What Weight Limit Should I Get for My Kayak?

When my daughter turned 13 she asked me, “How much do kayaks weigh?” Because I’d told her she’d have to carry and launch it all by herself

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So we did a ton of research to find out just how heavy kayaks are

The average recreational kayak weighs 35 pounds (16kg) for a single kayak, 65 pounds (27 kg) for a tandem kayak, and fishing kayaks can get up to over 120 pounds (54 kg)

Most kayaks weigh anywhere from 20 pounds (9 kg) to over 100 pounds (45 kg)

Obviously the weight of your kayak will depend on what you plan to use it for as well as several other things

So, study your options, because weight’s a big factor in the everyday use of your kayak

Or worse, end up dragging your nice new kayak on the ground because it’s too heavy

I’ve included the weights of popular picks in each of the most common kayak types to get you started

It helps to understand the effect that kayak constructions materials have on kayak weight

There are four basic ways to build a modern kayak

Here’s how they affect kayak weight:

They’re built by melting plastic pellets and molding them into the shape of a kayak

They’re more expensiveWood kayak weight – Depending on the type of wood and the fiberglass resin used to waterproof them, wood kayaks can be heavy

Wood is a kayak purists material and though beautiful and relatively lightweight, they’re expensive to build and easily damaged

If you’re just starting out, stick with thermoform and rotomolded kayaks for weight, durability, and price

If the weight numbers aren’t right on the front page of details for an individual kayak, look for a section that says something like “More Details” or “Specs” or “Technical Specifications”

In researching this article I shopped at several brick and mortar stores to see if I could find kayak weights printed on the boats

I ended up pulling out my mobile phone and searching for the kayak weight numbers online

A better way would be to ask a sales associate if you can see the manual that came with the kayak

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they most stores had the manuals for individual kayaks in their warehouse

Single Kayak Weight

Single Kayak Weight

How much does a single kayak weigh?

A single kayak weighs roughly 35 pounds

Typical single kayaks weigh anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, depending on building materials and accessories they come with

Obviously the first is, “How much does it cost?” But it’s more important to figure out how much a kayak weighs

Because you’ll probably spend as much time carrying your kayak to and from the water, lifting it up over your head, and hoisting it on and off the roof of your car as you will paddling it

Here are few examples of how much a single kayak weighs:

Tandem Kayak Weight

Tandem Kayak Weight

How much does a tandem kayak weigh?

The average tandem kayak weighs approximately 65 pounds

Most tandem kayaks weigh between 50 pounds on the light end to around 75 pounds on the heavier end

Carrying Tandem Kayak Weight

If you’ve got a significant other, best buddy, or just someone you’d like to kayak with, the two of you can share the duty and weight of carrying a tandem (two-person) kayak to and from the water

Because tandem kayaks will be a bit heavier than solo kayaks, but when you split that weight between two people, I’ve actually found it to be an easier haul

Examples of how much a tandem kayak weighs:

Fishing Kayak Weight

Fishing Kayak Weight

Fishing kayaks can weigh anywhere from 35 pounds on the light, budget-end of the spectrum to over 120 pounds and up

Heavier, more feature-rich, and more expensive fishing kayaks can get up to over 225 pounds

At a certain weight, around 60 pounds in a solo fishing kayak, you’ll have to start looking into a kayak cart to transport heavier fishing kayaks to and from the water

Because even if you could lift all that weight over your head, you’re going to have loose fishing gear and tackle that will add weight and clutter to your kayak

Here are a few examples of how much fishing kayaks weigh:

Inflatable Kayak Weight

Inflatable Kayak Weight

A typical inflatable kayak weighs approximately 30 pounds

It all depends on the quality of construction, the materials used, and the size of the kayak when it’s inflated

As you’d expect, the lighter the inflatable kayak is the more prone it is to failure—materials ripping, coming unglued, or stitching coming loose

Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent inflatable kayaks on the market

What you’re really saving with an inflatable kayak is space

Because in order to make a durable, reliable, and compact-portable kayak, manufacturers have to use materials with some substance to them

Examples of how much inflatable kayaks weigh:

Pelican Kayak Weights

Pelican Kayak Weights

How much does a Pelican kayak weigh?

