I know first-hand the trouble the larger than the average person has sourcing items to fit their generous physique! Being 6ft4 and weighing 250 lb, I struggle to buy clothes let alone a Kayak.
I am sure all us oversized people have experienced the joys and delights of flying long haul in an economy seat?! I had to be surgically removed from mine following a 12-hour flight to Asian – it wasn’t a pretty sight.
But fear not, whether you‘re a Chunky Monkey, the Baroness of Bulk or Lurch’s taller yet better-looking brother we have the ultimate guide to help you find the best kayaks for big guys or girls!
This guide will explain the key design features to consider when purchasing Kayak for larger paddlers, both big and tall. As well as, make recommendations on the best kayaks for tall people and the heavier guy or girl. You will soon be the king or queen of plus size kayaking.
Oh and remember, fat people float better….built-in Personal Flotation Device…..right?
Chunky but funky!
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After 40 hours of research – the winner is?
Are you in a rush and don’t have time to read the full article? Don’t worry, we have got you!
Drum roll please….. Drrrrr….drrrrrrr… the winner of best kayaks for big guys or girls is;
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
Why is it better?
- Super stable, suitable for stand-up kayak fishing
- Amazingly comfortable with multiple position seat and adjustable foot brace
- Great price and superb after sales
- Integrated gear tracks, fishing rod holders and built-in cup holder
- Excellent weight capacity with high maximum load limit – plenty of room for big and tall paddlers
- Good storage; waterproof bow storage hatch and stern cargo area with bungee tie down, suitable for a cooler or fishing crate
- Toe controlled rudder system will help keep you on track
Buying the Best Kayak for the Larger Person – Things to consider
When looking to buy a kayak for a large person, wither they a taller or bigger guy (or girl), there are a few key points to consider. Take these on board and you will soon be out on the water gliding gracefully like the swan that you are.
Kayak Comfort – Comfort Is King for Big Guys!
I have a big butt and I cannot lie! There, I said it!! Happy now?!
I also have the back and knees of an 80-year-old so being comfortable is paramount, both to your enjoyment and your health
When choosing a kayaks for big guys, if you are big in size then you need to be big on comfort.
If like me, you find sitting anywhere for long periods an uncomfortable event. Then, I recommend that you buy a kayak a padded seat with excellent support that helps maintain good posture . Better still, buy a Kayak that allows the replacement of the seat system or for it to be upgraded – with a fully adjustable seating position – like those seen on sit-on-top fishing kayaks.
Trust me, your back and backside will thank you.
Kayak Weight Capacity – Big Guys Know your limits
After capsizing in the middle of a local Lake I discovered that a Kayak’s maximum weight capacity was not its effective usable weight. This is a fact that came as a surprise to me and my 4-year son, and even more of a shock to my wife watching from the bank.
My name was mud that day!
When it comes to choosing the best kayaks for big guys, weight capacity is a critical selection criteria – read the next section carefully.
Kayak weight capacity is the maximum load limit the Kayak can take and still float!
This does not mean a Kayak with an advised maximum weight of 300 lb can take a 300 lb paddler and still be stable and manoeuvrable… far from it.
So what is an approximate guide that safeguards stability and manoeuvrability?
Well, you must ensure the Kayak’s weight capacity is about 40% more than the combined load weight.
I.E. That of the paddler and gear. So a 250 lb paddle with 20 lb of gear (270 lb total) would need a 380-400 pound capacity Kayak.
Many big and tall people opt for a fishing kayak as they tend to a greater weight capacity – plus the extra storage hatches and storage space is a massive bonus!
Word of warning; many people will recommend that heavy people buy a kayak big enough for two people. Such as a tandem kayak, this is for the increased weight capacity, large cockpit size and greater storage options.
However, this is bad advice.
Please don’t buy a tandem kayak if you intend to use it for one person, especially if you’re a big man or girl, the weight distribution will be off and it will effect the kayaks performance and handling – they are meant for two people, keep it that way.
