What Size Kayak Do I Need? Get Help from this Chart! (2022)

Kayaking is a truly pleasurable and rewarding sport to take up. Whether you do it competitively, for leisure, to fish, to tour, to get your adrenaline pumping on white water rapids, or for simple days out on the lake, there’s something in it for everyone. The challenge, however, can be finding the most suitable kayak for you with regards to how long, and how big it should be. If you’re looking for a kayak sizing guide, read on! By the end of this I hope to have given you a fairly clear idea on the parameters you should consider when buying your first kayak.

What Size Kayak Do I Need?

The aspects to consider

1. Purpose of kayaking

The single most important factor to consider that will set your parameters for your perfect kayak size is what you intend to do with it. The optimal length of boat on a calm lake surface is very different to the optimal boat length needed on rapids, or at sea. Where you plan to kayak and for what purpose needs to be the first question you answer to narrow things down.

What Size Kayak Do I Need? Get Help from this Chart! (1)

You will need a bigger and longer kayak at sea for purposes of increased stability. You would need a much shorter kayak on the rapids for purposes of agility, control, and fast turns. Bigger kayak with more storage capacity you may need if you plan on taking long tours, so first ask yourself where exactly you intend to take the boat, and what you plan to do with it.

2. Types of kayaks

You need to consider the types of kayaks available to you in conjunction with what kind of kayaking you want to do. Just like canoes, there are many kinds of kayaks that serve their own specific purposes.

You get:

  • Sea kayaks
  • Fishing kayaks
  • White-water kayaks
  • Sit-on-top kayaks
  • Sit-inside kayaks
  • Recreational kayaks
  • Touring kayaks
  • Folding kayaks
  • Inflatable kayaks
  • Peddling kayaks

And the list goes on. Once you have decided what you want to do with your kayak, you need to get into the kayak category suited for the activity and make sure the range you are choosing from is specifically for this kind of activity. For example, don’t go shopping in the sea kayak section if you plan on smashing the rapids!

(Video) Kayak Sizing Guide | What Size Kayak Do I Need?

3. Kayak materials

Another major thing to think about is the material of the kayak. Kayaks come in various plastics, aluminium, fibre glass, and more. Cheaper plastics are used on non-serious kayak types intended for recreation. Whereas more expensive materials are used to make kayaks intended for more serious use. What you want to do also plays a role here because material decides kayak weight. If you plan to be touring for a while and may have to carry your kayak at some point you don’t want a kayak made of a dense and heavy material. So be sure to consider the structural make-up of the kayak and whether it suites your purposes.

4. Price

The sky is only the limit for those in the top 0.1 percent of the world, but for the rest of us who have to watch our pocket, cost is a real factor. You obviously need to stay within budget but do not let the price tag determine your kayak in the wrong way. You may want to try out sea kayaking for example. Now, a sea kayak is more expensive. This is no reason to find yourself browsing the cheapest recreational kayak on the other side of the shop. Choosing a kayak purely because it’s the cheapest could quite literally put you at risk if it isn’t suited to your intended use. If your budget is restricting you, try sourcing a well-kept second-hand kayak of good quality instead of just buying whatever is cheapest. If you think there is a 50/50 chance you won’t actually enjoy the sport for long, rent one instead.

5. Length

The length of a kayak within the category suited for you is also important as it will have a large bearing on your capabilities on the water and needs to suite your intentions and preferences. The longer the kayak, the faster and smoother the cruising speed will be. The shorter the kayak, the easier and faster the turns will be. So if you are looking for an agile kayak that turns very quickly and is easy to make drastic controlled movements with, you need a short kayak. If you want cruising speed, you need a long kayak.

6. Width

Width is the single most determining factor of kayak stability. How a kayak sits in the water and how easy it is to balance in or on it is all due to how narrow or wide the kayak is, especially in proportion to you. Wide kayaks are more stable and easier to balance in, whereas slim kayaks are faster. Wide models offer extra space for storing a kayak cooler, a backpack and other essentials.So again, your speed preferences and movability expectations will be the decider of your kayak width. As a general rule, avoid a kayak that is extremely thin while you have not mastered balancing. The extra speed will mean nothing to you if you’re constantly going out sideways!

