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Not every person looking to buy their first kayak is a young whippersnapper of 20 or even 30. Lots of new kayak anglers are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Allow me a moment, to be frank. As an angler who falls into one of those latter age ranges, our needs are different than what we would have needed at 20. That prompted the need for this article: The Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40.

Instead of getting into specific brand and model recommendations right away, certain features and options need to be discussed first. Let’s talk about seats, stability, weight, and propulsion.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40: Seats

Seats vary across all models. While some are floppy, clip in style seats meant to give a tiny bit of back support and that’s about it, other models of seats have multiple lumbar and back adjustments with height options as well. If you’re like me, once you’ve crossed the 40-year threshold, your back starts to ache without some support. This means avoiding clip in seats that don’t have a frame. Just don’t do it.

And while a frame seat is better, they are most definitely not all built the same. Frame seats with no back contour, (think old beach chair), offer much less ergonomic support than a frame seat with a contoured frame to cradle your back.

You’ll also want to pay close attention to adjustment points in the seat. If you are a heavier angler, a cheaply made seat may sag in the seat pan and you’ll be sitting on an uncomfortable crossbar all day. Not ideal.

Good seats typically mean a more expensive kayak because of the detail and ergonomics that have gone into the design.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40: Stability

Another moment of honesty here, my balance is not what it used to be. Getting up from a seated position too quickly can make me a little dizzy. If I plan on standing or at least have the option in a kayak, I need it to be stable. So how do you determine stability in a kayak?

In general, a wider kayak will offer more stability. A 41-inch-wide kayak will almost always be more stable than a 30-inch-wide kayak. This can vary based on the hull design but most often holds true. A catamaran style hull uses channeled water to add stability and reduces the need for a super wide kayak.

Another factor is the person standing or sitting in the kayak.

We are all made differently, and our centers of gravity differ. Some anglers are top heavy, some middle heavy, others bottom heavy, and a few are well built, evenly spaced specimens who probably will never read this article because they don’t identify as older.

Just because your friend who weighs the same as you can stand in his kayak, it doesn’t translate to your abilities. Maybe he’s only 5’5″ and you are 6’2″. Height can play a key as well as it gives the weight a longer plane to be distributed along.
The best bet is to demo to test stability but if you can’t, get something at least 33 inches wide.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40: Weight and Transport

The weight of your kayak is very important to consider, and it needs to be paired with the transportation mode you’ll be choosing. A kayak that weighs 140 pounds is going to be difficult to load and unload without a trailer or assist devices (which is an extra expense).
For me, after nearly 20 years of paddling kayaks and thousands of miles, my shoulders are not at all what they used to be. Hoisting a kayak up onto a roof of a vehicle or a tall ladder rack just isn’t in the cards without a load assist device. Having a truck that I can use a bed extender with however makes it much less of a burden to have a heavier kayak.
Think about how you will move your kayak from location to location and then figure out what weight you can manage based on your current health conditions.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40: Propulsion

This is a big one. The four main modes of propulsion you’ll see on kayaks are paddle, pedal, sail, and motor. Think about what will work best for you, when considering where you will fish most often and what your current health status is.
Specifically, are your knees in good condition but your shoulders are shot? Are your shoulders and your knees bad? What would be most difficult for you to physically do? Whichever that is, rule it out. For many people, an electric motor added to a pedal or paddle craft works great for a mixture of exercise and a safety net (the motor) in case they tire out or catch an injury. Motors are also great for tournament anglers looking to cover a lot of water quickly.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40: Recommendations

Trailer or Load Assist Options

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40 Take Two Kayak

For anglers over 40 who will be using a trailer or load assist device, there are two kayaks I’d recommend.
The first is the Jackson Take Two. While this is a tandem paddle kayak, it is wide, stable, and you can easily add a motor to it. You can use it tandem or solo and stability is above average compared to the rest of the market.
Price: $1599 Length: 13’ 9” Width: 37” Capacity: 500 lbs Kayak Weight: 110 lbs

The second kayak for anglers over 40 with a trailer or load assist option is a Jackson Coosa FD.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40 Coosa FD

Smaller than the Take Two and with a pedal drive option, the Coosa performs in lots of different waterways and offers great stability at the same time. If you don’t want a pedal option, this is a great paddling kayak as well.
Price: $3759 Length: 12’ 7” Width: 35” Capacity: 450 lbs Kayak Weight: 107 lbs

Car Topping Options

For anglers over 40 who will be using a car or SUV for transportation to and from the water, there are two great options.
The first option is the Jackson Kilroy. The Kilroy recently returned to the Jackson lineup as a long missed favorite. While the Kilroy isn’t as wide as many other kayaks, because it is a hybrid sit in kayak, the width is not as important as much of the horizontal shift is secured by the weight of the kayaker being close to the water line.

Kayak Buying Guide for Anglers Over 40 Kilroy

The Kilroy is also a great option for people fishing in colder climates who want to avoid water getting on them.
Price: $1579 Length: 12’ 4” Width: 31” Capacity: 325 lbs Kayak Weight: 71 lbs

The second great option for anglers over 40 who are car-topping their kayak is the Jackson Bite Angler. The Bite Angler is slightly shorter than the Kilroy but is a wider, sit on top kayak that weighs almost the same. It also has a larger weight capacity for heavier anglers.
Price: $1099 Length: 11’ 6” Width: 35” Capacity: 400 lbs Kayak Weight: 74 lbs

Bite Angler

Final Thoughts

When you start to feel your body rebel more as you age, giving up on your hobbies shouldn’t be the only option. Identifying kayaks that have better seats, stability, weight, and propulsion based on your needs can help prolong your on the water enjoyment.