Being a big guy is tough. You always get the last pick of clothing and you’re never able to find anything that fits in the store. What’s worse is when you go out on your kayak trip, you either have to bring one of those tiny little kids’ life jackets or just not wear one at all. But we know there are bigger guys who want to enjoy kayaking like anyone else, so here are some tips for people with XXL-sized chests!
Best 9 Kayaks for Big & Lanky Guys
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Aggressive paddlers will appreciate the Old Town Looksha 17 Touring Kayak’ response, especially in rough conditions. Built for speed and touring, this kayak features an ample cockpit with easy access to sealed bow and stern hatches. In fact, these are the largest hatches ever made by Old Town so there’s plenty of room on board despite its sleek design. Kayakers perch on a molded seat pad and can deploy the built-in rudder when conditions warrant. The Old Town Looksha 17 Touring Kayak boasts excellent secondary stability for beginners but packs plenty of power for experienced boaters who have only one kayak. Backed by a full three-year warranty, the Old Town Looksha 17 Touring Kayak is suited for the beatings doled out during long touring trips.
Boaters love the Looksha’s ability and responsiveness in hull-crashing waves and say the craft’s strengths are flat-water speed and choppy-water control. Smaller paddlers say the boat has excellent responsiveness even in rough, choppy water and are surprised at the boat’s overall maneuverability. Others day its roomy cockpit makes shifting and manipulating the boat a breeze. The kayak turns on a dime and is well-suited for the fearless kayaker who likes to take a few ‘breaks’ along the way and has been described as a one-size-fits-all type of boat.
TPerception Carolina 14 Sit Inside Kayak has proven to be perfect starter kayak for kids and adults alike. This boat boasts excellent stability despite its narrow width (which lends to its grace in the water). A five-year durability rating means it’s tough enough for adults while a sleek design helps kids keep upright. Plenty of dry storage and an adjustable rotomolded seat and backrest equal convenience and comfort for the weekend adventurer.
Parents say this lightweight kayak is sturdy enough for them and a great trainer for the kids’ first paddling experiences. They love its speed and say that great tracking makes it easier to learn the finer nuances of kayaking. Bigger paddlers say the roomy cockpit comfortably accommodates sizes of 230 pounds plus. Padded thigh braces add to the Carolina’s comfort while a unique perimeter deck provides additional storage and recreation options. Riders are also impressed with the strength of late model Perceptions. A roomy cockpit and responsive action only add to the playful fun the Perception Carolina brings.
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Recreational Kayak is a sit on top kayak designed for moderate surf that can also flat water or slow moving rivers well. The Frenzy features a large molded in well seat with adjustable padded cover that is comfortable enough for a few hour in the boat. A molded tank well and additional cup holder give you plenty of storage room for gear and a cold drink for those hot days on the water. A unique hull design allows you to stack these up to 3 high for easy storage or transport. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is available in two color choices: sunset orange (pictured) and yellow.
Kayakers give the Frenzy very positive reviews. Beginning kayakers like the Ocean Kayak Frenzy because it is comfortable, easy to handle and light to transport. Even though it’s made by Ocean Kayak, a good number of people use it exclusively in lakes or rivers, so don’t let the name make you think it’s only meant for surf.
The size and stability of the kayak were often praised by paddlers, some who had tested the Frenzy in moderate surf or other who had used it on lakes with a lot of boat wakes. It is small enough to be easy to transport solo but large enough to be stable and not feel cramped in it. The bright colors of the kayak also make it easy to spot for other boats, which is nice for safety.
Necky Chatham 18 Touring Kayak great for exploring hard-to-reach coastal zones and even better in the surf! This boat is decked out for long-distance touring with built-in hull and stern storage and an easy-to-reach waterproof day hatch that’s perfect for cameras, snacks and more. Adjustable thigh hooks ensure a snug fit and a deployable skeg helps even the beginner maintain confident control over the vessel.
The molded foam seat prevents cramps by improving circulation and the rig offers excellent tip control. Often described as a sea kayak, users with a vertical power stroke will benefit from the boat’s narrow beam. A combination of stability, speed and comfort make the Necky Chatham 18 Touring Kayak a great choice for anyone serious about hitting the open water.
