I am a big guy, 5’11" 265. I currently have a Solstice GTS, I know its too small for me but it was a great deal. My question is, how does one size a kayak. I know displacement is a function of length, width and weight so what type of kayak should I be looking for in my next kayak.
How do you feel in it?
Are you saying you’re too big for your GTS because you can’t fit comfortably in it? Have others told you you’re too big for it?
The GTS is a fairly sleek boat, but I wouldn’t call it low volume. It’s a full-size boat with plenty of carrying capacity.
I’d say if you feel comfortable in the GTS, and you’re not carrying 100# of gear, then weight is not an issue. On the other hand, if you need to carry fresh water for a week, or something like that, and your gear load is approaching triple digits, then you’re probably correct that a bigger boat might help. (something like the GTS would be the Current Designs offerings).
At your height you may want to avoid the “big and tall” boat designs (like the GT Titan), because the big cockpit and high deck will make it hard for you to get proper contact with the boat.
My height is mostly in my torso. I am as tall as a man 6’4 from the waiste up. The problem with the GTS is the cockpit size. I can barely get in and out. I love the boat, but I think that I push it too far down in the water increasing the wetted area too much. I was wondering if there were a boat slightly wider or longer with a bigger cockpit that would work better for me.
Try the next sizes up
I have a Soltice GTS. I’m 6’, 185. It’s a great fitting cockpit for me, but anyone with a bit thicker thighs, and the thigh braces that are great for me begin to push into the person’s thighs.
The GTS is the lowest volume of the Soltice series, so if you like the performance, there’s the standard GT and at least one size up from there. I’ve never tried the bigger versions, but I’ve always figured a little more width in the mid section would give it a bit more maneuverability with a good edge? I’ve little doubt that they are all excellent trackers and quite efficient for covering miles at a good pace. It’s hard to imagine they designed their lowest volume version of the Solstice with a guy your size in mind.
There are many boats that are wider, longer, or both, but it sounds like you need more cockpit space, rather than a bigger hull necessarily. But if you're 5' 11, with really short legs to boot, you'll need to make sure the thigh braces in a bigger cockpit are in the right place for your legs (above the knee), or you can modify the cockpit to achieve that.
There's no magic formula for what length or width is right for you - you just have to try sitting in, and then paddling, a number of boats until you're happy with something.
Some boats wider than yours have very tight cockpits, while there are also narrower ones that have very spacious cockpits. So don't fixate on size of the hull alone.
Here are some ideas off the top of my head.
Maneuverable, but slower - Wilderness Systems Zephyr 160; Romany Surf, Romany HV, Xcel, Poseidon (these are all variations of the same boat by Nigel Dennis Kayaks - SKUK)
A little trackier - CD Gulfstream, NDK Explorer HV, Valley Aquanaut HV, P&H Cetus.
The options are really expansive, without knowing what you want to do in the boat, and what you have available around you. Also how much you want to spend.
If you plan to stick with sea kayaking and develop some skills, I'd encourage you not to get something too cavernous. It should fit well, and as you get more seat time you'll probably be more comfortable in boats that initially feel a bit snug. A boat that's way too big in the cockpit can make it harder to learn some skills.
checked the specs
I checked the specs and the Solstice should easily handle your weight. Current Designs lists it as being able to carry 400 lbs (person plus gear). You shouldn’t be sitting too low in the water nor bogging it down.
So it comes down to what is comfortable for you. If it is not comfortable for you to get in and out of, or to sit in, then it isn’t the boat for you. Best I could recommend would be to see what is available in your area, check the load rating with manufacturers (look for something at least 50 lbs over your body weight) and then try the boat to see what is comfortable for you.
Don’t confuse weight and cockpit fit
We know of some larger folks who have done OK in the Solstice GTS as far as weight and volume go. I'm with Nate on this one - at those dimensions you likely have an issue with two things that are not necessarily about the boat's volume. One is the cockpit - it might be a little tight for you because the GTS is the most shallow of the series - the regular GT and the Titan are deeper. If you have a lot of your weight above the cockpit, that one and two inch change could make a noticeable difference for you. The Titan also has much bigger cockpit length and width, though it is on the huge size so it may be too much.
The other is if you have a high proportion of your weight above the boat, something that can affect balance and can be altered by being in a deeper boat.
The GTS is a couple of inches narrower than the others too, a difference that you are likely to feel in stability.
I’m 6-2 and 265. When I went looking for a kayak, I decided the only one that really fit me was the QCC 500X. Instead, I ended up going with the Superior Expedition. Another is the Kruger SeaWind. They are classed solo decked canoes, but designed for speed and ease of paddling with emphasis on touring and expedition paddling. They are high volumn, large cockpit, peddles and rudder, and either will last you a lifetime, and your kids, and grandkids. They are fun to paddle for an afternoon, but fill the bill when you have time to get serious.
Thanks guys for all of the advice. I plan to attend a boat fair at the end of the month where I hope to try out several different kayaks. Thanks to you at least I know some things to look for.
I know what your saying! I’m 6’2" and 230 lbs. lot of time in gyms. It took me a while to find a boat I liked. I went with a wilderness systems tsunami 175 and can haul all the wait I need and the cockpit is big enough for shoes in and out with winter gear on. My next boat will be a CD Nomad! I looked at QCC but the cockpits are to small getting in sucked. Good luck on your hunt.