The 5 Best Touring Kayaks [Reviewed] – 2018 Buyer’s Guide
Choosing a kayak for ocean use is often very challenging. There are two types of kayak to consider--the sea kayak and the touring kayak.
A touring kayak is a transitional boat, which is primarily used closer to shore and in calmer water, while the sea kayak is used in difficult boating situations in the ocean.
That being said, when choosing a touring kayak to purchase, one must consider the hull material, the length of the kayak, whether the boat has a rudder or a skeg, the weight capacity of the kayak, and, finally, the beam of the boat.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Touring Kayaks in 2018
- 1.0.1 1. Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 13-Feet)
- 1.0.2 Pros
- 1.0.3 Cons
- 1.0.4 2. Necky Elias Kayak with Rudder
- 1.0.5 Pros
- 1.0.6 Cons
- 1.0.7 3. Perception Tribute 12.0 Kayak
- 1.0.8 Pros
- 1.0.9 Cons
- 1.0.10 4. WILDERNESS SYSTEMS Tsunami 140 Kayak
- 1.0.11 Pros
- 1.0.12 Cons
- 1.0.13 5. Necky Manitou II Tandem Kayak
- 1.0.14 Pros
- 1.0.15 Cons
- 1.1 How to Buy a Touring Kayak
- 1.2 Our Final Review for the Best Touring Kayak
Skeg or Rudder
Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
Necky Elias Kayak with Rudder
Polyethylene Available in fiberglass
Perception Tribute 12.0 Kayak
No Rudder or Skeg
WILDERNESS SYSTEMS Tsunami 140 Kayak
No Rudder or Skeg Rudder can be purchased
Necky Manitou II Tandem Kayak
No Rudder or Skeg
The Best Touring Kayaks in 2018
1. Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 13-Feet)
Riot is easily one of the best kayak companies when it comes to making sea, ocean, or touring kayaks. The Edge 13 LV is one of their best kayaks for touring.
The first feature on this kayak is its retractable skeg. A skeg, like a rudder, has one primary purpose. This is to help the kayak handle difficult waves and currents.
That being said, a skeg is a retractable piece on the bottom of the kayak. It does not rotate left or right to help steer the kayak, like a rudder, but it simply moves up and down, giving the kayak more resistance or less resistance against the waves.
The skeg on the Edge is controlled from the inside of the cockpit, making it very easy to control and use.
When on the ocean, skegs are often considered to be superior over rudders. However, rudders are often easier for kayakers to manipulate, making them a more popular choice.
Next, the hull is made from polyethylene, which is easily the most common and most durable plastic compound used for kayak hulls.
Additionally, the Edge is 13 feet long and 25 inches wide. This length of a kayak combined with the beam of 25 inches is ideal for handling the difficult waves and currents of the ocean.
Finally, with a weight capacity of 300 pounds, this kayak allows you to bring adequate gear with you so that you can spend all day enjoying the ocean waves.
Speaking of storage, this touring kayak has two waterproof compartments, one in the stern and one in the bow. There are also two shock cord storage areas on the kayak.
Inside the cockpit, the sea kayak has an adjustable comfort seat, adjustable foot braces, and thigh and knee braces. There is also a paddle hook, which helps whenever you hope to free your hands.
- Excellent beam
- Thigh Braces
- Knee Braces
- Adjustable seat
- Paddle Hooks
- Made from polyethylene
- Easy to steer
- Waterproof storage
- Low weight capacity
The Necky Elias Kayak is simply a top of the line, phenomenal kayak. While allowing for many aesthetically pleasing features, it is also an amazingly functional boat.
First, this is the longest kayak on the list, coming it at almost 16 feet in length. It is also the most narrow kayak, at 22.25 inches wide. This ultimately means that it is the most equipped to handle difficult waters.
This may mean that kayakers will have some difficulty turning quickly due to the length of the boat. However, this kayak has a rudder on it, which helps aid the steering. Keep in mind, this means that the Elias does not have a skeg, which can be a deterrent.
The Elias has a pedal operated rudder, which means that kayakers use their foot to maneuver the rudder. This makes it extremely easy to steer this kayak and man the rudder.
Another excellent feature of this kayak is the cockpit. It is extremely large--at 32.25 inches by 16 inches. This means that tall and large kayakers will be extremely comfortable.
As with many kayaks, the Elias is equipped with foot braces and thigh pads. However, both of these are adjustable. It is fairly rare for a kayak to have adjustable thigh pads, so this is a nice feature.
There is a lot of storage on this kayak as well. To begin with, the large cockpit makes for extra storage, especially for smaller kayakers, However, this kayak also has two large waterproof compartments, one at the bow and one at the stern of the boat.
