touring vs. recreational

i am still learning the names of all the boat pieces and parts, why they are, and what they do.

so far the only real difference i can see is that the touring boats are, in general, not as wide.

so, in the interest of better understanding on my part, are there other differences as well.


Hard to generalize…
… but we have to anyway. Longer, and narrower, and smaller cockpit that is easier to seal with a skirt that the huge rec cockpits. Touring baot also normally feature hatches for gear and bulkheads to separate them and provide separate sealed compartments for flotation/safety on larger waters. Also more likely to have a rudder or skeg as a standard feature for improved control in wind on same larger and more exposed waters.

The real hair splitting is between “sea kayak” - and “touring kayak” and disention generally centers around individual paddlers differences of how and where they paddle as much as the boats themselves.

Ditto above
When you’ve paddled a “Rec.” boat and then a “Sea kayak” you’ll know the difference :slight_smile:

Double Ditto
The differences from my Otter (9.6 ft rec ) to the 139 Adventure XL (touring ) to the 170 Boreal Design I-Boat (Sea kayaking) is as different as night and day.

Stay safe on the water

Simple reference
Greyak summarized it pretty well.

A major aspect is length and width. Sea kayaks tend to be more than 15 feet long and less than 24 inches wide. Rec boats tend to be shorter than 16 and wider than 24 inches.

This can be a starting point if you are looking at listings of statistics.

Lean vs. stroke
To turn a rec you paddle hard to the opposite side

to turn a sea you just lean it over,but not to far…

No, no, no…
The rec yak turns with each stroke.

They zig zag through the water !



I think there are exceptions to the rule

– Last Updated: Dec-09-05 6:30 PM EST –

Example- My Calabria is 25" wide and 14 1/2' long. It can be leaned very well (better than some long sea kayaks I have demoed) to make sharp
turns. Although I use it mainly on lakes and rivers, it will handle Lake Michigan nicely (not in turbulence but in somewhat choppy conditions). I normally paddle between 10 and 20 miles fairly quickly and efficiently with little or no strain on my body.

Is it a rec boat, a touring boat, or a transitional sea yak (or all).

However, I do realize that as I spend more time on the great lakes I will need a longer boat with a narrower beam.

The shape of the hull
Speaking for sea kayaks the hull shape is more like a V shape or a skinny U shape depending on the materials it was made of. Glass boats tend to have a hard chine(V shape) with different angles. Plastic boats tend to have soft chines (U shape). Both shapes, as mentioned earlier, will alow the boat to be put up on edge to carve a turn. Rec boats tend to be flat on the bottom.


that’s a day touring boat…
A Calabria is definitely not a rec boat as it has a certain amount of secondary stability, it probably rolls fairly well, and it is designed to handle some conditions. It’s sort of like my first kayak which was a day tourer (Perception Sonoma - 13.5 feet, 22.5 inches). Of course what actually classifies a boat as a “sea kayak” is quite debatable. The standard view would be a boat 16 feet or longer, beam of 24 inches or narrower, and bulkheads in the bow and stern which accomodate gear. However, where do SOF qajaqs fit in that definition? SOF qajaqs/baidarkas have no bulkheads, minimal floatation (although float bags and sea socks can be used) and yet no one doubts their sea worthiness. What about shorter coastal rock gardening boats such as the Rock Hopper? :slight_smile:

Of course as you stated, there are alwasy exceptions to any of these rules. For me, I naturally gravitate toward skinny, low-volume kayaks which I can “wear” rather than sit in. Well bruce, almost a full year has gone by. Which boats are you going to be looking at during this year’s Canoecopia? (my eyes are on the ocean cockpit Outer Island and the CD Rumour)

Hey Schizo

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I don't know what the next one will be or if I'll see it at Canoecopia. Unlike you who makes quantum leaps, I like to gradually progress (1 1/2 feet at a time). Right now, i'd like to try:

Lincoln Schoodic
Impex Montauk
Epic Cruiser
Some of the P&H and Valley boats
Maybe one of the QCCs

Obviously I haven't narrowed it down yet; but I will.

I had a really great year with the Calabria.

Hope to run into you at Canoecopia. We'll be there Saturday and possibly Friday night; business functions on Sunday.

It seems you've lusted for the Outer Island since last year. Hope you can swing it soon.

One man’s sea kayaking is another’s rec
Some of the “expedition boats” on the market are so wide and deep I had trouble seeing out! Never mind leaning those big bathtubs.

My favorate boat, the Valley Avocet, fits me like a pair of socks. But a 250 lb former line-backer probably can’t get his butt into the cockpit!

Sea or rec kayak, is not a either/or thing. On both end of the spectrum, the difference is obvious. But there’re a lot of middle grounds where the two over-laps. Depending on you size and intended use, you may ended up with one or the other. So, don’t get too fixiated on the names of the classification.

Transitional ? now there’s a word
As Clinton said…“That depends on what the meaning of is is.” It either “is” or it aint!

Like okole said, "once you paddle a sea kayak you will know the difference.

Hey Michelle
As you read there are design differances but no clear definition between the boats. I think Greyak had one of the better characterisations. Touring boats are ment to take into larger bodies of water and meant to be paddled farther as compared to rec boats. So, the typical touring boat is designed to be a bit safer in larger water and provide a bit more carry capacity.

Safety in a larger body of water means the ability to handle lumpy water and recover from a spill. The two water tight compartments found on most touring boats will keep a capsized boat afloat, and will allow a self or assisted rescue. The smaller cockpit coaming and limited open to the water volume allows for easier rolling.

There is a bunch of basic information over to your left under the Guidelines button.

Happy Paddling,


some days
my QCC 400 thinks it’s a rec boat, other days it thinks it’s a sea kayak. It all depends on my mood for the day, fishing, exploring, cardio. It’s at that 15 ft. length that confuses it.

paddle safe, LJB.

If everything were so black and white
words like “hybrid” and “versatile” wouldn’t be in Webster’s dictionary. Even Clinton had difficulty classifying the nature of his relationship with Monica.

Most of the sea kayaks I have demoed (mainly in glass) feel stiffer, have great secondary stability, track well and do not turn as well (less nimble) as a day touring or rec boat. In addition, the speed of some day tourers may be superior to the speed of some sea yaks. I also realize there may be many exceptions to this and it is also dependent upon paddler ability.

As noted above, some day tourers have some of the characteristics and capabilities of sea yaks and some of the characteristics of rec boats.

Good luck Aquaholic- I hope you find many boats that are safe, fun and suitable for your needs.

How could u buy a boat called Shoodic?
I mean, really.

Schoodic is a Maine location
Close to where you grew up.

Check it out. It looks good. We just can’t get it in our neighborhood.

I see, not the designer’s high school

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nickname, but rather a location in Maine. Now I get it. Guess, I can't say much, I was born and raised in Athol. Bet they'll never name a kayak after Athol (A canoe? Maybe).

Thanks for link. It does look like a nice vessel. 22 and a half inch beam, wow, that is wicked wide. My new one is only 21 inches (na na ;-P). No, it might be a sweet ride, and it has the Greenland bow, I see. The weight sure is sweet, I'll say. I liked that Montauk too even though the pictures were of a paddler in a Tilly looking freakishly mirthful. Tough choice, my friend, but if you're ready to hope on the learning curve, I have saved a wet seat on it for you. Get the braces, wet exits and rolls down pat with me. I know you mention taking small steps, but honestly, any of these boats you mention seem like the ultimate step, ie they are as good as any boat can get, aren't they? I have seen none finer.

Athol sounds like a buck toothed kid with a speech impediment trying to say something else.