What is kayak touring?
Kayak touring means surfing the sea while being on a kayak for recreational purposes. Here are some of the differences between a touring kayak and a recreational kayak:
The difference between a recreational kayak and a touring kayak is something that perplexes many people who are new to the sport. Some think a recreational boat is just a cheap touring kayak. They might be right to some extent, touring kayaks are often more expensive since, in addition to being constructed of better materials, they also have more features.
What is a touring kayak?
Touring kayaks are seen as an upgrade to recreational ones, as they’re longer, thinner, and packed with features that appeal to serious kayakers who want to paddle faster and farther.
One of the biggest difference between touring and recreation kayaks is the hull design. Recreational boats are built to be stable and easy to use, while touring kayaks are designed to track well in fast currents and increase lift in rough water so they don’t get swamped by a wave.
Flip both types of boats over, and you’ll see the touring kayak has a much more aggressive hull shape compared to the recreational kayak’s flatter profile. That hull design is a trade off though, providing speed at the expense of stability. As a result, touring kayaks can feel “tippy” for inexperienced paddlers. Touring kayaks are a couple of feet longer, with the extra length significantly affecting their handling. The longer the boat, the more difficult it is to turn, but also the easier it is to go in a straight line. Think of touring kayaks as having greater inertia than recreational kayaks, they resist changing course.
What is a recreational Kayak?
Recreational kayaks are usually constructed of polyethylene and are 10 to 12 feet long and 27 to 30 inches wide at the cockpit. They’re used mainly by beginners and other people who paddle primarily on lakes and slow moving streams.
The most obvious advantage of recreational kayaks is that they’re a lot cheaper than touring ones. They are constructed from less expensive materials (i.e. polyethylene) and usually lack some of the features that make touring kayaks more maneuverable, like skags and rudders. The cheaper materials come with a downside: recreational boats are heavier than touring kayaks, which are often constructed from carbon fiber or similarly lightweight composites.
How to choose between a recreational and a touring Kayak
The choice between a recreational kayak and a touring kayak comes down to the environment you intend to use it in. Unfortunately, many of us like to use our boats in a variety of conditions, so it can be hard to choose one that’s good for all of them. But it’s best to choose the boat that will work in the worst conditions you intend to paddle; while a touring kayak might not be as comfortable on a glassy lake, a recreational boat could be downright dangerous in rough waters.