There is also shock cord storage on the kayak
A final excellent feature is the limited lifetime warranty. Not everything is covered on this kayak, but many things will be repaired by the company if faulty.
- Great length to beam ratio
- Excellent storage
- Lots of adjustable components
- Lifetime warranty
- Large Cockpit
- Difficult to steer
- Rudder, not a skeg
The Tribute 12 foot Kayak by Perception is a fairly unique kayak. It is designed specifically with women or small men in mind--though this means it is not ideal for large kayakers, it does mean that if you are a smaller kayaker, this is ideal for you!
Another thing to note about this kayak is that it does not have a rudder or a skeg. However, a rudder can be additionally purchased for this boat.
That being said, because this kayak is smaller--only 12 feet in length--it really should be kept closer to shore and away from big sea waves.
Additionally, the hull is made of polyethylene. This is, again, a very durable plastic which protects the kayak from damage. While some kayakers feel fiberglass is a better option, polyethylene is also a good option.
As stated, this kayak comes in at 12 feet long with a beam of 24.5 inches. This is a fairly narrow beam, although it is a little wide for a boat of 12 feet. This beam does provide excellent stability, but that means that it sacrifices a little speed.
Since this kayak is mainly designed for smaller kayakers, it is important to note that it only has a weight capacity of 240 pounds. This means that for kayakers who hope to carry a lot of gear with them, this may not be the best option.
For comfort, the Perception has many of the features of other kayaks. First, it has a Zone DLX seat. This means the seat is a full seat inside of the kayak cockpit and is fully adjustable. It has the typical adjustable foot brace system, thigh pads, and knee pads.
- Designed for smaller kayakers
- DLX seat
- Stable Beam
- Can be resistant to speed
- Not for large kayakers
- Low weight capacity
This kayak is similar to the Elias in many ways. To begin with, it is a decently long yak, coming in at 14 feet in length. This means that the kayak can handle difficult waves fairly well.The beam of 24 inches only improves that handling.
The Tsunami does not come with a skeg or rudder, but a rudder can be purchased to put on the kayak. Again, a rudder helps with steering, while a skeg combats difficult waves and currents.
The hull is made of polyethylene, which is the same durable plastic all of the kayaks on this list are made of. It withstands any damage and can be pulled across rough terrains in order to access the water.
Finally, at a 300 pound weight capacity, this kayak cannot haul a great deal of gear if you are a large kayak, but it does have lots of storage options. There are three domed storage hatches, one at the bow, one at the stern, and one towards the middle of the yak.
This kayak, like all of the others, provides exactly the comfort expected at this price point. It has a full seat, just like the Tribute, and it has padded thigh braces. Another unique feature with this kayak is the extra large foot brace system--this means if you have long legs, this kayak is great for you!
A paddle holder is another feature on this kayak which allows the kayaker the best possible comfort and efficiency. Paddle holders allow kayakers to set their paddle down in a locked position, without fear of losing the paddle in the water.
- Large Kayak
- XL Foot Braces
- Comfortable Seating
- Polyethylene Hull
- Paddle Holder
- Large cockpit
- Good tracking in the water
- Lots of storage
- Low weight capacity
- No Skeg
- No Rudder
The Necky Manitou II Tandem Kayak is designed by the same company as the Elias. However, this kayak is a tandem kayak and not a solo kayak. Tandem kayaks are designed for two kayakers to fit in them and paddle together. That being said, most kayaks also allow for a single kayaker to paddle solo as well.
The Manitou II also has a hull made of polyethylene. This material is long lasting and can withstand many difficult terrains.
The Manitou II comes in at a whopping 14 feet and 8 inches. Like the Elias and Tsunami, this means that the Manitou II is safe to take out on difficult currents and waves or in rough weather. The beam of the Manitou II is 28 inches, which is quite wider than the other kayaks on this list.
Because the beam is so wide, it means that it cannot keep up with other kayaks in terms of speed, however this makes it much more reliable in terms of stability.
Like many of the kayaks on this list, the Manitou II does not come with either a rudder or a skeg, however it can be equipped with a rudder. That being said, if you are a kayaker who prefers a skeg, this is simply not the kayak for you.
Finally, this tandem kayak has a huge weight capacity--475 pounds. This weight capacity allows for two kayakers to fit comfortably, as well as a decent bit of gear.
As far as storage goes, there is a small waterproof compartment in the back of the kayak, but none in the front.
That being said, the main cockpit of the kayak is quite large, and the seat is adjustable enough that extra gear can be tucked away in this cockpit--even behind the main seat.
The Manitou II also has the ability to fit a small child or dog in the kayak. This makes it ideal for a family as opposed to just for a solo kayaker.
However, a solo kayaker can handle the Manitou II just fine. The main seat allows for great flexibility while paddling and it also means that the front cockpit would provide a great deal of extra storage. This is a very versatile kayak!
