10 Best Touring Kayaks – Selections From An Avid Kayaker

Kayaking can be a fun and enjoyable way to explore open water while also getting exercise and providing a unique vantage point to view animals in nature. Before selecting a kayak it is necessary to figure out how you intend to use the vessel, so you can find the best fit for your purpose. Touring kayaks, sometimes referred to as sea or ocean kayaks, are typically about 10- to 15-feet in length and are more narrow than other styles of kayaks. Whether exploring, fishing, camping or racing touring kayaks are designed to track straight and travel fast. 

Best Touring Kayaks – Comparisons 

The Edge 14.5 LV Flat water Day sit-in touring kayak was designed to easily handle long trips. The slim deck line and slender bow minimize the impacts of wind, while the rudder helps to keep the kayak on course. The pilot rudder system is controlled via foot pedals and allows for improved tracking maneuverability. The advanced custom-fit seating system features adjustable foot braces and integrated thigh braces, allowing the pilot to push off when paddling and make the most of each stroke. The integrated paddle rest secures the paddle when not in use. Reflective lifelines offer increased visibility for safety.

The Edge LV measures 14.5 feet long by 22.5 inches wide and features a 12 inch deck height. The cockpit area measures 36.5 inches by 19.5 inches for a roomy interior. This kayak is big enough to handle rough water while still being nimble and easy to maneuver. The high-density polyethylene construction can handle scrapes and flexes to stand up against rocky bottoms. At 60 pounds this kayak may be too heavy for one person to carry on their own during carries or to load on a vehicle. A built-in drain plug makes it easy to quickly remove any water that splashes into the vessel.

Two separate bulkhead compartments, one in the front and one in the back, make good use of space and create water-tight areas to store food and additional gear. Both sealed compartments feature dual density hatch covers to keep water and the elements out. Front and rear shock cords create space to secure items to the kayak for quick and easy retrieval.

  • Custom-fit seat, adjustable foot braces and thigh braces
  • Pilot rudder system
  • Two sealed bulkhead compartments plus two shock cord storage areas

The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12-foot sit-in kayak is a touring model designed for fishing. At 12 feet in length this kayak is big enough to take into large lakes and rivers, but still small enough to navigate around streams and ponds. The high-density polyethylene shell flexes to allow for passage through shallow areas while holding up against scratches and abrasions. At 47 pounds, this kayak is manageable on carries or to load on a vehicle.

At the widest point the Aruba SS 12-foot kayak measures 29.6 inches and it has a 14 inch deck height. This wide design provides stability which is useful when casting and fishing. Built-in rod holders located behind the seat secure fishing rods, allowing for the kayak to be moved or re-positioned while fishing. The paddle holder secures the paddle within easy reach when not in use.

The pronounced V-shape of the hull aids in tracking, helping to keep the kayak heading in a straight line when paddling. Without a rudder or skeg it requires more energy to maintain momentum when paddling the Sun Dolphin Aruba kayak.

Front and rear bulkhead compartments provide space to store fishing gear and other supplies. The inserts that separate the cockpit from the storage bulkheads may become dislodged if the polyethylene flexes, causing items in storage to enter the cockpit or water from the cockpit to enter the storage areas. Easy stash a hat, ja​​cket or other items using the front and rear shock cords to hold items firmly against the vessel.

The Wilderness Systems Pungo 10-foot sit-in kayak is a mid-size kayak that is designed for comfortable journeys. The multi-chined hull features sharp angles to provide improved stability and allows for a paddler to lean into turns for nimble execution and effortless carving through water.

Enjoy a free range of movement and make the most of each stroke thanks to the Phase 3 Air Pro seating system, which provides back stability without interfering in the paddle motion. The seat is equipped with a variety of differently sized holes that allow for improved water drainage and ventilation to ensure quick drying. Integrated support and cushion in the seat maximize comfort, especially on long paddles. The Slide Lock XL foot brace system can be adjusted for a personalized fit and creates foot holds a paddler can use to maximum their stroke when paddling. Both knee and thigh padding provides comfort when on the water.

Bungee or shock cord storage on the front and rear of the kayak quickly and easily secures items. The Kayak Konsole located on the bow, within easy reach in front of the seat, provides space to store smaller gear and items. A larger bulkhead on the stern, or the rear of the kayak can accommodate additional gear. The low-profile Orbix hatch system keeps items stored in the bulkhead dry.

