The 8 Best Kayak Rudder Kits

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: May 19, 2021
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Is it a must you have a rudder on your kayak? A quick answer is a NO. In fact, many kayaks don’t come with one, but they do have a mounting system or a spot to fit. So, manufacturers do know you’re going to need it one way or the other, and sure you will.

If you plan to paddle on rough open waters or go for a long adventure, your kayak should have a nice rudder. It should even be a “must”, but certain “purist” kayakers will disagree with the notion that recreational canoes shouldn’t have one.

Nonetheless, a kayak rudder is a very important element if you want to make the most from your past-time activity. It can help keep your vessel on a steady, straight path, in particular when kayaking against the wind or waves from either side.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best kayak rudder kits that you can get your equipment without. But before we come to that…

Kayak Rudder Kits

Which Is Better, A Kayak Skeg Or Rudder?

In many cases, a kayak will have a skeg instead of a rudder. The purpose of the two is to counter the effects of the wind and prevent what we call weathercocking- a moving boat turns into the wind.

Nonetheless, a skeg consists of a small fin-like structure on the rear of the keel of a kayak. It can be permanently fitted into the keel or have a retractable design, such that you can deploy it partially or fully into the water. However, a skeg can’t swivel sideways. 

On its end, a rudder also has a fin-like blade but much longer than that of a skeg. It mostly comes in a retractable design and extends down into the water from the far rear end (stern) of a kayak. 

Different from a skeg, however, a rudder can be moved side to side using the foot pedals in the cockpit control. It also has to be fully deployed into the water to effectively affect the water flow and guide the canoe in the direction of the applied force. 

The best part of a rudder is when paddling in rough conditions (either wind, waves, or current) for a long distance. It makes it possible for a kayak to remain on the course (going straight) while at the same time easing stroking efforts on both sides. Hence, enabling long hours of paddling without excessively tiring the hand muscles. 

What Are The Best Kayak Rudder Kits?

From the variety of options we have in the market, the Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder Kit would be our first recommendation. It’s convenient, reliable, and has the highest customer-approval score amongst the other kits.

Here’s a quick summary of the kayak rudder and that of other alternatives you might like. 

Editor’s Choice: Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder Kit

Feels sturdy and durable, raises/ lowers easily, has a reasonable pricing, effortless to attach/ remove, plus fits nearly any kayak

Best of Value: Perception Kayaks Black Long Pin kayak Rudder Kit

Include all hardware and parts, easy to follow instructions, quick to install, operates with ease, and has a durable design

Best Of Replacement: Dilwe Black Plastic watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder

Easy to install, no hassle to raise/ lower, lightweight to carry, fits various recreational kayaks and has a durable build

Best Of Tandem: Wilderness Systems tarpon 135T tandem Kayak Rudder

Has a large rudder blade, includes all assembly parts, straightforward to operate, clear installation guidelines, and a sturdy, durable structure

Best Of Inflatable Kayaks: Borogo Detachable Center Fin Tracking Kayak Skeg

Quick to attach, easy to operate, very affordable, compatible with various kayak models, lightweight to carry, and a long-lasting design

Best Of Pointed Stern: Sea-Lect Designs Stainless Steel Mounting Gudgeon

Sturdy mounting bracket, noncorrosive stainless steel, reasonable pricing, easy to make work, and compatible with a variety of rudders 

Best Of Control System: NovelBee Adjustable Locking Kayak Rudder Foot Pedals

Has predrilled mounting holes, heavy-duty plastic, smooth adjustment range, easy-lock grip, a generous budget, and fits a variety of kayaks, 

Best Of Under $40: HOOMBOOM 25-Piece watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit

So affordable, straightforward to operate, compatible with most kayaks, long-lasting design, multiple kayak carry handles, and pad eyes to tie paddles 

