P&H Max Paddler Weight = Max Load Weight?

Hi all, I test paddled a Virgo LV and MV a while back and now am starting to look to for one for the upcoming warmer weather. I’m 5’10", 160 lbs. What has me worried is P&H is saying the max paddler weight is 176 lbs/ 80kg for the LV and am wondering if that means with gear as well or does it just mean for the paddler? (I can’t find max load anywhere) I found a LV locally, but am wondering if I should hold out for an MV (max paddler weight 220 lbs/100 kg)

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Larger boat is the right answer.

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The max weight capacity of a boat is generally meant to be the total load, paddler and gear. It doesn’t make sense to list just the paddler weight unless the boat is not meant to carry any gear.


No sense but I think they are listing paddler weight. Can’t remember any other manufacturer doing it that way.

To the question of bigger or smaller boat, it really depends on how you plan to use it. I’m pretty much your size, and I can tell you my higher volume boats aren’t as enjoyable to paddle as my boats that are rated closer to my weight. I rarely, if ever, do extended camping out of these boats, so 95+% of the time I’m unloaded and just have my day gear. In my case, I’d much rather buy the LV. I’d much prefer the boat that is better suited to the vast majority of the paddling that I do. If I wanted, I could still do an overnight or two with 25-30 pounds of gear and still be at the limit of the LV. If you’re looking for a gear hauler and intend to primarily camp out of it a lot, then I’d go bigger.

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Total weight capacity, paddler and gear, and for adequate paddling performance

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I contacted P&H to see what they would say. Wuestion I asked:
In your kayak listings, you list the “Paddler weight”. I am assuming this is suggested weight f paddler (and gear they wear), but wouldn’t include weight of camping gear should they be doing an overnight trip? Or is that max suggested capacity for the boat (paddler and all gear)? Thanks,

Here is their response:

Hey Peter
We used to list an “optimal load range” rather than a max weight, but as far as I can tell the top end suggested weight limit is the same and just the wording has changed. Just like before the maximum suggested weight would include the paddler and everything else in the boat, the total amount of weight.
Hope this helps,

Seems capacities are a bit light. Valkyrie 17’-8" cap
is 255 lb. I’m 240 guess I’d be traveling light. Delphin 15’-6" has 275 lb capacity and 22" wide. ???

My CD Solstice is 475 capacity. Extreme/Nomad is 425.

Cetus HV is 308 lb.

I guess all the ratings are really subjective.

This is a very subjective area… every manufacturer seems to do it different. Even comparing new kayaks to old kayaks from the same manufacturer can be problematic.

What I do is calculate (estimate) how deep in the water a kayak will sit using the displacement formula. That gives me a way to compare different kayaks.

Here is the formula:

Paddler Weight + Gear Weight + Kayak Weight
Divided by
Waterline Length (in feet) x Waterline Beam (in feet) x Water Density* x Shape Factor**
Answer is in decimal feet, to convert to inches multiply by 12.

*Salt Water is 65, Fresh Water is 62.4 (lbs. per cubic foot)
**A realistic factor to use is 0.65, but you can use whatever you want. A hull with a deeper V shape and or a sharper bow and stern will use a lower factor. A flat bottom rectangular shape will be closer to 1.

I adapted this formula from here: How to Kayak in Shallow Water - PaddleGeek where it is mis-stated.

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If it is any help, I have paddled a Venture Easky 15LV for 10 years – it’s made by P & H (Venture is their value priced rotomold line). They rate it at 286 pounds. It’s very similar to the Virgo (same beam but 12" longer). I find it hard to believe that they would rate the Virgo capacity so low! In fact Vennture rates the 14’ Islay at 278 pounds. Yes, it is 1" wider but that should not add 60% more capacity .

I am only 5’5" but my weight has fluctuated between 140 and 160 during those years and the Easky 15LV is perfect for me, even with 20 pounds of camping gear in it. I have also loaned it to several friends in the 180 pound range and they have found it to be stable but fun to paddle.

Something is off in those P & H capacity ratings.


That’s helpful! Just really odd that the max weight capacity would be 176 on that Virgo LV given the dimensions and all. Sort of reminds me of the tsunami SP ratings… 12’ long, 21" wide and can handle 180 lbs. Guess it’s the MV for me!

