Touring Kayak Buying Guide

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Touring Kayak Buying Guide

Exploring bodies of water is an exhilarating and memorable experience. To be closer to such magnificence, many people have taken up kayaking. It is a wonderful feeling to move across water along a long stretch of placid water, hear the splashes while paddling, and take in the scenic view of the surroundings. There are general types of kayaks for such a purpose. There is the polo, slalom, white-water, surf, sprint, and the popular touring kayak.

A touring kayak is designed specifically for scenic exploration. The structure of a touring kayak is different from a canoe, and buying one requires knowledge in its construction and features. Also, touring kayaks can be further divided into different subtypes, depending on its intended purpose. There are different brands of kayaks to choose from, and one can choose a brand based on its quality, overall look, or both. Knowing all there is to know about touring kayaks can help a buyer choose the right one.

Touring Kayak

A touring kayak is the best type of kayak used to journey on a sea, lake, calm river, estuary, and canal. Its length ranges from 12 to 15 feet. A touring kayak can be used for trips that last for hours, days, or even longer. A kayak of this type is different from a sea kayak in a way that a touring kayak has a wider hull that is usually flatter and a larger cockpit opening.

Touring kayaks are not intended for extreme kayaking but they are advisable for beginning or intermediate paddlers. Those who are looking to go on short trips with kayaking and camping in the itinerary would find a touring kayak very useful. Aside from being the ultimate kayak for scenic paddling, it also has storage for camping and cooking equipment.


A touring kayak is usually made of rotomoulded polyethylene plastic. It is a tough but flexible and lightweight material. The front tip of a touring kayak is called a bow, and the rear is called a stern. The opening where a paddler sits on is called a cockpit. A touring kayak also has deck lines and a hatch. Kayak of this type can either have a skeg or a rudder to maintain direction and aid turning when paddling.


To further provide directional control to a kayak, a skeg is used. A skeg is attached to the rear underside of the kayak. Its position can be adjusted by a cable or string linked to a slider near the cockpit. The skeg cuts through the water below the kayak to maintain its direction, and a paddler can vary the amount of skeg exposed underwater as necessary.

A kayak can have either a skeg or a rudder, but a skeg is considered as a standard directional control of a kayak. It is easy to use and does not damage the kayak even when used regularly and in full force. When there is a cross wind, a skeg pushed down fully can help a paddler keep the kayak in a straight direction. A skeg is useful unless it gets jammed because of pebbles or sand stuck inside its mechanism. It also eats a considerable amount of space in the rear storage compartment.


A rudder can be used in place of a skeg. It is an adjustable fin that is attached to the edge of the stern of the kayak. This type of directional control can be flipped down on the water and back onto the rear deck with pedals located on the footrests. Just like a skeg, a rudder is used by a paddler to keep the kayak in a straight direction or help in turning. A rudder does not normally come with the kayak. Buyers can purchase them as an added feature before a manufacturer installs them to a touring kayak.

Benefits from a rudder includes easier turning of the kayak and hands-free control. A rudder, however, does not help much in maintaining a straight direction when there is a cross wind, and the parts has a tendency to become loose, making the fin stay in water and impede the movement of the kayak.

Skeg or Rudder?

The table below shows both the advantages and disadvantages of a skeg and a rudder. It helps buyers to decide which one they would prefer.

Directional Movement Feature




Easy to use; does not damage the kayak even when used regularly and in full force

Can get jammed because of pebbles or sand stuck inside; eats space in the rear storage compartment


Easier turning of the kayak; hands-free control

Not very useful when there is a cross wind; parts tend to become loose over time

The summary of advantages and disadvantages is a quick reference guide for the buyer. Paddling, aside from using a skeg or a rudder, keeps or changes the direction of a kayak.

Types of Touring Kayaks

As mentioned, there are different subtypes of touring kayaks. The general subtypes are multi-day or expedition kayaks, recreational kayak, sit-on-tops or SOTs.

Multi-Day or Expedition Kayaks

For longer trips or adventure in open water, a multi-day or expedition kayak is needed. This subtype of touring kayak, also known as ocean or sea kayak, is long and narrow, allowing it to easily cut through contrary winds. A paddler can lock his or her knees against the underside of the kayak to provide the body stability and anchor, which is useful in providing more force when paddling and better control when leaning and kayak rolling. Some may confuse a multi-day kayak to an entry-level boat, but the former is shorter so it is easier to bring into land, place on a car, and store away.

Recreational Kayaks

For a day trip, lightly-packed adventure, and challenge-free kayaking, a recreational kayak is just what is needed. A recreational kayak is wider and shorter, making it more stable compared to other types of touring kayaks. For this reason, beginners find a recreational kayak to be a suitable boat. It is best used in calm water but not recommended for rough water. A recreational kayak has a higher deck, which gives a paddler a larger legroom, and a drier journey.


Lounging on the water for a few hours or weekend surfing is best done on a sit-on-top kayak. While not all, there are SOTs that are specifically designed for surfing. And because SOTs have no deck, it makes the kayaking experience more casual and surfer-like adventure.

Depending on the model of a sit-on-top kayak, it can be a single-, double-, or triple-passenger boat. A sit-on-top kayak is deckless, so a paddler must be accustomed to getting wet while kayaking or wearing protective gear. An SOT has a well where a camping pack can be stored. Paddlers who are taking items on a kayak must make sure to wrap them in a waterproof bag so as not to get them wet.

Brands of Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are available online, and there are different brands that offer them in a variety of colours and structures. The brands of touring kayaks include:

How to Buy a Touring Kayak on eBay

eBay is a one-stop-shop for all your sporting goods needs. Virtually any canoeing and kayaking goods can be found on eBay. Touring kayaks that are in demand among beginning and intermediate paddlers come aplenty on the website. It is easy to search for a touring kayak on eBay. You can either click your way through the categories to find a touring kayak or directly type the keywords, "touring kayak", into the search bar.

Another great thing about eBay is that it lists a number of used touring kayaks, so if you are budget-conscious, the site has many used touring kayaks to offer. Used touring kayaks can be in excellent condition or have a part or parts that needed repair or replacement. For both new and used touring kayaks, there are different brands to find on eBay. Remember to deal with clients that have a good reputation on the site. You can verify a seller's reputation by looking at his or her positive feedback score and buyer comments that are located on the seller's page.


A sea, lake, or river adventure is a very exciting and refreshing experience. For this reason, there are many people who are taking up kayaking as a hobby. Touring kayaks are intended for light to moderate paddling and recommended to beginning or advanced paddlers. There are three subtypes of touring kayaks: a multi-day kayak that is designed for longer trips, a recreational kayak for lighter-packed journeys and shorter trips, and a sit-on-top kayak for day trips that last for hours and surfer-like fun in the beach.

A touring kayak, in general, looks very much like any kayak, complete with a bow, stern, cockpit, hatch, and deck lines. To control the direction of a touring kayak, including maintaining a straight movement or turning to another direction, a skeg or a rudder is installed. A skeg is a standard for kayaks, while a rudder can be bought as an added feature to install. Kayaking need not be an extreme sport; it can be a relaxing and scenic adventure, and what better way to do that than with a touring kayak. A touring kayak allows a paddler to enjoy kayaking without the usual hassles of forceful paddling and intense ride.

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