7. Maximum weight capacity

Every kayak has a maximum weight limit it can safely carry. You need to ensure that the maximum weight limit is sufficient for your body weight plus all your gear and supplies. Preferably try not to get to close to that weight limit if you can avoid it, leave extra weight room to spare. All kayak weight limits are marked on the kayak or in the manual that goes with it.

8. Legroom

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when purchasing a kayak is not considering your leg length and thickness when buying. Kayaking successfully and comfortably requires legroom. You also don’t want too much leg room. Optimally what you want is a snug fit that still allows room to adjust and get in and out comfortably. Get inside the kayak right there in the shop if you need to. It might look strange to a by-stander but it saves you discovering you can’t fit once it’s already purchased and on the water!

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(Video) Size Matters – Using Length, Width, and Hull Shape to Find Your Perfect Kayak

(Video) What Size Kayak do I need for My Weight

Kayak Length for Height Chart

Once you have narrowed down your needed kayak based on the above information, use the helpful charts below to determine the best kayak for you with the most ideal dimensions by type, length, and width, based on your height, body size, and intended use.

(Video) How To Pick A Kayak Paddle Size - Expert Help!

What Size Kayak Do I Need? Get Help from this Chart! (5)

What Size Kayak Do I Need? Get Help from this Chart! (6)

Additional Kayak Considerations

You also need to consider the seat of the kayak you want to buy. It needs to fit and hold you comfortably but not loosely.

Ask yourself what kind of rudder you want or whether you want to steer using just your paddle. This will have an impact on price and your overall enjoyment.

You also need to take into account the storage capacity of the kayak and compare that to the storage capacity you will potentially need. Don’t waste money and size on a kayak with a lot of storage capacity if you don’t intend to use it.

Another very important thing to consider is the paddle you buy. It needs to be the right height for you. Too long or too short will give you headaches instead of easy movement and you’ll be paddling nowhere slowly.

Keep in mind with all these things that you are likely to spend lengthy amounts of time in your kayak so it needs to be comfortable when you get in. If it is already uncomfortable at the start, it’s only downhill from there as the trip progresses.

Finding the right kayak is not rocket science but you definitely want to get it right the first time to save yourself the headache of the re-sell and re-buy scenario, as well as potential risk. I hope this guide has been of use to you, have fun!

(Video) Our height and weight when choosing a sea kayak - Weekly Kayaking Tips - Kayak Hipster

FAQs

What is the difference between a 8 ft and 10 ft kayak? ›

The main difference between an 8 ft vs 10 ft kayak is glide and maneuverability. In general, a 10 foot kayak offers more glide, while an 8 foot kayak will be easier to handle. Additional storage capacity (or sitting space, in the case of a sit-on-top kayak) is another advantage of a longer 10 ft kayak.

Is a 10 ft kayak too big? ›

As you might imagine, 10-foot kayaks come in many shapes and styles. Generally, however, this is a great length for novice paddlers that are looking for a stable kayak at a reasonable price point. This kayak size also retains excellent maneuverability for paddling in tight spaces.

How do you know the weight limit for a kayak? ›

Kayak Weight Limit Example:

To go about it from the perspective of already knowing how much weight your kayak has to carry, you would take your 200 pounds of weight you need to put in your kayak and divide it by . 7 to get a desired maximum capacity rating of at least 285 pounds.

What is the weight limit on an 8 foot kayak? ›

Lifetime Lotus Kayak - The 8 ft. adult kayak has a 250 lb. weight capacity and comes in blue. Includes hard adjustable backrest.

Which is better a sit-in or sit on kayak? ›

A sit-in kayak is better for cold or rough water and when you don't want to get wet. A sit-on-top kayak is better for beginners, summer and having fun. A sit-in kayak is optimal for touring, surf, and paddling long distance. While a sit-on kayak is better for learning, cooling off and getting in and out of your kayak.

What type of kayak is most stable? ›

Pontoon hulls are the most stable kayak hull type and they provide great primary stability. Calm water, sit-on-top recreational kayaks and fishing kayaks use pontoon hulls for their excellent stability. The disadvantage of Pontoon hulls is that they're slow and lack maneuverability.

How long of a kayak does a 6 foot person need? ›

The typical average length kayaks—8 to 12 feet for a recreational kayak or 12 to 14 feet for a day touring kayak—will work well for a 6-foot-tall person.

