Best Touring Kayak in [year]

Do you like long excursions on the sea?

If you do, a touring kayak is the best thing you can get for yourself.

They are fast and have lots of storage space. This allows you to cover long distances easily.

But not all touring kayaks are made equal.

This is why you should check the best touring kayaks of the year:

Perception Expression 11.5 Light Touring Kayak with Adjustable Zone Seating

Riot Escape 9If you want the perfect touring kayak for multi-day trips, the Perception Expression 11.5 is the one you can’t miss. It comes with many attractive features that make it worthy of the #1 spot on our list.

Like most touring kayaks, the Expression 11.5 is a sit-inside kayak. This means you will be protected from rough weather as well as stay dry when waves break on to the kayak.

The Expression 11.5 boat is constructed with leak-proof one-piece construction, that makes the kayak durable for the long-term. It is constructed with built in buoyancy to keep the boat safe on water. The boat is well-suited for slow-moving rivers, calm coastal waters, ocean surf and open ocean.

It is also worth noting that the Expression 11.5 is perhaps the best looking touring kayak in its segment.

Since this is a sit-inside kayak, beginners need to practice re-entry after capsize and make sure to bring an internal float bag for the bow.

The kayak has a narrow design which gives it more speed than stability. So if you have been paddling recreational kayaks all your life, the Expression 11.5 may surprise you with its speed. But as you get used to it, the speed will become your friend when you have got a whole day of tour left.

It comes with thigh braces that allow you to paddle from a more stable and supported posture. Thigh braces allow you to have optimal control. The sit-in style cockpit also allows you to add a spray skirt that keeps the paddler protected from splashes of water and keeps you dry.

It comes with an adjustable seat that has thick padding so that you can stay comfortable for long hours on water. The seat bottom is tilt-adjustable, this design also makes the seat bottom to support your thighs. Seatback has four way adjustability – it can be adjusted forward, backward, up and down. It comes with quick-adjust footrests, that allow paddlers of all sizes to feel comfortable.

Customers love it because of how easy to handle and portable it is. You can easily carry it around and load it on and off your car. The kayak weighs 44 lbs. so you may be able to carry it on your own depending on your physical strength. Most users were able to carry it solo and they liked how lightweight it was. The kayak can support a total of 250 lbs. of weight.

It is faster than most rented kayaks you are used to seeing. It also tracks much better in comparison.

Some users complained that the kayak doesn’t come with proper packaging and has many scratches because of it. So make sure to contact the seller beforehand and make sure they provide proper packaging.

The kayak comes with bungee cord rigging on the front and the rear that allow you to hook any gear or supplies. Having storage options like this is important for a touring kayak and Perception took care of it.

The boat comes with a skeg that has cockpit control, to give you better maneuverability. Skeg improves the tracking of the kayak – keeps it moving in a straight line.

Since paddlers use touring kayaks for days at a time, having proper storage space becomes really important. This is why the company has fitted a rear storage hatch to provide paddlers with dry storage to keep items safe from water. The yak also has bungee rigging on the deck to keep additional gear. However, the storage hatch seal, made of rubber tupperware style, isn’t easy to put back on.

It is worth noting that you cannot bring only a limited amount of gear and supplies on board since the weight capacity of the kayak is just 250 lbs.

What we like about the kayak is that you can add a rudder to it to make touring easier and more enjoyable. Adding a rudder means you can store the skeg when taking the kayak into rough or choppy waters. This takes maneuvering to a whole new level and allows you to navigate through narrow pathways easily.

It also helps that the Expression 11.5 is not as long as other similar kayaks. This allows you to turn it on a dime and take it through spots other boats can’t go.

Users had only good things to say about Expression 11.5. They love how lightweight and fast it is. In fact, some of them reported leaving their friends behind while touring because it is so fast.

The Express 11.5 is also the best beginner touring kayak because it is short and easy to handle. And if you are looking for the best touring kayak under $1000, the Perception Expression 11.5 is the one for you.


  • Solid build quality
  • Lightweight
  • Fast
  • Tracks well
  • Rudder can be added
  • Good maneuverability
  • Thigh braces for stable form
  • Adjustable padded seat
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Skeg for improved tracking
  • Storage hatch,  bungee rigging on deck


  • Many users reported poor packaging upon delivery
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Wilderness Systems Tempest 165/170

Wilderness Systems Tempest is one of the best touring kayaks you can buy. The Tempest series has a legacy that shows the quality of their kayaks. Adventure Kayak did a review of the Tempest 170 Pro in 2003. In the following years, it garnered a reputation of being one of the best expedition kayaks in the market. This is why Wilderness Systems is known as one of the best touring kayak brands in the market.

The kayak is made of sturdy thermoplastic material that has amazing durability. The Tempest has held a solid reputation for over a decade, so you can rest assured its build quality is top notch.

The Tempest is available in the 165 variant (16 ft. 6 in.) and 170 variants (17 inches). Both variants are equal in terms of quality. If you are medium height or tall, the 170 variant would be more suited to you. The 165 is made for smaller paddlers. The short hull of the 165 makes it suitable for smaller paddlers to maneuver easily.

The 165 variant has a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs. while the Tempest 170 variant has a maximum weight capacity of 325 lbs.

The design was touted as the best and that is the reason it has remained unchanged. The only minor changes are in the outfitting.

The Tempest has everything you would expect from a reliable touring kayak. It has one of the best cruising speeds, tracking and storage capacities in its segment. The outfitting is anything but ordinary.

The Tempest touring kayaks are fitted with the company’s signature Phase 3 AirPro seats – commonly regarded as one of the most comfortable seats in the boating community. The seat comes with a mesh fabric that is breathable to keep you cool and dry during long hours on the water.

The seat also comes with 3D ergonomic foam to keep the paddler comfortable and provide more support. The seat is fully adjustable – the back support can be adjusted both for height and angle. There is a leg lifter too, to make things even more comfortable.

If you have tried other kayak seats and experienced back pain, the Phase AirPro 3 seat is exactly what you need.

The seat has a plush cushion that keeps you comfortable for long hours. It also comes with tilting leg support to keep riders comfortable and adjustable hip pads to provide all-around comfort. It also comes with contoured thigh brace pads that take comfort up a notch.

It is amazing that Wilderness Systems has outfitted the Tempest 165 in a whitewater style, which speaks volumes about the brand’s R&D mastery and its innovative approach to kayak design.

The Tempest 165 comes with a design that is made for stability. It has hard chines and a shallow V hull that make it one of the most stable touring kayaks in the market.

The kayak comes with plenty of storage space – it has deep hatches that let you keep your gear and supplies safe from water. There are three storage hatches in total – located at the bow, at the stern and in the center behind the cockpit.