Most Pelican kayaks weigh close to 40 pounds, a great weight for beginners

Pelican Kayaks can weigh anywhere from 19 pounds to 78 pounds depending on size, weight limits, and function

Pelican (TM) Kayaks

After looking up the weight specs on each and every one of the kayaks on Pelican’s website, I can tell you that Pelican hits just about every number between their lightest weight (19 pounds) and the heaviest kayak they produce (78 pounds)

As one of the most popular and affordable kayak brands, many Pelican kayaks weigh right in the sweet spot for recreational solo, sit-inside, sit on top, tandem, and entry-level fishing kayaks

Examples of how much Pelican kayaks weigh:

Hobie Kayak Weights

Hobie Kayak Weights

How much does a Hobie kayak weigh?

Hobie kayaks weigh more than the average recreational kayak

All of them are over 60 pounds and at the high end, fully rigged with fishing accessories and gear, they can weigh as much as 240 pounds

Hobie kayaks are in a class by themselves

Hobie manufactures and sells just about every type of kayak there is in every weight you could imagine

Island outrigger catamaran, recreational paddle, pro fishing, and inflatable and hard-shell pedal kayaks all run the spectrum from light to heavy to heaviest

Here are some examples of how much Hobie kayaks weigh:

Kayak websites sometimes forget to include a kayak’s weight in kilograms (kg)

Kayak Weight Matters, But Not as Much as You Think

Kayak Weight Matters, But Not as Much as You Think

All this talk about kayak weight misses a little bit of the point though

But how heavy a kayak is isn’t the only thing to consider when you’re looking for a kayak that’s the right size for you

Of course you’ve got to be able to carry your kayak to and from whatever water you want to paddle, but once on the water, weight plays an important role in:

Buoyancy – how much weight your kayak can support and how well it floats

Smaller, shorter, kayaks support less cargo weightStability – shorter and lighter kayaks are notoriously “squirrelly” to paddleCargo space – the shorter and lighter you go with your kayak, the less room you’ll have to stow away gear

So, by all means choose a kayak with a weight that’s light enough for you to carry and launch, but keep in mind what you’ll be using it for

A couple extra pounds of kayak weight might just get you a much more versatile boat

There are many features that you should consider when you’re shopping around for the right kayak

For many, asking how much does a kayak weigh can be one of the most important questions to consider

If you’re a solo kayaker, weight can be a make or break feature because if a boat is too heavy, you’ll be unable to tote it around by yourself

Weight is also important because it can impact your experience if you choose a boat that’s too heavyToday, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about a kayak’s weight

The weight of a kayak differs from model to model

Even still, kayaks of the same type, think recreational or touring, weigh differently from brand to brand

For example, a Wilderness Systems recreational kayak won’t be the same weight as a Pelican recreational kayak

On average, you’ll find that kayaks can weigh anywhere from 20 pounds to 80 pounds

Some kayaks can even tip over the hundred pound mark

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about a kayak’s weight and how that can impact your adventures

Main Factors that Affect Kayak Weight

The main factors that will impact a kayak’s weight is the material it is made out of and the size of your kayak

The material it’s made out of will determine how heavy it will be because different kayak materials weigh differently

How Construction Affects Kayak Weight

How Construction Affects Kayak Weight

How Construction Affects Kayak Weight

Hard shell kayaks will almost always weigh more than their inflatable counterparts

When completely deflated, an inflatable kayak can weigh anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds

The type of material used in the inflatable plays a major role and how much the kayak weighs

If your inflatable boat is made out of a multi-layered inflatable material, this too can make the kayak much heavier

Polyethylene is a plastic material commonly used in kayaks

While incredibly durable and affordable, it’s also one of the heavier materials used to create kayaks

Related: What is the difference between inflatable kayak and inflatable boat?

