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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I’m trying to decide on a ww boat for a 5’11” 290 lb guy to use near Denver. I’m a beginner so stability and forgiveness are priorities, and I’d like something I can do multi day trips with as well. Boats on my radar now are the Katana, the Mamba, the Nomad, the Nirvana, and the Zen 3. The katana has the heighest weight capacity, but I get the sense that besides being a “jack of all trades, ace at none” it has a low skill ceiling, and I’d like to get a boat that I can learn on and I won’t grow out of skill -wise for a few years. Any suggestions? Thanks!
 

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Mamba is a 10+ year-old design that is still super popular even with more experienced boaters. I haven't spent much time in the Nomad, but have heard you'll either love it or hate it.
 

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I'm a big guy too...a little taller and a bit lighter depending on the day but very similar. I have a short inseam for how tall I am...so should be mostly comparable.

Honestly...its really hard to find a good boat for guys our size. Very few boast are made for anyone over 250lbs and even at that weight you are at the top of the intended weight range. There are a few boats that get close and supposedly are good...but its always gonna be a compromise.

All of the ones you mentioned are Creek boats or very close. I haven't paddled any of them...but I think I would nix the Nirvana since its Jackson's high performance race kayak and those tend to need to be driven hard. I think of the boats you mentioned, the Zen 3 is the one to choose. Its designed to be a friend and fun kayak for begginers. It came out late last year, so may be hard to find used so you might have to buy new or pay more for a used boat then you wanted. You could get a Zen 2 on the used market, or look at something like the Wavesport Diesel. Pyranha made a Burn XL boat a few years ago for big guys too. Another in the realm of friendly planning hull creeker. The Waka boats are kind of known for being pretty high volume too...so might be worth looking at even though it can be a little hard to get your hands on one compared to the US brands and Pyranha.

Any of these will have enough volume to take care of you as you progress but still be able to surf and play a bit. The Liquid Logic Alpha 90 looks decent too and even though its kind of in the realm of the high performance race creeker it seems more friendly then those. If you really want to do the Multi-day self support thing...maybe considering a Liquid Logic Stinger or Dagger Green Boat or the Karma Unlimited. They are extra long...so might be more boat then you want for day to day boating though.

My current boat is a Pyranha Ripper L...and I'll be honest its a bit of a handful and I wouldn't recommend it for a begginer. Its very narrow and has a slicy stern...so the learning curve has been steep. Seems to be the norm for the "Half Slice" category of boats that are more creekboat in front and more playboat in the stern. The Pyranha Ripper L is the one with the highest weight rating at 275lbs... and I can tell I'm at the top of the range (a couple pounds over honestly).

More playboat oriented are boats like the Wavesport EZG 60, Jackson Superstar or Monstar(probably the only boat you are in the weight ranger for) or SuperFun,..... and lots of other older boats from Pyranha, Liquid Logic, Dagger, Wavesport and others. Unfortunately, other then the Monstar, we are both probably well over the recommended weight rating for all of them. I had a Monstar for a while, but its super short and has a TON of volume so it really didn't do all that great for me. It felt like it had too much volume as a playboat but was too short to be a river runner.

For now...maybe stick to the more creek boat oriented boats since they'll be relatively easy to roll and have softer less grabby edges. You'll be able to come back to it as you progress and try harder whitewater too. If the boat doesn't seem to be working for you...definitely try again. Having the boat at the right trim (seat forward or back) can make a big difference for us too...so play with that a bit. Sorry I don't have more specific help for you....this sport makes it hard to figure out for us big guys.
 

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More playboat oriented are boats like the Wavesport EZG 60, Jackson Superstar or Monstar(probably the only boat you are in the weight ranger for) or SuperFun,..... and lots of other older boats from Pyranha, Liquid Logic, Dagger, Wavesport and others. Unfortunately, other then the Monstar, we are both probably well over the recommended weight rating for all of them. I had a Monstar for a while, but its super short and has a TON of volume so it really didn't do all that great for me. It felt like it had too much volume as a playboat but was too short to be a river runner.
I'm 6'-5" and 215# (but more often under 200#). I LOVE my SuperFun, but I'd call it more of a "tall guy" boat than a "big guy" boat. IMHO anyone over 230# would put the ends in the water and it would be pretty grabby.
 

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I'm 6'-5" and 215# (but more often under 200#). I LOVE my SuperFun, but I'd call it more of a "tall guy" boat than a "big guy" boat. IMHO anyone over 230# would put the ends in the water and it would be pretty grabby.
Welcome to being over 250lbs and a kayaker. Ends in the water and grabby is the name of the game when it comes to playboats.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the advice! I think I’m leaning towards either the Zen 3 or a crossover. The new zen sounds like a great beginner boat, but a crossover would be great for camping trips. I’m kinda resigned to buying new due to my size, but hopefully that’d mean my boat would have a decent resale value in a few years when I wanna trade up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What about the Machno? Is that a good beginner boat? I’ve heard good things about it.
 

