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10 Best Kayaks for Big Guys That Won’t Rock the Boat

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Introduction

Whether you’re a linebacker in the NFL or simply someone who shops in the XL section of the department store, finding the best kayak for big guys isn’t always the easiest task.

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a big and tall kayak. It’s not just about finding a kayak with a high weight limit; there’s also the weight of the kayak itself, its width, length, the seat configuration and cockpit size — not to mention all the other factors that go into choosing a great kayak.

But make no mistake — kayak manufacturers haven’t forgotten about their bigger customers, and American Paddler has done some homework to find comfortable, sturdy boats for guys and girls who need a little more support.

At the end of the day, buying a kayak for a tall man or a heavy person doesn’t need to be a big lift, and with the right kayak, you’ll be paddling with confidence in no time.

The Best Kayaks for Big Guys

A QUICK RUNDOWN: THE 10 BEST KAYAKS FOR BIG GUYS (COMPARISON CHART)

KAYAKTYPEWEIGHT CAPACITYLENGTHBEST FORPRICEAP RATING
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12Sit on Top (solo)500 lbs12 feetFishing$$$
Wilderness Systems ATAK 140Sit on Top (solo)550 lbs14 feetFishing$$
FeelFree Lure 13.5Sit on Top (tandem)500 lbs13.5 feetFishing$$
Wilderness Systems Ride 115X MaxSit on Top (solo)500 lbs11.5 feetFishing$$
Ocean Scrambler 11Sit on Top (solo)350 lbs11.5 feetRecreational$
Dagger Axis 12Sit Inside (solo)350 lbs12 feetRecreational$
Old Town Vapor 12XTSit Inside (solo)375 lbs12 feetRecreational$
Pyranha Fusion DLXSit Inside (solo)286 lbs10.5 feetWhitewater$
Sea Eagle 380XInflatable (tandem)750 lbs12.5 feetWhitewater$$
Sea Eagle SE370Inflatable (tandem)650 lbs12.5 feetRecreational$

Fishing Kayaks for Big Guys

When it comes to fishing kayaks for big guys, everyone has a different standard. Whether you’re looking for an angling machine with pedals, rudders, stadium seating and the works, or just a stable boat that won’t tip when you cast, bigger and taller paddlers should have no problems negotiating these fine boats. Here are our three favorites:

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 kayak (500 lb capacity)

Hobie’s masterful Pro Angler 12 is a big and tall kayak fisherman’s dream. The cream of the crop when it comes to fishing kayaks, this kayak is loaded with features bigger paddlers will love.

Hobie stakes its reputation on building quality, high-performance fishing kayaks, and it delivers a home run with the Pro Angler 12. With a sturdy 500 lb weight capacity and large, luxury-style high-back seat, the Pro Angler 12 is built for big guys to cast in comfort for hours.

Honestly, besides a boat that’s too small, the worst part about paddling for a bigger kayaker can be tiny seats that don’t offer much in the way of support. You definitely don’t have that problem with Hobie’s rock solid, stadium-style “Vantage” seat — which can hold 350 pounds in its own right. The seat is also ergonomic and fully adjustable, meaning when you want to stand and cast, simply fold the seat up for more space.

The second worst part about paddling for kayak anglers with lots of gear can be — well, paddling. That’s where Hobie’s patented pedal drive system really shines. Fully foot-powered, the Mirage Drive means kayak anglers will always have their hands free for more important tasks — like wrestling with that prized walleye or bass.

Speaking of gear, the 12-foot Pro Angler accommodates even the biggest of fishing packrats. Besides two easy-access dry storage hatches (with a tackle management system included!), this kayak also comes with two H-rails to rig a plethora of gear, from fish finders to extra rods to tackle bins and mounting plates.

At 36 inches wide, the Pro Angler 12 is incredibly stable, even for heftier kayakers, but it does come at a heftier price tag. Still, pound for pound, you simply can’t beat it for superior quality and features.


Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 kayak (550 lb capacity)

If your wallet isn’t quite as fat, Wilderness Systems still offers a great fishing kayak for bigger guys in its A.T.A.K. 140. A beefed-up version of its standard-bearing A.T.A.K. 120, the 14-foot version packs a lot of bang for the big guy’s buck.

It’s not easy to find fishing kayaks with a 550 lb capacity, but the A.T.A.K. 140 impressively delivers. With an abundance of cargo space aboard a durable sit-on-top design, this kayak has plenty of room for wider or taller paddlers to stretch out in comfort.

Perhaps the coolest feature of the A.T.A.K. is its sliding stadium-style suspension seat, which allows paddlers to adjust the kayak exactly to their liking. So it doesn’t matter if you’re 6’6” or 5’5” — either way, you’ll be happy as a clam.

With a 34-inch wide deck the company describes as “highly walkable,” the A.T.A.K. lives up to its name well, with a fast, low-profile hull that doesn’t waste energy while paddling. Also helpful is the “stand up assist” strap and traction pads, which help steady the kayak while you stand.

With bow and stern storage hatches plus a removable console for fish finders, GPS and other important electronics, there’s plenty of gear storage aboard the A.T.A.K., which offers plenty of space and capacity for you and your stuff.

Don’t feel like paddling? The A.T.A.K. 140 is also able to be outfitted with Wilderness Systems’ Helix MD motor drive system, another perk for the paddle-weary angler.


FeelFree Lure 13.5 kayak (500 lb capacity)

At a very affordable price for a feature-loaded fishing kayak, the FeelFree Lure 13.5 charts its own course in several eye-opening ways for larger folks.

Another kayak with a high weight limit (500 lbs), the Lure’s appeal for heavy people goes beyond simply numbers. FeelFree’s patent-pending “Gravity Seat” is both extra-padded and wide, and has the ability to raise and lower depending on a kayaker’s height and comfort level. This helps with stability while sitting and fishing and allows for greater comfort while paddling long distances. There’s a reason it’s patent-pending — you don’t see this feature on many kayaks, if at all. It even has pockets!

Though without some of the high-end bells and whistles of the A.T.A.K. and Pro Angler, the Lure does offer some pretty smart add-ons for the kayak fisherman. Its built-in cutting board, for instance, is a handy feature, as well its removable sonar and electronics pod. Two rod holders, cupholders and adjustable foot pegs only add to the comfort factor.

The Lure’s 36-inch-wide beam provides for an extra sturdy platform, while its length, rudder and sleek design keeps paddling effort at a minimum. The Lure is also rated for both flatwater and ocean surf, which makes this a very versatile fishing kayak for big guys.

And when you’re done, the patented “wheel in the keel” rolling system helps get this beast back to your car.

Cheaper fishing kayaks for big guys

If you’re looking for a cheaper fishing kayak for a big man, check out the 300 lb capacity Lifetime Weber 132 or the 450 lb capacity Coleman Colorado inflatable fishing kayak — both solid options for bigger anglers that won’t break the bank.


Best Kayaks for a Tall Man

When it comes to tall guys, it’s not so much the 400 lb capacity kayak as it is the kayak that won’t squeeze the knees, am I right? While there are some great sit-inside kayaks for big guys (see below), the most popular choice for lankier fellas are sit-on-tops, which offer the freedom to stretch out and move about the cockpit.

Here’s our top sit-on-top kayaks for big and tall guys:

Wilderness Systems Ride 115X Max kayak (500 lb capacity)

For tall guys who prefer a sit-on-top kayak for freewheeling comfort and stability, the Wilderness Systems Ride 115X Max is a perfect fit.

Why? Because the Ride was designed to fit almost any sized paddler. An 11.5-foot kayak with a 500-pound capacity, the Ride is both long and versatile enough to comfortable accommodate someone the size of Kareem Abdul-Jabaar while short and manageable enough to fit in the back of most full-sized pickups.