The Best Kayak Rudder Kits Length, Width, And Height Comparison Chart

Kayak Rudder Kit BrandUnique QualityDimensions(In Inches)
Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder KitEditor’s Choice18.5 by 6.1 by 5.6 
Perception Kayaks Black Long Pin kayak Rudder KitBest of Value15.7 by 1.2 by 3.4
Dilwe Black Plastic watercraft Canoe Kayak RudderBest of Replacement16.5 by 7.1 by 3.5
Wilderness Systems tarpon 135T tandem Kayak RudderBest of Tandem15.7 by 1.2 by 3.4
Borogo Detachable Center Fin Tracking Kayak SkegBest of Inflatable Kayaks8.0 by 8.0 by 4.0
Sea-Lect Designs Stainless Steel Mounting GudgeonBest of Pointed Stern:3.7 by 2.4 by 1.0
NovelBee Adjustable Locking Kayak Rudder Foot PedalsBest of Control System22.0 by 5.3 by 4.2
HOOMBOOM 25-Piece watercraft Kayak Rudder KitBest of Under $4017.7 by 6.1 by 5.6

The 8 Best Kayak Rudder Kits Reviews

Here’s a detailed outline of the various kayak rudder kits. You’ll learn the unique features and advantages that set each other apart from the other. We have also included the cons that the makers fail to mention so that you can have the correct heads-up before buying. 

Editor’s Choice: Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder Kit

Main Features:

1. 1x kayak rudder

2. 1.8-inch long pin

3. Integrated Locking System

4. Nylon and 304 stainless steel

5. Mounting bracket and control line

As was mentioned, this is our overall best kayak rudder kit if your vessel came without one. It’s not exactly expensive but includes everything you need to set it up and start using it immediately.

The kayak rudder has tough plastic construction, with a solid 304 stainless steel mounting bracket and pin. It does include the control rope in the package, but the foot control pedal is not part of the deal. So, you’ll need to get it separately to achieve the effect of direction while paddling. 

The rudder is straightforward to attach to the stern with or without using the bracket. However, you might need to be a bit creative as the manufacturer doesn’t include lucid instructions that you can rely on. 

Pros:

1. It feels sturdy and durable

2. Raises and lowers easily

3. Has a reasonable pricing

4. Lightweight and portable

5. Effortless to attach/ remove 

6. Can work in nearly any kayak

Cons:

1. It lacks clear installation instructions

2. The included control cord is relatively short

Best Of Value: Perception Kayaks Black Long Pin kayak Rudder Kit

Key Features:

1. 1x kayak rudder

2. Installation parts

3. Foot control pedals

4. Printed instructions

5. Spectra control cord 

6. Nylon and stainless steel

If you won’t mind the $280 price tag, this rudder kit gives you a wholly complete system. That’s all the parts, hardware, and even instructions you need to build a rudder tracking system from the scratch. So, it’s great when you have a brand new kayak or else if you need to replace the old unit.

All rudder components have a well-made construction, featuring high-grade plastic and stainless steel material. The control cable is a true spectra fiber, which is incredibly strong and resistant to abrasion.

Furthermore, the rudder system does come with a foot brace system that slides smoothly along the rail. But since the rudder is specifically for a kayak with a molded rudder post hole, you might need crafty modification to get everything to work. 

Pros:

1. It includes everything needed

2. Raises and lower with ease

3. Has a rugged and durable design

4. Includes easy to follow instructions

5. It’s quick to install on a supported kayak

Cons:

1. It’s pretty expensive

2. Not ideal for kayaks with threaded stern inserts.

Best Of Replacement: Dilwe Black Plastic watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder

Key Features:

1. 1x kayak rudder

2. Collapsible design

3. High-density plastic

4. 2.2-inch long pivot pin

5. Lightweight and portable

If you’re looking for a rudder to replace your broken piece, this might fit the bill. It consists of high-impact plastic material for strong directional control capabilities.

The rudder attaches to the stern of your kayak using a stainless steel pin, which is part of the included package. It does have a locking knob to hold it in position when up or down, albeit several users have complained it “doesn’t always work”.

Nonetheless, the rudder has universal compatibility, whereby you can use it with various kayak brands and sizes. It also relies on a foot control system to swivel around, but the provider doesn’t include one in this package. Thus, will have to use the existing one or buy separately if your kayak doesn’t have one.

Pros:

1. It’s a tough and durable build

2. Quick and easy to install

3. Effortless to raise/ lower

4. Doesn’t take much space

5. Fits various fishing and recreational kayaks 

Cons:

1. It has no instructions 

2. Relatively expensive without all hardware.

Best Of Tandem: Wilderness Systems tarpon 135T tandem Kayak Rudder

Key Features:

1. Large rudder blade

2. 2x foot control pedals

3. 2-inch long pivot pin

4. Installation guidelines

5. Plastic and stainless steel material

 If you own a long tandem kayak, this tracking kit could make an amazing addition. It consists of a larger rudder, a pair of foot braces/ pedals, a control line, and assembly parts. In other words, you can mount on your rudder-ready or non-rudder-ready canoe without going back to the store to order more stuff.

