Blue skies, blue waters, beautiful vistas and a steady breeze — all these point to a great day to go kayaking! In fact, why not make it a three-day weekend? Pack your food, sunscreen and camera. Let us help you find the best touring kayak for your trip.

While reading our guide, you will need to consider where you’ll be kayaking and how you want your kayak to feel on the water.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, outdoor gear is our specialty. We love to break down information into bite-sized bits of knowledge that can help you grow into an adventure sports guru in no time!

 

QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST TOURING KAYAK 

1. DELTA KAYAKS 12.10

2. WILDERNESS SYSTEMS TSUNAMI 145

3. DAGGER STRATOS 14.5

4. EDDYLINE SKYLARK

5. WILDERNESS SYSTEMS PUNGO 120

6. EDDYLINE RIO

7. POINT 65 WHISKY 16

8. DELTA KAYAKS 14

9. PERCEPTION TRIBUTE 12.0

10. RIOT QUEST 10 HV

 

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide to Kayaking

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST TOURING KAYAK

PICTURE
TOURING KAYAK
BEST USE
MATERIAL
WEIGHT
TRACKING SYSTEM
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
TOURING KAYAK
BEST USE
ABS or Polyethylene
WEIGHT
TRACKING SYSTEM
PRICE
RATING
Delta Kayaks 12.10
Overall
ABS
43.0 lbs
None
$$$
5.0
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145
Overall
Polyethylene
56.0 lbs
Rudder
$$
5.0
Dagger Stratos 14.5
Overall
Polyethylene
52.5 lbs
Skeg
$$
5.0
Eddyline Skylark
Day Touring
ABS
41.0 lbs
None
$$$
5.0
Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
Day Touring
Polyethylene
49.0 lbs
None
$$
4.8
Eddyline Rio
Day Touring
ABS
35.0 lbs
None
$$
5.0
Point 65 Whisky 16
Expedition
Polyethylene
55.0 lbs
Skeg
$$$
5.0
Delta Kayaks 14
Expedition
ABS
45.0 lbs
Rudder
$$$
3.8
Perception Tribute 12.0
Budget
Polyethylene
42.0 lbs
None
$
4.0
Riot Quest 10 HV
Budget
Polyethylene
64.0 lbs
None
$
5.0

 

 

TOURING KAYAKS 101

 

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST TOURING KAYAKS

 

1. HULL MATERIAL

The never-ending kayaking debate asks the question, “Which is a better hull material, composite or plastic?” Truthfully, there is no correct answer as it ultimately comes down to preference. Let’s look at the facts.

Composite is sleek and rigid because it’s made of lightweight components like fiberglass, carbon fiber or aramid fibers (Kevlar). This material boasts high tensile strength and aesthetic superiority that plastic cannot compete with.

Glossy, modern and swift on the water, composite is used in racing vessels and preferred by most kayak enthusiasts. The downside of composite is that it is considerably more expensive than plastic hulls, by double or even quadruple and susceptible to impact damage.

Its rigid nature offers no flexibility,and collisions with rocks frequently result in cracks in the hull. As a result of these combined factors, plastic kayaks are the most widely offered choice and recommended for most kayakers.

In fact, all of the kayaks reviewed in this guide are plastic, made of either ABS or polyethylene. ABS plastic is the more lightweight, scratch-resistant, and expensive of the two. Polyethylene is thicker, heavier, and more durable.

All plastic kayaks are said to have less “bounce” on the water, making them easier to maneuver. If you are interested in exploring composite kayaks, Seaward offers handcrafted Kevlar and carbon vessels.

 

2. WEIGHT

While composite is a substance of a lighter weight than plastic, buying a composite kayak does not guarantee easy handling and transportation. The same goes for plastic.

Every kayak is different. The weight will mostly be determined by the length, with longer kayaks weighing more. If you plan to take on expeditions that require portaging, look for a lightweight kayak.

 

3. TRACKING SYSTEM

What is a tracking system, you ask? A tracking system is an accessory that enables a vessel to move in a straight line, existing as a rudder or skeg.

