There’s nothing quite like getting out on the open water with just the sun, wind, and the sounds of Mother Nature surrounding you. Ditching noisy gasoline engines and even trolling motors can help you reconnect with nature in unique ways. Sure, you could use a canoe for that, but they’re notoriously unstable. A kayak is the better option, and when it comes to these watercraft, touring kayaks have a lot to offer. Sleek, stable, comfortable, and portable, they’ll help you go where you want, easily and with confidence. Of course, if you’ve never bought a kayak for touring before, it can be a daunting proposition. With the wide range of brands and models on the market, how do you really tell which is right for you? We’ve assembled a list of the best touring kayaks for you. We’ll run through a direct comparison, then dive into some in-depth kayak reviews, before wrapping up with a buying guide.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Touring Kayak
- 2 Oru Coast XT
- 3 Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
- 4 Perception Carolina Sit-Inside Touring Kayak – 14
- 5 Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak with Skeg and Rudder
- 6 Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Hardshell High Performance Sea Kayak
- 7 Perception Expression Sit-Inside Kayak for Light Touring – 11.5
- 8 Perception Conduit Sit-Inside Kayak for Recreation – 13.0
- 9 What You Need to Know before Buying a Touring Kayak
- 10 What Is a Touring Kayak?
- 11 Construction Material
- 12 Comfort
- 13 Size
- 14 Weight
- 15 Capacity
- 16 Storage
- 17 Cockpit
- 18 Tracking
- 19 Conclusion
The Best Touring Kayak
Next, we’ll dive into touring kayak reviews so you can get a better idea of what each model on our list has to offer and how it might fit your life and help you discover adventure.
Oru Coast XT
Our top-rated touring kayak is very different from the others on our list. First, you’ll notice from the comparison chart above that it offers no hatches at all. That’s because the entire body of the kayak can be packed with gear. It’s also not a standard kayak body – most of the kayaks on offer are made from solid high-density polyethylene. The Coast XT, on the other hand, is a foldable design, made to collapse down from 16 feet to just 33 inches. Yes, you read that correctly, this touring kayak folds up for storage and travel.
What else does it offer? Actually, quite a lot. It’s well suited for use on lakes, rivers, and even calm coastal waters, and it has the highest weight capacity of any touring kayak on our list, while only weighing 36 lbs. The body material has been treated for UV protection and is rated to last for 10 years. You’ll also find that the body will hold up to a lifetime of 20,000 folds.
The Coast XT comes with a one-year warranty and can be assembled in just five minutes. However, note that this is the most expensive kayak on our list, so if you’re working with a limited budget, you may find a more conventional design suits your needs best.
Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
The Edge LV is a conventional kayak in that it features a body made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene). It measures a full 14.5 feet in length, 22.5 inches wide, and is 12 inches at the deepest, making it a slimmer option for easier cutting through the water. It weighs in at 60 pounds, which makes it the heaviest touring kayak on our list.
The Edge LV offers an advanced custom-fit seating system for better comfort and security, as well as adjustable sliding foot braces so you can get the leverage you need whether you’re short or tall. The front and rear compartments are bulkhead sealed with dual density hatch covers, and there’s a drain plug in the kayak for easy draining. It’s also capable of carrying 325 lbs. between the kayaker and gear.
Perception Carolina Sit-Inside Touring Kayak – 14
The Perception Carolina 14 is a sit-inside touring kayak that is designed for just about anywhere you might want to go that has relatively calm waters, from rivers to lakes to the ocean itself. It features bow and stern bungee deck rigging to secure bulky items, and there are also bow and stern hatches with watertight seals to protect more sensitive gear. Note that the compartments are sealed, as well.
The Carolina features a Zone knee and thigh pad to make kayaking more comfortable over long periods (touring), and there’s a keeper foot brace system in place to help ensure proper leverage while paddling. The Zone DLX seating system is comfortable, adjustable, and designed to be supportive for long hauls.
