What is the Weight Limit of a Kayak?

kayak weight limit

The weight limit is a critical component when buying a kayak.  You need to account for the person’s weight, plus their gear.  This article will help you determine which kayak is best for you.

To start, do kayaks have weight limits? 

All kayaks have weight limits that are determined by the width, length, and style of kayak.  Every kayak model will have a weight limit identified from the manufacture. 

In general, here are a few samples of the weight limits for popular kayaks.  Please keep in mind that this is just a guideline, and we will dive deeper into specific models and weight limits in this article.

  • Sit On Top Kayak – 350 – 400 pounds
  • Sea Kayak – 350 – 400 pounds
  • Whitewater Kayak – 300 – 400 pounds
  • Single Inflatable Kayak – Up to 500 pounds
  • Tandem Kayak – 550 to 600 pounds

Always check your specific model for the weight limit before boarding.  For example, Old Town lists the weight limit right on the product page.

Understanding How To Calculate the Weight You Need

When you are looking for a new kayak and trying to figure out what size you need, there are a few things that you want to take into consideration.

Your weight is just part of the equation.  You also have to take into account the weight of all your gear and the kayak paddles plus the potential water weight.

To calculate the weight limit that you need, you should understand that the weight limit that the manufacture identifies is the dry kayak weight.  

The “wet” weight limit would be subtracting between 25% and 50% of the kayak weight limit.

  • 25% is the minimum that you will want to subtract
  • 50% allows you to have the best mobility on the water

To calculate the weight limit for the kayak that is right for you, follow these steps

  1. Identify your weight plus your gear.  For example, I weight 200 lbs, and I have 30 pounds of gear.  So my total weight would be 230 lbs
  2. Calculate the “wet” weight limit of the potential kayak.  For example, if the kayak weight limit is 400 lbs.  The “wet” weight limit would be between 200 (50%) and 300 (25%)
  3. Since my total weight is within the “wet” weight range, this would be a kayak for me

If my total weight were over the “wet” weight limit, it would be time to look for a different kayak.

Factors That Go Into The Weight Limit

There are several factors that determine its weight limit—everything from the width, length, style, and material.

Width and Length

Just like with any other ship or object that floats on water.  The wider and longer the boat is, the more weight it can handle.


Two types of kayaks are on the market.  The standard kayak is made of hard plastic, and the less popular option is a soft plastic inflatable kayak.

Generally, the inflatable kayak has a higher weight limit, but are not as durable and easy to maneuver.  

Style of the Kayak

There are also a number of different styles of kayaks that serve different purposes, the primary three being Sit on Top Kayak, Sit Inside Kayak, and Tandem Kayak.  

On average, the sit on top and sit inside kayaks can hold roughly the same weight.  But the tandem kayak is designed to hold two people, so it will naturally have a much higher weight limit than the other two.

Kayak Weight Limit Summary

As you know, there is more to buying a kayak than just the style and color.  Besides the type of kayak, the weight limit is the next critical item to consider when buying.

But if you follow the instructions above and keep an eye on the manufacture identified weight limit, you should be good to go!

We hope that you enjoyed this article about kayak weight limits.  Take a look below to see if any other articles interest you.

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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