What is a touring kayak? Touring kayaks differ considerably from other kayaks, and that designed for longer distance paddles on what you’re most likely be looking for increased comfort, usability, and speed. So, how exactly do touring kayaks different from regular kayaks such as those that are designed for fishing, or fast water?
In this guide, we in to explain exactly what a touring kayak is including the advantages and disadvantages that they offer over other types of kayak. We also provide some information on some of the best touring kayaks that are available in the form of touring kayak reviews of our favourite models. For each model, we will provide a list of key features, as well as some information on what is best about each boat.
Given that touring kayaks are designed to be used over long distances, there are some noticeable differences in their design. Touring kayaks tend to have for more space and options in terms of storage, which allow them to make for the ultimate vessel to take on a longer trip, or indeed a trip that requires you to take a lot of equipment such as fishing or a multi-day camping trip.
The main difference in the design of touring kayaks however is not their storage and comfort options. Touring kayaks have a different body design. Whilst retaining the generic kayak shape, touring kayaks are longer and thinner than those that are designed for recreational use. This means less water resistance, and so greater speed can be more quickly achieved and retained on a touring kayak. The last thing you want when going on a long trip is is a boat that is difficult to move with every stroke of your paddle!
As well as speed, a good touring kayak must have excellent tracking and maneuvering abilities. To make sure that this is the case, children kayaks are fitted often with rudders or fins on the bottom. These features make steering and maneuvering the boat much easier and more accurate.
As well as the physical design of a touring kayak making for a vessel that is comfortable for long distances due to its superior stability and water resistance, the features that are fitted inside/on top of the boat make for a good touring experience. For example, touring kayaks are flattered but extremely comfortable padded seats, as well as extended adjustable legroom, to ensure that you are as comfortable as you can possibly be at all times.
What Should You Look For When Choosing A Touring Kayak?
When you’re choosing a touring kayak, the main point that you should keep in mind (in our opinion anyway), is that you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time in the boat. You want to make sure that all of the time that you do spend in your new kayak is as enjoyable as possible. Let’s take a look at a few hints and tips that you should remember when buying a touring kayak to make sure this is the case!
One That’s Comfortable
Whilst this may well seem obvious, comfort as a factor that far too many buyers overlook. Buyers once said look at the storage options on the boat for example, amongst other things. Comfort, however, is ultimately what decides how enjoyable a time you’re going to have on the kayak.
The Seat & Legroom
A touring kayak should have an extremely comfortable seat that is fully adjustable, as well as a large amount of legroom that is either adjustable, or that has different pegs on what you can place your heels. Getting into the correct seating position is so important to ensure that your back and muscles are not strained whilst paddling throughout the day.
You should choose a kayak that has a good cockpit size – a good size being one that you can fit into and have spare room. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a kayak that you can’t move around in whatsoever – it becomes very claustrophobic and extremely uncomfortable. At the same time, you do not want a cockpit size that is so large that it does not allow you to use your body to help guide the boat.
A comfortable cockpit is one that you can move your legs around in fully, but also have them relatively close to the side of the boat to help with balance and guiding. You should ensure that you can get in and out of the cockpit easily too – this is particularly important in case you need to exit the boat in an emergency when out on the water.
The material that’s your boat is made of should not be determined by whatever material was cheapest to buy at the time – absolutely not. The material that your kayak is constructed from should be solely determined by the uses that you have, or that you intend to have for your boat.
If you are intending on traveling at speed, you may want to look into a kayak that’s made from a lightweight material such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. It is important to remember, however, that composite kayaks such as these are more expensive to purchase, and far more expensive to maintain. If a problem were to arise with a composite kayak or you were to damage it, a repair is going to be far more expensive than it would be on a normal plastic boat.
The vast majority of kayaks that you see available on the market, however, will be made of a lightweight plastic such as polyethylene. For the majority of kayakers, this is more than sufficient. Not only is polyethylene more cost-effective, it is also more durable and generally all-round usable.
The Steering System
How you are intending on guiding your kayak around the water is an important consideration to have before purchasing it. You may want to guide the boat by just using a paddle, or you may want to use a system such as a rudder or skeg.
You might be wondering at this point what exactly the difference between a rudder and a skeg is. A rudder is a paddle-like device that’s mounted under the rear of the boat that’s movements are controlled by a lever inside the boat. Turning it helps to guide the boat in the direction that you want it to go.
A skeg on the other hand doesn’t steer the boat in itself, but it does help you to do so. A skeg helps the boat’s tracking when turning by other means. To put this into perspective, if you’re travelling at a respectable pace and suddenly turn using the rudder, the skeg will help make sure that this is an accurate and stable turn. Some vessels come with skegs that can be used only when you’d like them to, as well.
What Are The Best Touring Kayaks?
Hopefully you feel more informed on what you should be looking for when buying a new touring kayak after reading our guide of hints and tips.
Pakayak Bluefin Kayak – Our Personal Favourite
The Pakayak Kayak is certainly something different – it is truly unique in terms of portability for a hardshell kayak, never mind a touring!
This Pakayak Bluefin is able to be dismantled don so small that it can be packed into a bag that will fit in the rear of a car. You might be quite confused as to how this can happen with a hardshell kayak design, but fear not!
This 14 foot long sea touring kayak breaks down into 6 individual pieces, all of which slide into each other and can be packed away into one bag. After dismantling, the total size of the kayak is a quarter of the size it was when assembled! Pakayak claims that the boat can even be put together by one person in under 3 minutes’ time – what’s not to love?