The secret to Wilderness Systems’ success with big and tall kayakers, like the A.T.A.K. kayak for anglers, is in its wide, stable deck and innovative adjustable sliding-seat design. With both the seat and foot pegs able to be fully customized to the paddler’s height, you’re guaranteed not to be paddling with your knees in your chest — unless, of course, you want them that way.

The Ride features self-bailing scupper holes that keep the kayak from filling with water even in wavy seas, and its 33-inch beam is both wide enough for excellent stability and narrow enough to be easily maneuvered in most water conditions, making paddling a true joy even for big boys and girls.

The storage options aboard the Ride 115X Max are equally impressive for an 11-foot kayak, with generously sized bow and midship dry storage hatches (a rarity among sit-on-tops) and a bungee-covered stern well. And it’s got cupholders. Don’t forget the cupholders.

If you’re into rigging additional customizations, the Ride features two on-deck gear wells and the ability to add a rudder for extra paddling control.


Ocean Scrambler 11 kayak (350 lb capacity)

The first kayak on our list that doesn’t top the 500 lb mark, the Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 is still a great sit-on-top kayak for a tall person who doesn’t need a lot of extras.

Weighing in at a 350-pound capacity, the Ocean Scrambler 11 is on a lot of lists of the best kayaks for a tall person (including ours), and for good reason. With a history of producing quality recreational kayaks at a reasonable price point, Ocean Kayak has established the Scrambler as a kayak for the masses.

For those with a bit more mass, the Scrambler offers quite the benefits. With a durable, foam-padded high-back seat and multiple molded-in foot wells, the Scrambler will fit almost any size kayaker and is able to handle a variety of paddling pursuits: fishing, ocean surf, diving, recreational paddling and even mild river running.

Weighing just 47 pounds itself, the Scrambler is easy for a single person to handle, transport and store while still being sturdy enough to offer a stable platform to splash around the lake.

While the Scrambler does have bow and stern bungee-lassoed storage wells and a 6-inch dry storage hatch, its real strength is its excellent tracking and stability that makes paddling fun and enjoyable for anyone.

If you’re looking for a little more room, or perhaps a kayak for two, check out the Ocean Malibu Two, a tandem kayak with a 400 lb capacity.


Sit in Kayaks for Big Guys

For those who prefer more of a traditional kayak, sit-inside kayaks offer another option for big and tall kayakers. It’s not impossible to find those with a wider cockpit and more leg room, like the ones we’ve outlined below:

Dagger Axis 12 kayak (350 lb capacity)

I know what you’re thinking: “Me, get in THAT?” A lot of sit-inside kayaks can be a larger paddler’s nightmare, with cramped seats and sardine-like cockpits that aren’t exactly easy to get in and out of.

Dagger’s quality sit-in kayaks, though, are among the few on the market actually built with bigger paddlers in mind. With a generously large cockpit and superior maneuverability and tracking, the Axis 12 isn’t just a great kayak for bigger people — it’s a great kayak, period.

Though sit-in kayaks naturally hold less weight than sit-on-tops simply due to their narrower design, the Axis 12 is a remarkably sturdy boat, with a 27.5” wide beam and 350 lb weight limit. The Axis’ raised-bow hull is designed to be able to turn on a dime, making it a versatile kayak that can handle lots of different types of paddling — including light whitewater.

Though the Axis handles like a smaller boat, it doesn’t sacrifice tracking and speed, thanks to its drop-down, removable skeg that helps keep you paddling in a straight line.

Bigger paddlers will find the Axis’ roomy cockpit and thigh padding a refreshing change of pace for a sit-inside kayak. Some have complained that the stock seat can be a bit stiff and restricting, but you can easily invest in a better kayak seat for a more comfortable experience.

Storage-wise, the Axis 12 offers a good-sized waterproof stern bulkhead and bungee-cord deck rigging, meaning you and your gear will fit with ease. For a high-weight capacity boat, it’s also surprisingly light, at just 55 pounds — making it a breeze for anyone to transport and handle.