Another top tip- when shopping for kayaks for a big, tall or heavy person, buy from an established kayak brand. In my options avoid unknown kayak brands as they tend to over promise and under deliver – its not unusual to find they have over stated their maximum load capacity.
Kayak Type – You’re just not my type
Like most things in life, ‘type’ is a personal preference. Kayak type is no different – but despite what I say, you will still date that hot little Kayak that is totally wrong for you.
All joking aside, the type of Kayak you chose will be dependent on many factors. Such as; budget, intended use, ability and size.
But – if you are trying to choose the best kayaks for big guys then you need to take in account your physical character more than a regular Joe Average
Below are my general recommendations. I assume that you are a fair-weather beginner who is looking for the path of least resistance.
So not to over complicate the matter, Kayaks are either; Sit Inside or Sit-On-Top.
- Sit-Inside Kayaks – are generally lighter and faster. Due to the close hull, with a smaller cockpit opening, they offer better protection from the elements. They are, without question, hard to enter and exit which may be troublesome for a large person. They tend to be narrower and longer in shape, meaning they cut through the water faster but are less stable.
- Sit-On-Top – offer a larger and open cockpit; this allows the taller and wider person to stretch out their limbs. They are far easier to enter and exit, especially if you have reduced mobility or bad knees. And, are simpler to climb back in from the water. Although, their open cockpit design does leave the paddler open to the elements and weather conditions. They tend to be wider than Sit Inside Kayaks so are more stable. Thus, making it easier for the paddler to stand up whilst on the water. Hence, they make a great platform from which to fish. Another good reason why Sit-On fishing kayaks make an excellent choice for big guys.
Although, the extra length of a Sit-inside kayak do other some benefit to tall guys and girls. In my opinion, Sit-On-Top Kayaks are the better choice for the bigger guy as are more stable, easy to get into and out of, and offer more room to move around.
Kayak Width – It’s all about the girth
Get your mind out of the gutter, tut, tut
When looking for kayaks for big guys – if you are big in the girth department, your kayak also needs to be as well.
Kayak width is a major factor in relation to stability and something larger paddlers should make a priority. The greater the width, the greater the stability. The trade-off is that with increased width comes increased drag. Consequently, this means more effort is required to keep the Kayak moving.
Personally, I have not found this a major issue. I prefer the extra stability as I often Kayak with my 4-year-old son. And we all know it’s hard to keep a 4-year-old still for more than 5 minutes.
As a general rule a kayak over 36 inches in width would be classed at wide, however the widest can be over 40 inches in width – and my advice is that big guys should attempt to keep to the upper part of that range.
Kayak Deck Height – Keep your feet on the ground
Another consideration when selecting kayaks for big or tall guys is the height of the deck or depth of the seat/footbed; this is more relevant with Sit-On Kayaks.
A taller paddler naturally will have a higher centre of gravity; as they paddler side to side, this might make them feel unsettled in the water.
If this is the case then selecting a Kayak with a lower seating position or a deeper deck will help combat this issue.
It is important to note that too low of a seating position may make it slightly challenging to stand. So, if you are intending to use the Kayak to Fish rather than paddle then I suggest that you opt for width over deck height.
Kayak Length – Who said size doesn’t matter?
Big guys, two words….Legroom and Tracking! Ok the ‘and’ made it three words but you get my drift.
As a general rule, the longer the hull the narrower the profile. In result the kayak glides through the water with less effort.
Length is a factor often over looked when selecting kayaks for big and tall people, yet can have the biggest impact on handling, performance and comfort. If you are heavier and taller than the average person then a longer kayak, with wide width and high capacity is a sure fire why to give you enough room – make you feel comfortable – increase your enjoyment out on the water.
Kayaks for Big Guys Buying Guide and Top Tip – We are all unique, just like everybody else.
Ultimately we are all different shapes and sizes. The points above are considerations, factors to help inform your buying choice when shortlisting kayaks for big and tall people.
