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Kayak Weight Limit: Best Kayak For My Weight [2023]

Kayak Weight Limit: Best Kayak For My Weight

Kayak Weight Limit: Best Kayak For My Weight

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 1/28/2023

Choosing the right kayak size for you means considering the kayak's weight limit. A beginning kayaker may get confused when looking at all the kayak length and width options and choose a kayak that's not sized properly for them. This article will hopefully help you avoid that mistake.

Do I need a kayak that is the right size for my weight? Kayaks that are about 125 pounds heavier than your body weight are the right size for your weight. The manufacturer's maximum capacity rating should also be reduced by about 30-35%.

You may be able to use that kayak if your weight and all your gear fall below that reduced weight limit calculation.

In fact, your kayak's performance or usable weight limit is at least 30% lower than its manufacturer's maximum capacity rating. When fully loaded, a kayak can hold the maximum weight limit. When your kayak reaches its maximum capacity, it will ride very low.

This is how you can determine what size kayak is best for your weight.

How much weight can you carry in a kayak?

In reality, a kayak's maximum capacity is simply how much weight it can carry while still staying afloat. A kayak's literal weight limit is the point at which it starts sinking or becomes unstable so that it can capsize.

Kayak capacity is determined by three factors:

Amount of length

The width

Volume of displacement

In order to determine the maximum capacity of any kayak, manufacturers use these three measurements and engineering formulas.

But here's the rub -- kayak manufacturers don't really have a standard for how to measure maximum capacity. The way each manufacturer does things varies slightly.

In addition to your weight, your maximum capacity load includes the weight of all your gear, your paddle, and whatever else you're carrying.

 

How Do I Know What Kayak Size I Need?

In Kayaking, Steve wrote

Choosing the right kayak size for you means considering the kayak's weight limit. In the beginning, kayakers are often confused by all the available kayak lengths and widths, so they end up choosing a kayak that isn't properly suited to their weight. Through this article, we hope to prevent you from making the same mistake.

Can you tell me what size kayak I need based on my weight? The right kayak size for your weight is one that has a maximum capacity of about 125 pounds more than your body weight. By reducing the manufacturer's maximum capacity rating by 30-35%, another rule of thumb can be used.

You may be able to use that kayak if your weight and all your gear fall below that reduced weight limit calculation.

In fact, your kayak's performance or usable weight limit is at least 30% lower than its manufacturer's maximum capacity rating. When fully loaded, a kayak can hold the maximum weight limit. When your kayak is fully loaded, it will ride very low in the water.

Here are the details on how to find out what kayak size you need.

 

What is the maximum weight limit for a kayak?

You can put as much weight as you like in a kayak while still keeping it afloat, which is the Maximum Capacity. Kayaks almost sink or get unstable beyond this weight limit, causing them to capsize easily.

Three factors determine a kayak's maximum capacity:

Size

Dimensions

Volume (displacement)

In order to determine the maximum capacity of any kayak, manufacturers use these three measurements and engineering formulas.

But here's the rub -- kayak manufacturers don't really have a standard for how to measure maximum capacity. The way each manufacturer does things varies slightly.

The maximum capacity load includes not only your weight, but also your gear, your paddle, and anything else you're bringing with you.

Can I exceed my kayak's weight limit?

When fully loaded, a kayak will:

Having a difficult time paddling

Stability is lost

Maneuverability is lost

Capsize if you are in danger

Setting a weight limit for performance kayaks

For each kayak's maximum weight capacity, we need to determine the practical or "performance" kayak weight limit instead of the maximum capacity limit.

There is usually a 30-35 percent difference between the manufacturer's stated maximum capacity kayak weight limit and the weight limit of a performance kayak.

It will take a formula to accomplish that...

Weight Limit Example for Kayaks:

You'll need a kayak with a 200-pound performance or practical weight limit, not a 200-pound maximum capacity, if you weigh 175 pounds and have 25 pounds of gear.

We would take a kayak's maximum capacity x 0.7 (for 30% reduction) = 200 if we wanted to determine its performance weight limit

If you already know how much weight your kayak has to carry, divide 200 pounds by .7 to get a desired maximum capacity rating of at least 285 pounds for your kayak.

Total Load Requirement / 0.7 (285 lbs in our example) = Max Capacity

Therefore, you would look for a boat with a weight limit of 300 pounds for kayaks.

No one likes to state kayak weight limits in this way, because it feels like you're losing 30% of your boat! What is the point of a kayak having a maximum capacity if you can't use it all?

The truth goes deeper than that...

My kayak's weight limit is only 65%?

Giving up 30% of a kayak's maximum capacity might sound crazy to you, but 30% will put you within safe operating ranges. Therefore, you won't sink and you won't have a hard time paddling.

You may have to cut the maximum capacity even further if you want some breathing room, if you want to add extra weight, or if your fishing kayak is taking water up through its scuppers when you get in. In other words, the kayak's maximum capacity is closer to 65% of its performance weight limit.

Then you can determine a performance kayak weight limit that allows you to paddle comfortably, safely, and efficiently. For the kayak you're interested in, multiply the weight limit rating by .65.

