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How to choose a fishing kayak for a heavy person - Tandem Kayak Report

How to choose a fishing kayak for a heavy person


Everyone who wants to try kayaking should have the opportunity, regardless of their body shape and size. Why? Because kayaking is a fun and recreational activity that gives the kayaker possibility to engage in water sports and some fishing.

A kayak is a slim, longish vessel that moves on water and whose width is merely slightly wider than the hip span of a person. It is driven by one or two people, wielding a paddle and are sitting roughly in the middle of the watercraft.

How does a plus-size person accomplish this, and, are there options for acquiring a fishing kayak for a heavy person? The answer to this question is the crux of the matter on hand. Yes, indeed! If you are a person of substantial size, you can get a fishing kayak that you will comfortably fit into, and go about your water adventures at will.

Whether you are taller than the average persons in the general population and a person of substantial size, don’t despair, you can get a larger kayak size that will have room for you and your gear. There are many types and styles of kayaks in the market that can hold more than 220 pounds which are designed to be comfortable and provide support for the big frame individuals.

You won’t be wondering how you will get in and out of the contraption! You won’t have to keep worrying if it will capsize and flip over! And, ultimately, you will not question if the fit will be comfortable or bruising!

Let’s dump your fears on the shore and get onboard a suitable plus size kayak. Read on and find out how to go about choosing your fishing kayak for a heavy person.


Concerns a plus size person has when buying a fishing kayak.

Kayaking transfers a person’s full control of their movement from terra firma, to a frail-looking vessel floating on a body of water, and the kayaker is brandishing a paddle that is for their use as the steering mechanism and the power for momentum! There is a way to resolve this conundrum and as you continue reading, you will realise that these are sound solutions that are acceptable, safe and rewarding.


Weight Capacity

If you’re a big frame individual who likes fishing, you may baulk at using a kayak as most of them aren’t made to lug a lot of weight around because they might sink or flip. Fortunately there is a scientific solution for how to make it stay afloat; stability is a function of the kayak design (width, hull and weight) plus the paddler (weight, height and kayaking ability).

Let’s begin with explaining the meaning of the weight capacity of a kayak before going through the process to calculate it. Weight capacity is the term that explains the sum total weight a kayak can carry and still float. This is calculated by adding the weight of the kayak itself, the weight of the kayaker, and the weight of all the gear that is on the kayak.

The first question you might ask is how you will know what the weight capacity is. That’s easy to answer. Most Kayak manufacturers will provide pertinent information about the products that they sell. The manufacturers have done their homework and know at what critical weight their kayaks will begin to sink.

Well, the next obvious question to pose is how heavy is the kayak? Yet again, the answer to how heavy the kayak weighs is conveniently available in the manufacturer’s specs, and this is including the weight of all the bells and whistles that it comes loaded with. So, to get the grand total of all the gear on your kayak you must keep track of how heavy all the extra paraphernalia you load is; for eg any camping equipment, ice boxes, tools, electronic gadgets, etc.

The easiest question that you have remaining to answer is how much you weigh.

Voila! You will have the kayak’s weight capacity once you total the three measurements. As long as you don’t load up beyond this figure, your kayak will stay afloat.



A comfortable fishing kayak can reveal the magic of the outdoor life and set free a soaring joy for fishing in your life. Everything you will ever use over the innumerable hours of fishing trips should be comfortable and conveniently situated within arm’s reach.

Why is comfort an important aspect for acquiring a fishing kayak, you might query?  Let’s draw a candid image of what it’s like on a fishing kayak for a person of substantial size. The plus size person is sitting for several hours on a small seat. The kayak is in open waters and inadvertently painting a target on our protagonist for the whims of the sun, wind and waves. The big guy or girl will quench their thirst and eat as they wait for fish to take bait. The picture frame is enclosing three details; the plus size person sitting in the kayak and the passage of time. The best way to make this excursion fun and enjoyable is by ranking the physical comfort of the kayaker as first priority.

Keep reading to familiarize yourself with the actions that will make a kayak comfortable for a plus size person.

