touring kayaks for bigger guys

I’m a beginner paddler but after 20 hrs of on water instruction and alot of reading, I feel ready to purchase my first kayak. I’m looking for a sea kayak with a skeg that has good initial stability, will fit my 6’2" 245# body, and is a boat I can grow into. I realize I will need to spend some time trying them out, but if I could have some initial, non-biased suggestions, it would really be helpful. The Impex Assateague is at the top of my list. For comparison I did most of my instruction in a Necky Eskia and liked the fit, but don’t want a rudder.

Also, I’ve read the archives regarding roof racks. My take on this is that the type of rack (stacker vs flat) is somewhat dependent on the boat. Furthermore, if the yak is carried flat, it may be transported upright or up side down depending upon where it is strongest (a manufacturer reccomendation). Am I reading this right?

Thanks for any suggestions or insight you may have.

Check out the Eddyline
Nighthawk 17.5. Plenty of room for a big person and tracks nicely. Adequate speed, moderate initial stability and very good secondary stability.

check out
Wilderness Systems Tempest 180 Pro. I have one and love it. I’m 6’1" 210#. Very easy to get in and out of.I had a 170 Pro ,but I had trouble getting in and out(I’m not very flexible).

Thanks guys
Thanks much for the great suggestions! I have been pouring over online information on both boats and will put them on my try list. One question however. I plan to take a rolling class this winter and hope to add that to my skill list. Any experience or thoughts on how these boats roll?

Thanks again



– Last Updated: Sep-11-05 2:51 PM EST –

At 6' 2" at least 245, I have a Wilderness Systems Pungo 140. Very easy to get in and out of, with very good leg room.

Not a touring yak (I guess) but thought I'd mention.

USS Kitty Hawk

right on
I would have to second Bruce’s take on the Night Hawk 175. I paddled a Necky Zoar Sport for three years and loved it. I had some money saved and as I don’t plan on losing 100 lbs any time real soon I took a few boats for a spin and bought the NH 175. It is comfortable and I am racking up 12-15 mile paddles with just a mid point stop for a nature break. The seat is suprisingly comfortable and the lines are nice. I maintain a 3-4 mph with no problem. btw 6-2 and 270.

thigh bracing
if it has thigh bracing and is a “sea kayak” then you can roll it. The kayak doesn’t roll,you roll.

Kayak for large guy
I have a Nigel Foster Shadow . It’s often listed as a kayak for a larger guy . Its 17feet 10 in

and 23 in wide . Canoe and Kayak , in a comparison of a half dozen expedition boats

thought it had “good speed” was a “kayaker’s kayak” and was a “little tippy” .I have to

agree with the first and the last statements . It has a smooth ride and is pretty comfortable.

Its the wider version of the Silhouette ,a very tipy kayak that wins ocean races .It has a

skeg control on the left hand side and the skeg is pretty good .Its in fiberglass and

weighs a good amount .The kayak is made by Seaward ,who are thought of as top

of the line right now in quality construction. I am thinking of selling it .John

Impex Assateague #1 in my book!!!

– Last Updated: Sep-12-05 7:56 AM EST –

I am a big guy, not quite as tall, but big boned, and heavier. I have tried several kayaks over the last 4 years, and I feel VERY strongly that the Impex Assateasgue is the number 1 Big Guy kayak. Of all of the kayaks I have owned, and test paddled, I feel the Assateague is by far the best!

Whatever you do, stay away from the Boreal Nanook. Read my review here on P-Net. I wouldn't reccomend a Boreal kayak to anyone, expecially a Nanook for the big guy. Plus with the rudder in the up position, it acts like a weather vane, with the wind pushing the stern around badly.

The Assateague has reasonable initial stability, and super secondary stability. It is fast for it's weight capacity too. I found with a little skeg deployment, it has handled any wind I have been in without any problem. Also with a little lean, it carves a very tight turn.

The Assateague is an awesome kayak for the big guy. I am sure you will like it. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any further questions!

