Kayaking is a fun and adventurous sport, not to mention a great way to get into or back into shape. However, some of us, ahem, like me, need a kayak for a “larger” person. And if you’re like me—pushing closer to the 300lb mark—you might be wondering what the best kayaks for big guys, or gals for that matter, are … and if high weight capacity kayaks even exist.
One of my biggest concerns when I first started kayaking was how stable a kayak would be with 300lbs of hefty-sized man and gear in it (Because you know, I had all that “muscle” weight, right). Jokes aside, regardless of whether you’re big because you spend all your time in the gym or just enjoying a beer and a burger more often than you should, fortunately, if you’re a larger person, manufacturers are designing kayaks which provide a lot of buoyancy and stability for people over 300lbs.
So, what are the Best Kayaks for BIG GUYS? The best kayaks for big guys or anyone pushing toward 300 pounds are kayaks that have the proper weight capacity for the kayaker, have a cockpit width and length that allow a big guy or gal to get in and out easily, and are stable enough to allow you to participate in the type of kayaking you want to.
So if you’re a big guy or gal who’d love to try kayaking or kayak fishing but you’re not quite sure you wanna end up in the water because your kayak couldn’t support your weight, don’t lose hope. We’ve compiled a list of kayaks that are perfect for us “big” people.
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8 Best Kayaks for Big Guys
If you are in a hurry, you can check out this short list of kayaks for big and tall people.
- Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
- BKC UH-RA220
- Lifetime 10-Foot Two-Person Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Kayak
- Sea Eagle 380 Inflatable Kayak
- SunDolphin Bali SS 12
- Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
- Wilderness Systems ATAK 140
Below, I’ll go into the pros, cons and details of each of those kayaks. But first, let’s talk about what key features you should look for and understand in your search for any kayak for a big 300 lb guy or gal.
Key Features of Kayaks for Big People
Buying the right type of kayak if you’re tall and/or big can be confusing. To make it easy for you, I’ll list some key kayak features and measurements you need to be aware of before you head out to buy a kayak.
Weight Capacity of Kayaks for “Big” Guys
Knowing how much weight a kayak can support is one of the biggest deciding factors us “big” guys and gals need to know as we look for appropriate, safe kayaks. So whether you’re out there window shopping or online surfing, make sure that you pay close attention to a kayak’s maximum weight capacity. It shouldn’t be too close to your own weight plus the weight of your gear.
You’ll want to leave a margin for extra gear, buoyancy, and to maintain the ability to maneuver easily.
This weight buffer will make you more secure and provide better stability when you’re out in the water. It will also help prevent your vessel from capsizing too easily.
Here’s how to choose the right size kayak for your weight.
But simply put, most kayaks that can support big people should have a weight capacity of well over 300 lbs.
Kayak Weight Considerations for Big Guys
Now, it’s worth noting that the actual weight of a kayak plays into its maximum weight capacity. So make sure to check a kayak’s weight and add it to the overall weight you’ll need to put in your kayak.
A quick formula for figuring out the best capacity kayak for you is
Kayak Weight + Your Weight + Gear Weight)/.8 (to account for a 20% weight buffer between you and the maximum weight a kayak can hold)
So if I weigh 250, plus a 50 pound kayak, plus 25 pounds in gear, I’d need a roughly 400 lb capacity kayak. (In reality, I sometimes paddle my daughters’ Perception Swifty 9.5 with a 325lb capacity and it works fine. But the consequences of that is harder paddling, less stability, less speed and I definitely ride lower in the water. Almost too low.)
Kayak Width and Length for Large People
Kayak Width Considerations for Big People
One of the challenges that people with large builds experience is getting into or out of their kayak. If your kayak has a wide hull, it’s more stable. And that makes it easier to get in and out without risking tipping over your kayak. Not to mention that your waist will slip down into your kayak much easier.
Larger paddlers should look for a kayak with a hull width of at least 30 inches. Because the wider your kayak is, the easier is it to get your hips in and out of. A wide hull also allows you to stretch out and sit comfortably in the kayak.
Related Article: Kayak Stability
Kayak Length Considerations for Big Guys
Now, a kayak can only be so wide before it becomes just another boat that you can’t paddle from side to side. So in order to get more buoyancy and maintain a reasonable and easily-paddled width, kayaks come in different lengths. And that’s because adding length adds volume—buoyancy.