Kayak Dimensions Can Determine Weight 

Wider and longer kayaks will require more material and will be heavier because of it

While a shorter kayak will allow you to cut down on a kayak’s overall weight, you do end up sacrificing space

When you’re considering the size of your kayak and how much you want it to weigh

Kayak Type Can Determine a Kayak’s Weight 

The type of kayak you will have will also play a large role in determining your kayak’s weight

There are different types of kayaks meant for specific activities

Because of this, certain types of kayaks will always be heavier than other types

Average Weight for Hardshell Kayaks 

As I mentioned earlier, hardshell kayaks come in all sorts of materials

While it’s important to consider the material used if weight is a priority for you, it’s equally important to consider the type of hardshell kayak you’re looking at as well

Touring kayaks are designed for calmer waters

Many lightweight touring kayaks can average anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds

Recreational kayaks on the other hand are often built to handle rough conditions

Many recreational kayaks like sea kayaks will be made out of a durable, tougher plastic like a rotomolded material

These kayaks are typically shorter and more narrow and you’ll find that they weigh around 40 pounds

Average Weight for Tandem Kayaks 

Tandem kayaks are also typically designed for calm waters

Because of their weight capacity and their size, tandem kayaks weigh a lot more than other boats

If weight is a feature that is very important to you when you’re shopping for the right kayak, then you may want to consider inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are the lightest weight kayak types on the market

Related: Are inflatable kayaks any good?

Some inflatable kayaks even come in a backpack carry system, allowing you to carry them with very minimal effort

While these are some of the lightest options when it comes to kayak weight, the weight of an inflatable can also vary depending on the material used and the construction of the kayak

Inflatable kayaks weigh anywhere from 25 pounds to 40 pounds

Simply constructed backcountry inflatable kayaks can even weigh as little as 17 pounds

If your inflatable kayak has internal structures to help support the kayak, then that will also add to the kayak’s weight

These elements can weigh down an inflatable kayak, making it much heavier

Which Weighs More: Kayaks or Canoes?

Generally speaking, a kayak and a canoe of the same size will not always be the same weight

Very often, you will find that canoes weigh a lot less than kayaks do

RELATED: Canoe Vs Kayak: What’s the Difference?

This extra coverage can add more weight to a kayak because more material is used

Canoes, on the other hand, feature an open construction because there’s less material used, they can often way less than a similarly sized kayak

Much like kayaks, canoes can also be made out of light composite materials including fiberglass, Kevlar, and even birch tree wood

Also read: How to store your inflatable kayak

This is because they are are usually wider in order to accommodate kayakers who need to move around a lot and store fishing gear

They’re rugged design and broader hull make them some of the heaviest types of kayaks around with an average weight of about 80 to 120 pound

You can find lighter weight fishing kayaks on the market, but these will usually be smaller and made out of a lighter material like carbon fiber

Also read: Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?

More advanced and feature-rich fishing kayaks will often be heavier and can even reach up to 150 pounds

The more features and accessories installed on your kayak, the heavier it will be

How Much Does a Whitewater Kayak Weigh?

Whitewater kayaks are typically made out of polyethylene plastic

Because this material isn’t as lightweight as fiberglass, recreational whitewater kayaks tend to be heavier

For an intense water sport activity like white water rafting, you typically want your kayak to be durable, tough, and of course able to withstand impacts

Rotomolded kayaks offer this durable and rugged construction needed for whitewater rafting

Because of their rugged and heavier construction, recreational whitewater kayaks can range in weight anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds

How to Transport a Heavy Kayak

One of the biggest nuisances with having a heavy kayak is that you have to load it up on your car and transport it

It can be difficult to load up a heavy kayak over your car’s roof rack system or onto your truck bed

Especially if it’s heavy and bulky like wider polyethylene fishing kayaks

Also read: How to transport a kayak

How Much Does a Kayak Weigh: Other Factors to Consider

Unless you plan on using your kayak the way it is right out of the box, you can always expect your kayak to weigh a little bit more than its actual weight

Often, this is done by adding additional accessories that become a permanent fixture on your kayak

Whether it is swapping out the seat for a more rigid one, adding more components for storage capabilities, or adding in other features like a trolling motor or rod rack for kayak fishing, accessories will always add weight to your kayak