Does the length of a kayak matter? ›

Length: Longer boats cruise more efficiently and offer lots of storage space for overnight touring gear, while shorter hulls turn more quickly. A few inches in length won't matter much, but two feet or more will be noticeable. Depth: Deeper hulls offer more room for long-legged kayakers, plus a little more storage.

Are longer kayaks faster than shorter ones? ›

Length. Longer kayaks have a number of advantages: they are usually easier to paddle, more stable, and capable of carrying heavier loads with less loss of performance. They also track better, move faster, and glide farther with each stroke than shorter boats, allowing greater efficiency with less effort.

What happens if you exceed weight limit on kayak? ›

When you overload a kayak, you will make the kayak sink lower into the water than is recommended. While this won't automatically sink your kayak, it will make it less stable and increase the risk of capsizing and harming yourself, your kayak, your gear, and potentially other people.

Does weight matter in a kayak? ›

Aside from body weight, a kayak's maximum weight capacity also determines the number of gear a kayaker can bring on the kayak. Less is good, but more than the required limit – you'll sink. Let's go back to our example: A paddler weighs 300 pounds, and the weight limit of the kayak is 300 pounds.

Do kayaks flip easily? ›

Kayaks are generally safe to use and hardly tip over. Nevertheless, the risk of tipping depends on the sort of kayak and the type of water where you are paddling. For example, it's extremely hard to tip over when paddling with a recreational kayak on a relatively calm river — unless you really try too hard.

Can a 300 pound person kayak? ›

Every kayak has a weight limit. For instance, a typical recreational kayak has a limit of 250-300 pounds, touring (sea) kayak has a limit of 350 pounds, sit-on-top kayak has a weight capacity of 350-400 pounds while a tandem kayak has a limit of 500-600 pounds.

How accurate are kayak weight limits? ›

As a general rule, most experienced kayakers recommend using what we call the '25-Percent Rule' to determine the actual upper limit for a given kayak.

Is a heavier kayak more stable? ›

So wider kayaks are generally more stable than narrow ones, but the wider a kayak, the more work it takes to paddle it -- at any speed. So generally, the more stable (i.e. wider) your kayak, the harder you'll have to work to keep up to your friends.

What is the safest type of kayak? ›

Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly. They're very stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement on them. They're also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called "scupper holes") that allow the water to drain right through them.

Is it better to have an open or closed kayak? ›

The open deck of a sit-on-top kayak gives the paddler better mobility for casting, fighting and landing fish than a closed-cockpit design. Wide, stable fishing sit-on-tops are designed with standing platforms, and some models feature pedal drives that allow you to keep both hands free for fishing.

Is kayaking good exercise? ›

Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits include: Improved cardiovascular fitness. Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle.

How do I keep my kayak from tipping? ›

How to Stop your Kayak from Flipping - Braces - YouTube

Is a narrower kayak faster? ›

The width of your kayak determines kayak speed.

This is because hull speed also increases as the proportion of length to width increases. While width is less of a factor than length, width has a big impact on the next determinant of kayak speed. 3.

Is a flat bottom kayak more stable? ›

Flat bottom kayaks will be very stable but slower. Kayaks with a V-shaped hull will be faster than a flat bottom but are generally not as stable. These V-shaped hulls are considered a bit more advanced.

What is the standard size kayak? ›

The average kayak is around 10 feet long, but there's a wide range of possible lengths, but you may see them range anywhere from 6 feet to 16 feet long. Generally speaking, the longer a kayak is, the faster it is.

How long is a 2 person kayak? ›

How Long is a Tandem Kayak? The average tandem kayak measures between 12 and 13 feet long. Two-person recreational kayak lengths vary from 10-14 feet long, but that 12 to 13 foot length for 2-person kayaks seems to be the sweet spot.

Why are longer kayaks faster? ›

Generally speaking, longer kayaks are capable of achieving higher speeds than shorter kayaks. A longer kayak allows for a more gradual slope from the cockpit to the bow, which helps to reduce drag while traveling in a straight direction.

What is the easiest kayak to get in and out of? ›

How to Get Into and Out Of a Kayak Smoothly - YouTube

What is the best length for sit on kayak? ›

Now, for the most part, people under 6 ft. in height will fit in conventional sit-in kayak cockpits. If you're taller than that, then it's always a good idea to test a 12 to 14-foot kayak to get a feel for the fit , seat height, and the legroom available.