The most popular length kayak is a 10 foot average length kayak. But as a larger kayaker, you’re probably going to start your search with 12 foot long kayaks.
Related Article: How Long Are Kayaks?
Kayak Size Considerations for Big and Tall People
So far we’ve talked about the weight of big kayakers. But if you’re over 6 feet tall, your height will come into play as well. You might not be surprised to know that your height, as it relates to kayaking, is more of a function of your leg length and shoe size than your overall height. After all, your legs have to fit in a sit inside kayak. And if you’re paddling a touring kayak, your shoe size will determine if your feet are cramped between the deck and the hull of your kayak or not.
The inside of most sit inside kayaks is measured in volume. Volume is simply the measurement of the amount of space that’s available inside your kayak. But it’s important because this will determine how well your lower body fits and how comfortable you are while paddling.
In general, especially in touring kayaks, volume measurements are described as “low”, “medium”, and “high” volume kayaks. Just keep in mind that the best way to figure out what kayak fits you is to actually go and sit inside one. Most specialty kayak shops will be more than happy to have you sit inside a few different kayaks to test them out.
We go into depth about understanding height vs kayak size in our What Size Kayak do I Need for my Height? article.
Comfort’s in the Seat of Your Pants
Since you’ll be sitting on your butt for hours at a time, it’s important that your kayak be designed for comfort. And for large-sized people, sometimes … that’s an “issue”. Sometimes…
Adequate Cockpit Width
The cockpit of a sit inside kayak is simply the opening in the middle of the kayak that you get in and out of and sit inside while you paddle. The width of your kayak cockpit matters more because a cockpit opening that’s too narrow will make you feel cramped and uncomfortable fast. In addition a narrow cockpit is tough to squeeze wide hips past. (Don’t ask me how I know this…)
A Good Padded Seat
You should make sure any kayak you look at has a comfortably padded seat. Most sit on top fishing kayaks have seats that can be adjusted to recline and they also come with a backrest.
While most sit inside kayaks come with a good padded seat, sit-on-top, molded plastic, kayaks can be quite comfortable as well. And the sit on tops provide an added measure of safety in that they’re easy to get out of if you capsize.
At the end of the day, a good seat will prevent you from having back and butt pain. Trust me…
Try a Sit on Top First
Since sit-on-top kayaks are much more forgiving for larger and taller guys and gals, and many of them tend to have higher buoyancy ratings, if you’re confused or just starting out kayaking, you may just want to start by checking out recreational sit-on-top kayaks.
That’s a pretty good overview of important considerations for big and tall people who want to go kayaking. So here’s that list of kayaks for big guys and gals.
8 Big and Tall Kayaks You’ll Love
Here’s the details on 8 kayaks for big and tall people
1. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
- Length: 13 feet
- Width: 33 inches
- Weight Capacity: 550 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 74 lbs
The Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 is one of the best fishing kayak for big guys. Its large, wide hull makes it very stable. As with most fishing kayaks, it’s stable enough for a tall and large person to stand on it without risking tipping it over too easily. The large weight capacity makes one of the best kayaks for big guys. Add to that its great seat, ample leg room and the fact that it’s a sit-on-top kayak… All those make it very comfortable and allow you to sit in this kayak for a long time.
- Made of Rotomolded high-density polyethylene which makes it super durable
- Toe-controlled rudder for easy manuevering
- Lots of storage space like tackle tray holders and 2 flush-mount fishing rod holders
- Dual Position Vibe Hero Seat and foot braces for comfortable seating
- Two side bungee paddle park and a fast access bow paddle parks
- Four integrated gear tracks
- Can be equipped with fish finder transducer
- Built-in cup holder
- Big rear trunk
- Comes in some great, vivid colors
- Wide hull gives you better stability
- Extra comfortable and adjustable seating
- May be a bit bulky for smaller people
- Only 1-year warranty
2. BKC UH-RA220
- Length: 11 foot 6 inches
- Width: 34 inches
- Weight Capacity: 450 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 68 lbs
Another great example of a fishing kayak for big and tall people, the Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220 Single fishing kayak offers a lot of value. This sit on kayak is well known for its superior stability and comes with a pre-installed ruder system which makes it very easy to maneuver, despite its large size. This means even big guys and gals can stand up and fish from it. If you prefer to sit, like I do, the chair is also designed to sit for long periods of time on the water so you don’t have to deal with back pain afterwards.