The more features and accessories you use, the more your kayak will weigh

When you add gear to your kayak, you’ll need to consider how this extra weight will impact the way you transport the kayak as well as the way it sits on the water

If you’re going to incorporate additional gear permanently, make sure to distribute the weight evenly so that you don’t have too much extra weight on the rear or on the front of the kayak

For example, if you’re going to be installing a rod rack system in the rear of your kayak, then you may want to set up extra storage in the front of the kayak

Just because a kayak is inflatable, doesn’t mean it is necessarily lightweight

The type of inflatable you have can impact how heavy your kayak is once it’s fully inflated

Ridgid kayaks that feature drop stitch construction or I-beam flooring tend to be a lot heavier than traditional inflatable kayaks

This allows the boat to take on a higher air pressure in order to provide rigidity that mimics a hard shell kayak

This rigidity is what will make the kayak weigh more

The same goes for kayaks with an I-beam flooring

Also read: How to inflate a kayak

Also read: How to inflate a kayak

Not All Hardshell Kayaks Are Heavy 

If your hard shell kayak is made out of a lightweight material, you might be surprised at how lightweight it can actually be

Hardshell kayaks made out of carbon fiber or fiberglass are the best options to go with if you want a lightweight kayak

If you opt for a shorter kayak made out of this material, then the weight of the kayak can be much lighter than a rigid, longer inflatable kayak

Related: Sit-in vs sit-on kayak

For example, your kayak may end up weighing more if you swap out the seat of your kayak

Many sit on top kayaks allow you to adjust the seat or incorporate a different seat that gives you added comfort and stability

Seats like lawn chair style seats or a drop stitch inflatable seat tend to be a lot heavier than seats that fold open and clip into the kayak

What Is the Maximum Weight That Kayaks Can Hold?

Every boat has a weight limit and a kayak weight limit depends on the kayak type you have, its construction, and how many passengers it can take on

Typically, a one person recreational, touring, or sea kayak will offer a weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds

Larger kayaks like tandem kayaks and fishing kayaks will often offer a much larger weight capacity ranging anywhere from 300 pounds to 600 pounds

You can determine what weight limit is appropriate for you by shopping for a kayak that has a weight capacity at least 125 pounds more than your body weight

This will give you enough room to bring along additional gear while remaining under the weight capacity recommended by the manufacturer

Related: What size kayak do I need for my weight?

Kayak Weight Matters, but This Matters More

While the weight of a kayak is important to consider, knowing your kayak’s weight capacity is much more important

Your kayak’s load capacity will allow you to understand how much gear you can bring and remain safe on the water

It can also help you determine whether you can bring along your furry friend or even a small child to kayak with you

Also read: What makes a kayak safe on te water?

If you go over your kayak’s weight capacity, you run the risk of overloading your kayak and increasing your chances of tipping over, or even sinking

Beyond the worst case scenario, overloading your kayak will result in terrible tracking, stability, and overall performance

If you’re going to be bringing along extra gear with you when you kayak, it is important to evenly distribute the weight throughout your kayak

Considering how much does a kayak weigh can be an important feature when you’re looking for the right kayak

As a kayaker who has used boats of all sizes, I have found that kayak weight can significantly impact the type of kayaking I want to do

A kayak’s weight limit is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing the right size kayak for you

What size kayak do I need for my weight?

The right size kayak for your weight is one with a maximum capacity rating that’s about 125 pounds more than your body weight

If the weight of you and all your gear fall below that reduced weight limit calculation, then that kayak would be right for your weight

And that’s because your kayak’s performance or usable weight limit is at least 30% below the manufacturer’s maximum capacity rating

That maximum capacity weight limit is how much weight a kayak will hold when fully loaded

But at a max capacity, your kayak will ride very low in the water

So, here are the details on how to find out what size kayak you need for your specific weight

Maximum Capacity is really just the most weight you can put in a kayak and still keep it afloat

It’s a kayak’s literal weight limit, beyond which it almost sinks or gets unstable and capsizes easily

The maximum capacity of a kayak is determined by three things:

Kayak manufacturer’s use those three measurements and engineering formulas to determine what any given kayak’s maximum capacity is

