6 Tips How to Increase the Weight Capacity of a Kayak

So you’ve got yourself a new kayak and have noted the manufacturer’s stated weight limit. Before you start using the boat, it’s essential to know how the kayak’s weight capacity affects your use kayak.

To begin with, most kayaks are made with a fairly light frame. They have a waterproof cover and come with a hole in the top for the kayaker to sit in. 

The kayak’s lightweight construction allows it to stay afloat. As you might expect, putting more weight in a kayak can cause it to sink. 

Most recreational kayaks advertise a weight limit of 250 to 300 pounds, which is significantly higher than the typical adult male’s weight in the United States.

The manufacturer’s weight limit is a flexible value, and even if you go 5-10 pounds over the quoted limit, your kayak will not sink immediately. Even so, raising the overall kayak weight capacity of your kayak can provide you with peace of mind. 

Perhaps it will even let you put in some extra items!

Now that you have a basic understanding of the weight limit and how it works, let’s look at a few standard methods to increase the weight capacity of your kayak.

Increasing the Weight Capacity

1. Choose the Right Location

When it comes to kayaking, choosing the right location plays a critical role in your overall experience. As you may expect, kayaking on choppy or unstable waters is not a good idea if you’re trying to push the weight capacity of your kayak.

When you paddle in turbulent waters, the water splashes into your cockpit and builds up slowly but surely. And if you’re close to or over your maximum weight capacity, this effect will intensify, bringing you down even faster.

On the other hand, choosing stable and smooth waters will make sure you can enjoy kayaking even with an overloaded kayak. This is because the amount of water splashing into the kayak’s cockpit will be much less, decreasing the chance of your boat being overpowered by the waves.

Choosing a good location is the simplest way to boost your kayak’s weight capacity or, at the very least, mitigate the effects of overloading.

2. Learn to Paddle Correctly

Whether you consider kayaking a sport or simply a recreational activity, learning and maintaining excellent form and technique can make it an even better experience. Good form and technique are excellent for minimizing fatigue, so you can spend a long time doing what you love.

Without correct technique, an overweight kayak becomes challenging to maneuver. Even with a packed kayak, staying active and maintaining good form in your paddle strokes will boost your chances of staying afloat. 

Paddling in a uniform, balanced manner will also reduce the amount of water that is splashed into your boat by the paddle. While your kayak’s capacity won’t literally increase, you will be able to kayak safely carrying a higher weight range because you’re reducing the amount of water weight you have to account for. 

3. Float Bags

A sure-fire way to increase your kayak’s weight capacity is by using float bags. They fit into some of the compartments of your kayak, increasing its buoyancy and helping you exceed the kayak manufacturer’s stated weight limit.

The only drawbacks of using a float bag are the extra costs associated with getting more equipment for your kayak and the fact that this installation will set you back some space in your kayak. If you depend on cargo space and already have a small-size kayak, this method may not be ideal for you.  

With that said, the float bag will directly raise the weight capacity of your kayak. This higher weight range will allow you to bring more gear; however, the float bags will take up some of the storage room and affect how much gear you can actually hold. 

4. Stabilizers

Kayak stabilizers, sometimes called float foams, are an effective way to keep your kayak stable even while being overloaded. They are a pair of airbags that attach to the sides of your kayak and offer an extra lift.

These stabilizers will not take up any space inside the kayak and allow you to overload your storage well beyond the weight limit. Many who enjoy kayak fishing will use stabilizers to add more buoyancy without reducing storage space.

While these airbags can be a great solution to inadequate kayak weight capacities, be prepared that they come with a bit of extra cost in exchange for convenience. 

Some DIYers have experimented with attaching pool noodles, the kind you’ll find at your local swimming pool, to the sides of their kayak to increase the capacity of kayak weight limits. While this has worked for some, kayak manufacturers don’t recommend this as a fool-proof method.

The noodles don’t add as much buoyancy as commercial stabilizers that are designed for this purpose; plus, they’re likely to disintegrate quickly in salty water. If you plan to use your kayak frequently in salt water, we recommend skipping the pool noodles and investing in the stabilizers to increase the weight capacity of your kayak. 

