Sea Kayaks Vs Touring Kayaks – What’s the difference? | Car and Tent (2022)

Sea Kayaks Vs Touring Kayaks – What’s the difference? | Car and Tent (1)

The terms sea kayaks and touring kayaks are often used interchangeably. This can make things confusing when you’re looking to buy a kayak.

So are sea kayaks and touring kayaks the same thing? Sea kayaks and touring kayaks are often the same but it depends on how the manufacturer wants to brand them. Some manufacturers will design their hulls specifically with waves and open waters in mind and they brand these kayaks as sea kayaks.

Other manufacturers make kayaks that can easily handle waves and open waters and they brand these kayaks as touring kayaks. Often-times these manufacturers simply brand these kayaks as touring kayaks so as not to scare off landlocked kayakers from buying. Furthermore, some manufacturers will name their larger recreational kayaks touring kayaks and these kayaks should not be used for coastal kayaking trips.

These differences can often make buying a kayak even more confusing than they need to be. Luckily, figuring out which one to buy isn’t hard to do once you know what features to look for. In the rest of this post, I’ll let you know exactly what these features are.

Table of Contents

(Video) What Is the Best Sea Kayak for Beginners || Enjoy Swimming

What Are You Doing With Your Kayak

Before getting into what type of sea kayak you should buy, we have to talk about what you’ll be doing on the sea. Are you planning on taking your kayak from the beach, through the waves , out onto the open water and then back in again an hour later? Will you be launching your kayak into the ocean so that you can spend a day or two traveling down the coast? Are you looking to use your kayak to ride the waves in?

What you want to do with your kayak will determine what type of “sea kayak” you need. I used the term in quotes there because you may not really need a sea kayak at all. Let’s take a further look at sea kayaking.

Kayaks for Quick Trips From The Beach

Taking a kayak to the beach for a few hours can be a lot of fun. It can also be tough. One wave while you’re trying to launch your kayak can flip it.

For this reason, it’s best to use a sit-on-top kayak. This way, when your kayak flips you won’t have to worry about draining it out. You can take your time launching your kayak and if it takes you a few attempts it won’t matter much.

On the other hand, if you were to try doing this with a sit-inside kayak, you might have to bring your kayak back in from the beach over and over again to drain it. Also, once you’re out on the water, you’ll have to worry that one flip could leave you scrambling to right your kayak, drain it, and get back in before another wave comes.

The kayak shouldn’t be too long either. I’d recommend something in the 10-foot range. You’ll need to quickly launch this kayak from the beach and a big and heavy kayak isn’t going to allow for this. In the end, what you really want for this type of sea kayaking is a simple sit-on-top recreational kayak.

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The advantages of this are as follows:

  • The open-top design will make it safe and easy to launch without having to worry about water getting into the kayak.
  • Your kayak will be lightweight and easy to carry.
  • The kayak won’t have a rudder that could break if the kayak washes up on the beach.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the other scenarios that might involve a sea kayak.

Fishing From a Kayak in The Ocean

A kayaker looking to do some fishing in the ocean will also probably want to get a sit-on-top kayak. This type of kayak is great for fishing because it offers up an open deck that makes working with fishing poles as well as fish a lot easier.

This being said, you’ll want to spend a little more money to get a kayak that is actually rated as a sea kayak. Get one specifically made for fishing as these kayaks will be a little wider and will offer more stability than a sea kayak that is meant more for long-distance traveling.

These kayaks will typically have lengths of around 15 feet. Go a lot shorter than this length and you might not have the stability you need out on the ocean. Go a lot longer and you’ll have a lot of kayak to paddle and maneuver with while fishing.

Sea Kayaks Vs Touring Kayaks – What’s the difference? | Car and Tent (2)

Some people also look for sea kayaks that can be operated with the use of foot pedals. These types of kayaks are great for anglers who want to move their kayak without having to worry about putting their fishing rod down.

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A sea fishing kayak should have lots of additional storage space for carrying gear and it should have a comfortable chair. These kayaks should also have a rudder on them to make it easier to control the kayak in strong winds and currents. If you’re worried about the rudder getting damaged, you could always buy a sea kayak with a retractable rudder.

Other features to look for are quick-access paddle storage areas, rod holders, fishfinder mounts, and dry storage areas for extra clothing and gear. All of these features can add up so expect to pay well over a $1,000.00 for a sea kayak that you can use to go fishing with.