Kayakers love how the boat handles in windy conditions. Its speed and slick design helps it quietly cut through waves with a thin footprint. Highly maneuverable along rocky shorelines and a treat on the open water.
The Chatham is a fun, playful boat with excellent responsiveness. A lot of hardware that would be considered add-ons on other systems comes included with the Necky Chatham. This is the perfect boat for the developing kayaker
5. Bestway Hydro-Force Cove Champion Inflatable Kayak
Ready to try kayaking? Look no farther than the Bestway Hydro-Force Cove Champion Inflatable Kayak ! This short, lightweight inflatable is perfect for getting your feet wet and durable enough to withstand some whitewater here and there. Its wide design makes it very difficult to tip so novice boaters can get a feel for paddling; while offering extra space for the advanced kayaker who wants a fun boat for light overnights and tours. Lightweight enough for easy solo portages, this inexpensive kayak looks sharp and performs intuitively – that, coupled with its small price tag, makes it an excellent starting point for beginners.
This Bestway Hydro-Force Cove Champion Inflatable Kayak is a hit with kayakers who want easy portages and comfort. Air pump does a great job of making the craft rigid enough to hold up and maintain maneuverability in rough patches. First-timers are impressed with the boat’s stability and say that it helps them build confidence on the water. This rig’s self-bailing air floor keeps users and supplies dry both when exploring the nuances of paddling and crashing into whitewater.
6. Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak
The Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak is a heavy-duty river raft build to withstand years of rock-crashing, wave-blasting fun! This craft skims the surface for speed, has stability in whitewater and its keel-less design makes turning on a dime a breeze. Built for long-term use, the Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak is perfect for multi-day backpack trips and is easily controlled by paddlers of any skill level. High seats keep you dry and add a unique perspective to kayaking while a stiff, rugged design increases maneuverability. Roomy design features a whopping ten-year durability rating with comfortable cockpit large enough for your favorite pooch to lie between your feet.
The dry storage space coupled with 17 cargo straps can hold enough supplies for a whole weekend of adventure. Engineered to respond well with two people on board, this Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak still gets excellent ratings from solo boaters.
Riders like how the sleek design rewards their power strokes by converting form into power. Comfortable enough for two adults yet stable enough for the cantankerous flotsam and jetsam, users say Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak’s portability and durability make it a great value.
7. AIRE Tributary Strike 2 Tandem Inflatable Kayak
The Tributary Strike Inflatable Tandem Kayak is built for all levels of kayakers with five-year durability. This rig features stability in many water conditions due to its wide, 37-inch design and slightly-upturned ends. Though designed as a tandem the craft handles well on solo expeditions and is light enough for one person to load. Its tough polyurethane hull and solid urethane bladders make it a great choice for beginner’s bumps and experienced wave-crashers. Setup is a breeze – the air pump takes under three minutes to inflate the entire kayak, and zip panels protect the boat’s inflatable tubes while providing accessibility. This is an excellent all-purpose kayak suitable for mirror-smooth lakes and whitewater rivers alike.
Tributary Strike Inflatable Tandem Kayak is a blast to ride. It has got comfortable seat and contemporary styling. Hard-core kayakers love the boat’s versatility when taking long kayaking trips. It’s a comfortable ride when paddling open waters and a wave-popping machine in rapids. A sensible, contemporary design includes floor panel drains and bow and stern covers to help keep you dry when out on water-bound runs. Constructed for fun, its five-year durability rating also makes the Tributary Strike Inflatable a valuable investment for the long haul.
8. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak
Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak is a sit-inside style kayak that is extremely versatile and can be used on ponds and lakes but is also well suited for surf. The Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak features a solid hull that is durable but also tracks well. The seat features an adjustable backrest, good leg support, ergonomic 3D foam, Mesh fabric covers and improved air circulation over previous models. This kayak is great for the casual paddler and has an extra wide tankwell for storing gear.
Paddlers give the Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak high marks, especially for recreational or novice paddlers. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak is comfortable, compact and easy to paddle. Adjustable footrests make a huge difference compared to the standard molded footrests on most sit-in kayaks. Besides the seat being comfortable and cool, there is also a small well under the seat so you aren’t sitting in a puddle if water gets in the boat, a great feature.
The tankwell in the rear is large enough for their full size dogs, which is nice if your dog will sit still for a ride. Another big plus of Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak is transportation. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Premium Comfort Kayak is sturdy enough for a larger paddler.