What time of year do kayaks go on sale? ›

Some of the best kayak deals offered by direct manufacturers and retailers coincide with two major holidays: Christmas and Memorial Day. In the days leading up to these holidays (throughout the months of May and December), you can find deep discounts on new kayaks.

What should I look for in a new kayak? ›

Generally, the longer and narrower the kayak, the faster and straighter it will go. A kayak is more stable and easier to turn if it's wider and shorter, but it may sacrifice speed. If you are new to kayaking, then a wider kayak can be a good beginner's choice as you grow accustomed to being on the water.

Which is more stable a kayak or canoe? ›

It's a great skill to learn. Kayaks are a lot more nimble and speedy than canoes, due to their shape, lighter weight and double-bladed paddle, which allows for quicker and more agile piloting than a canoe. Canoes, meanwhile, are more stable and harder to capsize.

How fast can the average person kayak? ›

What is Average Kayak Speed? Most kayakers average about two miles per hour when paddling for multiple hours. You can certainly achieve faster speeds over shorter distances, but two miles per hour (similar to the average walking speed) is a healthy and safe baseline for average kayak speed.

Can one person use a two person kayak? ›

One person can absolutely paddle a two-person kayak. However, doing so sacrifices paddling speed, boat stability as well as maneuverability. It takes more effort to move a bigger boat with its bow sticking up in the air. Some of these problems can be mitigated with a rudder, a longer paddle and a seat that moves.

Can you add foam to a kayak? ›

Spray foam is not a suitable addition for a kayak. It is not waterproof, so it will not keep your kayak afloat, and it may mold after use on the water. Instead, choose a closed-cell foam or other floatation methods if you're concerned about your kayak sinking.

Is kayak hard to learn? ›

Kayaking can be as easy or challenging as you want, depending on your choice of on-the-water environments. You can learn the basic skills for kayaking in protected waters in just a few hours. It's best to take a class with a qualified instructor, to get started quickly and safely.

How do you're enter a kayak in deep water? ›

How To Re-Enter A Kayak In Deep Water [Standard & Trick Method]

Can you get stuck in a kayak if it flips over? ›

When a kayak tips over upside down, you can get stuck. It can lead to your body becoming stressed, which can lead to panic, making it more difficult for you to get out of the situation. Check out these steps on how to flip a kayak over to prevent this from happening.

Is a sit on top kayak safer? ›

Whether you choose a sit-inside or a sit-on-top kayak, you are sure to enjoy paddling. Both style kayaks are equally safe. Stability will depend on other design factors such as hull design and size. (see “how to choose a kayak”).

Why do my hips hurt after kayaking? ›

With our legs turned outwards (externally rotated) and flexed, we're putting a good amount of pressure through the front of our hip joints and the surrounding soft tissues. Unsurprisingly this can make our hips pretty sore after a while.

Can you swim off a kayak? ›

If you let your lower body go limp, while swimming with your kayak, you can slip out of the cockpit. If your roll is a bit shaky, put a paddle float onto the paddle so you can practice the swim portion and have the float for extra support for the roll. You can also try a re-enter, swim to the paddle and roll.

Are inflatable kayaks safe? ›

So, are inflatable kayaks safe? Inflatable kayaks are indeed safe for many different types of kayaking and water conditions. Modern inflatable kayaks are made of durable materials using time-tested construction techniques. And their multi-layer material design allows them to resist scrapes and punctures.

Can overweight people kayak? ›

Again, despite the trepidation of some, kayaking can be enjoyed by people of all shapes and sizes. Even if you're overweight or taller than average, kayaking can be enjoyable.

What happens if you exceed the weight limit on a boat? ›

If a boat exceeds its weight limit, the boat loses its stability, and eventually, if the weight is increased further, the boat's draft increases, and the boat will sink in the worst-case scenario; otherwise, it can capsize. Mostly, in calm waters, boats won't capsize much than in rough waters.

Is there a weight limit on a tandem kayak? ›

Because they're designed for two, tandems are wider and longer than your typical recreational kayaks, often measuring 14 to 18 feet in length. The increase in hull size also means that the average maximum weight limit for a tandem kayak falls somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 to 600 pounds.

Why does my kayak feel tippy? ›

The weight distribution is off.

Aside from the width and shape, the biggest cause of a wobbly kayak is awkward weight distribution. When there is too much weight in one area of the boat, it may feel like you're going to fall off because there is no center of gravity.

