If you want the freedom to paddle long distances and explore the open water all day long then the touring kayak is for you. Designed for long trips out on the water a touring kayak is a great choice for nature lovers who want to spend as much time as possible outdoors.
While all touring kayaks serve the same purpose - to provide you with a long-distance kayaking experience - many come with different features that will have an impact on how they work on the water.
Some may be more suitable for coastal waters while others function better on rivers. Your skill level will also have to be considered when buying a kayak as many are tailored to a specific skill level, like beginners or experts.
With so many things to think about when buying a touring kayak, new buyers may be confused as to where to start.
Well don’t worry! We’ve made a list of the best touring kayaks you can buy right now. Covering all different brands, features, and skill levels, you’ll be sure to find the right kayak for you on this list.
OUR TOP PICK
This kayak is a favorite on the market right now. Suitable for flat waters like a calm ocean or river, the Edge has several features that will make long-distance kayaking a breeze.
A big selling point of the Edge is how it can be adjusted to each individual paddler. It has an advanced custom-fit seating system, adjustable sliding foot braces, and integrated thigh braces.
All this means that the Edge can accommodate paddlers of any height, and provides a very comfy ride which is necessary if you’ll be out on the water for a very long time.
Made from high-density polyethylene the Edge is a very durable kayak, meaning it can handle many knocks and bumps before any damage is seen. This material is also very lightweight so carrying it to the water is not that hard.
The long and slender design of this kayak provides it with excellent tracking, making it easy to build up speed on the water.
Though more suitable for flat water due to its flat-bottomed hull, thanks to the hard chine and deployable skeg it will keep running straight if you suddenly get into rougher waters.
The Edge is one of the best kayaks you can get for long-distance journeys, as the mix of stability and speed means that you can easily paddle for miles without feeling sore the next day.
The Edge is a great all-rounder touring kayak and with the right care will last you for years to come.
- Adjustable seating - any paddler can comfortably use this kayak
- Very durable - can handle a lot of bumps and knocks before cracking
- Not a lot of waterproof storage space - Though it has a cargo hold this space isn’t very big. For bigger kit items they will have to be stored under the bungee cords on the hull, making them exposed to the elements.
Perception is one of the top kayaking brands that are known for their high-quality beginner kayaks.
The Conduit 13 is a great way for beginners to grow their skills on a touring kayak or for those who are making the transition from recreational paddling to touring.
Made from high-density polyethylene new paddlers won’t have to worry about causing any damage to the kayak while on the water.
For added peace of mind to beginners, the Conduit is also one of the most stable touring kayaks you can buy due to its secondary stability that will keep you upright when doing tight turns at speed.
The narrow profile of the Conduit (26.5 inches) allows it to cut through the water at speed, while the length helps with maneuverability, making tight turns easier.
Though the design of the kayak has impacted the tracking slightly, to overcome this the Conduit has a built-in fin that helps make the tracking better.
For longer trips, the Conduit features two watertight storage spaces at the bow and stern that can hold enough gear for a weekend of paddling.
For a trip out on a calm river or flat coastal waters, the Conduit is a great choice for beginners who want to improve their skills in touring.
- Rudder capable - though suited to calmer waters, if you do accidentally end up on rougher waters then the rudder keeps you stable
- Very maneuverable - able to easily steer and make turns
- Not suitable for taller paddlers - Though the Conduit is 13 feet long a lot of space is taken up by storage. If you are over 6’5 then you may not fit in this kayak.
Another great kayak for paddlers who want to make the transition from recreational to touring, the Pungo is a great choice for beginners and more experienced paddlers alike.
With secondary stability and a very durable body, you won’t have anything to worry about when out on the water. The secondary stability also adds to the maneuverability of the kayak, making it easy to turn and steer.
Ideal for big day trips, the Pungo combines the speed of river kayaks with the storage of a touring kayak. You can take a lot out on the water with you while the kayak can handle rough and twisting rivers.
Despite these features, this is a very lightweight kayak, making it easy to transport to and from the water.
One of the biggest selling points of the Pungo is the molded-in cockpit dashboard that features gear holders that can store all your valuables like your keys and phone. There’s also a cup holder so a drink can always be close by.
For added comfort, the Pungo comes with an adjustable seat made of breathable mesh fabric, and adjustable thigh and foot braces.
