Every kayak is supposed to have a weight limit. Usually, a recreational kayak’s limit is 250-300 lbs. For touring or sea kayaks it’s 350 lbs while sit-on-top kayaks have a higher weight limit – 350-400 lbs. Tandem kayaks naturally have the highest limit of all more 500-600 lbs.
You decide to buy a kayak, but you have no idea if that little blue kayak will hold your weight or gear. Then, after reading the information sheet for the kayak, you are even more confused.
Let’s look at how much weight a kayak can hold!
3 Things Determine the Maximum Capacity of a Kayak
Maximum capacity is the weight a kayak can hold and still float. It is determined by the following:
- Displacement (volume) – If the boat is fully submerged in water, the volume of water displaced by the boat would be the displacement volume
- Width is how wide the kayak is
- Length is how long the kayak is
How Much Weight Can a Kayak Hold?
|Touring Kayaks||350 pounds|
|Inflatable Kayaks||400 pounds (advanced models 750 pounds!)|
|Sit-On-Top Kayaks||350 – 400 pounds|
|Recreational Kayaks||250 – 350 pounds|
|Tandem Kayaks||500 – 600 pounds|
Calculate the Weight Limit of a Kayak
The manufacturer determines the weight limit of the kayak. Unfortunately, there is no standard in the kayak industry.
The weight limit tells the kayaker how much weight the kayak can hold and still float; based on this; they decide which kayak they will need.
Maximum Weight Capacity
We will use a bodyweight of 300 pounds + 40 pounds of gear for this calculation. The total load weight is 340 lbs.
Maximum weight capacity = Total load weight /0.7
340/0.7 = 486 pounds
Maximum weight capacity is 486 pounds
Calculate the Weight Limit Performance
Performance weight x Maximum weight x 0.7
486 x 0.7 = 340 pounds
What Your Gear Weighs
Is the total weight of all your gear plus the container you carry it in. Anything you carry on the kayak, including a cooler, fishing poles, and shoes.
Weight Capacity: How Close Is Too Close
Any weight closer than 2/3 or 66.6% of your maximum weight capacity will make your kayak take in water (sink!)
Going Over the Kayak Weight Limit?
- Sits low in the water, not on it
- Hull tips deeper into the water
- Kayak fills with water
- Possibility of capsizing
- Poor kayak maneuverability
- Harder to paddle
- Unable to paddle in a straight line
Tips to Increase Your Weight Limit
You cannot increase the weight limit of the kayak, but there are things you can do to help the kayak float better while carrying weight.
1. The Right Waters to Paddle In
The best water for your kayak to float in is saltwater. Freshwater will keep the kayak afloat, but not as well as the natural buoyancy you get in saltwater.
2. Kayak Design Improvements
The longer the hull, the better it will track. Install a rudder or skeg
3. Use the right size paddle
Shorter paddles make paddling easier
4. Use the right designed paddle
a) Feather blades decrease wind resistance, making your stroke more efficient
- the best beginner paddle.
b) Asymmetrical blades help the kayak track straight
c) Curved blades make your stroke more powerful
5. Paddle position
Hold the paddle with your elbows at a 90-degree angle with your hands a shoulders-length apart (putting tape around the handle of the paddle at a shoulder’s length distance will assure your hands are always placed where they need to be)
6. Practice your paddle strokes
7. Maintain good posture while kayaking
8. Do regular kayak maintenance
9. Float Bags Usage
These floatie bags (just like pool floaties, only these are bag-shaped) are filled with air and put in the back and front nose of the kayak to help it float in the water higher. They are also helpful if the kayak tips over and you need to get back in.
10. Kayak Outrigger Installation
An outrigger arm (stabilizer bar) goes across your kayak (the same size on both sides) with a floatation buoy attached to the end of each arm. Its only function is to stabilize the kayak. Adding an outrigger affects how you can maneuver inside the kayak.
11. Proper Paddling Techniques
The best paddling technique is to master the following five things:
- Back up and slow down your kayak using a reverse stroke
- Learn to paddle with an efficient stroke
- Use a sweep stroke when turning your kayak
- Move your kayak sideways using a draw stroke
- Achieve an efficient forward stroke
1. What is dry boat limit?
Ans. Dry boat limit is the amount of weight the kayak can carry and still glide across the water quickly as you paddle. For the most efficient kayaking, you want the weight to be 50% less than the kayak weight limit.
So if the kayak weight limit is 400 ponds, your dry boat weight will be 50% or 200 pounds.
2. Can I use a two-person (tandem) kayak alone?
Ans. Yes! If you sit in the front of the kayak, it may be harder to steer, and the kayak’s nose may go under the water in rough water. If you sit in the back or bow of the kayak, the front of the kayak will rise up and out of the water, making steering very difficult. Since neither is better than the other, it is whatever you are comfortable with.
3. Where should the heavier person sit on a tandem kayak?
Ans. In good weather, you want the heaviest person in the back. In windy weather, the heavier person is in front, the weight makes paddling the boat easier.