Whitewater Boat for larger paddler?

Hi everyone,

I’m wanting to buy my first ww kayak, but seem to be limited on choices. I’m a larger woman (size 16) and have wide hips. The local paddle shop only had a couple of ww boats in stock, and looking at them, there was not any way my butt was going to fit in that cockpit! Seems like these boats are made for guys with little butts. Am I just dreaming or are there boats with ample cockpit space for larger people?

I’ve paddled a Scupper Pro for ~3 yrs now that I use for flatwater paddling in the Houston area. I also have an older Dagger Pegasus (SOT WW boat) that I like to play with on the Guad and San Marcos rivers. I definitely plan to take ww lessons first, and for all practical purposes, consider myself a novice in regards to my new venture. I would love to learn to surf and play in the rapids—but definitely not into cartwheels and flips and all that jazz :wink:

Can anyone throw a few ww boats out there for consideration?


Plenty Of Boats…
first a perception change. It you’re used to SOTs, it may well be that LOOKING at any SINK will seem like they’re too tight. The fact is that with ww boats you want a SNUG fit. You want that intimate contact that will allow the boat to respond to any hip motion you want to throw at it. You need to try to sit inside one to really determine where you fit into the cockpit. As a ww beginner, you will also need to consider the volume as more provide a more forgiving boat that will not inadvertently trip on its edges or stern squirt you on a squirrelly current line.

Not knowing what a size 16 is, I hazard to guess that there a quite a number of designated “river running” ww boats that would fit you. These have relatively higher volumes and more forgiving chine lines that don’t trip as much.

I think Liquid Logic’s Trigger (smaller) and Lil Joe (bigger) are good beginning river runners. There is also the GT series (different sizes) from Dagger. Also Wavesports Diesel series. Or Riot’s Booster series.

Rather than going straight out for a boat, you may want to consider taking lessons from an outfitter first. These give skills but also a chance to try different boats or ask questions about them.


Give yourself a break
Size 16 is not that big. There are lots of WW boats you can fit in. Have a look at this page:

I don’t know about instruction programs where you are but the program I teach in has a range of boats for all the sizes of people we deal with from skinny 12 year olds to guys 6’4" with big feet to wider women. Beg, borrow , or steal before you buy. :slight_smile:

Definitely a perception change is in order! Seeing the little guy jump in and out of that cockpit w/ room to spare…well, the thought of not fitting in would have been like the nightmare when you show up to work/school naked!

I’m not a huge person, but I am 5’8 and weigh over 200 lbs. I have a large frame and am very curvy/hippy.

There is a paddle festival next weekend and several vendors will be there, so I’ll have a chance to start looking. In San Marcos, there is a kayak center where potential olympians train and offer lessons to raise funds for their training/costs (something like Power Outdoor Center). I’m hoping to take lessons there to start.

I’ve got the fever!!!

You’ll find something…
You’ll find a boat that will fit you! But hips can be a killer! I’m not what I consider a super curvy woman, but I AM a woman, so I DO have hips. I’ve sometimes tried out guys’ boats at the pool, and even though the guy was bigger than me waist-wise, I sometimes could barely fit in their boat because they have NO hips!!! But that’s how they have outfitted their kayak to fit them. When you go to try a boat, often it will have some sort of hip pads. Take them out! New demo models, these probably are just velcroed in. If you try a used model, the former owner might have glued minecell foam in place, which will make it hard to really try unless they will let you cut them out. Make sure you have a good fit WITHOUT any hip pads, and then you can add your own exactly to fit you. Or, you may not need hip pads, at all. I have a Riot Booster, and although I had to add a lot of foam outfitting to help support my knees, I don’t have any hip pads (as I like to say, I have my own hip pads, thank you - as in they’re built into my body!). Actually, I’ve dropped nearly two sizes since starting whitewater kayaking, so this Spring when I’m no longer wearing bulky winter gear, I may add some thin hip pads to my boat for the very first time. Another thing - when you go to demo, plan what you are going to wear. My own kayak is very comfy for me, but I can’t hardly get in my own boat if I’m wearing bulky jeans or the like. If you can, plan to wear something thin or form-fitting so it will make trying out boats easier and more like what you would actually be wearing when paddling. I’ve heard about that place you mentioned, and taking some lessons there should be great. Also, they may have a several models for you to try, so that you try some out before making a purchase. I concur with some boats already listed: Wavesport Diesel, Dagger Mamba, Riot Booster, Dagger GT, all good models to try.

I guess the main thing I want to stress, is don’t get discouraged! These boats are primarily made for MEN, and even LARGE men don’t have hips like us gals do. But there are boats that will work for you! And paddling whitewater is a BLAST!!!

Oh - one more rambling thought: whitewater kayaking is ALL about the hips! It takes a while to start getting in tune with it (at least it did for me), but if you watch some of those advanced boaters at a local surf spot, you’ll see that so much of what they are doing is moving the boat with their lower body: contact with the boat with the knees, thighs, and HIPS. Well, the happiest thing happened to me this past week. Last weekend I paddled some whitewater with some friends and we filmed some short clips of each other surfing some holes. Well, upon reviewing the clips, one guy said that I had great hip action! Wow - I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear that from a guy! Moral of the story - those hips can make you a great paddler! :o)

Best of luck in your whitewater journey!!!

PS - I think Dr. Disco forgot the link. There’s Wes Boyd’s Kayak site, but really it’s not very up to date on ww boats. There’s a better site for larger paddlers and ww boats, but I can’t seem to find the link anywhere. Maybe someone else can add it here…

Loose hips save ships!
Just to echo the above – a whitewater boat should fit like you’re wearing it. It does take some getting used to, but you do not want to be sliding around in the cockpit when the water gets interesting.

It’s entirely normal for people to adjust, modify, and customize the outfitting for a proper fit. If you don’t fit the stock outfitting you’re not alone, so don’t feel bad. It’s rare to see anyone on a river – even skinny guys – without some customization. If we were all shaped alike it’d be pretty boring.

Most whitewater boats are made in 2-3 sizes now, so you might want to keep notes when you’re test-sitting. The Jackson Fun series, for example, comes in six different sizes.

Good luck!