Best Touring Kayak

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As more people are embracing the endemic phase of Covid-19, the number of people who begin kayaking again is growing rapidly. Many people are itching to travel after being cooped up at home for so long.

As a seasoned kayaker, you may dream of travelling around from place to place with a kayak. For that to be possible, you’ll definitely need a touring kayak. 

If your current boat is a beginner kayak or recreational kayak, those are not suitable or secure enough for touring. Those are built with stability and user-friendliness in mind. So, they are not ideal for long-distance paddling.  

[Also read: our Best Kayak For Beginner guide if you are looking for a beginner kayak instead]

A touring kayak needs to be reliable enough to carry you through until the end of your journey. The last thing you’d ever want is an uncomfortable ride that slows down your entire journey.

So in this article, we put together our findings on the best touring kayaks that can go the distance and ensure you a safe watery tour. We also give you a few tips on how to choose the right one for your needs.

Table of Contents

5 Best Touring Kayak

How To Select The Best Touring Kayak

A touring kayak is designed for long-distance paddling and rougher waters. Thus, you will need a boat that is reliable. So it does not fail you halfway through your tour. Also equally important is it’s able to support all your cargo as well. 

Here’s a list of a few important aspects that you need to consider when selecting the ideal touring kayak for you:

Weight capacity to lift you and your cargo

Are you a light traveller? If you are not, you certainly need to get the largest weight capacity you can afford. 

This is the most important aspect of a touring kayak. So, we’re covering this first. 

Touring means you’ll be travelling for a few days at least. Hence, you must ensure that your boat has enough capacity to not only lift you. But also your baggage for a few nights as well. 

Unlike flying, you cannot conveniently buy extra storage if you somehow exceeded the weight limit. You’re at risk of capsizing or sinking if you exceed your kayak’s weight capacity. 

So, always pay A LOT of attention to the weight of your luggage and your kayak capacity.

Storage space to store all your cargo

If you are to tour around for a few days, you definitely have a sizeable cargo with you. Some kayak has massive weight capacity but lacks in storage space. That’s why you’d want to look for a kayak based on the items you normally bring for touring. 

Don’t forget to ensure that the kayak has sufficient space for dry storage too. This is where you’d want to keep your sensitive items like phones, wallets, cameras and other small electronics. 

Because the lack of dry storage space means you have to buy more waterproof bags to store your items instead. Those bags aren’t cheap and they’ll take up a lot of space. 

Comfort for the long hours of sitting on the kayak

Touring through the water often means spending long hours paddling. So, comfort is something you definitely do not want to overlook. 

It’s not fun when you end up with a sore body halfway through your trip. 

Look out for features which provide comfort like ergonomic designs or cushions. Even simple features like a paddle park can be very helpful. You can conveniently stow your paddle away to rest your arms. A little goes a long way here. 

Great handling and performance for efficient paddling

This is one of the bigger differences in a touring kayak. It’s mainly designed to be fast and performs well on the water. Or else your journey will be unnecessarily long, moving slowly on the water due to inefficient kayaks.

For a kayak to be fast, it generally has to be narrow and long.

With less surface area between the water and kayak, there will be lesser overall drag and friction. It makes it easier for you to paddle. Consequently, that also allows you to cover more distance with a lesser amount of effort – more efficient. 

That’s why we’ve shortlisted only long and narrow kayaks to review later.     

Having a skeg or rudder

A skeg and a rudder help to improve the kayak’s performance. So, it is common to find these on a touring kayak. 

What is a skeg

A skeg helps to improve tracking. It creates resistance caused by wind and waves. So, you can maintain your direction even on rougher waters.  

What is a rudder

A rudder is very similar to a skeg, in the sense that it helps to improve tracking while paddling. The difference is that a rudder’s blade can be turned left or right too. Hence, allowing you to steer the kayak too. Helping you to manoeuvre with ease. 

Which one for me

Both skeg and rudder help to improve tracking. But a rudder can help to improve manoeuvrability as well. 

Frankly, you can definitely paddle without having any of them on your kayak. But having one would definitely improve your paddling performance for sure.

Since rudder helps you to manoeuvre as well, it is more sophisticated to use. Therefore, if you prefer to keep your paddling straightforward, choose skeg over a rudder. 