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Large Karma.
100+gallons
Very stable in all water,
Bit of a pig to move around, but has enough edge to get a feel for eddy turns,
Ends will stay dry for you.
Mega rocker would also be an okay 1st. Boat but no edges, which help you learn.
Down the road you’ll want a monstar and or a large nirvana.
Not a Jackson fanboy, but I have paddled a lot of boats around that weight class and these just float the best.
Other contenders would be a Zet director, large machno, big dagger mamba, maybe the new 9r2 large, but haven’t seen it.
Good luck
 

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SuperFun will still hold yer weight - I've been over 250lbs and beyond (without gear) for a number of years and the SuperFun is still my go to all around river runner fun kayak. While note as playful as the MunStar, it's a fun all around boat. That said, if you want to save some coin and have room for gear, keep your eyes open for a Jackson Super Hero - they have tons of room and volume. It's a super forgiving boat. Other than being slow I doubt you'll have any complaints with it for the first year or two. To me, the Z3 looks like an an updated Super Hero but definitely feels less ergonomically comfortable for the big/tall? Perhaps the lower deck height.
 

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SuperFun will still hold yer weight - I've been over 250lbs and beyond (without gear) for a number of years and the SuperFun is still my go to all around river runner fun kayak. While note as playful as the MunStar, it's a fun all around boat. That said, if you want to save some coin and have room for gear, keep your eyes open for a Jackson Super Hero - they have tons of room and volume. It's a super forgiving boat. Other than being slow I doubt you'll have any complaints with it for the first year or two. To me, the Z3 looks like an an updated Super Hero but definitely feels less ergonomically comfortable for the big/tall? Perhaps the lower deck height.
I'll second the super hero. I'm 6' and pushing 250, and it is my go to because it's comfortable and I can get some gear in for overnights. Getting harder to find, though.
 

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I have a superhero that I purchased since it has a longer waterline than the hero.
It is rated up to 290 lbs by Jackson
it is in excellent condition and I would let it go for $500 if you are interested and in the Denver area.
Chris 303-521-1325
 

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Hi all, I’m trying to decide on a ww boat for a 5’11” 290 lb guy to use near Denver. I’m a beginner so stability and forgiveness are priorities, and I’d like something I can do multi day trips with as well. Boats on my radar now are the Katana, the Mamba, the Nomad, the Nirvana, and the Zen 3. The katana has the heighest weight capacity, but I get the sense that besides being a “jack of all trades, ace at none” it has a low skill ceiling, and I’d like to get a boat that I can learn on and I won’t grow out of skill -wise for a few years. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Hi Damian.....I have a 16 ft Achilles whitewater boat with frame and oars. It is not a self bailer, but it is a very forgiving boat, (in heavy water, any water it takes on makes the boat more stable and virtually unflappable), and will carry heavy loads. It has been own the Grand Canyon twice and many times on the Selway, the Middle Fork of the Salmon river, the Gates of Loore, Westwater, The Main Salmon River and numerous other rivers. It was made in 1983 and has always been stored indoors and is in excellent shape. I am asking $1700 or OBO.
59308
 

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Feedback on the SuperHero - there were 3 generations. First was not well received and didn't last long, pointy ends. Second gen (maybe 2009-2011) was a great boat, but made with crosslink plastic and in my experience more prone to cracking, especially with age and sun exposure. 3rd generation (2012 until 2016 or so...) was made with linear plastic and had an upgraded and much easier to adjust seat (sitting on i-beam like track vs. a composite bar) - but the knee area was widened (perhaps a bit taller too) and seemed to offer up a lot more room, perhaps too much as it felt huge on me. Personally, I preferred feel/fit of the 2nd Gen but also preferred the outfitting in the 3rd gen. I've had too many old xlink Jacksons crack on me and my teenage kids over the years so I've stopped buying them. One of my kids loves, loves, the 3rd gen Allstar but even he won't buy another one after cracking 2.
 

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I’m 6’0” and have been tipping the scales in the 260-270 range this past year. I’ve been kayaking for over 20-years.

I have several boats, some I’m just too heavy for at this point. Of the boats you’ve mentioned, I think the Zen 3 would be a great choice.

When I was deciding on a creek boat a few years ago I was weighing in at 245 and tried several boats including the Mamba and the Pyranha 9R

The Mamba struck me as being very wide and it wasn’t the easiest to roll. The 9R I ended swimming out of - TWICE!

I ended up choosing the Machno. It’s max recommended weight is 285, so you’re relatively close. It has a nice hull with edges that are effective but not grabby. It is actually fun to surf. And it is one of the easiest boats to roll that I have ever owned.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I ended up going with the Zen 3. I sat in a Machno, CR2, and a Mamba and the Zen was the only one I could get into comfortably. For any other extra large folks, especially those with big hips like me, I recommend starting with it or a Karma.
 
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