Kayaking is all fun and games until you have to cut your trips short because you’re out of breath and your arms feel sore. If this is a problem you’re facing, then you’ve landed in the right place.
Putting a sail rig on your vessel can make your kayaking adventures more comfortable, shake up the routine, and sprinkle some speed on top. Instead of fighting the wind, you can use this strong breeze pushing at your back to make things more convenient while on the water.
This is our invitation to start a new realm of kayaking, so continue reading while we tell you about the best kayak sail kits on the market, along with some information about their features and which one will best meet your needs.
What’s a Kayak Sail Kit and Why Do You Need It?
A kayak sail is just like any sail you put on a boat to develop some speed. It’s a way to propel a kayak by the wind’s power instead of using paddling force.
The first places where kayakers started using kayak sails were in Australia and New Zealand. Then the idea appealed to more people and started spreading from there to North America and the rest of the world.
Why buy a kayak sail, you ask? Because why should you miss something great when you can have the best of both worlds! Having a kayak sail onboard won’t take away your pleasure of paddling. You can paddle as usual, and when the wind conditions are suitable, you can pop a sail and add speed and fun to your outing.
Honestly, we’ve seen paddlers calling the day off when it’s windy because it’s much of a hassle to paddle in such conditions. For us, these conditions are just opportunities to bring our sail kits out and enjoy the wind as a friend.
However, gaining speed isn’t the only reason you should get a kayak sail. Although getting somewhere faster than everyone else is a pleasure in itself, there are some other benefits you get out of using a kayak sail, such as:
More Fun and Less Exertion
For starters, a kayak sail will get you off the couch and more out on the water, especially if you go out in groups. Rather than fighting to catch up with the speed of other seasoned kayakers, you can get ahead of the group quickly and maybe even lower your sail and wait for them.
With a sail on, you’ll have more freedom to sit back, enjoy the scenery and take a drink. Even if you sail alone, you’ll be able to organize your gear while on the move and do other activities like touring, fishing, surfing, and navigating. You’ll also have the opportunity to cover more distance before your energy drains out.
Become a Better Kayaker
When kayak sailing, you’ll deal with new elements and learn how to work your way around them. For example, you’ll learn how to react faster to waves, so when you’re paddling without a sail, you’ll become comfortable in high surf conditions.
Moreover, dealing with the wind will perfect your bracing skills, meaning that you’ll know how to maintain your position and correct yourself if you go off balance.
Enjoy Hands-Free Fishing
Finally, if you use your kayak for fishing, you’ll love the fact that you’ll have both your hands free to adjust the rods and focus on reeling in your game without the paddles getting in your way.
It’s also great for trolling. See, the problem with this technique is that fish can get spooked by the sound and movement of your paddles. With a kayak sail, you can set your baited lines and fish while the wind moves your vessel slowly with zero noise.
The 4 Best Kayak Sail Kits
So enough with the prep talk, and let’s get into the reviews. Here are all the details you need about our favorite kayak sail kits, their pros, cons and what makes each of them a worthy choice.
1. Advanced Elements RapidUp - Our Top Choice
Advanced Elements RapidUp
Our Top Choice
Kicking off our list is the iconic RapidUp sail from the well-known brand Advanced Elements. In all our trips, this model has never disappointed us. Crafted from extremely durable rip-stop sailcloth and reinforced with solid stitching, this model is built to last.
It boasts a unique design that mixes the shapes of V-shaped sails and round ones. This allows it to grab more wind and speed the kayak up. In our trails, we reached a speed of 3-5 miles per hour without any paddling. This exceeds the average speed maintained by recreational paddlers. As long as there is a downwind breeze, it’ll mostly move in one direction.
To provide a clear view, the model is outfitted with three visors, one in the front and one on each side of the paddler. The windows are made of pliable, high-quality plastic found on high-end sails.
Since the model is made by a company that specializes in inflatable kayaks, it works best with this type of vessel. However, it won’t say no to rigid kayaks or even canoes. In fact, it comes with all kinds of anchoring tools, including quick connecting lanyards, adjustable attachments, D-rings, and a carabiner base clip.
With that said, the setup is a breeze, and it’s made even easier thanks to the instruction manual that comes included. Moreover, it pops up and folds easily with the help of the non-corroding spring frame.
The only downside is that measuring 36 x 59 inches, the model’s folded size isn’t as compact as advertised. You might find it hard to stow in the limited space of your deck. We deal with this problem by leaving the sail secured on the bow, so it’s not a big issue after all.