- 450 lbs capacity makes it an ideal kayak for tall and big guys
- The chair has several reclining settings
- Four flush mount rod holders
- Lots of watertight storage and cargo space with tie-downs
- Foot-operated rudder control
- Relatively lightweight kayak
- Made with metal frame
- Transducer compatible
- Comes in 7 cool colors
- 5-year limited warranty
- Standing while fishing might require a stability bar
3. Lifetime 10-Foot Two-Person Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Length: 10 feet
- Width: 36 inches
- Weight Capacity: 500 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 60 lbs
The Lifetime 10-Foot Two-Person Tandem Fishing Kayak is a great kayak for big guys who need more weight capacity in a smaller than 12′ kayak. While I wouldn’t paddle this kayak tandem, it’s an excellent size for one big guy to paddle alone. And that’ll give you some extra room to bring along gear like a cooler and store it behind you in the second passenger seat.
The hull is designed to offer superior stability and support for 2 people. This means it’s the perfect kayak for one big guy or gal. The kayak is extremely well constructed and can carry massive loads while remaining stable.
- Three built-in rod holders
- Spacious cargo compartments with shock strap for equipment security
- Multiple footrest positions
- Comes with two paddles and backrests
- Seven-foot long lightweight aluminum paddles for ease of control and reduced paddle fatigue
- Its compact size means it’s lighter and easier to transport
- Can carry two people
- Sleek design
- Can be stored easily
- High-weight capacity and super-stability
- Adjustable symmetrical shape is compatible with paddling styles
- Not as long as other models, though some people like its more compact size
- A bit slow compared to other kayaks
4. Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Kayak
- Length: 12 feet
- Width: 32.5 inches
- Weight Capacity: 375 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 57 lbs
The Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Kayak is one of the best kayaks for a 300 lb person. The sit on kayak is relatively affordable and allows you to save money that you can spend on other fishing gear. This high-performance kayak is great for fishing expeditions on lakes, rivers, ponds, and calm coasts and offers increases stability and speed, thanks to its short length and light weight.
- Adjustable and removable Stadium-Style Pro-Seat
- Large and open cockpit for big guys
- Made with durable polyethylene
- Paddle and tackle storage
- Adjustable foot brace system for improved paddling
- Dual-molded rod holders
- YakAttack gear Trac system
- Great for beginners as well as seasoned anglers
- Fast and stable
- Made in USA
- Five-year warranty
- Improved navigation
- Impact-resistant and UV-protected
- Comes in cool colors
- Limited dry storage area
- Rear storage area makes it difficult to easily access gear from behind
- May not be suitable for tall anglers
5. Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak
- Length: 12 feet 6 inches
- Width: 39 inches
- Weight Capacity: 750 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 47 lbs
The Sea Eagle 380 inflatable kayak is able to accommodate even the heaviest person. It is also designed to hold two or three people, so if you’re particularly large, this kayak model is for you. At 750 lbs weight capacity, the Sea Eagle 380x far outstrips other hardshell whitewater kayaks.
The reasons this kayak holds more weight is because its inflatable material gives it more buoyancy. The kayak is super-light but doesn’t sacrifice durability and stability and can withstand sharp rocks, and even pet claws.
Another wonderful thing about the Sea Eagle 380x is that it can be deflated down to just a 31 x 20 x 9-inch size package which is much easier to carry and transport.
The Sea Eagle’s design is also versatile and you can either paddle it or rig it up to an electric motor if you need some rest. With this boat, you can speed down rapids just as easily as you can row in calm water.
- Made of 1000-denier high-pressure polyester-supported fabric with electronically-welded seams for extra strength and durability.
- Equipped with 16 fast-draining valves
- Removable sliding skeg for straight tracking
- Can be powered by a 15-lbs electric motor
- D-rings for securing equipment
- Can hold two people and equipment for weeks of travel
- Certified with NMMA and designed to withstand Class IV rapids
- Deflates easily into lightweight, portable size
- Comes with repair kit and instructions
- Three-year warranty
- Not many cons (We love this kayak!)