The hatches have good storage capacities – the bow hatch holds 91 litres of volume, the stern hatch holds 90 litres and the center hatch, the smallest of all three, holds 41 litres of volume.

Apart from the storage hatches, there is plenty of space on the deck to store your gear. Bungee cord rigging throughout the deck makes it easy to keep additional items close to you in an accessible range of distance.

One of the best features of the Tempest is its TruTrak adjustable skeg system. The skeg is retractable which allows you to navigate through adverse conditions such as winds or strong currents without any hassle. Since the skeg can be controlled via cockpit, it gives you total control over the tracking of the boat.

Since the kayak is long and narrow, it helps with tracking and keeps the kayak moving straight. It also sits low in water, which shields it against winds and helps it stay on track when winds try to drift it apart.

In fact, the boat’s tracking is the best we have ever seen. With the skeg deployed, it can track straight even in high winds – isn’t that amazing?

Despite being the heavy duty construction, the Tempest 165 weighs just 55 lbs while the 175 variant weighs 57 lbs. It may not be lightweight for everyone, but it is certainly not heavy either.

Since the kayak is about 17 feet long, you need adequate space for storage and a kayak roof rack on your car for transportation.

The kayak comes with Sidelock XL foot braces that are adjustable so that paddlers, no matter what their height is, can fit in comfortably.

The Tempest comes with a recess or empty space near the bow to mount your compass. This helps with easy navigation and makes long expeditions easy. The boat also has integrated bulkheads that serve two purposes.

First, they make the boat really buoyant, so that it doesn’t drown when waves crash over it and fill it with water. Second, they act as dry storage to keep weeks worth of gear and supplies. This gives you the freedom to bring much more gear than you would bring if you solely depend on the storage hatches.

There are three bulkheads at the bow, stern and midship. The midship bulkhead is easily accessible and is best to store items you will need while paddling. The bow and stern bulkheads are larger in size and serve their function of holding large volumes of gear for kayaking expeditions.

The kayak is fairly large which means beginners have to go through a learning curve before they are able to take the Tempest in the open sea. One needs to hone your rolling skills before they take a kayak like this in rough waters.

The kayak performs really well on water. It is easy to maneuver although turning it requires some learning because of its 17 feet length. You can go through narrow passages and avoid obstacles with tactful maneuvers because of its superb handling. Its tracking is amazing and it glides through water fast. There is nothing more one would ask from a touring kayak.

The kayak is best suited for intermediate to advanced paddlers because of its large size and the fact that paddling it in rough sea isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

So which kayak to buy if you are a beginner? Wilderness Systems Tsunami is a great option for beginners. So if you want to learn more about it, check its review below.


  • Solid build quality
  • Legacy design
  • “Perfect” expedition or touring kayak
  • Hard chines and v-shaped hull for stability
  • Fast
  • Highly maneuverable
  • Dry storage hatches
  • Bungee rigging on deck
  • Three bulkheads for buoyancy and storage
  • Recess for navigation compass mounting on bow
  • Super comfy seat, good for back pain
  • Amazing outfitting


  • Not the best for beginners

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 Touring Kayak

Riot Escape 9Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 is one of the best touring kayaks in the market. Made by a leading industry name, it is one of the most reliable kayaks you can find. The kayak is quite user-friendly and performs well on the water too, which makes it one of our top picks.

The kayak is made from robust polyethylene material that can absorb external impact and protect the yak’s body from any kind of physical damage. This means your kayak will be safe even when it collides with any submerged trees or rocks.

The kayak is made from roto-molded high density polyethylene material. Rotomolded construction means that the boat is built as a single piece to make it leak proof. Rotomolded construction along with high-density building material makes it sturdy and durable.

This is a sit-inside kayak so you will be covered from water spray and can use a spray skirt to completely shield yourself from waves breaking onto the kayak.

The Tsunami kayak is suitable for paddling in all kinds of conditions – whether you want to take it on calm waters or multi-day trips in the rough seas, it can handle everything.

The Tsunami is especially good for beginners. This is because it is easy to turn and maneuver, due to its short length.

Wilderness Systems kayaks are known for their exceptional comfort. The Tsunami comes with the super comfortable Phase 3 AirPro seats that make it comfortable for long hours on the water.

The seat is fully adjustable and has thick padding to keep you comfortable on long hours on the water. The seat is also breathable so you will stay cool and dry throughout your ride. The straps on the side allow you to adjust the seat in multiple ways. One can adjust the back support for both height and angle.

On either side of the cockpit are two bolts that let you adjust the kayak seat forward or backward that helps you even out the weight or make space to keep yourself comfortable.

The boat also has adjustable foot braces that make paddlers of all sizes fit in comfortably. Thigh pads on the sides allow the paddler to not only stay comfortable but also paddle from a firm and supported posture.

The kayak also has an underdeck water bottle holder to keep you refreshed and alert on long rides. The bottle holder is within easy reach for convenience.

The Tsunami is great for long multi-day trips on the sea. It is quite fast, a quality we look for in touring kayaks. Touring kayaks generally have a streamlined hull design that not only helps with speed but also allows them to track really well. The real stand-out feature of the Tsunami is its amazing performance and speed. But its stability is commendable as well.

The secondary stability of this kayak is amazing, so no matter how much you try to flip it over with your body. But this is a sit-inside kayak so you should practice re-entry and capsize recovery before taking it into deep sea waters.

The Tsunami has a weight capacity of 300 lbs. which means you can bring along a lot of gear.  It comes with two dry storage hatches – one hatch in the rear and the other smaller hatch in the front. The hatches allow you to store items like a camera or other food supplies safe from water.

In addition, there are two mesh pockets on the deck that allow you to store items within easy reach. The pockets can also be removed when you want. The pockets are well-suited to store beverages when you have a spray skirt on.

In addition, the boat also comes with bungee cords on the bow and the stern to keep additional gear. Apart from this, there is a lot of storage space in the bulkheads – one in the front and one in the rear. This bulkhead storage can be used to store bigger items. This is really useful for long trips on the sea.

The edges on either side of the cockpit are raised so that water splashes can’t get inside. You can also grab them to gain balance and assume a firm paddling position when navigating through rough waters. The raised edges are also good for attaching a spray skirt.

The kayak is easy to carry although it is not exactly lightweight at 51 lbs. It has carry handles on the sides for easy transportation. Some paddlers will find it easy to carry while others may need a kayak cart to transport it to the water.

The good news is that the kayak has a skid plate on the bottom so you can drag it on ground without physically damaging the kayak. You can drag the kayak over small distances, but for longer distances, you would need a kayak cart, if it is too heavy for you.

