weight forward or rear in kayak

with a small load / day trip where you will have survival necessaties on board a where do you prefer the load? front, rear, evenly dispered?and why? and would there be a differnce in say class three white water river running as to seakayaking?


preferences for seat positioning?

where do you put your spare paddle?

how much necessaties?
When sea kayaking I bring things like extra food, water, first aid, boat repair and extra layers but not stuff like tent, stove etc. so it all goes in my day hatch. The weight just behind me like that seems to work fine. I suppose if I had more stuff I might pack some of the lighter, bulkier (e.g. sleeping bag) stuff in my bow hatch.

I keep my spare paddle on my bow so I can reach it easily and it’s out of the way for a quick cowboy rescue. That’s at the expense of more exposure to surf so I have an extra bungee keeping it in place where I may not need that on the rear deck – it’s all tradeoffs.

depends on the boat
I have several sea kayaks and find that each boat responds defferently to load balance. My 18’ skin-on-frame Greenland replica kayak, which is ultralight and has a moderate skeg built into the keel way in the stern, tends to weathercock unless I stash something fairly heavy way up in the bow and keep more weight forward in general. On the other hand, I have a 15’ folding kayak with a skeg closer to the cockpit that tracks best with the load balanced front and rear. And another boat (a 15’ rigid plastic boat I use for fast streams and moderate whitewater) handles better with the heavy junk in the rear hatch.

Why any of these arrangements work I have not really thought about – it has been just trial and error with each boat. And, of course, what I want it to do. In fast shallow water I want to be able to change direction quickly (weight in the back) and on flatter deeper water I want to straight track better (weight equal or to the front). But I concede that may be more the different boat designs than how I am loading them.

Was that a serious question about the spare paddle? If so, always within reach slid under the stern deck bungee rigging.

loaded question
Assuming your kayak handles as desired empty, you would want your load to affect the trim as little as possible.

This can be accomplished by putting additional weight to as close to paddler as possible.

At this point particular kayak design and the size of your pack become really important:

  • in SKs with day hatch putting your stuff in a day hatch is a good option.
  • some SKs have enough space behind the seat for storage
  • it might be beneficial to split load in two, put part up front, the rest at the back, adjust both loads to trim kayak properly

  • in WW playboat/river playboat your are very limited where to put stuff; usually it is the stern behind the seat, some small items can be placed below your knees.
  • other WW boats are usually more spacious, similar suggestions to SK apply

Somewhat confusing question…

– Last Updated: Dec-14-10 10:05 AM EST –

A boat that is really well suited for playing in class 3 WW rarely has storage in the bow, so everything has to be in the back. Those boats usually are sufficiently sensitive to weight shifts that the seats are set for different positions. So of course it'd be different from a boat with bulkheaded compartments front and back, as in a sea kayak.

The usual starting point I've heard for loading a sea kayak is 40% ahead of the paddler and 60% behind, then change things around as needed for the boat and trim considerations. One of my sea kayaks loads that way, the other one I tend to 50/50 at least for regular day paddling because it doesn't hurt the bow to be a little tamed down. For surf another mater, I want the bow high and loose.

For day paddles, probably the biggest weight point is the day hatch, right behind the seat.

What boats are you talking about, as in your own that you'd be loading, and for what environment? It would help to make better sense of the question.

"Small load -just necessities- day trip"
I just throw it in the front compartment. (mainly because I have my spare paddle on the back deck over the rear compartment)

A several day trip or a overnighter with more gear and weight, I use both compartments and try to make the boat as trim as possible - Possibly a tad bow light.

On a down river trip with rapids, I prefer to be more bow light than trim.

Jack L

Pack for Conditions
If you anticipate encountering high winds during your outing, you may want to load your kayak accordingly.

Generally, you’ll want heavier items packed in the end of the boat from which the wind is coming, to resist its natural tendency to weathercock (turn upwind). If the wind is approaching from the side/beam, pack slightly stern-heavy for the same reason.

Here’s more info on dealing with beam winds:


Good luck!



both prijons
a kodiak for sea kayaking and a yukon expedition that I use for river trips and open water

sweet site thanks.

For me
I own an 11 ft rec kayak. Can store a decent amount of gear in it (although it is no gazelle even when unloaded).

The heaviest stuff usually goes right beind the seat (can usually fit around 18 beers or so for an overnight, plus enough water).

The sleeping bag and tent (minus poles) go in the forward bow. And the rest of the gear goes in a few dry bags that fit in the rear stern. I find it better to have the heaviest things near you and the next heavier things directly behind me, and the lighter equipment up in the bow. (because the bow is longer than the stern, the further up in the bow an item is, the ‘heavier’ it is in relationship to if it were sitting in the stern hatch).

Mine is a Perception Sport Rhythm 11 if that makes a difference, or helps any.

Boat has to be evenly trimmed…
If you are going to be paddling in waves the boat has to be loaded pretty much evenly with most mass near the center of the boat and and center line to keep it trimmed. Slightly stern heavy is better than bow heavy, but you can load the nose to keep it down in cross winds. No way you want the boat bow heavy in big waves, if the bow is too light it will catch too much wind. If you have a kodiak you know it’s very forgiving and easy to pack a ton of gear.


– Last Updated: Dec-15-10 7:01 PM EST –

the yukon is also easy to pack a ton of gear into. nice because of the high initial stability and turns on a dime unlike traditional touring kayaks. great input so far. it would be nice to hear from someone that paddles one of these 2 yaks. cheeers
and paddle on..................!

Have paddled kodiak a lot
Don’t own it but have been on coastal trips and island crossing with an outfitter that uses them. I ended up carrying the cooking equipment and most of the food for the whole group since the Kodiak will hold a lot of stuff. Did not have any issues handling the loaded boat, it’s a good boat for long trips in open ocean conditions.