You enjoy kayaking, right? You probably would like to own or rent a kayak for your adventures. But when buying a kayak, you need to consider several factors, including the weight capacity (also called weight limit) of a kayak. Every kayak has a weight limit. A typical recreational kayak has a limit of 250-300 pounds. A touring (sea) kayak has a limit of 350 pounds. A sit-on-top kayak has a weight capacity of 350-400 pounds. And, a tandem kayak has a limit of 500-600 pounds.
So what is meant by a kayak’s weight limit?
The weight limit of a kayak is the “number’ assigned to a boat by a manufacturer in order to help paddlers know what type of kayak suits them. It also helps paddlers know how much gear and equipment they can bring on a boat. The assigned capacity is indicated on every new kayak. Unfortunately, every manufacturer determines kayak weight capacity in their own way, which confuses paddlers.
Generally, the weight limit of a kayak indicates the weight that a boat can carry and still float. So if a kayak has a weight limit of 250 pounds, it means the boat will still float a little on the water surface while holding a weight of 250 pounds. Now because the kayak will float only a little when holding a load equal to its weight limit, it will lose both its stability and maneuverability when loaded to that extent. That is why it’s important not to load a kayak to its weight limit.
Paddler size in relation to weight limit
The weight limit of a kayak indicates how much weight it can bear and still float. So if a kayak has a listed weight capacity of 350 pounds, it does not mean that a 350-pound kayaker can paddle it. For a sit-on-top kayak, the boat would be at the water line with most of it under the water. You can’t paddle it. So when a weight capacity is indicated, the kayak’s paddler size is about 30-35% below the weight capacity for a safe zone. With a weight limit of 350 pounds, the ideal paddler’s weight for the boat would be about 262.6 pounds or less. This is assuming the paddler doesn’t carry any gear. Including clothes, gear, and accessories, the maximum paddler weight is around 230 pounds.
Does the weight limit mean a dry boat?
A paddler weight that is 25-30 percent below the kayak’s weight limit achieves a safe zone. However, it doesn’t guarantee the boat will remain dry, easy, and efficient. For more efficient paddling, have a paddler weight about 50 percent of the kayak’s limit. This allows the kayak to move farther with every paddle stroke. For instance, if you want to remain fairly dry and enjoy efficient paddling in a 350-pound weight limit boat, the maximum weight it should carry is about 150 pounds. This allows you about 25 pounds for gear.
Going for a kayak with the right weight limit
When buying a kayak, you need to know your weight and the weight of the gear and equipment you intend to bring on your trip. And since the weight limit indicated on the boat means the maximum load it can take, the ideal weight limit is one that offers enough room for paddler, gear and equipment. As you make a decision to buy a kayak, consider going for a boat which has a weight limit high enough to accommodate you and all the gear you intend to bring.
If you weigh 295 pounds and intend to bring extra gear, choose a boat above 350 pounds. Actually, it is advisable to stay below 70% of kayak’s rated weight, including gear, to avoid poor performance. Likewise, weight distribution is just as critical as the weight limit because if the kayak is unbalanced it will be harder to control. Want more information on kayaks, kayak prices or kayak rentals? Visit the “Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy” site.