Kayaks for Plus Sized Paddlers?

Hi There. I am interested in purchasing a recreational kayak and am wondering about the best boat for a ‘non-svelte’ individual. I am interested in flat lake and slow river paddles, nothing to crazy; day trips mostly, maybe an overnighter. Cockpit size is a concern as is the capacity of the boat…any suggestions?

One of the ladies in my
paddle group is rather well on the plus size. She likes her Perception Prodigy 12 and does quite well with it in the conditions you mention. The cockpit is roomy, and while not the most efficient hull for long distance, it works well as a general purpose rec boat.

Several web sites out there.
For example: http://www.squidoo.com/big-kayaks

It depends
Women are on average smaller than men, so I wouldn’t necessarily go looking for really high-volume boats. It would help to know your height & weight.

For sit in kayaks as you go up in length the cockpit size will get smaller and the deck height lower. Overall, there are enough 10’-12’ rec kayaks that will fit people 350lbs and under, since these kayaks are wide the cockpit is also pretty wide and the extra width does let them handle more weight.

At 14 feet the choices narrow down a bit as the recreational kayak design starts to disappear as more touring style kayaks are introduced at this size. As you go longer the kayaks become fairly narrow and there are few choices for someone “big”.

It is hard to reco any kayaks not knowing your build. The width of your hips and size of your thighs are really what is going to matter the most when fitting a kayak. A max weight of 300-350lbs is really about as high as it goes for a lot of sit in kayaks. You probably want your total weight to be under that by at least 50 lbs.

You would probably want to consider kayaks in the 12-14 foot range. At my max weight of 5’8" 300lbs (stocky male build – muscular once but huge gut, big thighs to carry it all around) I had a nice fit in a Dagger Axis 12 (my current kayak – cockpit 38"x21"), the Pungo cockpit was still wide open with room to spare but the Wildnerness Systems Tsunami were a bit too small for me. There are few Current Design kayaks with a very high weight limit

Feel free to private mail me if you want more advice but don’t want to post your weight on here.

Many large folks are more comfortable on sit-on-top kayaks. No worries about cockpit size, legroom, or entry/exit ease.

The disadvantages are the lack of enclosed storage, and full exposure to weather. SOTs also tend to be beamy and some – but not all – are slower than a comparable SINK.

Carolina 12 or 14
These boats are well regarded, track pretty well and have larger cockpits without being barges. They both have front and rear bulkheads for storage and safety.

Might be worth a look.

sit-on-tops are always a good bet
Easy to get onto and off of, and plenty of floatation because they are wide. But you’ll want to find one that is comfortable. Which means you’ll need to try out various boats for yourself.

Lots of boats out there
I wouldn’t recommend a sit on top for you - since you are in ontario and wouldn’t be able to use it for as much of the season as you might like. Spend time sitting in boats and getting in and out of them. You will find that quite a few boats have rather roomy cockpits. Make sure you get something that has sealed bulkheads!

Thanks everyone!
Thanks for the input everyone! Your advice has been very helpful. Boats on my hit list are as follows:

Necky Rip 12 (I have test paddles this one…very roomy and stable)

Perception Prodigy 12.0

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120

Current Designs Kestrel 120X Roto

Clearwater Designs Inuvik

However, after much reading and research I wonder if I should go with something a little narrower/longer for better speed and tracking such as the Wilderness Tsunami 145…I know one reply said it was tight, but other reviews have said it felt like a barge! sigh, decisions, decisions…

thanks again!

tsunami 145
Everyone discribes the 145 as a slow barge. But hey I enjoy mine. I am 6 foot 260 pounds, and in my mid fiftys. At my age and size I am not looking to break any speed records. Comfort is most important to me. I am not as flexible as I used to be- that extra few inches of deck height make all the differance in the world getting in and out. I do the kind of paddling you are discribing and take it out into bays and calm ocean area. It serves me well and allows me to pack a few things on my trip. I have even done a few local races and managed to keep up and beat other svelter boats in my bracket. Test one out for yourself you might be suprised with it.

I have a Wilderness Tsunami 140 but iam 5’8" 160 lbs man. In that boat i needed to ad some closed cell foam inside so i wasn’t swimming inside it. The 145 is a bigger cockpit so it might do ok for you. Only way to know for sure is go sit in one. I would try to get one that is as sleek as possible but still enough room for you to fit. Oh i got a killer deal on ebay from kayak store in CA iam in NY for my 140 with free shipping for 875 to closest forward-air terminal brand new. If that’s to pricey maybe a Perception Sport Conduit 13 which is pretty wide boat at Dicks sporting goods. Has 2 bulkheads and its cheap at 550.

Best to say what your price range is when asking for boat advice plus your height and weight and were you want to paddle it. Plus if the boat needs to be light which requires light material construction like fiberglass or thermoformed.

Pungo 120
My wife has this boat. I never would have recommended it to her but I stayed out of her decision making and she loves it. I will say that the boat moves along way better then I ever would have imagined. She keeps up with me just fine. I am paddling a Zephyr.

tsunami 145…
“However, after much reading and research I wonder if I should go with something a little narrower/longer for better speed and tracking such as the Wilderness Tsunami 145…I know one reply said it was tight, but other reviews have said it felt like a barge!”

That probably depends a lot on the individual paddler.

If you’re getting close to 300 lbs, it might well be ‘tight’, despite having a pretty big cockpit.

If you’re under 240 or so, it probably feels like a barge (it sure did to me, and I wasn’t that much under 240 at the time).

It’s got a LOT of volume, that’s for sure.

Here’s my list
As a fat paddler my list might be of help.


SOT with drysuit = all year paddling
Hi, I’m a short fat woman. Have 3 recreational sit-in kayaks. Got a WS tandem Tarpon 130T SOT for water rescue training with my service Newf. Got a Kokatat custom drysuit from Kayak Academy. Voila! Super easy paddling year round.

Drysuit lets you paddle anything year-round. Of course you want a good PFD and good skills – take classes.

Recommend at least 14’ so you can go on group paddle trips and keep up. The new 2013 Tarpon 140 is awesome.


That has to be the biggest dog I have ever seen in a kayak!

He/She bust be very calm, my old Sheltie weighed all of 50 lbs and she was so hyper it was hard to keep from capsizing when she got excited.

Big Dog – SOT way easier
Orka is 138 pounds. Newfies are big :slight_smile:

I needed a kayak big enough to do water rescue training with him, which meant modifying the front 1/2 to become a stable level platform for jumping / diving.

What I’ve noticed is entry / exit is so easy compared to a SINK, especially entry from docks. Trying to squish an overly hefty bod into a small cockpit from a high dock with motor boat wake crashing against the kayak is a challenge.

Of course it does not “fit like a glove” or cruise quickly but different boats for different strokes. It has made me unprejudiced against SOTs.

Going to try a giant inflatable SUP for water training. That also is not going to win any speed prizes.

If it were just myself I’d like the WS Tsunami 145 but Dagger has come out with skeg 14’ and Jackson has awesome colors.

I’m curious

– Last Updated: Sep-03-12 8:46 PM EST –

what does a dog do in a water rescue?

EDIT - Answered my own question!


and this


Here is a great video of the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs in action. These lifesaving teams have over 350 certified dog-handler lifeguards patrolling the beaches and saving anybody in trouble.

They work with the Coast Guard, police, military, civil protection, Fire Depts etc jumping out of boats and helicopters doing water rescue. Amazing to watch!