Don’t be like me when I brought my first Kayak…..ohhh, that looks nice. Love the colour and graphics!…adds to basket
So, the biggest tip I can give you is…..(drum roll)……
Go and visit a store or visit a local club, sit in or try out the Kayak you intended to buy!
All thought pictures, sale blurb and online reviews can help narrow your choices and stop you from buying a totally unsuitable product, they can’t replace seeing a Kayak in the flesh.
Do your research online! Create a shortlist! Check online prices! View in Person!
Top 5 Kayaks for big guys (or girls)
We’ve hunted high and low, exploring many different brands and have handpicked five different kayaks to compare. Take a minute to read our review, examine the pros and cons of each to find your best kayaks for big guys (or Girls)
Best Kayak For Big Guys On A Budget
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
Don’t have the space or money for a hard shell Kayak? Well, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 inflatable kayak could be an ideal choice. Its low price, great weight capacity and easy transportability makes it a one of the best kayaks for a beginner or travel Kayak for the larger person on a budget.
Although it’s better suited to calmer conditions it is still an excellent Kayak for recreational use. It’s only fair to say, the included Paddle is mediocre at best, you might want to consider upgrading this. In fact, I would always recommend buying the best paddle you can afford.
Its double lock valve system and included pump make it super quick to inflate. Its 18lb weight means even the weakest of users will have little trouble lifting it in-and-out the water unaided. Just be careful not to drag this soft bottom craft across a grave bank, unless you are handy with a repair kit.
It folds down into roughly an airline hand luggage size bag, fitting comfortably in even the smallest of city cars. With it’s backpack bag, it also would make an ideal travel Kayak.
A NMMA certified max load capacity of 400 lb, it’s supersized capacity will happily take 270 lb of Paddler and gear without negatively affecting stability or handling.
The fixed seating position may not suit all Paddlers but it’s wide and comfortable enough. Maybe this isn’t an ideal choice for those who wish to spend days on end touring. But don’t let that put you off, this is still a great little Kayak.
- Weight: 18 lb
- Width: 33″
- Weight Capacity: 400 lb weight limit
- Length: 8 foot
- Material: PVC
- Great value for money
- Extra large weight capacity
- Quick to inflate
- Plenty of room in the cockpit for the bigger person
- Good weight capacity for a 1 person inflatable
- Easy to transport
- Foot pump, paddle and travel bag included in the price
- Deflation can be time consuming
- The Paddle is not of the highest quality
- Not a great deal of storage space
- Tracking is a little troublesome in rougher waters
- Seat only has one set position
Overall, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is a high weight capacity inflatable kayak that provides excellent bang for your buck, you would be hard pushed to find a better Kayak at this price point. All you really need to do is buy a better Paddle!
Best Fishing Kayak for Big Guys
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
The Sea Ghost 130 by Vibe Kayaks is best described as the mountain goat of the Kayak world. This sure-footed Kayak is equally at home on the open ocean as it is navigating its way down the river, or across the lake.
Its whooping 550 lb weight capacity makes it a sit-on-top than accommodate the biggest of Paddlers. While still leaving a good reserve for any fishing gear that they wish to carry. However, we suggest that the combined load is no more than 390lb in order to preserve its great speed and stability.
Primarily aimed at the fishing market its all-round great performance means it much more than ‘Just a Fishing Kayak’. It’s smart and ergonomic hull design ensure it’s very stable in the water, whilst remaining fast and nibble.
The toe controlled, drop down, rudder keeps the Sea Ghost tracking straight and true. It definitely helps on windy days or when there is a strong current. Even the most out of shape Paddler will have little trouble guiding this Kayak through the water.
But!….All this awesomeness does come at a price, it is not cheap but nor will it break the bank.
But to keep this review unbiased as possible, I will point out that the Sea Ghost is not perfect.
