If you love long water trips or if you want a kayak with ample storage where you can bring along as much gear as you wish, touring kayaks are your answer.
There are certain features that good touring kayaks must have to enable you to go on a long trip without facing any hazardous situations. And for you to pick the right one, you must be well-informed on these features.
In this guide, we have compiled a list of the best touring kayaks on the market, as well as the factors you should tick off of your checklist before buying one. You'll also find more information on what a touring kayak is and who should buy it.
The 5 Best Touring Kayaks
1. Riot Kayaks Brittany - Best Overall
If you’re not on a budget, we recommend you go for Riot Kayaks Brittany, the most feature-rich kayak on our list.
Besides being the longest kayak on our list with its 16.5 feet, it comes with three hatches, each with a separate compartment, offering ample storage area.
Further, it features a paddle hook where you can store your paddles. This way, they won't take up any of your legroom, so you can stretch your legs and relax.
Moreover, it offers the second-highest weight capacity as it accommodates up to 350 pounds. Being a solo touring yak, this is impressive as it means that you can load the kayak with as much gear as you wish.
We love that Riot Kayaks Brittany features not only a skeg but also a retractable rudder. Being retractable comes in handy when you want to store the yak or when you're traveling.
Having a rudder on your kayak is recommended because it helps you paddle in a straight line even when it is windy. It also improves tracking and enables you to turn easily.
As for the skeg, it serves to stabilize the boat and helps you have control over the boat's direction.
Since lacking comfort is a deal-breaker when it comes to buying a touring yak, this sit-inside model is impressively comfortable. It comes with custom-fit seating, thigh braces and adjustable foot braces. This makes the kayak suitable and convenient for different-sized paddlers.
Coming at 51 pounds, Riot Kayaks Brittany is relatively lightweight compared to its counterparts.
Thanks to its visible yellow color and reflective lifeline, you will be visible in the water, which is a huge plus in an emergency and during nighttime trips. To boost safety even more, it comes with safety straps.
- Excellent trackability
- High weight limit
- Comes with a rudder and a skeg
- The seats could be more comfortable
Riot Kayaks Brittany is an excellent touring yak for those who need one for long trips because of its ample storage and comfortable seat. Besides, you’ll enjoy effortless paddling thanks to its rudder and skeg.
2. Riot Kayaks Edge - Runner-Up
If you need a kayak similar to Riot Kayaks Brittany without breaking the bank, go for Riot Kayaks Edge.
Like Brittany, Edge comes with an integrated rudder system and a retractable skeg, allowing paddlers -even the inexperienced ones- to navigate a straight line easily. This feature makes it one of the best touring kayaks for long-distance trips.
This sit-inside yak features a custom fit seating system with built-in thigh braces to accommodate paddlers of different sizes and adjustable sliding foot braces, offering you the comfort you need on long trips.
At 14.5 feet long, Riot Kayaks Edge offers plenty of storage space as it has dry sealed hatches in the front and rear. Plus, it comes with bungee cords on its bow and stern.
Besides, it is a solo kayak that accommodates up to 325 pounds, meaning that you can load it with as much gear as you wish.
Whenever you need to stop paddling and just relax, you can secure your paddles in the built-in paddle hook.
What’s more, it’s durable polyethylene construction ensures it is tough enough to stay around for years.
We believe that Riot Kayaks take the safety of their customers pretty seriously since Edge and Brittany feature safety straps, reflective lines and a security bar to ensure your trip is free from any risk.
What's more, its yellow color is quite visible for night paddling, and it features a drain plug so that even if you paddle in windy weather, the water still gets out of your kayak effortlessly.
Sadly, it is pretty heavy, weighing 60 pounds.
- Nice trackability
- Features a drain plug
- Has a rudder and a skeg
- High weight capacity
- Comes with a paddle hook
- No accessories
Riot Kayaks Edge is a nice and affordable option for those looking for a solo kayak with high weight capacity and ample storage. Its main drawback is its heaviness, but it is nothing serious.
3. Perception Rambler - Best Sit-On-Top Kayak
Touring kayaks are almost always sit-inside; however, Perception Rambler is one of the very few excellent touring sit-on-top yaks on the market.
Being a sit-on-top yak, it is suitable for paddlers of various experience levels. Plus, if you’re a beginner, you won't feel claustrophobic, and that is something most beginners complain about when they paddle a sit-in kayak.
What’s more, it is a tandem kayak that features two seats with an additional mold-in center seat. So, it is the perfect option for families as you can paddle it with your spouse and kid or pet.
The seats are roomy, so you’ll have no problem getting in and out. But take care that the minimum number of people to paddle the yak is two; otherwise it becomes cumbersome.
This means that it wouldn't be the wisest decision buying Perception Rambler if you want to get a tandem yak to enjoy the extra storage space.