Old Town Vapor 12XT kayak (375 lb capacity)

Another great sit-in kayak for big guys, the Old Town Vapor 12XT is a notch below the Axis 12 for performance, but not much else.

Roomy and storage friendly, this well-built kayak comes in at just under 400 lb capacity and is a great choice for photographers, anglers or recreational paddlers who have a little more gear — or a little more of themselves — in tow.

The first thing larger kayakers will notice is the spacious, open cockpit. Stockier and taller paddlers often have a more difficult time getting in and out of a sit-inside kayak, but the Vapor 12XT eliminates this problem. Once inside, the adjustable high-back seat provides a decent amount of support, and a between-the-legs cupholder is a handy feature.

This kayak doesn’t feature any shock-cord strapping (due to the larger cockpit size), but it does have a wide, click-to-seal watertight stern hatch that’s more than enough for all the fishing, camping or swimming gear you’ll bring along.

At 12 feet long, the Old Town Vapor 12XT maneuvers well for a larger kayak, with great tracking and a rock-solid beam that’s stable and won’t take on much water. Overall, a pretty nice catch for a larger paddler looking for a sit-inside kayak.


Whitewater Kayak for Big Guys

Pyranha Fusion DLX (286 lb capacity)

It’s not easy to find a great hardshell whitewater kayak for big guys, since most boats designed to maneuver the rushing waves are smaller and lighter for a reason. However, if you’re under 250 lbs, Pyranha has a spectacular whitewater kayak that’s still within the realm of possibilities.

In fact, the Pyranha Fusion DLX sit-on-top is about as a close to the perfect whitewater kayak as the larger paddler will find. Combining the Fusion’s tried-and-true performance crossover hull with the stable platform of a sit-on-top kayak, the Fusion DLX runs rivers and rapids with ease.

The Pyranha Fusion DLX has a maximum capacity of 286 pounds and features a seat backrest and thigh straps to keep you firmly in place while careening over the waves, as well as a rear waterproof hatch to keep your spares clothes dry.

Called a “crossover” kayak, the Pyranha’s retractable skeg means when you’re not running rivers, it’s also great for flatwater paddling on lakes and bays.

The Fusion DLX is 10.5 feet long and weighs 56 lbs, with two aluminum grab handles for quick and easy portage or for storing in the back of a pickup. If you’re keen on hardshell whitewater kayaking, as a big guy, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Sea Eagle 380X kayak (750 lb capacity)

Though it’s conceivable for a bigger person to use a hardshell whitewater kayak or creekboat, larger paddlers might prefer an inflatable whitewater kayak such as the Sea Eagle 380X for greater comfort and stability on higher-class rapids.

When it comes to whitewater kayaking for big guys, inflatables hold several advantages, including a much higher weight capacity and the ability to accommodate multiple paddlers — even with the heaviest of passengers. The Sea Eagle 380X, for example, is able to hold 750 pounds — more than double the closest hardshell whitewater boat.

The reason inflatable kayaks are able to hold more weight is the extra buoyancy afforded by the inflated chambers — physics, if you will. Inflatable kayaks get a bad rap in some circles, but the truth is today’s boats are both durable and performance-driven, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice quality for stability. And, as a bonus, they’re lighter and more portable than hardshell boats.

Sea Eagle is one of the premier brands in inflatable kayaking, and its whitewater kayaks — including the 380X — are rock-solid crafts. The 380X is made of a sturdy, 1,000-denier high-pressure fabric designed to resist tears and punctures from the sharpest of sticks, rocks and claws (yes, you can even bring your dog), and quadruple-overlapped seams that won’t leak air.

The Sea Eagle 380X is NMMA certified and built to handle up to class four rapids, with 16 fast-draining, self-bailing valves that empty your boat quickly of water and waves. Its high-pressure drop-stitch floor only adds to the strength and stability of the boat.