Coastal Touring on Calm Days

Are you looking to cruise along the coast and maybe visit some of the nearby islands on a kayak? If you don’t have a lot of experience out on the ocean, don’t think about getting a kayak that can stand up to large waves or incredibly rough seas. The reason I say this is because you shouldn’t be paddling in these types of conditions yet.

Instead, you’ll want a nice stable sea kayak with a rudder and a slightly more aggressive hull than that of a recreational kayak. This will allow for more efficient paddling. You’ll be putting more miles on this kayak than you would if you were on a short jaunt out into the sea so you’ll need something that you can feel comfortable on for hours at a time.

These kayaks can be sit-on-top kayaks but you could also opt for a sit-inside kayak. The caveat to this is that you should be comfortable with wet exits before you take a sit-inside kayak into the ocean. You should also be comfortable with rescuing your kayak and getting back into it without having to take the kayak back to land first.

Coastal Touring Rough Seas

It might sound counterintuitive, but when you’re on rough waters, you’ll want a kayak that has less stability built into it. The reason for this is you don’t want to be sitting too high in the water. A kayak that sits deeper in the water will feel a little more “tippy” but it will be able to move with waves more easily.

This means that when buying a kayak for rough seas, you’ll want an aggressive and more narrow design. These kayaks will be harder to master so you’ll need to have experience with recreational kayaks before you take on a kayak like this.

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Before moving up to a kayak like this, you’ll want to be exceptionally comfortable with sea rescues, wet-exits, and swimming in general. You’ll also want to have friends with similar aptitudes as this isn’t something you should ever go and do alone.

A kayak built for rough seas will often be built from more durable materials. This can drive up the price quite a bit.

Expect prices to start out over $2,000.00.

Coastal Racing

Once you get more comfortable with sea kayaking, you might want to move up to a kayak that you can be more aggressive with. These kayaks are often sit-inside kayaks with low centers of gravity.

A kayak used for navigating rough seas and racing will be a lot less stable than other kayaks. It will be more narrow and it will be longer. On the plus side, you’ll cut through the water more easily and you’ll be able to move a lot faster.

Another feature of coastal racing kayaks is that they will usually be built from lightweight, yet highly durable materials. You’ll be looking at fiberglass kayaks and carbon fiber kayaks and you’ll certainly pay a premium for them. These kayaks can sell for several thousand dollars and can even reach 5 figures.

Summing It All Up

People looking to spend an hour or two on a kayak they’ve launched from the beach should probably get a sit-on-top recreational kayak. Folks looking to spend a long day kayaking in the ocean should get a kayak rated as a “sea kayak”. This could be a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside kayak.

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Anglers will want a sit-on-top kayak to make fishing easier. A pedal type kayak might be easier and more convenient.

Kayakers looking for a more challenging trip into the sea should get a thin and long kayak rated as a “sea kayak”. Before doing this, you should have a lot of experience and training and you should be a strong swimmer.

FAQs

What is the difference between a sea kayak and a touring kayak? ›

A variant of the touring kayak, the sea kayak has a higher rocker (the curve from bow to stern) that helps it crest into oncoming waves. It also has a narrow, V-shaped front profile. This design makes them able to deal with rougher waters, but at the expense of stability.

What type of kayak is most comfortable? ›

Our pick for the best overall is the Wilderness Systems Aspire 105, which is versatile, well-balanced and roomy. Otherwise, we like the L.L.Bean Manatee Kayak for beginners and recommend the Wilderness Systems Targa 100 as the best recreational kayak.

What makes a sea kayak? ›

Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spray deck. They trade off the manoeuvrability of whitewater kayaks for higher cruising speed, cargo capacity, ease of straight-line paddling, and comfort for long journeys.

What are the two types of kayaks? ›

There are two main categories of kayaks; Flat water and Whitewater.

What type of kayak is most stable? ›

Pontoon hulls are the most stable kayak hull type and they provide great primary stability. Calm water, sit-on-top recreational kayaks and fishing kayaks use pontoon hulls for their excellent stability. The disadvantage of Pontoon hulls is that they're slow and lack maneuverability.

Which type of kayak is better? ›

A sit-in kayak is better for cold or rough water and when you don't want to get wet. A sit-on-top kayak is better for beginners, summer and having fun. A sit-in kayak is optimal for touring, surf, and paddling long distance. While a sit-on kayak is better for learning, cooling off and getting in and out of your kayak.

