What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Height?

What Size Kayak Do I Need For My Height?

So, you want a kayak that works for you in all ways. Choosing the right kayak depends on your size, your intended use, and the type of kayak you are working with. It’s important to choose your kayak size based on your height because this choice affects comfort level, safety, and stability. 

In this article, we’ll unpack the most important reasons to choose a kayak based on your height – the main one being that taller individuals need longer and lower-seated kayaks for comfort and stability. We’ll also discuss the types of kayaks available to users, and how to work out the right dimensions to accommodate you. 

Why Is It Important to Choose a Kayak Based on Height?

When taking part in any boating activity, our height will affect our comfort level and agility.

It’s especially important to choose a kayak based on your height. Kayaks are much more slender than other boats and can become top-heavy if we are too tall for them.

You Can Optimize Your Leg and Foot Space

Comfort is a big factor when kayaking. Since you’re stuck on the water, there won’t really be a place to rest your feet outside the kayak if they get cramped up inside. 

Taller individuals typically have longer legs and larger feet. Because of this, a kayak with adequate legroom is ideal. Recreational and seak kayaks (which go up to 12 or 14 feet in many cases) are good choices for people over 6 feet tall.

However, a lot of brands will also offer larger sizes for taller folks, regardless of the kayak type. 

You Can Choose One that Accommodates Your Center of Gravity

Taller people also have different centers of gravity. Our center of gravity affects our balance and stability when kayaking. 

A center of gravity is a hypothetical point in the body, but it determines how gravity will work based on our mass. 

Tall people’s centers of gravity are often higher than shorter people’s centers of gravity. If your CoG is higher, you’ll feel less stable and sturdy in a kayak where you are sitting down. 

A good way to choose a kayak to balance your center of gravity better is to choose one with a deeper seat or lower deck height

You Can Optimize Stability and Safety

Once you have accounted for your center of gravity, you can help to optimize your stability. A lower center of gravity actually helps you in a kayak, because it lowers the risk of topheaviness.

If you are more stable, you won’t have to worry so much about capsizing. Being on a kayak can be a risk in itself because your feet can get trapped. But you don’t want to topple over if some waves or wind rock you. 

You are overall more safe with a kayak that accounts for your height. 

How to Choose a Kayak Size

Consider Your Own Measurements

Aside from your overall height, your lower body also needs to fit well in the kayak. Your height can affect your lower body’s fit and comfort level because you get into a kayak sitting down.

Consider the following personal measurements when you go to size out a kayak. 

Leg LengthYour leg length is important because when you try out a kayak, you can sit down and determine whether or not your knees will bend or sit comfortably. If you know your leg length ahead of time, you can know where to start with kayak lengths. A lot of times, the leg areas of kayaks (touring) are between 3 feet and 56 inches. 
Foot SizeFoot comfort is also a factor in choosing a kayak size. You want to be able to rest your feet on the foot pegs without issue. Taller folks often have larger feet, and if your feet are bigger than size 12, you may feel cramped in the kayak (touring and sea kayaks). 
Waist WidthThe cockpit of a kayak (where you get in) and its opening need to fit you as well. Taller individuals (usually men) may have a hard time getting in the cockpit. Choose a kayak with a cockpit width of at least 20 inches to ensure you can get inside. 
Thigh WidthThe thighs need to also fit comfortably in the cockpit, which means choosing a wider cockpit in some cases so you don’t have to shimmy in with difficulty. 

Consider the Kayak’s Volume, Width, and Length Dimensions


As mentioned above, a kayak fits the user based on its volume, width (width of kayak and cockpit), and overall length. 

There are high volume and low volume kayaks. The taller you are, the higher volume kayak you will likely need. But keep in mind that some kayak types have naturally higher volumes, and a regular size may still suit a tall person. 

In general, though, high volume kayaks are typically ideal for kayakers who are heavier than 180 pounds and taller than 5’10”. Medium volume kayaks work best for those more than 180 pounds and between 5’7″ and 5’10”. And low volume kayaks work best for those less than 140 pounds and under 5’6″. 


The width of a kayak will accommodate your hips, thighs, and waist. It’s referred to as the hull width or the “beam”. 

While taller individuals may need wider hulls for comfort, getting a kayak that’s too wide can make the vessel bulky and difficult to navigate. 


The length of the kayak is equally important, especially in ratio to the width. A longer kayak typically glides faster, which is a pro for taller individuals who need a longer kayak. 

However, keep in mind that the longer your kayak in order to accommodate your height, the less stable it might be. Because of this, getting one with a lower seat is ideal. 

Consider the Different Types of Kayaks

There are kayaks for different intended uses, and their size scales will vary. In order to figure out if they’ll accommodate them to your height, consider the typical sizes of each of these kayak types:

Fishing Kayaks10-16 feet long, 30-42 inches wide – These need to be stable because of the activities you intend to do in them. For this reason, taller individuals may consider getting a size accommodating fishing kayak. 
Recreational Kayaks9-12 feet long and they are broad – These are usually very stable and work well for people of all heights.
Touring Kayaks12-20 feet long, 18-28 inch hull width – They are typically narrow and medium length. This may be a good fit for a taller person. 
Whitewater Kayakstypically 7-9 feet long – These are for rapids, and they’re designed to be buoyant.   
Tandem (Two-Person) Kayaksanywhere from 10-16 feet long, broad – These are for two people, so you will need to ensure that your dimensions and your partner’s dimensions both fit.   
Racing Kayaksaround 17 feet long – They are typically narrow and long since they’re designed for speed. The length may work well for a taller person, so long as the cockpit fits the person well

In Summary

Choosing a kayak based on your height measurement is essential since this measurement will affect your center of gravity, leg and foot size, as well as where your waist and thighs will sit in a kayak. 

Taller individuals should choose longer kayaks with wider beams and lower seats to accommodate their comfort and stability. You can determine what kayak is best for you by factoring in the type of kayak, your measurements, and what you want to use the kayak for!

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