Another thing you need to note is that this kayak can’t be stored in the back of your car or truck. It is too long to be stored that way. You would need to install a roof rack on your car to properly transport it by road.

Overall, the Tsunami is a high-quality kayak that offers durability, performance and comfort. It accommodates small and medium-sized paddlers. If you are tall or big, check the Tempest 170 reviewed above. It has plenty of storage space and one of the most comfortable seats that make it good for people with back pain.


  • Superior build quality
  • Long-term durability
  • Phase 3 AirPro seats offer unparalleled comfort
  • Seat is fully adjustable
  • Seat trims forward and back
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Fast
  • Tracks well
  • Good stability for a touring kayak
  • Hard to flip over
  • Dry storage hatches
  • Storage pockets (removable)
  • Bungee cords on bow and stern
  • Skid plate for short distance transportation


  • Not for taller or bigger people
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Perception Conduit Touring Kayak – Best Touring Kayak for the Money

Riot Escape 9If you are tired of seeing an expensive price for touring kayaks and want a high-quality touring kayak in the mid-range, the Perception Conduit 13 may be just what you need. It is the best touring kayak for the money.

It isn’t overly expensive yet it is one of the best performing touring kayaks out there. It is a sit inside kayak, like most touring kayaks. So you need to practice capsize recovery and re-entry before you take it into the open seas. You need to be prepared for any emergencies with the right safety and paddling skills.

The cockpit is mid size, not too large, not too big. There is some space inside to store items on bungee riggings. This design also makes it easier to maneuver and control while touring. Even though the kayak is fast, it is maneuverable enough to be easily controlled by beginners.

The kayak is made from roto-molded high density polyethylene material. Its roto-molded construction means that the kayak is made as a single piece of sturdy leak proof plastic. The HDPE material also makes the kayak resistant to UV radiation. This means the kayak won’t fade, peel or crack when exposed to the sun. HDPE material is also strong and durable, so if the kayak collides with a rock, boulder or submerged tree, it won’t get any dent because the body will absorb the impact.

Rotomolding is a method of construction where beads of plastic are poured into the mold, heated and rotated until the material is filled in every corner and crevice. Once the mold settles and cools down, you get your kayak as a single piece of plastic in the most robust and durable form possible.

The kayak has two toggle carry handles, one on the front and one on the rear. It also has bulkheads on the bow and the stern that not only help with buoyancy but also adds more room for storage. There are also two dry storage hatches at the bow and the stern. The bow hatch is smaller in comparison and round in shape. On the other hand, the rear hatch is large and oval in shape. So you can keep bigger items that you mean to keep dry in the rear hatch. The hatches have neoprene lids that offer a tight seal and keep your stuff secured.

The deck has bungee cord riggings both on the front and the rear. These can be used for storage in various ways. One can use them as a paddle park, a beverage holder or simply to store their gear and supplies. The bungee cords provide an easy way to store various items within easy reach while touring.

The kayak also comes with adjustable footrests. This means no matter what the paddler’s height or inseam is, they will fit in easily and feel comfortable. Inside the cockpit, there are thigh pads that protect you against physical injury and also keep your posture firm and supported for effective paddling.

It comes with a padded seat that keeps you comfortable for long hours. The seat back can be adjusted for height so that paddlers of all heights can feel comfortable. Not only does the seat have thick padding, but there is padding on either side of the cockpit to enhance comfort and control over the kayak.

The seat’s fore and aft can also be adjusted. Combined with the adjustable backrest, the Conduit’s seat is one of the most adjustable seats on a touring kayak. All users felt that the comfort levels on the Perception Conduit were impressive.

In front of the seat, there is enough space to extend your legs and sit comfortably, no matter how tall you are. It has two storage hatches, one at the bow and one at the stern. The hatch at the bow is smaller in size while that in the rear is oversized and can be used to keep larger items.

The kayak can support a maximum of 295 lbs. of weight – which is decent for a single paddler. If you are big and heavy though and/or want to bring a lot of gear on board, there are other kayaks with higher weight capacities too. However, the weight capacity will be enough for most people.

The amazing thing about this kayak is that you can even install a rudder to take its maneuverability to the next level. The kayak, however, is easy to maneuver without one too. Its slender bow and stern allow you to turn it easily and have it glide smoothly through water. Since the kayak is sufficiently long at 13 ft, its design allows it to navigate fast through water. As a result, you can clearly notice the difference in its handling from, say, a 12-feet long kayak.  The kayak is quite wide at 26 inches, which makes it really stable.

Users love how responsive the Perception Conduit is to each paddle stroke – its maneuverability is one of the best. It can turn with a sharp radius which makes it easy to navigate through narrow passages. The seating is rather low, so the rider stays stable and is not deterred easily by oncoming winds or water currents.

You would probably be surprised by how fast the kayak is. Even young kids can launch it on their own, it catches speed quite fast.

Its long and narrow design makes it extraordinary at tracking. At no point will you feel that the boat is swaying away. It comes with a fin to help with tracking. Of course, the tracking won’t be as good on rough waters but you can add a rudder to counter this inefficiency.

An improvement we would suggest is adding a guide or brochure so that customers can better understand the features of the kayak. Another downside is that the kayak does not have a beverage holder or other attachment points for accessories.

Perception offers a five year warranty against manufacturing or material defects in the hull and the deck. In addition, you also get a one year warranty on parts, accessories and outfitting.

Overall, the Perception Conduit is a great kayak for those who want a durable, mid-range, maneuverable kayak with sufficient space on board. It is also one of the best touring kayaks under $1000. We love how it strikes the perfect balance between speed and stability.

Unlike other kayaks, like those from Wilderness Systems, it doesn’t break the bank and comes at a reasonable mid-range price. The kayak is also fairly lightweight for its size, which is an added bonus.


  • Durable construction
  • Fully adjustable, padded seat
  • Easy to transport
  • More affordable than other quality touring kayaks
  • Thigh pads
  • Knee pads
  • Fast
  • Stable
  • 295 lbs. Capacity
  • Dry storage hatches
  • Bungee deck rigging
  • Lots of legroom
  • Two bulkheads for storage and buoyancy
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Rudder ready
  • 5 year warranty
  • Value for money


  • No beverage holder
  • Could use a brochure to explain features
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Perception Carolina 12 Sit Inside Touring Kayak – Best Touring Kayak for Beginners

Riot Escape 9Perception Carolina 12 sit inside kayak is one of the best touring kayaks for the money. It is in our top picks list for several reasons, which we well explain in detail.

It is especially good for those who don’t want to tackle a long and a big touring kayak. Since the Perception Carolina 12 is just 12 feet long, it is a great choice for those used to the ease of use of recreational kayaks. It has a width of 26 inches, which makes it very stable given its short length.