But here’s the rub—there isn’t really an agreed upon standard amongst kayak manufacturers for how to measure maximum capacity

NOTE: Maximum capacity load includes not only your weight, but all of your gear, your paddle, and the weight of anything you’re bringing with you on the kayak

A kayak that’s fully loaded to its maximum weight capacity will:

https://youtube/SNHuCrnk8fgVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Kayak Weight limits (https://youtube/SNHuCrnk8fg)

Kayak Weight Limit Video

Establishing a Performance Kayak Weight Limit

So, instead of a maximum capacity kayak weight limit we need to figure out what the practical or “performance” kayak weight limit is for any given kayak’s maximum weight capacity

Performance kayak weight limit, in practical terms, is about 30-35% less than the manufacturer’s stated maximum capacity kayak weight limit

If you weigh 175 pounds and all your gear weighs 25 pounds, you’ll want to search for a kayak with a performance or practical weight limit of 200 pounds, not a maximum capacity of 200 pounds

So if we want to find out a kayak’s performance weight limit, we would take its maximum capacity x 7 (for 30% reduction) = 200

To go about it from the perspective of already knowing how much weight your kayak has to carry, you would take your 200 pounds of weight you need to put in your kayak and divide it by 7 to get a desired maximum capacity rating of at least 285 pounds

So in that scenario, you’d look for a boat with a 300 lb kayak weight limit

But no one likes to state kayak weight limit this way, because it feels like you’re losing 30% of your boat!

I mean why would the manufacturer put a max capacity on a kayak if you can’t use all of it?

Wait, I Can Only Use 65% of My Kayak’s Weight Limit?

Now, giving up 30% of a kayak’s maximum capacity might seem crazy to you, but 30% will only put you in a range to safely operate your kayak

If you want to have some breathing room, be able to add a little extra weight if you have to, or you’re in a fishing kayak that’s taking water up through the scuppers when you get in it, you may have to cut the maximum capacity even more

More, as in the performance weight limit is closer to 65% of a kayak’s maximum capacity

At that point, determining a performance kayak weight limit that will allow you to comfortably, safely and efficiently paddle your kayak will be much easier

Look on the kayak weight limit rating for the kayak you’re interested in and multiply it times 65

UPDATE: I just tested this theory out again on a recent kayaking trip with my family

With just me (250 lbs), a life vest, and a paddle, I borrowed one of my daughters’ Perception Swifty 95 DLX kayaks

At 325*7 the performance weight limit of that kayak’s around 227 lbs

Though I was able to paddle the kayak safely, it was harder, less responsive, and less stable

On the other hand, my daughters at about 120 lbs and wife at around 140 lbs can all paddle those kayaks very well

Downgrading your kayak’s weight limit by 30-35% gives you plenty of room to add some gear you forget or gain a little weight at a backyard BBQ

(Or for your chubby dad to borrow your kayak! )

What are Common Kayak Weight Limits?

Using our formulas and rules from our example above, a manufacturer’s stated kayak weight limit of 300 lbs gives us about 180 pounds of usable performance kayak weight capacity

Examples of 300 lb weight capacity kayaks:

A manufacturer’s stated kayak weight limit (capacity) of 400 lbs gives us 240 pounds of performance kayak weight capacity

That’s a 215 pound person plus their 25 lbs of gear

Sticking with our assumptions, a kayak with a weight limit of 500 lbs gives us up to 300 pounds of performance weight we can use

Tandem Kayak Weight Limit

Obviously tandem kayaks will weigh more than solo kayaks

Just remember, you need to use the weight of both passengers, both of their gear, and any shared gear they’re bringing onboard as a basis to figure out a kayak weight limit that’s right for you

Examples of tandem weight limit kayaks:

High Weight Capacity Kayaks

“How much weight can a kayak hold?” Recreation, ocean, and touring kayaks have weight limits between 200 and 450 pounds

Fishing kayaks that carry more gear have kayak weight capacities from 400 to 550 and up

And tandem kayaks have weight capacity ratings ranging from 450 to 700 and more

Seriously high weight capacity kayak, or … an Overloaded Kayak?