The Pakayak Bluefin uses advanced pressure technologies to ensure that the boat is completely watertight, whilst being very durable. It’s handling is fantastic, it’s very easy to control.
In addition to the high performance of the boat, Pakayak demonstrate their care for the environment by naming ever model after a species, and dedicating a portion of their profits to a corresponding charity.
- Extremely portable – the Bluefin packs away into a bag that will easily fit into a car
- Can be put together by one person in under 3 minutes time
- High performing – even though the Pakayak Bluefin is lightweight and portable, performance is held most important and is not compromised in the slightest
- Comfortable and spacious cockpit
- The brand donates a portion of their profits to charity
- Ample storage – two dry storage areas
- Length: 14”
- Weight: 59 lbs
The Perception Conduit is a very well-reviewed touring kayak. Not only is it well-pried, it’s fast-moving and very easy to use.
In terms of what we previously recommended looking for in a touring kayak in this guide, this kayak excels in all categories. It’s comfortable, lightweight, spacious, fast, and versatile. The seat in the Conduit has an adjustable backrest, as well as being ventilated with air slits.
Even though the Perception Conduit is a sit-inside kayak, there is ample room inside for your legs, no matter how long they are.
The Conduit also boasts a good selection of storage areas – there’s one to either end of the boat, as well as waterproof storage for your more valuable possessions.
- Fast and Spacious – the Perception Conduit is fast, and very spacious. One of the main problems that people report from touring kayaks is the lack of cockpit room – this certainly isn’t the case with the Conduit
- Comfortable – As well as the ample cockpit space, the seat is extremely comfortable and is also ventilated. You won’t get that constant urge to sit forward and peel your back from the seat that we all know too well
- Ample Storage – there are storage areas towards the front and rear of the Conduit, both of which have ropes for securing your luggage. There is also a dry storage area towards the front and rear of the boat
- Length: 13’
- Width: 26.5”
- Weight: 51 lbs
- Max Capacity: 295 lbs
Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5
The “Edge” from Riot Kayaks is the ultimate vessel for touring around on calmer waters. No matter how far you’re planning on traveling, you can rest assured that you’ll not only get there in comfort and at speed, but in true style. The Edge 14.5 is a fantastic-looking kayak .
However, as we know aesthetics is not everything! The Edge is 14.5 feet long and has an advanced rudder system that makes changing direction on the water very easy. It’s lightweight too for a boat that’s over 14 feet long, at only 60 pounds. Being made from polyethylene, it’s tough too.
Similarly to other touring kayaks, storage options on this boat are plentiful. There are storage areas at the back and front of the boat, as well as waterproof areas in the front of the boat.
- Extremely versatile kayak
- Ample storage areas – storage towards the front and rear of the boat, as well as dry storage areas
- Comfortable – as well as the comfortable seat, the Edge has adjustable footrests – it’s easy to get into a comfortable position and quickly in this boat
- Length: 14.5 feet
- Width: 22.5 inches
- Weight: 60 lbs
- Very aesthetically pleasing – the Edge has the classic touring kayak look – it’s long, slender, and has a striking design
Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5
The Brittany from Riot Kayaks is another very aesthetically pleasing kayak. It’s based on a classic British design. It’s designed primarily for touring on calmer waters and is equipped with both a rudder and skeg. As a result of this, it’s a very easy kayak to change direction in, and the tracking is of a very high standard.
At 16.5 feet long, you’d think the kayak would be a lot heavier than 51 pounds. It’s very lightweight indeed and resultantly makes for a very good touring kayak. It’s long, slim, and light. Even though it’s very lightweight, durability is not compromised. It’s made of polyethylene and is therefore very hardwearing.
It’s a sit-inside kayak as most touring options are, and is very spacious inside the cockpit. You don’t need to worry about your legs feeling restricted in the Brittany at all.
Aside from the usual points to consider about a sea-touring kayak, this one has some additional features too. It’s equipped with a seating design that can be custom-fitted, as well as safety straps, a paddle hook, and locking foot braces to name a few.
- Classic British styling
- Made for the sea
- Features both a rudder and skeg, making for very good tracking and turning
- Plenty of storage options – there are three storage areas towards the front and rear of the boat
- Length: 16.5’
- Width: 21.75”
- Weight: 51 pounds (lightweight polyethylene construction)
The Perception Expression is a touring kayak that offers the best of both worlds. Unlike other touring kayaks, it’s not massively long. It’s similar in length to a recreational kayak, at only 11 and a half feet.
For this reason, it’s slightly more portable than a traditional touring kayak and is very easily maneuverable in that its length is easy to steer around in the water. It’s also very stable. Not only is this boat designed for touring, it also excels in those areas that recreational kayaks tend to – stability, usability, and handling.
The Expression is made from highly durable polyethylene and is not easily broken. It’s more than suitable for hard use in the water – the fear of damage from outcropping objects in shallower waters whilst touring is eliminated.
- Extremely comfortable – the seat in the Expression is heavily padded and is fully adjustable. It can be adjusted in all four directions
- In addition to the four way-adjustable seat, it can also be adjusted to tilt to whichever angle you feel most comfortable in
- Adjustable-position footrests – regardless of your leg length, it’s easy to get comfortable in the Expression
- Dry areas available to store your equipment and possessions
- Very easy to get in and out of – this is great to know considering a lot of sit inside kayaks can be particularly difficult in this area
- Skeg that can be retracted – the skeg on this boat doesn’t need to be used all of the time – great for improving tracking and turning
- Supporting – fitted with padded areas for thigh rest and added control
- Length: 11’6”
- Width: 25.75”
- Weight: 44 pounds