What are Sea and Touring Kayaks?
A sea/touring kayak is a special type of kayak designed for paddling in open waters e.g. bays, lakes and oceans. These kayaks are seaworthy small crafts incorporating a covered deck with ability to also include a spray deck.
They sacrifice maneuverability (a feature of whitewater kayaks) in exchange for a higher cruise speed, storage room, easy tracking, paddling and greater comfort in longer trips.
Touring kayaks are used the world over for marine trips ranging from just a few hours to several weeks, since they can hold up to three paddlers together, besides having room for food, water, gear and other provisions.
As far as length is concerned, solo sea kayaks lie between 10 and 18 feet, whereas tandem craft may be as much 26 feet. The width usually lies in between the 21 to 36 feet range.
- What are Sea and Touring Kayaks?
- Perception Sport Conduit 13 Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
- Important features:
- Perception Essence 17.0 Kayak
- Tahe Marine Wind Composite Sit-In Sea/Touring Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Enduro 13 HV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
Sea kayaks trace their origins to the native inhabitants of the Arctic Circle who developed kayaks for touring expeditions centuries before touring kayaks became a recreational pastime.
Their primitive versions of sea kayaks were handmade, and already incorporated the fundamental design of modern craft, except that they had no kayak seat, hatches or rudder – features that came to light only after the advent of modern day kayaking.
Some of these native kayaks were slender and meant for easy rolling in the event they turned over, whereas others had enough of a width to provide plenty of stability for the native kayaker.
The differences between a modern day touring kayak and the primitive ones stem from the difference in girth, weight and skills between today’s average North American and the primitives of old – this disparity had a crucial impact on the design of modern kayaks from the perspective of speed, tracking, recovery, comfort and maneuvering etc.
If any of the following water based activities interest you, touring / sea kayaks might be worth looking at:
- Expeditions: These last for several days and cover many miles of water. They are highly demanding, both of the kayaker and the kayak. The craft has to possess a solid build and have plenty of cargo space for provisions and gear. The weight of the touring kayak used here should make it stable enough to reduce any rolling requirement.
- Sea kayaking: Kayaking on expansive water bodies such as an oceans, Great Lakes in groups. Generally, these excursions don’t last for more than a day. The sea kayak has to be swift enough to keep pace with the rest of the kayakers and also, obviously, has to be seaworthy.
- Tripping: A long excursion, primarily on lakes and rivers. The vessel has to be sufficiently sturdy in order to survive the harsh conditions in rapids, rocky shore beaching and so on. The kayak must also have cargo space aplenty for provisions and gear.
- Touring: This term encompasses all forms of recreational padding for extended distances, generally in groups and occasionally lasting over a day. Touring is usually done in conjunction with other activities like photography, camping, bird watching etc. The vessels used for touring have several designs which are generally swifter than surfing, recreational and whitewater kayaks and slower compared to racing kayaks.
- Day touring: Kayaking at leisure for trips that aren’t more than a day long.
- Recreational touring: Paddling done at leisure and only for short distance and a small amount of time.
The section to follow is going to review some of the best sea kayaks available right now to help you as a beginner.
Perception Sport Conduit 13 Kayak
If you’re looking for a mid range, lightweight kayak made for speed and to be used in smaller rivers and lakes, this kayak is a great choice for you.
At a highly affordable price, in the range of $550 to $600, this vessel even suits taller users thanks to its considerable length, something that popular shorter vessels such as the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, have trouble managing.
- The Conduit 13 has a length of 13 feet and a weight of around 51 pounds. With a weight carrying limit of 295 pounds, it can easily hold a single kayaker plus plenty of gear. The cockpit is roomy enough to allow you to take your dog out on a kayaking trip.
- Made for comfort – this kayak features an adjustable Zone seat along with a Zone thigh/kneepad which guarantees a comfortable kayaking adventure.
- Plenty of dry storage can be found on this kayak with its two hatches at the bow and stern as well as a bungee deck rigging to store gear for quick and easy access.
- This kayak is a straight tracker and handles well in most conditions except heavy winds. Several users have complimented it for its speed.
- It isn’t inherently ready to tackle windy conditions, although a perception rudder can be incorporated for better performance in such weather.
Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
The Edge 13, costing $849 and weight of 44 pounds, has an aesthetically appealing low deck profile, which keeps you from getting lost while sitting in the cockpit, and it packs plenty of features which would make it the envy of your fellow kayakers.
Basically, this kayak is a harmonious blend of looks, construction and features, and in terms of performance, can be regarded as one of the best river kayaks.
- Excellent initial and secondary stability, confirmed by several users, who tried rocking the boat deliberately and still couldn’t turn it over
- Great tracking prowess along with plenty of maneuverability in sharp turns
- Retractable skeg offers extra tracking ability in rougher conditions
- The 13 feet length allows it to be operated by taller kayakers
- A customizable seating system, adjustable quick lock footbraces, seal rear and front compartments with extra dense hatches, security bar, reflective lifelines, foredeck shockcord storage with its own safety straps and paddle hook, drainplug and flusment rod holder are the extra features which make this flatwater kayak such a winner
Some users have reported an issue with the quality of its seating, but this could be a result of a onetime manufacturing error where the seat didn’t match the one described in the adverts.
Perception Essence 17.0 Kayak
The Perception Essence 17, weighing 65 pounds and costing $1055.20, is a 17 foot high performance sea kayak for serious paddlers who engage in adventures requiring a GPS and a chart for navigation.
Fully equipped for a week long water treks, it includes dialed in tracking combined with an ergonomic design. The Zone EXP seating system is completely adjustable to match the kayaker’s discretion, enabling long distance comfort even on the most extensive expeditions.
- TruTrak Skeg system enables precision tracking
- Hydrofoil shape efficiently cuts through water, and can be retracted into a waterproof housing when unused
- Plenty of watertight storage thanks to the three easily accessible sealed bulkheads on board, each with their own deck hatch
- Bow / stern deck rigging
- Can be augmented with a rudder
- Adjustable Zone EXP seating
- Slidelock foot braces
- Soft Touch handles
- Padded thigh braces that can be adjusted
- Has greater initial stability, and smoother, predictable edging because of its extra width (compared to other 17 footers)
As you’ll observe in other ocean kayak reviews too, we had little trouble with its design, except that it may be hard to use in surf conditions because of its slim and straight design.
Tahe Marine Wind Composite Sit-In Sea/Touring Kayak
This particular kayak in the Tahe Marine line has been made with a focus on bigger volume. Ideal for medium to large sized kayakers, it larger cockpit secured by thigh braces allow for easy entry and reliable gripping while in the water.
The two oval hatches are spacious and act as easy storage compartments – there is also a mini-box present on board for smaller provisions. This is the best sea kayak that Tahe Marine offers in terms of speed and does remarkably well in marathons, long expeditions and exercise trips.
- Shallow V-shape results in rapid acceleration, maneuverability and speed
- 17.5 feet length makes it ideal for taller paddlers and enhances stability
- Extra volume results in plenty of storage space
- Retractable skeg offers extra tracking capability in rough waters
- Holding capacity of 309 pounds ensures that it can carry a person as well as plenty of gear
- Easy reentry thanks to paddle entry straps on deck
None to speak of except the very high cost of $3,049 – it is one of the best ocean kayaks out there.
Riot Kayaks Enduro 13 HV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
This flat water kayak is a swift touring vessel with streamlined features such as front deck rigging, two waterproof hatches and a rod holder for the best touring experience.
With a weight of 45 pounds, length of 13 feet and a cost of $785, it can go head to head with any craft in its range and also with much longer vessels.
- Streamlined, grooved hull ensures excellent speed as well as remarkable secondary stability and tracking
- Custom fit seating system and adjustable quick lock footbraces allows for comfort on longer trips
- Back and front bulkheads as well as dual density hatches for storage
- Shortcord foredeck storage with paddle hook
- Retractable skeg for better navigation
None to mention – the excellent pricing, as well as abundance of features make it one of the best kayak for lakes.
Kayak touring is such a diverse sport/pastime that you’ll have to consider your options very carefully before making a choice. The foremost thing to keep in mind is where you will be using the kayak and the conditions you will be using it in.
For example, there are plenty of touring craft that make fore excellent lake kayaks in calm conditions, but unless they have options for add-ons such as rudders, they will have trouble handling faster, rougher waters