weight limit issues with inflatable kayaks

Hi, hope someone might have some insight into this. I really want to get an inflatable kayak (I live near great kayaking spots in South Florida but no way to either store or transport an appropriately-sized hard kayak). I am a very big guy (~6’8", 330 lbs) so obviously I am a little worried about swamping it. My plan was to pick up a tandem inflatable kayak with a suitably high weight limit (like 600 lbs) which should, in theory, be fine for me and my significantly smaller wife.

However, I’m worried that since it’s an inflatable it might not do as well as a hard shell kayak (which we are both fine in) in distributing my weight. Will I have issues with this?

You should have no problem with the Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl tandem. It has a weight capacity of 750 lbs. The drop stitch inflatable floor (similar to the structure of inflatable stand up paddleboards) adds rigidity and will help to keep it from sagging under your weight. This is not a feature of many other Inflatable models so it would be your best bet. I believe it has the highest capacity rating of the moderately priced flatwater tandems as well. Performance is said to be quite good and favorable to that of similar dimension hardshells. At 43 pounds it is less than half the weight of most plastic or fiberglass tandems.

Just make sure that you inflate it to the recommended pressure. And remember that air pressure varies with temperature and you may need to add a little if you’ve been out for a while in cooler water.


Thanks, I appreciate the advice! It’s a little more expensive than I was hoping but better safe than sorry.

Actually, that package for $1300 is a darn good deal for a tandem kayak including paddles. For an extra $100 you can get the carbon fiber paddles. A half pound weight difference is noticeable in a long day of paddling.

Innova makes a convertible 1 person/2 person/3 person inflatable kayak with a 595 pound weight limit for $750, and Aquaglide has a tandem model rated at 600 pounds for $800. Both has the conventional tubular structure floor which is not as rigid as the drop-stitched design, though the Aquaglide Klikitat is a high-pressure model that might be a reasonable option. Consider that once you bought paddles and other accessories (that are included in the Sea Eagle package), you would be back up to over $1000 anyway.

The higher the buoyancy/weight limit of the boat, the better it will track for you. The closer your combined weight gets to the limit, the deeper the boat will ride in the water, affecting performance.

If you want to explore other options, AirKayaks (for which I am including the links below for the two other models I mentioned) is a good company (though they don’t stock Sea Eagle) and you might consider calling them for advice on models they might have for your usage and cargo capacity concerns. I have bought from them several times – they often have good deals on demo boats and factory blems of carbon paddles.



Check out the tandem Aquaglide Chelan Two HB. It is rated for 400 pounds. I have the Chelan One HB, rated for 300 pounds. I am impressed how well it paddles with the drop-stitch floor construction similar to an inflatable paddle board . My other boat is a Tempest 170.

The OP and his wife weigh over 400 pounds together – the Chelan Two doesn’t have enough capacity for them.

Another vote for Sea Eagle. I have 4 friends that paddle different models of Sea Eagle & love them. They appear well made & their package options & prices are good. Their Fast Track, Explorer, and Razor Lite models all have the drop stitch floors. The Fast Track double 385 can handle 635 pounds, the Explorer & Razor Lite doubles can handle 750 pounds. If I were shopping for an inflatable to paddle in Florida, the Sea Eagles would probably be my choice.

Andrew-C, let us know what you decide to go with and how it works out. We like to hear how various boats perform for the people that check in on here. Helps all of us to help other new paddlers when they weigh in for suggestions.