It is especially great for adults with back pain thanks to its adjustable and removable padded seats with adjustable backrests. Besides, there are multiple footrest options to accommodate different-sized paddlers.
The storage area is pretty ample here since this yak is 13.5 feet long with a sit-on-top design. It offers a wide rear open storage where you can secure a cooler or any gear you want.
Another reason you can pack the yak with all your gear is its ability to accommodate up to 550 pounds, which is the highest weight capacity of any touring yak. However, given that it doesn't have any storage compartments, your gear is likely to get wet.
Sadly, it is the heaviest model on the list coming at 78 pounds. Yet, given that it suits up to three people, its weight is pretty reasonable.
Another complaint we found is that it doesn't offer the best trackability.
- Great for families
- Highest weight capacity
- Ample storage space
- Comfy seats
- Multiple footrest options
- Bad tracking
- Does not come with a paddle
- No rudder or skeg
- Your gear might get wet
Perception Rambler is your only and best option if you’re searching for a tandem sit-on-top touring kayak that is also pet-friendly. Besides, its affordability is a great plus.
4. Sun Dolphin Aruba - Budget Hardshell Option
All of the above options are great but kind of expensive. So, if you need an affordable hardshell, Sun Dolphin Aruba is your one.
It is one of the most durable touring kayaks on the market with its rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene construction. Plus, its 12 feet narrow body offers the stability all paddlers look for.
The seat on this kayak is so comfortable, given that it is designed in a way that reduces pressure on your sciatic nerve. Besides, it features a spacious cockpit, allowing you to stretch your legs. Since the cockpit is wide, it comes as no surprise that you can grab as much gear as you need.
However, what truly makes Sun Dolphin Aruba stand out is its covered storage area that allows paddlers to bring along their phones without worrying about them getting wet. Further, you can grab the extra gear and strap it on the deck, thanks to the bungee system.
Note, though, that it accommodates up to 275 pounds, so make sure not to exceed this limit for safety reasons.
Happily, it is the lightest hardshell kayak, weighing 47 pounds only.
- Covered storage area
- Durable and stable
- Might not track well
- The material could be improved
Sun Dolphin Aruba is the one for people searching for an affordable and lightweight hardshell kayak. Its stability and decent storage space make it one of the best options on the list.
5. Intex Challenger K1 - Budget Pick
Intex Challenger K1
Are you still new to kayaking? Are you still not sure if you love touring kayaks or not? Intex Challenger K1 is the perfect choice to help you decide as it comes at a very decent price range. This means that even if you find out that you don't like it, you won’t cry a river about the money you’ve paid.
Made of puncture-resistant vinyl, this yak will surely stay in good shape for years. And in case you don't trust the safety of inflatable kayaks, this one comes with two air chambers, which means that even if one of them got punctured, the other one would stay afloat to get you to the shore.
Being one of the best touring yaks on the market, it features one comfortable seat with backrest and separate inflatable footrest. Plus, the bottom employs an I-beam floor, boosting the yak’s buoyancy and stability.
One of the many features that render it an excellent touring kayak is its removable skeg that improves its stability in lousy weather conditions. However, it is best to use it in warm weather only.
The storage space is not one of the most attractive features of this 9-feet kayak. However, it is great for a kayak at such an affordable price as it features a cargo net on the front, so you can quickly grab whatever's inside.
Besides, it accommodates up to 220 pounds, which means that you can grab only the essentials as this weight limit is comparatively low.
Being an inflatable, it is pretty light coming at 27 pounds only. Plus, it features two grab lines on both ends, so you can easily transport it while it is inflated.
It is needless to mention that aside from being suitable for beginners, it is also convenient for anyone who is short on storage space. When deflated, this compact yak is a breeze to store.
What's more, it comes with a carry bag and a hand/foot pump, so that you can easily and quickly deflate it and put it inside its bag along with the paddle and pump.
In case you want to paddle it at night, its green color and attractive graphics will make you visible.
- Visible color
- Features a skeg
- Compact and easy to store
- Comfortable seat with backrest
- Comes with paddles, oars, pump and a carrying bag
- Not suitable for saltwater
- Minimal storage space
Intex Challenger K1 is great for beginners only thanks to its low price, comfortable seat, stability and safety. However, experienced paddlers won't appreciate its tight storage area, short length, or low weight capacity.
Touring Kayak: What is it and Who Should Buy It
Touring kayaks are long vessels with ample storage space and comfortable seats. In other words, they are an upgrade to recreational ones.
The hull design on such kayaks is different from that of other types in a way that enables paddlers of touring kayaks to track well and stand their ground in rough water conditions without getting swamped by a wave.
Plus, most touring yaks come with rudders, allowing for impressive maneuverability and tracking. This way, you can rest assured that no matter how tough the water is, you can always turn around easily and move in a straight line.