At 9.5 feet long the Rambler kayak from Perception Kayaks features a sit-on-top design ideal for use in warm water given that the paddler is more likely to get wet. This kayak rides high on the surface of the water, making it less likely to tip or take on water. Although, the increased surface area above the water means this kayak is subject to wind, and tracking in a straight line may be difficult for inexperienced paddlers. Measuring 32 inches wide, this kayak is extremely stable. The sit-on-top design means this kayak is better suited for use on lakes and bays and other still or slow moving bodies of water.

The molded-in design includes foot wells with a variety of foot brace points to accommodate paddlers of different heights. Foot braces make it easier for paddlers to push against when paddling to maximize the effectiveness of their movements. This kayak is also equipped with molded-in side handles, as well handles at the front and rear of the vessel for easy carrying.

At the rear of the kayak there is a tank, or recessed storage area covered by a bungee. This space can be used to stow gear and other essentials. A center console holds small items and a recessed storage tray provides additional storage within easy reach.

Take to the open water in the Advanced Elements AirFusion Elite inflatable kayak. This sit-in touring vessel delivers the performance of a skin-on-frame kayak, but with a much simplified set up. The aluminum alloy poles and pressurized air tubes create a strong and dependable frame that is also lightweight. The shell is made from PVC tarpaulin material which is puncture-resistant to stand up to rough conditions and debris. This model supports an optional skeg (not included) for more consistent and improved tracking.

It takes some practice to learn how to set up this kayak, but once you get the hang of it things go quick. When deflated this kayak is very compact, making it easy to store or pack in a vehicle.

At 13 feet long, this kayak can take on larger bodies of water and rough conditions with ease. The cockpit measures 28 inches wide, creating a spacious roomy compartment while also lending stability to the vessel. The front thwart, or internal brace, is adjustable and pulls double-duty as a foot brace; although, this is not as effective as dedicated footrests.

Whether fishing, camping or just bringing lunch or snacks, the AirFusion Elite kayak features plenty of dry space to store items. The rear storage bulkhead features a roll-top access hatch to keep the contents dry. External bungee, or shock cord deck lacing makes it easy to store clothing or gear close by and within reach, but still secured to the kayak.

The Tribute 12-foot kayak from Perception Kayaks is able to take on lakes, rivers and flat coastal waters. This sit-in touring kayak is engineered to deliver speed and stability for adventure seekers who wish to spend all day on the water. At 24.5 inches wide and with a deck height of 13.5 inches, the Tribute kayak is nimble and easy to steer.

The six-way adjustable seat can be moved for optimal placement and is padded for additional comfort. The seat cushioning features channels that allows water that splashes into the kayak to drain to keep the paddler dry. The channels in the seat also allow for improved ventilation to keep the kayaker cool on hot days. Measuring 35 inches by 19.5 inches the cockpit is roomy. Padding along the front edges of the cockpit prevent scrapes or bruises while entering or exiting the vessel.

Front and rear bungee cord lacing creates storage that is easily accessible while on the water. Aft, or rear bulkhead storage creates space to stow gear while the hatch keeps the elements out, keeping gear dry. Carry handles at the bow and stern make it easy to lift this lightweight, 42-pound kayak.

The Eddyline Skylark 12-foot kayak is a mid-size sit-in touring vessel that is easy to paddle and always ready for an adventure. The low-volume Greenland styling features a classic look, but also reduces surface area to minimize wind resistance on the water for improved tracking. The hard chines of the hull allow for effortless carving through the water and enable swift and nimble movements. The Skylark is 26 inches wide for excellent stability.

Adjustable foot braces can be moved to comfortably fit different sized individuals and allow paddlers to get the most out of each stroke by engaging their lower body while paddling. The cushioned seat and backrest features padding along the lower back and sides to provide comfort; however, the fixed seat is not adjustable. The Skylark is easy to climb into or out of thanks to the spacious cockpit which measures 35 inches by 18.5 inches.

Foam in the bow provides support and additional buoyancy, but reduces the available cargo space. Bulkhead storage located at both the front and rear feature hatches to protect gear from the elements. Shock cord bungee rigging provides additional storage of items within reach. At a mere 41 pounds, the Eddyline Skylark kayak is light enough for one person to easily carry on his or her own. Built-in retractable handles at the bow and stern for easy carrying.

