Finding the best kayak is a tricky business, especially when the market offers so much variety. However, if you’re on the larger side like myself (6’4″ and 230lbs), you want to make sure whatever kayak you get is actually going to fit you.
The last thing you need is to look like you’re being folded up and stuffed into a sit-in kayak like a piece of luggage. Luckily for myself and others like me, there are certain kayaks out there that are perfect for big guys. The main priority is to make sure that your choice works for you and your lifestyle.
It is crucial that you use your own personal experience and requirements as a benchmark; there is no point in taking the recommendation of the friend half your size, who weighs 60lbs dripping wet if you know you are built quite differently! Instead, tailor your search to your own needs, and you will enjoy a far more fulfilling kayaking experience.
The size, weight, and types of kayaks available all play a part in your decision, as does the nature of the activity – where are you planning to launch your new investment? Where will it be stored – outdoors or indoors? This will have a significant impact on the material and durability of your product, as well as how well it can withstand the elements.
Comfort is also a major consideration – you need to have space to sit and move comfortably for the duration of your trip, and so features such as deck height, cockpit size, and capacity are all factors that should be included in your search criteria for the best results.
With so many factors to consider, it is easy for your head to start spinning! Fortunately for you, we have preempted the problem, and put together the best kayaks for big guys – happy sailing!
One of the most important decisions to make when choosing kayaks is picking which style to go for. There are three main types: inflatable, sit-in and sit-on, and each have its own pros and cons, with no one type emerging as the best.
Some may be more suitable for big guys than others, but the suitability really comes down to the weight limit, the material, and the size of the kayak.
As the name suggests, inflatable kayaks are those which can be inflated or deflated as required, usually using a foot pump. This makes them perfect for transporting from place to place, as well as requiring minimal storage-space in your home – ideal if you live in a small apartment, but still enjoy getting out to explore the great outdoors.
If you enjoy traveling from place to place to kayak, they can be a perfect option, as once deflated they fit easily into a car trunk, and do not weigh a lot, so are a lot more flexible and portable. In previous years, many kayakers, especially big guys, were concerned about investing in an inflatable model, largely due to the increased risk of punctures.
While this is still obviously a concern, modern kayaks are made with top-grade material, which increases their resilience and durability, without losing any of the perks. Many of the best inflatable kayaks can also accommodate heavy weight limits, and so can still be an option for big guys.
Sit-in kayaks are the image most people think of when they consider kayaks and are popular for whitewater kayaking. These have open cockpits, allowing the paddler to climb in, and sit inside the hull, with legs secured under the deck.
This has two main advantages; getting in and out of the vessel is quick and easy, and once in, there is less chance of having your legs splashed by water – this is especially positive if you are tackling rougher currents, or are entering cold waters. Sit-in kayaks also tend to be much warmer than the alternatives, as they help to keep your lower body protected and sheltered from the wind.
Many big kayakers are concerned about feeling ‘trapped,’ but most modern sit-in models will include large, roomy spaces and plenty of capacity. One of the only disadvantages occurs if you manage to flip your kayak – and this is harder than it sounds – as the vessel will fill with water, and you will need to swim it to shore to empty out before you can continue your journey.
As the name suggests, a sit-on kayak has a cockpit that is wide open and is designed to provide a space to sit on top, rather than inside, the hull. These are popular for big kayakers who worry about being confined by a sit-in style, and for this reason tend to be a favorite for newbies and children, as well as big guys.
This type of kayak is very stable with large weight capacities and have the added advantage of big ‘scupper holes’ – small holes in the hull which allow draining to occur during your trip, reducing the risk of flooding or the vessel becoming too heavy.
Due to their design, sit-on kayaks do tend to end up making their paddler far more wet, as there is nowhere to protect the body from splashes and rogue waves, and this accounts for their popularity in warm, tropical waters. They also offer greater flexibility – you can simply slide off, swim around, and climb back in as needed – and this is a major appeal for many kayakers, especially those who are less confident.
Lastly, a lot of taller guys prefer sit-on-top kayaks because they don’t feel as cramped. If you have long legs, an sot is a great option.
With that said, let’s see what the best kayaks for big guys are.
If you are searching for something lightweight, portable and easy to transport, the Sea Eagle is the perfect choice. The exterior measures 12.6ft x 2.10ft, but this folds right down to a tiny fraction of the size.
Usually, this portability would come with an extreme weight restriction, but this is not the case here – the inflated kayak can hold up to 3 people, or 650lbs in weight.
Another vote for inflatable kayaks is earned by this compact model from Driftsun. Weighing just 28lbs, it is super lightweight and portable and takes just nine minutes to inflate from empty. Perfect if you are short on storage space, the 12.6ft length can easily fold down and be stored in a handy travel bag ready for the next adventure.
