If you’re on the taller or bigger side and love to kayak, then at some point you’ve been there.
You’re trying to squeeze into a boat that was made for someone much smaller than you and all you want is to know what the best kayaks for big and tall people are.
You don’t have to worry about finding a sturdy kayak anymore.
No matter your body type, in this article we’ll cover the best kayak for big guys and the best kayak for tall guys.
Let’s get started.
7 Best Kayaks for Big and Tall Guys
- A.T.A.K 120 – Best kayak for big guys overall
- Sportsman 120 – 500 lb capacity and great fishing features
- Pelican Catch Mode 110 – Cheap kayak for big guys
- Sea Eagle 370 Pro – Inflatable yet 650 lb capacity kayak
- Pungo 125 – Fast yet roomy sit-in kayak (57″-long cockpit)
- Old Town Loon 126 – Best touring kayak (comfy seat)
- Jackson Zen 3.0 – 300 lb capacity whitewater kayak
1. Best Sit-On-Top Kayak for Big Guys (400 lb capacity): A.T.A.K 120
Let’s be honest: the ATAK 120 is not a cheap kayak by any means. Also, it tends to sell out very quickly due to its popularity… so it might not be available when you read this.
Now that that’s out of the way…
What makes the ATAK 120 the best kayak for big guys, exactly?
Well, first of all: stability. The ATAK 120 has the same great stability that made its longer brother (the ATAK 140) so popular.
In a nutshell, this fishing kayak is so stable that even big guys weighing 250 lb can stand up confidently without feeling unstable. In fact, if you want to fall overboard, you’ll have to throw yourself out of the boat because this baby won’t flip. Ever.
But do you know what the downside of stability is?
Yep… usually, that means the boat plods through the water, and let’s not even talk about tracking.
But, in this case… the fact that the ATAK 120 isn’t cheap means that it’s also (surprisingly) very fast and tracks even better than $4K+ boats like the Hobie PA (with which I have to keep the nose facing the right direction if I don’t want to get thrown off course).
In fact, even in 15-20 mph winds, I don’t get blown off course. The kayak even stays put if I’m not moving. This means you can take it confidently on lakes and rivers and you won’t be in trouble if the wind suddenly picks up while you’re far from the shore.
The Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K 120 has the weight capacity and ruggedness to handle anything you throw at it. It’s got great rear tankwell storage to fit a black pack and a cooler, and is suitable for paddlers up to 250 lb.
As expected at this price point, you also get tons of nice features, like a super comfortable seat, gear tracks, a central pod to install a fish finder or a motor, and more.
- Unbeatable stability for big guys
- Impressive tracking and speed
- 400 lb load capacity
- Great storage space
2. Best Fishing Kayak for big guys (500 Lb capacity): Old Town Sportsman 120
If you’ve been following my posts… then you know I love the Sportsman 120 for big guys.
Like the ATAK 120, the Old Town Sportsman 120 is crazy stable and allows you to stand and cast confidently. In fact, it’s even better than the ATAK 120 for big guys that weigh 300-350 lb because of the extra 100 lb load capacity (up to 500 lb).
Again, this is not a cheap kayak, but that’s why you also get a pretty good top speed (I have a cruising speed of around 3 mph).
But what makes the Sportsman 120 so interesting is the boat’s customization options.
On this fishing kayak, you get 3 rod holders, 2 gear tracks, a huge cockpit to stand and move around, horizontal rod stagers, a universal transducer mount, a central console to install a fish finder or GPS, and so on and so forth.
Additionally, the Sportsman 120 is better than the ATAK 120 for narrow rivers – because it has much better maneuverability (but obviously, that also means that tracking isn’t as impressive). This maneuverability allows it to squeeze into areas other kayaks can’t go.
- One of the most stable fishing kayaks
- 500 lb load capacity
- Tons of fishing features
- Great maneuverability for narrow waterways
3. Best Plus Size kayak On a Budget: Pelican Catch Mode 110
The Pelican Catch Mode 110 won’t knock your socks off. But at this price point, you’re not going to find any kayaks that do that.
Instead what you get is a reliable, stable, and durable kayak that’s responsive and versatile in one affordable package. That said, this boat is much slower than the ATAK and the Sportsman 120.
I was pleased with how well it tracked and you get lots of accessories that are rarely included at this price point (gear tracks, comfortable seat, paddle holder, rod holders…).
The adjustable foot braces are a must for big and tall paddlers and there’s a watertight storage hatch for your more sensitive gear.
