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Touring Kayaks

Top Picks

How we choose: The best touring kayaks highlighted here were selected based on 35 reviews of 29 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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If you've used a touring kayak that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Current Designs Double Vision Tandem

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

After paddling the boat for 3 years I can say that the boat is well made and it is very sable in extremely rough conditions. The seats are really comfortable and even though my wife has arthritis and I deal with lower back pain, we can spend several hours out on the water without much trouble. We used to have two single kayaks, but we both paddle at different rates so someone was always waiting for the other person to catch up. With a tandem, you never have to wait for someone to catch up. If someone gets tired they can stop while the other keeps paddling, and the result is that you go a lot farther and faster than you do in single kayaks.

Reasons to Buy

  • Well made
  • Seats are REALLY comfortable
  • Very stable in rough conditions
  • Big cockpits so it is easy to get in and out
  • Light enough that one person can carry the boat by themselves

Reasons to Avoid

  • Deck is a little low for my size 12 feet. Needs about 1" more of height
  • Straps on seat are a little difficult to adjust while underway.

We have owned a Double Vision for three years and have taken it out in all kinds of conditions. We paddle the boat in lakes, but mostly paddle the boat in the Delaware and Chesapeake bays. I have been amazed that no matter how rough the conditions are, the boat always remains REALLY stable. We were out in the Delaware bay last year with 25-30 mile an hour winds with breaking white caps and the boat moved great through the waves and rough conditions. At no time did the boat ever feel tippy and we were able to paddle several miles up wind in some very rough conditions.

Read more: Current Designs Double Vision Tandem reviews (2)

Perception Expression 15.0

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

A fantastic touring kayak that handles well in most conditions. Build quality is good and paddling it is a pleasure. Easy to roll, paddles well on edge and great for the intermediate paddler to advance their skills but isn't quite ready for (or doesn't have the storage for!) a longer more dedicated sea boat.

Reasons to Buy

  • Looks
  • Confidence inspiring
  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Back rest (Definitely get the back band instead of the stupidly large armchair!)
  • Not as fast as a full on sea kayak (obviously)
  • Skeg system could be better thought out

I have used both the 14.5 Expression (called the 14 in the UK) and the Expression 15. Both are great boats that in some instances noticeably different. Starting with storage, the 15 has a bit more space in the bulk head compartments, however the 14 still has more than enough room to swallow up enough gear for a camping weekend. The front and back bulkheads have good seals on them as do the hatch covers. I have rolled my boat repeatedly and never even found so much as a drop inside the storage compartments - therefore both boats tick this box well.

Read more: Perception Expression 15.0 reviews (2)

Seaward Kayaks Chilco

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Beauty and performance at a reasonable price point.

Reasons to Buy

  • Built to order
  • Reasonably priced
  • High performance
  • Customer service
  • Lightweight
  • Beautiful

Reasons to Avoid

  • Waiting for it

From their website, "Seaward has produced the finest handcrafted kayaks in the world for 30 years. Our reputation is based on quality, innovation and attention to detail. When you purchase a Seaward Kayak you buy a product on which you can depend to take you further."   Find them here Seaward Kayaks is located in Canada and hand builds all their composite boats from the finest materials. They sell direct to the consumer and even offer custom gel coat colors. You can pick the color of the hull, deck, combing, hatches, and seam.

Read more: Seaward Kayaks Chilco review (1)

Eddyline Denali

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Finally, a kayak for the big guys!

Reasons to Buy

  • Large cockpit for easy entry and exit
  • Lots of legroom and footroom
  • Great tracking, especially with skeg deployed
  • Lightweight
  • Great looking kayak
  • Really nice hatch covers that seal tightly

Reasons to Avoid

  • Finish on top deck scratches easily

I just took delivery of my red Eddyline Denali last month and all I can say is WOW! First of all, this is a gorgeous kayak! Hands down far more sexy than any roto-molded boat I have ever seen. The materials and craftsmanship are stellar. It's made of thermofoamed ABS plastic. It's 15'3" long and weighs only 50 lbs. Best of all, this kayak fits a big guy like me. I have a very athletic build. I'm 6'3", 250 lbs with a 34" inseam and size 12 shoes and I fit very comfortably in this boat with room to spare.

Read more: Eddyline Denali review (1)

Perception Expression 11.5

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Great multi-purpose boat for those of us who can only afford one boat. Suitable for a variety of situations, though probably not the ideal boat for any.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Large cockpit
  • Multi-purpose

Reasons to Avoid

  • Storage space
  • Skeg pull drags in water

I live in a city with lakes, rivers, and creeks, and it's perfect for all of it. Haven't tried it on whitewater yet, but considering it (will update if/when I do). It's generally very stable, but not the fastest kayak. Using the skeg helps you track across big lakes. Cockpit: Super comfortable. I needed one that my wide hips could still bail out of easily in case of capsize. Weight: I only wanted a boat that I could transport on my own. At about 45 lbs, I have no issue picking it up and placing the side of the cockpit on my shoulder to carry at least 1/4 mile to the launch.

Read more: Perception Expression 11.5 review (1)

Necky Eliza 15 with Rudder

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Eliza is a sea kayak well-suited to women and men who are from small to moderate size. My Eliza fits me like a good shoe. Very responsive and stable!