The Carolina is available in two sizes – 12 feet long and 14 feet long. For this review, we will consider the Carolina 12. Moreover, it comes in many colors including sunset, lime, red, sea spray and roxie.

The Perception Carolina 12 is made with rotomolded high-density polyethylene material that is proprietary to the company. This means the entire kayak is produced as a single piece of robust plastic so that it doesn’t leak and is as sturdy as possible. The HDPE material is UV resistant, so the kayak body won’t fade, peel or crack due to exposure to the sun. The HDPE material is sturdy enough to resist impact and abrasions. So if the boat runs into rocks, boulders or submerged trees, you can rest assured it won’t get a dent.

Although it is short, the Carolina works well as a touring kayak. You can stow your gear and supplies and take it for a multi-day trip on the seas. Its sit inside design protects you from bad weather and keeps you dry and protected from splashes of waves. You can even add a spray skirt around the cockpit to completely shield yourself from water and enjoy a completely dry ride. With its compact design, you can even roll this kayak if you want.

Since the kayak is short, it is well-suited for beginners who find it hard to tackle long touring kayaks. But it is still a sit-inside kayak, so you need to practice different techniques like re-entry and capsize recovery before you take it into the open seas.

The kayak is meant for both beginners as well as seasoned kayakers. One of the remarkable things about the Carolina is how comfortable its cockpit is. The seat has a thick padded bottom and backrest that keeps you comfortable for long hours on the sea. It is also fully adjustable, so you can always find a comfortable position to sit on.

The seat backrest can be adjusted for height as well as angle. You can also adjust the seat bottom to have more support for your thighs. In the front of the seat, there is plenty of legroom to extend your legs and make yourself comfortable. In addition, there are adjustable footrests that allow paddlers of all sizes to fit in comfortably.

The kayak comes with knee pads and thigh pads to not only protect you but also allow you to paddle from a more stable position. The kayak weighs just 49 lbs, so it is lightweight and portable. Since it is short too, it can be stowed in the back of your car or truck and you won’t need a roof rack on your car for transportation. It can accommodate a maximum of 275 lbs of weight, which is great for a solo kayak of this size.

Despite being a compact kayak, the Carolina offers plenty of storage space. It has two dry storage hatches that let you keep your gear dry. The rear hatch goes inside the hull and can hold large items like camping tents or sleeping bags. The front dry hatch is relatively small and can hold a few items. The hatches come with dual density hatch covers that make sure your stowed items indeed stay dry.

Apart from dry storage hatches, the kayak also has bungee cord rigging at the bow and the stern that help you store additional gear.

The boat is designed using a V-shaped hull, which gives it speed and allows it to track straight naturally. This hull shape also imparts good secondary stability, meaning that the kayak will be hard to tip over when pushed from one side to the other. This secondary stability makes the Carolina touring kayak the perfect choice for navigating all kinds of sea waters.

Because it is short, its handling is quite easy. You can turn it on a dime, take it around obstacles and go through narrow passages without any hassles. Its shorter size also makes it suitable for kayaking on smaller water bodies like lakes and rivers.  So if you are looking for the best kayak for river touring, the Perception Carolina 12 is for you.

The deck rigging runs from the bow to the stern. This rigging, combined with the compact cockpit design, allows the paddler to tackle rough waters much easier.

What stands out when paddling the Carolina 12 is its speed. It is faster than its counterparts including the Pungo and the Prodigy. Although it tracks well, it is a bit rigid at that and is a bit hard to turn. This essentially means that for each paddle stroke, most of the energy goes into forward momentum. So if you plan to go long distances in a straight line, the Carolina 12 is exactly what you need.

The kayak is fast due to its narrow hull design. But it also benefits from the compact cockpit design that allows the paddler to sit in an aggressive seating posture with their knees tucked under the cockpit rim. This makes the paddler’s body work in sync with the kayak since there are more contact areas.

Its soft chines allow it to go through ocean swells, boat wakes, choppy waters and medium rapids with ease. Its secondary stability really helps the paddler when going through rough waters.

If you think that the Carolina 12 is too short for your preference, you can go for the Perception Carolina 14, which is 14 feet long. The 2 feet longer kayak has more storage space on the deck, and performs really well.

The kayak also comes with an adapter for attaching a rudder. A rudder can take the boat’s maneuverability on another level, allowing the paddler to tackle rough waters more easily.

The Carolina has 5 years of warranty backing it up. So you can have peace of mind when spending your hard-earned money on this kayak.

Overall, the Carolina 12 is great in terms of comfort, speed and maneuverability. It is good enough for both light touring as well as long excursions on the sea. It is perfect for those who like speed and thrill in their boat. Add to that its comfortable cockpit, dry storage hatches – and you have the perfect kayak for longer trips.

The best part is that you can also use it as a recreational kayak. So you get probably more than your money’s worth when you buy the Carolina 12.


  • Solid construction
  • Versatile – for recreation and touring
  • Sturdy HDPE construction
  • UV resistant
  • Leak proof
  • Added buoyancy with sealed bulkheads
  • V-shaped hull for tracking and speed
  • Tracks really well
  • Seat is comfortable
  • Seat can be adjusted in six ways
  • Impressive secondary stability
  • Comfortable cockpit
  • Easy to transport


  • Kayak tends to move straight, a bit hard to turn
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Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit-in Kayak

Riot Escape 9Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12 is one of the best kayaks you can buy for touring. Sun Dolphin is known to manufacture quality boats at an affordable price. The Aruba 12 SS is one of their best.

It is made from high-density polyethylene material that makes it sturdy and durable. The material can resist external impact when the boat is hit by any rocks, boulders or submerged rocks when moving through water.

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is made from UV-stabilized material. This means the boat won’t fade, peel or crack when you keep it in the sun. Even then, we won’t recommend keeping it out for a long time, since the sun can make its body hot and flexible – which makes it more prone to getting dents.

The kayak has plenty of storage space on board. It has a dry storage hatch at the bow that can be used to keep your gear dry. However, it is too far in the front, so you won’t be able to access it while paddling.

Moreover, the front storage hatch opens up into the hull of the kayak, so you may want to put a storage box inside if you don’t want your stuff to get deep inside the kayak hull. The front hatch has a 6-inch opening, so you can only put small items in there.

There is also a portable accessory carrier in the rear that is another storage area to keep items dry. The portable accessory carrier has a storage box that is about 8 inches in diameter. This is completely watertight, so you can store bigger items in this box.

The portable accessory storage can be used as a tow behind when you want extra space on the boat and want to use the recess to keep something like a cooler or crate. In addition, there is also shock cord rigging that allows you to store more gear. The bungee cords are about a quarter inch thick and feel very sturdy.

