Kayak for heavy newbie

-- Last Updated: Jul-16-15 8:26 PM EST --

I'm looking to get back into kayaking after a 20+ year absence. I'm a big guy (about 250, big butt and thighs) and looking for a kayak that I can take on lakes. I might eventually work my way up to easy creeks/rivers but that's years away so I'm looking for something I can use and be safe in (not tip over) now. Any advice is much appreciated. I'd prefer a sit in, not on kayak.

Tsunami 145
Go. Now.

Despite some calling it a 'toy"…
the Future Beach Adventure 8.6 is highly stable and has a capacity of 295 lbs.

There’s a video on YouTube showing a rather heavy set lady actually standing up in one on the water!!! That alone sold me on this ‘yaks’s stability!!

Mind you, the Adventure IS short (8 1/2’) but i find it quite agile on the small lakes and ponds I travel…

Good luck!

Where are you located? Do you want to paddle small inland lakes, tiny shallow ponds, or the Great Lakes?

Do you want to just lollygag on the water or develop some skills?

Have you looked on Craigslist for used boats?

The Pungo 140 is a good choice for large folks on flat water if you prefer a large cockpit opening.


– Last Updated: Jul-17-15 11:22 AM EST –

Thanks for all of the advice thus far - I really appreciate it!

The lakes I'd be paddling are all smaller, calm lakes. No great lakes for me, at least not for a long time.;) I'll mostly be lollygagging around and doing it more for relaxation than anything hard core.

I was about the say Pungo, as well. We’ve had one for close to 20 years, so it’s the older design, which I actually like better. But I think the new ones are ok, too, and they are wide, stable and comfortable. We use ours as a “guest boat”, and don’t hesitate to put anybody in it, regardless of size, skill, etc.

Go over to Walmart
for lunch. Bag lunch. Bring something fatty for bait.

Sausage with cream cheese, a chocolate milkshake.

Sit and watch the obese crawl across the lot…


Datakoll, you need a new hobby!
I’d rather be paddling and watch the ducks, herons, mergansers and eagles. Much more fascinating and without the “ick” factor.

hobby ?

amazing ! There’s a large pond next to parking with a new mudhen brood pip pip…

cycling has the same…I weigh 235 pounds what wheels ?

BUT cycling is not F1 as kayaking. Your bod has to go in…not on. I’m skinny at 6’4" with 15 shoes…

The Wal crowd may have wide end the fat kayaker choices…true or not true ? I have not the background to say.

Are Current Designs selling fat designs ?

Are you trolling or just being a jerk? I’m sorry if you don’t think fat guys should be allowed to kayak. I enjoy exercising and regularly run 10Ks (last one was in May), but still have a fat butt and thighs. No need to be a jerk. If you think I shouldn’t kayak, you’re welcome to ignore this thread.

TonyAuthor, I believe datakoll…
…is maybe nuts AND a professional troll. Being a noob here last year, I quickly discovered there are some “personalities” that inhabit these groups that require a thick skin to tolerate if you plan on hanging around. Believe it or not, datakoll isn’t the worst of them. Avoid the bicker & banter forum, unless you want to feel like you need a shower after reading some of the threads. I joined because I thought the discussions would be about paddling, but I have discovered they tend to stray, and not in a good way.

As for your choice of boat, I would go with the Pungo, if I could afford it. I would love to know what you end up with. Meantime, ignore the troglodytes that lurk around these parts. There are some nice, helpful people here, too.

Your onto a
SOT ? hmmmmm I would believe or speculate SOT out of the fishing hull area offer balanced and effective hulls for fat people. And not for the Walmart crowd.

Tampa Bay, https://goo.gl/BvP7yo, is populated with fishing hulls and military types. Not always LARGE this category tends toward stocky, thick bodied.

The obesity problem generates hull designs for larger paddlers. If you find one this is good as balance plays well on the water.


Big Guy Kayaks

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 12:20 AM EST –

Weight really isn't your big issue but more how your body is shaped when you try to get it into a cockpit. There are a good number of kayaks out there that can handle 250 lbs or more.

As a big guy I find the cockpit width and deck height to be a bit more important than the length of the cockpit. You can easily sit on the floor in a paddling position and measure your width. I find for myself that cockpits about 35/36" in length as as tight as I can go. Published deck height numbers do not seem to be very consistent where they measure, as I can fit in supposedly lower kayak and not even get into another one which offers a few more inches of height.

I can only guess and if I assume what fits me would fit you these are some of the kayaks I have tried out and find the fit nice (but haven't actually paddled any of them):
Dagger Alchemy 14L
Perception Carolina 14
Wilderness Systems Focus 155 (love the fit on this but some really poor paddling reviews).

I didn't like the fit of the WS Tsunami 145. There is also the Elie Strait 140XE. Everyone fits in a Pungo (and other really open kayaks). If all you ever want to do is paddle on mellow ponds and want a big open cockpit a Pungo is a fine choice. The Old Town Dirigo is another Pungo like kayak.

If you drop down to 12 foot kayaks you have a few other options like the Dagger Axis 12 (I have one and it is nice compromise if you want a roomy cockpit without it being too big).