Kayakers can also benefit from adjustable seats and footrests to help create a comfortable, tailored experience, as well as a removable skeg, which can really help enhance tracking if you are entering flat waters.
Enjoy the benefits of a portable, inflatable model, combined with the strength and durability of a hard shell kayak with the Sea Eagle 380x. Constructed from 1000 denier, polyester-supported, high-pressure fabric, the risk of punctures is minimal.
The model has a weight allowance of 750lbs, with the option to hold two or three adults plus gear, and this is truly impressive when you see the deflated size and portability of the kayak.
A rear fin is another advantage, and this is valuable in improving tracking and efficiency when tackling flat waters or fishing.
Another bonus for keen fishers is the Perception Pescador, which combines a sleek, compact finish with all of the features you need for success on the water.
With a 12ft length and a maximum capacity of 375lbs, this is another great mid-level option and one which is as comfortable on the calm, flat water of lakes as the challenge of open water ocean, and can tackle both with ease.
Molded-in rod holders mean that you can have your hands free to relax and snack while you wait for a bite, and a recessed tackle box storage, combined with a center console perfect for riggings, means that this is an anglers dream.
With plenty of space, a generous weight allowance, and all sorts of extra handy spaces, corners, and gadgets, it comes as no surprise that this model is often described as the ‘Swiss Army’ of kayaks, and it is a perfect choice for fishing fans.
There are four storage areas, three of which are watertight, and this is perfect for squirreling away everything from your phone or camera to your lunch, as well as ensuring you have everything you need on hand for a successful trip.
The first thing you will notice about the Sea Ghost is that it looks seriously cool, and at 13ft, this is more than comfortable for one person.
The 500lb weight capacity can handle any big guy, and this durability is combined with plenty of storage, allowing you to bring everything you need without having to compromise on space.
This is a kayak designed primarily for fishing, and includes 2 flush-mount rod holders, as well as 4 integrated gear tracks, allowing for customised rigging.
With a vibrant yellow or green finish, a quirky yet practical design, and a weight capacity that blows most of our other options out of the water (excuse the pun!), the Lifetime kayak is a brilliant choice for those looking for a strong sturdy option which combines comfort and practicality.
At 10ft in length and with a 500lb weight capacity, this is designed for either single or tandem use, making it a perfect choice for taller guys. Portability is also not an issue, as the overall model only weighs 60lbs, and includes moulded rear and front carry handles, making moving the kayak from place to place smooth and simple.
Perfect for tacking those beach waves, or just relaxing on a calm river surface, the Ocean-kayak is a versatile, compact and portable option that is sure to stand out from the crowd thanks to the vibrant orange finish.
At 9ft, there is plenty of room for a single occupant and a capacity of 325. Comfort is a key priority, with a durable Comfort Plus seat which offers four-way adjustability.
At 10ft, this is one of the smaller fishing options on our list, but don’t let that fact put you off: the Wilderness kayak proves that sometimes great things come in small packages! At 55lbs in weight, this is a sturdy and robust model, which will be able to handle stronger, rougher currents with ease and minimal risk of tipping or turning.
Comfort is also prioritized, with the Phase 3 AirPro seating system offering flexibility and adjustability, helping to make sure that you are comfortable even on longer journeys.
With a weight allowance of 325lbs, this is strong enough to handle even larger kayakers with ease and remains easy to maneuver and handle on the water.
This sit-on-top style makes climbing in and out is easy and stress-free, and the ability to center the seat transforms this from a two-person to a single-person kayak in no time – this is a great feature which offers more flexibility.
Weight capacity of 550lbs is generous, and the 13.5ft length means that there is plenty of space to stretch out. Moulded handles mean that moving the kayak is easy, but a 78lbs weight could make this tricky, and you will likely need assistance. Rear open storage is perfect for keeping supplies safe.
At 12ft in length, this is a spacious and comfortable kayak that is perfect for recreational use. Take in the beauty of a lazy river paddle, or make your way down a peaceful lake route and enjoy the wonders of nature.
An open cockpit helps to enhance accessibility, and entering and exiting the kayak is easy – simply hop in and out at a moment’s notice! At just 47lbs, this is also a great choice if you need something portable and easy to move – at the first sign of a sunny day, simply pop it on the car roof and head down to enjoy the water!
As we have discussed, choosing kayaks for big guys is tricky, largely due to extra considerations around weight capacity. There are a few key items to add to your checkpoint when choosing a great kayak, and these include:
Weight of the Kayak
As well as checking to see how much weight can be taken, you also need to establish the weight of the kayak. This will have a large impact on portability, and whether you can transport the vessel between locations. Make sure you narrow your choices to a weight limit you can manage.
When choosing kayaks for big guys, you also need to check the cockpit size; can you sit comfortably without feeling confined or trapped? Are you able to climb in or out of the cockpit quickly and easily without issue? A sit-on kayak may be a better choice; this offers more room and a wide-open design.
