Realistic Max Weight?

I’m extremely new to kayaking and have been researching my first one ($700-800, or below if possible). Mostly it’s just recreation around lakes and ponds in North/Central Texas (Whitney/Joe Pool/Eagle Mountain for anyone around here), no camping trips or heavy fishing (me, three lures and a spinning rod/reel).

I’m just trying to figure out a realistic max weight to look at for decked and SOT models. I’m 6’1" ~220 - without carrying much else in the way of gear, should I be good with a kayak that maxes at 325-350 pounds? Could I even get away with something in the 275-300 range?

I’ve been looking at models like the Tarpon 120 and the Perception Sundance 9.5, for the most part.

Tarpon 120
The Tarpon 120 is a nice kayak if you only want a fishing platform and don’t plan on paddling much distance. It can handle your weight range but it is a bit sluggish on flat water. It’s difficult to stay dry in a sit on top so it’s limited to warm weather unless you’re prepared to wear a wetsuit or some other protection. I use mine on river trips in Summer and for short paddles on the lake but it doesn’t get used much once it gets cold.

Do not get a 9.5 foot boat! A friend of mine (big guy, prob 6’2", 250#) bought a 10’ kayak from Dunham sports, and he has a terrible time with the stability, even though these shorter boats are fairly wide. The problem is, he’s too close to the max weight the boat can reasonably handle, and so he doesn’t have that much freeboard. Makes for a very tippy boat. He’s swamped it many times, even on calm water.

Don’t trust the stated maximum weights they show for recreational boats. I think that’s the weight at which the boat finally sinks, and is far more weight than the boat can handle and still paddle well.

I suggest you get something like the Perception America. The one I have is about 5 years old and is 13’4" long. They’ve come out with shorter versions since then, but get something similar to the one I have, 13.5 ft, and 27" wide, whether it’s a Perception or some other model. You will still be within budget.

Get something at least that size and you’ll be okay. Boats tend to get narrower as they get longer, which is okay. The decreased floatation from being narrower is offset by the increased floatation from being longer. Longer and narrower equals faster.

dont worry about the sundance
I have a swifty 9.5 basically the same boat with a few less options.

I weigh 220-230 give or take, and generally carry about 20lbs of assorted fishing and other gear, and have NO issues with stability.

On that note, I nearly tank an Otter just getting into it, so not all short boats are created equal.