Reasons to Buy

  • Sized for the proportions of adults small to moderate size
  • Rudder is easily controlled by foot pedals
  • Tough rotomolded plastic in a strong design
  • Hard covers for hatches
  • Good hull design for rolling practice and wet re-entry
  • Adjustable footpegs
  • Small and stable enough for a recreational kayak
  • Also available in composite instead of plastic

Reasons to Avoid

  • Rudder cord is hard to pull rudder down for use
  • A 15'4" sea kayak is not as fast as a 20' surf ski
  • If you don't like pink get one of their other colours

The Necky Eliza was designed to suit women paddlers, but it also suits men and teenagers. The people it doesn't suit are taller than 5'9" with big broad shoulders. The Eliza fits me perfectly at 5'1" — at 160 pounds, I'm at the top of the recommended weight for this model. Though I am stocky and plump, I can get into the cockpit easily onshore or doing wet re-entry rescue practise. I move the footpegs to suit my short self, and my knees fit comfortably under the front deck. A paddling friend is about 5'7" and 160 pounds, and he paddles an Eliza of his own.

Read more: Necky Eliza 15 with Rudder review (1)

Necky Manitou 14

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This is an excellent boat that tracks well, and has excellent primary and secondary stability. My wife and I use them along the New England Coastline fairly close to shore and in the bays and estuaries. The skegs work extremely well on windy days or in currents.

Reasons to Buy

  • Tracking
  • Speed
  • Stability
  • Skeg
  • Storage space

Reasons to Avoid

  • Weight, but it's a plastic boat and to be expected.

My wife and I love these boats. We started kayaking in flat water lakes, and calm rivers about 10 years ago. At that time we had 9' recreational kayaks (Wilderness Systems Rascals) which were fine for our needs at that time. However as we started to kayak in the ocean, we quickly learned we needed bigger kayaks. So we decided to rent for several years as we kayaked in CT, RI, MA, and NH. This gave use the chance to try several different brand and sizes of kayaks. By the time we were ready to purchase new touring kayaks, we were pretty sure about the size, but really not much more.

Read more: Necky Manitou 14 review (1)

Jackson Kayaks Journey 14 With Rudder

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Great handling boat, I used this boat on the class 2 river and also in the Georgia Bay. I am very impressed with boat and would recommend that everyone check this boat out before purchasing any kayak. I have the 14 foot with rudder and I am 6 foot tall and weigh 170 and the boat is perfect for me. I use the adjustable hip pads to make the fit just perfect for me. My wife is 5 foot 7in and she weighs 130 and she also uses the hip pads to make her fit nice and snug. I really have nothing but good things to say about this boat. I personally think I have the best boat on the market. I have owned many other boats as well and they were just fine but this boat for me takes it to another level.

Reasons to Buy

  • Construction
  • Comfort
  • Maneuverability
  • Rigging

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can't find any as of yet

This boat is really top quality, I received it 2 weeks ago and have been on the water 2 times since receiving it. I must say that I am so impressed with the high quality and solid construction. The rudder system takes some getting used to but after a while it becomes second nature. The boat rigging is solid and the sweet cheeks seating system is great. I think you should check out this boat at your local kayak dealer. The Jackson kayak company is truly a great company and I have chatted with them about spec and they are alway pleasant and willing to answer questions.

Read more: Jackson Kayaks Journey 14 With Rudder review (1)

Nigel Dennis Kayaks Romany Surf

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Great handling, 16 ft. sea kayak for surfing and couple of day trips.

Reasons to Buy

  • Handling
  • Strong fiberglass layup
  • Stable
  • Roomy for tall people

The volume of this kayak fits larger people best. I am 6'4" and 210 lbs. It is extremely hard to be comfortable in a pure sea kayak for a large, tall person. Think about those eskimo skin on frame kayaks. There is no way a person of my size would fit.  This kayak is pretty high up there in the performance range, still be a good fit for me and not compromise on performance. Hardest part is finding a kayak that my feet fit into (keep in mind the feet are very close to the bulkhead where is starts to get kind of narrow).

Read more: Nigel Dennis Kayaks Romany Surf review (1)

LiquidLogic Inuit 12.5

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This is a very stable platform and can handle rough water with the best of them.

Reasons to Buy

  • Universal cockpit
  • Padded seat
  • Built in thigh braces
  • Knife like bow

Reasons to Avoid

  • None noted

I own a guided sea kayaking company in northwest Montana. I have paddled a Dagger Catalyst for over 16 years. I wanted something similar to the Catalyst for my fleet, but they no longer make that model. I was turned onto Liquid Logic this year by a friend. I wanted the Liquid Logic Inuit 13'5 for my fleet. After talking to the Liquid Logic rep I found out that the 13'5 model does not have a universal cockpit. However, the 12'5 and 14'5 Inuits do. The rep stated that he was 5'8" and 200lbs and that he was not comfortable in the 13'5.

Read more: LiquidLogic Inuit 12.5 review (1)

More Reviews of Touring Kayaks

Trailspace reviewers have shared 35 reviews of 29 different touring kayaks.

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Other Types of Kayaks

Find more kayaks reviewed in these related categories:

Recreational Kayaks

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks

+4 more types

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