Kitting your kayak out with a sail can well and truly transform the way that your kayak both looks, and performs. It will also mean that you can use and take your kayak to a number of different locations that you might never have even considered prior to having a sail. However, a sail mounted on top of your kayak may or not be the right thing to do. Some kayakers love it, and others not so much.
In this guide, we’re going to examine kayak sails, including the advantages and disadvantages of putting one on your kayak. We’re also going to explain in further detail, how a sail on top of your boat will affect the overall performance, handling, as well as capabilities of your boat.
What Is There To Gain From A Kayak Sail?
When considering a kayak sail, there are a number of fairly obvious advantages that the use of one presents. To start with, you’re going to be able to get a lot more moving power from not doing anything. As opposed to paddling, you’ll be able to harness the power of the wind into your sail, and move along the water in whichever direction you would like all whilst putting in considerably less effort than you would have to with a paddle to achieve the same speed.
Whilst many might not like this idea and may prefer the concept of paddling along the water as opposed to sailing, fear not – a kayak sail can be attached and detached from your kayak whenever you so please. This means that not only will you have a kayak that you can use normally whenever you like, but one that you can use with a sail whenever you like too.
A kayak sail can really come in handy in a lot of situations, and even present new opportunities. For example, they allow you to travel a long distance across water without having to put in any physical effort apart from guiding the boat in the direction in which you wish to go.
In terms of more simple opportunities, they can even be used just to free up your hands. If you’re going somewhere but fancy taking a rest say, to have lunch for example, a kayak sail will mean that you can keep travelling and have lunch at the same time, wasting no time at all.
Are There Any Downsides To Having A Kayak Sail?
Stability and Balance – if you’re out on the water and you have a sail attached to your kayak, there’s no doubt that the overall stability of your boat could become quickly affected by the sail. This is particularly true if the wind becomes strong. This won’t be a problem for those that are experienced with sails, be it from yachting or other kayak sails. However, for those that are just starting out with a kayak sail there’s the potential for things to quickly go not to plan. This can be quite a daunting prospect for some – that said, there’s only one way to get better!
Getting in and out = getting in and out of a kayak with a large sail fixed on to the top can be without a doubt more difficult. However, there are easy ways around it and in our opinion, it’s not a major downside – but one to be noted all the same.
Fishing Whilst Having A Kayak Sail
In terms of fishing, a kayak sail can present a number of both advantages and disadvantages. If you’re a fly fisherman, or participate in fishing that requires extremely regular casting, then a kayak sail could indeed make this a bit more difficult. However, a sail is great for moving along the water at speed and without effort meaning that it can make fishing with a lure (trolling) a lot easier than it otherwise would be – your line can simply trail behind your kayak as it would on a power boat.
All About Kayak Sails – How To Choose The Right One
There are many different types and styles of kayak sails on offer. Each have their own characteristics, and all bring something different to the table in terms of what they’re best at and what their best uses are. Of course, all are designed with the same intention in mind – to allow you as the kayaker to harness the power of wind. However, some are more suited to certain types of kayaker than others are.
V-Shaped Kayak Sail
Very much like the letter “v,” v-shaped sails are wider at the top than they are at the bottom – they have a top-heavy design. Thanks to this lack of sail-occupied space down near the kayak, the kayakers has far more space to move around since half of the boat isn’t taken up by a sail, as with some other designs.
If you’re a kayaker that likes to have a good amount of room on the boat at all times, a v-shaped design could be one of the best options you have for keeping the largest amount of space.
In terms of their performance and usability, v-shaped kayaks are very versatile. Whilst being perfect for professional kayak sailors, the v-shaped design is also suitable for hobbyists and beginners.
Due to the high performance capabilities of the v-shaped sail design, it is not recommended for use with a small/light kayak.
Circular Kayak Sail
Circular kayak sails are relatively self-explanatory – they are circular in shape. Circular sails are unlike the more classically designed boat sail. The main advantage of circular sails is that they are easy to use and control, and are therefore great for beginners and those who are just getting started in their kayak sailing. This is thanks to the fact that they’re not usually too large, and as such they are relatively easy to control.
