Travel Tips

What Size Kayak Do I Need [Based on Weight & Height]

So you have entered a kayak store or you are just scrolling down on to find out which kayak suits you the best.

You would get a dozens of options that range from style to cost to colour and to the brand. Probably the most important question we would ask before buying a kayak is what size kayak do I need? 

The Kayak market has everything for each one of us. There are unlimited kayak varieties that would suffice the tall, the short, the average, the chubby, and the skinny.

The whole line of thought stops when you have to choose among those kayaks. It is very important to scrutinize the kayak you are going to buy. Here is a complete guide that will help you make judgements about what size kayak do I need?

What size Kayak do I need for my weight

There are well crafted kayaks in the market. It is very important to decide wisely depending upon the weight of your body, weight of the kayak and the weight of your paraphernalia.

You definitely don’t want to capsize in the middle of the water. Basically, before purchasing the kayak, make clear the purpose of buying it.

If you are buying a kayak for recreational purpose along with some camping plans, then you would need a different kayak than if you are using it for fishing or for carrying a lot of stuff. The kayaks would also differ if you are underweight or overweight. So let’s come to the basic question what size Kayak do I need for my weight?

Logical answer to this is that the kayak should have a maximum weight capacity that is 125 pounds more than your body weight and the equipment you would take along. Simply put, your weight should be 30-35% less than the kayak’s maximum capacity for efficient performance. 

Important- It must be noted that external weight (your body weight plus the weight of the baggage or equipment) must be 30-35% less than the internal weight (kayak’s maximum capacity rating). Every kayak has its threshold point for holding weight. If you cross this threshold point, the kayak will either slow down or capsize. What is this threshold point? Threshold point is the maximum capacity of the kayak to hold and carry weight and still float on the water.

This maximum capacity is given by the manufacturer. Nevertheless it is recommended that you should have 30-35% less weight than the maximum capacity of the kayak for floating it efficiently and swiftly. This is suggested to fortify you against capsizing and hard paddling. 

There are many brands that bring in kayaks for different weight holding capacities. Just check your external weight and the maximum capacity of the kayak and select the best one.

Your safety is the main priority. I hope you have got the answer on what size kayak do I need? Let’s move ahead.

What size Kayak do I need for my height

What size Kayak do I need for my weight

Our motto is Go comfy, Go Kayaking! Comfort should be the first priority. You might speculate the kayak by just observing it. Short kayaks are preferred for steering around casually and for leisure.

Long kayaks are crafted for long hours driving. But other question is what size Kayak do I need for my height? What are the details that you need to keep in mind? The most essential details are the leg space, foot space, dimensions of the cockpit, and the dimensions of the deck. Generally the average recreational kayaks come in 9 foot to 12 foot range. Check more information below. 

For short kayakers

Short height kayakers must be on the roll, “what size Kayak do I need?” Here is the answer to it. 

Leg space- for short height paddlers it is much easier to find a kayak with comfortable leg space. For you guys, a kayak of 7 to 10 feet is recommended. But you need to check the perfect one for your height. You can have an adjustable foot rest that will give you enough comfort. Foot space is the area in which your foot grips on. Hence it shouldn’t be too squeezed. Do make sure it is not too large. In that case your legs might slip off most of the times.

Dimensions of the cockpit- the right size kayak will also depend upon the dimensions of the cockpit. It would include the volume and width of the cockpit. You can go for low volume kayaks that are meant to be for kayakers with or under 140 pounds and height being less than 5’6”. Though the space is little less, such kayaks can be great for a one day trip over the river. But be it a tall paddler or short paddler;

your kayak must be the one that helps you sit in comfortable, stretch your legs. It should have enough space to widen the legs and thighs, and your waist should fit in on the seat. If you have sleek hips, you can easily slide in through 20 inch cockpit width. If you have broad hips, then you might need more than 20 inch cockpit width. 

The deck – The deck is the topside of the kayak which has deck lines. You can go for a deep deck but not much as your legs must fit in. 

For tall kayakers

What Size Kayak Do I Need to buy

Kayakers with 6 feet and above should prefer kayaks that are 12 foot. If you are kayaking in the sea then check out the sea kayaks that are approximately 14 foot. You might consider leg space and other dimensions given below.

Leg space- As tall paddlers have mostly long legs, hence they need a long and huge leg space in order to cosily sit in.  Foot space has to be huge to stabilise the feet inside. Mostly a kayaker with 11 or 12 US shoe size can conveniently put in the legs on the foot pegs and stretch a bit inside in a 12 feet recreational kayak. But if you have a large shoe size then check for longer kayaks. 

Also Read: Where To Get A PA Kayak Permit

Dimensions of the cockpit- You need to check if the kayak has a high volume because as your height is tall, you would need a large volume cockpit. Paddlers with 180 pound weight and taller than 5’10”, need a high volume cockpit. 

If you are a paddler with a wide hip and waist size, you would prefer a cockpit width to be 20 inches or more. Make sure you sit in comfortably. Also make sure that your kayak has a wide opening because wide opening protects your knees from bruising. Along with the cockpit size and volume, you can ask for adjustable backrest and seat that will help you for long hours of touring. 

The deck – Tall paddlers can go for shorter height deck kayaks which provide ample seat area and leg area. The best way to ensure which kayak is best for you is to sit in the kayak and check all these areas.

For average height kayakers

For average height kayakers, most of the rules go same as the small height kayakers. A few distinctions are given below. 

Leg space- you can get a kayak of 8 to 10 foot easily in the market. It is perfect for you. They are meant to provide comfortable leg space and foot space. Depending upon your leg length choose the kayak. Sometimes your height doesn’t matter but your leg length does. 

Dimensions of the cockpit- you can go for medium volume kayaks that are designed for average size paddlers. They go perfectly with 5’7” to 5’10” height paddlers and for weight around 140- 180 pounds. You can use such kayaks for overnight trips too. The width of the cockpit must be more than the width of your waist and hips.

The deck- as of the deck is concerned; you can go for deeper or narrower deck depending upon the length of your legs. Also, try to stretch out your legs to check if there’s a room for comfortable stretching.

So while answering the question, what size kayak do I need? Keep in mind the dimensions of the kayak, cockpit, deck, and leg space.


Kayaking is an adventurous sport and it has its own rules to abide by. The sheer enjoyment will depend upon how comfortable you are in your kayak.

The performance of the kayak depends upon your weight and the height. So be aware of all the details about your paraphernalia, your body weight, and your height.

Read more: Clothes and accessories to Wear during Kayaking

So here I have tried to answer the question what size kayak do I need? If you still have any questions, feel free to connect with me. Stay safe and stay updated!

Hi, I'm Bhavesh Bhati thanks for visiting my blog! I've been traveling and exploring epic locations around the world for the last four years. I'm always looking for real adventures like treks, waterfalls, and Offroading!

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