Plus size female, buying a yak, low $$

I’m a large woman, weigh 245 (size 20), and very active. I drive a small car. I’d rather not have to get a roof rack and was looking toward inflatables.

I may invest in something better later, but it’s the beginning of summer and I want to get on the water right now!

So I’m hoping to pay less than $350. Are inflatables the way to go? What are your suggestions?

I was looking at Sea Eagle 330 and the Advanced Elements Packlite.

The Packlite is wide enough, but only 250-lb weight limit. Will I be too low in the water? The Sea Eagle has a good weight limit but only has a 13"-wide cockpit!

Any knowledge or suggestions on brands, weight limits, and accommodations would be greatly appreciated!


– Last Updated: May-25-14 11:07 AM EST –

The problem with inflatables is that they tend to sag under the weight of passengers and cargo, which caused the bow and stern to lift and that slows them down and makes them harder to propel and steer. One of my friends has a inflatable tandem kayak from Russia and when he and a 250 lb guy tried to use it it was very low in the water on the big guy's end and they had to paddle like crazy to try to keep up with the rest of us. Said it was like trying to paddle a big marshmallow.

Yes, having weight over the rated limit will tend to make any boat low in the water, therefore slow and unstable. Remember once you add your clothing, shoes, paddle, PFD, water bottle, etc,. you will be even farther over the limit.

I can think of one suggestion that might work for you but it will go over your budget a bit unless you can find it on sale or used: the Innova Twist Tandem ($499) which is rated around 400 lbs. A longer boat will be easier to paddle as well. They do make a solo Twist ($399) but the rating is only 220. YOu should be able to paddle the tandem from the rear seat by putting some ballast way in front in the bow so it will track better (a plastic jug of water should do it).

If you can find an Advanced Elements that fits you, they would be a better choice than the Sea Eagles because the AE boats have metal frame reinforcements that will keep the boat from flexing. Actually I just looked at their site and a good choice for you would be their StraitEdge ($549), with a 300 lb rating, probably the best value for the money, on sale here:

Nicely outfitted boat and as a sit on top you won't have entry or cockpit fit problems. It's 35 inches wide and suitable for both flat water and light waves and moderate stream rapids.

Unfortunately, as with many things, the range of cheap kayaks is not "one size fits all" but tends to be limited to medium sized people. Those of us who are heavier or lighter, shorter or taller have to pay more for boats that have designs that will fit us.

One thing to keep in mind when getting into kayaking is that the boats have good resale value, so when and if you decide to trade up, you will get at least half or more of the cost of the first boat back by selling it. So look at it more as a "lease", which may make paying a bit more easier to deal with. On the other hand, having a boat that doesn't fit you or perform well is really a waste of any money.

Innova Sunny
would be a specific inflatable that would work well for you. Look online for used ones. Aire makes some good inflatables and they pop up used on line quite a bit too

Suggest you read the reviews here
on the variety of inflatables available. Reviews seem to be very mixed even on the same boat. Sit in yaks with large cockpits and sufficient capacity may be a better consideration. They generally perform better especially for new paddlers. There are some lighter weight thermoplastic ones available. They can be carried on small cars with a “soft” rack, straps, and pads and well secured at both ends. With your low budget you may have to search a bit or adjust it a bit, but may be much happier in the long run. Just thoughts. R

site for inflatables and folders
There is a forum site specifically for inflatable and folding kayaks (which are also super light but mostly out of your budget range.) Unfortunately it is not as active a site as this one and there may be weeks before getting any responses to an inquiry, but they do have sections that have information about various models of collapsible boats, also a classified ad section. Since inflatables and folders can be shipped, it is practical to buy one at a distance (not the case for most hard boats.)

The bigger the better
My friend is big as well and had an inflatable, it was no good, first off she is too heavy and as a result got no back support at all, the boat nearly folded in on her. Especially the cheapo ones. You need to take into consideration where you are going to paddle. My brother went out in an inflatable in the SF Bay area, hit a just barely submerged stick and had a hell of a time returning to shore before the boat sunk. So that is a consideration. Now Im pretty big myself I have a used sit on top, a Perception Swing and a Necky Vector, I love them both, they are both very stable and enjoyable to paddle, I purchased a back sling from Ocean kayak for more back support, my friend purchased a kayak from Costco, it was $500 for the tandem so the single is bound to be less, however you can get good used kayaks on craigslist, and from renters turning over their used rental stock. I got my Necky for half of the original sale price and it is in perfect condition. As far as a rack goes, I would invest in one, my friend just got one on her new Honda, and it works great for transporting up to two boats. I have had racks on all the cars I have purchased in the last 20 years and like having A/C Im now spoiled for them. Good luck in your search hope this helps a bit

removable rack?
Have you considered a universal removable rack for your car, like Spring Creek’s Suction Cup Rack? This would let you transfer it to another car in the future and let you go to a non-inflatable kayak now.

There may be other universal removable rack systems available as well, but I have a set of the Spring Creek racks and they’ve been great. Very sturdy and easy to put on and take off. Adds less than 5 minutes to my load up time to put them on. Because the racks are off the car when I’m not carrying a boat, no wind noise from the empty rack.

That’s not why I use them. It’s just a perk. I got these because I didn’t want to invest in rack specific to my carry car since it’s older and I’m not sure how long I’ll have it. I didn’t want to keep upgrading my racks to new vehicles. Plus, I don’t paddle often enough for it to feel burdensome taking these racks on and off. I’m a fair weather weekend paddler mostly. Maybe if I paddled more often the extra work would bother me, but maybe not.

I’m afraid I don’t have any info to share on the inflatable side of things. I’m a big guy and I have low trust in inflatable boats. Also wicker furniture, but that’s a different story.

Good luck.

buy from a good dealer
I would highly recommend that you stick with a good dealer who will guarantee that you can return whatever you buy even after using it once. It may take some trial and error to find a boat that meets your parameters.

As a big guy
And for the money, I suggest getting the perception Rhumba, 9.5. It is a rigid SOT it is sold as a kit and a great recreational yak. It is light enough for you to put on the roof and portage just about anywhere.

My GF has this yak and I love paddling it.

The Perception Rhumba 9.5 isn’t available any more (it was an exclusive for Sports Authority stores which no longer list the model). Most similar models have a maximum load rating of 250 lbs or less, BTW.

I was in S/A
This past weekend looking at SUPs and they were in the store. I wish we could post pics because we had her boat loaded between her and gear at least 300-350 lbs and paddled 11 miles in the Florida Bay one way with no trouble at all.