Like many other brands, this rudder has a collapsible design that makes it possible to raise and lower into the water with ease. However, this one is not heavy in case you don’t want to leave it on the kayak, in particular, if you store it in public storage. 

The rudder blade is a high-dense plastic material, with a stainless steel pivot pin to attach it to the kayak. Also, the company created it for the tarpon 135t kayak (rudder-ready), but it’s universal compatibility. So, you can use it with many other brands of tandem, though you might need modification in some cases.

Pros:

1. It comes with everything to assemble

2. Feels strong and durable

3. Fits easily and perfectly

4. Straightforward to operate

5. It comes with clear instructions to install

Cons:

1. It’s very expensive

Best Of Inflatable Kayaks: Borogo Detachable Center Fin Tracking Kayak Skeg

Key Features:

1. 1x tracking fin

2. Two security pins

3. Removable design

4. 8-inch long, 8-inch tall

5. Nylon composite material

That’s right. an inflatable kayak like Intex Explorer K2 usually consists of heavy-duty PVC material that you can pump up air. So, any add-on you get shouldn’t involve any form of drilling or pointy screws that can easily puncture it.

Thankfully, this tracking fin requires fitting underside with an adhesive goop as it even has none holes to screw it. The only two holes present are for securing the fin firmly when you slide it into the mounting base. This means you can also remove the skeg from the bracket, which is very convenient when emptying the air out of your boat for storage. 

Pros:

1. It’s very affordable

2. Effortless and quick to install

3. Lightweight and easy to carry

4. Has sturdy and durable design

5. You can use it on various kayak models 

Cons:

1. No set of instructions

2. Not ideal for rough waters

Best Of Pointed Stern: Sea-Lect Designs Stainless Steel Mounting Gudgeon

Key Features:

1. 1x mounting Bracket

2. Pointed stern kayaks

3. 304 stamped stainless steel

4. 0.4-inch diameter pivot pin hole

This is a great accessory if your kayak has a pointed stern and doesn’t come with a mounting bracket to attach a rudder. It consists of a heavy-duty 304 stainless steel construction, with all predrilled mounting holes for screw inserts.

Sea-Lect markets the rudder mounting gudgeon as for their Trucourse rudder system. However, you can also pair it with Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder or any other rudder kit that uses a vertical pivot pin insert.

 Pros:

1. It’s easy to make work 

2. Has a friendly budget 

3. Works with a variety of rudders

4. It’s has a tough and durable construction

Cons:

1. Doesn’t include rudder parts

Best Of Control System: NovelBee Adjustable Locking Kayak Rudder Foot Pedals

Key Features:

1. 2x kayak foot pedal

2. Adjustable range

3. Predrilled mounting holes

4. Heavy-duty plastic material

5. Quick-release locking system

If you need a replacement for your broken kayak foot pedal, this set could make it for you. It includes no rudder or control line, so you must have the two or buy them separately if you’re building your tracking system from scratch.

The rudder foot braces come as a pair of two for both feet. It has an adjustable setup, whereby you can slide the pedal to your desired position and secure it in position using the quick-release lock.

More to love, the kayak foot pedal kit comes with pre-drilled holes for mounting. So, you can add to your wilderness Systems Thresher or Perception Prodigy fast and without a hassle.

Pros:

1. It has a well-built, durable style

2. Has a friendly budget 

3. Fit for different heights (people)

4. Can work on a variety of kayaks

5. It adjusts smoothly without much effort

Cons:

1. It doesn’t have instructions

2. Includes no mounting parts

Best Of Under $40: HOOMBOOM 25-Piece watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit

Key Features:

1. 1x kayak rudder 

2. 10x kayak pad eyes

3. 2x kayak carry handles

4. Stainless steel pivot pin

5. 17.7-inch long rudder blade

If your budget is a bit thin, this kayak rudder kit should serve your needs and even give you extra. The provider includes it with most of the things brand new kayaks don’t have. This includes a set of carrying handles, pad eye kit to secure paddles (with cords), and our rudder system kit.

