What Size Kayak Should I Get?

Kayaking is always been an enjoyable water sport. Either to have gentle rapids or intend to become a skilled regular kayaker, purchasing a perfect kayak is a headache for both expeditions. Your presence here suggests that you must be confused about the process of purchasing a right size kayak.

To help you out in making the right choice, we have explained below the detailed and in-depth guide to choosing a perfect kayak size well-suited to the paddler’s body.

Weight and height are the two prime factors that play a fundamental role in deciding ‘what size kayak should I get?’ Not all average size kayak fits the weighty or tall paddlers. As the body deviates from the average proportion, so does the kayak. Read the below instructions to avoid horrible decisions.

What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Weight?

Weight is an important factor to consider before purchasing a new kayak, not only the paddler’s weight but the accessories weight too.

Every kayak has a specific manufacturing weight that is also known as the ‘weight capacity of a kayak’. It is the limit at which a kayak functions efficiently and stays afloat after having a paddler and luggage on it.

To find out the right kayak according to the weight, a paddler needs to add gear weight to his actual weight and compare it to the weight capacity of a kayak. It must be 25-30% less than the kayak’s weight limit.

If the paddler rides the kayak at max. weight limit or above, the kayak becomes heavy which results in difficult maneuvering and slow paddling.

Follow the below steps and find out the right size according to your weight;

Kayak Sizing Guide

A randomly picked kayak from numerous options might led you to a regretful purchase. Therefore, it is essential to have a comprehensive kayak sizing guide to avoid horrible decisions.

Kayak Weight Limit: It is the foremost factor to know about your desired kayak. As stated before, the weight on the kayak must be 20-30% less than the kayak’s weight capacity for smooth paddling. Volume plays an effective role in the kayak’s weight limit. The greater the volume, the larger will be the weight capacity.

If you are a heavy weight paddler, kayaks with a large weight capacity are well-suited for you.

Normally, the weight limit of recreational kayaks varies from 250 to 300 pounds, and 400 pounds is the average weight limit of sea kayaks. Fishing and tandem kayaks are built in a way to carry more gears, hence they offer the greatest weight limit between 400-700 pound


Kayak Length: You should better need an answer about what type of paddler you are? before asking about How long should my kayak be? kayak length mainly depends on the paddler’s expertise.

Recreational kayaks are considered best for the novice paddler due to their short length. Small kayaks due to their wider hull provide maximum stability than long kayaks and also minimize the risk of flipping over.

Moreover, short kayaks are easy to maneuver if used at the beginning of a kayaking career. However, to tackle the rough water waves, whitewater kayakers also opt for the shorter length kayaks.

On the other, kayaks with long hulls or sea kayaks are ideal to attain fast speed. They offer the maximum capacity to load gears without affecting the tracking ability.

Ideal performance and good stability are other advantages of sea kayaks. However, novice paddlers are advised to stay away from long skinny kayaks since of their more chances of tipping over.

Kayak Width: The width of the kayak plays an essential role in making the stable. Stability should be your foremost consideration while shopping for a new kayak. Beginners are a bit hesitant to ride on the water so they are advised to better for wider kayaks since stability increases with the width.

Professionals may feel better with the fast moving and quick responsive kayak, therefore slim kayaks would be their best decision.

Typically recreational kayaks are 25 to 30 inches wide, while sea or touring kayaks are 20 to 24 inches wide. However, most of the touring kayaks are even more skinny than 20 inches.

The decision is all yours, choose the one that better meets your requirement and paddling style.

What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Weight?

Cockpit Design: Cockpit design is another factor that plays an essential role in determining the best kayak. Advance kayaks are made with different types of cockpit designs, we are going to discuss some of them below to make the choice easier for you.

Ocean kayaks have egg shape or oval shaped cockpits, commonly known as ocean cockpits. As the name suggests, these are built in a way to enable the paddler to easy maneuvering in rough ocean waves.

Typically they are 17 to 20 inches wide providing maximum contact to the kayak. Small cockpits also make the wearing of a spray skirt easier.

However, besides their numerous pros, ocean cockpits have downfalls too. They are not beginner-friendly. It is extremely difficult and a bit tricky to enter and leave a narrow cockpit.

Paddlers need to climb at the stern and then slide the legs into the cockpit. In the case of kayak capsize, a smooth exit is not possible from a small cockpit unless you have practiced the wet exit technique.

The next cockpit option is the ‘Keyhole Cockpit’. The cockpit may seem to be built by keeping a key in mind, it is narrower on the one side and a bit wider on the other side like a key.

A keyhole cockpit is a top-notch choice for those looking for easy entrance and exit in a sit-inside kayak. They are as wide as ocean cockpits however a bit longer than them which makes them the perfect cockpit design.

To enter a keyhole cockpit kayak, you don’t need to sit on the stern first and slide the legs into the cockpit. The keyhole cockpit assists you to sit the belly down and then enter the legs.

Since it is longer than the ocean cockpits, it provides ample room to twist the legs to make the sit even more comfortable, however, it can reduce the kayak contact factor.