- Excellent top speed
- Non-corroding, tough construction
- Three windows for a clear view
- Easy to install
- Multiple attachment rigging
- Comes with a handy zippered case
- More on the pricier side
- Can be large even when folded
All in all, this model comes from a company with an outstanding reputation. It’s sturdy, stable, and above all, easy to set up and use.
2. LoneRobe Wind Sail - Best for Relaxed Sailing
LoneRobe Wind Sail
Best for Relaxed Sailing
Unlike the previous model, LoneRobe Wind Sail isn’t built to make you the fastest kayaker out there but guarantees you a laid-back trip where you can enjoy other activities as well.
The fastest you can get with this sail is 3-4 miles per hour. It won’t add much speed but will keep you going if you want to troll fish or stop paddling and enjoy a snack while moving towards your destination.
This circle-shaped sail works best when heading downwind. It’s super easy to use, and although it won’t be up to the taste of advanced sailors, it will keep beginners interested. It’ll help them assess, read, and anticipate what the wind is up to, improving their sailing skills in the process.
Measuring 42.5 x 42.5 inches, it can be set up easily using the included clips and adjustable attachments. It’s launched from the front of the kayak, and owing to its foldable structure, you can stow it easily when not in use.
Made of high-quality PVC, the sail is extremely tough and reliable. It’ll keep its shape in strong winds and won’t turn your kayak into a heavy and complicated sailboat.
It boasts a window in the center, so you won’t have to worry about colliding with unseen obstructions. Furthermore, it comes in four different colors, so you can choose the design that adds a touch of coolness to your kayak.
- Compact and portable
- Easy to store and deploy
- Comes with a storage bag
- Maintains its shape over time
- Competitive price
- Lacks installation instructions
If you go on long trips or kayak regularly and want a sail to do the hard job, this model will put a smile on your face. It will save you from paddling all the time, add an acceptable speed to your kayak, and guarantees you overall comfortable kayaking trips.
3. VGEBY1 Wind Sail - Budget Choice
VGEBY1 Wind Sail
It’s a fact that you get what you pay for, but with VGEBY1 Wind Sail, you get much more because it’s cheap as chips yet performs like a couple hundred dollars worth of a sail.
Boasting a circular shape and a diameter of 42 inches, the model is suitable for all types of kayaks, inflatables, and canoes.
The adjustment straps and clips make the setup process a breeze. It’s also easy to operate. Just mount it to the front of your yak and hold the clips to pop it up, or lay them to fold it down when it’s time to paddle again.
The model is made from top-notch PVC, and the overall construction is rigid. It doesn't get wet no matter how much water comes in contact with it and won’t add extra weight to your kayak.
Thanks to its center window, you’ll have a clear view of the water so you can dodge any obstructions. Moreover, its bright orange color will increase your visibility, enhancing your safety on the water.
Like LobeRobe Wind Sail, this model won’t make you break any speed records. However, it’ll give you a good opportunity to learn and master sailing skills without posing any dangers to you.
- Comes with a storage bag
- Adjustable attachments for multiple kayak sizes
- Folds into a disk shape for easy storage
- Easy to set up
- Longevity issues
- Moves in one direction only
The VGEBY1 Wind Sail offers an affordable way to take advantage of wind power. It’s fun, portable, comfortable, and makes an excellent entry-level sail if you want a cheaper one to learn on so that you can upgrade to a more advanced sail later.
4. Hydra52 Kayak Sail - Most Durable
Looking for a kayak sail that’ll last you a lifetime and keep performing like day one? Hydra52 won’t disappoint you.
This bad boy is made of a mixture of poly taffeta and PVC. The materials are incredibly stout, and the seams are triple stitched with durable nylon and extra stitching at stress points. In short, the whole construction is unbeatable, and even after repeated use, it’ll still maintain its shape and perform like the high-quality sail it is.
Sporting a circular shape with a diameter of 42 inches, it can’t move in any direction except downwind and can only be mounted on kayaks with narrower decks.
However, owing to its durable construction, it holds up well to strong wind, so you can use it in conditions that go beyond a simple breeze without worrying about it being wrecked by harsh wind. It’ll also bring your kayak to the hull speed effortlessly.
To deal with the inevitable visibility issues that arise from putting a sail on the front deck, the model is outfitted with a transparent visor in the center. Moreover, it comes in four colors to increase your visibility and safety during the hours of darkness.
The sail is easy to set up and deploy without complicated tools, and in case you don’t need it anymore, it breaks down for easy storage in the bow or stern. Add all these awesome features to the attractive price, and you have a bargain that’s hard to beat.