This theory was recently tested again on a kayaking trip with my family. My daughters' Perception Swifty 9.5 DLX kayaks were perfect for me (250 pounds) and my life vest. They can hold a maximum weight of 325 pounds. In that kayak, the performance weight limit is around 227 pounds. Despite being able to paddle safely, the kayak was harder, less responsive, and less stable. While my daughters, at about 120 lbs and my wife, at about 140 lbs, are very capable of paddling those kayaks.

Adding some gear you forget or gaining a little weight at a backyard BBQ won't be a problem when you reduce your kayak's weight limit by 30-35%. If you want to lend your kayak to your chubby dad!

How much weight can a kayak carry?

Kayaks with a weight limit of 300 pounds

The manufacturer's stated kayak weight limit of 300 pounds gives us 180 pounds of usable performance kayak weight capacity based on our formulas and rules. Remember to account for the weight of the person and the gear. This means 155 pounds plus 25 pounds of gear for a person.

Examples of 300 lb weight capacity kayaks:

300 lb (136 kg) – Hobie Kayaks Quest 11 Kayak Weight Limit

300 lb (136 kg) – Perception Kayaks Carolina 14.0 Kayak Weight Limit

300 lb (136 kg) – Perception Kayaks Expression 14.5 Kayak Weight Limit

300 lb (136 kg) – Jackson Kayaks Riviera Kayak Weight Limit

300 lb (136 kg) – Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 Kayak Weight Limit

325 lb (147 kg) – Wilderness Systems Kayaks Tsunami 140 Kayak Weight Limit

400 lb Weight Limit Kayaks

Based on a manufacturer's stated kayak weight limit (capacity) of 400 lbs, we can expect 240 pounds of performance kayak weight capacity. Two hundred and fifteen pounds plus 25 pounds of gear is 215 pounds.

Examples of kayaks with a weight limit of 400 lb:

400 lb (181 kg) – Jackson Kayaks Cruise FD Weight Limit

400 lb (181 kg) – Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 120 Weight Limit

400 lb (181 kg) – Wilderness Systems Kayaks Tsunami 175 Weight Limit

425 lb (192 kg) – Wilderness Systems Kayaks Pungo 125 Weight Limit

440 lb (200 kg) – FeelFree Kayaks Moken 10 Weight Limit

500 lb Weight Limit Kayaks

By continuing to consider our assumptions, we can use up to 300 pounds of performance weight in a kayak that has a weight limit of 500 pounds. A person plus gear weighing 275 pounds is about the weight of a 275-pound person.

Examples of 500 lb weight limit kayaks:

550 lb (250 kg) – Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Kayak Weight Limit

550 lb (250 kg) – Wilderness Systems Ride 135 Kayak Weight Limit

Tandem Kayak Weight Limit

Tandem kayaks are obviously heavier than solo kayaks. Two people are supposed to be transported by them. It's important to take into account the combined weight of both passengers, their gear, and any shared gear they're bringing onboard when determining a kayak weight limit.

Examples of tandem weight limit kayaks:

450 lb (204 kg) – Jackson Kayaks Riviera T (Tandem) Weight Limit

500 lb (227 kg) – Jackson Kayaks Big Tuna Tandem Weight Limit

500 lb (227 kg) – Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T Tandem Weight Limit

550 lb (250 kg) – Perception Kayaks Cove Tandem Weight Limit

650 lb (295 kg) – Old Town Canoe LOOKSHA T Weight Limit

There are so many different kayak brands, models, and weight options that the answer to how much weight kayaks hold differs by manufacturer.

Examples of High Weight Capacity Fishing Kayaks:

475 lb (215 kg) – Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12.0 Kayak Weight Limit

500 lb (227 kg) – Perception Kayaks Pescador 13.0 Kayak Weight Limit

550 lb (250 kg) – Jackson Kayaks Big Red Fishing Kayak Weight Limit

600 lb (272 kg) – Hobie Kayaks Mirage pro Angler 14 kayak Weight Limit

770 lb (349 kg) – Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 Tandem Fishing Kayak Weight Capacity

The kayaks we recommend for people over 300 pounds are covered in a separate article.

Typical weight limits for pelican kayaks

Is there a weight limit for Pelican Kayaks? A Pelican kayak's maximum weight capacity can range from 200 pounds at the low end to over 425 pounds at the high end.

In terms of recreational and touring kayaks, Pelican Kayaks are some of the most popular models. There are kayaks to fit pretty much any weight requirement.

Here are some common Pelican kayak weight limits as a reference for what’s available on the market:

Here are some representative Pelican kayak weight limits:

200 lb (91 kg) – Pelican Argo 80 X Weight Capacity

220 lb (100 kg) – Pelican Athena 100 XP Weight Capacity

275 lb (125 kg) – Pelican Sprint 120 DT Weight Capacity

300 lb (136 kg) – Pelican Mustang 100 X Weight Capacity

325 lb (147 kg) – Pelican Sandbank 100 XP Weight Capacity

375 lb (170 kg) – Pelican Argo 120 XP Weight Capacity

400 lb (181 kg) – Pelican The Catch 120 Weight Capacity

425 lb (193 kg) – Pelican The Catch 130 Hydrive (pedal) Weight Capacity

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