There have been some minor issues with the build quality. Which in all honesty should have been picked up in quality control. The rudder pedals are a little on the flimsy side and might need to be replaced should an upgrade be released on a later model. The saving grace is that Vibe’s customer service is well known for being top quality. So should you experience any issues, they will resolve them without hesitation? Which for me, it is worth its weight in gold.
Weighting is at just over 75lb and being 13ft long, you may need a little help lifting it in and out of the water. Unless you drive a Hurst or a stretched Limo, you will need to invest in a kayak cart and a trailer or roof rack.
Being a Fishing Kayak it’s loaded with gear mounting points, flush mounting rod holders, a good array of storage hatches and stowing places. Enough to keep the most avid of anglers happy. Ohh, and there is a cup holder for your beer.
Winner, winner chicken dinner!
- Weight: 75 lb
- Width: 33″
- Weight Capacity: 550 lb weight limit
- Length: 13 foot
- Material: PVC
- Super size weight capacity at 550lb
- Great handling and stability
- Good in all water conditions
- Extremely good level of gear points and storage
- Integrated gear tracks with a large number of equipment points
- Plenty of room for the big and tall
- Adjustable seat with back support
- Excellent customer service
- Not the cheapest sit-on-top around, definitely not an impulse buy
- Heavy, will need assistance getting in and out of the water
- Some build quality gremlins
Overall, the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 is a well designed, equipped sit-on-top fishing kayak with a high weight capacity that will suit the even the largest of fishermen or women. Its a shame it doesn’t come with a pedal drive system, like the Perception Pescador, which would make this an exception kayak. And, although it’s not cheap, but I can’t find a better Kayak within the price range – trust me, I’ve tried!
So this is why we are awarding the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130, Top Fishing Kayak for Big and Tall Guys.
Best Kayak 400 lb Capacity
Sun Dolphin Bali SS 12-Foot Sit-On-Top Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Bali is a fully-fledged recreational kayak and an excellent choice for the larger person. This lovely Sit-On-Top will tick the boxes of many people looking to buy a kayak, regardless of their size.
It has the perfect ratio of great physical weight to weight capacity. Coming in at 48lb with a maximum floating capacity of 395lb. Working on our recommended guidelines; Maximum Capacity being 40% more than the combined load weight. This high weight capacity kayak will happily support 282lb of Paddle and equipment – all while maintaining a high level of stability and control – making it one of the best kayak for big guys and tall guys.
It’s reasonably lightweight and most people will be able to lift it in and out of the water without too much of an effort. Lifting onto a roof carry also isn’t that problematic either. Although, it could benefit from some side carry handle. But these are an easy and cheap DIY retrofit kayak mod should it bother you.
The cockpit is of a good size, with good length length and will accommodate tall people up to 6ft5- supported by an adjustable foot braces. Any taller of a paddler might find not being able to fully stretch out their leg. There is a storage area at both the front and back, with ample space within the storage wells.
My main criticism would be that the seat could benefit from a larger backrest and some padding on the seat bed. If you end up buying this Kayak you might want to budget for buying an upgraded seat. That small addition would definitely make this kayak a far more pleasant place to be on longer journeys.
Although the Bali SS offers a good level of stability and its 12-foot length makes it guide quickly through the water.
I would say this sit-on-top is probably best suited out on the lake or calm rivers. The lack of scupper holes means you’re not able to easily drain off any water collected on the deck.
- Weight: 48 lb
- Width: 33″
- Weight Capacity: 395 lb weight limit
- Length: 12 foot
- Material: PVC
- Big guy weight capacity of nearly 400llb
- Great handling and stability
- Superb for the big and tall,
- Adjustable foot brace system, legroom for up to a 6ft5 person
- Spacious cockpit, even for larger paddlers
- Good value money
- Good resale market
- Seat is not the most comfortable
- No carry handles
- Not great for rougher condition
Overall, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 12ft in a sit-on-top kayak that offers a good balance between weight, load capacity, price and handling. It is an excellent yak for the taller guy or girl.