The kayak itself features a V-shaped hull with soft chines to deliver a unique mix of stability and performance, and bulkhead flotation foam has been added to increase buoyancy.
Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak with Skeg and Rudder
The second Riot Kayaks model to make our list, the Brittany measures 16.5 feet in length, and is 12.5 inches at its deepest. It weighs in at 51 pounds, and offers not two, but three hatches. Two of those hatches feature dual density hatch covers, and the smaller, central hatch has a day cover for easy access.
Note that this is actually a British-style sea kayak and offers stability and speed in most calm conditions, including use in coastal areas. The seating system is adjustable to help you find the most comfortable fit, and the skeg and pilot rudder system can be retracted if needed. You will also find shock cord storage on the fore deck, and touring handles, as well.
Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Hardshell High Performance Sea Kayak
This is a 14’ kayak designed for use in almost any water type, from lakes to the open ocean, and it can deal with ocean chop as easily as it can calm water. It features a pedal rudder to make steering the kayak simpler and easier. When using the kayak in shallower water, the rudder can be folded up and stored away.
This touring kayak also weighs just 59 pounds but can carry a combined maximum weight of 250 pounds. For those looking for a touring kayak that can double as a fishing kayak, this is a great deal, as the Pakayak sea kayak offers two pole mounts built right in. There’s also plenty of storage, with a conventional watertight hatch aft and a day hatch on the fore deck. There’s also plenty of bungeed storage on the fore deck.
Perception Expression Sit-Inside Kayak for Light Touring – 11.5
Looking for a basic touring kayak just to help you get out on the water and enjoy nature? The Perception Expression might be the ticket. It can be used in all types of water, including coastal areas. However, it’s not designed to handle serious chop, so you should avoid taking it out in high seas. It is also a shorter kayak, which means it is easier to maneuver, but less stable than a longer craft.
The kayak is rudder capable, but does not include one, so if that is something you anticipate needing, you’ll need to buy it separately. The kayak does offer a stern bulkhead compartment with a watertight hatch, as well as fore and aft bungee cord storage areas. However, it does only have a single hatch.
The foot brace system helps improve leverage and control, and the TruTrak skeg system built into the kayak helps ensure better steering in all conditions. It also features the company’s trademark Zone DLX seating, which can be adjusted to fit you perfectly.
Perception Conduit Sit-Inside Kayak for Recreation – 13.0
The Perception Conduit touring kayak is 13 feet in length, which is long enough for stability, but not so long that it is cumbersome to maneuver. It is designed for use on most water types, including ocean surf, but is not designed to deal with heavy chop. It weighs in at just 51 pounds, and has a maximum carrying capacity of 295 pounds, making it one of the more capable touring kayaks on our list.
You’ll find that it offers two hatches – a conventional bulkhead hatch is located aft, with a day hatch located on the fore deck. Both hatches are completely watertight. There are bungee storage areas both fore and aft, and carry handles make it easy to get the craft into and out of the water.
The seat can be adjusted so you can find the ideal fit for your needs, and the cockpit is large enough that it’s easy to get in and out of no matter your size. Note that this touring kayak comes with a five-year warranty, as well.
There you have them – in-depth touring kayak reviews of some of the top rated models on the market today. Whether you’re looking for something compact and easy to maneuver, or something larger that can stow all your gear while you take a lengthy tour, there’s something on our list to suit your needs. Of course, there’s more to making an informed decision about buying a watercraft than reading touring kayak reviews. We’ll walk you through some of the important features to consider in our buying guide.
What You Need to Know before Buying a Touring Kayak
In our touring kayak reviews, we introduced you to some of the top-rated models on the market. However, there’s more that you’ll need to know. In our buying guide, we will explore some of the more important topics to help ensure you’re able to make the right decision.
What Is a Touring Kayak?
