Best Touring Kayaks

7 Best Touring Kayaks: The Ultimate Review Guide in 2019

We humans have a strange calling to venture into the wilderness (often in a kayak which is why you want to know what the best touring kayak is) and we like to stay there for a few days.

This is called camping (duh), and many people are quite fond of it -- myself included.

There is no replacement for trekking into the wild...

Hearing only the sounds of mother nature...

Breathing in air that feels entirely different than the air in the city...

Sitting on a stump and eating dinner around a campfire…

No smartphones are buzzing, no one is scrolling through Instagram…

Pure serenity.

You can experience this by driving to the campsite in a car, walking to it through the woods, or paddling to it in a kayak. This is where touring kayaks come in. The decision of what touring kayak you should get is more important than any other kayak because you’ll be taking it far away from civilization -- you need to be able to depend on it.

In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about touring kayaks, some tips about going on your first trip, and finally 7 of the best darn touring kayaks that money can buy.

We’ll start with our Editor’s Choice kayak and the Best Value kayak for those of you that want to make a quick decision.

Water’s calling and time’s wasting so let’s jump right in!

editor's choice

Riot Kayaks Brittany

16.5

Perception Kayak Conduit 13 Xp Org/BLK/Org, Orange & Black
  • Fastest touring kayak. Period.
  • Triple dry hatch storage for long trips.
  • Winner of multiple kayaking organization awards.

best value

Perception Conduit

Perception Kayak Conduit 13 Xp Org/BLK/Org, Orange & Black
  • Cuts through choppy water like a sharp knife.
  • Amazing value for a touring kayak.
  • Fastest kayak under $700.

How to Find the Best Kayak For You

First of all, “the absolute best kayak for every person and every situation” does not exist. The best kayak for you could be rephrased as “the best kayak for what you want to do with it and for right now”.

In all likelihood, the first kayak you buy isn’t going to be everything you’ll ever want in a kayak. In fact, if you really get into kayaking and get serious about it I can almost guarantee that you’re going to want to get into different kinds of kayaking.

As far as touring kayaks go, here’s how to think about the relevant features:

Comfort

You’re going to be spending a lot of time in a touring kayak. A week-long kayaking excursion where you’re paddling for 8 hours a day means your butt is in that kayak for 40 hours over the course of the week. A small discomfort at the beginning could turn into severe pain by the end of the trip.

The only surefire way to find out if a kayak fits you is to get in it. A lot of the kayaks on this list have great return policies so if you climb in and find it to be uncomfortable simply return it and go with your #2 pick.

Length

Speed is super important for a touring kayak -- on a long paddle, just a slight difference in speed could mean that you arrive at your destination an hour earlier. If you’re in a group and everyone else has a fast kayak then you’re going to have to work extra hard just to keep up. And finally, it’s just nice to be at the front of the pack -- it feels good.

There are 3 ways that you can improve your speed:

  1. Improve your paddling technique.
  2. Get stronger.
  3. Buy a faster kayak.

This is where length comes in. Take a look at the boats they use in Olympic crew competitions: They are super long and super thin. They also tend to ride lower in the water for less drag. Generally speaking, the faster boats will follow this guideline.

If it looks fast, it probably is.

Best Touring Kayaks

A comfortable and fast kayak with plenty of storage that you can rely on? We’ve got you covered -- the following kayaks are all of those things at a variety of price points and extra features so there is something in here for everyone.

Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 13-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13’
  • Weight: 58 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Low deck profile, custom-fit seating system, retractable skeg, front and rear storage
  • Price: $$$

Riot is definitely a serious kayaker’s brand of kayak -- they rarely make anything that isn’t top quality. The Edge is 25 inches wide, which is quite thin, and it features a low deck profile so it sits low. You want that because it is better for aerodynamics. The seat is comfy and there’s plenty of storage in the front and rear for all of your gear.

Why Choose This Model?

This isn’t the quickest kayak available but it still knifes through the water and the comfort and stability make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to get off the beaten path, if you will, with their kayak. Good for oceans, rivers, and lakes because it handles chop well.


Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl Inflatable Kayak Pro Solo Package

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Accessories: Portable carry backpack, machine inflated in 7 minutes, rigid bow and stern molds
  • Price: $$$$

The Sea Eagle Razorlite is a pretty nifty kayak because of how little it weighs… 35 pounds for a touring kayak is very light. Inflatable kayaks as a whole are a little slower than stiff-molded polyethylene kayaks but this is one of the fastest, if not THE fastest inflatable kayak out there. You don’t have to worry too much about comfort with this one -- the inflatable floor is stiff enough for speed but soft enough for your bum!

Why Choose This Model?

The convenience of having a kayak that packs down this small is invaluable for someone who lives in an apartment or simply doesn’t have 13 plus feet of space to put the massive thing. It’s lightweight and the carry backpack makes transport a cinch.


Perception Kayak Conduit 13 Xp Org/BLK/Org, Orange & Black

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13’
  • Weight: 51 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Full Zone comfort outfitting including knee/thigh pads, seat, and foot braces,
  • Price: $$

Thirteen feet long and twenty-five inches wide is a pretty standard length and width for a fast kayak. Experienced kayakers that own one say that it’s super fast but not the most stable kayak they’ve ever been in -- that’s the tradeoff.

Why Choose This Model?