A rudder is a moveable fin deployed off the stern (tail end) of the kayak that is controlled with foot pedals in the cockpit. A skeg, also called a keel, can be a stationary or adjustable fin on the bottom of the kayak below the stern.

An adjustable skeg is able to be deployed at various depths below the vessel, depending on how much tracking is needed. Some kayaks do not have tracking systems, especially shorter kayaks, as they are already easy to maneuver.

However, even the most easily maneuverable kayaks can be difficult to control in high winds without a tracking system. We recommend you test all the options before purchasing.

 

4. SIZE

Kayak dimensions are definitely important in understanding stability and maneuverability, not to mention comfort and transportation.

 

LENGTH

Touring kayaks usually range from 12 to 17 feet long. Long kayaks are ideal for touring since they temper turbulence and move more swiftly. They typically track better, too.

With additional length comes additional difficulty in transportation and maneuvering. It’s wise to purchase a kayak cart unless you live on the water.

 

WIDTH

Wider cockpits offer more room for large people or people with additional storage needs. On the flip side, the wider a kayak, the less responsive it will be to the directional changes.

This can be a good thing if you are interested in diminishing the effects of waves or wind, but can hinder your ability to carve quickly and easily. Smaller people will benefit from a thinner kayak as they offer enhanced responsiveness and are easier to paddle.

 

5. STABILITY

Kayak stability is measured in two parts, primary and secondary stability. Primary is the ability for a kayak to stay balanced while sitting flat on the surface. Meanwhile, the secondary is the ability for it to stay balanced when the kayak rotates onto its side.

 

6. MANEUVERABILITY

When choosing a touring kayak, it is important to consider where you plan to use it the most and what type of movement you are most comfortable with. If you plan on taking long or overnight trips, even expeditions, a speedy and lightweight but less maneuverable kayak would serve you well.

If you will likely encounter choppy waves or wind, as one would in the mouth of a river or slight rapids, a highly maneuverable kayak will prove advantageous in your ability to stay safe on the water.

 

what touring kayak to have

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/kirkikis

 

TOURING KAYAK REVIEWS

 

BEST OVERALL TOURING KAYAKS

DELTA KAYAKS 12.10

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Short overnights

HULL MATERIAL: ABS plastic

WEIGHT: 43.0 lbs (19.5 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: Length: 12.8 ft (3.9 m), Width: 25.0 in (63.8 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Adjustable, multi-position seat, 2 dry storage areas, bungee deck rigging at bow/stern, perimeter aid lines for self-rescue, 300 lb (136.0 kg) weight capacity

CONS: Not enough storage for longer expeditions

 

 

 

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS TSUNAMI 145 WITH RUDDER

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: All around kayaking

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 56.0 lbs (25.4 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: Rudder

SIZE: Length: 14.5 ft (4.4 m) Width: 24.5 in (62.2 cm)

STABILITY: Moderate stability

MANEUVERABILITY: Moderate maneuverability

PROS: Phase 3 AirPro seating system, foot pedal-controlled rudder system, domed bow and stern hatch, Paddle Park to secure paddle, 350 lb (158.8 kg) weight capacity

CONS: Stability and maneuverability sacrificed for speed

 

 

 

DAGGER STRATOS 14.5L

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Fun, variable paddling

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 52.5 lbs (23.8 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: Skeg

SIZE: Length: 14.5 ft (4.4 m) Width: 23 in (58.4 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: Moderate maneuverability

PROS: Rockered bow shape to aggressively punch through waves, adjustable drop skeg, supports multi-day tours, ConTour CFS seating system, 315 lb (143.0 kg) weight capacity

CONS: Length, price

 

 

 

 

BEST DAY TOURING KAYAKS

EDDYLINE SKYLARK

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: River cruising

HULL MATERIAL: ABS plastic

WEIGHT: 41.0 lbs (18.6 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: 12.0 ft (3.7 m) Width: 26.0 in (66.0 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Lightweight design, extended thigh supports reduce back and hip fatigue, duo foam backrest with forward lean and height adjustment, fused Carbonlite front/rear bulkheads, bow/stern bungee deck rigging