It should be possible to get in and get out of easily.

No-one wants to get stuck and experience difficulties while trying to get in or out of a kayak. Some kayaks have a removable dashboard that will create extra cockpit space. A big frame individual will require a larger cockpit so that there are no embarrassing and awkward situations as they get in and out.


It should have ergonomic seats that are durable, have foam padding and higher backs, providing good support to the spine and posture during all the long hours that are spent sitting.

Having adjustable sliding wide seats and foot pegs for optimal comfort. Wider seats provide full body support and help with fishing. The adjustable seats contribute to making it easier to get in and out and the fold up aspect provides standing space for the fishing enthusiast. A metal frame chair is stronger and adds extra strength to support a larger passenger, avoiding sore backs and pain.

Leg comfort.

Ample leg room is crucial for comfort. You don’t want to be so squeezed that your blood flow is constricted. A general rule of thumb is that you might experience a tight squeeze if your hip size is more than 50 inches round.

Leg cushions and thigh straps are also important. Some manufacturers have thigh and knee padding to protect the legs from bruises and hard knocks. Thigh straps secure the legs firmly and give the kayaker more control over their vessel.


A kayak that has skegs and rudders that extend in to the water contribute to the stability of the boat. Finding a stable fishing kayak that won’t tip easily is important. By choosing a wider beam and flatter hulls, you have a water vessel that is hard to tip, because the wider beam makes it slower and more manageable, while the flatter hulls reduces the kayak’s rocker effect since the degree curvature from bow to stern reduces.

Kayak design and manufacturing material.

In today’s kayaking world, there are vast arrays of designs and options to cater for every dream any fishing enthusiast would have. Let’s wade in on the kayaking options that particularly benefit the plus size persons. The two types of kayak are the more traditionally known sit-in kayaks and the sit-on-top kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks.

Sit on top kayaks have greater leg room as your legs are not tucked into the hull, but are in front and on top of the vessel. Sit on top kayaks are not easy to tip over since there is not much jostling around, trying to fit into the hull. This kayak is highly recommended for plus size individuals.

Sit on top kayaks have more standing space. You can be sure that this style of vessel is very stable since the fishing can be carried out in the upright position!

Sit-in kayaks

Sit in vessels are not the best choice for plus size individuals, they have a smaller cockpit and a narrower beam. This will be a struggle to get in and out and, simultaneously, the narrower beam makes it unsteady and easier to tip over. A positive feature that sit-in kayaks have is that they are ideal for anyone who wants to stay warm and dry.

Inflatable kayaks are buoyant, durable and affordable. Some have extra buoyancy and allow for higher weight capacity, meaning that they can handle big guys and girls. Some inflatable kayaks have high-pressure floors which give more strength and stability to the craft. Tandem kayaks are bigger than the solo vessel, have two or three people paddling and built to carry heavier loads.

The traditional materials used to build the first kayak are seal skins and wood. The kayaker built his own vessel to his specific body measurements. The builder measured the length to thrice the length of his arms and the kayak’s width was the span of his hips and two fists. Every kayak was unique and exceptionally customized. This is a rather different scenario from today’s mass production, where the materials used and the measurements more or less conform to standard molds and specifications and thus, do not cater for the builder’s personal use. The modern materials and designs used to build kayaks will impact its performance and can influence the decision whether to buy it or not.

Polyethylene kayaks

Polyethylene is a material used to build kayaks and a very dense form is used to build the hull, making the vessel quite strong and solid. The added stability means that it is very hard to tip over. A plus size person will feel comfortable and confident in using this kayak.


Fiberglas kayaks

Fiberglass is another material used in the building and design of kayaks. Thin strips of wood are covered in fiberglass, making the kayak extra strong and waterproof. Unfortunately, this makes the kayak heavier and means that the displacement is not enough and a plus size person will have to load up less fishing gear or risk sinking the vessel.

Modern kayak builders have additional equipment that they use to assist with propelling their vessels. Some examples are foot powered rotational propellers and flippers, sails, small electric motors and, even outboard gas engines. This means that there is less strain to steer your kayak to wherever you intend to go fishing. The kayaks that would typically be difficult to paddle can now use these methods and sail on without any hindrance.

