How to Find the Kayak With the Best Weight Limit for Myself?

Kayaking is one of the most well-known, most relaxing activities that anyone with access to a waterfront can take-up. The thing is, you can combine it with other activities and sports as well, such as swimming, fishing, bird-watching, reading, or just enjoying a moment of peace by yourself. 

To do any or all of the previous activities, you must find the right kayak for yourself, and that includes a lot of numbers and a few calculations. The most important of them is the one relating to the weight limit. If you get that wrong, nothing else will go right. 

This number is created through some calculations involving the dimensions of the kayak and its inner volume. So, let’s check these numbers in depth.


We’ll start with the basics so that we can build on a solid foundation. When it comes to any kayak’s weight limit, only around 65%-70% should be used. Subsequently, the 65%–70% of the kaya’s maximum weight is its performance weight limit, the real and raw number you need to abide by. 

Now, don’t fret; although losing 30% of your kayak’s weight can seem frightening, it’s not the end of the world, as it might seem. You’re not wasting space! This vacant area is what is keeping your boat buoyant, afloat, and easy to maneuver. We’ll go over the dire consequences of overloading later on, but this is a summary of the matter in the simplest form.

Industrial Differences

If you’re a veteran kayaker, you know the ins and outs of kayaks in general and your own needs. You’ll always have a range of weight that you require as a base line. That can help you cut through a significant part of the “looking for a kayak” journey. 

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re a beginner, you won’t really know what you need and don’t need. You might over-pack sometimes and under-pack sometimes. Consequently, we always advise kayakers to borrow or rent kayaks before they fixate on a particular model and brand.

What does all of that have to do with a kayak’s weight limit? Primarily, that you must include the weight of everything you put in the kayak when you’re calculating how much weight you need. 

So, your weight, any passenger kayakers, children, pets, if the kayak is suited for carrying them, gear, storage, food, etc., etc. Still, you won’t know your exact needs until after a few trips out on the water. 

The second reason, which can be a substantial cause for confusion, is the industrial differences between every brand and the other, and even models in the same brand. When it comes to the calculation of the kayaks’ weight limit, there aren’t really any rules or algorithms that the companies follow when they manufacture their boats. 

Subsequently, you can’t generalize that a kayak of specific dimensions must have a certain weight capacity. One model can go up, and the other can go down. As a result, the only way of determining is to center on a particular model, start doing your research, and possibly try it out.

Kayak Types and Their Weight Capacities 

Apart from models and brands, the only thing that’s stable about this industry is the types of kayaks and the differences between them. That, too, is something that you need to zero in on when you’re choosing. The weight limit is a chief difference and determinant when it comes to grouping kayaks into types.


Tandem is another word for team, and that’s exactly what we’re getting. A tandem kayak is one that can take more than an individual. Hence, you’ll find that it can be exceptionally large and boast a weight limit of up to 600 lbs. It can carry two or even three people with their gear.


Next, we’ve inflatable kayaks, which are known for their versatility and flexibility. You can find inflatable kayaks which are just as strong as normal ones and with weight limits up to 750 lbs. 

They can be more than tandem kayaks. Nonetheless, the 750-lb kayak isn’t the rule but the exception. Such weight limits come with more advanced options that aren’t widely available or even required. The typical weight limit of inflatable kayaks is around 400 lbs, which is quite spacious.


Sit-On-Top kayaks are probably the most famous kayaks and the most widely used. Why? Simply, they don’t require much training or preparation, and they’re easy to handle and maneuver both inside and outside of the water.

If you’re a beginner, then you should start with a sit-on-top kayak as it offers you freedom of movement and is much easier to handle if it capsizes. Although they look small and light, they actually boost a weight limit up to 400 lbs.

Additionally, although they’ve no internal storage of their own, they’re always fitted with enormous D-rings, bungee ropes, and waterproof bags to carry all your gear.


Touring kayaks, or sit-inside kayaks, offer plenty of storage, significant stability, and much more controlled direction. Thanks to the inside storage present at both the hull and the bow, kayakers can spend more time on the water, maybe a few days. 

Also, they’re way more suited for the white currents of saltwater, as they can weather their brutality. Nevertheless, they’re not designed for more than one person, so their weight limit lies around 350 lbs maximum.


Our last and smallest kayak is the recreational one, and just as the name suggests, this is something used for fun in a lake in front of your house or on slow rivers, etc. It’s not designed with extra storage or anything that can slow it down. 

Subsequently, its maximum weight limit is around 300 lbs, and nothing more. Hence, you can only bring your necessities for a trip that won’t exceed one day.

What Happens if You Go Over Weight?

What is the point of everything that we’ve talked about up till now? What would happen if you used 100% of your kayak’s weight limit? 

According to the manufacturers, nothing, your boat is supposed to carry this weight comfortably, but that’s not the truth. Most kayaks will carry the weight, but you’ll find that your boat is sinking step-by-step. The water is approaching you way too fast, and if you’re in a sit-inside kayak and you capsize, getting back will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever attempted. 

Even if your kayak stays afloat, you’ll find that it is much slower and more difficult for you to direct and deal with. That is not to mention that getting it into and outside of the water will be so tiresome that it’ll take away so much from your enjoyment.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we’ll say that staying on the safe side should always be a priority when it comes to water. No matter what kind of kayak you use or what type of activity you carry out, you can’t be too comfortable. You must keep yourself and others safe by knowing exactly what you need. 

If you’re worried about needing more stuff in the future or having other people with you, it’s better to go over than under.

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