Best Touring Kayak
There’s nothing better than a relaxing day out on the lake, whether you’re fishing or just taking in the view. Thankfully, having a kayak doesn’t mean always going through rough waters, not when there are touring kayaks out there to provide you the most enjoyment from your environment. When it comes to calm waters, touring kayaks reign supreme, but with so many options, you may not know which is the best to choose.
In this article, I’ll share all you need to know to pick out the best available touring kayak for your needs, and how the different models compare to one another. Whether you choose one type of touring kayak or another, you’ll be sure to have something that will make your days out on the lake much more fun!
What to Consider When Choosing
Something with a high degree of stability will work best when it comes to keeping you upright. With that in mind, it should be noted that kayaks with wide beams have a higher degree of initial stability, and lower secondary stability. Narrower kayaks have the opposite.
Primary, or initial, stability is what allows your kayak to stay balanced while sitting flat. Secondary stability helps your kayak stay balanced when it rotates onto the side. Both of these together can really help beginners stay upright.
There are two main options for materials when it comes to kayaks: composite or plastic. It comes down to your preference in the end. Composite is sleek and rigid, and is made of lightweight pieces like fiberglass, carbon fiber, or Kevlar. That means there’s lots of tensile strength and aesthetic superiority.
Many kayakers prefer composite because it’s both sleep and swift on the water, but it’s important to remember that it is more expensive, and much more susceptible to damage on impact. There’s no real flexibility in composite kayaks, so if you’ll end up crashing into the rocks, you’ll more than likely end up with cracks on the hull. That’s why most kayakers prefer plastic, which is more lightweight, scratch-resistant, thicker, and even more durable. With less “bounce” on the water, it’s a lot easier to maneuver too.
Composite is usually lighters than plastic, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to handle and transport it. All kayaks are different, and usually, the weight is determined by length. Longer kayaks weight more.
A tracking system is basically something that enables the kayak to move in a straight line, like a rudder or skeg. You can control the rudder with a foot pedal usually, while the skeg can be adjusted on the bottom.
Not all kayaks have tracking systems, but that’s not a deal breaker either. Smaller kayaks don’t have them and still afford you lots of control and maneuverability. Try all of your options before you pick just based on the tracking system.
Consider the dimensions of your kayak, which can have an impact on stability and maneuverability, and also on comfort and transportation too. This includes both length and width.
When it comes to length, touring kayaks are usually 12-17 feet long. Longer kayaks will track a lot better and temper some turbulence, making them ideal for touring. The longer they are though, the more difficult time you might have carrying it to and from the water though.
The width is largely dependent on the person kayaking, and on how much storage you need. Remember though that wider kayaks are less responsive to directional movements. If you want to overcome the waves or wind, this can be helpful, but you won’t be able to carve as quickly. Smaller people may just want to go for a thinner kayak then, even if there’s less volume and a lower carrying capacity than other options.
One of the main things you need to think about is where you plan to use your kayak the most and what types of movement you can execute comfortably. Long overnight trips or expeditions need something speedy and lightweight. You may want something that maneuvers easier though, especially if you encounter choppy waves or wind. The higher maneuverability you have, the more likely you are to stay safe.
For the most part, longer or slimmer kayaks are faster and have less maneuverability, while shorter and wider ones are slower, but are more manageable. It really depends on what your skill level is and what you’re looking for.
Mini Reviews of 10 Products
This well-rounded touring kayak is perfect for beginners with the slender bow and slim deck line. It’s made specifically for control with the pilot rudder system, allowing you to move with ease. The advanced custom-fit seating system means that anyone can use this kayak, and since it only weighs 60 pounds, you’ll be able to move it in and out of the water. Just make sure that you keep an eye on it when you are carrying it, since it does stretch to a total of 14.5 feet by 22.5 inches!