5. Structure Modification

All kayaks have a predefined structure and design specific to each kayak manufacturer. This kayak design is almost always crucial to the kayak’s performance as well as the integrity of the vessel and the safety of the kayaker.

If you are experienced with power tools and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can try to cut out the unnecessary structural components in the kayak’s hull. This modification will eliminate some extra weight and thus allow you to carry heavier loads.

If you need that extra carrying capacity, you should only tamper with the design as a last resort. If you enjoy using your kayak in rough waters, messing with the structural integrity of your boat can be detrimental. 

If you’re not comfortable with a bit of DIY hull design, you should consider upgrading to a newer kayak built with the capacity to carry heavier weights.

6. Loading Your Kayak

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a method of increasing your weight limit. But this is one little activity you can do before you go paddling to make sure you don’t put yourself or your belongings in any danger.

Measuring your gear beforehand is the best way to stay safe while kayaking. Simply put your gear in a duffel bag and weigh it using a hanging scale. 

After that, add your clothed body weight, and you will have your total weight.

A good and recommended practice is to keep your combined weight under 70% of the manufacturer’s advertised maximum capacity. This allows for water that will no doubt splash into your kayak, adding to its weight. 

Generally speaking, you never want to load your boat up with the most weight it can possibly hold. How much weight it can carry in an emergency is not the same as how much it can carry and still function properly. 

Choose the right kayak for you by purchasing one with a weight capacity that is well above the weight you actually plan to put in the kayak. 

More About Kayak Weight Limits

Almost all the time, a kayak’s weight limit is a good amount below the actual sinking weight of the vessel. But that doesn’t mean the weight limit serves no purpose.

If you try to maneuver a kayak that is approaching its weight limit, you will notice how much harder you have to work to keep the kayak stabilized. That is why you should always be mindful of the weight you have on board to avoid accidents and get better performance out of your kayak.

Maintaining the overall weight carried at about 70% of the weight limit will not only keep the kayak easily maneuverable, but also keep you safer. At times an experienced kayaker will be able to approach the weight limit of the kayak without putting themselves in danger, but this is usually only on calm water and short trips.

Kayaks With High Weight Capacity

There are a lot of manufacturers that have noticed the desire for high-capacity kayaks. Hence, they make models that can fit bigger folks along with a considerable amount of gear and luggage. 

Let’s take a look at some high-capacity kayaks available from notable brands that can carry more weight.

Driftsun Rover 220

This inflatable whitewater kayak is one of the most efficient at carrying more weight. Its company-provided weight capacity is 600 pounds, which is about double that of an average recreational kayak.

This weight limit comes from the kayak’s design, enabling it to hold multiple passengers, gear, and maybe even a furry pet! 

Since it’s an inflatable kayak, everything about the setup is adjustable — including removable foot braces. It can be a bit confusing at first, but many newcomers quickly grow to love the adjustable settings.

A single paddler can even use the kayak if they need lots of extra room and capacity for luggage or gear weight.

The filling pressure of this kayak is six pounds per square inch (PSI), which makes it rigid and stable, allowing it to outperform other inflatable models.

Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122U Tandem

The BKC tandem fishing kayak also has room for two paddlers. But this is one of the best fishing kayaks out there, with a premium design that has aluminum frame seats with mesh backs designed to keep you cool and prevent sweating on scorching hot days. 

The weight of the kayak itself, however, is on the higher side: 74 pounds. This high weight difference compared to other models means you will need a good set of wheels or a trolly to move this guy around.

On the bright side, this kayak has a whopping 770-pound weight capacity, easily making it one of the highest-weight-carrying kayaks out there. This kayak even has four rod holders, so it works perfectly as a fishing kayak. 

Many consider the BKC to be the top kayak available for fishing, but both of the kayaks just mentioned are great and have a weight capacity far beyond what a single kayaker could ever need. 

Final Thoughts

By now, we hope you have a clear idea of how you can increase the weight capacity of your current kayak. Or how to fight and counterbalance the harmful effects of overloading your kayak. 

Remember, your priority when out on the water should always be keeping yourself and others safe. So, if you think you’ll need to overload your kayak, why not consider upgrading to a kayak with more carrying capacity?