I have a Yakima rack on my 4X4 Dodge Dakota. I use two sets of Mako Saddles, with the felt pads on them. The Mako saddles are designed to "give" and absorb road shocks when on bumpy roads. They are designed to protect composite hulls, and the felt pads keep the hull from being scuffed. I have used this for 3 seasons now, and am pretty happy with it. I carry my kayak top side up. I slide it into the rack from the rear of my truck.
Good Luck!


– Last Updated: Sep-12-05 9:38 AM EST –

Here is my experience: I'm 6'1" and 205 lbs, I've tried a lot of boats in my pre-purchase research and ended up with two choices: Impex Assateague and N. Foster's Shadow.
I purchased the Assateague, I love the boat, took it on many different conditions and I am yet to find something that I don't like about it.
That is not to say that it is better than the Shadow, it is just a different boat that fits my needs/paddle stile better.
The NF Shadow is a superb kayak that is worth trying before you make a decision. The Assateague on the other hand is the sweetest, most user friendly full blown ocean kayak I've ever paddled and it doesn't hurt to repeat what has been said here over and over in previous post: Impex offers one of the best customer services in the industry.

Try this link

Why are you looking for high initial stability?

What boats did you use in your many hours of instruction? What did you like? What did you dislike?

if you like
the Assateauge you may want to try a Tempest 180. It’s a shade bigger and very similar handling characteristics. and…IMO a more comfy seat/cockpit.


I tried a Nighthawk 17.5
I test paddled a Nighthawk 17.5, and I immediatly disliked it. It was TOO big for me. At 270 Lb, that is saying something.

The Cockpit is also far behind the center of the kayak. So when I had it in rough water, the bow bobbed around like a fishing bobber. I paddled out into the chop, and turned right around with it. My Assateague rides the chop staying more level, but the “17.5” had the Bow bobbing around.

If you want a BARGE (Sorry if I offended anyone), go for the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5. But it is not a performance kayak in any respect. To me, (IMHO) it was more like a large truck, rather than a perforance kayak. I am sure this would be great if you wanted to load it down, and go for a week, but for me, this wasn’t the boat I wanted. Nicely made, but not for me.

Again, I sincerely apologize if I offended anyone by calling the “17.5” a barge, but that is how it felt to me when I paddled it.

ah yess
but how long will it take to be delivered?

NDK Explorer HV
Is my kayak, I am a fit 6’1" and about 250 lbs. It fits me perfect, no additional outfitting needed and the seat actual fits my rear end.

No offense taken
I’ve had it out in rough water (2 foot plus chop)and thought it handled it great. I did not notice the bobbing effect. The cockpit fits me well the thigh braces are in the right spots and the seat works for hips as well as ass. I’m not planning on crossing the artic ocean or compete against surf skis. Everybody has two things and opinions are only one.

My Two Cents
I am 6’ 6" and weigh 210. I am not very big in the torso, but have long(36" inseam), strong legs (lot’s of cycling) and wide hips. Consequently, I can’t fit in boats that have cockpits much less than 16.5" width or shorter than 31".

Of all the boats that I tried, only two that I fit into fairly easily and they are the Impex Assateague and the WS Tempest 180 Pro. I fit into the Percetion Eclipse and Carolia also, but you said a kayak with a skeg.

I ended up buying the Impex and really like it. I got a good deal on one that made it more attractive than the WS Tempest boat.

It handles well and I have never felt it was ever really unstable. I have taken it in a bunch of conditions, but nothing too outrageous because of my skill level. It is my first kayak, so I can’t say how it is supposed to handle, but it does what I tell it to, at least most of the time. I very rarely use the skeg.

Impex’s Customer service is first rate.


Thanks a bunch
Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. They have been extraordinarily helpful in giving me a great starting point for demo’s. I just hate walking into a kayak store, confessing my inexperience and then hearing the words “Boy have we got a kayak for you”. It make me feel like road kill.

Again, thanks to all.