CONS: Moderate weight capacity at 295 lbs (133.8 kg), no tracking system

 

 

 

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS PUNGO 120

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Comfort for larger kayakers

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 49.0 lbs (22.2 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: Length: 12.0 ft (3.6 m) Width: 29.0 in (73.7 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Large, open cockpit, removable Kayak Konsole storage, Phase 3 AirPro seating system, full-size, watertight stern hatch with bulkhead, 325 lb (147.4 kg) weight capacity

CONS: No tracking system, roomy construction not snug enough for smaller kayakers

 

 

 

EDDYLINE RIO

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Speed and efficiency for smaller kayakers

HULL MATERIAL: ABS plastic

WEIGHT: 35.0 lbs (15.9 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: Length: 11.9 ft (3.6 m) Width: 24.0 in (70.0 cm)

STABILITY: Moderate stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Lightweight construction, hard chines for responsive turning, bow/stern bulkheads with hatches, compact size for easy transportation

CONS: Not suited for larger people, low weight capacity at 270 lbs (122.5 kg)

 

 

 

 

BEST TOURING KAYAKS FOR EXPEDITIONS

POINT 65 WHISKY 16

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Rough water

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 55 lbs (24.9 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: Skeg

SIZE: Length: 16 ft (4.9 m) Width: 22 in (55.9 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Designed for excellent handling and maneuverability by Nigel Foster, inflatable backrest, 2 large oval hatches at bow/stern, spring-loaded retractable symmetry skeg system, 342 lb (155.1 kg) weight capacity

CONS: Long length makes transport more difficult, weight

 

 

 

DELTA KAYAKS 14

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Sea Kayaking Expeditions

HULL MATERIAL: ABS plastic

WEIGHT: 45.0 lbs (20.4 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: Rudder

SIZE: Length: 14.0 ft. (4.3 m) Width: 24.0 in (61.0 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: Moderate maneuverability

PROS: V-shaped hull for speed and stability, channel-mounted and individually tubed rudder lines, 2 large, dry storage hatches, bungee deck rigging at bow/stern, 340 lb (154.2 kg) weight capacity

CONS: Slightly too long for great maneuverability

 

 

 

 

BEST BUDGET TOURING KAYAKS

PERCEPTION TRIBUTE 12.0

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Budget touring for small kayakers

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 42.0 lbs (19.1 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: Length: 12.0 ft (3.7 m) Width: 24.5 in (62.2 cm)

STABILITY: Moderate stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Zone multi-adjust outfitting system with padded seat, adjustable back band, watertight stern hatch with bulkhead wall, perimeter deck lines, bungee deck rigging

CONS: No tracking system, low weight capacity at 240 lbs (108.9 kg)

 

 

 

RIOT QUEST 10HV

 

 

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Rough water on a budget

HULL MATERIAL: Polyethylene

WEIGHT: 64.0 lbs (29.0 kg)

TRACKING SYSTEM: None

SIZE: Length: 10.0 ft (3.0 m) Width: 14.0 in (35.6 cm)

STABILITY: High stability

MANEUVERABILITY: High maneuverability

PROS: Wide, maneuverable day kayak, custom-fit seating system, features two rod holders and two cup holders, short length for easy car loading

CONS: Weight, lack of storage, no tracking system, 250.0 lb (113.4 kg) weight capacity

Best Touring Kayak - Best Kayaking Gear Articles – Kayak Accessories and Gadgets – Kayak Products and Ideas for Men and Women – Packing Lists for Kayaking Trips

About The Author

Kayaking & Rock Climbing Junkie

Natalie has loved all things nature since she was a child and found at an early age that writing is the best way for her to convey her personal experiences colorfully. She hopes to inspire others to not only enjoy this amazing earth we live on, but to protect it at all costs. She owns a soap company called Pop Cauldron and enjoy songwriting, rock climbing, and spending time outside with her cats, Reginald, Hamilton, and Josephine.

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