What Is A Touring Kayak? (Pros & Cons, FAQs, And Differences With Rec Kayaks)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 7, 2022
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A touring kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for long-distance trips on flat water, such as rivers and lakes. These kayaks typically have a longer and narrower hull than other types of kayaks. Therefore, a touring kayak is much faster than other types of kayaks.

Key Takeaways

  • Touring Kayaks are typically made of plastic and have a blade at the front and back that help propel the boat through the water
  • A touring kayak usually includes a dry storage area below deck, comfortable backrests, and an extra roomy cockpit for convenient
  • The best part of a touring kayak is, it has quite a few different seating options like fishing seats, captain seats, child seats, etc.
  • A touring kayak is longer than a recreational kayak; usually, the length of a recreational kayak is 10-12 feet while the length of a touring kayak is 12-24 feet  

Definition Of Touring Kayak

A touring kayak is a kayak that is designed for traveling. It has a thin hull that allows the boat to fit through tight spaces and climb over obstacles (like rapids), without getting stuck. These kayaks are generally used for recreational trips, such as going fishing, relaxing on a lake or river, or even carrying cargo.

Touring Kayaks are typically made of plastic and have a blade at the front and back that help propel the boat through the water. They are built to be light enough to carry while still being durable enough to withstand impacts from rocks and branches. The other features include various types of decks for seating and storage, some with waterproofing padding.

A touring kayak has more comfort features such as a dry storage area below deck, comfortable backrests, and an extra roomy cockpit.

Touring kayaks also have several different seating options, such as fishing seats, captain seats, or even child seats.

Touring kayaks, as the name suggests, are designed for serious paddlers who intend to ride for long distances. They are long and thinner, allowing kayakers to paddle fast in rough waters without being swamped by the waves. If you are looking for a versatile craft with ample space for cargo and easy to handle, then a touring kayak is the ideal choice. The touring kayaks are sit-in, thus preventing water from getting in as you cruise.  

Recreational Kayaks Vs. Touring Kayaks

Kayakers who are new to the sport find it challenging to differentiate between recreational and touring kayaks. There is a slight difference between the two, as touring is usually considered an upgrade of recreational kayaks.  

Recreational kayaks are designed for beginners and those who wish to paddle on calm waters. They are 10-12 feet long, and the width measures between 27-30 inches.  The recreational kayaks are also made of cheaper polyethylene materials that make them quite affordable. They are thus heavy and challenging to maneuver, therefore not suitable for rough waters.

The touring kayaks, on the other hand, measure between 12-24 feet in length, which is longer than the recreational types. It has an internal blackhead that increases storage space, unlike its counterparts. They are also fitted with a skeg or rudder to make maneuverability smooth even in shaky waters.  

Advantages Of Touring Kayaks

A touring kayak offers many benefits, including being easy to launch and store, and more maneuverable than a sit-on-top or sit-inside model. It can also be transported by car or bike on top of the seat.

1. The sleek shape of the touring kayak with a narrow beam makes it possible to ride faster in straight tracks

2. They are ideal for long journeys due to high speed with reduced physical strain

3. Ample storage space that makes it possible to carry additional gear for long journeys

4. Fewer chances of water getting in due to bulkheads and spray deck

Disadvantages Of Touring Kayaks

1. Difficult to maneuver in water due to long length and narrow beam

2. Not suitable for small watercourses due to difficulty in making turns

3. Transport and storage may be a challenge due to its bulkiness in terms of length


What Is The Difference Between Touring And Recreational Kayaks?

There are some basic differences between Touring and Recreational Kayaks. Such as-

Recreational Kayaks: These are meant for leisurely activities such as paddling lakes or rivers. They are often light, and compact, and can be used on flat water as well as moving water.

Touring Kayaks: These are meant for touring long distances and rugged terrain. They usually have bulkier hulls that allow them to maneuver in rougher conditions like rapids or large waves. The advantage of this type of kayak is that it can be carried overland for easier transport.

What Are Touring Kayaks Used For?

In the future, kayaks can be used for more than just touring and recreation. They can also be used as a mobile power generators, or even to transport people across water.

Touring kayaks are designed for use in rivers, creeks, and streams. They are mainly used for river surfing by a single person but can also be used by a group of people.

Some of the most popular uses for touring kayaks include ocean paddling, whitewater kayaking, kayak fishing, day tours on rivers or creeks, and kayak-camping trips in remote areas where no campsites exist. You can even use them to explore bodies of water at your local swimming hole!

The list of seven uses is meant to give you an idea of how the technology has been applied in the past and how it will be in the future with some predictions made for each use case.

A list of seven uses for touring kayaks:

1. Touring,

2. Recreation,

3. Mobile power generator,

4. Transportation on water,

5. Recreational canoeing/boating platform (similar to stand-up paddleboarding),

6. Shelter on the water when cruising other boats that are too noisy or too large to approach closely without drawing attention from others,

7. New ways of exploring waterways that were previously inaccessible

People who use touring kayaks often find them to be a good way to travel by water. They are easy to transport and they have a lot of storage space.

Are Touring Kayaks Good For Beginners?

Beginners can use touring kayaks to enjoy the sport without getting too much into it. They are designed for people who are not experienced with the sport and are used by most beginner kayakers.

Are Touring Kayaks Stable?

The answer is yes! Many touring kayaks have been designed with stability in mind to make them significantly more stable than your average kayak. In fact, many manufacturers have gone so far as to connect a stabilizing skeg directly to the bow of the boat which allows it to remain “on course” even when paddling through waves or wind gusts.

Most stability features will also be found in sit-on-top kayaks which allow you to easily enter and exit from the boat as well as make them much easier to transport and store than traditional kayaks.

The stability depends on the design of the boat and not the body type. For example, it’s possible for a large person to ride in a small boat but not vice versa because they would be too unstable with their weight distribution. In other words, if your body is too big or small for any given boat design then it might not be stable enough.

What Size Touring Kayak Do I Need?

Most recreational, touring, and sea kayaks include internal footpegs that can comfortably fit people up to a size 11 or 12 shoe size.

The size of your kayak will depend on how many miles you plan to paddle and what type of terrain you are traveling. Generally speaking, a sixteen-foot touring kayak can carry three people.

It is best to take two kayaks if you plan to go with a partner. If you are going solo, taking a ten-footer is sufficient but if you want to share the experience with friends or family members, a twelve-foot touring kayak will be more appropriate.

If you are going on a multi-day tour, it’s best to consider taking more than one kayak so that if one gets damaged or capsized you have an alternative boat available.

Which Kayak Is Ideal For You?

If you are starting and do not one to invest more, then recreational kayaks are the best option. However, it will limit you in terms of where to use it. They can only work best in calm waters, such as lakes. They have less storage space but are comfortable to cruise. Ideally, they are suitable for learning and enjoying leisure time in the water.

However, for a more robust option, the touring kayaks are the best. They are more versatile and give you the chance to ride in fast-moving waters.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_kayak
  • https://www.outdoorveteran.com/recreational-vs-touring-kayak/
  • https://brooklynkayakcompany.com/blogs/our-blog-2/recreational-vs-touring-kayaks

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