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I still think that weight rating for the Virgo LV (and the MV) are VERY suspect. Here are the relative total volumes (which affect displacement). Beams and approximate hull forms are similar – main difference is the 12" in length:

Easky 15LV = 325 liters
Virgo LV = 276 liters

So why would P & H rate a boat that is only 15% less volume than a similar model as having 37% less maximum cargo capacity?

My 5’ 8" 180 pound ex-boyfriend loved my Easky 15LV. He eventually bought a standard Easky 15 because he found a used one at a good price (would have been similar to a Virgo MV) and disliked it by comparision – said he felt like he was swimming in it and lacked the nice control he felt in the LV.

I was just checking and the more recent Venture specs on the 15LV are “for smaller paddlers 150 pounds or less.” Well, duh, I have been at that or heavier, buck naked, for as long as I have owned the boat. And, as I have said, I have put paddlers in it as a loaner who had to have topped 200 pounds with all their kit and who had no stability or control issues.

Too bad you can’t test both versions.

When does the weight of the boat itself come into play? i.e. 50 lb boat; 150 lb paddler; gear another 25 lbs. totals 225. Wouldn’t you need a boat rated for at least that, including the weight of the boat, in the calculation?

I actually read your post a while back on that and I had the same thoughts on the Easky LV, which is why I was leaning towards the Virgo LV. I mean I might have to make another trip to try to paddle them back to back, it just stinks that the nearest P&H dealer is about a 3 hour drive and it’s coming up on winter

Yes, you have to take into account the boat weight in the displacement calculation. Some manufactures specify that their capacity figures are net of the weight of the boat and some say their capacity figures are not. Another point of confusion. This is why I calculate using the formula. Here it is again:

Paddler Weight + Gear Weight + Kayak Weight
Divided by
Waterline Length (in feet) x Waterline Beam (in feet) x Water Density* x Shape Factor**
Answer is in decimal feet, to convert to inches multiply by 12.

*Salt Water is 65, Fresh Water is 62.4 (lbs. per cubic foot)
**A realistic factor to use is 0.65, but you can use whatever you want. A hull with a deeper V shape and or a sharper bow and stern will use a lower factor. A flat bottom rectangular shape will be closer to 1.

It is not perfect, but at least I know what the shortcomings are :slight_smile:

I agree with @willowleaf that the weight rating is very suspect if viewed as total weight capacity. I don’t think that is what they are, I think they are the suggested weight limit for the paddler only.

If you use this formula on the kayak and paddler in the first post you get an answer around 2.5 inches. That is the smallest number I have ever calculated using this formula, my results are usually in the 4 to 5 inch range. On one calculation I got over 6 inches, which meant, to me, that boat would likely be overloaded. I interested in this calculation because I am rather stocky (ok, overweight) and I want to carry camping gear, so I need to be careful to not overload a boat.

276 liters equates to about 600 pounds of water displacement, of course that is if the boat is full submerged… so not the same as capacity, but it is an indicator, nonetheless.

A smaller boat is easier to get going thru the water unless it is very rockered or sitting so low you are plowing water.
So how much gear would you be carrying? I suspect that you are within comfortable capacity for something like an overnight unless you bring the kitchen sink and water for everyone else. Or the firewood. There was one paddle where we all had to bring some but the guy in the Looksha IV had by far the largest load.

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Yes, I understand that. But the hull profiles of the Virgo models are not all that different from the Easky models so I would expect the waterlines in them to be comparatively similar with equivalent loading.

P & H uses a slightly less dense plastic for the Venture line so each model is about 10% lighter than the closest size/style P & H boat. Ventures stiffen the hull with molded in grooves which is the major molding difference.

Sorry willowleaf, that comment was not really directed at you, I was just quoting you and thought some others might not realize how to convert liters to pounds of displacement. I am quite sure you know that.

Anyways, I think you and I agree that the listed paddler capacity understates the total capacity of the boat. By how much is a matter of conjecture but your comparison of models is a good reference point.

Since my weight can vary +/- 5 lbs, sometimes can be at 165, but 160 on average. But 10 lbs of gear to hit the limit seems like cutting it real close. (1 gallon of water and my paddle pdf woulkd put me over the 175 limit essentially.)