Kayak is good for a heavy person?

I am 330lbs and 5’7" what kind of kayak would be good for my size? the outfitter said that a tandom style will work. but I am concerned about the seating. and would it be better to have a in or out kayak?

I think they are.
For calm water & sea kayaking…

I’m 5’ 11" and (was) 275 lbs. My recreational boat - and Old Town Dirigo 140 has been a lot of fun to paddle. For more of a touring boat, the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165 has worked well for me. For a true touring boat, I know a bigger guy in a Impex Assateague boats.

Lots of options!

Oh, and tandem’s work.
But, they’re usually so wide that they’re not so comfortable to paddle yourself.

The other option is that there are a few “Sit On Top” (SOT) kayaks for bigger guys by Malibu Kayaks and Ocean Kayak.

How’re you going to carry it?
SOT’s are easier for newbies in many ways once you are ready to launch or land, but can be more difficult to get on and off the top of a car than sit insides because you have less to grip and they can be heavier. Have you looked at how you are going to transport this boat? Also would suggest that you go by a kayak place and try hefting a few, see what it feels like to you. If you have a truck with a decent length bed it can be easier.

Kayak for larger people
Look at kayaks that can carry your weight and have a large cockpit rim like the Hurrican Santee Expedition also get one with a rudder.

Some of the SOT kayaks are built for some very big fishermen and their gear with load ranges up to 600 lbs. You need some reserve capacity. A kayak rated for just your weight will not perform very well. You will probably see some weight reduction if you get out there and really do some paddling.

Generally you just need a
high volume boat with a large or open cockpit. Most any 14 foot or longer SOT or some of the open SINKs like the Pungo 14 or the Aquafusion Liberty, or one of the sea kayaks for big guys.

A lot depends on what you want the boat to do. For fishing, the Tarpon 169 or Manta Ray 14 are nice, but they are not like the Assateague for touring.


why a rudder?
I’m curious - do you advocate rudders in general? Or just rudders for big kayakers?

Seriously, just curious.

Pungo 140
This has worked well for me, I’m shorter than you however.

The Pungo 140 holds at least 350 and is is 29 inches wide and 53 lbs weight. Lighter than most SOT.

I used to have a method for loading it on a Dodge Van by myself with towels protecting the finish (ya right), the right angle, and a good heave. I had Thule glide and slides and then tied it on right side up.

Now I have a small car which I had them install a roof rack on. I have not figured out loading unloading methods yet. I do not want to scratch my Rabbit.

choosing a kayak
Most kayaks are designed for given weight ranges, so you need to find one that is made for your size and weight.

test drive first
and don’t rule out a canoe. Many larger paddlers find a 16ft canoe, with nonmolded seats to be just the ticket. The front seat, when the canoe is turned around, makes a well centered solo seat. A canoe is far less confining, and being boxed in is often an issue. Find a local paddle group, ask if you can give some boats a test run, or go to a dealer and ask to test drive. Any dealer worth shopping with will let you try out to decide what’s best for you.

good point. I’ve never even used a
rudder of the 40 kayaks I’ve paddled, and I think a rudder is like cheating. It defeats the simplicity of paddling from the use of human kinetics as the source of power. My kayak is fully rudder compatible and I do not have one on it.

I like the simplicity- just me, the kayak, and the water. I CONTROL IT.

check out the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13
I’ve paddled a Prowler 13, and it was wonderfull. Great performance, and I think would be a good fit for you. I suggest trying one out at a demo to see how you like it. I really enjoyed it.

Good luck!

sit on top
Don’t worry about “performance” too much. Your primary goal should be to get on the water and enjoy it safely. A sit on top might be a lot less hassle and make for a more enjoyable experience. A boat that is difficult to get in and out of might frustrate you and keep you off the water. Kayaking is great exercise, the most enjoyable I’ve ever tried.

Good luck!

yes just be comfortable and have fun
A sit-on-top has advantages. Tney are just so frigging heavy to lift or pull.

I’m old, overweight, and have some other issues.

I’ve learned how to get in and out of my Pungo most of the time without getting wet above my ankles. Not that I mind being wet.

One thing I do, on exiting, is turn around and put my weight on the back behind my seat. Then I lift one leg out and then the other. I have a very sturdy expensive paddle which I also depend on when exiting. I use it like a cane sometimes, lodging it firmly in the sand or mud when I get out.

I’d like to be thin and have a sleek pretty kayak but heck I’m happy to be alive at all. Paddling is an extra plus. Also a good full body work out easy on the bad back and the arthritic hips.

Test paddle some. Enjoy.

Not all are heavy
The Hurricane Aquasports line is considerably lighter than the run of the mill poly kayaks and not as costly as comp. They make both SINKs and SOTs. A Phoenix 160 SOT would have plenty of capacity and they are not that slow.

mobility issues
my observation of folks who are big is that it’s hard to sit with feet at seat height and have a torso that can be supported from postural muscles. In other words can you comfortably sit on the floor with your legs in front of you and no back support.

Once the person relies on a seat back the range of torso rotation is limited as well as the ability to control the blade in the aft portion of the stroke which is essential for steering. Therefore the suggestion for a rudder is a good one.

Getting up from a seated position in a closed kayak is dificult if you cannot press yourself up from a seated position. If you’re more comfortable rolling out to the side then standing up a large cockpit or sit on top is worthwhile.

I’d suggest trying a range of boats from sit-ons to canoes to rec. kayaks and see what works.

If you’re comfortable in a seated position a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145 is an efficient and stable small double. It’s probably stable enough that you could raise the seat an inch if that is preferable. It’s really not the same the same as the other Pamlicos.


Native kayaks has some rec. kayaks with comfy seats where the seats are higher than your feet.

Wenona has a new canoe with a Smarttrack rudder on the back. The price is a lot lower than it should be. I think they’re testing the waters,so to speak. I don’t know if it’s too tippy for you but it could be the most efficient, light and likely comfortable choice around.


I saw one at the local kayak shop and it looks like a hell of a good idea.

I had a woman in a class who was on the 275lb side of things and about your height. Her choice of kayak after much research was a Wilderness Systems Chesapeake Pro. It was kind of a kevlar version of a Pungo. The basic point being an open cockpit. She chose not to learn rescues and said she’d simply swim to shore.

That is a reality you need to address, what you would do if you were to capsize and whether you are capable of self-rescue. Sit-ons would be the prefereable choice if you think that is a possibility as self-rescue in a large cockpit rec. kayak is very, very dificult. Self-rescue in any kayak is dificult if you’re big in the middle, there are techniques but they require practice.

kayak for larger paddler?
The Necky line has a couple of models - the Pinta for one. It is specifically designed for the big paddler. (I’m at 6’2" and 240lb). The Tesla, a discontinued (I think) model would be worth a look.

As far as rudder or no rudder, that is an individual choice. Rudders clearly enhance efficiency for longer (15’ or longer) boats. While they do add drag, the gained efficiency clearly justifies the 2-5% extra drag of a rudder.

For a good discussion or rudders or not, there is an excellent article by Greg Barton on www.epickayaks.com.

Have fun, and be safe.