Beam (Width Of Kayaks)

The Importance of the Kayak Beam

The beam of a kayak is the width, and the same as with the length of a kayak the beam or width affects its stability and the speed. Some schools of thought are that a wider beam is more stable than one with a narrow beam. The beam directly affects the horizontal stability of the kayak and depending on the height of a person they can present problems.

While a kayak with a wide beam may seem more stable, they can tip without warning, however hulls that are narrow or V-shaped may seem unstable when they start out but become more stable once moving.

Kayaking Lessons

The beam if very extreme can make it difficult to paddle correctly, it can also add to the drag, as there is more area of the kayak in the water. Although, when the beam is to narrow that can also be a problem, which can make the kayak tip easily as this is usually the widest measurement on the kayak.

Even the difference of one inch in the size of the beam is capable of making a large difference in the stability of the kayak, whether it will be increased or decrease.



It is possible to have problems with a kayak that has a wide beam unless the person is very tall, it will hamper their ability to be able to paddle correctly as their paddle will hit the cockpit or the deck of a wide kayak. It can also be very difficult in the ability to lean the kayak properly for turns or when in rough waters.


Kayaking Lessons

Many times the beam and the length are paired in a mathematical ratio, however for some kayaks this mathematical ratio can be misleading.

A sea kayak, for a single person the beam of a kayak might be twenty to twenty-six inches wide and a double kayak can be up to thirty-six inches wide.