What is the easiest kayak to get in and out of? ›

How to Get Into and Out Of a Kayak Smoothly - YouTube

What size kayak should I get for my height and weight? ›

Kayak Length for Height Chart
HeightWeight
Low Volume Kayak< 5 ft. 6 in.< 140 lbs.
Medium Volume Kayak5 ft. 7 in. – 5 ft. 10 in.150 lbs. – 180 lbs.
High Volume Kayak> 5 ft. 10 in.> 180 lbs.
17 May 2021

Are sit-on-top kayaks good for the ocean? ›

Sit-in or sit-on kayaks for ocean

As far as recreational kayaks go, sit-on-top models are the better choice for paddling far from shore, including on the ocean. They won't fill with water if you capsize, and they are easy to climb back onto if you fall off.

Do sea kayaks flip easily? ›

For example, it's extremely hard to tip over when paddling with a recreational kayak on a relatively calm river — unless you really try too hard. But whitewater (rapid water) paddling with an ultra-light or sea kayak comes with a very high risk of the boat flipping.

What are the differences between kayaks? ›

Kayak 101: Differences Between Kayak Designs - YouTube

Can sea kayaks be used on lakes? ›

A lake is very similar to the ocean. Since they are two types of open water, you can use a sea kayak on both. It should even do as well in lakes as in the ocean. The sea kayak design is fast, offers a lot of storage room, and has additional buoyancy.

What are the easiest kayaks to use? ›

The best kayaks for beginners
  • Sevylor Quikpak K1.
  • Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Kayak.
  • Borneo Tahe Rigid Touring Canoe-kayak.
  • Ocean Duo Rigid Canoe Kayak Rotomod.
  • Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak 12′
  • Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Recreational Tandem Kayak.
  • Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem.
  • Old Town Dirigo 155 Tandem Kayak.

What is the safest type of kayak? ›

Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly. They're very stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement on them. They're also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called "scupper holes") that allow the water to drain right through them.

What type of kayak is faster? ›

Long, sleek touring kayaks are the fastest type of kayak available, followed by shorter recreational kayaks and then wide fishing kayaks. On flat water, a sprint kayak is the fastest human-powered vessel you can find.

Which is more stable sit in or sit on kayak? ›

If all other dimensions are equal, a sit-inside (open-cockpit) kayak is more stable than a sit-on-top kayak. In an open-cockpit kayak you're sitting lower in the boat. Your center of gravity (aka rear-end) is at or near the level of the water.

Are longer or shorter kayaks better? ›

Length: Longer boats cruise more efficiently and offer lots of storage space for overnight touring gear, while shorter hulls turn more quickly. A few inches in length won't matter much, but two feet or more will be noticeable. Depth: Deeper hulls offer more room for long-legged kayakers, plus a little more storage.

How do I keep my kayak from tipping? ›

How to Stop your Kayak from Flipping - Braces - YouTube

Why do sit-on-top kayaks have holes? ›

Scupper holes are intentional holes in sit-on-top kayaks, like fishing kayaks. It seems counter-intuitive to have holes in a boat, but they serve a couple important design purposes: They help give structural integrity to the kayak… They operate as a drain hole when you get water in your boat.

Is kayaking good exercise? ›

Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits include: Improved cardiovascular fitness. Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle.

How do seniors get out of a kayak? ›

One of the most clever tricks for easy entry & exit from a kayak for seniors is to find an ADA-accessible dock in your area. This can come in handy even if you don't have a specific handicap and many locations will allow seniors to launch from their docks for little or no charge.

Can 60 year olds kayak? ›

Weight. Most older adults aren't going to want to waste a bunch of energy just getting their kayak to the water. In practice, this should actually be true for most kayakers, regardless of age or physical ability. Look for a kayak that's easy to transport and handle on land and on the water.

How much should you spend on a kayak? ›

Recreational kayaks: $100 to $1,200; day touring kayaks $1,000 to $2,000; and sea kayaks $2,000 to $5,000.

What happens if you exceed kayak weight limit? ›

When you overload a kayak, you will make the kayak sink lower into the water than is recommended. While this won't automatically sink your kayak, it will make it less stable and increase the risk of capsizing and harming yourself, your kayak, your gear, and potentially other people.

How do I know what size kayak to get? ›

In order to have a pleasant experience on the water, you'll want to make sure you fit inside your kayak well. For example, if you are 6 feet tall and 225 pounds, a 12-foot-long boat may be more comfortable than a boat that is 10 feet long. Adjustable footrests can help accommodate your height in your kayak.

