XL man buying first real kayak.

-- Last Updated: Feb-27-07 9:09 AM EST --

I'm 6'2", 220 lbs., size 12 shoe. A friend has a Kevlar Caribou he wants to sell me, but after reading some reviews I think I'm too large. I noticed that not all kayaks are noted for paddler’s weight. What should I be looking at to make sure I buy one that I'm not too large for? During the summer my weight will go down to 210 if that makes a difference.
Thank you in advance for your help.

I'm located in Naples, FL. Plan on doing mostly day trips and a few over nights on nearby islands. I also want to paddle some paths in the everglades. I am the type that will go out during rougher waters to have some real fun. My skill level; I consider myself a novice, but I grew up with a used 12' poly kayak I purchase from a white water canoe livery. Very basic rental kayak.
You are all so helpful, Thanks.

check the pnet classifieds
I believe there is a solstice GTS for sale, boat for a larger person.

Not so much
Actually, the GTS is not a larger person’s boat. For someone his size the GT would be a better boat. A little more info on where you are planning to paddle would be helpful. The Caribou may work, IF you fit in it and IF you are comfortable in it. Probably couldn’t carry a lot of gear with you, but if you like it it might be the boat.

lots of boats will fit you
but there are many questions to ask of yourself. all the usual stuff. what do you want to do, now and what do you see yourself doing in the future in a sea kayak? do you want to camp? are you excited about the possibility of exposed coastal travel? do you see it as a playful thing or a way to get from A to B? do you want to go really fast? do you want maximum stability because the thought of capsize terrifies you? and so on. continue to read this site, look at different threads were people discuss different boats, and aspects of boats, performance, etc. read magazines, (with a grain of salt), read the review sections here (with said grain of salt) and go to stores and look at boats, SIT in boats, as many as possible, and as the saying goes on pnet- demo, demo, demo.

have fun.

try it out
I strongly advise anyone looking to buy a kayak to try it out before buying. At the very least, get in it dry (on land) and see how it feels to sit in it.

If you are not that familiar with kayaks and kayaking, better yet to take a few lessons and rent a few different boats before buying anything. get a chance to find out what is important to you in a boat before plunking any money down.

Your size is not unduly large, so most kayaks will fit (I am 6’ and 210 lbs, and it seems that most general purpose boats fit me just fine).

P and H Cetus
34 inch cockpit!!!

plus you get a 4th hatch…

awesome lines…very nordkappish…

for me i could raise my knees if i wanted…

good quality from this company…


– Last Updated: Feb-27-07 7:13 AM EST –

I am 6'3" 240, and love my QCC-700s... although I do wish they made it with a LONGER cockpit!!! BTW the 2nd GEM boats have more toe room, I have size 12.5 feet. the 3rd gen boats have a little less room as you are moved foward.

Add to the list
Don’t know where you’re located but add an Impex Assateague and either a Force Category 4 or Force Category 5 on the hit parade. Going out in the 5 today on the Hudson. Yeah, going to play hookey in the afternoon.

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY

Look at the Impex Assateague
Take a look at the Impex Assateague.

It is a Performance kayak designed from the start for the larger paddler.

I have had mine for a couple years now, and I love it.

Nicely made, and performs very well. You can read my review here on P-Net for more info.

Size and options
You are actually at the upper half but not huge for sea kayaks, which is I think what you may mean, though if you are coming from large cockpit rec boats I can see those cockpits looking like that. You’ve got a decent variety of choices out there since so many sea kayaks weren designed for expeditioning and to carry load. Now Wayne Horodowich is another story…

That said, as above it would help if you gave a little more info about what kind of paddling you want to do and where, whether you are you looking to go after skills like rolling, and what you present training and skill level may be.

paddler size/weight to boat?

I think more boats in the “sea kayak” category would support your weight. Comfort and fit are subjective, and I can’t really offer much opinion there. Some boats that come to mind for your needs are:

  • Epic Endurance and the 18x Sport. Perhaps a

    bit on the advanced side after using a poly

    rec boat. But you sound like you’d catch up quick

    and ultimately have a better exp.

  • Current Designs Extreme, or, the Loki R. The Loki

    is very fast, light, and stable, from what I’ve read.

    Hope this helps.



IF you want to do trips
Let me be the first to suggest looking at a used Prijon Kodiak if you can find one …before the Prijon crowd descends upon you.

Go to Sweetwater
According to Yahoo Naples and Sweetwater, Florida are 119 miles apart, with the drive being estimated at 1 hour 44 minutes. It’s a little long but still within a nice distance - we not infrequently drive and hour and a half or so to get to big lakes like Champlain in the summer.

I would strongly suggest that you talk to Sweetwater Kayaks, schedule a trip to just get into boats there and take a basic lesson. What you seem to be talking about, a boat for offshore trips in which you can enjoy going into rough water, is a pretty different animal from your present boat as are the skills it’ll support. A lesson is the best way to get a good sense of that.