The Best Touring Kayak

So, we have spent a lot of time researching numerous different kayaks for touring. And we have shortlisted 5 of the best for your consideration.

Perception Expression 11.5 Specs

Length: 11’7″

Width: 25.75″

Max Capacity: 250 lbs

Weight: 44 lbs

The Expression 11.5 from Perception Kayak is an interesting cross between a touring kayak and a recreational kayak. They practically picked a bunch of touring kayak features and condensed them into this hybrid kayak. 

So if you are upgrading from a beginner’s kayak, but are unsure whether to pick a touring kayak or a recreational kayak, this is the boat for you. Or if you are a seasoned kayaker looking for an upgrade, but don’t want to manage a very long kayak, this is the kayak for you too. 

Being a hybrid, this kayak has the advantages of a touring kayak. It performs well thanks to its deployable skeg. Plus, there’s sufficient storage for your excursion needs. Comfort-wise, it’s definitely not lacking. The seat is padded and adjustable. The footrests at the bow are adjustable too. 

However, the Expression 11.5 is neither the best performing kayak nor the one with the most storage space. A typical drawback of being a hybrid. So, if you are a veteran kayaker who has already been touring around regularly, you may find those 2 aspects a bit lacking. 

Pro

  • Has the features of a touring kayak in a compact size
  • Easy to carry and handle due to its lightweight
  • Very comfortable to paddle in

Con

  • Not suitable for multiple days of touring

PROS

CONS

  • Has the features of a touring kayak in a compact size
  • Easy to carry and handle due to its lightweight
  • Very comfortable to paddle in

 

  • Not suitable for multiple days of touring

Aquaglide Navarro 145 Specs

Length: 14’4″

Width: 39″

Max Capacity: 500 lbs

Weight: 36 lbs

Still not ready to get a kayak rack, but it’s high time to upgrade from your beginner’s kayak? Aquaglide got you covered there. And to make things sweeter, you can even go touring with a buddy with their Navarro 145. 

The Navarro 145 is an inflatable touring kayak that can fit up to 2 people. Both in terms of space and weight capacity. But it’s fine if you want to paddle alone too. 

In terms of comfort, Aquaglide covered this area quite well. Despite being inflatable, the seat is thickly padded and made from breathable material. The seats and footrests are adjustable. So you can change your posture after a while. 

At 39 inches across, this kayak is very wide for a touring kayak standard. So, naturally you can expect a rather average speed on the water. Performance-wise, it’s quite lacking too since there’s no skeg or rudder. 

Pro

  • Highly versatile use
  • Very convenient to transport

Con

  • Rather slow & inefficient for a touring kayak
  • The package doesn’t include a pump

 

PROS

CONS

  • Highly versatile use
  • Very convenient to transport

 

  • Rather slow & inefficient for a touring kayak
  • The package doesn’t include a pump

 

Driftsun Almanor 146 Specs

Length: 14’6″

Width: 40″

Max Capacity: 600 lbs

Weight: 36 lbs

Another amazing inflatable kayak that we have shortlisted. Comes with all the benefits and convenience of an inflatable kayak. But unlike the Navarro 145, this Almanor 146 from Driftsun comes in a complete package.

You will get a pair of dual-blade paddles, a pump and a travel bag. That’s almost everything you need to hit the water. The only item left to get is a life jacket. 

So, this is a great choice not only for veterans but for beginners as well. 

The Almanor 146 can comfortably fit in 2 adults and 1 child. Perfect boat for a small family to go for a relaxing water excursion. Of course, with 3 people onboard, there will be no space left for cargo. Thus, not suitable for touring. 

However, it’s still very possible to fit 2 adults and some cargo if you like to use this kayak for touring. The downside is that there is no closed storage space. The only space you have is the open deck. 

Pro

  • Very convenient to transport
  • Comes in a complete package with paddle & pump

Con

  • No storage space except for the open deck
  • Rather slow & inefficient for a touring kayak

 

PROS

CONS

  • Very convenient to transport
  • Comes in a complete package with paddle & pump

 

  • No storage space except for the open deck
  • Rather slow & inefficient for a touring kayak

 

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Specs

Length: 10’5″

Width: 32″

Max Capacity: 300 lbs

Weight: 36 lbs

This is a rather small kayak but nevertheless, an interesting one. This AdvancedFrame from Advanced Elements is a hybrid between a folding kayak and an inflatable kayak. 

