Touring Kayak: Buying Guide
Your kayak makeup is pretty essential as it determines the boat’s speed, weight, and durability. Here are the most standard materials for crafting touring kayaks.
This popular choice is cheap, durable, and resistant to scratches. A polyethylene plastic kayak can easily shatter upon massive impact, so avoid riding in rocky areas. Meanwhile, storing it indoors or away from UV rays will prolong its life.
- Polycarbonate or ABS plastic
Also affordable but a bit more scratch-resistant than polyethylene plastics. With a glossy finish, polycarbonates offer a smoother glide through the water, making your paddling easier.
A more expensive option, fiberglass kayaks are lighter, durable, and rigid. They’re not affected by UV rays but aren’t immune to impacts.
Wood touring kayaks are hard to find these days, but they’ll cost a fortune if available. They’re among the best you can buy because of their ease of paddling and efficiency.
Longer boats are faster and can accommodate more equipment. But shorter kayaks are lighter, and the short hull makes them quicker to turn. Overall, your kayaking style determines the perfect length to buy. If you want to spend more time in the sea, for instance, you should look for a more extended size.
The boat’s width affects its stability and speed. Of course, broader types are more stable, while narrower kayaks are faster.
Deeper kayaks allow you to stretch your legs and offers much storage room for your gear. Wind will have little effect on shallow boats.
5. Max Weight Capacity
Each kayak can only carry a given load at a time. So, make sure your total weight and equipment don’t exceed the kayak’s loading capacity. As a rule of thumb, choose a boat with a 100-pound capacity more than your weight.
6. Hull shape
This refers to the boat’s body design. Commonly used hulls are v-shape, flat, and round.
These types are stable, and that makes them perfect for touring kayaks. V-shape acts like a skeg and offers better tracking.
Flat hulls offer better stability when sitting, but they’re also less efficient when you paddle. Thus, they are rarely used as a touring kayak.
These U-shaped boats are the least stable but perform well against large swells.
7. Skill Level
Generally, beginners prefer shorter and wider vessels because they’re stable and comfortable to enter or exit. But longer boats offer less drag, but harder to turn, making them suitable for advanced riders.
You should consider how you intend to transport your kayak before you buy it. Of course, the primary issue of concern is weight and size. That said, you need to choose between a kayak trailer or roof rack.
A kayak trailer can carry any boat size, and you can use it with any car with a hitch. So, if your boat is 15 feet and more, opt for a trailer. If not, a roof rack is preferable.
You need more excellent stability when you set out, so, pick a boat with a flatter hull. But, be prepared to sacrifice quicker turning.
Since you’ll spend long hours out there, you must buy one that offers a comfortable fit. The best luxury touring kayak should have a broader cockpit and options to adjust seats, footrests, and straps.
A chine refers to the boat’s shape when viewed from one end. This shape describes the link between the kayak’s side and the bottom. Chines come in many designs, but the commonest is hard and soft types.
This design is like a right angle and allows quicker turning but less speed.
This one has a rounded corner that gives the boat a smooth glide.
12. Cockpit Size
As said earlier, your boat’s cockpit dimensions play a crucial role in your comfort. Kayaks with smaller cockpits are more comfortable to control and offer better protection against cold. A larger cockpit provides greater comfort as you can quickly move your legs but harder to steer. That said, an 11-inch deck is ideal for average users. But taller paddlers should pick models that are at least 13 inches deep.
13. Sinkage Level
A kayak’s sinkage level measures how low it sits in the water. Knowing this value can increase your chances of success as you won’t exceed its load limit. That’s because more weight makes the vessel sink too low, making it flip too often.
This fixed rubber found at the kayak’s bottom helps it to move in a specific direction. Most touring kayaks come with adjustable skegs that you can control from the cockpit.
Hatches refer to the doorway to the boat’s watertight compartments. They should be sturdy and secure to protect your equipment from rain or saltwater.
16. Bow and Stern
Another name for your boat’s front area is bow and rear is stern.
17. Tracking Fins
Tracking fins also help the boat to travel straight in solid surf and wind. Unlike skeg, tracking fins are not retractable.
Generally, you adjust the rudder with your feet to steer the boat.
We suggest you buy a kayak with a customizable feat. Besides being long-lasting, the chair should feature a backrest, straps, and footrest for extra comfort.
If you plan to spend more days in the sea, you need enough storage space for your consumables and gear. Some of the best-rated models have extra storage options like hatches and bungee cords.
Remember that touring kayaks are more robust and advanced, which makes them expensive. But you can still set your budget by avoiding models with high-end, comfortable features. Meanwhile, be prepared to spend around 600 to 2000 bucks on a decent model.
