What's with Necky and weight caps?

I own a Manitou. I’m thinking about upgrading to a longer touring Necky yak. Satisfied with their design quality, I’m considering remaining a loyal customer. Coming from a strictly whitewater background, I like to know volume and/or weight capacity of boats before I demo/buy. Why doesn’t Necky list these specs for their sea yaks on their web site? Anybody know? Are they copping out, or is the buyer not suppose to ask?

You’ll get better answers, but I seem to
recall a printed Necky rationale about there not being a clearly defined standard for boat capacity. I know I “push” the capacity of my little Looksha Sport more than might seem advisable, but as long as I don’t run aground, it seems not to mind.

This is true for published guidelines for whitewater kayaks also. As a big person, I find that boat builders are quite willing to claim their boats will carry me comfortably. But from experience, I know better.

In the case of Necky, I would just call them. They have always been helpful when I have called about replacement parts, etc.

Yeah, I’m a big person too, and
"plowing," especially in a lower volume boat I know from experience is absolutely no fun.

I probably will call them as you suggest. But I was just curious what the non-company line was before asking. Thanks.

Weight classifications
Think of it this way. Most boat design will hold or float more weight than is often printed as a weight class for a boat. There’s a ratio between how much a boat will sink vs. how much speed it will loose for any given weight. So the specs that manufacturers put out are really very general. Necky probably just choose to not deter a sale by discouraging a prospective buyer with a certain model. Small people are always over boated. A weight class might discourage a smaller person. If you’re well over 200 lbs, the larger boats in any manufacturers line will be fine. Some big people who are experienced will want to squeeze into the smallest thing possible for handling and rolling but will loose out with speed if it sinks too deep. And on the the other side, there are many smaller types paddling large Explorers because they feel good in it.

So, Necky is not being devious - probably just more practical.

White water boats’ specs always include volume as well as recommended carrying capacity, often for varying types of uses. It might be useful if sea kayak manufacturers did the same.

how to use
How does someone use the volume specification to determine how big a boat to get? Is there a formula or some sort of guidelines used in white water?

Jackson Kayaks example
This shows better than I could explain:


problem with that
WW boats aren’t designed to carry excess gear, just the paddler. The interior volume of a sea kayak can vary a lot according to volume above the sheer, which is a measurment totally unrelated to the hulls carrying capacity.

I can answer
Sea kayaks are not WW boats. It’s virtually impossible to overload a sea kayak (that you can fit in) with even heavy gear.

The limiting factor is space for gear you need to bring. Now, if you need some number tossed at you call Necky and they will have an R&D person speak with you. You’ll have a conversation that will perhaps help you understand that such a number is quite abstract. Necky does have storage volume numbers for most of their touring kayaks, they just haven’t published those.

I know for a fact that Necky would rather a dealer have a discussion about design displacement with a customer, rather than defaulting to a hang tag number, that, as soon as you stick it on a boat, it’s wrong for someone. Their decision not to go there is not to be deceptive, they just don’t see it as a black and white deal.

Think about it this way. Boats designed for larger people have to be a bit wider, and have more volume. So, if you can physically fit into the kayak, and it has enough space for what you want to carry, it’s fine! You will NOT sink it.

At 210 I paddle a 15 ft. never-to-see market boat that’s smaller than a CH 16. Loaded it sits low in the water and loses some playfulness, but it’s just fine. Most people would consider that way over loaded…I don’t.

Likewise I’ve owned and paddled Nordkapps, Romany, Avocet, CH 16…all rather small kayaks relative to the general market. Did many thousands of miles in small boats and none sank.

So, I think Necky would rather not default to a simplistic number. Call them, talk with R&D, and discuss what you want to do, etc. I think you’ll learn a lot and feel better about your decision, be that a Necky, or any other brand.

Thanks for all the replies!
I wasn’t concerned so much about sinking as I was…sagging. Ya gotta understand, for a guy who’s been paddling canoes, duckies and little 7 and 8 foot ww boats for over a dozen years, shopping a solo yak over 14 feet is kind of a daunting task. And I just found it really curious that Necky would list volume specs on it’s whitewater page and not on their touring sea yaks. Didn’t really think there was any grand conspiracy involved.

As I fluctuate in weight between 190-210 lbs., I know I’m usually good to go with gear, bouyancy wise, in anything at 75 gallons plus. And of course, I’m aware most 16’+ sea yaks meet this criteria easily, even if they don’t list it.

Again, thank you one and all for the replies. I hope to get as much ocean time in 2008 as I get on creeks, rivers and lakes. I’ll be sure to call Necky when I’m ready to shop.

I’m right at 190#

– Last Updated: Feb-15-08 12:12 AM EST –

and paddle a Chatham 18. It will carry me and 120 pounds of gear. With 300+ pounds it isn't as nimble as it is with only 190 but it does fine.

Oh, BTW....it's for sale.


Ha-ha, thanks chodups.
But I’m leaning toward the CH 16 as the next step in my evoulution (or possibly something altogether different at 15’+ --Just can’t seem to relinquish my smaller boat obsession so easily.) And since your profile lists Seattle and I’m on the east coast, well let’s just say it’s easier for me to demo boats for sale along the Hudson. Good luck, though!

I understand the obsession.
My other boat is a Tern 14.

Interesting topic here…
that would’ve been helpful in my “buying the perfect boat” quest. I’m 6-3" and 270, with a lot of weight above the gunwales. I sat in a Chatham 17 and it felt good, but I was a bit put off by the lack of guidance as to weight. I was told to “try one out.” When I demo’d it, the owner of the shop (and my wife) said it looked as though the rear deck was about to go under water. I was told that I was too heavy for the boat.

I also tried a Tempest 170. WS lists it as having a maximum capacity of 300#. I felt that with me, a water bottle and a sandwich, I’d be pushing it. The rep on the phone said that it’s performance would suffer if I exceeded the weight.

I plan to do some overnights, so I went with a CD Sirrocco. It holds me up, but it feels a bit squirrelly. I’m hoping experience will tame it a bit.

I’ve paddled my wife’s WS Tempest 170 and really liked it. I’m going to try it out loaded this spring.

I think a lot of the “big guy boat syndrome” hoopla is something that has to be worked out using experience. Which is why I bought a well-used, plastic boat for my first.

Tempest 180 maybe?

Every boat’s a compromise…
And it sounds like, as with the rest of us,

–you’ll eventually find that “perfect” fit.

Good hunting, brother.

(As an even bigger guy than me, I’m gonna be sure to stay on your good side when you post!)

paddling a submarine
my boat is a Paddling Perfection euro-x which is basically a DR with a sea kayak deck, and i exceed the manufacturer’s max weight limit quite comfortably without even putting any gear in the boat, so when i’m loaded for a couple of weeks my boat is barely visible. the effect of having the back deck almost underwater and the vertical surfaces of the bow running deep makes the boat track like its on rails no matter what the wind is doing, and i tend to paddle straight through waves rather than going up over the top like everybody else. You do lose a lot of your secondary stability when you lean the rear deck underwater so edging the boat is not a good option in sloppy chop, i try to stay flat and use the rudder to turn.

I’m considering buying a clc fast double kit and building an enormous single for my upcoming Inside Passage trip, just so i can have a bit of wriggle room and maybe a dry bum some of the time, but i still love my little red submarine.