my knee orientation and if I try a pigeon-toed stance my knees roll in and bump into each other, making me unable to set an edge or keep the skis aligned. There is no point in moping about it, I just am not built to downhill ski. But there are plenty of other sports I can do.

And I had to drop out of Aikido training because inner ear damage from a long ago bike wreck left me with benign positional vertigo, which means if I abruptly tumble 180 degrees (a necessary move in Aikido) it leaves me violently dizzy, nauseated and disoriented.

SOmeone who is 36" across has to have a hip circumference of at least 100 inches. Other than possibly a custom rowing wherry (like CLC’s Ocean or the Pygmy Wineglass) or a Welsh currrach, I can’t think of any type of solo paddle boat that would fit a body of that girth.

Jon boat
8 or 10 foot.

A PFD may be difficult to find.

It is good to hear that she wants
to paddle. I have met many people on meet-up trips that have a romantic? idea of what paddling is like. One five mile trip and they are done.

Does she have any upper body strength? Something has to move that mass.

I wish her the best.

just my opinion, but Marshalls idea is
probably the best of the lot. Several inflatable standup paddle boards out there that don’t require a person to stand up to propel them. Strap something like a thermarest trekr chair to it and away she goes, getting great calorie burning exercise and hopefully doing something she enjoys. Best of success in your help!

That Diablo Amigo looks like it might be just the thing. seems to be a paddleboard/kayak hybrid and is 37.5 inches wide with a recess for footpegs and plenty of unobstructed sitting room without the high seat option. A paddler really does not need a seat back to paddle anyway, in fact leaning back is poor form and hampers efficient stroking.

Only drawback is that it’s 75 lbs. Yikes! Definitely need a cart to transport that.

They have multiple dealers in Texas, according to the website.


Not a lightweight option but a viable design at 41" beam.

I’m still thinking the SOTSUP With a camp chair might be more fun. They can certainly be lighter than the poly SOT options.

Get a board with some forward rdfs to tie in a small cooler, I mean foot brace, I mean hydration station, you get the idea.

You’re in warmer climes, correct?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY





– Last Updated: Jan-24-16 10:42 PM EST –

The Nucanoe classic looks like it would work with a properly placed low wide seat, it would be my choice in this situation. I don't think a camp chair of the right dimensions exists.

Ditto what Pirate below says re pfd, that part may be harder to find, may have to be custom-made...

Inflatable might work
I’ve had some large friends start with an inflatable and it worked for them.

Many big paddlers have used canoes and a lot of people have swished themselves into on onto kayaks.

Overweight Paddlers - Reality Check
A few years ago my wife’s friend brought a friend along to learn how to surf kayak. Her friend was quite heavy, my guess 300 lbs. Her butt was quite wide, not 36", but wide. She could not exactly fit in an ocean kayak frenzy, but I gave her a boost by sitting on a canoe kneeling pad, and she tucked her caboose into the boat -sort of.

She could not stay upright in the boat. When the boat tipped over she did not have enough arm strength to re-enter the kayak from the water. She started having chest pains after struggling in the water.

While someone might think they are only going to be lilly dipping or flat water paddling an over weight person is going to be in real danger if they can not perform a self rescue in an SOT. Realistically someone who wants to kayak should have the ability to swim 100 yards, and reinter a capsized kayak. If they can’t perform at that fitness level. They should not really be out on the water.