There is a bulkhead in the front that is covered with foam. But in our estimate, it is not waterproof, so you may want to be careful when using it for storage. The company has just put a styrofoam in the bulkhead which doesn’t seal it completely. If your kayak were to flex while paddling, the inserts would come out. So you can use superglue to seal the bulkhead and ensure it doesn’t take on water when big waves come crashing by.

The cockpit is very comfortable, so paddlers can go for hours in the Aruba 12 without feeling tired or sore in their back or legs. This spacious cockpit design makes the Aruba 12 one of the best touring kayaks for women There are thigh pads on either side of the cockpit to ensure that your thighs don’t get scratched and you are able to paddle from a stable and supported position.

The Aruba just weighs 47 lbs – this is one of the most lightweight kayaks you can buy for touring. You can easily carry it on your own. This also makes it easy to load and unload the kayak on your car. You won’t need to call someone for help. The kayak comes with retractable carrying handles which make transportation easy.

The seat does not have enough padding to keep you comfortable for long hours on the water. It feels comfortable only for short rides. So we recommend that you buy a seat pad or seat cushion to make your touring expeditions comfortable. It is also adjustable so you can sit in your preferred position with the right incline level. In front of the seat is enough legroom to extend your legs even if you are tall. Adjustable foot braces allow you to sit in a comfortable position and fit in no matter what your inseam or height is.

The kayak performs really well on water. It moves in a straight line with minimal effort. So you don’t have to worry about waves swaying it away easily. It is a sit-inside kayak, but its stability is amazing. One of the reasons behind its amazing stability is its width – it is 30 inches wide. You can try hard to tip it over, but it won’t give in easily. Customers took the Aruba into the ocean and it was really stable in ocean waters.

Beginners won’t struggle while getting inside the kayak or paddling for the first time. Still, they need to practice re-entry and capsize recovery to ensure they are safe on the water.

Unlike other kayaks in this list, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS also comes with flush mount fishing rod holders. So you can not only use it for touring, but also fishing. The rod holders allow you to enjoy a hands free fishing experience.

Another impressive thing about the kayak is its weight capacity. Although it is meant for a single paddler, it can support a mammoth 395 lbs. of weight – a number that is almost twice as big as seen in other touring kayaks. The kayak also has a paddle holder to stow your paddle when not in use.

One issue that users faced was the low ceiling where you place your legs. This makes it hard to rest your legs comfortably on the footrests. A quick and easy solution is to cut ½ to 1 inch of the crosspiece. You don’t need any tools or equipment to do this. Once it is removed, just clean the surface with sandpaper.

Another improvement we would like to see is in the finishing of the kayak. There are many rough and sharp edges in and around the cockpit and in the compartments provided. These can be cleaned using a razor knife and a sand paper. Also, get rid of any debris or plastic shavings you get inside the kayak upon delivery.

It is impressive how spacious the kayak is. Although there is just one seat, users mentioned taking even two dogs with them and enjoying every bit of it. This shows there is enough space on board for long expeditions too. The 395 lbs capacity only makes it better, since you can bring as much gear as you want.

Keep in mind that the Sun Dolphin Aruba comes in two models – with paddle and without paddle. The SS version comes with a paddle, so choose carefully if you want a paddle too.

Some customers even modified the kayak to take its performance up a notch. You can add an anchor trolley to fish from a stable position when strong currents try to deter the boat. Your boat won’t become a victim of the wind or the currents.

Overall, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 comes with a balanced set of features and an amazing space for storage. It also doubles as a fishing kayak and can accommodate your child or dog. It is also customizable – add an anchor trolley and some pad eyes to make things fun. If you want a kayak for lakes, rivers and calm coastal waters, the Aruba 12 is an amazing option.


  • Solid build quality
  • UV resistant
  • Large open cockpit
  • 395 lbs. Capacity
  • Comfortable and adjustable seat
  • Lots of storage
  • Lots of space on deck
  • Bungee cord rigging
  • Removable, portable storage carrier
  • Space to bring your child or dog
  • Tracks well
  • Stable
  • Flush mount rod holders for fishing
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Affordable, value for money


  • Finishing isn’t good – plastic shavings, rough edges
  • Leg placement may be hindered by the plastic ceiling
  • Bulkhead isn’t sealed well
  • Seat needs more padding
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Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Kayak

Riot Escape 9Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV is an amazing kayak that performs really well over long distances. The boat has the classic long and narrow design that is common to touring kayaks. It is neither too short nor too long.

The Edge, as it name suggests, is 14 feet 6 inches long. The width of this boat is 22.5 inches. So you can expect it to glide fast through water – perfect for covering ground fast during long expeditions.

The kayak comes in eleven different colors, so there are plenty to choose from. It has bow and stern bulkheads which are sealed with a 15 inch rubber hatch. Bulkheads add buoyancy and also offer additional space for storage.

The Riot Edge is meant for day touring and short overnight tours. The boat is made with tough high-density polyethylene material that can resist impact and guard the boat against dents or abrasions. So if the boat collides with a submerged tree or rock, it won’t cause a dent.

Its slender bow and stern profile allow it to track well and move fast through water. And boy, it is fast. You can cover several miles in a short period of time.

Its tracking is really good, thanks to the meticulous chine and keel design.

The cockpit is comfortable, despite the kayak being narrow. You can add a spray skirt around it to keep you dry and protected from the elements. It has integrated thigh braces on either side so that your thighs don’t scrape against the rough edges. The thigh braces also help you paddle from a firm and supported position.

The cockpit is spacious and comfortable for small to medium-sized paddlers. But if you are big and tall, it may be a snug fit. The cockpit is 36.5 inches long and 19.5 inches wide. But the hull does not go very deep, which makes it hard for bigger paddlers to stay comfortable inside. Despite it being a sit inside kayak, you can get in and out easily.

What makes the Riot Edge 14.5 better than other kayaks in this list is that it comes with a rudder. A rudder makes it easy to maneuver a kayak without having to rely on complex paddling skills. A rudder is also good for wildlife photography and keeping the boat tracking toward the subject you want to capture.

When you are confronted by waves or water currents, the rudder can help you navigate easily. You can remove the rudder whenever you want. The rudder is easy to assemble overall but may seem stiff to raise and lower in the water at first.

There is also a drain plug in the side of the cockpit, so you can easily remove excess water that accumulates inside the kayak.

One amazing thing is that the Riot Edge is designed for flatwater but handles ocean waves and five-foot breakers with grace. It remains stable whether you are paddling in slow-moving rivers and calm coastal waters or tackling 5-foot breakers.

