There’s as much a chance for choosing the right kayak as there is for selecting the wrong one. That means you don’t really want to leave anything to chance, or you’ll risk an extremely uncomfortable time in the water. You want to make sure your kayak meets your height and weight needs.

Even the best Pelican kayaks reviewed should align with your physical stature, or you won’t find them useful or beneficial. Without further ado, let’s go over some considerations that would make it easier for you to select the right kayak.

How Length, Width, and Volume Factor Into the Size Equation

There’s more to kayak selection than knowing whether to choose the sit-in or sit-on-top option. Even your knowledge of inflatable and hard-shell varieties won’t cut it when it comes to making the best decision.

One of the ways to ensure a regretful purchase isn’t made is to consider the size of your kayak. Technically, that would also mean considering the length, width, height, and other factors that make up the canoe. For now, let’s focus first on the main elements.



More often than not, length is synonymous with size where kayaks are concerned. So, yes, you would be partially correct to view length as such. That said, being partly right won’t cut it in this business.

Relative to the user’s height and weight, the kayak’s length from bow to stern is what determines performance in the water. With a longer kayak, you’d be able to cut across the water faster, cruise more smoothly, and get better tracking. However, it’s likely to come with downsides along the lines of poor maneuverability and added weight.

In alignment with the you-can’t-have-it-all concept, shorter kayaks are more agile, controllable, and maneuverable. However, this would come at the expense of cruising speed, which could be bad news for our adventure-seeking kayakers.

Width or Beam

The width of the kayak, which is technically referred to as its beam, contributes largely to its stability. However oversimplified this may sound, the wider the kayak is, the more stable it is in the water. Even so, one should neither take this to mean wider kayaks are the best nor the most stable, as water conditions would also factor into the beam’s stability.

Go for a kayak that’s too wide, and you could end up with something a little too bulky for your liking. Then, as mentioned, there are the nuances of stability, as in:

● Primary stability: how a kayak fares in flat-water conditions
● Secondary stability: how a kayak holds up against rough conditions

Basically, stability needs for either situation vary, and no blanket solution covers both to an equal degree. Along with kayak width, a buyer would also need to consider paddle length to experience the full potential of a kayak’s stability. Match kayak length and width correctly, and you can be fairly certain your kayak would have the least chances of capsizing.

Ratio of Length to Beam

Before moving on to volume, there’s the little matter of kayak length-to-beam ratio to discuss. While there’s no actual science behind the effectiveness of this ratio, it has proven useful time and time again.

In a nutshell, you compute the value by dividing the kayak’s overall length by the beam’s width. Doing this will give you insight into how your chosen kayak will perform in terms of movement, maneuverability, and stability. A higher ratio is an indication of a slimmer haul and, consequently, a faster kayak.


Kayak volume is a frequently misunderstood term by beginners and experienced users alike. In reality, it gives a clear picture of how much room a kayak allows you to work with. Of course, ideal space would be relative to the size, height, and body type of the user.

Kayak volumes range from low to medium to high, as indicated below:

● Low volume: ideal for paddlers no taller than 5’5” and no heavier than 70 kilos
● Medium volume: suits paddlers no taller than 5’10” and not a kilo above 90 kilos
● High volume: should meet the space requirements of 5’10” paddlers who weigh at least 90 kilos

Volume is usually indicated as cubic feet or gallons and tells you of the physical space a kayak provides. That said, it won’t offer much explanation on how weight distribution occurs in the said space. This could matter a lot if you plan on storing items in your kayak.

So, What’s the Right-Size Kayak for You?

There’s nothing straightforward about this question, even though it might sound nothing but. Instead of choosing a model that looks just about right for you, pick one upon the consideration of numbers and figures relative to kayak length, width, and volume. When you find all these three align with your physicality and kayaking style, you’ll discover how meaningful the activity can truly be.