The kayak stability is very good, and paddlers up to 200 lb can stand on it for kayak fishing or just to stretch their legs.
In a nutshell, if you can’t afford the Sportsman 120, I think the Catch Mode 110 is the best alternative for stability, comfort, and extra features. Just be prepared to paddle a bit harder to get to your favorite spots.
(Pro tip: if you can spend a little bit more, consider getting the Pelican Getaway HDII instead. You get the same amazing stability, but with a pedal drive that helps you move much faster and stay in place easily in windy conditions).
- Comfortable position for big guys
- Wide base (34-inches) for great stability
- 375 lb load capacity
- One of the cheapest kayaks for big paddlers
4. Best Inflatable Kayak for big and tall guys: Sea Eagle 370 Pro
If you’re looking for a cheap inflatable kayak that requires almost no storage space, look no further than the 370 Pro from Sea Eagle − the only tandem kayak on our list.
It’s big for an inflatable, measuring twelve and a half feet long with a mammoth weight capacity of 650 pounds. Depending on your size, there’s room for either two or three people.
This recreational kayak doesn’t handle rough water as well as some of its newer contemporaries, but the three inflatable chambers and 34-inch beam make it stable and durable for its price tag.
At its best on calm lakes or low-key rivers, the design includes a pair of skegs to improve tracking should mild wind or waves crop up.
The inflatable seats are comfortable enough for big guys, but they’re not the best I’ve ever sat in.
- One of the biggest inflatable kayaks with a huge weight capacity
- Not suited for whitewater or dynamic ocean environments
- One of the top-reviewed inflatable kayaks
- Comes with paddles, a pump, a repair kit, and a carry bag
5. Best Sit-In kayak for big guys: Wilderness Systems Pungo 125
With a huge cockpit that measures 57-inches long, Wilderness Systems has developed a great kayak with long-legged and big paddlers in mind.
The Pungo 125 also has an extra six inches of legroom and the seat adjusts easily for maximum comfort.
Add in the removable console in front of the seat along with the thigh pads and you couldn’t ask for a more accommodating boat.
There’s ample storage with bow and stern storage hatches and bungee cord webbing while the 425-pound kayak’s maximum weight capacity should allow for some weekend getaways.
It’s a little narrower than some kayaks on this list at 29-inches, but it should still be more than stable even for big guys.
- The central console has molds for a drink holder, fishing tackle, or a camera
- Foot and knee braces allow for a custom fit
- Solid stability and tracking
6. Best Touring kayak for big guys: Old Town Loon 126
Built with a ton of gear storage, the Old Town Loon 126 has room for a paddler of any size and their gear.
If you want you can also use the space for a small second person or even your canine companion if you want the company.
Like the Pungo 125, there’s a removable “work deck” to provide more room when you’re getting in and out of the boat or if you require more storage capacity. They’ve even included a USB charging port!
The seat is really comfortable which is invaluable on longer trips and the easy-to-adjust seatback allows you to shift in mid-paddle if you need to.
It’s at its best on calm water, though I’d feel comfortable taking it out on the ocean as long as the weather forecast is promising.
- High-weight capacity kayak for big guys
- One of the roomiest kayaks for larger paddlers
- Large watertight stern hatch
7. Best Whitewater kayak for big and Tall guys (300 lb capacity): Jackson Zen 3.0
Finding a good whitewater kayak is challenging for big and tall people. Most in this category are narrow sit-inside kayaks with tight cockpits to allow for better maneuvering around rapids. But Jackson Kayak has managed to meld the best of both worlds.
With a 280-pound weight capacity, the Jackson Zen 3.0 can accommodate most paddlers and their day gear.
As expected from a premium whitewater kayak, the seat is fully adjustable and comfortable for hours.
Just as importantly, the high volume (390L) helps maintain the boat afloat, which is particularly important for class III+ whitewater.
Finally, this whitewater kayak for big guys is currently sold at a 25% discount at Backcountry, which makes it the best value as long as it lasts.
- Can handle class IV whitewater
- Great 300lb capacity for a whitewater kayak
- Easy to carry (only 50lb)
How to Choose the Best Kayak if You’re a Heavy Person
Get a Large and Wide Kayak
You can look at a kayak’s specifications and read reviews from fellow big and tall paddlers, but there’s no substitution for sitting in your kayak before you buy it.
If possible, visit your perspective model in-store and try it out, bearing in mind that it will be more challenging to get in and out of when you’re on the water.
In most cases the longer a kayak the more legroom you’ll have. This can vary though depending on the design of your boat (sit-inside, sit-on-top, etc). For a sit-inside kayak, check the dimensions of the cockpit opening and make sure that the boat has adjustable foot braces and seatback.