Examples of High Weight Capacity Fishing Kayaks:

If you’re a larger person, we wrote an entire article on kayaks for big guys and 300 pound people in general

Pelican Kayak Weight Limit Examples

What are Pelican Kayak Weight Limits?

The kayak weight limit on any given Pelican recreation, touring, or fishing kayaks can range from 200 lb maximum capacity on the low end to over 425 lbs on the high end

Pelican Kayaks are some of the most popular recreational and touring kayaks on the market

They have 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:

When you buy a new kayak, you want to make sure it has the capacity to carry you, your gear, and any two or four-legged companions you may wish to take out on the water

Manufacturers give their kayaks a maximum capacity rating but this figure can be misleading

The practical kayak weight limit is much lower

Read on to find out how to calculate the size of kayak you need for your weight and intended activity

What Is a Kayak’s Weight Limit?

A kayak’s weight limit is the total weight a kayak can carry on top of the weight of the kayak itself

This includes you, your paddle, and kayaking gear, plus the weight of any modifications or additions you make to your kayak

Manufacturers use different methods to calculate the maximum weight capacity for their kayaks

The best companies test the kayak weight limit in real-world conditions, ie they get a big guy and his gear to take the kayak out on the water

The distribution of weight also impacts how a kayak performs under different loads

That’s why in-use tests are likely to give a more accurate weight limit than theoretical calculations

Accessories such as seats, mounting frames, and motors will all count towards the maximum weight capacity of the kayak

A kayak’s advertised weight capacity is typically its maximum capacity

The maximum capacity or weight limit is the maximum load your kayak can carry without sinking

Just load your kayak up with all the gear, and as long as you don’t exceed that magic number, you’re good to go

Your kayak may not sink under the weight of you and your gear, but it won’t be very easy to paddle either

Some manufacturers give a performance weight limit for their kayaks

This is a more practical figure to use when calculating what size and model of kayak you need

As long as the total weight of you and your gear is less than this figure, the weight won’t affect the performance of your kayak

How To Calculate What Size Kayak You Need For Your Weight

For optimum performance, the practical weight capacity of a kayak is around two-thirds of its maximum capacity

Manufacturers usually advertise the maximum weight capacity of their kayaks

You can calculate the performance capacity of the kayak as follows:

For example, if you’re looking at a kayak with an advertised weight capacity of 300 pounds, the total practical load will be 195 pounds (300 x 065)

If you weigh 210 pounds in your birthday suit, you may want to look at a different model

If you want to know what size kayak you need based on your weight, then simply reverse the calculation

Add those figures together and you want a kayak with a performance weight of 235 pounds or more

You want a kayak with an advertised weight limit of at least 362 pounds

If your phone’s calculator is out of reach (and if numbers just give you a headache) then the table below gives the performance capacity for commonly advertised weight limits

Kayak Performance Weight Limits

How Much Does Your Kayaking Gear Weigh?

It’s easy to underestimate how much gear you carry on your kayak

Even if you’re just heading out for a short evening paddle, there are items you’ll throw into your kayak without thinking about it

If you use your kayak for fishing or overnight trips then you’re likely to carry a lot more gear than what I’ve covered above

The easiest way to calculate the weight of your kayaking gear is to use whatever scales you have at home

Pack all your kayaking kit into the backpack, then weigh it again

If you don’t have luggage scales, then you can wear the backpack or hold your kayaking gear while standing on a bathroom scale

This is more time-consuming but may be necessary if you have large items such as a kayak cooler or camping gear

Different Types of Kayak and Their Weight Capacities

Kayaks are designed for different purposes, which means there’s no average weight limit

A kayak intended for multi-day use will have a higher weight capacity than one designed for skipping down whitewater rapids

The material a kayak’s made from can also affect how much weight it can carry

Let’s look at some of the most common kayak categories and the range of weight capacities you can typically expect to find

Recreational Kayaks: 250–350 lbs Weight Limit

Recreational kayaks are designed for casual paddling on calm water

You can buy sit-inside and sit-on-top recreational kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks tend to be more stable and have a higher weight limit