Last comes the ‘Recreational Cockpits’, the most compatible one than both above. Maximum stability is their foremost advantage since they are wider than 25 inches.

There is nothing easier than entering and leaving a recreational kayak cockpit making them perfect for beginners or less experienced paddlers. If you are a seasonal kayaker, avoid purchasing a closed deck kayak since a recreational cockpit is an ideal option for you.

Kayak Storage Place: Kayak storage place can better suggest to you what size kayak you should buy. You should first finalize the kayak room, where you are going to store your big kayak when not in use. Check out the garage or any other kayak storage place that can accommodate your new kayak.

Transportation can be your next headache if you have to travel a long distance to the kayaking spots. Measure the length of your car roof or truck bed before looking for a long kayak.

However, to accommodate the long distance paddlers in transportation and storage there are advanced options available like kayak loading trolleys to cover long distances and kayak storage racks, to store more than one kayak in less space.

Moreover, there is another option available if you are unable to spend extra effort on transportation and storage. Inflatable kayaks are the most popular and widely known to be extremely portable and demand almost no storage space. When deflated they easily get fitted into cabins and storage bags and backpacks.

While traveling to the kayaking destinations, throw them on the passenger seat and it will take less than 10 minutes to prepare the kayak for launch into the water.

What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Height?

Sele­cting the appropriate kayak size base­d on your height is crucial for a comfortable and secure­ kayaking experience­.

To ensure safety and comfort, it is re­commended to consider both your he­ight and weight when choosing a kayak. Here­ are some esse­ntial tips to help you select the­ right kayak size based on your height.

Kayak Sizing Guide For Tall Paddlers

Average height kayakers of 5ft 5” easily fit into almost every kayak. The headache lies with those looking for the right size kayak for their long height. Kayak dimensions and the cockpit size are the basic key factors to notice before purchasing a kayak for a 6ft height paddler.

We have discussed below the elementary kayak features for tall people, read them carefully to enjoy the right purchase.

Kayak Dimensions

Tall paddlers need to more crucially inspect the kayak dimensions than an average height person. That is the basic step to finding the right size kayak compatible with the height.

Volume: To help you out inspecting the kayak thoroughly, kayak volume plays an effective role. Low, medium, and high are the three basic volume types.

Low Volume kayak is well-suited to the paddler weighing less than 150 pounds and a height between 4ft to 5ft 5”.

Medium Volume kayaks can accommodate a person less than 200 pounds and a height of 5ft 5” to 5ft 10”. Lastly, High Volume kayaks are considered perfect for a paddler weighing 200 pounds and a height of 6ft or above.

From a kayak sizing description, choose the one that perfectly matches your weight, height, and the gears you will be taking. It is advisable to take a short test before finalizing your choice. Sit on the kayak, and notice the ease in entrance and exit.

Check out the legroom if your legs and feet lay down smoothly on the kayak surface without hitting the kayak sides. Any of the above kayak volumes may fit perfectly to your height regardless of how long you are.

What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Height?

Deck Size: A long paddler in an incompatible kayak seems to be awkwardly seated above the kayak’s deck. It not only feels inconvenient but also makes the whole paddling uncomfortable.

Since long paddlers have a deep center of gravity, a kayak with an already high deck can make the sitting unsuitable for the kayak.

The longer a paddler, the lower the kayak deck should be. It will distribute the paddler’s height perfectly into the deep space that allows more comfortable paddling for long hours.

Cockpit Size

Without any doubt, you would not want to enter a cockpit that doesn’t support the smooth entering of your wide waist and hips. To avoid such a case, tall paddlers ought to be more careful about the cockpit length and width of their new kayak.

Width: A wide lower body barely enters the cockpit. If it does, comfortable paddling becomes almost impossible. Must check the sit-inside kayak cockpit, if your waist hits the cockpit’s sides a little bit, then better look for wide cockpits.

Length: For long legs kayakers, cockpit length is the foremost ingredient that centrally needs to inspect. Most sit-inside cockpits are narrower to support long legs, they demand sliding the legs without doing a standup entrance.

Comfortable room for legs should be the only priority so that you get ample room to twist the legs or release your foot from the footrest positions when you take a break from paddling.

Kayak Sizing Guide For Short Paddlers

Short height paddler doesn’t need deep research to pick the right kayak for their average height. Recreational kayaks from 8ft to 12 ft best assist in a comfortable sitting. Multi footrest positions keep the legs and feet stable enough to work on efficient strokes.

The short and slim sea kayak cockpits are also well-suited for short length persons. However, newcomers are advised to still opt for a bit wider hull to enable stable paddling since narrow kayaks with a narrow opening may prove slightly unstable for first time kayakers.

How Long Is A 2-Person Kayak?

A Tandem kayak or a 2 person is the ideal option if you have decided to take a partner or family on the next kayaking trip. They provide a perfect opportunity to bring the family members closer, and yeah don’t forget your pup.

Normally, 2-person kayaks are 12 to 14 ft. long, though most recreational tandem kayaks are even shorter than 12 ft. which is 10ft only. 10 or 12ft tandem kayaks provide a good space to add a partner to your trip. You can also include a pet dog by adjusting the seating space if the kayak is longer than 12ft.

