Kayaking is a fantastic sport that is as relaxing as it is energising. Sitting close to the water’s surface, you feel every stroke push you along as you glide through the water. There are kayaks built for a range of environments and pastimes such as whitewater, fishing and touring.
Touring kayaks (also known as sea kayaks) are built for traveling long distances on open water such as lakes and bays and are longer and thinner than most other varieties. This shape makes it easier to cruise at relatively high speeds and increases the overall capacity of the kayak. But it does mean there is a trade-off when it comes to maneuverability.
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As with any sport, when choosing a kayak it’s important you choose the right equipment for you. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a touring kayak:
When choosing a material for your touring kayak, you have to consider the price and the weight. Many low- to mid-priced kayaks are made from plastic, while the higher-end ones are constructed from composites (such as fibreglass).
All touring kayaks are designed to handle open water and provide a decent amount of space for your gear. Therefore, the choice in hull material really comes down to how much you plan to spend and what weight you can easily handle.
Obviously, if you’re going to be pulling your kayak in and out of the water on your own a lot and transporting it to different bodies of water, a lighter-weight composite will make your life easier. If you aren’t yet sure how much you will be using your touring kayak and want to ease into the sport, a more affordable plastic model can be a good starting place.
Every kayaker has a unique set of preferences and requirements and it’s only by testing various sizes of touring kayaks you’ll find the one that’s just right for you. Here are some questions to ask when searching for the best touring sea kayak:
- Can you comfortably lower yourself into, and climb out of, the kayak?
- Do you have enough room for your legs? Can you brace your knees and feet adequately?
- Are you able to lift and carry the boat?
- Is there enough storage space for the gear you plan to carry with you?
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Kayak Rudder type
Another factor to consider is whether you want a rudder you can control, a fixed skeg or neither. This decision will come down to the type of kayaking you plan to do and where you plan to do it. Here’s the breakdown:
A rudder that you can control with foot pedals helps you turn your kayak left and right. You still need to paddle to steer, but a rudder can make it a lot easier. This kind of rudder is going to add weight and complexity to your kayak.
A skeg is a simple keel that can be inserted and retracted into the bottom of your boat. It will add some of the stability against crosswinds and currents that a rudder does, but it will not help you steer the kayak.
Choosing a kayak with neither a rudder nor skeg will help you learn to control your kayak in all situations. You need to constantly use your arms and upper body to move, steer and keep going straight.
The best way to decide how much or how little directional control you want is to get out and try the different options. Try to find a boating club or store that will let you try different models of touring kayaks.
Making Your Choice
Once you’ve worked through this list, you should be well on your way to choosing a touring kayak that is best for you. Once you do find your kayak, you’ll be able to enjoy the pleasure and challenge of the sport – so get out and find your kayak today!