How long of a kayak does a 6 foot person need? ›

The typical average length kayaks—8 to 12 feet for a recreational kayak or 12 to 14 feet for a day touring kayak—will work well for a 6-foot-tall person.

What to do if a shark approaches you on a kayak? ›

Swim calmly away from your kayak and to the closest way out of the water. Panicked actions will entice the shark to follow through with the attack, make sure not to splash. If you are too far from land or another vessel then your only option may be to return to the kayak after the shark is gone.

How far out to sea can you go in a kayak? ›

Well, such a paddler can be reasonably expected to operate a kayak with a 12-foot waterline at an average speed of approximately 2.25 miles per hour. This equates to a 26 minute mile. It further maps to a 5-hour distance of 11.25 miles and a 10-hour distance of 22.5 miles.

What time of year do kayaks go on sale? ›

Some of the best kayak deals offered by direct manufacturers and retailers coincide with two major holidays: Christmas and Memorial Day. In the days leading up to these holidays (throughout the months of May and December), you can find deep discounts on new kayaks.

Why do my hips hurt after kayaking? ›

With our legs turned outwards (externally rotated) and flexed, we're putting a good amount of pressure through the front of our hip joints and the surrounding soft tissues. Unsurprisingly this can make our hips pretty sore after a while.

What is the best material for a kayak? ›

Aramid Composites (Kevlar)

Kevlar is slightly stronger than Carbon Fiber (depending on the grade of Aramid and binding agent used). Kevlar is used for top end kayak construction. It is the strongest construction material of the three listed here.

Can you get stuck in a kayak if it flips over? ›

When a kayak tips over upside down, you can get stuck. It can lead to your body becoming stressed, which can lead to panic, making it more difficult for you to get out of the situation. Check out these steps on how to flip a kayak over to prevent this from happening.

What are the main types of kayaks? ›

There are 5 types of flat water (recreational) kayaks: Sit-inside, Sit-on-top, Touring, Inflatable, and Pedaling kayaks.

Are longer kayaks more stable? ›

Length. Longer kayaks have a number of advantages: they are usually easier to paddle, more stable, and capable of carrying heavier loads with less loss of performance. They also track better, move faster, and glide farther with each stroke than shorter boats, allowing greater efficiency with less effort.

Is an 8 ft kayak too small? ›

While there are certainly shorter kayaks out there, an eight-foot length is one of the smaller options. This is a great kayak size for kids and small adults who are relatively new to the sport. An eight-foot kayak can also be useful for whitewater applications.

What kind of kayak do you need for the ocean? ›

Generally speaking, touring kayaks – also referred to as “sea kayaks” – tend to be your best bet because they're designed with open waters in mind. A longer, sleeker hull is optimized for hard-to-beat efficiency on longer journeys, exceptional control, and tracking performance.

Are sea kayaks more stable? ›

Rec(reational) Kayaks are Designed for Short Trips on Sheltered Water. Recreational kayaks can be anywhere from 9-14.5 feet. They're wider and much more stable than sea kayaks, and therefore more user-friendly.

Is sea kayaking difficult? ›

Whether you're a beginner at kayaking or an expert, kayaking in the ocean can be a little intimidating at first. It's also an extremely exhilarating experience that is worth an attempt, as long as you remain aware and follow all the necessary safety protocols.

What is the difference between touring and recreational kayaks? ›

One of the biggest differences 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.

How do you sit in a kayak? ›

While sitting with your back supported by the kayak seat, place the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. Your toes should be pointed outward, and your heels should be angled toward the center of the kayak. Your knees should bend upward and outward, allowing your legs to apply pressure to the thigh braces.

What is a skeg on a kayak? ›

A skeg is a retractable blade that drops out of a slot in the hull of the kayak near the stern. It does not pivot. It is dropped and retracted by means of a slider usually on one side of the cockpit.

Is a sit-on-top kayak safer? ›

Whether you choose a sit-inside or a sit-on-top kayak, you are sure to enjoy paddling. Both style kayaks are equally safe. Stability will depend on other design factors such as hull design and size. (see “how to choose a kayak”).

Is it safe to kayak in the rain? ›

Is kayaking safe in the rain? The good news for people who love to kayak is that going kayaking in the rain is generally safe.

Can sit-in kayaks sink? ›

Yes, a kayak can sink. If you load more weight in it than a kayak is rated to carry it can sink. Overloading a kayak makes it easier for water to get in and fill it to the point of sinking. Sit-in kayaks are more likely to sink than sit-on kayaks because of their open hull design.

