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The freedom a canoe offers can be exhilarating to say the least, but for a big person it’s downright scary the first time you jump onboard. It’s not quite like how you remember it 20 years ago as an average sized 10 year old out on the lake. These days when you weigh more than 220 pounds, it’s important to use the best canoes for heavy people.
Canoes are often sort after by the larger people as they can be easier to manage on rougher waters. But in comparison, a big persons Kayak is much easier to look like a pro on calm waters on your first attempt.
The canoe may take a little more getting use to on your first attempt, but many find that once you nail the beginning stages it only gets easier from then on. Whereas, the kayak is basic to maneuver in the beginning on calmer waters but once you get down into it, the kayak can be more challenging to conquer.
When it comes down to it, both the kayak and the canoe will take some getting use to. Especially as a bigger person. Below you can find some tips for canoeing as a heavier person and some of the best canoes for a larger person.
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Big Mans Canoe Comparison Guide
When Buying a Big Mans Solo Canoe
Probably the biggest attraction to a canoe for many people is to be able to go fishing without the huge expense of a boat. Many big and tall people make the mistake of buying a solo canoe to take on their fishing expeditions.
I don’t know about you, but when fishing there’s often a lot of moving around, even while sitting in your seat. A dedicated solo canoe is too narrow for this kind of movement when you’re a bigger guy.
Stability is your friend when on a canoe, so instead of a solo canoe, many big people opt for a solo-able-tandem canoe. This is a tandem canoe that can be used as a solo canoe by a larger person.
While you may lose some speed and efficiency from not buying a dedicated solo, you gain stability and extra room. Not too mention a higher weight capacity for the canoe. After all, excessive weight and a canoe often don’t mix well together. The smallest of waves can submerge a canoe that’s overloaded.
Solo-Able-Tandem Canoe for Big Person
So a solo-able-tandem canoe (2 person canoe which can be used solo) is the best option in my opinion. There are a few options out there but the one I found best is the Old Town Discovery 133 (available on amazon here).
The simple reason is that this canoe is designed to be used as tandem or solo. But whats most important for a heavy person is that it is a very stable canoe. The width of this canoe is 40 inches, which creates the more stable foundation for the canoe on the water. Many solo canoes are closer to the 30″ wide mark so in comparison you can see this is a wide canoe.
Think of it like this, a raft would be safer for a large person to lay on than a thin paddle board right. Same principal applies for the canoe. The flared sides create a wider and more spacious seating area for the big person.
The Discovery 133 has a high weight capacity of 800 pounds, which for a solo journey is quite sufficient. Even when being used as a tandem canoe its a decent weight capacity for 2 overweight people. But most importantly, when a heavy person wants to solo canoe, the Discovery 133 allows you to sit in the middle row seat.
This is important for weight distribution and not tipping the canoe. Because it is only a 13′ canoe, so I would find it a better size for a single person rather than 2 heavy people. Especially if you’re just learning the ropes. So if you do go solo canoeing bare in mind the canoes weight.
This canoe weighs about 78 pounds, which is not too bad for a canoe this size. But depending on your physical strength a canoe trolley may be the best option. Especially as you never want to drag a canoe on the ground behind you.
Overall, the Discovery 133 Recreation Canoe would be my number recommendation for the heavy person wanting to canoe solo. The extra stability and width it offers is ideal for the big man. Being able to center your body weigh in the middle of the canoe is critical for success on the water.
Dedicated Solo Canoe 500 Lbs Capacity
If you have your heart set on a dedicated solo canoe simply for the lighter weight appeal and are aware of the risks of being a heavy person, Old Town also offer another decent 500 pound capacity canoe.
Weight just under 50 pounds and with a weight capacity of 500 pounds, the heavier individual can safely explore with the Discovery 119. However, do note that the width of the canoe is 32.5″.
Now if you are quite large in build, this smaller width can be a problem. You can easily roll the canoe as it will be less stable underneath you when you are a wider person. While 32.5″ is still not bad for an overweight person, I wouldn’t be brave enough to take this out if I was 400 pounds.
However I feel if you’re under 300 pounds, you may find this canoe just right. But certainly don’t try standing in this canoe without outriggers. Casting your line from the seat is fine as its quite stable in this regards. But certainly not built for standing up and casting as a heavier person.
But overall, for a solo canoe that can be used by quite heavy people, it’s not a bad choice. It’s quite solid yet light enough to solo portage over your shoulders. The seat is quite low (6 inches) which helps prevent rolling and keeps the canoe quite well balanced.