It has a flat hull, which gives it more primary stability than secondary stability. Primary stability is the measure of stability of a boat when it is at rest on flat water. Secondary stability is the measure of stability of a boat when it is moved from one side to the other, in a way that could tip it over.

One of the best features of the Riot Edge 14.5 is its customizable Flex 4 seat.The seat has a thick padding that keeps you comfortable for long hours on the sea. Its backrest is adjustable, so you can paddle at your preferred angle of seating.

The seat back can be adjusted for height as well. The seat comes in a single knob design that makes adjustments easy and quick. You can rest assured you won’t have a sore back or butt from paddling for long hours on expeditions.

The kayak’s Flex 4 seats come with ultra reflective fabric sewn into their seams. This makes it safe to do night touring by improving visibility. The seat comes with removable seat covers which make cleaning and maintenance easy.

Even when the seat incurs some damage from long periods of usage, you can just replace the seat cover without having to buy an expensive seat. The seat is made with DryTech technology which keeps the seat dry.

Even when the seat catches a lot of water from waves and splashes, the water will not pool and collect, like in most kayak seats. But with Drytech technology, the water beads on contact and rolls over the top even after it is pooled, as opposed to being absorbed into the seat. This is due to the fabric and the closed cell foam design.

The foam is also perforated to allow water to drain and let air flow through. In addition, the fabric is also breathable so you won’t sweat much and feel hot like with other kayak seats. To dry up the seat, all you have to do is wipe it with towels and it will be dry enough to sit within minutes.

You can learn more about the Flex 4 seat in this video:

In front of the seat, there are adjustable sliding foot braces that allow paddlers of all sizes to fit in. The kayak has a low profile, so it is not easily deterred by winds or waves. This helps with stability and allows you to enjoy the ride.

There is a retractable skeg that helps the kayak track straight in flat water as well as mild waves. It comes with a drain plug in case excess water accumulates inside the kayak. This ensures that you don’t have to sit in a pool of water when you are far away from the shore.

There is also sufficient storage space to bring your gear and supplies along. There are two dry storage hatches – one in the front and one in the rear. This allows you to keep things like smartphone, camera, car keys safe from water. The hatches are dual density, which means they stay watertight and actually keep your food or other items dry.

There is also plenty of storage space inside the deck. Bungee cord riggings on the front and the rear of the cockpit allow you to store gear or dry bags conveniently. It also comes with the parameter deck line, a signature feature on touring kayaks. You can use these deck lines for tie down.

The kayak weighs 60 lbs. so it is a bit heavy to carry on your own. You are better off buying a kayak cart or trolley to carry it on the ground. Also, you need a roof rack to transport it on your car.

This is a great yak for those who frequent both flat water as well as the ocean. If you spend most of your time on the ocean, you may want to check the Riot Brittany 16.5 reviewed below.

Overall, the Riot Edge 14.5 Touring Kayak is a beast of a kayak that glides through water, stays stable through rough waters, boat wakes and mild rapids, offers a comfortable cockpit experience, has lots of storage space and comes with a rudder to sweeten the deal further. Whether you want to feel the thrill of moving fast and navigating waves or winds, or sit back and cruise on flat water, the boat has got it all.


  • Solid polyethylene construction
  • Beautiful design
  • Tracks well with or without the rudder
  • Stable in both flat and rough waters
  • Rudder makes maneuvering easy
  • Fast because of long, narrow design
  • Customized seat stays dry and is fully adjustable
  • One notch adjustment on seat
  • Dry tech technology keeps seat dry
  • Dry storage hatches
  • Bungee cord rigging
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Integrated thigh braces
  • Sealed bulkheads for buoyancy
  • Durable
  • Low profile helps it stay stable in winds
  • Comparable to more expensive touring kayaks
  • Rudder is easy to assemble


  • Not made for big feet and wide people since the cockpit is compact
  • Storage hatches have small openings, so only smaller items fit in
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Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Riot Escape 9Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible is a high-quality kayak. It is a tandem kayak so you can bring another paddler along. Although it is an inflatable kayak, it has a solid construction that also shows in its performance. Most inflatable kayaks are made with PVC material that isn’t sturdy or durable – but not this one.

The AdvancedFrame kayak has aluminum ribs in the bow and the stern for structural rigidity. It also has PVC tarpaulin, enforced seams and three layers of material that make it more robust than any inflatable kayak you may have seen.

This unique construction makes it durable and capable of surviving rough water conditions. This tough build means it won’t get punctured easily. There are six air chambers, so even if a couple of them were to go bust, you will be safe.

The boat is in fact stronger than many hard shell kayaks in the market. One quick indication of this strength is its weight capacity. It can support a mammoth 550 lbs. of weight. Of course, its capacity would be more given that it is a tandem kayak, but it still speaks volumes about its solid construction.

What we love about the AdvancedFrame is that it comes assembled upon delivery. Yes, you don’t need to spend hours reading confusing manuals or putting together components with complex tools. It comes water ready, you just have to inflate the kayak and it would be ready to go.

The seats on the Advanced Frame kayak are super comfortable. They have enough padding for all day touring and a high backrest that supports your tailbone all the way through your upper back. Users mention that the seats are so comfy, you feel like being on the water for long. The straps only secure the seats from the sides. This makes the seats prone to slipping back and forth sometimes.

The seats can be used in three positions – two positions for solo and a single position for tandem. So if someday you don’t have your kayaking buddy at your place, you can take the kayak for a solo ride as well.

The kayak itself weighs 52 lbs when inflated, so it is not very heavy for two tandem paddlers to carry on the ground. For a solo paddler though, it is best to deflate it before carrying it over long distances on the ground. There are carrying handles on the bow and the stern that make it easy to carry it around.

When deflated, the yak can be kept in a duffle bag that comes along. But it is still a bit difficult to carry. This is because you need to carry paddles, an inflation pump and your gear along too. So you need to be prepared especially if you decide to paddle it solo.

If you are using it as a tandem, a good strategy is to inflate it right when you unload it from your car, then carry it using the handles on the bow and the stern, with your tandem paddler.

Its rigid construction also enhances its performance. The kayak is easy to handle both in calm water and waves. This is a major reason it is good for beginners. It has two tracking fins and a skeg that help it move in a straight line. This is a big plus since most inflatable kayaks are known for their average tracking, which gets poor without skegs.

With its sharp bow and aluminum ribs inside, the boat glides smoothly through water. It cuts through winds, waves and choppy water easily, allowing you to make different maneuvers easily. Customers are often astounded by its maneuverability which is comparable to some of the better hard shell kayaks.

The AdvancedFrame Convertible is 15 feet in length. Yet its design allows it to turn with a small turning radius. This makes it easy to maneuver through obstacles and narrow paths. Its handling stays smooth even when you use it as a solo kayak.

