Kayaking

7 Best Touring Kayaks of 2020

Best Touring Kayak

Photo: Sun Dolphin

Touring kayaks are designed for sport paddling and sightseeing on open waters such as lakes and seas.

On design, these boats are some of the longest types of kayaks on the market. This length means excellent tracking, which makes them ideal for those who generally paddle in a straight line on open waters.

If you are fresh on the market for the best touring kayak, we have you covered. We have hand-picked then reviewed the popular touring kayaks in the section below for a comparison of their performance and features. Let’s see how well they perform, shall we?

You can also read other product reviews of recreational kayak, inflatable kayak, sit on top kayak, tandem kayak, kayak for dog, and many more.

7 Best Touring Kayaks – Review

IMAGE

​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Ocean Kayak Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak

1. Ocean Kayak Zest (Best Overall)

  • 600-lb weight capacity
  • Tandem kayak
  • 2 large waterproof storage compartments
  • Multiple foot wells
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit On Top Touring Kayak

2. Ocean Kayak Frenzy (Easily Maneuverable)

  • 108 inches in length; easily maneuverable
  • Multiple carrying handles
  • Envy and sunrise color options
  • Multiple foot wells
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Touring Kayak

3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 (Best Budget)

  • Affordable
  • 21-gauge PVC construction
  • Airtight system with multiple air chambers
  • Multi-position foot rests
Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Touring Kayak

4. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS (Compact)

  • Compact form factor
  • Comfortable seat and multiple foot wells
  • 2 waterproof storage compartments
Riot Kayaks Brittany Flatwater Touring Kayak

5. Riot Kayaks Brittany (Best British-Style)

  • Fast and agile British style design
  • 3 waterproof storage compartments
  • 198 inches long; perfect for tracking
  • Bungee straps for additional storage
Advanced Elements AirFusion Touring Kayak

6. Advanced Elements AirFusion Elite (Best High Performance)

  • Hybrid aluminum frame with air tubes
  • Streamlined design with a wide body
  • Waterproof rear hatch
  • High-grade PVC skin
Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV Day Touring Kayak

7. Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV (Low Profile)

  • Low deck profile for efficient paddling
  • 2 waterproof compartments
  • Retractable skegs

PRODUCT

1. Ocean Kayak Zest

(Best Overall)

Ocean Kayak Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak
  • 600-lb weight capacity
  • Tandem kayak
  • 2 large waterproof storage compartments
  • Multiple foot wells

2. Ocean Kayak Frenzy

(Easily Maneuverable)

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit On Top Touring Kayak
  • 108 inches in length; easily maneuverable
  • Multiple carrying handles
  • Envy and sunrise color options
  • Multiple foot wells

3. Sevylor Quikpak K1

(Best Budget)

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Touring Kayak
  • Affordable
  • 21-gauge PVC construction
  • Airtight system with multiple air chambers
  • Multi-position foot rests

4. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS

(Compact)

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Touring Kayak
  • Compact form factor
  • Comfortable seat and multiple foot wells
  • 2 waterproof storage compartments

5. Riot Kayaks Brittany

(Best British-Style)

Riot Kayaks Brittany Flatwater Touring Kayak
  • Fast and agile British style design
  • 3 waterproof storage compartments
  • 198 inches long; perfect for tracking
  • Bungee straps for additional storage

6. Advanced Elements AirFusion Elite

(Best High Performance)

Advanced Elements AirFusion Touring Kayak
  • Hybrid aluminum frame with air tubes
  • Streamlined design with a wide body
  • Waterproof rear hatch
  • High-grade PVC skin

7. Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV

(Low Profile)

Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV Day Touring Kayak
  • Low deck profile for efficient paddling
  • 2 waterproof compartments
  • Retractable skegs

1. Ocean Kayak Zest – Best Overall Touring Kayak      

Ocean Kayak Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak

Photo: Ocean Kayak

  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs - 600 lbs
  • Length: 198 inches
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 75 lbs

Ocean Kayak's Zest is the best overall touring kayak because it has a very high weight capacity of up to 600 lbs. Moreover, the unit is a tandem touring kayak, which means it contains 2 seats and can accommodate 2 fairly overweight people with ease.

Other than that, the boat has a sturdy polyethylene construction that makes it very durable. This is because the material offers excellent resistance against scratches and shocks.

Multiple foot wells are also built inside the cockpit. These provide the user with a more comfortable paddling position.

More features include comfortable padded seats with an adjustable backrest, 2 large waterproof storage compartments (one for each paddler), molded-in cup holders and bungee straps for additional storage space. 

However, this unit is very costly and also quite heavy. 