Foldable Canoe For Heavy People
For a more modern approach for the space saving folks, the My Canoe 2.5 Plus Origami folding Canoe is a handy solution. While it still weighs around 50 pounds in weight, it is easily manageable by one person due to the fact it folds down into a more compact and portable design. But don’t worry, it still floats and works just like an ordinary canoe.
The My Canoe 2.5 Plus is a good choice for the solo big person due to the 35 inch width and 400 pound weight capacity. So you get a few more inches in width to create a more stable canoe as a wider person. The canoe is also longer being a 14 ft canoe which as you probably know, can go faster.
This plus version of the My Canoe comes with a rowing system in place. So it’s a good canoe to get you started if taking a peak at the sport.
The biggest feature to this canoe is how it can fold down and fit in the back of your car. Portability is this canoes call card. But this can also make you wonder whether its difficult to assemble and take down after every trip to the water.
On your first few attempts at taking this canoe down, it will be a little difficult. The trick is memorizing all the steps involved and once you have it down to an art form, you can expect to spend no more than 5 minutes unpacking this canoe.
Watch The My Canoe On The Water
Need A Canoe For A Heavy Couple?
Taking the partner out on the canoe every now and then will also affect which canoe is right for you. If it’s pretty much going to be a 2 person adventure more times than not, a tandem canoe is what your going to need.
Yet again, Old Town come through with the goods. This recreational 2 person canoe has a weight capacity of 750 pounds with a total width of 36 inches. The middle storage compartment row can even be used by smaller people should you want to bring a child along. Provided you stay under the 750 lbs capacity.
While it only weighs 79 pounds, due to the fact its almost 15 feet long it can be quite awkward to carry solo. So I recommend a canoe trolley if you plan to carry it solo. However, it does come with comfortable handles to shift the canoe into the water, but again best for a 2 person job.
This canoe by Old Town has more luxury seats compared to the rest. The seats are contoured so they fit your backside better and the back rest is adjustable to suit your height.
Overall, I find this canoe to be very well made, the quality is certainly one of its main qualities. Having the 750 pound weight capacity and extra width gives the heavier people more freedom once on the water.
High Weight Capacity Canoe For The Family
It’s not often that only one person in the family is considerably heavy. More often the family has a larger gene and we have a tendency to be a larger size family. When this is the case, a canoe for the family needs to be very high weight capacity.
Old Town has this awesome 15 ft canoe with a high weight capacity of 1650 pounds. This capacity is intended for 3 people, so its quite a decent capacity.
However, this canoe can also have a 4HP motor added to the square end stern. Always a good feature to have, especially if you’re new to canoeing. But this does affect the weight capacity a fair bit. So if you do plan to put a motor on this canoe be aware of the following: Suitable for 4 people but with a reduced weight capacity of 800 pounds.
While the 15 foot canoe does come with carry handles, keep in mind it weighs over 100 pounds. To be precise 113 pounds and if you add a 4hp motor roughly 20 pounds, your looking at quite a heavy canoe. So don’t try and solo this canoe into the water or it could end badly.
What To Consider As a Big Man On A Canoe
It’s all about stability when canoeing and when your a heavy person, the excess weight can offset the canoes stability. Fortunately there are simple steps anyone can take to try and centralize the weight distribution on the canoe.
Firstly you may have seen a few canoes from time to time which look like they are being used backwards. This is down to achieve great balance in the canoe. This is part of a tandem canoe becoming a solo-able-canoe.
This is simply done by reversing the seats. Where the front seat is closer to the front of the canoe, now becomes the backseat. The previous backseat (Bow seat) is now the front seat where you sit. This seat is closer to the center of the canoe and will help balance better. This also allows you to put your gear in front of you adding more weight to the front of the canoe and helping to offset your extra weight.
Don’t Let Your Weight Roll You
Another small tip is to avoid sitting too high in the canoe, especially if you’re a tall person. Having extra weight sit high up in the canoe can increase the chances of you rolling it.
So to limit your vulnerability you can either replace the stock standard seats with lower fitting ones, lower existing seat if possible or use a kneeling pad and kneel down instead of sitting to keep your body closer to the boat and minimize rolling the canoe.
Your body weight acts as a stabilizing force then. Additionally you can add stabilizers to your canoe if you plan to make a bit of movement in the canoe ie; fishing, standing, diving etc. to keep costs down you can build your own stabilizers and benefit from a more stable canoe.