Why would a plus size person want to buy a fishing Kayak?

Anyone who wants to buy a fishing kayak must be cognizant of the use they want to put it to. If you are already actively pursuing water sports such as white water rapids, kayak racing, it would be safe to assume you know your way around a kayak. If you are new to kayaking and are keen to know how else you can maximize the use of a fishing kayak, here are some suggestions for your consideration.

You can use your fishing kayak as a recreational tool and take up another hobby that can be practiced aboard the kayak. Photography is easy to combine with fishing. This way you will expand not only kayak use, but also your appreciation for nature and the topics of your photographic endeavors. Camping is another activity that you can add to your repertoire of new hobbies to cultivate that go together with fishing and kayaking.

Family and social bonding excursions become deeper when you take kayak trips with loved ones. Tandem kayaks allow two or three people to paddle safely for new adventures; a small child can comfortably sit in the middle seat. You will be in close proximity, bonding the whole time you’re on the water and still able to do your fishing.

Try your hand at touring. There’s always a lot of activity happening near bodies of water in the world of nature. You will introduce your mind to the world of plants and animals living near water. How exciting it would be to watch an otter family felling trees to repair its dam.

A plus size individual may decide they want to lose weight by buying a fishing kayak. This is a low impact form of exercise that is quite a lot of fun and rewarding, especially if the fish are biting. It is wise to start your kayak fishing on calm waters, where you will have the opportunity to hone your paddling skills and techniques before you attempt to go out in deep water or try running through rapids.

Whatever the reasons for wanting a fishing kayak, remember that you should always try to make sure it is a fun adventure. Being overweight must not crimp your style or enthusiasm to paddle your kayak.

Some risks and safety measures.

Every activity has risks to it. In kayaking, as with every other sport, safety is paramount. Because the nature of kayaking is a physical activity on water, a medium that is beyond your control, there is the likelihood of getting bumps and scrapes. Keep on reading for some suggestions to reduce the risks of injury and disappointment.

Investigate if you have a place you can go to for kayaking lessons and practise as often as you can. A practiced kayaker can give you tips based on their experiences and you will benefit immensely in your improved performance, attitude, taking good care of your gear, etc.

Practice getting in and out of a kayak while it is sitting on your floor. It’s hard enough as it is for seasoned kayakers to enter and exit a kayak, but you may have to contend with feelings of being self-conscious and bashfulness. The old adage, practice makes perfect, right on the money in this instance. Repeat your going in and out until you are comfortable with your actions.

Before going out to buy a kayak, find a place where you can hire out the model that is intriguing you and take it out a few times. Some manufacturers even arrange fetes near a lake or pond at certain seasons and bring out their kayaks for free trials to the public.

Buy a proper helmet and an appropriate size life jacket and wear them. When you plan an outing with friends and family, make sure you remind them to have their safety gear on. Get a kayaking safety kit and before any excursion, always take inventory of it.

Always inform someone where you intend to go and how long you’ll are away for. This is so that if you need emergency rescuing for one reason or another, the search party will have a general idea which direction to start from.

A few more interesting tips.

There are a few interesting tips that may help you become infatuated with a fishing kayak. These are a few points about paddles and the center of gravity that further underline how the whole human body and the whole kayak body, together, work as one indistinct tool. The slightest change in the human features, affects the stability of the kayak. And vice versa, an adjustment in the kayak, will compromise an aspect for the human.

Paddles and paddling.

A paddle is the tool that the kayaker uses to propel the vessel. It has blades on both ends of a rod. The paddler uses it to drag through the water and the resulting push drives the fishing kayak forward. Kayak paddlers face forwards; the direction that the vessel will move in. A shorter paddle puts less stress and strain on shoulder joints. The shorter paddle helps the vessel to go faster. Conversely, the longer paddles are the better option to use in longer trips that require endurance more than speed.