Are shorter kayaks less stable? ›

How Does Kayak Length Impact Stability and Maneuverability? Generally speaking, shorter kayaks are both more stable and more maneuverable than longer kayaks.

What is faster a kayak or canoe? ›

Paddler for paddler, a kayak will go twice as fast as a canoe all things being equal. That's because a kayak paddle has two blades as opposed to the canoe paddle with only one. Put two people in a canoe, then the speed of a canoe is comparable to the speed of a single kayak.

Is a longer or shorter kayak better? ›

Length: Longer boats cruise more efficiently and offer lots of storage space for overnight touring gear, while shorter hulls turn more quickly. A few inches in length won't matter much, but two feet or more will be noticeable.

What is the standard size kayak? ›

The average kayak is around 10 feet long, but there's a wide range of possible lengths, but you may see them range anywhere from 6 feet to 16 feet long. Generally speaking, the longer a kayak is, the faster it is.

What is the correct kayak paddle length? ›

Measure Your Body Height

Then, compare it to the width of your kayak and find the correct corresponding measurement. If you are 5 feet 5 inches or shorter and your kayak is… 23 inches wide or smaller: Try a paddle that is 210 centimeters long. 24 to 32 inches wide: Try a paddle that is 220 centimeters long.

Why are longer kayaks faster? ›

Generally speaking, longer kayaks are capable of achieving higher speeds than shorter kayaks. A longer kayak allows for a more gradual slope from the cockpit to the bow, which helps to reduce drag while traveling in a straight direction.

What time of year do kayaks go on sale? ›

Some of the best kayak deals offered by direct manufacturers and retailers coincide with two major holidays: Christmas and Memorial Day. In the days leading up to these holidays (throughout the months of May and December), you can find deep discounts on new kayaks.

Is kayaking good exercise? ›

Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits include: Improved cardiovascular fitness. Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle.

How long of a kayak does a 6 foot person need? ›

The typical average length kayaks—8 to 12 feet for a recreational kayak or 12 to 14 feet for a day touring kayak—will work well for a 6-foot-tall person.

What is the easiest kayak to get in and out of? ›

How to Get Into and Out Of a Kayak Smoothly - YouTube

What is the best length for a tandem kayak? ›

A tandem touring kayak designed to have good hull speed and travel long distances on lakes and bays will be a good place to look. Tandems designed for touring tend to range from 17 feet up to 22 feet in length. Shorter tandem designs are easier to store but the tradeoff is less speed and storage capacity.

What happens if your kayak paddle is too long? ›

The longer the paddle, the more turning influence it will give with each stroke. If you're paddling with one long side and one short side, the kayak will turn away from the long side.

Do kayak paddles make a difference? ›

How to Choose a Kayak Paddle - YouTube

Are carbon fiber kayak paddles worth it? ›

Carbon fiber is not only incredibly lightweight, but it is also extremely strong, making it an excellent material for kayak paddles. One of the biggest benefits of carbon fiber shafts and carbon fiber blades is that their lightweight properties make them easy to paddle with over long distances.

How far can the average person kayak in a day? ›

On average, a reasonably experienced kayaker paddling a mid-sized solo boat can be expected to comfortably paddle between 10-20 miles a day.

How long does it take to kayak 6 miles? ›

It takes, on average, 20 minutes to travel a mile in a kayak at a pace around 3 miles per hour.
Distance (mile)TimeTotal Time
62 hours2:20
72:202:45
82:403:05
93 hours3:25
11 more rows
17 Jun 2020

How do you increase buoyancy in a kayak? ›

Of course, an easier alteration is simply to add airbags in one (or several) of the bulkhead compartments of your kayak. This can add additional flotation so that your kayak can handle heavier loads on longer trips.

Videos

1. How to Size a Kayak Paddle
(BendingBranchesTV)
2. How To Size a Kayak Paddle
(BendingBranchesTV)
3. Choosing the Correct Fishing Kayak Paddle Length: Episode 103
(fishyaker)
4. How to Choose a Recreational Kayak Paddle
(AQ Outdoors - Aquabatics Alberta)
5. Everything You Need To Know About Kayak Paddles
(Headwaters Kayak)
6. The ultimate fishing kayak review and set-up with Greg Blanchard
(Native Watercraft)

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