Some boats have a higher deck which gives the paddler more room for larger feet. This is especially important if the boat has a rudder that is controlled via foot pedals.
Finally, make sure you know what the boat’s weight capacity is. This refers to the total weight that the big man kayak can carry, including the paddler.
If a big man kayak is overloaded it will sit lower in the water which can make the kayak sluggish and less responsive. Stability can also be compromised and can make capsizing much easier.
Consider What You Plan on Doing the Most
Once you know what kayaks will fit, it’s time to determine what sort of paddling you plan on doing.
If most of your trips will be on calm mellow lakes on sunny afternoons, then you can probably save some money by going with a cheaper plastic or inflatable kayak. These are easier to transport and store and come with a lower price tag.
If taking your family or dog is in your plans, make sure that you have room in the kayak for extra passengers and that the material is durable enough to withstand a dog’s nails.
If your paddling includes some more ambitious trips, you’ll probably need a more expensive kayak.
Fishing kayaks in particular are worth the extra money as the higher-end models come with a lot of customization features and fishing rod holders.
The same can be said for multi-day or “touring” trips. Extra storage area is paramount and a longer keel and narrower design will make for faster, more efficient paddling.
Make sure your touring kayak has a comfortable seat with adjustable foot pedals and maybe thigh braces to make those longer paddle days more tolerable.
Sit-In Vs. Sit-On-Top Kayaks for Fat Guys
The two primary kayak design types, there are several differences between the two models.
Sit-in kayaks have a defined “cockpit” that the paddler sits inside that protects their legs and lower torso. This makes them good in wet or cold environments where the cockpit can be enclosed by a spray skirt.
Since you sit inside the boat, your center of gravity is lower which makes sit-in kayaks more stable and allows their design to be narrower, faster, and less likely to be blown off course by wind or waves. This makes them popular choices for longer trips or for those that need a higher-performing boat.
A sit-on-top kayak gives the paddler more room since there’s no defined cockpit which makes them easier to get in and out of. There’s no way to protect you from splashing waves or rain however and to compensate for this, sit-on-top kayaks sit higher in the water to protect you.
This can make them more unstable, so to counteract this sit-on-top boats tend to be wider to maintain stability. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t high-performing kayaks out there. Many high-end angling models fit this category and can still move at a decent speed with plenty of storage area. Most recreational and entry-level kayaks fit into this category.
Best Kayak for big guys – FAQ
are wide kayaks better for big guys?
Yes, wide kayaks are generally better for big guys as they are more stable and generally have a higher weight capacity. On the flip side, wide kayaks are slower than narrow kayaks. This is why we’ve recommended the Old Town Loon 126 for touring: it’s still wide enough to be stable, but narrow enough to go faster than the ATAK 120 and the Sportsman 120
Is a Kayak 400 lb capacity stable enough?
Remember that the load capacity of a kayak includes the actual weight of the kayak, plus any accessories you plan on bringing along. Therefore, a 400 lb capacity kayak will generally be good for a heavy person weighing up to 300 lb, but I wouldn’t push it farther than that.
What Is the Best Fishing Kayak for Big Guys?
The best fishing kayak for big guys is the Old Town Sportsman 120. With amazing fishing features, stability, and speed, this is actually one of the best fishing kayaks overall. But paired with the 500 lb capacity, this makes it the #1 best fishing kayak for a heavy person.
Can A 300 Lb Person Use a Kayak?
Yes, a 300 lb person can use a kayak, as long as that kayak has a 500 lb weight capacity. A 300 lb capacity kayak will not be stable enough for a 300 lb person, as the weight capacity includes the total weight of the paddler plus the kayak, plus any gear.
best kayaks for big guys – Conclusion
Any experienced big or tall person can tell you horror stories about trying to pretzel themselves into a kayak designed to fit someone much smaller than them.
But if you’re going to buy a kayak of your own, there’s no reason not to find one that fits like a glove.
Thanks to its massive stability and ability to handle open ocean conditions, the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 is the best kayak for big guys. The included rod holders and massive storage space allow you to be out as long as you like, and all the room means you can bring a second paddler if you like.
Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 is another competitive model. I love the clever removable deck for added space that makes getting in and out much easier. Add in all the storage space and the narrower design and you’ve got another boat that can be out for several days.
What do you think of our list? What’s the most comfortable kayak you’ve ever paddled? Got any good stories from your last time out on the water? Let us know in the comments below.