Touring Kayak vs Sea Kayak - What’s The Difference?
A touring kayak is suited for calm waters like rivers so it won’t withstand large swells. But a sea kayak is longer and narrower, which makes it fast and easy to paddle. This unique hull’s shape of a sea vessel offers it more excellent stability to handle the waves.
Most sea boats sit a little lower in the water, which improves its glide in unfriendly weather conditions. Of course, their narrower dimensions mean ocean kayaks are harder to turn. Another thing that separates sea kayaks from others is their unique sit-in design. Unlike sit on top types, this one gives more freedom to explore the sea. That’s because the elements do not limit you.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Kayaks are easy to manage, but proper care will make them last longer. Here are a few tips to help keep your boat in good shape.
Maintain the habit of rinsing your kayak with fresh water after each use. This prevents dirt buildup that could cause bacteria growth or mar your boat’s looks. Besides, if paddling on saltwater, washing with freshwater will protect the metal parts from rust.
Many kayaks can’t withstand prolonged sun exposure, hence needing to keep them indoors or apply a sun protectant. For outdoor storage, dry the inside, then use a cockpit cover to keep the rain off. To prevent oil canning cases, you should store your boat on its edge using a specialized hanger.
- Replace worn bungee cords and deck lines
After years of repeated exposure to the elements, your deck lines and ropes will weaken. Once this happens, the best action is a replacement.
The sand buildup will make the footpegs hard to adjust. So, regular cleaning will make them slide easily and comfortable to use.
Safety tips for kayaking
The key to preventing a bad experience and staying safe is to plan against danger. Here are a few things you can do whenever you want to paddle in rough waters.
- Choose the right clothes for the weather conditions. If paddling in cold water, for instance, wear a thick suit to keep warm. On a hot day, wearing a breathable material will help. You should also protect your skin from the sun by wearing a hat and long sleeves.
- Consider wearing a helmet if kayaking in rocky water, rapids, and fast-flowing rivers.
- Choose a kayaking location that suits your skill level. It’s safer to start-up in stable or shallow water then move to a rougher area when your skills improve.
- Practice re-entering from the water before going on a long trip.
- Check your gear and ensure everything works well before you hit off.
- Use reflective tapes and wear bright clothing as you venture into a high-traffic area.
It’s Time to Wrap UP
Now that you’ve gone through our reviews of the best touring kayaks, hopefully, you’ll now be able to make the right choice. Generally, touring boats have plenty of storage space, allowing you to carry everything needed.
If you’re short on cash, the Intex K2 is the best pick. This kayak is lightweight, durable, and easy to transport. It also has two comfort seats for stress-free paddling, and the skeg makes it easier to control.
For those looking for a longer boat for river or ocean kayaking, the Tsunami 165 is perfect with ample storage space for a multi-day trip. For the ideal balance between speed, stability, and comfort, the Perception Conduit is a decent option.
In all our picks, we focused on models that’ll offer you comfort, durability, and excellent performance. As long as you know your budget, skill level, and paddling area, you can find the right fit.
1. What is the difference between a recreational and touring kayak?
Ans. Recreational kayaks are for short rides in calmer waters. Since they are made of less durable materials, recreational boats are generally cheap. Their shorter length makes them easier to turn but a bit harder to track. Still, they have less storage space for a long trip.
In terms of shape, recreational kayaks have broader hulls that make the more stable but easily affected by wind. You can start with a recreational boat then upgrade to a touring kayak.
Touring kayaks are longer and faster, but difficult to turn. They have plenty of storage space, which makes them perfect for longer trips. Traveling boats are generally narrow, which adds to their speed but hard to stabilize. Overall, touring kayaks are more durable and versatile, allowing you to ride in rougher waters.
2. What’s the right length of a women’s kayak?
Ans. Women should opt for one in the 11 to 13 feet range. That’s because they’re fast and \easier to steer than the more extended models.
3. How fast should I get when paddling?
Ans. On average, your pace will be around 3 to 4 mph. But if you’re on a race, you can reach up to 7 to 9 mph.
4. How can I balance my kayak?
Ans. The major challenge with balancing is in how you pack your gear. For example, if one side is heavy than necessary, your boat might tip over. So, despite what you carry, ensure you spread the weight evenly.
5. Should I always wear a PFD?
Ans. We expect that every paddler should wear a life jacket or PFD at all times. Of course, this will keep you floating if you tip over.
6. Will I get wet when kayaking?
Ans. It’s impossible to stay dry on the sea, but you’ll be less wet with a sit-in kayak.
7. Longer or shorter kayak - which is better?
Ans. For touring kayaks, more extended models are better because they’re faster, more stable, easier to paddle and track better.