Can Fat People Kayak? Breaking Down the Myths and Empowering Plus-Size Adventurers

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Kayaking seems like a simple enough exercise for everyone, regardless of fitness level. Besides, it’s easily accessible, and you can find rental kayaks pretty much anywhere. But kayaks look kind of narrow, and you rarely see bigger people kayaking in most photos and videos online.

If you’re a heavier guy or lady who desires to get into kayaking, this may make you a little hesitant. Can fat people kayak? 

Yes, they can. You shouldn’t let your weight limit you – because kayaking is truly a sport for everyone. I’ll address your concerns about kayaking as a heavier person to put your mind at ease and also give a few key tips and the benefits of this wonderful sport. 

Key Takeaways

  • You can enjoy kayaking regardless of your size or fitness level, as long as you find the right kayak, paddle, life vest, and spray skirt for your needs.
  • Kayaking is a low-impact exercise that can help you burn calories, lose weight, tone muscles, and improve your health and well-being.
  • Sit-on-top kayaks, especially fishing or recreational kayaks, are ideal for heavier paddlers. They are more spacious, stable, and comfortable than sit-in kayaks.
  • Don’t let your weight limit you from having fun and experiencing the beauty of nature through kayaking.

Common Kayaking Concerns for Bigger People

Here are some of the main concerns larger people have, when it comes to the subject of kayaking (and whether or not it’s a sport that’s suitable for overweight people).

Kayaks Seem Too Small

This is a valid concern, especially with sit-inside kayaks. It’s hard to see how a heavier person would fit into the small cockpits. You may have watched a few videos and seen that even average-sized paddlers sometimes have to wiggle themselves in.

However, kayaks come in many different sizes. There are sit-in kayaks with wide and roomier cockpits, ideal for heavier paddlers. 

The same goes for sit-on-top kayaks. They come in all sizes. Regardless of your size, you can easily find a kayak that has more space than you know what to do with.  

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Do Kayaks Have a Weight Limit?  

Yes, every kayak comes with a set maximum weight capacity. But that doesn’t mean that if you’re taller or heavier than average you can’t get in one. 

Some have a low capacity of below 250 pounds while others have a weight limit of more than 600 pounds. So, again, there’s something for everybody. You only have to find a kayak that will support your weight plus that of your gear. 

I usually recommend having the combined weight of all your cargo, plus your weight, being at least 100 pounds below the kayak’s weight capacity.

This is important for various reasons. One of them is that some manufacturers may be a little too generous when setting their kayak’s maximum capacity. So just because a kayak boasts a supposed 300-pound limit doesn’t mean it’s ideal for big guys (or gals). 

Another reason is that there is a difference between the advertised maximum weight limit and the performance weight limit. I’ll explain this below. 

What Happens If You Go Over the Weight Limit?

Kayaks have a maximum weight limit for a reason and it’s for both your safety and comfort. 

What the manufacturer gives as the maximum capacity is the total weight that a kayak can support without sinking. The performance limit is the total weight that a kayak can support and still perform well. 

As you get closer to the maximum load capacity, the kayaking performance starts to degrade. The kayak becomes slower and it takes more effort to paddle.

When you go past the weight limit, you’ll notice that the kayak now sits lower in the water. It starts to get unstable too. Add more weight and you may end up capsizing. 

Will I Find a Fitting Life Jacket?

Another concern I’ve heard from newbie plus-size paddlers is about life jackets. 

A personal flotation device is a key safety accessory that you shouldn’t go kayaking without. And yes, you will find a good life jacket that fits you. 

It isn’t your weight that determines the right PFD for you, it’s your chest size. Life jackets, like kayaks, come in all sizes and most of them are adjustable too!

Besides, you can also opt for an inflatable belt or harness PFD for maximum comfort. 

How About Spray Skirts?

If you’ll be using a fishing kayak or recreational kayak you generally won’t have to worry about a spray skirt. Most recreational and fishing kayaks are sit-on-tops anyway. 

But for whitewater kayaking or kayak racing, you’ll need a skirt to prevent water from getting into your cockpit. That said, kayak spray skirts are highly adjustable and some manufacturers even offer customizable options. So you have nothing to worry about. 

Which Kayak Type Is Better for Larger People: Sit-Inside Vs Sit-on-Top?

Kayaks are divided into two main categories: sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks

A sit-on-top kayak has an open deck, so you basically sit on top–the name explains it all. A sit-inside kayak has an enclosed cockpit where your lower body goes.

While both of these kayaks come in all sizes, a sit-on-top would be better for taller or heavier paddlers. You don’t have to worry about a cockpit size that fits your legs and hips. You also won’t struggle with legroom inside the deck. 