While the Pungo doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that feature on other kayaks, this is a good choice for someone who wants to get into touring.
- Good on a variety of water types - suitable on calm and rougher waters
- Very maneuverable - can easily make tight turns at speed
- Too short for taller paddlers - like the Conduit, a lot of space on the Pungo is taken up by storge. It’s best to try before you buy with this kayak to make sure you fit.
If you want to paddle with a friend then this is an ideal kayak for you. While being able to hold two adults, the Zest Two also is jam-packed with storage space so you and your buddy can spend days out on the water or on a camping trip.
Unfortunately, as this is a sit-in kayak all of the storage spaces are exposed to the elements, meaning that your gear could get a little wet. This can be easily avoided if you pack all your stuff in waterproof bags.
The Zest Two is a very comfortable kayak to sit in due to the cockpit being around 30 inches wide, which provides enough space for paddlers of any size.
It also makes the kayak more stable. On top of this, the seats are also fully adjustable and there is a line of molded foot braces inside the hull for even more comfort.
One of the only downsides of this kayak is that it’s not the most maneuverable on this list, partly due to the size of the cockpit as wider kayaks are harder to steer.
This may not be too much of an issue for you though as with two padders steering it may make steering easier.
The Zest Two is has everything you need for you and a friend to have fun on the water, though if you’re planning on kayaking alone then this won’t be the right kayak for you.
- Wide and stable - you won’t have to worry about tipping over in this kayak
- Large storage area - with bungee storage at the front and back of the kayak you’ll have plenty of room to take all your gear for a long expedition.
- No waterproof storage area or cockpit cover - while there is plenty of storage, during rain or rough water it will be very easy for it to get wet. The open-top design also means that you’ll get wet very easily
Making a second appearance on this list is Perception Kayaks. The brand has created a somewhat unique kayak that has been specifically designed for women or people with smaller frames.
The shorter length means that smaller people will find it easier to maneuver and steer, while the narrow hull allows for greater control. And the Tribute 12.0 does all this without sacrificing speed or tracking abilities.
Despite being a smaller touring kayak, with it being 12 feet long, the Tribute still features all of the storage space you could need including cockpit storage and bungee cords at the back and front to hold your bigger pieces of gear.
Made from the same high-density polyethylene as all Perception Kayaks, this provides an extra layer of safety as you know that any knocks won’t cause the kayak to break. It also protects the kayak from UV rays and provides abrasion resistance.
When you’re on the water for a long time you want to be comfortable, which is why the Tribute features a fully adjustable seat and footrests, ensuring you won’t be sore at the end of the day.
For smaller framed paddlers this kayak will make long water expeditions much easier as it provides more control than the traditional longer touring kayaks.
- Possibly the only kayak designed specifically for women - this unique kayak will make kayaking easier for women, and hopefully encourage more of them to give the hobby a try
- Fully adjustable seat and footrests - for added comfort so that you won’t be sore after a long day on the water
- Not the fastest - due to the size of the kayak the speed had to be sacrificed, though for beginners this may not be an issue.
Best Touring Kayaks Buying Guide
For beginners buying their first kayak, it can be easy to find the whole process confusing due to all the features you need to look out for and the jargon surrounding the kayaks.
To help you with your purchase here’s a list of the most important things you need to look out for when buying your first touring kayak.
Touring kayaks are usually made out of either polyethylene plastic or composite materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber. The material used will impact how the kayak behaves in the water.
Polyethylene kayaks are the most durable type of kayak, though they tend to be heavier and lack stiffness making them less responsive in the water.
On the other hand, kayaks made out of composite materials perform better because they’re stiffer, and they hold their shape better, though they’re often far less durable.
Touring kayaks are some of the heaviest kayaks you can get, and very often getting them to and from the water can be a two-person job
As touring kayaks are used for longer expeditions the amount of storage space is very important. Depending on how long you want to spend on the water and what gear you want to take will impact the amount of storage space you’ll need and therefore the kayak you buy.
Most touring kayaks come with built-in hatches as well as bungee cords on the outside for all your storage needs.
Best Touring Kayaks - FAQ's
What Are Touring Kayaks Good For?
Touring kayaks are good if you want to spend a lot of time paddling long distances on open water. They allow you to easily paddle without making you tired or sore.
They’re also good if you’re interested in kayak camping and allow you to spend many days surrounded by nature.