weight limits on kayaks

hi, i previously kayaked at 200 pounds but the last 15 years got into power lifting and now weigh in around 270 or more depending on time of year. Most is muscle weight. Will a kayak recommended at 250 sink if i get in? Or just be difficult to kayak. We are talking just bayou kayaking, not tough stuff, nice and slow. So with minimal gear, being 270 mainly muscle what weight limit should i be looking for please. I will not use this alot, a few times a year, so i dont want to spend alot, pelase dont recommend high priced kayaks thats a waste of time

varies by manufacturer
The weight rating varies by manufacturer. Some give leeway by choosing a conservative weight, and others select a weight that is higher than really should be in the boat.

In general, being over the specified weight won’t sink the kayak, but will have it lower in the water which will change how it performs and may even make it less stable.

In general, I’d shoot for a weight rating at least 50 pounds more than your weight, and perhaps even 100.

Also, if the weight is high (arms and shoulders), the paddler center of gravity will be higher than a normal person and a boat with the proper weight rating may feel tippier than expected.

im not just top heavy, pretty proportional with big legs too. what do you mean tippy?? will i fit into a kayak or get a sit on top do you think? if i get one rated for 300 will the damm thing sink

thank you btw

I’d say to be safe, looking for a kayak rated for 350lbs+ would be better. Wilderness Systems makes quite a few kayaks that fit that size, both for sit-inside and sit-on-top style.

“Tippy” refers to how unstable the kayak will feel when you are sitting in it on the water. Most of us men will feel more tippy because we carry out weight higher in our shoulders. Wider and flatter hulls will feel less “tippy”, but will be more difficult to handle if there are waves (wide kayaks tilt with the wave rather than staying even as the wave passes under you).

Also, what you are using the kayak for is important.

If you are just doing some light recreational paddling, a shorter kayak with a large cockpit rated at 350lbs might be suitable.

If you want to fish from the kayak you’ll be carrying more weight in gear, so something like a sit-on-top kayak rated at 400lbs+ might be better.

If you are planning on covering distance, longer and narrower are better.

Maybe an easier way to look at weight is:

((Kayak max capacity) - 25%) - (kayak’s weight) - (your weight) - (your gear’s weight, including clothing)

If the number is still positive, you should be all right.

If you crowd the weight limit
On a SOT your going to be sitting in a puddle most the time. Been there.

In a SINK it will ride lower in the water and you will have to be wary of boat wakes and handling will suck. But there are plenty of REC kayaks with #300-350 that would suit you. Check out Swifty or Pungo for example.

I know your not interested in the higher end kayaks, but should you start shopping the used market consider you would probably have an issue with fitting your butt in a boat designed close to your weight limit. One of my kids is a powerlifter and I know the world does not have powerlifter thighs in mind when designing ergonomically. Be sure to test paddle.

Have you considered a canoe?

Look for a Mad River Adventure 14

– Last Updated: Mar-14-16 10:22 PM EST –

Mad River makes a plastic canoe that has some characteristics of a sit on top kayak. The Adventure 14 can be paddled solo or tandem and has a weight rating of 875 lbs -- it will barely know you're there and you could even paddle with a buddy if you wanted. It has low sides and can be paddled with a 240 cm double ended kayak paddle. Canoes are also more practical for fishing, if you want to do that.


I love my kayaks, but my ex and I had a rented a Mad River Adventure when we were in the Everglades and enjoyed it so much we bought a used one when we got back home and often used it instead of the kayaks for paddling winding rivers and lakes, even some mild whitewater. The boat tracks and paddles well and the seating position is very comfortable.

They are sold by a lot of sporting goods stores so it isn't that hard to find them used. We got ours for $400 in excellent shape and the owner even threw in a little 30 watt electric trolling motor (the stern on the Adventures is designed for mounting one.) I regularly see them in my area for $300 to $450. You'd be hard-pressed to find a kayak that would comfortably handle your size for that price. If you are mostly going to be exploring and fishing on rivers and bayous I think you would find it a nice craft for that.

The only drawback is they are little heavy, but we just got a little two wheeled cart that doubled as a roof loader dolly. It made it easy to get it to the water, even solo, and the dolly can be stashed in the boat.

Test paddle
If possible just test paddle it. I go over my Valley Avocets rated weight limit when I load it up for a camping trip. I was about 20 pounds over. In my case it was perfectly fine. So if its possible test paddle it to see how it handles. Most kayak stores will let you paddle it before you buy.

If you could find one
Old Town used to make a couple of boats that would do the job for you, but you would have to go with a used one, or possibly find a dealer that has some stuck away in the back. Number one would be the 14’ Dirigo and the 138 Loon should also do the job.

You might also want to check out the Old Town Next. It’s not really a kayak, but you would paddle it the same and it will handle your weight.

I will warn you that paddling can be addictive and make you lust for more advanced equipment. Before you buy, visit some real kayak shops and check out the goodies. You might think that the big stuff is beyond your thinking. Don’t be fooled; you too could succumb as we all have.

Above all, research and discover what a genuine paddling pfd is and what a proper paddle is and do not skimp on either.

Cobra Fish & Dive
Cobra Fish & Dive if you can find one. 600# capacity, 12.5’ sit-on-top, extremely stable, full-length integrated keel makes it track well, shorter length makes it easier to maneuver than longer SOTs.

These are the Paddling.net reviews:


OT Next
I agree with everyone. Get something that will hold your weight, plus 50 to 100 lbs. You don’t want to be at the extreme top end of the weight rating and you definitely don’t want to be over the weight limit. The boat won’t sink but will not handle well.

The suggestion of the OT Next is something you should check out. It will easily handle your weight and at 275 lbs it will be a lot easier to enter and exit.

won’t sink
The weight limit is for the design waterline. If you weigh more it’ll just sit a bit deeper but the odds are on most normal sized boats it’ll only be a bit over an inch deeper. It won’t sink unless you’re in some tiny kayak.

Bill H.

You sure?
I don’t think that most manufacturers list the max weight limit to mean the designed optimum waterline.

If you go to some shop’s websites, they will list what they think is the optimum paddler weight, and it never close to the max weight limit.

Take 2/3 of max payload
and that’s your boat

The max weight limit does not mean the amount of weight to sink the boat, that would be a silly measurement.

Bill H.

Missed the point
I’m not disagreeing the a kayak won’t sink at the “max” weight limit, but you said that the max weight limit represents the weight for the designed optimum waterline, which is incorrect.