You’ll have more freedom and space on a sit-on-top. Your only concern will be getting the right size for performance depending on how you intend to use it.

Under sit-on-tops, we have solid and inflatable kayaks. 

The main benefit of having an inflatable kayak is that it’s easy to transport and doesn’t require large storage space. 

Solid kayaks–polyethylene kayaks and composite kayaks–may be bulky and harder to transport but they perform better. They also make the best fishing, touring, whitewater, and racing kayaks.

Lastly, there are tandem kayaks. A tandem kayak is designed to accommodate more than one person. It’s great if you intend to paddle with a partner or child. 

Where Should Heavier People Go Kayaking?

Larger paddlers can go paddling anywhere, just like other paddlers. Your skill level and what you intend to do should determine your paddling destination.

For instance, if you’re experienced and love long expeditions, you can grab a touring kayak and try ocean paddling. 

Beginners, however, are better off sticking to calm waters. 

Why Kayaking Is a Good Workout for People of All Sizes

Here are the reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to get into kayaking. 

Kayaking is Gentle

As a larger person, most physical activities may be hard and unenjoyable. Kayaking is perfect if you haven’t been active but are looking to start exercising. 

It is a low-impact exercise. This means that it’s not like running and other weight-bearing exercises. It’s gentle on your joints and you are less likely to get an injury.  

Besides, you don’t have to start with kayak racing or whitewater kayaking. You can start slow at a lake near you with your touring or recreational kayak. Just make sure it’s wide and stable with a high maximum weight capacity.

If that starts to get monotonous, get a fishing rod and try your hand at kayak fishing. This is the beauty of kayaking. Even though it’s gentle, there are ways to make it more fun. So you’ll be enjoying yourself and exercising at the same time.

Kayaking Burns Calories Efficiently

Don’t be fooled by how easy kayaking looks. A 250-pound person can burn about 597 calories per hour kayaking leisurely. It’s almost double what you would burn in an hour of walking. 

Kayaking can be quite efficient in helping you lose weight. 

To lose weight you have to create a calorie deficit. So if your body needs 2500 calories a day, you can eat 2000 calories or eat 2500 calories and exercise to burn 500 calories. This will create a 500-calorie deficit a day.

In a week that translates to a 3500-calorie deficit which is equal to one pound lost. 

Creating a calorie deficit won’t be hard when you’re doing something fun, like kayaking. Additionally, you can make your sessions more exciting and intense to burn more calories. A 250-pound paddler can burn almost 1500 calories in just one hour of vigorous kayaking!

Kayaking is Easily Accessible

Kayaking is accessible to pretty much anyone. You don’t even have to live in a coastal area. Any body of water will do, including a small lake or slow-moving river in your area. 

If you’re hesitant about buying your own kayak, or don’t have the money at the moment, you can rent one. There are rental kayaks all over the country. I’d even say renting is a great way to try different kayak types and see what you like. 

This way, when you’re ready to buy you can invest in a quality kayak because you’ll be sure of what you want.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kayaking for Fat People

Does Weight Matter in Kayaking?

Weight doesn’t matter in kayaking because everyone can kayak.

Kayaks have a maximum weight capacity but that doesn’t mean that big guys and ladies can’t kayak. You just have to find a kayak with a weight limit that will hold you, your gear, and any passenger you want to bring with you.

Can a 300-Pound Person Fit in a Kayak?

Yes, a 300-pound person can fit in a kayak as long as they get the right type. This could be a recreational or fishing kayak, as these are usually bigger and more stable. Fishing kayaks, especially, have a high weight capacity, some as high as 600 pounds and even more.

What Happens If You’re Too Heavy for a Kayak?

You can be too heavy for a specific kayak if you weigh more than its maximum load capacity. In this case, it will sit lower in the water and its performance will be poor. It’s unsafe and you won’t have fun. Instead, get a kayak with a higher weight limit and you’ll be fine.

Do You Need to Be Fit for Kayaking?

No, you don’t need to be fit for kayaking. The only thing you need in order to kayak is the right kayak, paddle, life vest, and a body of water to go paddling.

Kayaking is a low-impact exercise that you can comfortably do even though you aren’t fit. It can help you become a fitter version of your current self by toning your muscles and losing weight.

Wrapping Up 

Can fat people kayak? Absolutely! 

Kayaking is an activity for everyone and you shouldn’t let the number on the scale prevent you from having fun. 

Kayaks have a weight limit. But there are many kayaks that can accommodate you, regardless of your weight. I would recommend a sit-on-top kayak for a heavier person, instead of a sit-inside. It’s roomier and more comfortable. 

You also don’t have to worry about finding a life vest or spray skirt. Those come in all sizes too. 

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