The company has done a good job of providing features that add to the kayaking experience. The boat comes with seat back pockets and bungee cord riggings for increasing the storage space. It also has tie downs that allow you to mount it on your car or truck easily. In addition, paddle keeper loops allow you to stow the paddle when not in use.

The boat is easy to set up and comes with clear instructions that make the whole process easy. There are six air chambers in the kayak. So if one or a couple of them go bust, the rest of them will ensure that it keeps floating. Three of the six chambers bring rigidity to its structure, the other three are there to support it from all angles.

Note that you don’t get any inflation pump or oars (paddles) with the boat. So factor in the additional costs when making the buying decision. The required accessories can be found on the company’s official site.

To inflate the air chambers, two adapters are needed – one threaded and one that attaches to the smaller hoses. As usual, you would need to inflate the air chambers to a certain PSI reading, but there is no pressure gauge available to measure it. If you can buy a pressure gauge, well and good, otherwise users learn to find the right threshold with trial and error.

Set up is easy, but disassembling it is a bit hard. There is no drain plug so you have to manually dry out the kayak. This takes a lot of time, but one gets used to it after a couple times of use. To dry it properly, one needs to take out the floor chamber and leave it in the sun. Any sand or dirt has to be cleaned using sponges and towels.

The kayak is a bit hard to stow in the duffle bag that comes along with it. This is a bit bothersome since everything else about this kayak is so on point. If quick assembly and disassembly are on high priority, you should check out other kayaks such as the Intex Excursion Pro.

Overall, the AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak is a high quality kayak with many attractive features that make it comparable to some of the quality hard shell kayaks. Its solid construction combined with its smooth tracking and maneuverability, make it one of the best kayaks you can buy.


  • Solid construction, aluminum ribs for rigidity
  • Multiple layers of building material
  • Six air chambers
  • Superior stability, tracks well
  • Inflatable but performs like a hardshell
  • Good maneuverability
  • Can be used as a solo/tandem
  • Beginner friendly
  • Smooth glide, sharp bow cuts through water


  • Heavy for a solo paddler
  • Doesn’t come with an air pump or paddles
  • Difficult to take down and dry
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Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Touring Kayak

Riot Escape 9If you want to buy a short touring kayak that isn’t hard to handle, the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 is an excellent option. The Pungo 120 is a sit-inside kayak so it will keep yourself protected from the elements and stay dry and warm in cold weather. You can add a spray skirt to completely shield yourself from water.

The kayak comes with a spacious cockpit that suits both beginners and seasoned paddlers. Whether you want a kayak for recreation or multi-day touring, the Pungo 120 is an excellent choice. The cockpit can accommodate both small and big paddlers because it has lots of space inside.

There is enough space to keep camping gear which makes it suitable for long excursions. It isn’t outfitted with any fishing accessories or mounting points, but there is enough space to attach pad eyes and mounting points for anglers.

The kayak is lightweight at just 49 pounds, so most people will be able to carry it on your own. The Pungo cockpit is 57 inches in length and 22 inches in width – this makes it more spacious than similar kayaks in the market. Despite being a sit inside kayak, it is easier to get in and out of. Since there is enough space in the cockpit, you can even bring your dog or child along to have some great fun together.

Inside the kayak, you get the brand exclusive Phase 3 AirPro seat. This is one of the most comfortable seats we have seen in a kayak. In fact, it is good for those who suffer from back pain. It is breathable so you won’t get hot or too sweaty. It is built with mesh fabric and honeycomb design to keep you comfortable for long hours of paddling. It is fully adjustable as well – seat back can be adjusted for height and angle. It comes with a leg lifter as well.

The seat comes with 3D ergonomic foam that keeps you supported and maintains that cushiony feeling.

To keep your legs comfortable, the boat is fitted with the SlideLock XL foot brace system. It has adjustable foot braces so that paddlers of all sizes can feel comfortable. The cockpit also has thigh padding on the sides so that your body doesn’t scrape against the rough edges of the boat. Thigh pads also allow you to paddle from a more stable position. It also has knee pads for further protection and comfort.

The Pungo 120 is lightweight and easy to maneuver. The kayak strikes a balance between speed and stability which makes it stand out from other kayaks. It also tracks well so you don’t need to struggle to control it whether you are paddling in calm waters or waves. It can also handle some white water.

The kayak comes with plenty of storage space for long excursions. It comes with an Orbix stern hatch that allows you to keep items like food, overnight supplies and cameras safe from water. Apart from the hatch, the boat has bungee cord riggings both on the bow and the stern which let you store additional gear.

The Pungo can accommodate a total of 325 lbs. of weight, which is superb considering it is a single person kayak.

The boat also has a well-built console in the front of the seat. It is easily accessible and allows you to keep additional stuff. We like that the company built a hatch into it as well, to keep items like phones waterproof. The console dashboard also has a cup holder to keep your beverages and help you stay refreshed through long hours on the water.

Another advantage of the cockpit is that you can use it when needed and remove it when not. This opens a whole lot of space for people who are tall and big. It also makes it easy to get in and out of the kayak. One can also use the extra space to bring their dog along and enjoy some company.

The cockpit console also makes the kayak customizable. You can mount accessories like rod holders or transducers using the space in the console. On top of that, the built-in sealed hatch can be used to keep a battery to power your accessories. The console also has a storage pouch that allows you to keep stuff like grab lines easily accessible.

There are other variants of the Pungo that you may want to check out – the Pungo 105 and the Pungo 125. The Pungo 105 is shorter so it is good for smaller paddlers and the Pungo 125 is longer which makes it good for bigger paddlers. It is also faster with more storage space which makes it good for day touring.

When it comes to drawbacks, the only one we found out is that the Pungo doesn’t come with a drain plug. This makes it hard to empty the kayak when water accumulates inside.

Overall, the Pungo 120 is a fun yet reliable kayak that has everything paddlers need. It is well-built, has a super comfortable seat, has enough storage space, a console dashboard to customize your kayaking experience and enough weight capacity to load all of your stuff. It is also good for beginners.


  • Solid build quality
  • Super comfy and adjustable seat
  • Rear storage hatch
  • Storage hatch in the cockpit console
  • Console can be removed for extra space
  • Bungee cord rigging to secure gear
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tracks well, stable
  • Multiple variants for paddler sizes
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Thigh and knee pads


  • Doesn’t have a drain plug
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Riot Kayaks Brittany

If you want a British-style kayak that is spacious and performs really well, check out the Riot Kayaks Brittany. It comes with many attractive features that make it one of the best touring kayaks out there.

