**Abigail Scott**

Professional Kayaker

Kayak Weight Limit: Best Kayak For My Weight

**Abigail Scott**

Professional Kayaker

Updated on **6/3/2023**

Table Of Contents

As an expert in kayaking, it's important to note that choosing the right kayak size is critical to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. One of the key factors to consider when selecting a kayak is the weight limit, as a kayak that's not sized properly can be unstable, difficult to maneuver, and potentially dangerous.

For beginners, the abundance of kayak length and width options can be overwhelming, and it's important to take the time to choose a kayak that is right for your weight. A good rule of thumb is to select a kayak that is about 125 pounds heavier than your body weight, as this will provide sufficient stability and control.

It's also important to keep in mind that the manufacturer's maximum capacity rating should be reduced by about 30-35% to account for the weight of your gear and other factors. This means that even if a kayak appears to have a high weight limit, it's essential to calculate the usable weight limit and ensure that it can safely accommodate your weight and any additional items you plan to bring on your kayaking trip.

It's worth noting that when a kayak is fully loaded to its maximum weight limit, it will ride very low in the water, which can impact its performance and make it more difficult to paddle. As a result, it's always a good idea to select a kayak with a weight limit that is well below the maximum capacity rating, to ensure optimal performance and safety.

**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.**

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.

**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.**

When fully loaded, a kayak will:

- Having a difficult time paddling
- Stability is lost
- Maneuverability is lost
- Capsize if you are in danger

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...

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...

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!