- The glide is very nice and manageable considering the length, no matter how far you travel
- Even taller individuals are able to adjust the foot rests inside to sit comfortably
- The rudder is great for keeping the boat tracking when you’re not paddling
- The draining cockpit keeps all your items dry while you’re kayaking
- The balance allows you to sit without tipping over constantly
- It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to wear shoes comfortably in this kayak
- Definitely heavy and bulky, so it’s difficult to carry on your own
This Perception Expression kayak is certainly sleek, with a zone DLX seat to keep you riding comfortably as you tour around on the water. It helps that there are adjustable padded thigh braces, and a foot brace system so that you won’t strain yourself in any way. Both the peaked deck and upswept bow keep water off of your kayak, improving stability. With the skeg system for tracking, along with lots of storage, you’ll be prepared for anything.
- For long paddling trips, this kayak holds up superbly
- Travels very quickly with very little effort needed on your part
- Secondary stability is amazing, making brace turning very simple
- Thanks to the drop skeg, you can keep it in line while still turning quickly
- The weight may be too much for one person to handle on their own
- It can be hard to transport, especially for just one person
This kayak by Riot Kayaks is great thanks to the retractable skeg and pilot rudder system, providing you with lots of control and maneuverability. The high-performance custom-fit seating is perfect for any kayaker out there, keeping you safe and comfortable while you’re on the water. The dual density hatch covers and day hatch cover help you store your things while staying dry, and at only 51 pounds, you’ll be able to move it with ease.
- The actual kayak performs well in the water, tracking exactly as it’s supposed to
- Speed, tracking, and balance are all impressive, even when it comes to handling rough waters
- Handles wind well, and does not move too far off course
- While this kayak is heavier, once you get a momentum going, it’s simple to move
- The seatback adjustment mechanism is not easy to use, compromising your comfort
- Braces do not adjust very easily for your legs
This inflatable kayak is perfect when it comes to single kayakers, since it’s light, but still supports as much as 500 pounds. The reinforced PVC will keep it safe regardless of the conditions, so don’t worry too much about punctures in the hull. Inflate it in only 7 minutes to get started. With the rigid bow and stern molds, you’ll have both sharp speed, high stability, and a manageable exit and entry system.
- Even though it inflates in less than 10 minutes, it’s still very durable and light to transport
- Tracking is excellent, so even when there are heavy headwinds, you won’t have an issue staying straight
- Deflating is quick and easy for simple transport when you’re all done
- If you plan on using it in inlets, this kayak is more than capable of handling them
- There are no hand holds to grab onto the kayak, so moving it can be slightly awkward
- You may find that folding it up after you’re done is quite difficult
This Wilderness Systems kayak has AirPro seating that provides support, ventilation, and drainage. With the added thigh braces and foot brace system too, you can sit in this kayak comfortably no matter the width or leg length. Thanks to the hatches, you’ll receive plenty of storage space for long trips out on the water. Deck bungees can even keep your gear secure while reflexive perimeter lines help keep you safe at night.
- The seat is extremely comfortable, so even after hours out on the water, you won’t feel any discomfort
- Even heavier riders can sit in this kayak without worrying about it toppling over
- Taller individuals don’t have any problems with leg room
- Tracking is very easy, providing you with a huge amount of stability
- For a 12-foot boat, you have lots of storage included
- May be heavier than other available kayaks out there
- You might have trouble carrying it to and from the water
Make use of this wide and stable day touring kayak with a retractable skeg to help you control the kayak no matter what kinds of water you’re on. There shouldn’t be too much tipping with this kayak under you! It’s an added bonus that there’s lots of cargo capacity too, and a large cockpit with custom-fit seating to help anyone sit comfortably. At 13 feet, this is one of the smaller kayaks, but it’s got so much control that it’s a great option!