The rudder unit consists of a kayak rudder blade, a mounting bracket, and a control line. All the items have a sturdy structure, with the pivot pin and the bracket in stainless steel material to avoid corrosion from salty waters.

The rudder system has a universal design that you can use with most kayak brands and models. However, it lacks clear instructions which are vital, especially to beginners who would want to fix their watercraft on their own.

Pros:

1. It’s very affordable

2. Straightforward to operate

3. Lightweight and portable

4. Well-built, long-lasting build

5. It includes various accessories

Cons:

1. It could use better instructions

2. Doesn’t have a foot control system 

Quick Guide: 5 Things To Look When Choosing A Good Kayak Rudder

As from the above reviews, you’ll notice the various kayak rudder kits have different features and capabilities. Even when the goal is one, the experience you get with Borogo 304 Nylon Kayak Rudder is totally different from that of Perception Kayaks Black Long Pin kayak Rudder Kit.

In any case, the following are five key features that define a convenient and reliable kayak rudder system:

1. Retractable Or Through-Hull Rudder: a through-hull rudder is quite rare on recreational kayaks but you can find it in surf kits. It’s a fixed style and fitted close to the stern (not at the far end), such that it cannot be lowered or raised. This means you have to very careful when launching or landing on the beach or using shallow/ rocky beds as it can easily get damaged. 

Meanwhile, a retractable kayak rudder can lift itself over a shoal or a submerged obstacle when moving forward. Thus, has fewer chances of getting damaged.

1. Compatibility: Make sure the rudder kit you choose matches your kayak structure for maximum efficiency. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the manufacturer or else look for an alternative product.

2. Materials: High-grade rudders not only resist quick wearing but also serve your needs better and for a long time. So, even for the cheap options, make sure the plastic is sturdy and with a non-corrosive stainless steel pin + screws.

3. Included Parts: a kayak rudder should have all the components you need to install it and operate in case you’re building a complete set. So, make sure all the screws, bolts, cables, and foot control pedals are in the kit.

4. User-Friendliness: It will make no sense to buy a rudder that’s a hassle to raise and lower into the water. Do consider something you can mount all by yourself, as well as operate with ease. 

Commonly Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between A Kayak Skeg And A Kayak Rudder?

Both skeg and rudder are add-on accessories to help a kayak follow the course when padding on open water. However, a skeg blade can only go up and down, while a rudder goes up and down, as well as side to side. Also, a rudder blade is relatively longer than the skeg, in which case it delivers a significant force to handle rough conditions for long trips much better. 

Is A Kayak Rudder System Worth It?

As a kayaker, you can decide to use your canoe either with or without a rudder system. Nonetheless, a rudder system can very much help prevent the rough waves or wind from pushing you off course or even to the rocks. The device could also enable hands-free “maneuvering” when you have your hands on another task like holding a novel or can of food. 

What Is The Best Kayak Rudder Kit Under $100?

Well, various kayak rudders have different features and advantages. You can find some selling at a low-price-point and others very expensive, or ones with an automatic retraction system and others without.

Anyways, the five best kayak rudder kits under $100 include:

1. Editor’s Choice: Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder Kit

2. Best Of Replacement: Dilwe Black Plastic watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder

3. Best Of Pointed Stern: Sea-Lect Designs Stainless Steel Mounting Gudgeon

4. Best Of Control System: NovelBee Adjustable Locking Kayak Rudder Foot Pedals

5. Best Of Under $40: HOOMBOOM 25-Piece watercraft Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit

Final Verdict:

If you’re planning to be kayaking on open waters that often have waves and wind, your kayak should have a rudder system. Even when skilled enough in striking paddles, do abandon your traditional principles and embrace the new tech. Yes, you might not use it most of the time, but it can come in handy when caught up in some rough situation. Perhaps not even you, but maybe a friend who has borrowed your kayak for some moments. 

You can check out the Borogo 304 Nylon watercraft Kayak Rudder Kit if you already have the foot control system in your kayak. It’s budget-friendly, plus includes a line and also a mounting bracket in case your kayak’s stern doesn’t have a flat top. But if you want to build a brand new tracking system from the scratch, the Perception Kayaks Black Long Pin kayak Rudder Kit includes everything needed. You only need to have enough budget at hand.

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API