I don't know where you plan on buying but unless you have dedicated paddling shop in the area you are going to have a had time finding kayaks to try. Avoid the big box sporting good stores and Walmart. It used to be the REI and EMS had a better selection but it seems many of the kayaks I would recommend you go look at they don't carry anymore.

Buying used is great if you easily fit a wide range of kayaks or you know what you are looking for. I spent many years looking at used kayaks without luck. On the rare occasion a kayak would appear that might have fit me it was usually pretty old and would be sold before I could jump on it.

You don't want to buy online if you don't know your fit. Best to find a paddling shop and go see what they recommend for you.

I’m “big” too.

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 8:15 AM EST –

I am a bit bigger actually. Heading in the right direction though. So that is a good thing.

On boats and big guys and gals - I think if you have paddled a bit before one decision you might want to give a little thought on is whether you want to be able to use a spray skirt and progress in your paddling as far as slowly developing the skills needed to paddle in rough water or moving water from time to time. Basically its about developing bracing skills and learning to use your body and paddle to provide good balance and stability instead of the width of the boat. If you want to give yourself a chance to move in that direction I would not recommend a wide recreational boat. Instead, I would recommend a Kayak that you can use a spray skirt with that has a big enough cockpit to fit you comfortably, and that achieves its weight carrying ability through length more than width.

My choice was a Wilderness Systems Zephyr 16.0 which is the 16 foot large volume version of this boat, (15.5 version is also available for smaller folks). I love it. It has a good deal of rocker which I personally prefer. Some describe the feeling paddling such a high rocker boat as "loose." It is easy to turn and requires attention to keep in a straight line. The skeg down make it easy to keep in a straight line. I fit in it just fine. I have a big butt and big thighs. It was a bit tight at 275 Lbs but doable. Much better at 250 and waaaaay better at 235 all of which I have seen in my time with the boat. I do a lot of lilly dipping and I find it very comfortable for that sort of paddling. Also great in rough and moving water. When I get down into the 220 Lbs. range I will probably buy the 15.6 foot version if I am still paddling a lot.

One other reason I prefer a boat with a spray skirt is that it keeps me dry and warm. My wife has a pungo. She gets soaked every time we paddle. I keep trying to suggest a different boat but she loves her Pungo. I think she is afraid a more traditional kayak will be too tippy. She hasn't accepted the reality which is that the feeling of tippyness goes away quickly - not unlike riding a bike.

Rec boats are perfect for many people but there is no denying they have the effect of stunting the development of paddling skills. Just my opinion - others may see it differently, (for example my wife!). If you have any inclination toward developing paddling skills you might consider a more traditional boat that fits you well instead of a rec boat.

If You But A Large Capacity
Stable sit-on-top, you’ll be a happy guy.

On this forum long responses generally means someone is trying to impress you with their knowledge. Your needs are secondary at best.


– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 4:15 PM EST –

OP wants a sit in Kayak not a sit on top.

Short posts on this board generally means the poster has no clue and has not read the original question. :-)

Old Town Vapor 10
I decided to post on Facebook that I’m interested in kayaking and some acquaintances offered to take me out on the lake. I used their Old Town Vapor 10 and was surprised at how easy it was to use. For my first time, I had no issues going straight, making turns, etc. even with a decent breeze. I had no trouble getting in, but getting out (again, my first time) could have been hairy if she hadn’t been steadying the kayak for me. I had a really fun evening and can’t wait to get my own kayak.

Any reason to avoid to the Old Town and go with one of the models listed below? As a newbie, I’m just curious what makes them preferable and better investments.

Outgrow them
You can quickly outgrow a short 10 foot recreational kayak – I know I did. If all you are looking to do with a kayak is to take it out to mellow pond or babbling brook and slowly paddle around a few hours they are fine.

Almost anyone with no experience can get in one and quickly figure out how to get it to move around on mellow water without flipping over. You will never really learn any skills nor should you take the kayak into any rough conditions. If you enjoy paddling it won’t take long before you realize the kayak is holding you back. Think of it as buying skis that really are only for the bunny slope.

All things that make a short fat rec kayak great for a beginner make it horrible for anyone looking to grow skills and take on new challenges. Stability and big cockpits seem nice at first but will hold you back in the long run.

If you just want to paddle around on mellow ponds at least get a 12 footer, especially since you are on the heavy side. They probably won’t cost much more while still having big open cockpits and lots of stability but they will trim your weight better, plus hold their speed better. Old Town Dirigo, Dagger Axis, Perception Prodigy, and Wilderness Systems Pungos are all some decent choices in the 12 foot range.

There are tons of 12’ rec kayaks out there that would work for you and easy to find. A 14’ kayak is usually considered the sweet spot for flat water kayaks but at 14’+ it gets harder to find kayaks suited for larger people but they do exist – what I talked about in my previous post.


– Last Updated: Jul-20-15 1:37 AM EST –

I weigh 255 and just a tad over 6' and just bought my first Kayak and went with the Pungo 140. I would give it a try,I think it moves through the water pretty quick and with little effort. Two Bulk heads,removable console,large cockpit,comfy seat ,seems to track pretty strait. Im very Happy with it so far.

I tried a Tsunami and found the fit very snug,going of your description I would think that boat is Not for you. What ever you pick I would at least get a 14' Unless transport or storage is a problem. If you for some reason Have to get a shorter boat take a look at the WS Aspire 10.5. Good Luck!