How Much Weight Can a Kayak Hold?

How much weight can a kayak hold? Every kayak has a weight limit, which varies by size, design, and type of boat. Some can carry only 250 pounds, while others have a higher load carrying capacity of up to 700 pounds.

It is recommended to never exceed the weight limit of your kayak to allow you to easily paddle and maneuver the boat. Therefore, proper sizing is crucial to enjoying your ride. Whether recreational or going fishing, you should always mind your weight and payload.

Read on to find out how much weight your kayak can hold without capsizing, including how to determine the appropriate weight for optimal performance.

How Much Weight Can a Kayak Hold?

There is no direct answer to this question. The maximum weight-carrying capacity of kayaks varies from one kayak to the next. The design, size, and type of kayak influence the weight limit of these boats.

The following chart illustrates the typical kayak weight limit according to type. It shows that inflatable kayaks have the highest weight carrying capacity, but that is not actually the case. Fishing kayaks and others can carry up to 700 pounds.

Type of kayakWeight limit
typical recreational kayak250-300 pounds
touring (sea) kayak350 pounds
fishing kayaks350 and 400 pounds
sit-on-top kayak350-400 pounds
tandem kayak500 and 600 pounds
Inflatable Kayaks400 and 700  pounds
The chart illustrates the typical kayak weight limit according to type

Kayak’s Weight Limit

Kayak’s weight limit indicates the maximum load the boat can carry while remaining afloat. This figure is often given by the manufacturers, which depends on the size, design, and type of the kayak.

As a kayaker, you should know the weight limit of your boat. You don’t want to overload your kayak because if you do, disaster strikes.

Kayak ModelMaximum Weight Limit
Pelican Solo100 lb (45.4 kg)
Old Town Heron Junior115 lb (52.2 kg)
Perception Prodigy XS150 lb (68 kg)
Eddyline Sky 10250 lb (113.4 kg)
Perception Joyride 10275 lb (125 kg)
Pelican Argo 100x275 lb (125 kg)
Perception Drift 9.5300 lb (136 kg)
Perception Carolina 14300 lb (136 kg)
Vibe Skipjack 90300 lb (136 kg)
Wilderness Systems Pungo 120325 lb (147 kg)
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140325 lb (147 kg)
Old Town Loon 120375 lbs (170 kg)
Wilderness Systems Pungo 125425 lbs (193 kg)
Perception Outlaw 11.5425 lbs (193 kg)
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two425 lb (192.8 kg)
Pelican Argo 136X Tandem500 lb (227 kg)
Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145T500 lb (227 kg)
Vibe Sea Ghost 130550 lbs (249.5 kg)
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14600 lb (272 kg)

What Happens If You Overload a Kayak?

You should never exceed the weight limit of your kayak. In fact, you should never load it to the maximum carrying capacity.

The weight limit indicated by the manufacturer means the kayak will still float on water when carrying that much load. But loading your kayak to its capacity has consequences.

A kayak was overloaded when the man sat on it
A kayak was overloaded when the man sat on it | Credit: CatsMeowPaw /

Loading a kayak to its maximum weight carrying capacity makes it difficult to paddle and puts you in danger of capsizing. Additionally, the boat loses its stability and maneuverability because much of it sits underwater.

Ensure the load on board is not near the kayak’s weight limit. Consider your weight and the weight of the paddle and all your gear. If you are going to fish, leave room for your catch.

Any additional weight that puts the overall load close to the kaya’s weight limit or exceeds it puts your life in danger. The performance of your boat will be compromised, and the kayak will be very challenging to paddle and maneuver.

Factors That Affect Kayak Weight Capacity

There is no industry standard weight of a kayak. Every manufacturer sets this parameter according to the design of each boat manufactured. They usually do that by testing the manufactured kayaks to find the weight limit to include on the nameplate or specifications.

Generally, the weight carrying capacity of every kayak is included by the following factors:

  • Hull length
  • Kayak width
  • Kayak shape

The kayak’s shape determines how much water it can displace, hence the weight limit. The more water it displaces, the more load it can carry while staying afloat. 

kayaks of different sizes and uses
Kayaks of different sizes and uses | Credit: paulbr75 /

How to Determine Optimum Performance of Kayak

Loading your kayak to its maximum weight limit will compromise its performance. So, how do you determine the recommended weight your boat can carry? Remember, it should remain stable, maneuverable, and easy to paddle?

Before giving you a simple formula, you can use, let’s quickly talk about the laid types for your kayak.

Load Types of Kayaks

Anything you put into your kayak contributes to its overall weight. Your weight, passenger, fishing gear, and virtually anything you carry should all count. Do not forget about how much your paddle weighs.

If you are using a fishing kayak, leave room for your catch. Your boat will likely be heavier when coming from the water after spending an entire day fishing than when you got in. Also, sit-on kayaks with scupper holes require room for water that will get in when paddling.