As well as the cockpit, a kayak for big guys also needs ample deck height, allowing a big guy to move around freely without a risk of getting stuck or trapped – this has the potential to be dangerous.
The material used needs to be sturdy enough to withstand cracks and scrapes (and punctures, in the case of inflatable models), but lightweight enough to move and transport.
One of the most important considerations is comfort, especially if you are planning long trips. Many fishing kayak options include adjustable seats to help ensure that you get the very best fit for your body shape and type. A kayak for big guys also needs plenty of room to move and stretch to reduce cramp.
We mentioned the three types of kayak – inflatable, sit-in and sit-on. Sit-in models tend to be popular models for a fishing kayak, and move fast, have less space, and keep you warm. Most will also include rod holders and other extras. If you like fishing and want to make it easier on yourself, you also might want to look into pedal kayaks for some hands-free fishing.
Width is another important feature and tends to be determined by the type of kayak you choose. Sit-in is narrower, and this allows them to move quickly through the water, perfect for fishing, while sit-ons are wide, stable and secure.
Kayaking is a lot of fun but can be a challenge if you’re just starting out. There are a few simple changes which can really help big guys to make the most of the experience and have fun! Some of the top tips when choosing and using a kayak for big guys include:
Dress for Water
Learn How to Get into your Kayak
This is especially important for sit-on kayaks, which allow paddlers to climb back in from the water. Perfecting this skill early on will help you to clamber back on board quickly if you tip over, and this can be the difference between a fun trip and a soggy, unpleasant nightmare.
Learn to Sit on your Kayak
Sitting correctly and learning how to move and balance your weight helps reduce the chances of the vessel tipping, and so it is important to master early on. Learn how to sit correctly on dry land before you tackle the water, and your experience will be far more enjoyable.
Learn to Paddle Your Kayak
Paddling is the key to moving around on the water and helps give you more control and autonomy in your kayak. Make sure you know how to move and steer, that your kayak is easy to maneuver, and how to change direction and alter the speed. This is also essential if you see a potential obstacle; you must be able to skillfully navigate around or away from it to prevent a dunking.
Learn How to Self-Rescue from a Capsized Kayak
Chances are, you will get very wet, especially in the early days! Falling in is all part of the fun, but it is important that you learn how to self-rescue as soon as possible.
Once you have got used to falling out, you will develop far more confidence, and be able to quickly sort the situation safely and without panicking if you have a tip-up while on the water. It is better to be fully prepared and used to the feeling and procedures beforehand than find yourself stranded in a potentially dangerous situation later on.
Wear Bright Clothing for Safety
This is sensible no matter how much experience you have and is considered essential by many kayakers. Wearing bright, identifiable clothing helps you to stand out, and means that onlookers can instantly spot if you get into difficulty.
It allows other kayakers to identify you, and allows any assistance you may require to pick you out and get to you far more quickly – this could save your life if things get dangerous. On the water, situations can escalate rapidly, so it is important to be safe and easily spotted, even from a distance.
Is there a weight restriction for kayaking?
The weight limit is determined by the type of kayak you choose, and the individual weight restriction of each vessel. Some are limited to around 350lbs, while those with a high weight limit go right up to 700lbs and above.
It is crucial that you check this closely, and most experts would advise choosing a kayak that has an allowance exceeding your body weight by at least 50lbs, if not 100lbs. Choosing a kayak that is too light will affect the performance in the water, lowering the vessel, and could result in sinking or increased water retention.
Do Longer Kayaks Track Better?
As a rule, the longer the kayak, the better the tracking. Short kayaks are designed to turn and maneuver, while longer kayaks require less energy to keep straight, saving you valuable energy. For this reason, they tend to be popular for long-haul trips, or for endurance events.
What Kayak Holds the Most Weight?
Where should the heaviest person sit on a kayak?
The big guy of the party should always sit in the middle when on the water – this distributes the weight more evenly.
What Happens if you overload a kayak beyond capacity?
Overloading a kayak invites a number of safety concerns. The paddler is far more likely to flip, thanks to their weight moving around unevenly – even something as simple as reaching for gear could unbalance the vessel.
When it comes to choosing the best option for big guys, our clear winner is the Sea Eagle 380x inflatable kayak. Not only does this model offer an amazing 750lb weight capacity, but it also folds away to a fraction of its total size, offering ultimate flexibility and portability, as well as requiring minimal storage space.
An impressive length is combined with a lightweight overall design that allows paddlers to really enjoy the best of both worlds, and makes kayaking a simple, stress-free experience!
Perfect for fishing, and with amazing capacity, the Sea Eagle handles any challenge you throw at it and is a sound investment for both brand new kayakers, and seasoned pros looking for flexibility
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising APIScroll to Top