Best Whitewater Kayak for Big Guys
Elkton Steelhead 130 Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
Want to know what is the Best Inflatable Kayak for Big Guys or Girls? Well, you are looking at it.
Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s not cheap. At roughly the same price as a midpoint hard shell, you will need to value lightweight and portability. Should the cost put you off, hell no!
So what makes this a great kayak for big guys? Well for a start it has a 400 lb maximum load capacity, supporting a Paddler and gear up to 290 lb without detrimentally affecting stability or handling on the water.
Comfort and versatility appear to have been high on the list of design features which is great news for the larger Paddler. The high-backed, padded, non-inflatable, adjustable seat will happily accommodate the wider the rider. Both the seat and foot pegs can be moved forward and backward, so even the tallest of people will be able to find their ideal paddling position.
The solid plastic nose cones that adorn the front and rear, both protect from knocks or bumps while ensuring that the front of the Kayak cuts through the water with ease. Its 10ft length and two replaceable skegs will keep it tracking well but it’s more at home on lakes and rivers than out on the ocean.
One of its nicest features of this sit-on-top is the rigid drop-stitch floor and super-wide 39.5-inches width. I can only liken it to the feel of a stand-up paddleboard. When correctly inflated it is as stable as most rotomolded kayaks or fiberglass canoes. Standing up and down is not a problem. And it does leave you questioning if you really need that hard shell Kayak?!?
The deck is a 13inch drop from the sides which will benefit the taller person, giving them a planted and stable paddling position.
Talking of paddles, you seem to find with most Inflatable Kayaks the included paddle and pump are a complete afterthought for the manufacturer. This isn’t the case with the Steelhead. The Paddle isn’t half bad. Don’t get me wrong, it will not be winning any Paddle of the Year awards. But it’s not going to have you cursing under your breath during your maiden voyage. The dual action pump is totally acceptable and will soon get you to the desired PSI.
There is a lot that I like about this Kayak. Come on, it must have its downside? Of course, nothing is perfect.
Weighing in at 40 lb it’s not as light as typical Inflatable Kayaks but it’s far from being heavy. Most people will cope with lifting this Kayak in and out of the water without too much of an effort. The handy backpack makes travel to and from the car is no challenge. Although you will have to check this yak in as checked-luggage if you plan to fly on holiday
Elkton markets the Steelhead as a Fishing Kayak. Although it is equipped with solid gear mounting points for rod holders etc, it lacks built-in storage. Which is to be expected of a non-solid hull Kayak. It is more than capable of satisfying most amateur anglers but the more season angler demands more. In fact its rated for Class III waters making it a capable whitewater kayak. So with that in mind, I think it’s better suited as a recreational which is occasionally used to fish. Although we have award the Steelhead the Best Whitewater Kayak for Big Guys, it also wins Best Inflatable Kayak for Big Guys.
- Weight: 40 lb
- Width: 39.5″
- Weight Capacity: 400lb weight limit
- Length: 10 foot
- Material: High density1000D Reinforced Layered PVC
- Super sized weight capacity, 400lb
- Superior stability
- Easy to transport with removable skeg
- Large and spacious cockpit, with plenty of room for paddler and kit
- Bow and stern storage area secured with bungee cords
- Easy to stand up in
- All in one kit
- Sluggish on the water due to it width
- Heavier than a typical inflatable kayak
- Not the cheapest of Kayaks
Overall, with all things considered, the Elkton Steelhead 130 is a firecracker of a yak. And, without question one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market. And an excellent choice for the larger person looking for a kayak.
Best Sit Inside Kayak for Big Guys / Best Kayak for Tall Person
Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 Kayak
It would not be a fair review if I didn’t include at least one Sit Inside Kayaks in my kayaks for big guys round up. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying they are no go for anyone that is a little on the chunky side. But let’s be honest, I am sure we have all tried to escape for an item of clothing in a changing room built for a Leprechaun?! It’s not the easiest of tasks, yet fun to watch from the line outside of the changing rooms.