Pros:

  • High weight capacity of 500 – 600 lbs
  • Tandem kayak; contains two seats
  • Durable polyethylene construction
  • 2 large storage compartments 
  • Multiple footwells for a more comfortable paddling position

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

2. Ocean Kayak Frenzy – Easily Maneuverable Touring Kayak     

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit On Top Touring Kayak

Photo: Ocean Kayak

  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs - 325 lbs
  • Length: 108 inches
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 44 lbs

One of the best things about this boat is definitely its high maneuverability and control. With a length of only 108-inch, the unit is very easy to turn on water. 

Additionally, you can still expect comfort, stability, and high performance because the kayak's bottom is smooth and flat. There are also multiple foot wells that will allow you to get a better position when paddling.

Other features include a basic padded seat with an adjustable backrest, 2 color options (envy and sunrise), side, bow and stern carry handles, and a stern tank well with bungees plus bow deck bungees for storage. 

However, you don't get a waterproof hatch. 

Pros:

  • 108-inch length; easily maneuverable
  • Multiple foot wells
  • 2-color options 
  • Side, bow and stern carry handles

Cons:

  • Lacks a waterproof hatch

3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Best Touring Kayak for the Money

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Touring Kayak

Photo: Sevylor

  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs
  • Length: 103 inches
  • Material: PVC
  • Weight: 18 lbs

If you are on a tight budget, Sevylor's Quikpak K1 is an affordable touring kayak to consider buying. Despite this, it is built using heavy-duty 21 gauge PVC that is very durable.

Moreover, this material will protect you against scratches and has a 3-layer design with multiple air chambers plus an airtight system, which ensures you remain afloat even if one part of the kayak gets punctured. 

You also get a comfortable seat that will prevent you from getting back or waist fatigue when used for long periods of time, a heavy-duty pump, a quality paddle and a carry bag.

Other features include a lightweight 18-lb design, a relatively high weight capacity of 400 lbs., an easy 5-minute setup and multi-position foot rests that can accommodate people of different heights. 

However, you don't get a waterproof storage compartment. 

More Detailed: Sevylor Quikpak K1 Review

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Durable heavy-duty construction
  • Equipped with an airtight system that prevents sinking
  • Comfortable seat
  • Multi-position foot rests

Cons:

  • Lacks a waterproof compartment

4. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS – Compact Touring Kayak    

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Touring Kayak

Photo: Sun Dolphin

  • Weight capacity: 280 lbs
  • Length: 144 inches
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 47 lbs

Even though this kayak measures 144 inches in length, it has a small and compact form factor that makes it quite maneuverable. This design gives you the perfect balance between excellent tracking and good maneuverability. 

Inside the cockpit, there is a comfortable seat and multiple foot wells that will allow you to get a better footing while paddling.

On the outside, there are 2 waterproof storage compartments: a large one at the rear and a small one at the front. 

Other features include a high-density polyethylene construction and 3 color options, which are lime, blue and red

The only caveat we have is that the boat has a low weight capacity of only 280 lbs.

Pros:

  • Compact form factor 
  • Comfortable seat 
  • 2 waterproof storage compartments
  • Durable high-density polyethylene construction

Cons:

  • Low weight capacity

5. Riot Kayaks Brittany – Best British-Style Touring Kayak 

Riot Kayaks Brittany Flatwater Touring Kayak

Photo: Riot Kayaks

  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs
  • Length: 198 inches
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 51 lbs

The Riot Kayaks Brittany is a full-featured British-style sea kayak that has a reputation of being agile, fast and easily usable by beginners or experienced kayakers. 

You will also find plenty of deck storage space, which includes 1 front and 2 rear waterproof compartments. These allow you to store all your electronics and other items safely while bungee straps at the front give you storage space for non-water sensitive items. 

You also get a high-density polyethylene build that makes this touring kayak very durable, a 198-inch length that offers exceptional tracking capabilities, a comfortable well-padded seat and a retractable skeg plus pilot rudder system for better handling. 

The only problem is that this piece is quite costly. 

Pros:

  • Agile and fast British-style design
  • Durable polyethylene construction
  • 3 watertight storage compartments
  • 198 inches long; ideal for tracking

Cons:

  • High price

6. Advanced Elements AirFusion Elite – Best High-Performance Touring Kayak

Advanced Elements AirFusion Touring Kayak

Photo: Advanced Elements

  • Weight capacity: 235 lbs
  • Length: 156 inches
  • Material: PVC
  • Weight: 32 lbs

This AirFusion Elite is characterized by a hybrid aluminum frame plus pressurized air tubes inside, which result a high performance design. The design actually rivals the performance of skin-on frame kayaks, which are known for their speed.

