What is a "larger" paddler?

Hey guys, kind of a stupid question but not at all a sarcastic one: I started off with a recreational kayak (Perception Rythm 11) that I have more than enjoyed myself in, but am now considering buying a more serious touring kayak to take my fun to the next level. The problem I am having is whether or not to consider myself to be a “larger” (or “smaller”) paddler or not. It seems that no matter which brands’ site I go to, they tend to specify whether this is for a larger or for a smaller paddler, nothing in between.

I am 5’10" about 200lbs but about a 32" waist. Not to sound arrogant AT ALL, but I am more muscular and carry hardly any weight around my waist although I am “heavy.” I did search the archives and also googled as well but found no satisfactory answer. It seems that I could fit into a cockpit designed for the “smaller” paddler, but it may not paddle as efficiently as a kayak designed for a larger paddler. Or for the opposite spectrum, I may paddle more efficiently in a kayak designed for a “larger” paddler, but because my frame is smaller it may not be as efficient?

I plan to buy around a 14ft kayak and it will mainly be used for flatwater and some whitewater (no more than class III) as well as some slight open water use (close to shore). My question remains as to whether a kayak meant for smaller paddler or larger paddler is right. I consider myself to be in the middle…does anyone know of a touring kayak meant for this? Thank you in advance!


Average paddler
Is usually 180-200 lbs in weight. Height is probably in there but if you fit in the cockpit it is right. Some people at that size can and do squeeze into a boat for a small paddler because it feels more playful. Personal choice - you really have to just get into boats. Lower volume boats are usually easier to roll than larger volume ones.

Re your goals, nothing that’ll work well on flat water belongs in class 3 WW. People underrate the difficulty of the classes in WW until they try it and get a reality check.

Many come in 3 sizes …
LV, or low volume, HV, or high volume, or “regular”, which usually has no letters like LV or HV after the name. P&H uses MV for medium volume. Others come in sizes, each scaled to perform the same way, like WS’s Tempest, which come in 165, 175 and 185, ie 16.5’, 17.5’…etc.

For your height and weight, you would most likely avoid LV or HV boats. On the other hand, if you planning to carry a lot of gear, such as camping, you could use a HV boat. Some people your size like a LV boat to play in the waves.

A boat is kinda like a pair of pants. Not all bands fit the same, even when they have the same waist size. You’ve gotta try them on.

And just as pants can be tailored, boats can be fitted out to fit you.

A good paddle shop that has boats to demo is the place to start. They ask how you plan to use the boat, then fit you to boats that are likely candidates. You’ll try boats on in the shop, then they’ll have you demo the best matches in the water.

Just go
with what you feel comfortable in. If you can get a test paddle in it even better.

thank you
Thank you all for the responses, I just get confused when sellers list their kayaks as either 14S or 14L or what not when I don’t consider myself to be either to be either. Thanks for helping clear that up.

I’m more of a minimalist camper so space really isn’t an issue. I’ve already successfully camped a few weekends with my 11ft kayak with a good amount of space left unfilled so anything at least 3 ft longer should do easily, even if it is narrower.

Unfortunately, I live in New Orleans where it is a piece of cake to test drive practically any motorized boat known to man, but kayak outfitters are virtually nonexistent to get a test paddle in.

my vote…
at the risk of offending people…I think “large” paddlers label usually means people who are clearly overweight/obese. at 5’10 …i would be concerned with leg room/interior height for feet/foot angle( u didn’t mention your shoe size) depending on your leg length. . i’m also 200# and i don’t have any problem fitting in most cockpit openings …but i clearly prefer “keyhole” style cockpit opening for me ,for leg room, getting in and out.

Check out the Dagger Alchemy S
Fun little boat…

Averages Bite Rocks

– Last Updated: May-12-11 4:56 PM EST –

With 7 Billion humans on the planet, differences exist.

The people hardest to float are those with compact, dense bodies.
These tend to be people with athletic body builds,
with a lot of bone and muscle mass, and not much fat.
Fat is not as dense as muscle and bone,
so people who are overweight can actually be easier
to float than someone who is much smaller and leaner.

In either case , outfit that new yak with flotation bags for safety.

The boat is doing the floating.
It sees weight as an absolute and could care less what the physical condition of that weight is.Moving said boat is a different story.

smart thing
to do is sit in the boat, if not actually paddle it, and see if you are comfortable in it. That way you won’t have to rely on lables to determine if it fits you or not. rather like trying on a pair of pants or shoes—

im extra large
up to 165 lbs and only 5 foot 5 started diet a few days ago but i have no idea what im doing but i see i cant drink whole milk like i used to or soda pop