If you love being on the water for extended hours or even days, this is the type of kayak you should go for. Besides its stability and maneuverability, it is pretty comfy and offers convenient storage. For example, most kayaks come with multiple storage options, including dry hatch compartments in the bow and stern where you can pack your camping gear.
Are There Any Differences Between Touring and Sea Kayaks?
Touring kayaks and sea kayaks are similar in tons of properties, yet they differ in some.Both types are perfect for more-than-one-day trips due to their spacious storage. Yet, as its name implies, a sea kayak is designed for paddling in oceans; whereas, a touring kayak is better suited for mild rivers and smooth water.
Another difference is that paddlers of touring kayaks might find difficulty in making tight turns. This makes it unsuitable for narrow watercourses. On the other hand, a sea kayak is easier to control.
However, sea kayaks are only excellent in, well, seas. When used out of their environment, they lose their charm and lose some of their advantages. For instance, they become less maneuverable and less stable on flat water.
How to Pick an Excellent Touring Kayak
Since you’re going to spend hours or maybe even days in your touring kayak, you must make sure that you buy an excellent one. For this reason, we’ve decided to prepare the properties that should be on your buying checklist.
We believe that comfort is the first and most crucial factor you should check before buying a touring kayak, given that you’re likely to spend multiple days in it. Your trip wouldn't be fun if it is painful, would it?
Yet, note that you should not only test the comfort of the seats. You should also check if the cockpit size is suitable for you. How to do that? Check if you can easily straighten your legs inside the vessel and make sure that your hips and thighs are close to the edges so that you’re well-balanced.
The material of a kayak is a key factor determining whether it will last for years or not. For this reason, we advise you to buy one of high-quality. These kayaks are either made of plastic or composite, where each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages.
For example, plastic kayaks are better at dealing with bumps, are more affordable and easier to repair than their composite counterparts. However, they are heavier.
In case money is not an issue, you can go for composite kayaks as they’re lighter, allowing you to paddle with more speed.
It’s worth mentioning that the longer the kayak, the more efficiently it will move through the water. While shorter kayaks are more maneuverable and more comfortable to transport.
If you’ll paddle for long distances, you will be better off with a long kayak because you’ll appreciate the bigger storage area. If you’ll paddle for a short period of time, you can go with shorter kayaks.
Skeg and Rudder
Having a skeg or a rudder on your kayak is a huge plus. But first, let’s know what they are and why they are essential.
A rudder is usually attached to the back of the stern and operated by a foot pedal. This way, you can use your hands for paddling. Its primary function is to help you paddle in a straight line, especially in windy weather.
A rudder is attached to the very back of the stern and is often operated by a foot pedal in the cockpit so that your hands are still free to paddle. It can be moved from side to side to help you steer.
It also helps with turning and controlling your direction. Plus, it can be removed when you don't need it if the weather is beautiful or when you need to store the kayak.
As for the skeg, it is located under the stern, but you can't move it from side to side as you can with a rudder. It also helps you move in a straight line.
Maximum Weight Capacity
Before buying a kayak, check its weight limit to make sure that it fits you. And don't forget to add in the weight of the gear you’ll bring on board.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the Recommended Length for a Woman’s Touring Kayak?
Touring kayaks are usually 11 to 15 feet long. Women should go for one between 11 to 13 feet because it is long enough to offer ample storage while being easy to control.
Is the Color of the Kayak Important?
Yes. It is especially important if you’ll paddle around motorized boats as it makes you visible and thus safe. In this case, get a bright color like orange, yellow, or green.
Will I Get Wet?
Yes, there is no way of escaping this, especially since touring kayaks are a sit-in.
Choosing a suitable touring kayak gets easy once you know how to pick one. Hopefully, after having read the article, the process now looks clearer for you.
In case you’re still at a loss, we will further help you by highlighting some of the models on the list above.
If you need a kayak with tons of features, go for the reasonably-expensive Riot Kayaks Brittany. Its 16.5 feet length allows it to move efficiently through the water. Plus, it offers ample storage beside featuring an incredibly comfortable seat with thigh braces and adjustable foot braces.
If you need a model that is as close as Riot Kayaks Brittany in being feature-rich, but without having to pay lots of money, you can purchase Riot Kayaks Edge. It is shorter than the former model measuring 14.5 feet. While this makes it less efficient while moving on the water, it boosts its maneuverability and lets you feel more in control. Further, it offers plenty of storage space with dry sealed hatches. Besides, you’ll love the comfortable seat with built-in thigh braces and adjustable sliding foot braces.
You can opt for the affordable Intex Challenger K1 if you’re new to paddling and still want to test yourself. It is stable, durable, comes with paddles, oars, pump and a carrying bag. Plus, it features comfortable seats with backrest and a skeg.