weight capacity; safety or performance?

A friend is looking at buying a kayak. I noticed that the capacity is 250 lbs & he is about 230. Packing for a weekend camping trip will likly exceed the capacity. (I really don’t care to hear about how you pack nothing but dried fruit, a water filter & a tarp for a 6 week backwoods trip. Not that it is not impressive, but it is just not what I’m into.)

My question is, would slightly (how much?) overpacking compromise safety or just the performance?

Conditons will generally be slow southern rivers.

Boat in question is a Trophy 126 from Dick’s.



What’s Unsafe?

– Last Updated: Jun-02-11 5:05 PM EST –

If you're talking about an unintentional capsize far from shore, we're all supposed to be ready for that, loaded heavy or light.

Also, are you talking about someone doing 95% day trips and 5% overnighters? If so, the boat may be OK. If it's going to be used for camping quite a bit I'd choose another boat.

Weight versus…
Regarding performance, an overloaded boat will sit deeper in the water than its intended waterline and may literally plow water (push water in front of itself) because of that. This is not a safety consideration per se, it impacts speed and ease of paddling.

There is a point where an overloaded boat can be sitting so deep that it has lost any of its initial stability. But you usually have to sink the heck out of a boat and have a load that is moving, like sloshing water, for that to be enough to cause a capsize. I don’t know this boat. But if I were to guess, with a width of 29.5 inches and a pretty flat profile, someone would have to be really squirreling around in the cockpit to take this boat to that point.

I looked at the reviews on Dick’s site from owners, and your friend may want to think about how he gets to that weight. Here is a snippet from someone who is tall and large -“I am 6’4” and weigh 230. While the weight was not the problem, my torso was a bit too long for the seat back and it got very uncomfortable in less than 1 hour even with the life vest on. I am going to shop around for a better seat (especially for fishing). But all in all I am very pleased."

The safety factor on this boat, to me, is not where you are thinking. There is no sealed bulkhead in front, so unless flotation is added the boat could fill with water in a capsize so that the front end is pulled downwards. Short of a friendly motor boat coming by, you aren’t going to rescue that boat. You can fix this by adding float bags or combination float bags and dry bags, but this takes up room. Does your friend have enough room in front of his feet once seated in this boat to have anything up there?

It also lacks perimeter lines, rope around the edges that allows you to hang onto the boat should there be a capsize. Used in the right circumstances these things aren’t an issue, but if you get well out from shore and get separated from the boat someone needs to be a decent swimmer.

This seems to be a boat that has made a lot of people quite happy. Any questions are mostly about whether it is a good match for your friend’s use.

my 12’ Dirago
has a capacity of 285#.

subtractmy 175# leaves 100# for gear… which includes paddles, PFD, water, food, tent, safety gear…

So aftera week of hard work, I got my gear weight DOWN to 170#.

I put the boat in a friend’s swimming pool, got in and LO! I still had some 6-8" of freeboard!

I still managed to paddle three days down river with no problems other than what you would expect pulling a heavy boat through the water.

So I suspect the load-limit is less safety and performance and more legal liability to protect the manufacturer.

I’m sorry…
You carried 170 pounds of gear? On a 3 day trip?

What was it?

A battery-powered mini-refrigerator?

No standard way of figuring load limit

– Last Updated: Jun-03-11 7:37 PM EST –

Some boats at the load limit wallow like pigs, and others, and yours seems to be one of them, are more reasonable. That was one thing I always liked about Bell canoes: They well tell you how much weight would cause the boat to settle some reasonable amount into the water, such as three inches or four inches. On the other hand, it almost seems like some other canoe makers figure that if the canoe still floats securely on calm water, it must not be overloaded (who would put 1,000 pounds in an average-sized canoe just because that's the "weight capacity"?).