6. SunDolphin Aruba SS
- Length: 12 feet
- Width: 29.6 inches
- Weight Capacity: 395 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 47 lbs
The SunDolphin 12′ Bali SS is a recreational and fishing sit-on kayak for big guys, and is great for both rivers and open lakes. The design features an open cockpit and padded seating which offers optimal space and comfort while you’re fishing.
Not only is it made of high-grade material that offers the kayak longevity but it also can withstand the bleaching effect of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Additionally, the boat is very lightweight which makes it easier to transport.
The exceptional strength of the high-density polyethylene material makes it a great choice kayak for big guys or gals.
- Made with rugged polyethylene
- Cockpit has spacious design
- Adjustable seating that reclines
- UV-stabilized material to prevent discoloration
- Flush-mounted fishing rod holders
- Portable accessory carrier that provides more space for storage
- Lightweight material prevents capsizing
- Comes with a convenient water bottle holder
- Easy to enter and disembark
- Comes with protective thigh pads
- Removable dry hatch at the rear
- Material feels thin
- Material has rough edges but that can be fixed with some trimming
7. Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
- Length: 12.5 feet
- Width: 38 inches
- Weight Capacity: 600 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 28 lbs
The Driftsun Rover 220 inflatable tandem whitewater kayak is a very stable and very lightweight kayak that doesn’t sacrifice speed. This kayak is made of high-grade polyvinylchloride material which resists punctures even if you’re rowing on Class IV rapids. Thanks to its drop-stitch floor, it can handle very rough water, and if it does get ripped, you can easily repair it with a repair kit.
It has a versatile design that comes with two adjustable seats for tandem paddling but a big guy/gal can paddle it solo by positioning the seat at the center. Since the kayak can accommodate up to 600 lbs, it’s perfect for heavy kayakers and their equipment.
- PVC material
- Comes with two adjustable seats for tandem paddling
- Contains three inflatable chambers
- Comes with 8 self-bailing ports
- Removable rear, tracking skeg
- Metal components are rust-resistant
- Perfect for two grown adults
- Kayak can travel on Class III and Class IV rapids
- Designed for speed and stability
- Very lightweight
- Comes with repair kit
- A bit pricey for an inflatable kayak
8. Wilderness Systems ATAK 140
- Length: 14 feet 1 inch
- Width: 34 inches
- Weight Capacity: 550 lbs
- Kayak Weight: 95 lbs
The Yak Angler Choice Awards rewarded the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 with the Kayak of the Year award in 2015. The company has collected dozens of awards since its inception in 1986.
The Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 is a buffed-up 14′ version of the ATAK 120 and is the perfect kayak for a 300lb person. The kayak features a sit-on-top design and comes with a lot of cargo space. Additionally, the kayak allows taller and bigger kayakers to stretch out.
It has a stable and “highly walkable” deck, thanks to traction pads and stand up assist strap. Because of its heavier weight, it has improved stability, better gliding, and it tracks straighter.
With its 550 lbs capacity, it can easily accommodate large paddlers.
- “Stand up assist straps” and traction pads keep kayaker steady
- Sliding stadium-style AirPro Max suspension seats provide adjustability and comfort
- Removable console for fish finders
- Bow and stern storage hatches with security bars
- Equipped with GPS
- Larger carrying handles for people with big hands
- Offers superior stability, speed and improved tracking
- Perfect for seasoned anglers
- Available in 4 different colors
- Low profile design
- Open deck makes it more spacious
- Molded-in side handles
- Bigger than other kayaks, making it a bit difficult to transport
- Heavier than other models
- Relatively expensive for beginners
Bottom Line on Big Guy/Gal Kayaks
Even though you may be a big guy … or gal, you should know that most of the top kayak brands offer kayaks for larger paddlers up to and over 300 lbs. And many of them come with additional features that can make your first recreational or fishing kayak expedition much more comfortable.
So, whether you’re buying a kayak for a 300lb man, or just looking for the best fishing kayaks for big guys, hopefully you’re a bit more informed about which kayaks are the best for big people.