Do you dream? A bunch of friends or family in your touring kayaks bravely going where no man (or woman) has gone before? Or are you happy to imagine yourself pottering around the local backwaters at the weekend and in the holidays? Either way choosing the right boat for the job will make sure your dreams come true!!
What is a touring kayak very much depends on your perspective. A sea kayak paddler may consider that they "tour" and some sea kayak manufacturers will classify boats as tourers or day tourers that another manufacturer will call expedition kayaks. If its sea touring you are interested in we we suggest you look at our page on sea kayaks. White water kayakers doing more than going to a single rapid to play may consider that they "tour" when they paddle a few miles with flatter water between rapids and will want an appropriate kayak to suit the conditions. Again if this is your interest you may find more of interest on our page on white water kayaks.
In addition to these specific circumstances there are a wide range of boats that are generally referred to as "touring kayaks". Typically these might be 4m-5m in length. Boats longer than this are likely to be sea kayaks (often considered true sea kayaks only if 16' or more in length (about 5m) or some type of racing kayak e.g. sprint / marathon K1s that are 5.2m or surf skis which are generally longer.
We would classify anything from a long white water kayak over 3m in length maybe more typically 3.5m up to any other longish pointyish kayak up to about 5m in length as potentially a tourer.
Some paddlers may chose to tour using sit on top kayaks or even inflatable kayaks. Whilst these options may be valid where distances covered each day are modest they will not be the most efficient kayaks to use.
Conversely open canadians are eminently suitable to long tours with their large load carrying capacity, comfortable seating positions and are widely used for touring on lakes and rivers.
For now here we focus on the "pointy boats of 3.5-5m in length". These are what we will refer to as touring kayaks.
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Touring implies a desire to cover a reasonable distance without any element of hurry. A desire to enjoy the journey for the journey's sake. A trip taking the time to take in the scenery, share good company with elements of relaxation and possibly some elements of physical or mental challenge. Time pressures may exist because of the length of journey anticipated within the timeframe available and excitement is likely to be based on the thrill of a tricky section or the challenge of a remote location rather than any competitive instincts.
As such touring boats need to enable the paddler to cruise comfortably without fear of capsize, carrying whatever is needed for the journey in hand whilst making the distance covered glide past with ease rather than in a battle with the elements.
So look carefully at the width of different boats. A little more width can go a long way to providing security, comfort and confidence in your stability. Have a look at what hatches or storage is available and compare this to how you plan to use the boat. Then look at length. Remember a longer boat will eat the miles up with ease but will not be as manoeuvrable or as easy to pop on the roof-rack or store in the garage when its time to head home.
Polyethylene kayaks are very dominant in the touring kayak market. For many people the balance of good durability and attractive prices outweigh the heavier weight of the craft and less responsive feel as compared to composite boats.
If your tours are going to include any significant portages or if you regularly have a long carry to the waters edge you should seriously consider the lighter weight composite boats or be sure to invest in a trolley of some sort.
Our sortable listing includes manufacturers, models, length, width and more
There are many many manufacturers of touring kayaks. Here we list some of them along with enough information to get you started looking into the area you are interested in. Please let us know of any important omissions or errors.
Those touring kayak ranges / manufacturers whose boats are effectively long white water kayaks are marked (ww), other tourers have more of a sea kayak / long boat heritage.
USA and UK Worldwide distribution
One of the originators of polyethylene kayaks and now focused on the touring market, they have a wide range of Touring Kayaks for all sorts of conditions.
Carolina / Expression / Essence
Makers of Sea Kayaks, Touring Kayaks and Sit on Tops
Mostly Polyethylene but some composite
Looksha / Manitou
Estonia & France
Makers of Sea Kayaks, Touring Kayaks and Sit on Tops
Polyethylene & Composite
Lifestyle / Fit
A full range including Tourers, Sit on Tops, Sea Kayaks, White Water Kayaks and Surf boats
Polyethylene including some thermoformed
Edge / Enduro
Related to P&H Sea Kayaks Venture are focused on the touring Kayak Market. Wide range of suitable craft.
Jura /Islay / Easky
Touryak /Dayliner / Alborea /Laguna + Tandems
Makers of Tourers, Recreational Kayaks & Sea Kayaks
Eddyline exclusive thermoplastic Carbonlite 2000
Equinox / Skylark
Polyethylene / Composite
Alchemy / Stratos / Axis / Katana / Torrent
Fusion / Speeder