Hands down, this is one badass kayak. You simply will not find a kayak in this price range that is faster than this one. Looking for speed without breaking the bank? Go with the Perception Conduit.


Perception Kayak Conduit 13 Xp Org/BLK/Org, Orange & Black

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 16’6
  • Weight: 51 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Accessories: 1 front and 2 rear bulkheads (3 compartments), reflective lifeline, paddle hook, safety straps, sure-grip thigh braces, retractable skeg, dual density hatch covers plus day hatch cover
  • Price: $$$$

Yowzers this is a fast kayak. One of the pricier models for sure but at sixteen and half feet long and twenty-one inches wide the Riot Kayaks Brittany is unlikely to be beaten by many other kayaks in the straightaway. It’s got a low profile rudder and a retractable skeg for superb tracking and 3 storage compartments for even the longer excursions.

Why Choose This Model?

This is a classic British style kayak that performs as well… maybe even better than it looks. And it looks pretty slick if you ask me. It isn’t cheap but it’s certainly not the most expensive touring/sea kayak on the market. However, it’s performance is right up and the Riot Kayaks Brittany speaks for itself.


ADVANCED ELEMENTS AirFusion Elite Kayak, Yellow

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13’
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Material: Triple layer puncture resistant fabric
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Rear covered dry storage, aluminum rib system, front bungee system
  • Price: $$$

The unique design of this kayak is a fusion of aluminum alloy frame poles and pressurized air tubes which result in a high performance frame system. The AirFusion Elite is roomier and more stable in rough conditions than other kayaks and it’s width gives it more storage capacity by providing a rear access hatch for easy accessibility to under deck items. At 13' long, with a narrow beam, the AirFusion Elite thrusts itself forward as a quick and nimble kayak that tracks like a rigid hard-shell.

Why Choose This Model?

For inflatable kayaks, it doesn’t get any more high-tech than this. In fact, serious kayakers trust the AirFusion in the dangerous iceberg-laden waters of Norway… There’s no reason not to trust this kayak!


6. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 15’
  • Weight: 51 lbs
  • Material: Triple layer puncture resistant fabric
  • Maximum Capacity: 550 lbs
  • Accessories: Three seating positions, comfortable padding, aluminum rib reinforcement
  • Price: $$$

The AdvancedFrame Tandem is very similar to AirFusion that we just listed above. Both are made by Advanced Elements (considered to be the best in blow-up kayaks) and both are excellent touring kayaks.

Why Choose This Model?

If you have any inclination to ride tandem on a kayaking trip (wife, children, friend) then you can save some money if you buy just one kayak and ride tandem. The AdvancedFrame Tandem is quick on the straightaway and comfortable enough for long trips: It’s an excellent kayak and you can’t go wrong with it.


Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 14’6
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Material: High Density Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: custom-fit seating system, adjustable sliding foot braces, bulkhead-sealed front and rear compartments with dual-density hatch cover, reflective lifelines, drain plug, integrated thigh braces, pilot rudder system, fore and aft shock cord storage with paddle hook and safety straps, and security bar.
  • Price: $$$$

With its slender bow and slim deck profile, the rudder-equipped Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 is where elegance and efficiency cross paths: it has just the right amount of chine and keel to make it track well yet with a swift and versatile character. And to top that off, most of the features serious sea kayaks call their own, minus the snobbish part.

Why Choose This Model?

Riot makes great kayaks. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. For the price, the Edge 14.5 is an absolute steal. Our seller runs out of these all the time because they are so popular -- so snatch one up before everyone else does.


Perception Kayak Carolina Sit Inside for Recreation

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’
  • Weight: 49 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Accessories: Bow and Stern Bulkheads, Bow and Stern Deck Rigging, 10 in. Dual, Density Bow Hatch / Oval Dual Density Stern Hatch, Zone DLX Seating System, Zone knee/thigh pads, Keepers Foot Braces
  • Price: $$$$

We are kayaking junkies. We’ve spent days on the water and hours scouring the internet. Believe me when I say that the Perception Carolina 12 is the most versatile touring kayak we could find. This day or weekend tripper is a performance machine, with great acceleration and speed. The soft chined and V-shaped hull offers stable, smooth paddling. The Carolina 12.0 is the perfect size to easily load and offers dry storage for gear to make the most of its capabilities.

Why Choose This Model?

Some kayaks can feel sluggish and unruly even for larger paddlers so the Carolina 12 is a godsend for smaller paddlers. I would take this on anything from a day trip on the lake to an Alaskan river excursion. It’s a top-notch kayak that I would trust to put my grandmother in. Get the Carolina 12 and get out there!


Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

The rat race of modern life can be stressful.

Long hours in the office, conference room, job site, or however you pay your bills can weigh on your soul.

In my experience, there are two things that lift that weight:

  1. Sweat
  2. Nature

Luckily kayaking combines both sweat and nature.

There’s no better way to rejuvinate your mind than an overnight kayaking trip.

7 Best Touring Kayaks: The Ultimate Review Guide in 2019

Your paddle stroke sweeps the water behind you and your trouble and worries go right with it.

Left, right, left, right… You are lulled into the rhythmic meditation that every kayak enthusiast knows and loves.

Your breathing picks up but you’re not out of breath -- the exercise feels good and the reflection of the midmorning sun on the still water is so peaceful that you forget yourself for a split second.

Here’s to paddling away on open waters!

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