How fast are touring kayaks? ›

Recreational kayakers can maintain on average a speed to 2 to 3 knots (3.5 to 5.5 km/h). Currents between 1 to 4 knots are then regarded as average, while currents above 4 knots are significant.

How long does it take to kayak 13 miles? ›

It takes, on average, 20 minutes to travel a mile in a kayak at a pace around 3 miles per hour.
Distance (mile)TimeTotal Time
113:404:10
124 hours4:40
134:205 hours
144:405:20
11 more rows
17 Jun 2020

How far can a beginner kayak in a day? ›

Most beginners only stay out for two or three hours when they're first learning how to kayak. That's because practicing things like the low support stroke and the low brace turn can be quite tiring when you're repeating them over and over again.

What is different about a sea kayak? ›

Sea kayaks tend to be longer and narrower than recreational or white water kayaks. A longer boat is faster on the water, tracks better and can also carry more gear. This is especially important in sea kayaking where the distances you travel are often much greater than recreational kayaking.

What are the differences between kayaks? ›

Kayak 101: Differences Between Kayak Designs - YouTube

What kind of kayak do I need for Rapids? ›

River Running Playboats: 6.5–8 feet

This type of kayak is made for people who want to perform playboat tricks without giving up control or speed while paddling downriver and running rapids.

What are the main types of kayaks? ›

There are 5 types of flat water (recreational) kayaks: Sit-inside, Sit-on-top, Touring, Inflatable, and Pedaling kayaks.

Do sea kayaks flip easily? ›

For example, it's extremely hard to tip over when paddling with a recreational kayak on a relatively calm river — unless you really try too hard. But whitewater (rapid water) paddling with an ultra-light or sea kayak comes with a very high risk of the boat flipping.

Are sea kayaks more stable? ›

Rec(reational) Kayaks are Designed for Short Trips on Sheltered Water. Recreational kayaks can be anywhere from 9-14.5 feet. They're wider and much more stable than sea kayaks, and therefore more user-friendly.

Can sea kayaks be used on lakes? ›

A lake is very similar to the ocean. Since they are two types of open water, you can use a sea kayak on both. It should even do as well in lakes as in the ocean. The sea kayak design is fast, offers a lot of storage room, and has additional buoyancy.

What is the safest type of kayak? ›

Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly. They're very stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement on them. They're also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called "scupper holes") that allow the water to drain right through them.

Is kayaking good for seniors? ›

Kayaking is a perfect non-snow season sport for seniors. Outdoors, exercise, skill, and cool equipment combine to make an attractive sport. Kayak touring is one of the best recreational activities for seniors. It is low impact.

Are longer kayaks more stable? ›

Length. Longer kayaks have a number of advantages: they are usually easier to paddle, more stable, and capable of carrying heavier loads with less loss of performance. They also track better, move faster, and glide farther with each stroke than shorter boats, allowing greater efficiency with less effort.

How do you go down a fast in a kayak? ›

Learning To Paddle: Episode 3: Running a Rapid - YouTube

How do you paddle through rapids in a kayak? ›

EJ's Whitewater Kayak Instruction- How To Paddle Through Waves

What size kayak is good for Rivers? ›

Most fishing kayaks suitable for fishing rivers are between 12' and 14' long or more, to allow for plenty of storage space, a wide enough beam to make a stable boat, and enough length to glide efficiently over flat water.

What is the fastest kayak? ›

The Pace18 is a stable and seaworthy kayak designed for adventurers with an “alpinist” approach to expedition kayaking, endurance racing and down-winding. It's regarded as being the fastest of the rough water capable racing sea kayaks on the market.

What is a long kayak called? ›

Touring (Sit-in)

They're usually more narrow and longer than recreational kayaks – at least 12 feet. This makes them much more capable of smoothly cutting through the water. Touring kayaks have a small cockpit opening and thigh braces to help with stability and control.

How deep of water do you need for a kayak? ›

In summary, the average kayak requires at least 5” of water to sit and operate without grounding.

Videos

1. How to pack your sea kayak effectively for a multi day sea kayak expedition?
(Grey Wolf Expeditions)
2. Understanding Kayak Bulkheads
(Paddling.com)
3. Sea Kayaking in the worlds biggest archipelago
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4. How To Carry Kayaks With A Travel Trailer?
(RVing With Family)
5. Best Women’s Kayak In 2022 - Top 10 Women’s Kayaks Review
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6. Review of the Delta 12.10 and Delta 12S by Delta Kayaks- "Mini Sea Kayaks"
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