question about rolling a touring kayak

I think the answer is obvious, but you never know so I’m asking just to be sure.

Is it harder to roll a heavier kayak? Let’s say the two kayaks we’re comparing are each made of the same material, have the same hull configuration, and are (within a half-inch) the same beam. Kayak “A” is about 1.75 feet longer than Kayak “B”. Kayak “A” weighs approx 10 pounds more than Kayak “B” (or about 20% more, if percentages translate better).

My guess is the heavier kayak will be harder to roll. I just like the longer one a tad better and am hoping someone will say it doesn’t matter. I really want to learn to roll but will go with the shorter one if it’s going to make a significant difference. I have found rolling challenging enough without adding impediments.



You are mixing variables

– Last Updated: May-01-07 11:46 PM EST –

10 lbs of carry weight on a longer kayak may be offset by the increased or redistributed bouyancy.

10 lbs of kayak weight to roll? Who cares.

10 lbs more load, big deal.

A lot more load - depends on the kayak and loading. Some roll better loaded.

Excess paddler weight's more significant...

Not a diff
If you fully load a kayak, like many pounds of expedition gear, I personally find that it feels a little harder to get started in a something like a half roll where the boat is allowed to stop and sit still upside down. Some on the board will doubtless say I am wrong about that though.

But for what you are talking about, you won’t even notice that 10 pound diff. What you’ll notice most is the fit and the willingness of the boat to tolerate some errors in your technique and still come up.

Don’t over-analyze it. The first stage of learning a roll is capturing a set of muscle memories. The part where your brain gets involved to worry about a few pounds isn’t even on line for most people at first.

I don’t understand
What variables am I mixing? I’m talking about the kayak itself weighing 10 pounds more than the other one. I don’t typically pack much in kayaks since I don’t do expeditions or wilderness camping.

As far as paddler weight, you’re saying paddlers who weigh less can roll more easily? Good to know, but (realistically) I weigh what I weigh, and I’m not likely to lose any (more) weight soon, so that’s not a variable I’d include in my scenario (unless you’re talking about paddler weight in relation to weight of the boat - then the proportions would be slightly different).

Please elaborate as I guess I’m too dense to get your point.



Thanks, Celia
That is helpful.

I have two similar shaped boats
except that one has a hard chine and the other has a soft shine. Both are a shallow V at the ends.

One boat is 1 foot longer than the other and weighs about 10 lbs more.

As Celia said, there really is no difference in rolling them that I can feel. One rolls faster than the other, but that’s all. Ones not easier or harder than the other.

When they are loaded with gear, the roll is slower, but they still roll just about the same.

Go for the boat that feels like it fits you better and that you personally like. You’ll be able to roll either.

Gosh I agree!
Something you said weeks ago made me laugh, but I may have misunderstood it. I agree. A loaded boat is typically very stable. Without going into CG stability crap on a kayak site, I will say that, as i think Celia points out, a loaded boat can be slow to invert, but easy to roll, once inverted. I’d say that a loaded boat is actually easier to roll up, but often harder to get completely upside down. Does that make sense?

when we trained in lifesaving
a 10 pound weight underwater equaled a 180 pound man…

you need to order Dubsides rolling DVD, you’ll see that its all technique.

No problem
10 pounds evenly distributed over the hull would be difficult to feel when rolling. It might be slightly harder to accelerate, but would have more momentum to finish the roll. Don’t worry about it.


– Last Updated: May-02-07 6:37 AM EST –

Can't even tell any differance are only talking 10 pounds....throw a gear bag into the lighter one....and go do a roll...10 pounds doesn't change it at all. You only notice weight(as far as roll speed) in a boat when it gets over 40 or 50 pounds(or at 175#). some boats are just faster rollers than others (has nothing really to do with only 10 pounds)

or if it's a loose nalgene rolling around in the long as the weight doesn't move in the hull, you can't even tell that one boat is 10 pounds heavier. After all it only rotating, not being means more and too much stability is harder (flop over affect)10 pounds is nothing

it shouldn't be too tight, or too loose...but just right....(moma bear....papa bear analogy)

Best Wishes

Mixing variables
" Kayak “A” is about 1.75 feet longer than Kayak “B”. Kayak “A” weighs approx 10 pounds more than Kayak “B” (or about 20% more, if percentages translate better)."

That’s what Greyak meant by mixing variables.

Kayak A is much longer and will ride higher than B in spite of the extra 10 pounds.

I find it easier to roll or balance brace my boats when they’re loaded with camping gear simply because they sink lower into the water.

Cockpit outfitting is much more important than hull design when we’re talking about rollability.


Depends where the weight is
10# of lead on the keel line under your seat (in my case the 10# is built into MY seat ;^)>) will make the boat roll easier.

When I do camping trips, I make a point of packing all the heaviest stuff on the bottom along the keel line. Makes the boat very stable in rough water, and makes it roll super easy, to the point that I can handroll it like it was my whitewater boat.


Rolling a touring kayak
I have a 18’ Greenland type “skin on frame” kayak, a 18’ Kevlar touring kayak, and a 20’ tandem fiberglass. All roll easily.

When learning to roll, everyone thinks it is muscle. Once you figure it out, it is technique, not force that brings you up. Best to learn from someone who is qualified to teach, since you will not be learning bad habits. The tandem I mentioned rolls easily with just me in it. If I flip with a passenger, I just tell them in advance that I will stay upside down long enough for them to exit the boat, then I will roll it up and help them get back in.

agree with that
Once you learn the roll to where it becomes “muscle memory”, the variations like rolling with a loaded boat will be much easier progressions than learning to roll. Also agree that getting the roll started is a bit tougher, but in my boat it doesn’t seem to make a difference after that. The roll comes about a bit more gradually.

Regarding the different craft, other design variables may make a difference as well. Assming they were the exact same design with one shrunk to the smaller size might narrow the question but I don’t have the answer.

what he said
take a look at Dubside’s video–it’s technique, not the boat. That said, some boats roll more easily than others, and any boat with nalgene bottle full of lead behind the seat will roll more easily because of the weeble toy effect. Even this though won’t compensate for poor outfitting. There are now good videos, and you can find an instructor most places, but IMO the best gear investment you can make when learning to roll is to use a Greenland paddle and learn the standard Greenland layback roll.

Don’t add any weight in an attempt to make things easier. One guy I know added 30 pounds under his seat and was surprised when it didn’t work.

When learning, people tend to rationalize things like “my boat is the wrong type” “I’m too heavy” “I don’t have the strength”, etc.

I’ts all technique.

I was pretty well convinced that my weight (225) was preventing my from rolling. Once I finally “got” it, I found how easy it really is once you figure it out.

Fogetaboutit !
Roll on!

are pretty much the paddler. Learning to roll requires you to perform extremely assymetrical movements that are guranteed to make you go over if you attempt them while vertical. So if you’ve been paddling for awhile you’ve got a way of holding your torso in the middle of the cockpit that takes some unlearning. Likewise grip on the paddle.

Just keep plugging at it. When it starts coming together you’ll be laughing because of how easy it really is once you got the movement down and how irrelevant the differences people speak of are when they say “this kayak is easier to roll than that kayak”.

It’s akin to rubbing your belly and patting your head then switching. Just takes practice.

rolling different boats
IME given the technique is there, the biggest difference for me is how well the boat fits, ie how well it’s padded out and how good my contact with it is.