Reasons to go for a touring kayak
Well, several reasons push the followers of touring in the middle of nature to navigate in white water. The goal of touring is obviously to get out of your daily routine to experience an exceptional adventure. As a hobby, many prefer outdoor walks, walking in the forest, etc. However, the same applies to sea horizons. It seems that this is not only for the purpose of getting away from it all, but you can also stay active while enjoying your outings.
Canoeing and kayaking allow you to keep fit while having fun. It is always desirable to exercise during the holidays, and kayaking is the perfect activity! Whether you are with family or friends, you can sail together aboard the kayak.
Are you familiar with stand-up paddleboarding, a nautical activity where you will be on a board equipped with paddles? Then, you should know that touring is a very interesting hobby to do along the coast, and it is quite easy. Keep in mind that you may need an instructor, especially if you cannot swim. The professional will remain nearby to make a possible rescue easily practicable.
Kayak touring is a good hobby, except that we do not recommend it for beginners in swimming.
What to look for in a touring kayak?
When the time is right to take the plunge, it is important to take into consideration every aspect of your future kayak that will allow you to find the model that best suits your needs. We will check the aspects to check below.
Kayaks are classified into various types, based on three categories. We have the sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks, the tandem and solo kayaks, the inflatable and rigid kayaks.
- Inflatable rigid kayaks: Rigid kayaks such as the Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe are generally the most marine-worthy. They give you impressive control and can be very long, which allows them to glide better. They are often made of plastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, and wood. On the other hand, inflatables like the Sea Eagle 370 Pro are a newcomer to the market. The material currently used (mostly vinyl) are very resistant. While being sturdy, these kayaks remain light and are extremely easy to transport. Of course, they are more difficult to load since space is taken up by the tubes, which cannot be filled with material. It will, therefore, be necessary to pay attention to the wind and navigate in manageable weather. The durable material gives the kayak some rigidity, but its performance (speed) is still significantly lower than other solutions.
- The tandem vs. solo kayaks: The solo or single-seater kayak gives autonomy and independence. Moreover, these are generally larger than two-seater models. The single-seater is more maneuverable and more playful. At the same time, the two-seater goes faster. It is often very stable and reassuring. Also, a two-seater is cheaper than two mono, and, apart from the length, it also takes up less storage space. On the other hand, the two-seater is heavier (less easy to load/unload on a vehicle, more complex docking in difficult conditions, more painful to put it back on the beach in the evening, etc.). It has slightly limited storage space for two people. Be careful with polyethylene two-seater. This material is softer than fiber. The two-seater in polyethylene is a little clumsy (slower, more energy lost in deformation), and the sealing of the partitions can be difficult to maintain because of the lack of rigidity of the inter-compartments.
- The sit-in vs. sit-on-top kayaks: The sit-inside design is often found in inflatable kayaks like the Intex Challenger. Models like this have a lower deck, while the sit-on-top kayaks are found in rigid models like the Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe.
Max load capacity
Touring kayaks generally have a large load capacity. Depending on the size and the material, the maximum load capacity can reach up to 650 pounds.
As far as possible, the heaviest items should be placed as close to the kayak’s center towards the paddler and as low as possible. Also, make sure to roughly balance the load laterally (there is still a certain margin).
Then, the organization of the boxes will be done with common sense and according to various parameters (more heavily loading a more efficient team member, putting waterproof elements in a box that is not perfectly waterproof, etc.). Put as little as possible on the deck. The wind can make things inconvenient and even dangerous when it gets strong.
Length and width
Touring boats tend to be predominantly longer in comparison to competition ones. And this goes without saying, considering that longer boats have more storage space. During your expeditions, you will need all the space available to store equipment, food, or shelter for camping, for example. Storage needs aside, a longer kayak holds and cuts water better overall. These two factors have an impact on the length of the kayak, which can reach 13 to 16 feet.
Since sea and tour kayaks are generally designed for rough waters, they need to be able to ride through waves. Unlike freshwater kayaks, which can feature rounded and flat hulls, sea kayaks should have a V-shaped hull, ensuring that waves are trimming, whether large or small. V-shaped hulls also aid in the stability of the boat, although rounded hulls are acceptable for certain marine conditions such as crossing creeks in calm waters, coastlines, or estuaries. All hulls are not equal, and each has its pros and cons.
- V-shaped hull: These are the most common and efficient hulls for touring kayaks. They are very tapered under the boat and are not rounded like U-hulls. At first, they may seem more difficult to navigate due to their instability, but once you get the hang of it, they are very maneuverable and cut waves like a blade.
- U-shaped hull: U-shaped hulls are uniformly round and can change angles at a very precise point. They tilt much more gradually compared to a V-hull. These kayaks are quite unstable at first but are easily maneuverable when you know how to navigate them.
- Flat hull: Flat hull tour kayaks are hard to find on the market. A flat bottom is unsuitable for tourism, as they are less efficient and only offer increased stability when it comes to sitting still (for fishing, for example), rather than when navigating them.
The bulk of reputable brand sea kayaks are made of materials capable of withstanding various weather conditions. However, lesser-known brands that offer inexpensive kayaks tend to save money on this aspect; it’s no longer a secret! Don’t be fooled by the brand’s appeal, though, as even pro brands with more budget-priced kayaks tend to use poor quality materials. We must, therefore, remain vigilant.
Be aware of visible steel components and unsealed wood. Also, note that materials such as plastic or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (known as ABS) are materials particularly appreciated for their high performance. Different man-made and natural materials can be used to design a kayak intended for excursions. These materials range from polyethylene to polycarbonate or from fiberglass to wood. Regarding the paddles, we advise you to opt for aluminum.
Depending on various aspects, your kayak will have primary, secondary, or even hybrid stability.
- Primary stability: It refers to the stability of the boat in a vertical position, which has a significant impact on the stability of the boat when it is stationary (when entering the kayak, for example, or during a game of peach). It, therefore, refers to the boat’s ability to maintain a straight and level position on the surface of the water.
- Secondary stability: It refers to the stability of the boat when it is tilted on one of its sides. A high level of this stability is ideal in rough seas, open water, or white water. For tourist’s vessels, this type of stability is, therefore, less important.
The management of the kayak includes the control of the boat to ease the navigation. While a high level of maneuverability is of paramount importance in confined spaces, it is less so on the high seas. This means that it is necessary to take the level of control into account when choosing your kayak sea.
As earlier mentioned, models for touring or fishing need bigger storage space. The Sea Eagle 370 Pro has a large storage space, for example. We advise you, as a general rule, to take with you only what is strictly necessary.
Just because your kayak has a lot of available space doesn’t mean that it will be easier to maneuver in rough seas if it’s filled to the last millimeter. You might even risk losing some of your belongings forever!
The comfort level provided by a touring kayak is determined majorly by the design of the seats. Adjustable and foam padded seats and backrests with ergonomic designs, for example, are more comfortable than seats made ordinarily of plastics or aluminum.
The difference in the warranty is largely determined by the price range and the brand. While cheaper models, like the Intex Challenger and Intex Explorer K2, are more likely to come with lower warranty coverage (90 days limited), more premium models, such as the Wilderness Systems Tem pest 165, come with an extended warranty ranging from 5 years to lifetime limited warranty.