Budget recreational kayaks have a low weight capacity of 250–300 pounds

300 pounds may sound like plenty of weight but bear in mind that that’s the maximum capacity

Recreational kayaks are a great choice for lighter kayakers, but heavier guys and gals may find they don’t offer enough capacity for their needs

Weight Capacities of Popular Recreational Kayaks

Touring Kayaks: 300–350 lbs Weight Limit

Touring kayaks are designed to carry enough gear for multi-day expeditions

A touring kayak has a slightly higher weight limit than most recreational kayaks—typically between 300 and 350 pounds

Unlike some recreational kayaks, they’re only designed to carry one person, which is why the weight capacity isn’t as high as you might think

Fishing Kayaks: 350–600 lbs Weight Limit

Although you can use a recreational kayak for fishing, a specific kayak gives you additional features such as fishing rod holders

Fishing kayaks typically have a large weight capacity of up to 600 pounds

If you’re looking for a stable kayak with a high weight capacity, then it’s worth looking at fishing kayaks whether or not you want to use the kayak for fishing

Weight Capacities of Popular Fishing Kayaks

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack – 300 pounds

BOTE Lono Aero Inflatable Fishing Kayak – 400 pounds

Tandem Kayaks: 450–600 lbs Weight Limit

As tandem kayaks are designed to carry two (or sometimes three) people, their weight limit is correspondingly higher

Many tandem kayaks can be configured for solo paddling, making them a good choice for heavier kayakers who want a recreational-style kayak

If you’re intending to carry two or more people in your tandem kayak, pay close attention to the kayak weight limit

For example, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a popular tandem kayak with a relatively low capacity of 425 pounds

If this is the maximum weight capacity, then the performance weight limit of the Malibu Two is around 276 pounds

Weight Capacities of Popular Tandem Kayaks

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two – 425 pounds

Inflatable Kayaks: 400–750 lbs Weight Limit

Inflatable kayaks are often ridiculed by serious kayakers as being little more than glorified pool toys, but when it comes to weight capacity, they beat hardshell kayaks hands down

Even budget inflatable kayaks have a weight capacity of 400 pounds or more

Top-end kayaks can have a maximum capacity of 750 pounds, making them a great option for larger paddlers or families

Weight Capacities of Popular Inflatable Kayaks

Sea Eagle 380X Explorer Inflatable Kayak – 750 pounds

What Happens If You Exceed the Weight Limit on a Kayak?

Up to a kayak’s performance weight limit, you shouldn’t notice much difference if you chuck a few extra bags in the back of your kayak

Once you start adding weight to the boat above this limit, you’ll notice the performance drop

It’ll be harder to paddle and maneuver your kayak and you may find that it feels less stable

As you approach the maximum weight limit, your kayak will start to feel overloaded

An overloaded kayak will sit lower in the water

If you have a sit-on-top kayak, water may come up through the scupper holes

If you exceed your kayak’s maximum weight capacity, then the boat will sink even lower and may begin taking on water, particularly if the weight is loaded at the stern of the kayak

Best Kayaks for Big Guys and Gals

When taking into account the 65% rule for calculating a kayak’s usable weight capacity, the choice of kayaks for larger paddlers becomes more limited

However, as the highest weight capacity kayaks have a usable weight limit of over 450 pounds, there’s still plenty of choice on the market

If you’re worried that you may be too heavy for a recreational kayak, then a hybrid fishing kayak may give you some extra weight capacity

Inflatable kayaks often have a higher weight capacity than hardshells—plus, they’re easier to transport

Here are five of the best kayaks with a listed weight capacity of 500 pounds or more:

Sea Eagle 380X Explorer Inflatable Kayak – 750 pounds (inflatable)

Vibe Kayaks YellowFin 130T – 500 pounds (hardshell)

Once you know how to calculate the performance weight limit of a kayak, you can make sure you buy one that’s the right size for you

Lightweight recreational kayaks will suit smaller paddlers, whereas inflatables are ideally suited to families and big guys and gals

There’s a perfect kayak for everyone—you just need to find it!

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