Each manufacturer always shows the kayak parameters on their kayak
Each manufacturer always shows the kayak parameters on their kayak| Credit: colin13362 /

The Kayak Optimum Performance Weight Formula

In simple terms, the recommended load capacity of a kayak should be 30% lower than the indicated weight limit. Use the following formula to determine the load any kayak should carry for optimal performance:

Performance Weight Limit = Optimum Performance of Kayak= Maximum Weight Capacity x 0.7

Note that the maximum weight capacity is the same as the total load requirement that will not sink your boat.

Leave room for your catch if you are not paddling for recreation. Fishing boats and sit-on kayaks should be loaded to about 60-65% of their weight limit when heading into the water.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and the combined weight of your gear and paddle is 50 pounds, the total load on your kayak is 200 pounds. When looking for a kayak for optimal performance, choose the one with 30% more room.

The maximum weight capacity of your kayak should be total load divided by 70%, after accounting for 30%. In our case, the maximum carrying capacity should be 200/0.7 = 285 pounds.

Therefore, the most appropriate kayak should have a maximum weight limit of 300 pounds, leaving breathing room for any additional weight.

Overall, the performance kayak weight limit should allow you to be comfortable in the boat and easily paddle it without the risk of capsizing.

Maximum Weight LimitOptimal Weight Limit (70%)
200 lb (91 kg)140 lb (64 kg)
250 lb (113 kg)175 lb (79 kg)
300 lb (136 kg)210 lb (95 kg)
350 lb (159 kg)245 lb (111 kg)
400 lb (181 kg)280 lb (127 kg)
450 lb (204 kg)315 lb (143 kg)
500 lb (227 kg)350 lb (159 kg)
550 lb (249 kg)385 lb (175 kg)
600 lb (272 kg)420 lb (191 kg)
650 lbs (295 kg)455 lb (206 kg)

Is There a Way to Increase Kayak Weight Capacity?

Yes. Many ways of increasing your kayak’s weight limit exist. You can do that by changing where you paddle, the design of your boat, and buying lighter gear and fishing equipment. But if you don’t want to go through that process, you can buy a new kayak with a higher weight-carrying capacity.

It is better to learn how to increase the weight capacity of a kayak than to overload it. These techniques allow you to carry extra pounds on your boat without sacrificing stability and maneuverability.

A kayak is loading with 2 men and some water in the cockpit
A kayak is loading with 2 men and some water in the cockpit |Credit: alejandrosoto /

What Is The Best Kayak for an Overweight Person?

Overweight people can also enjoy kayaking and other water adventures.

Do not let your weight deter you from going outdoors for the best kayaking experience. Kayaks designed for plus-size people are in the market. These can carry 400lbs of weight or more.

Whether you want a kayak for an overweight person for recreational purposes or for fishing, you can get it. The following are the best recommendations. We considered factors such as durability, value for money, and budget to come up with the following kayaks:

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak


Can a 300lb person kayak?

Yes. A 300-pound person can still kayak, but only in a correctly-sized kayak.

But anyone weighing that much cannot paddle a recreational kayak with a maximum weight limit of 250-300 pounds. A higher capacity kayak would be ideal.

Can overweight people fit in a kayak?

Yes. Kayaking is an enjoyable activity for people of all shapes and sizes. You can still kayak even if you are overweight or taller than an average person.

Kayaks for big guys exist and offer the same enjoyment as other boats. Don’t let your weight put you indoors!

How do I know my kayak weight limit?

Most kayaks come with a weight limit from the manufacturer. You can ask your supplier or contact the manufacturer directly to know the maximum load your kayak can carry and stay afloat.

But you should determine the weight limit of the kayak you will need before buying it for safety reasons.

What is the best kayak for a fat person?

Weight should not be a limiting factor if you are an outdoorsy type. Kayaks designed for fat people weighing over 300 pounds exist.

They are more stable and allow fat people to easily paddle. Good examples you can consider are the BKC UH-RA220, Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130, SunDolphin Bali SS 12, and many others.

Can you sink a kayak?

Yes, but it takes a lot to sink a kayak. Kayaks are designed to stay afloat in different water conditions. Not unless you exceed its weight limit, it is nearly impossible.

Modern kayaks can still float on water even if filled with water, but you should be cautious in such situations.

Parting Thought

The weight limit of a kayak depends on its size, design, and type. Recreational kayaks are the smallest and have a weight limit. On the other hand, inflatable and fishing kayaks carry a load of 400 pounds or more.

However, you should never reach or exceed the weight-carrying capacity of your kayak. The golden rule is to load it up to 65-70% of its weight limit.

Thank you for your time reading this article at Windpaddle. We appreciate your time and believe the information presented will help you in your kayaking adventures. Kindly share this article with fellow paddlers to help us reach more people.