First, let’s address what may be one of the most basic questions you have – what is a touring kayak, anyway? How do they differ from other types of kayaks out there? Simply put, a touring kayak is designed for longer distance use in a variety of different conditions. They are usually designed to help you carry a lot more gear than other types of kayaks, and do this with both watertight hatches and deck corded storage areas. You’ll find that most of these kayaks also have a wide range of features, such as fishing rod holders, larger cockpits, adjustable seating, and the like. As a note, many of these kayaks are designed for use in both fresh and saltwater.
There are several different materials used to manufacture touring kayak hulls. One of the most common, and perhaps the best suited, is high-density polyethylene, which is what all but one of the kayaks on our list use. The only exception is the Oru folding kayak.
Other materials include polycarbonate plastic, fiberglass, and Kevlar. Note that polycarbonate is second to HDPE in terms of durability and popularity. Fiberglass is used, but is not as well suited as the other two options. Kevlar is an excellent choice, but it can be very expensive. In addition to these, you’ll also find ABS plastic, which is durable but costly, and even carbon fiber kayaks, although these are among the most expensive models on the market.
When it comes to comfort, you’ll find just a handful of factors. The seat is one of the most important. Look for touring kayaks that offer adjustable seating to fit your body perfectly. You should also look for thigh and knee protection/support, and foot braces, which aid in steering and control, but also affect your comfort while on the water. The size of the cockpit will also have an effect on your comfort level. Tight cockpits can be too confining for some, while more open cockpits may feel too “loose” for others.
The size of your kayak includes the length, width, and depth. As a general rule, the larger the kayak, the more stable it will be. However, that stability comes at the cost of maneuverability. Smaller kayaks are easier to handle, but they’re less stable. Ideally, you’ll find the right mix of all three characteristics to suit your skill and experience level, as well as the conditions you will face while on the water. For instance, kayaking a river will require more maneuverability than kayaking on the open ocean. With that being said, longer kayaks deliver the ability to temper turbulence better, and shorter kayaks are affected to a greater degree by rough water.
A touring kayak’s weight affects stability, but it also affects your ability to paddle it through the water, portage around obstacles, and even get it into and out of the water in the first place. Make sure that your kayak can be handled alone in a pinch.
Capacity is a measure of how much total weight your kayak can carry, including you and all your associated gear. Make sure that you plan accordingly. Overloading a kayak is never a good idea. It’s also important to note that simply because your kayak has a certain amount of capacity, that does not mean you can load it however you like. Loading a kayak requires strategy to ensure that you maintain your center of gravity and avoid creating conditions that might make your craft less stable while on the water.
Take a long, hard look at the storage capabilities of the touring kayaks that you’re considering. How many hatches does it offer? How much storage is available within those hatches? Are they watertight? Is there bungee/shock cord storage on the deck? On both decks? How well do the kayak’s storage capabilities meet your anticipated needs? Also consider other storage-related aspects – do you need to carry fishing poles with you? Do you want built-in rod holders to allow you to fish more easily?
Touring kayaks have larger cockpits than recreational kayaks, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Make sure that the cockpit is wide enough for you to easily get in and out without much trouble.
As you noticed from our touring kayak reviews, not all watercraft come with a tracking system. Some do offer skegs, while others offer skegs and rudders. Which is right for you? Actually, you might be fine without a tracking system at all depending on where you intend to use the kayak. For instance, a rudder is generally only useful in deeper water, such as lakes and the open ocean. Skegs can be useful in more areas, but they are not always required. Most skegs can also be retracted into the kayak in the case of shallower water. Many people actually opt for a touring kayak without any sort of tracking system and prefer to control their watercraft with their paddle.
Ultimately, there is no one kayak that will fit everyone’s needs perfectly. That’s why we assembled a list of the top touring kayaks available on the market. Our list includes a broad cross-section of industry offerings, from long to short kayaks, basic kayaks and more advanced options, all of which have the potential to suit your needs and help you explore the natural world and find the adventure that you crave.
Ryan is an extreme kite surfer. When Ryan isn’t shredding in on the waves he spends time with his riding his bike, canoeing, and surfing.