- The stability is perfect for new kayakers, and keeps all your equipment dry when you’re sitting
- There’s a lot of control afforded to you, helping you maneuver
- No matter how much gear you have, you can fit it easily in storage
- Large individuals note the high comfort level, even after lots of time spent out on the water
- This kayak is smaller than many other options, and may not move as well thanks to the length
- It is heavier than what you may expect for the size
Ocean Kayaks make some great kayaking options, including this sit-on-top touring kayak. This kayak can fit two adults and a small child or pet, with 500-600 pounds as its max capacity. There’s tons of seating as well, with an oversized tank in the stern, along with a deck bungee. Make use of the side carry handles during transport, and use the molded-in cup holders for a comfortable ride. With the comfortable seating, you’ll be all set for an all-day ride!
- Handles perfectly in both rough and calm weather, and is durable enough to withstand either
- Despite the high stability, this kayak still handles easily, and moves swiftly along the water
- Stays very dry in the water
- Tracking is easy, allowing you to sit in calm waters, or handle rough waters, without a problem
- You may need to buy your own seating to have something more comfortable
- Heavy compared to your other options, and may be tough to get out of the water
- The bow carrying handle may not last as long as the kayak itself
This 10-foot kayak is one of our smaller options, but thanks to the small size, you’ll be able to handle it with more ease than comparable kayaks. When it comes to touring over the water, the comfort and maneuverability of the Riot Quest Kayak is perfect. The compression-molded seat pad will fully adjust to you specifically, while the sealed bulkhead keeps your stuff dry the entire time! You’ll even have cup holders just to improve the enjoyability of your ride.
- The handling is simple, so you don’t need to worry about tipping
- Thanks to the adjustable padding, it should be simple to ride
- All of your items will not get wet, no matter how rough the water is
- Tracking is simple and stable, decreasing the possibility of you tipping
- This is a smaller kayak, and may not have the control you’d prefer
- Cannot be used in more turbulent waters
The EvasiOn is special due to its status as a hybrid recreational and sea kayak. The concave multi-chine hull design is certainly distinctive, and will provide you with tons of durability if you happen to have a habit of crashing here and there. Thanks to the pilot rudder system, you have lots of control, with added comfort from the custom-fit seating. Despite the length of 15.5 feet, this kayak only weighs 65 pounds, and isn’t too hard to move around.
- The hybrid status of this kayak allows you to use it on all types of water
- The distinctive hull provides you with the durability you’re looking for, especially if you’re a new kayaker
- It’s hard to beat the control on this kayak considering the length you receive as well
- Seating is comfortable and simple
- The weight of this kayak can be a little bit heavy for single kayakers
- Larger kayakers cannot be accommodated as easily due to the width
This Necky Eliza Kayak is both durable and comfortable at the same time. The hull is made out of polyethylene, so you can be sure it’s safe for you to get a little bit rough at times. As long as you and your gear are under 275 pounds, you’ll be able use this kayak with ease! Made specifically for smaller women who need a slimmer kayak, the foot pedals, drop-down rudder, and sleek hull provide you with all the comfort and control you might need.
- Smaller women can maneuver this kayak with ease
- Fits women without a problem, and has a good finish to boot
- The actual construction of this kayak is stable, allowing you to crash a little bit without worrying about the construction
- Meant to last for years thanks to the material
- There are no instructions for the assembly for the rudder
- It can be difficult to figure out where all the screws go at times
- Cannot accommodate larger riders; mainly only for petite women
There are so many options out there for the best touring kayak, but in my search, one clearly stood out above the rest. The Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5 Feet) was superior with it’s amazing ability to track, easy maneuverability, and overall balance. New kayakers especially love this option since people of all shapes and sizes can fit in it. If you want to wear shoes however, the Ocean Kayak 16-Feet x 4.5-Inch Zest Two Expedition Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak may be your preferred choice. It’s heavier and may be more difficult to manage, but when it comes to family outings, this is a great second choice.
Regardless of which kayak you choose though, be sure that it suits you and fits all your needs. If you’re more experienced, something that’s a little bit more difficult to handle may not be a problem, but if you’re just starting out, look for stability right away. One of these will certainly be just the best touring kayak for you!