Whether you want to explore or fish or simply enjoy time on the water, the Quest 10 Flatwater kayak from Riot Kayaks is up to the challenge. The spacious cockpit measures 40 inches by 21 inches and the adjustable seat can easily and comfortably accommodate different sized paddlers. Outfitted with quick-lock adjustable footrests, which allow paddlers to brace their feet while going through the paddling motion, makes the most of each stroke.

The low volume of the Greenland bow and the multi-chine arched hull work in tandem to give this nimble kayak extreme motility. At 27 inches wide and only 13.5 inches high, the Flatwater kayak is stable and allows for safely leaning into turns. At a light 42 pounds, the Quest 10 Flatwater kayak is easy for one person to handle on carries or to load onto a vehicle. Handles on the front and back make it easy to lift and carry the vessel.

A rear storage bulkhead features a 10-inch diameter and a sealed hatch to create easy-to-access space for tackle and other gear. A built-in flush-mount rod holder just behind the cockpit provides a convenient space to stash a fishing rod if the kayak needs to be turned or moved while fishing. Shock cord rigging on the bow secures items within reach. A cup holder built into the seat accommodates a water bottle to stay hydrated on hot days. A built-in drain plug makes it easy to remove water that splashes into the kayak after the trip is complete.

The Perception Kayaks 12-foot Carolina model is a sit-in touring kayak built for comfort. The V-shaped hull features soft, sloped chines that deliver a nice mix of stability and speed, making this kayak a good fit for leisurely paddles as well as races. Measuring 26 inches wide and 14.5 inches tall the Carolina kayak can handle lakes and calm coastal waters.

Foam in the bulkheads provide additional buoyancy for maximum flotation on the water. While the one-piece shell boasts UV-, impact- and abrasion-resistance. All of the hardware is saltwater-optimized for use in ocean waters or estuaries.

The large cockpit provides plenty of space for easy entry and exit and is equipped with padding along the front edges to prevent bumps and bruises. The Zone DLX seat can be adjusted forwards, backwards, up and down for maximum comfort. The seat is also equipped with ergonomic extra-cushion padding with built-in channels to whisk away water or sweat for superior comfort on long trips. The quick-adjust footrests engage the lower body while paddling and offer a customized fit.

A side paddle park on the side of the cockpit keeps the paddle secure and close by when not in use. Bungee decking along the front and rear of the kayak accommodate clothing and other items. Bulkheads with easy on/off covers in the bow and stern, or rather the front and back, provide plenty of dry storage for gear and food. The reflective static perimeter line increases visibility in low-light conditions. Kayak Karrier soft-touch handles make easy work of carrying the Carolina kayak.

Coming in at 14.5 feet, the Dagger Stratos sit-in kayak features a polyethylene hull that is flexible and durable, making it ideal for a variety of diverse conditions. From navigating through shallow waters to taking on open water and rough conditions this touring kayak can do it all. The rockered hull shape and the edges along the length of the hull keep the vessel steady. An adjustable drop skeg maintains momentum and keeps the vessel tracking forward with minimal effort. The Stratos is available in two widths; small measures 23.5 inches and the large width measures 24.5 inches. The large width provides slightly more space in the cockpit and more stability, while the small width enjoys more maneuverability.

The ConTour CFS seating system of the Stratos kayak features soft foam construction for a cushioned seat and integrated channels to whisk away water and ensure the paddler stays dry. The adjustable hip pads provide additional comfort. Paddlers can easily brace their feet to engage their lower body while paddling thanks to the SlideLock foot braces and leg lifters for a custom and comfortable fit.

The Stratos features plenty of storage space and can accommodate the gear necessary for long trips. Bulkhead storage in both the front and rear creates dry space for items. Bungee deck rigging at the front and rear of the cockpit provide additional and easily accessible space for gear.

The best touring kayak in 2020 is the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS kayak. This 12-foot is a nice compromise of all of the features touring kayaks have to offer. The high-density polyethylene shell is durable to stand up to wear and tear. Weighing in at 47 pounds, this kayak is easy for one person to carry while on solo trips.

The Aruba SS is stable and the pronounced V-shape hull tracks nicely without the use of a rudder or skeg. Front and rear bulkhead compartments, shock cord rigging and built-in rod holders provide storage for added convenience.