Sadly Sit Inside kayaks with large cockpits and weight capacity are like hens teeth. Especially ones with good comfort, stability that remains fast on the water. Then for good measure throw into the mix trying to find the best kayak for tall person – having good leg space and able to accommodate an over 6ft tall and 270+ lb paddler!
Put it this way, you will have more luck finding a virgin in a…..ok, you get my point.
But fear not, we have you tall guys and girls covered with the Wilderness Systems’ Pungo 125.
This unfortunately named yak was built by Wilderness Systems with the larger paddle in mind. So much so, that the footwell has an extra six inch of space for your extra long leg – there is a god! With 47inches to peg with 55iches in total I can’ t see many people having leg room issues. Its without question one of the best kayak for tall person available to buy.
Also being a Sit Inside, its deck is low in comparison to a SIt-On-Top kayak, at 15”. This will give the taller Paddler greater stability on the water when paddling hard.
Everything about this Kayak is big. At 29.5 inches wide it’s slightly wider than most sit inside kayaks and is the widest craft in the Wilderness range. Although it’s not as wide as most Sit-On-Top Kayak, it doesn’t need to be. This kayak is built to cut through the water, rather than to be stood up on fishing. And at 12.6ft long, with a well designed & streamlined hull, it has no trouble living up to that promise.
What about the room onboard? Well it seems Wilderness Systems have really focused on the needs of big guys. With a cockpit measuring over 57” long and 22.5” wide, even the largest paddle will not have many issues getting in and out. Plus there is more than ample space for any gear you should wish to carry. The central dashboard appears to have infinite configuration options. From a bottle holder, storage hatches with a integrated snack box, power bank charging station, mini fishing rig or action camera mounting point, the choice is yours – budget permitting.
Ok, the seat must be rubbish then? Nope! Being a Kayak built for the bigger person, Wilderness have really put some effort into the seat design. Its honeycomb vents will help keep you cool and the ergonomic shaped foam will keep that chunky butt nice and comfortable, It’s one of the nicest seats I’ve seen shipped at standard.
Down sides? Well it’s at 53lbs it’s slightly heavier than most Sit-it Kayaks, but you can hardly call it heavy. Big boned maybe! The built in carry handles will make it easy for you and a friend to walk your boats to the water. At nearly 13ft, you will also need to consider transportation. Unless you live by the water, a roof rack or kayak trailer is a must (for most people).
- Weight: 53 lb
- Width: 29.5″
- Weight Capacity: 425 lb weight limit
- Length: 12.6 foot
- Material: High density Polyethylene
- Weight capacity, 425llb
- Good stability
- Built for the larger person so plenty of space
- Fast on the water and easy to maneuver
- Easy to get in and out of via the large cockpit opening
- Good level of storage space, with a seal rear storage area,
- Excellent seating area with an adjustable and padded seat
- There are cheaper options that offer a bit more
Overall, the Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 Kayak is an excellent, not so little, kayak; stable, fast and built with the larger person in mind. But there is no getting away from the price, it’s not cheap. At the time of writing, this Kayak was the most expensive of the 5 reviewed crafts.
Wrap Up – So What Are The Best Kayaks For Best Guys (or Girls)
The great thing about kayaking is that it’s a very inclusive sport and one of the reasons I love it so much. Being larger than the average person doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy kayaking, far from it. In fact it means you get to pick a far cooler kayak.
As you can see from the reviews above that there are many options available for the big guys or girls, all of which meet their additional needs; high weight capacity, extra comfort, extra stability, ease of enter or exit.
So what’s the best kayaks for big guys or gals really comes down to the type of kayak, your budget and intended use.
But, if you held a gun to my head and made me choose just one then I would have to say that the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130. Overall, Fishing kayaks are generally a good fit for big guys – no pun indented. But the Sea Ghost has the perfect mix of; good price, great weight capacity, comfort and stability.
Plus being a fishing kayak means it’s a great excuse to sit on a lake with a cold beer in my hand! You can’t argue with that logic!