Emotion 90244 Spitfire Kayak is a sit-on-top solo kayak. The Spitfire features a shallow V hull and was designed for stability, performance and fun. The kayak’s small size (8′ long and 38 pounds) allows it to be transported by a solo paddler. It’s small shape also make it highly maneuverable in the water. A foldable seat back increases comfort but folds down for easy transport and storage. A molded cup holder and an aft storage tank with bungee cords gives plenty of space for your gear. The Spitfire is available in blue, red (pictured) and yellow colors.
Emotion 90244 Spitfire Kayak is great for the casual or weekend kayaker. The Spitfire is also great for kids, as it small size is easier for them to handle on their own. Transporting these is also very easy; you can even stack two on top of each other on his roof rack.
Two major disadvantages of this kayak is that it doesn’t track the best, which isn’t surprising from a budget kayak. We also had a couple reports that the carry straps and bungee cords are cheaply made and have broken on a couple of the reviewers.
Features to Consider
If you are a kayaker with a bigger than average chest, finding the kayak that fits you can be tricky. It’s not impossible however, it just takes a little more dedication to find what is right for you.
The kayak that fits best is one that has lots of cockpit space and still feels comfortable when paddling. Give yourself plenty of time to try kayaks on for size before buying so you don’t end up spending money on something that will make kayaking unpleasant for you. If there is barely any room between your legs in the kayak, then it’s not going to be very fun.
No kayaking trip is worth it if you get tired in the first half hour of kayaking, so make sure that you feel comfortable when kayaking. This includes sitting at a computer all day and then going kayaking after work or planning a kayak trip on Saturday morning after a back-breaking week at the workplace. Sadly most kayaks don’t have an adjustable seat (yet) so there may be some modifications needed to make yourself more comfortable. You can cut up an old mattress pad and stick it under the seat for extra padding or use furniture gel on the cockpit floor to prevent blisters from rubbing against the plastic.
Width of the Kayak
If kayaking is comfortable and you have plenty of room, then the next thing to look for is kayak width. You want a kayak that fits your body type so it doesn’t get caught on your hips as you kayak through rapids. That means if you are a big guy with large hips, stick with kayaks that have more space in the middle (like recreational kayaks).
Mind Your Safety
There are many safety points when choosing a kayak for heavy guys. To start off, if you’re new to kayaking, choose a lower-end boat than an expensive one. Also make sure the kayak has good kayak handles on both sides of kayaks that are longer than usual and placed on either side of the kayak seat so if you fall out when kayaking, there will be a place for you to grab onto.
Shape of the Kayak
The shape of your kayak will determine how easily you move through water and whether or not you buy a kayak or a canoe. Kayaks that sit higher in the water (like those used for fishing) are easier to paddle but don’t track as well, so pick your kayak based on what kind of paddling style you like best! A slimmer boat is easier to turn and kayak through rapids. Though kayaks that are wider and have more space in the middle section are easy to paddle, these kayaks don’t handle smaller waves that effortlessly. So, if you like paddling on lakes more than in the ocean, chose kayaks that might not be best for white water kayaking.
Know Your Body
If you are big and tall, there are kayaks for large guys like yourself! Many kayaker manufacturers make kayaks specifically for larger people so look into those kayaks before settling on one if you have trouble finding the right fit. Though it may be more expensive, investing in a good built-in kayak seat will help up keep water from entering your kayak when kayaking and provide better stability while kayaking.
There are also special types of paddles designed just for bigger guys who need extra leverage to paddle through rapids. Make sure kayaking kayak you choose has kayak paddles that are easy to maneuver and kayakers handles on kayaks longer kayaks than usual so if you fall out, there’s a place for you to grab onto.
Maximum Weight Capacity
If you are on the heavy side, kayaks have weight capacity limits and kayak seats are not built to hold 300 lbs. You can check your kayaks maximum load capacity before kayaking in it or take a test ride at the local kayak shop to see how much weight it holds comfortably. Kayaks that hold more weight usually look like mini-freighters and their decks may be so high that they are hard to get in and out of. Be sure to pick a kayak with an appropriate maximum load limit for you because if you don’t find the right kayak, your heavy butt may sink it!
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.