Touring Kayaks: Discovering the World from the Water

Kayak Lake Tour


Touring kayaks offer a unique and exciting way to explore waterways, enjoy nature, and stay active. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, there’s a touring kayak out there for you. In this article, we’ll cover the different types of touring kayaks, their essential features, paddling techniques, safety tips, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Types of Touring Kayaks

Sit-in Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks have a cockpit where the paddler sits inside, with their legs and lower body protected by the hull. These kayaks are more suitable for colder weather and rougher water conditions as they offer better protection from the elements.

Sit-on-top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks, as the name suggests, have an open design where the paddler sits on top of the kayak. These kayaks are perfect for warm weather and calm waters, as they provide easier access to the water and are more user-friendly for beginners.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are made of durable, puncture-resistant materials and can be easily deflated for transport and storage. They are a great option for those with limited storage space or for those who want a lightweight and portable option.

Essential Features

Hull Design

The hull design determines the kayak’s stability, tracking, and maneuverability. Touring kayaks usually have a V-shaped or rounded hull for better tracking and speed, while wider and flatter hulls offer more stability.

Length and Width

Longer kayaks track better and are faster, but they can be harder to maneuver. Wider kayaks provide more stability, but they may be slower due to increased drag.

Storage Capacity

Touring kayaks should have enough storage space for your gear, food, and water. Look for kayaks with watertight compartments and bungee cords to secure your belongings.

Comfort and Seating

Adjustable seats and foot braces ensure proper ergonomics and comfort during long paddling trips. Make sure the kayak has enough legroom and support for your back.

Paddling Techniques

Forward Stroke

The forward stroke is the most common paddling technique. To execute it properly, reach forward with your paddle, place the blade in the water, and pull it towards your hip while rotating your torso. This engages your core muscles and makes your stroke more efficient.

Reverse Stroke

The reverse stroke is used to slow down or move backward. To perform this technique, place the paddle blade in the water near your hip, and push it forward while rotating your torso. This stroke helps you maintain control and avoid obstacles.

Sweep Stroke

The sweep stroke is essential for turning your kayak. To execute a sweep stroke, place the paddle blade in the water near your toes and make a wide, arcing motion away from the kayak. This will cause your kayak to turn in the opposite direction of the stroke.

Safety Tips

PFDs and Paddling Gear

Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when you’re out on the water. Additionally, invest in proper paddling gear, such as a paddle leash, bilge pump, and paddle float, to ensure your safety.

Weather and Water Conditions

Before setting out on your paddling adventure, check the weather forecast and water conditions. Be prepared for changes in the weather and avoid paddling in extreme conditions.

Paddling with a Buddy

Whenever possible, paddle with a buddy or in a group. Not only does this make the experience more enjoyable, but it also provides an added layer of safety in case of an emergency.

Choosing the Right Touring Kayak

Skill Level

Consider your skill level when choosing a touring kayak. Beginners may benefit from wider, more stable kayaks, while experienced paddlers might prefer a narrower, faster kayak for longer distances.


Touring kayaks come in a wide range of prices. Set a budget and look for a kayak that offers the best balance of features and quality for your money.

Test Paddling

If possible, test paddle various touring kayaks before making a purchase. This will help you find the one that feels most comfortable and suits your paddling style.

Additional Tips for Touring Kayak Enthusiasts

Building Endurance and Strength

To make the most of your touring kayak adventures, it’s essential to build your endurance and strength. Regular cardio exercises such as jogging, swimming, or cycling can help improve your stamina. Strength training, focusing on your core, arms, and shoulders, will help you paddle more efficiently and prevent injuries.

Planning Your Route

Before embarking on a kayaking trip, take the time to plan your route carefully. Study maps, consult guidebooks, or seek advice from experienced paddlers. Keep track of landmarks, rest stops, and potential emergency exit points. Having a well-planned route will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.

Packing Essentials

When packing for a multi-day kayaking trip, be sure to pack all the essentials while keeping your load as light as possible. Items such as a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment will be necessary for overnight stays. Don’t forget to pack a repair kit for your kayak, an extra paddle, and essential tools.

Leave No Trace Principles

As a responsible paddler, you should follow the Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife, and leave natural and cultural features undisturbed.

Joining Kayaking Communities

Consider joining local kayaking clubs or online communities to connect with fellow enthusiasts, share experiences, and learn from others. Participating in group paddling events can help you improve your skills, discover new paddling destinations, and make lasting friendships.


Touring kayaks provide an incredible way to explore the world from the water. By understanding the different types of kayaks, essential features, paddling techniques, and safety tips, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the perfect kayak for your adventures. Happy paddling!


1. What is the difference between a touring kayak and a recreational kayak?

Touring kayaks are generally longer, narrower, and have more storage capacity than recreational kayaks. They are designed for longer trips and better performance in various water conditions.

2. How do I maintain my touring kayak?

Regularly rinse your kayak with fresh water, especially after paddling in saltwater. Check for any damage and repair it promptly. Store your kayak in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

3. What should I pack for a day trip on my touring kayak?

Pack essentials such as water, food, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a first-aid kit, navigation tools, and extra layers of clothing.

4. How do I improve my paddling technique?

Practice is key. Paddle regularly and consider taking lessons or joining a paddling club to improve your skills and learn from experienced paddlers.

5. How do I transport my touring kayak?

You can transport your touring kayak using a roof rack or a trailer specifically designed for kayaks. Always secure the kayak properly to prevent damage during transportation.

6. How do I store my touring kayak during the off-season?

During the off-season, store your kayak indoors, ideally in a cool, dry place. If outdoor storage is your only option, use a weather-resistant cover and store the kayak off the ground to prevent damage from moisture and pests.

7. How do I learn to perform self-rescue techniques in a touring kayak?

Self-rescue techniques, such as the wet exit and re-entry, are essential skills for touring kayakers. You can learn these techniques through instructional videos, books, or by taking a kayaking safety course.

8. What type of clothing should I wear while touring kayaking?

Choose clothing made from quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials such as synthetic or merino wool. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry. Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions, and always wear a hat and sunglasses for sun protection.

9. Is it safe to kayak alone?

While it’s generally safer to paddle with a buddy or group, experienced paddlers can kayak alone if they take proper precautions. Ensure you have the necessary safety gear, know the area, and inform someone of your plans and expected return time.

10. Can I take my pet with me on a touring kayak?

Yes, you can take your pet along for a kayaking adventure, provided your kayak has enough space and your pet is comfortable being on the water. Make sure your pet wears a life jacket and is securely tethered to the kayak.