Touring Kayaks: What to Look For
There's a few distinct differences between touring kayaks and other boats. Generally speaking, touring kayaks are designed for one specific purpose; long-range kayak tours, and races. The hull shape, chine, and rocker are all carefully designed for optimum tracking. That's why touring kayaks excel in straight-ahead paddling. They simply track better than other boats. However, this also means they are not effective in rough water, or maneuvering around objects.
So, when you start shopping for touring kayaks, understand what makes a kayak a touring kayak, and what doesn't. Then you'll know which features to look for and why.
Hull Designs for Touring Kayaks
Touring kayaks have unique hull designs incorporating several features that make the boats track exceptionally well. This includes less rocker, a hard chine, and a v-shape hull.
A kayak's “rocker” is the amount of curve (measured in degrees) in the boat's hull from the bow to stern when looking at the kayak from the side. A kayak with less rocker has a smaller degree of curvature from bow to stern. A kayak with more rocker has quite a bit of curvature.
Most touring kayaks have very little to no rocker. That means they look virtually flat when you look at the boat's hull from the side. There's very little lift in the bow or stern when the kayak is laid flat on the ground. Kayaks like the necky manitou 146r, or Merlin XT, you'll notice the hull is almost flat. This “rockerless” design keeps the bow and stern in constant contact with the water, providing optimal tracking capability and better tracking while paddling straight.