weight question

I read so much about weight when it comes to kayaks. I've also read that extra weight like water in the boat can help maintain speed. Is extra weight just a problem out of the water, or are there handling issues. I'm talking 2 to 4 pounds.

8 replies:

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RE: weight question

The only thing will help maintain the speed of your kayak is your strength, endurance and fitness. Added weight = slower. Less weight = faster. End of story.

RE: weight question

Mass adds inertia. Inertia resists changes in velocity. So:

1. It'll take more force to accelerate a heavier boat than a lighter one.

2 Once you're up to speed and going through chop, the heavier boat will resist slowing down better than the lighter one.

3. However, once the chop does manage to rob you of your speed (and it always will), it'll take more force or a longer time or both to restore it than for a lighter boat.

4. Once you're going at a fast speed in a straight line, the heavier boat will resist any tendencies to turn better than a light one, all other things being equal.

5. Once it starts turning, though, it'll resist straightening out more than the light one.

6 Finally, if the weight in the boat causes the boat to sit lower (or higher) than the designed water line, the boat will not perform the way the designer intended.

Practically speaking, 2 to 4 lbs won't make any noticeable difference unless it's located somewhere where it totally messes up the balance of the boat or unless you're in a cutthroat race where everyone already has perfect paddling skills and hydrodynamically perfect boats. Then it'll kill you.


RE: weight question

What Laszlo said, as usual.  Primarily people worry about weight because carrying heavy boats and lifting them onto the tops of cars really sucks.  For most of us, say 95%, the weight won't make any significant difference in the water because we paddle for leisure, not for racing, and most of us don't paddle in really rough or choppy waters.

If you're planning on racing your boat, keep it as light as you can.  If you're planning on spending most of your time in rough water, keep it as light as you can.  If you're planning on carrying it over long distance portages, keep it as light as you can.  If your human, and like most of us, don't stress over it.

There are a few things you can do, like eliminating end pours, that will recover that 2-4 pounds very quickly and you don't have to be as careful with your fillets and fill coats.  Or you can do all the weight saving measures and have a very light boat that others will envy.


RE: weight question

thanks for the great info, I think I'll try to reduce my own weight and not worry so much about my slightly over weight kayak.

RE: weight question

i have built 2 experimental airplanes.  the typical airplane builder seems to be retired and thus [unfortunately] what, 30-40+ lbs overweight?  i would laugh [to myself] when i would hear them tell how they bought some titanium part[$$$] and saved a few ounces!  what the water sees is your boat, your gear, you, your water bottle, extra paddle......  lots of places to save weight.

RE: weight question

Good one , pdx!

What I found last year was that the more I paddled the more my spare tire went away (hence a lighter boat)


RE: weight question

Great answers all around.  One issue not really mentioned (sort of covered in Laszlo's answer) is wind.  A heavier boat will penetrate into wind [and waves] better.  So if you are battling heavy wind, a heavier boat will help.  I omitted waves as this holds true for flat water as well.  A good friend and VERY strong/fit paddle lost that battle and had to call for rescue from the coast guard on the Niagara river… was fighting current and wind.  7 of the 8 paddlers made it, Carla was the the lightest of the group and I applaud her for make the tough call, but that is another story.

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