Riot Brittany has been around for many years and has gained a reputation as a reliable and efficient boat. It is made with high-density polyethylene material that is sturdy and durable. The Brittany 16.5 has a roto-molded construction which means that it is constructed as a single piece of plastic which makes it leak proof and durable.

The kayak is 16.5 feet long so there is enough space on board not only to make yourself comfortable but also to bring along gear and supplies. The Brittany is extremely sturdy and durable, you can rest assured it will last many, many years. The boat can support a staggering 350 lbs. of weight, which is amazing given that it is a one-person kayak. So you can bring a lot of gear on board even if you are big and heavy.

Users report how it can survive in extreme temperatures – from minus eight degrees celsius in winter to 107.6 degrees in summer. The Brittany is made with sturdy plastic material that can withstand all kinds of impact from objects such as rocks or submerged trees. It means there will be no dents if the boat collides with such objects. You can easily paddle on shallow waters without worrying about physical damage.

The seat is super comfortable – it has enough padding which keeps you comfy for long hours on the water. It is also contoured to provide you the best levels of comfort at all contact points. Moreover, it is also adjustable so you can adjust the backrest to find a more comfortable position. There are thigh braces on the side that prevent your knees from scraping against the rough edges of the kayak. They also let you paddle from a more stable position.

When paddling, the boat says really steady and tracks straight in line. It is easy to maneuver – you can take it through narrow passages and turn it around easily. It responds to each paddle stroke promptly which makes handling it quite easy. Its tough HDPE construction also allows you to try paddling through light surf. This is because its sturdy hull can withstand launches, scratches and impacts that are hard to execute on a composite sea kayak.

What makes the Riot Brittany stand out is the extra features it comes with. It comes with a rudder system to help you maneuver the kayak easily in harsh weather and tough conditions. A rudder also comes in handy when you want to do some photography while making sure the boat moves steady toward your target.

It also has a retractable skeg that allows it to move in a straight line both on flat water as well as when encountering waves or winds.

The company has also provided dedicated storage compartments that you can use to keep your gear and supplies. There are two big storage hatches – one in the front and one in the rear with bulkheads that add buoyancy as well as provide a large room for storage. There are three bulkheads – two in the rear and one in the front.

There is also a smaller day hatch behind the cockpit to keep items within easy reach while touring. The hatches are covered with dual density hatch covers to ensure that your gear actually stays waterproof.

The boat also comes with a paddle park to stow the paddle when not in use. It also has a drain bung to remove any water that accumulates inside when waves crash over the kayak. Without a drain plug, you will be sitting in a pool of water in the middle of the sea, with no other solution than to disrupt your ride and move to the ground to empty the kayak.

The kayak weighs 66 lbs. so it is a bit heavy and one may need to buy a kayak trolley to transport it on the ground from the car to the shore. It is also quite long at 16.5 feet, so you will need a roof rack on your car to transport it via road. It comes with carry handles on the front and rear so that carrying it is easier.

The boat also comes with a recess to keep a compass so that you can easily navigate on long excursions.

Overall, the Riot Brittany is a great kayak with a lot of attention to detail gone into it. Brittany’s performance is impressive both in flat water as well as waves. It comes with a lot of dry storage space, tracks well and has a rudder that makes maneuvering easy. This one is clearly an all-rounder!


  • Solid build quality
  • Rotomolded construction is leakproof
  • Impact resistant HDPE material
  • Custom fit padded and adjustable seat
  • Skeg for tracking
  • Rudder system for maneuverability
  • Recess for compass
  • Three storage hatches
  • Thee bulkheads add buoyancy
  • Paddle park


  • Heavy at 66 lbs. of weight
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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Touring Kayak

Intended Use

Before you buy a touring kayak, the first thing is to understand how you will use it. If you will only use it for day touring and single day trips, a short and lightweight touring kayak will be a good fit.

This is because you won’t need a lot of space that is required for overnight touring. If you do plan on multi-day excursions, choose a long kayak that is fast and has lots of storage space.

Experience Level

Not all touring kayaks are beginner friendly. Some are best suited for seasoned paddlers, while others are easier to maneuver and good for beginners.

Most touring kayaks are long and narrow, and have less primary stability than regular recreational kayaks. Moreover, touring kayaks usually come in sit-inside design, which means paddlers should be prepared in case the boat capsizes.

So keep your experience level in mind when buying a touring kayak. Beginners should opt for shorter and wider kayaks since they are less prone to tipping.

Building Material

The building material of a kayak determines whether it will be durable and how well it will perform. Touring kayaks are made with different kinds of material, but most of the touring kayaks we listed in this guide are made from high-density polyethylene material (HDPE).

HDPE is tough yet flexible and lasts a long time. It doesn’t cause dents when there is impact due to contact with submerged rocks or tree branches. Many HDPE kayaks also offer UV protection, which ensures the kayak doesn’t fade, peel, or crack.


Touring kayaks are usually long and narrow, which gives them speed but takes away their primary stability – the ability to be stable in flat water. They have good secondary stability though, the ability to not tip over when moved side to side.

Beginners should go for shorter and wider kayaks, while experienced paddlers can enjoy the speed and thrill of long and narrow touring kayaks.


Comfort is a key factor that determines how good and satisfying your time out on the water will be. The number one thing to look for is the seat quality. It should have enough padding and should have an adjustable backrest at least.

Most paddlers reject kayak seats because of insufficient seat padding which causes discomfort when sitting for longer than 2-3 hours. Some seats also come with adjustable seat bottoms that enhance the support on your thighs when sitting.

Another key to comfort is the cockpit size. If the cockpit is spacious enough to extend your legs and just wide enough for your physique, it will be comfortable even for long hours or multi-day trips. Note that the cockpit shouldn’t be too wide either. This is because a close grip around your torso gives you more control over the kayak, especially when tackling rough waters.

The third key to comfort is adjustable foot braces. Almost all touring kayaks come with adjustable foot braces, but make sure they provide a good fit so that your feet don’t slip every now and then.


Your touring kayak should be easy to carry both by hand and in your car. Kayaks that weigh around 50 lbs. are relatively easier to carry than heavier kayaks.

Look for carrying handles on the sides when buying a kayak. Moreover, since most touring kayaks are long, you would need a roof rack to transport one on your car.


This is a key factor that is specific to touring kayaks. Those who want to go on multi-day excursions should pick kayaks with plenty of storage space. This means there should be at least two storage hatches and bungee rigging on the deck to store a sizable amount of gear and supplies.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! The exhaustive guide to buy the right touring kayak for you.

Remember to choose a kayak based on the factors mentioned above.

And if you are in a hurry, you can always buy our top pick – The Perception Expression 11.5 if you are a beginner or The Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, if you can tackle the kayak in rough conditions.