Sweetwater is one of a handful of premiere sea kayaking establishments on the east coast, great coaches and everything else. They also may have some very nice used boats around, either from their own stock or maybe some that got turned in when folks at the sea kayaking symposium that ended a couple of days ago picked up a new one.

Their website is http://www.sweetwaterkayaks.com/

second going to sweetwater.
Call Russell and go up there. Great people, no strong sales pitches, but they will take the time to put you in the right boat.

6’2 and 220 is not overly large at all.

russell will put you in the right boat for what you want to do. He is one of the most knowledgeable people out there.


My husband
is 6’2", at about 255#, size 13 shoes… he paddles very comfortably in his Necky Narpa, and in the QCC 500. He’s also test paddled and been perfectly comfy in the the Necky Eskia, the Current Designs Storm, as well as the Current Designs Gulfstream, I believe. Lots more out there, just try before you buy if you can. :slight_smile:


since it hasnt been mentioned
the Boreal Designs Nanook, sold one to a guy a month or two ago of almost the same physical dimensions

your kfirst real kayak
I’ve personally never paddled the caribou but i did look at its stats and while i don’t think that you are tolarge you may be pushing into the boat’s upper weight range a bit. If you like current designs i’d suggest either the soltice or the gulfstream. the soltice sounds a bit large for what you want to do (it’s 17’7), but i ahven’t paddled it nor am i as tall and i don’t wheigh as much. I have paddled the gulfstream though and i can tell you that it is a very nice boat. It’s two inches shy of 17’ so it still has plenty of room and it is 23 inches wide whereas the soltice is 24 so it will be a little more nimble and fun in the waves. on the downside both of these boats only come in fberglas or kevlar and many beginners prefer to have a plastic boat and it usually is the better choice as they are a bit more durable and a beginne has a bit more of a tendancy torub a few rocks which really makes you cringe when your paddling a glass boat. P&H however has the capella which ranges in length from 16’1 to 17’3 and you can get a number of those lengths in both plastic of composite. I’ve paddled the capella and can say from experience that i the longer cappela more than say the 16’1 which is not very much fun compared to say the 16’7. the capella is a bit narrower at 22 inches, but should still fit you fine. As an instructor the company i work for has a couple of capellas and no matter what size people are they seem to do well. You have nothing to worry about weight wise as the shortest capella has a max optimum weight range of 232 pounds

Paddle the Caribou----
and if you like it, buy it. A 'Bou was my first kayak; it was love at first paddle stroke and I still love it. I’m not as large as you are, but the boat handles super in rougher water for me. My husband and I paddled our kayaks in the Everglades three months after we bought them, and I took the 'Bou down Hell’s Bay Canoe Trail. If I can do it, so can you!

My paddling skills have grown and I like exploring what other boats will do, but I have no plans to ever sell my Caribou.


agree with Marshall
Force 4 or Force 5 or perhaps a P&H Quest would be my choice.

!?? Why Try Before You Buy??!

– Last Updated: Mar-06-07 4:01 PM EST –

You are to be commended for understanding that your weight is an important criteria when selecting a sea kayak. Unfortunately, very few kayak companies reveal the design displacement range for their kayaks. The few that do, often exagerate the weight range significantly in order to appeal to as many buyers as possible.

I find it frustrating that so many people here recommed "Try before you buy" almost exclusively in regards to fit and comfort. As if they are buying nothing more than a floating lounge chair.

Seats, padding, steering systems, etc...are all customizable or changeable. The fit and comfort of a kayak are just about the only things about a kayak that can be changed. You will also find that as your skills improve, or you gravitate towards a certain style of paddling, you may want to change your cockpit setup and you can quite easily. Knowing this, the worst thing to base your buying decision on is your first impression at a demo day.

I would prefer the folowing kayak information over any sea trial:

Design displacement range (XXXlbs +/- 25 lbs)
Waterline Length
Waterline Beam
Wetted Surface Area

Then simple hull line drawings will provide abstract info about stability, rocker, prismatic coefficient, hull form, etc....

I would use the demo day more as a way of educating yourself about how these different design parameters affect the performance and on the water "feel" of the different kayaks. It won't be long until you can just look at a kayak and have a good idea how it will perform and feel in the water. Then you will be knowlegeable enough to select the right boat for your paddling goals without ever needing to try it first....the exception being a floating lounge chair.

Adding one more thing: How to determine clearance forlarge feet: Sit on the ground with your legs in front of you and your knees bent slightly. Your heels should be about 8 - 10" apart and your feet should angle outward naturally. Have someone measure the distance from the floor to the highest point of your shoes. This is the minimum amount of interior clearance you will need. You should find that nearly all seakayaks designed for heavier paddlers have adequate foot room.