The best part of the 380X, though, is the ability to convert it to just about any type of kayak you want. With a removable sliding skeg for improved tracking and the ability to add up to a 15-pound electric motor, you’ll have no trouble paddling whitewater or flatwater — no matter if you’re fishing, touring or simply paddling around with a friend.

Sea Eagle also offers a smaller version, the 300X, which holds 400 lbs and comes at a cheaper price point. Both boats come with high-back seats, two double-sided paddles, carry bags, repair kits and a foot pump.


Best Inflatable Kayak for Heavy Person

Sea Eagle SE370 kayak (650 lb capacity)

If you don’t care so much about whitewater and are just interested in a cheap, sturdy kayak that will support your weight and size, Sea Eagle’s line of inflatable sport kayaks are a fantastic solution.

In particular, the Sea Eagle SE370 is consistently among the best-reviewed inflatable kayaks for heavy people — or anyone, for that matter. The SE370 is a favorite of ours here at American Paddler, and we’ve included it on several of our “best of” lists for its superior durability, stability and versatility at a very affordable price.

Though the SE370 won’t have the whitewater or self-bailing capabilities of the 380X, it’s still made of a tough, 38-mil Polykrylar PVC that won’t puncture or tear — making this a great all-purpose boat for lakes, calm rivers or even ocean surf. And, though it isn’t primarily designed for whitewater, if you’re feeling adventurous, the SE370 is rated for up to class 3 rapids.

Like Sea Eagle’s other inflatable kayaks, the SE370 has a very high weight limit at 650 lbs and is able to accommodate up to three passengers (though, if you’re a bigger guy, more likely two). With three inflatable chambers, you never have to worry about sinking if you do happen to spring a leak — though with its durable exterior and five deluxe one-way valves, it isn’t likely to happen.

Inflated, this kayak measures 12 feet, 6 inches long with a beam of 34 inches — making this a very stable, yet fast, kayak for big guys. With two skegs, you don’t feel like you’re paddling a bathtub, either.

In addition to two inflatable seats and spray skirts, the Sea Eagle SE370 also comes with two paddles, a foot pump, carry bag and repair kit — a phenomenal value for the money. This is, in our opinion, the best cheap inflatable kayak for big and tall paddlers.


Kayaking Tips for Big Guys

It’s understandable that larger paddlers might feel a little apprehensive about buying a kayak. It’s a big purchase, after all, and you might worry about whether you’ll actually enjoy it. To make sure you do, keep the following tips in mind:

Will I capsize?

First things first — if you’re worried about tipping over or capsizing, make sure to choose a kayak with a wider beam. While most kayaks these days are built to be incredibly stable, for bigger people, it can still be a concern on narrower boats. In general, any recreational kayak with a beam of 30 inches or more will be more than stable enough for any paddler, and skegs and rudders that jut into the water will also help with kayak stability. Kayaks with wider, flatter hulls also are harder to tip.

Getting in and out

Naturally, a huge pain in the butt for bigger paddlers is getting in and out of the kayak. This isn’t so much a concern with sit-on-top models that offer a wide-open deck, but for sit-inside kayaks, it can be a challenge for heavy or tall people to squeeze themselves inside. Knowing this, make sure to look for kayaks with a wider cockpit opening and adjustable foot pegs, which will go a long way toward ensuring your comfort on the water — and making sure you can still pry yourself out.

Comfortable, flexible seats

The worst mistake a beginning kayaker can make is choosing a kayak with an uncomfortable seat — only to find out once you’re out on the water. Look for kayaks with wide, adjustable seats and high-back support. Especially with fishing kayaks for big guys, look for models that offer stadium-style, metal-frame chairs for optimal comfort. When you’re waiting for fish to bite, the last thing you want is a sore back.

Safety considerations

As with any kayaking expedition, safety is the No. 1 priority. Never go out without an appropriately sized lifejacket — even if you’re a good swimmer — and be prepared with a kayaking safety kit.

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