So, despite its small build, it performs rather well thanks to its aluminium ribs that form the bow and the stern. The stern can act as a skeg, thus giving this inflatable the trackability of a hard shell kayak. 

Among all kayaks we reviewed, we like this the most for its comfort. It has a high back seat. And the overall kayak is quite soft when inflated because recommended air pressure for this kayak is rather low. So, you are practically sitting on a large cushion. 

The downside is that the pump is sold separately, roughly $20 to $40. So, you need to ensure you get the pump with the right valves to inflate this kayak.

Fortunately, inflation and deflation is rather easy. There are 7 air chambers, guided by numbers. Just follow the sequence and in less than 10 minutes, you’re good to hit the waters. 

Pro

  • Inflatable kayak which performs like a hard shell kayak
  • Very comfortable to paddle for long hours

Con

 

  • The pump is sold separately

PROS

CONS

  • Inflatable kayak which performs like a hard shell kayak
  • Very comfortable to paddle for long hours

 

  • The pump is sold separately

Delta Kayak Delta 12.10 Specs

Length: 12’10”

Width: 25″

Max Capacity: 300 lbs

Weight: 41 lbs

The Delta 12.10 from Delta Kayak is a specifically made touring kayak. It has ample of storage hatch at the front and the rear. You can comfortably fit clothes for a 2 nights excursion. 

Furthermore, there is an easy-to-access and low-profile day hatch right in front of the pilot seat. We find this very convenient to store away items that you may want to grab while kayaking. Such as your camera, phone, GPS or even snacks.  

We really like that Delta Kayak designed a simple “press to lock” hatch cover. Making it very convenient to open and close those hatches securely. 

This kayak is very comfortable with ergonomically designed seats. You can adjust the seats anytime, even while paddling. There is also a pair of adjustable footrests which helps to cater to people of various heights. 

We found that many reported that their Delta 12.10 is still going strong even after many years. Sure, there will be some scratches and tears. But a good polish should clear those. All in all, it’s a very durable kayak. 

Pro

  • Convenient press to lock hatch cover
  • Durable enough to last for many years

Con

  • The rubber around the hatch cover will harden over time

PROS

CONS

  • Convenient press to lock hatch cover
  • Durable enough to last for many years

 

  • The rubber around the hatch cover will harden over time

Our Verdict

You certainly can’t go wrong with any of the kayaks we reviewed above. But if you’re still undecided, these are some noteworthy points;

If you are rather new to kayaking, it’s unlikely that you will go for an extended touring trip. For that reason, we recommend you the Driftsun Almanor 146. It doesn’t have a storage hatch but that isn’t a major drawback until you start touring far away places. 

If you are a regular kayaker, looking for an upgrade, we highly recommend the Delta 12.10. It’s a kayak made specifically with long-distance touring in mind. You won’t find this boat lacking for a very long time.

Frequently Asked Questions (Faq)

Q: Can I use my recreational kayak for touring?

A: Not entirely a no. You can use your recreational kayak for touring, but you’re limited by the type of waters you can go. Plus, you may find the storage space insufficient for touring multiple days.

Q: Are touring kayaks stable?

A: Most kayaks are built stable for their intended use. A touring kayak is designed for travelling long distance. Hence, its design prioritizes performance and speed over stability. So, if you’re looking for a very stable kayak, this may not be suitable for you.

Q: Are touring kayaks good for beginners?

A: We don’t usually recommend touring kayaks for beginners because it’s not the most stable type of kayak. Plus, it may be difficult to manage due to its size. But there are some touring kayaks that are beginner friendly, which we have reviewed above. 

Closing Thoughts

Kayak touring often involves some danger. Especially since you may be kayaking through coastal or sea waters. If this is your first kayak touring, we highly suggest you take up a coastal kayaking course first. Your safety is always the number 1 priority. 

About Us

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

Hi! We are Jules and Ken. We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Touring Kayak or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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