The ideal paddle length for you is roughly the measurement of the floor to your chin. At this length, the paddler will not have a vigorous cadence and is not wasting energy, while the fishing kayak is also moving steadier since there is no vigorous shifting to the center of gravity which causes over balancing and destabilizes the vessel.

Paddling uses the paddler’s legs to power through each stroke. Knee, thigh and leg cushioning is very important to give your legs protection and the thigh and leg straps add more support to the “coil” power in the strokes.

The narrow kayak is easier to paddle because it has less wet surface and thus, less friction. The fishing kayak is streamline and this reduces the resultant force required of the paddler to propel the vessel. Some kayaks have been designed with the possibility of adding a rudder. This gives extra paddling control since the rudder helps steering in a straighter line and the paddling energy is really pushing into its thrust. The blades are not adjusting to steady any rocking motion since the extra rudder has taken over that task.

Center of gravity

Larger size persons tend to have a higher center of gravity. It is a fair assumption to make that a six foot adult man would have a higher centre of gravity than a five foot 8 inches adult woman. She will have a higher center of gravity than a nine year old child. The importance of knowing this is that you can calculate the adjustments required to lower the centers of gravity and thus stabilize a fishing kayak with slight body adjustments. This is how the advantage of sliding chairs and leg braces becomes really handy. If you lower the center of gravity, the boat becomes more stable. Boost stability by distributing gear in the hull storage and along the top. Avoid piling gear up in a pile as this will draw the centre of gravity up higher an destabilize the vessel. It is interesting to note that if you pack your gear in the storage just right, the counteracting weight distribution balances some of the instability caused from the shift of centre of gravity. You have the chance to add a stand-up assist strap that you use to help you upright.

Final words.

Fishing kayaks are an exciting topic of discussion because they are becoming more popular and common to see. It is indicative of this popularity that there are deliberate strides taking place by manufacturers to include persons of substantial size in the mainstream market. The prices are generally the same, the design and building materials are the same. There is no niche marketing effort by manufacturers to niche market the plus size persons. This is a good thing for the product and for the sport. It just means that more people will be enjoying this sport.

Because the general design of the kayak has hardly changed drastically in over four thousand years, the kayaker’s body is in direct contact with the hull and actually shifts to turn, direct and in some way help manoeuvre the vessel, it is easier to ‘feel’ how stable the kayaking experience at any given time.

Plus size individuals should not feel that they are unable to get a fishing kayak because they are constrained by weight insecurities. There is a wide market of vessels catering to their needs. Kayaking is a lot of fun, great for socializing and family bonding sessions and good for your health.

The three main issues we discussed that concern persons of substantial size are, the difficulty of getting in and off a kayak, capsizing, and comfort. All three concerns have been addressed and the conclusion is that none of them should be deciding factor for overweight individuals to desist from buying a fishing kayak for their personal use and pleasure. Manufacturers are designing kayaks that are hard to capsize, have wider cockpit space to simplify getting in and out, and the kayaks are more comfortable.

Kayaks are getting technological development to assist the paddling efforts which solves some problems that are a result of sitting for long hours without changing your position. If you familiarize yourself with kayak weight limits and do your research to find the vessel with the features that most attract you, you have no reason to hold yourself back from owning a fishing kayak regardless of what you weigh.

The paradigm shift about persons of substantial size being hesitant to start fishing from a kayak, needs to come from the plus size persons. They are calling unnecessary attention to themselves over factors that have actually been resolved in their favor and at no extra cost. You never can tell if when we may have to go back to the old ways of doing things and kayaking will return to being our most important means of transportation as well as hunting!

Cease hesitating and get your paddles up for a fishing kayak excursion as soon as now!


About Author

Steve has been into sports all his life. As a young boy, he started with swimming; this only propelled him into more water sports. When he tried kayaking, the thrill captivated him and now, it is his favorite sport. As a ranger, Steve is always in the outdoors where he likes it. He became a ranger right after college. He is married and has three kids whom he loves going to expeditions with. When he is not at work or with his family, he loves writing. He is now the lead blogger at Tandem Kayak Report, always writing about his passion.

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