Tandem kayaks, since of their maximum space, allow to pack more accessories on the kayak due to their highest weight capacity limits. In such cases, they can be driven by a single person unless the paddler is an expert to tackle extreme situations on a solo trip.

What Is The Right Size Kayak For My Kid?.

6ft sit-on-top kayaks are the most out there to introduce your kid to the water environment. They best accommodate kids of five to ten years and weighs under 100 pounds.

Most kayaks come with a kid-friendly paddle, to eliminate the headache of best short paddle. They also offer a good space to keep some snacks. kayak back deck is additionally convenient for the smooth in and out facility for swimming.

The decisions can prove challenging if your kid has a bit larger body. In such a case you can look for an 8ft kayak to provide a wide paddling area for your weighty kid. Kids more than 13 or 14 age can also gentle rapids with an 8ft kayak.

Is An 8ft Kayak Too Small?

The short answer is yes. An 8ft kayak is the smallest option among all other kayak lengths. They tend to have a small and stable hull design built by keeping younger paddlers in mind. With that being said, small length kayaks are an ideal option for recreational paddling.

For beginners, an 8ft kayak is a great purchase right at the start of their career. They allow easy turning and smooth paddling over silent rivers and lakes. Both sit-on-top and sit-in designs perform well in a small and sturdy 8ft boat.

Portability is another advantage they offer to the long distance kayakers, allowing hassle-free carrying on the rooftop or in a truck bed. Surprisingly, a jeep patriot can also be a good room for the 8ft boat.

By keeping down both passenger seats one short kayak can be easily fitted inside. To include another small kayak, make sure to place a rubber mat on the first and then load another 8ft kayak on it likewise to avoid scratches and damage on the hull.

What Is The Right Size Kayak For My Kid?.

Additionally, small kayaks are also easy to paddle and maneuver in whitewater waves. When there is a great risk of kayak flipping in rough waves, small hull kayaks prove ideal to roll them back again. However, an 8ft whitewater kayak may differ in stability from a recreational kayak.

The shorter a kayak’s length, the smaller will be the weight capacity. The weight capacity of 8ft sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks vary between 240-250 pounds.

Due to their shorter hull, you need to be very careful before loading accessories on the kayak.

10 or 12 Foot kayak

It is the most common length of recreational kayaks. 10ft or 12 ft kayak is the best option to kick-start a kayaking career

Normally, these kayaks are 30-35 inches wide which offers more space for extra gears. Easy maneuvering and maximum stability is the reason behind their high demand among novice paddlers. They provide smooth paddling even in slim water spaces.

Longer kayaks tend to cover more distance in less time. If a paddler knows the elementary kayaking skills then a 10-12 ft kayak would be an ideal choice to cover long distances efficiently.

Additionally, their longer size 10 or 12 ft kayaks differ in weight capacity from an 8ft kayak. Their weight limit is between 300-500 pounds, which is a big plus to load accessories on the cargo nets at the bow and stern.

You will also find tandem options while purchasing a 10-12 ft kayak. An exciting opportunity to take a partner or a pup on the second seat.

14 ft kayak

To get the most out of ocean or sea kayaking, paddlers look for long and skinny kayaks. More skilled paddlers and professionals usually opt for a 14 ft. kayak if they are intended for a long kayaking trip. As you go on looking for long options, you will get the fastest kayak.

They also provide exceptional storage areas that 8ft or 10ft kayaks do not offer. Paddlers remain are open to store electronic devices or other crucial items in built-in hatches.

These are special storage areas that secure the cell phone or other items in case of capsizing. Moreover, front and back cargo nets provide direct access to the emergency gears.

Despite their numerous advantages, a 14ft kayak has few downfalls. Long and skinny kayaks are extremely unstable that increase the risk of tipping over. With that said, paddlers are advised to stay away from long unstable kayaks unless they are skilled enough to balance the kayak in any extreme ocean weather.

Moreover, typically 14ft kayaks are only available in sit-inside designs, so you should better practice the kayak rolling techniques to flip back a kayak on the surface.

Spray skirt and PFDs are the most essential to wear before launching a long slim kayak into the ocean, it would be more advantageous to keep the extra items like PFDs and a paddle to utilize the second if you lost the one.

Winding Up

We have explained above the in-depth guide to help you choose the right size for your new kayak. From tall to short and slim to weighty kayakers, there are numerous options available to find out the best one. If you are still confused about making the right decision, you can also try out the rental kayaks first.

Rental kayaks are a great option to inspect your desired kayak carefully. Take a few rides and measure the kayak’s compatibility factor to your height and weight.

If your body fits into the kayak perfectly then purchase a kayak of the same size. Hope the technique will work for you in an appropriate decision.

Hey! This is Muneeza, a researcher and writer of the website. Utilizing my vast experience and in-depth research skill, I used to dig deep to find out the information you'll love to know about your favorite watersport. In case of any queries, reach out freely!

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