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Weight limit on Tandem Kayak - Tandem Kayak Report

Weight limit on Tandem Kayak


Understanding weight limits on Tandem kayaks.

The weight limit on the kayak you want to buy is one of the key factors you need to consider when you are about to purchase one. Weight limit or weight capacity is a feature of all kayaks and it is normally dependent on certain factors like kayak type, gear you will carry, any customizations on the boat among other factors. To give you a better understanding, we can take the example of recreational kayaks which can weigh up to 300 pounds; sit-on-top kayak can weigh up to 400 lbs among others.

We will explore weight capacity in more detail in the article below.

 What is the kayak weight capacity?

 Weight capacity refers to a numbering system which allows a kayaker to know whether a certain kayak suits their purposes. There is no single approach to measuring capacity and every company assign measurements in their own way using their own systems. This is why it can be a bit confusing to know which capacity you should go for when buying a kayak.

 It is important to understand the correlation between your body weight and the weight of the boat, for example, a kayak that weighs 300 pounds will still be able to stay above water even when it has a passenger who is 300lbs. These results in a combined weight of 600 pounds and you’ll realize the effects of the weight only when you look at stability and how far beneath the water surface the hull goes. However, if we were to give it a simple definition, the tandem weight capacity or the tandem weight limit means the amount of weight the kayak can hold and still stay afloat. 

When considering the weight capacity of a kayak, remove between 25% and 50% of the listed weight capacity to determine that which would work for you. For instance, if the boat weight capacity is 350 pounds, subtract 25% from that to determine the weight of the person who can easily handle that capacity. In this case, a person weighing 262.5 pounds or less would have the ideal weight to handle that kind of a kayak.

Make sure you take into consideration the weight of the gear you will carry and the kind of clothing you will wear because it’ll combine to the overall weight limit. Subtracting 50% will actually be a better idea because you can now be sure that you have a weight allowance that will prevent water from coming into the boat when you’re paddling. This is to say that a kayak that has a weight capacity of 350 lbs should be comfortably used by someone who weighs about 150 pounds with the extra 25 pounds for the gear. Kayaks for the entry level have a low weight capacity

What to consider

There are certain considerations when thinking about the weight capacity of the boat you want to buy. These will help you avoid buying a boat that is too small and likely to sink if you take it into the water.

Your size and body weight.

For a bigger individual, consider a kayak with 400lbs or more weight limit. Finding an option in the sit-in kayak type may be difficult for bigger body individuals.

Customizations to the boat.

If you plan to make any renovations/customizations on the kayak, then you need to take this into consideration when buying your kayak. If you will, for example, add a trolling motor or a rudder, then you will need to factor this in when making final weight considerations.

Gear that you will carry

Be clear about the gear you will carry on your kayaking trips, tandem boats do not have too much storage because of the space taken up by the second person. Whatever you choose,  make sure it can accommodate you, your companion and all your gear.


Weight capacity according to boat type.

Recreational kayaks.

These normally weigh between 250 lbs to 300 lbs and are good for use in slow-moving rivers and lakes. They have good primary stability and a great for people who are using them for touring, photography amongst others. Such boats are very good in open water, especially where it is windy or where there is turbulence.  Some of the touring kayaks have a big bulkhead which allows you to store quite a bit of additional gear, so you need to take all this into consideration when you are calculating the weight capacity.  You can, however, find some recreational kayaks that are up to 400 lbs in capacity and are usually used by anglers who need space for their catch.

Touring kayaks

Also known as expedition kayaks, these boats are long, usually ranging between 12-16 feet in length and normally have a weight capacity of 350 lbs. They tend to have a large storage capacity for storing things that you may require for long distance travel. Such boats are very stable and are good for use in open water, whether in windy or turbulent conditions.

Sit-on-top kayaks

These are great for beginners and normally have a cockpit and seating area, they are normally stable and are good for activities such as fishing or photography. They are considerably slower because they have a wide frame and can be up to 10-15 feet and 350-400 lbs in length and weight.

Tandem kayaks

These are great for two-person paddling and can weigh between 500-600lbs. They are very stable boats and most have a sit-on-top sitting style. When you have an extra paddler you will need to reduce the capacity of the gear you carry.


You will not get good performance when you overload your kayak. Make sure you balance the weight well in the boat because poor balancing/poor weight distribution will result in a boat that is hard to control. Have a proper understanding of the kayaks and what you hope to use them for before you buy one. To truly enjoy the experience, get a boat that can support both your weights well, give you enough storage and manages to keep you dry even when in open water or in rough water conditions.


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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