The boat is also very streamlined but manages to incorporate a wide 28-inch beam, which makes it more spacious, more stable and have more storage space. You actually get a rear access hatch that gives access to a waterproof storage space in the deck. 

Other features include a high-grade PVC outer layer that is extremely durable, a 156-inch length for perfect tracking and a soft rubber seat. However, the boat is quite costly. 

Pros:

  • High-performance hybrid aluminum frame
  • Streamlined design with a wide body
  • Rear waterproof hatch
  • High-grade PVC skin

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

7. Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV – Low Profile Touring Kayak 

Riot Kayaks Edge 13LV Day Touring Kayak

Photo: Riot Kayaks

  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Length: 156 inches
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 44 lbs

In addition to being a sit-in kayak, Riot Kayaks' Edge 13LV has a low deck profile design that keeps you closer to the water. This allows you to paddle more efficiently even if using a short paddle.

The kayak's seats are padded for comfortable sitting and their backrest fully adjustable so that you can paddle in a comfortable position. 

You also get a durable polyethylene construction, 2 oversize and waterproof storage compartments, bungee straps for additional storage, a retractable skeg and a weight capacity of 300 lbs. 

On the downside, no paddle is included and the boat lacks paddle holders. 

Pros:

  • Low deck profile; allows for efficient paddling
  • 2 large waterproof storage compartments
  • Retractable skeg
  • Padded seats with adjustable backrests

Cons:

  • Paddle not included
  • Lacks paddle holders

How to Buy the Best Touring Kayaks

How to Buy a Touring Kayak

Photo: Airhead

1. Comfort

Since you will most likely be using the touring kayak for long hours, it needs to be comfortable so as to prevent you experiencing pain.

In order to provide all those from happening, ensure that your touring kayak is equipped with a padded seat like the one in most of the units above.

Additionally, you should look for an adjustable backrest and multiple foot wells like in Ocean Kayak's Zest, which allow for sitting in the most comfortable position.

2. Skegs or Rudder

The skeg and rudder are responsible for the efficiency and smooth movement of the touring kayak in the water. Precisely, the skeg is mostly responsible for tracking, which is moving in a straight line, while the rudder is responsible for maneuverability and steering of the tourist kayak.

Ideally, you should look for a kayak with a removable skeg such as Riot Kayaks' Edge 13LV. This will make it possible to experiment with different types of skegs so as to see which one offers the best tracking performance.

As for the rudder, not all touring kayaks can accommodate one. This is because the rudder needs a special mounting at the rear. If you need a rudder for better ease-of-use, make sure that your preferred touring kayak comes with a rudder mount.

3. Material

When it comes to the quality of the touring kayak, the material used is very important. In general, the best touring kayaks in the market are made from a durable and lightweight material like polyethylene.

Polyethylene offers high resistance to impacts, scratches and will not easily degrade under intense sunlight. For this, check out Riot Kayaks' Brittany.

If you prefer an inflatable touring kayak, you need to look for a high-grade PVC build such as the 21-gauge PVC used in Sevylor's Quikpak K1.

4. Size

Touring kayaks are generally longer and wider other types of kayaks. This is because they have more generous storage compartments that takes a lot of space. 

Keep in mind that longer kayaks such as Ocean Kayak's Zest offer better tracking. However, this affects the steering capabilities, which makes the kayak less maneuverable. You will need to choose a touring kayak that has a length based on your need and purpose.

If you require maneuverability and control more than tracking, then go for a shorter unit such as Ocean Kayak's Frenzy or Sevylor's Quikpak K1.

5. Storage Compartment

This is where the touring kayak is reputed for. In general, you will find at least 2 large storage compartments in the best touring kayak like Ocean Kayak's Zest. In fact, this one even has holders for storing your cups. 

However, there are still models that come with one storage compartment such as Advanced Elements' AirFusion Elite. Of course, your choice will depend on your needs in terms of the amount of space to keep your gear and accessories.

Regardless of the size, ensure that this compartment is 100% watertight by means of a hatch so as to keep your accessories and gear dry.

Conclusion

As you have seen, all units above can be classified as the best touring kayaks.

However, Ocean Kayak's Zest stands out as the overall best because it can carry a lot of weight, has a 2-person capacity, has a large storage space including cup holders and has a durable polyethylene construction. 

If you are looking for high performance, Advanced Elements' AirFusion Elite is the best option. Though quite costly, it has a high-performance hybrid aluminum frame that is built for speed. 

If you are on a tight budget though, we recommend you buy Sevylor's Quikpak K1.

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