- Ample storage
- Can fit two people
- Can add a child or dog
- Rudder can be equipped
- Great beam to length ratio
- Can be used solo
- No rudder
- No Skeg
- Cockpits are two different sizes
Touring Kayaks are a kayak specifically designed for following ocean coastlines. This means kayakers will want to spend most of their day in the kayak and will expect the kayak to withstand difficult waters.
That being said, it is crucial that a touring kayak have a high weight capacity, be able to withstand high waves or difficult current, have a comfortable fit to it, and be made of durable material. It is also often important that these kayaks come with a rudder or skeg. If they do not, is important that they can be equipped with one or the other.
When considering an ocean kayak of any kind, it is incredibly important to consider the length and the beam. If you hope to take your kayak out on the ocean very far from shore, you must get a kayak of 14 feet or longer. This ensures that the boat can handle difficult waves easily.
However, the length of a kayak is simply not enough. The beam of the boat must be wide enough to keep the kayak stable and thin enough to help it keep up with the high speeds of the waves. A wider beam can cause drag, which causes the boat to tip when encountering larger waves.
When purchasing a touring kayak, it is ideal to have a beam between 20 and 25 inches. Much more and you have significant resistance. Much less and you run the risk of tipping easily.
Rudders and Skegs are very interesting features on kayaks. A rudder is a small metal piece which can be turned to the right or left. This movement is directed by foot pedals inside the cockpit, which make a rudder a very accessible, easy to use addition to the kayak.
A skeg is a small piece, often made of whatever the ocean kayak is made of, which raises and lowers. This raising and lowering is determined by either foot pedals or hand controls in the cockpit of the kayak. Many kayakers do not enjoy hand controls, which can make the rudder more appealing.
A skeg is often used on the ocean to help create resistance against waves or create a more smooth ride with the waves. Meanwhile, a rudder is used to steer the kayak various directions, possibly against the current.
A rudder is a often a semi-permanent feature on the bottom of the kayak. This means that it is installed on the bottom of the kayak and can be removed, however this can only be done when the kayak is out of the water.
A skeg, however, can be raised and lowered and often can be completely lifted into a small compartment on the bottom of the kayak. This feature often makes the skeg preferred in comparison to the rudder.
Each of these tools have their purpose on the ocean, but a kayak can only be equipped with one or the other. Both would cause too much resistance against the waves.
Weight capacity is an important feature to consider, especially when purchasing a touring kayak. Kayaking in the ocean is very different from touring in lakes or on rivers. If you should capsize, you are dealing with much more difficult currents than on lakes or rivers.
This means you must make sure your kayak is capable of hauling you and all of the gear which you hope to bring with you. If you think that, at some point, it may be fun to bring your 85 pound lab kayaking, plan for that now as you shop.
The Perception is not a kayak for an 85 pound lab, for example. The Perception may, however, suit an 85 pound lab if the kayaker is under 120 pounds. The Perception also is not a kayak for a ton of gear.
However, kayaks like the Manitou II ensure that you will always be able to bring as much gear as you need to.
Next, durability is very important when considering a touring kayak. If not for dragging it across rough terrains or for possibly ramming it over obstacles in the water, for the salt content in the ocean.
Salt can very easily erode different materials, so choosing a material which is noted for withstanding salt is important. Polyethylene typically does an excellent job at this. Fiberglas composite boats are also an excellent choice for these types of waters.
If you do know that you will be taking your sea kayak in very shallow water and you may encounter large limbs or other obstacles in the water, it may be important to ensure your kayak has a warranty on it. Many kayaks do, and the Elias is one such kayak.
Finally, comfort is a must with most kayaks, but especially touring kayaks. It can be quite a chore for most people to get to the coast, and it would seem silly to only spend an hour or two in the water for such a long journey.
You want to make sure your kayak provides you with ultimate comfort. This means you simply must have an adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, thigh pads and knee pads.
It is a major perk if the thigh pads or knee pads are adjustable, as this allow for very tall and very short kayakers to feel comfortable.
It may be worth your time to test ride some of these touring kayaks by renting them for the day, as well. Many kayaks boast different models of comfortable seating, but it can be hard to tell unless you have spent several hours in the seat.
Be sure you consider all of these features as you shop for the best touring kayak for you and your loved ones. It is important to ensure you are safe, as well as comfortable, in a sea kayak which is long lasting and can withstand many different terrains.
Each of the kayaks on this list have many benefits to them, but it is important to know what you value in your ideal touring yak. Perhaps you live right on the coast and know you will not ever kayak more than an hour at a time. In that case, comfort may not matter as much.
Perhaps you go to the ocean once a year and kayak and camp for a week or more. Consider your personal uses of the kayak before you purchase!