- Extra-durable materials
- Triple stitching for stronger seams
- Speedy performance
- Comes in four colors
- Easy to set up and use
- Can only be used downwind
- Works on smaller kayaks only
This model is well-crafted, extra durable, and fun to use. It provides paddlers with speed without losing the simplicity of using a kayak and, above all, guarantees them a lifetime of great sailing.
What to Look for in Kayak Sail Kits?
Kayak sails aren’t rocket science. They’re pretty easy to understand and don’t cost a fortune but can be confusing if it’s your first time buying and using one. To help you point out quality ones and avoid low-grade options, here are the features you should look for in a kayak sail kit:
First of all, there are three types of kayak sails:
As its name indicates, it takes the shape of a circle and usually features a visor in the middle so that paddlers can see the view ahead of them.
It’s the most common type, and although it goes only in one direction, it’s the most recommended for novices as it’s easy to control and maneuver. It can be installed at the bow or center of the kayak, and thanks to its collapsible design, it’s easy to pop up or down.
V-shaped sails, also referred to as downwind sails, are the ones that take the shape of a bell when filled with air.
Like the previous type, they only go in the direction of the wind. However, their disadvantage is that they’re heavy and can cause your vessel to tip over if you’re not careful, so only kayakers with some experience under their belt can deal with them.
L-shaped sails are the best type in terms of technique and movement. Their major positive is that they can be adjusted to move left or right, allowing you to go in more than one direction. Another advantage is that they’re usually set to be higher up. This makes the whole view in front of you clear without the need for a transparent visor or window.
The only drawback is that this type of sail is the hardest to mount and most complex to understand and control.
After settling on a type, you should check the material of which the sail is made. In general, kayak sails are made of carbon fiber, plastic, or laminated cloth.
Carbon fiber is a stiff and lightweight material that holds its shape for years and doesn’t break down from UV light. It’s the best you can opt for, although it costs the most and is usually used in the mast of L-shaped sails only.
Plastic is the go-to material for most kayakers, thanks to its durability and affordable price. Like carbon fiber, it doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your kayak. Besides, it’s water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about it getting wet and heavy in the rain. However, it requires lots of maintenance to keep it clean and prevent it from stretching and eventually splitting.
On the other hand, laminated cloth lasts longer than plastic, but its efficiency drops faster. That’s why many manufacturers use both materials in their sails to acquire the right balance. Nevertheless, unless it’s cured properly and sealed, it gets wet quickly and adds extra weight to the yak.
The size of your sail determines your speed. The larger the sail, the larger the surface area to catch the wind, and thus the faster your kayak will be.
However, you should base your decision on your kayak’s shape and size rather than the speed you want to achieve. A too-large sail can make a small kayak less stable and harder to control. It can also block your view and hinder your paddling strokes.
Unless you have a big tandem kayak, you shouldn’t go for large sails. Medium-size and small sails are always better choices for solo kayaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions we hear quite often, so we’ve compiled them below along with straight-to-the-point answers for those who want to know more about kayak sail kits.
Do Kayak Sails Get in the Way?
Not if you choose the right size! Keeping a kayak sail out of the way shouldn’t be a hassle, provided that you have space on your vessel. If you have a short and narrow yak, the sail may get in the way of your paddle strokes if it’s big.
Do Kayak Sails Slow Paddling?
Quite the opposite, actually! However, if there’s a lack of wind, you’ll only experience significant drag and might find yourself stuck in the same spot without moving. Also, sailing directly into the wind can slow you down. To get to your upwind destination faster, try lowering your sail and paddling instead.
How Fast Can I Go with a Kayak Sail?
That depends on many factors, including the shape of your kayak’s hull, the current, and wind conditions. However, we can say that a kayak’s speed with a sail can be anywhere from 3 to 8 miles per hour. At the fast end, some racing kayaks can attain a top speed of 12-14 miles per hour.
Are Kayak Sails Safe?
Kayaking with a sail is as safe as kayaking without one. Just make sure you choose the right sail for your skill level and kayak’s size. Apart from that, you have to follow the same safety rules you’d use if you don’t have a sail on, such as wearing a life jacket and abstaining from alcohol.
The Final Say
We’ve reached the end of our article, but it’s just the start of a new type of sport for you! We hope you’ve found what you’re looking for in our list of the best kayak sail kits.
If you’re still on the fence, we recommend that you go for Advanced Elements RapidUp. The model is a mile-burner and super easy to use even if you don’t have previous experience. You can attach it to any type of kayak and enjoy the extra push you need on a long day on the water.
Next on our final recommendations is the LoneRobe Wind Sail. If having a relaxed kayaking experience is what’s in your mind, this is the best kayak sail to use in light to medium winds.