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What size kayak do I needWhat size kayak do I need

What Size Kayak Do I Need? – Size Guide

One of the best things about kayaking is it’s an excellent outdoor activity that can offer peace and bliss as well as excitement and adrenaline rushes. Kayaking is one of the most well-known paddle sports with millions of participants every year.

Whether you are looking to enjoy recreational kayaking, sea or tour kayaking, or whitewater kayaking, it is important to get the appropriate kayak. “What size kayak do I need?” you might ask. Keep reading as we tackle important factors when getting the right size and why it matters.

Factors to Consider For Kayak Size

When it comes to finding the right kayak for you, there are many things you need to think about it. All of these factors will heavily influence the size of the kayak you will need to get:


The first and most important thing you need to think about when answering the question, “What size kayak do I need?” is you. Yes, everything about you will determine the right kayak size.


When it comes to getting the right kayak size, you need to think about your height, the length of your legs, your arm span, and even your weight. When you get a kayak that is too small for you, not only will it be uncomfortable but the whole experience of kayaking will just go to waste. You might not even be able to paddle properly or worse, go overboard within minutes of hopping on the kayak.


Aside from the physical aspect of yourself to decide on the size of the kayak you will use, you should also consider your preferences. Would you feel comfortable with a large cockpit or an enclosed one? Will it be easy for you to do edging on a smaller or larger kayak?

young man in blue kayak

Kayaking and Water Type

What type of kayaking will you do? Will it be recreational, sea, or whitewater? Or maybe a mix of the three? Once you are able to answer this question, it will then lead to another, what kind of waters will you be kayaking on? Kayak sizes on the sea are usually bigger than those on tranquil lakes.

Tour Kayaking – Sea or Ocean

If you plan on tour kayaking, you might want to get a kayak that is bigger. The smallest ideal kayak for the sea or the ocean is 12 feet long. You can expect harsher conditions when kayaking in the ocean, expect big waves and stronger tides. It’s definitely important to go for big and durable kayaks for sea tours.

Whitewater Kayaking – River

Now, if you are looking for that rush of adrenaline then whitewater kayaking might just be for you. This is usually done on rivers with whitewater or just about any other body of rough waters. Now for this type of kayaking, you wouldn’t want one that is too long. It’s important to have a short kayak to be able to maneuver in rough waters, typically 6 feet, also known as playboats.

There are of course longer whitewater kayaks, up to 12 feet, such as the longboats and river runners. However, these will be better for rivers with fast-moving water and fewer obstacles.

Recreational Kayaking – Lake

For those who just want a relaxing experience on a kayak, the recreational type is a good choice. Usually longer than 24 inches but less than 12 feet, a recreational kayak is perfect for steady waters.


During your kayaking activity, will you be bringing a lot of things with you? Maybe you’ll even go kayaking with a friend? These questions should help in deciding what kaya size you’ll need.

Solo or Tandem

If you are going on a kayaking trip with a buddy, of course, you will need a bigger kayak. Opt for a tandem kayak that will fit both of you.


Make sure to consider the kind of items you will be bringing during kayaking. If you plan on fishing, then you will definitely need more space for your tackles and other gear.

However, if you don’t always want to go kayak while fishing, you can always opt for a kayak with a PAC or Portable Accessory Carrier, such as the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS. This way, you can just remove the PAC for recreational kayaking and put it back on for fishing trips or other long-haul journeys.


So, you might have ticked every other factor from the kayak being the right size for your body or the type of trip you are going to take. But one thing you should never forget is the logistics of it all. What are the dimensions of the kayak and will it fit in the following:

Storage Space

Where do you plan on storing your kayak when it is not in use? If you are close to the water and have dock space, then feel free to choose a kayak of any size. However, it’s a different matter if you have limited living space, like a condo unit in the city. You might want to go for kayaks that are a little smaller.


From your place to the water, how will you transfer your kayak? Is this something you can do by yourself by lugging it? Will you need transportation? If so, will the kayak fit in your vehicle? These are some of the important questions that will affect picking the right kayak size for you.

The Importance of the Right-Sized Kayak

By now, you should have answered the question, “What size kayak do I need?” Having the right-sized kayak is highly essential as it can result in the success of your kayaking experience. You’ll be able to enjoy your water activity, stay comfortable, and more importantly, keep safe with the right kayak size.