Circular kayak sails come in a few different variations. The vast majority of models can be attached directly to the front of a kayak, meaning that they’re perfect for moving the boat along in a variety of different wind speeds in addition to being easy enough to control.
L-Shaped Kayak Sail
The L-shaped kayak sail is more suitable for those kayakers that are more experienced with using a sail. If you’ve not seen one before, they are most similar in style one that you might see on any other sail-powered boat, such as a windsurf board.
L-Shaped sails are by far the most advanced available. They are fitted with a mast as well as a boom, meaning that you can harness the power of the wind to take you in any direction – not necessarily the same direction as the wind is blowing. For this reason amongst others, they are considerably more difficult to use than other kayak sail types, and should be left to more experienced kayak sailors.
Best Kayak Sails –Best Kayak Sail On the Market Reviewed
Hobie Mirage Kayak Sail Kit – High Performance Kayak Sail Kit
The Hobie Mirage Kayak Sail Kit is tailor designed for use on-board Hobie kayaks. They can be fitted onto the Mirage series, as well as the Pro Angler series. Since tis kayak sail kit must be properly mounted on the boat, it’s most suitable for these models as it has been specifically designed for use in conjunction with them.
This L-shaped kayak has a massive surface area of 20.25 square feet, meaning that it can catch and harness a massive amount of wind power down to your kayak. At 16 lbs and being mounted on the kayak, the Mirage Sail Kit is relatively light in weight too.
On the bottom of the sail is a see-through area to improve visibility. To make storage and transportation as easy and efficient as possible, the Mirage Sail Kit comes provided with a bag for storage.
- 123” in length
- Surface Area of 20.25 square feet
- 16 pounds in weight
Advanced Elements Rapidup Kayak Sail
The Advanced Elements Rapidup Kayak Sail is a sail that’s circular in shape, and that can be placed easily on front of your kayak. At a tiny 2 lbs in weight, the sail is extremely light and easy to use – perfect in fact, if you’re travelling light and want a sail that you’re going to be able to carry around without noticing the added weight.
Thanks to the versatile design of the Advanced Elements Rapidup, the sail can be used on a variety of different kayak styles. Whether you have an inflatable kayak or a hard shell kayak, the Advanced Elements Rapidup could be most suitable for your uses.
Since the sail is designed to placed directly in front of you when you’re paddling, you may be concerned that it will affect your visibility of the water ahead. However, it has a total of three windows (one in the middle and one at either side), and is therefore able to boast an excellent level of visibility.
The Advanced Elements Rapidup Kayak Sail is designed for use when travelling in the same direction as the wind is – it’s perfect fort getting you where you want to go that but quicker and with a great deal less paddling effort on your part.
If you’re concerned that you’re not going to be travelling downwind at all times, then don’t be! The sail can be flattened and stored on your kayak, and easily re-erected when you want to start using it again.
- 36” in length
- 59” in width
- Extremely Lightweight at a tiny 2 lbs
Olilo Downwind Sail Kayak Kit – Cheap Kayak Sail Kit
The Olilo Downwind Sail Kit is perfect to go for if you’re looking for a little extra power for a very little price. Even though the Olilo kit is extremely cost-effective, that doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t perform well.
At 42.5” in width and height. The little circular sail is a great companion for your kayaking. Thanks to its small size and excellent design, it’s easy to control and could make your kayaking experience far better than it already is!
In terms of ease of use, it can be put up and back down extremely easily and quickly. Even if the wind changes direction, the sail can be easy dismantled until you want to start using it again. The Olilo sail is also fitted with a window in the middle, allowing for forward visibility.
- Circular sail design
- 42.5” in diameter
- Easy to erect and take down
- Extremely lightweight, weighing in at less than 1 lb
Kayak Sailing Advice
Kayaking sailing is a great way to get some extra speed and power for your kayak, as well as being environmentally friendly and great fun. However, there are no doubt that it can pose some safety risks if you don’t know how to use a kayak sail properly.
When out on the water, keeping safe should always be your first and foremost concern. If you’re heading it onto the water in high or variable winds, be even more careful, particularly if you’re using a kayak sail. Most importantly, always remember to wear a life vest.