Transitional Touring

a term ‘we’ seemed to coin describing a boat that isn’t quite a touring boat. touring kayak? seems as tho sea kayak is too limiting, as in Great Lakes, BIG rivers, etc. places that aren’t the ‘sea’ and yet the boats work well…so touring seems to fit. touring? can you tour in a Pungo? tour seems pretty broad. can you take a Tsunami (transitional touring) into the sea? can you sea kayak a Pamlico? some do. you can certainly tour in one. why does the magazine Seakayaker cover such a broad base of boats, locals, trips (tours?) that aren’t in salt water?

talk about chasing my tail.

I just had to vent. tomorrow I’m paddling my SEA kayak in the sea!


Whoa . . . easy there guy
Many of us realize it is just marketing crap to diferentiate product lines. The danger is if all the blah-blah-blah somehow leads to transitional touring is the same concept as training wheels on a bike or rubber pants on a toddler. In the grand scheme of the world a boat is still just a boat. When the voices in the head get too loud, go paddle . . .

Hope You Don’t Get Toursick

Transitional …
could mean several different things. Sounds good for marketing purposes, but what are you transioning between? For a new paddler it might be transitioning from the couch to the great outdoors.

If I had started with a short, wide recreational kayak and I knew in 5 year my goal was to be a full fledged sea kayaker, then I might plan to transition to that goal. Maybe even with a ‘transitional touring’ boat purchase along the way.

But, coming from a tandem canoeing background, I knew I wanted to tour in kayaks. I also live inland, so sea kayaking was/is infrequent. My first boat (a Swift Caspian Sea) was a touring kayak. I used it to transition from tandem canoeing to kayaking. I could have transitioned directly to a sea kayak, but I didn’t.

I think the majority of kayaks I see (mostly inland paddling) fall into one of three categories. Recreational (puddle jumpers, meandering watercourses, etc.), touring (longer distance, all day paddling), sea kayak (designed for and outfitted to be used in heavy sea conditions). In my mind I can comfortably assign most boats into one of these three broad categories (recognizing that there are other types as well, racing, surf ski, etc.).

My categories:

Recreational kayaks - generally shorter and wider, turn pretty well, great for poking around the shoreline of a lake or down a meandering flatwater watercourse, but not something I’d want to paddle 15-25 miles on a day trip.

Touring kayaks - generally 12-18’ long, usually 25" or less wide, may or may not be hard tracking, hull design is relatively efficient for long day trips (15+ miles), a reasonably experienced paddler should be able to keep up with a group. May have one, two or three bulkheads/hatches, may or may not have perimeter lines. May be designed with a high, low, adjustable seat back, or backband. May have a skeg, rudder, both or neither. Not designed for use in heavy seas.

Sea kayaks - generally 12’+ long, usually less than 24" wide, usually at least two bulkheads/hatches (or used with sea sock and floatation), newer designs should have permiter lines, deck bungie, generally will have a backband instead of a seat back.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention some important criteria here, but think this basically works for me to place most boats in a single category.


marketing crap
is right—it’s what the manufacturers use to convince us that we actually need to by 1–3 or more boats as we progress in our paddling careers. Like your Pamlico??? But want to go on salt water? Then get the Tsunami!! Like your Tsunami but want to go on overnight trips?? Then you need to buy a Tempest!!! Blame it on the marketing department.

As within all categories, varied types
of boats exist. I paddled a 14.5’, 25" Calabria prior to purchasing a Valley. A Calabria is marketed as a touring yak yet it was moderately fast, easy to paddle for 20 miles, and capable of handling reasonably sized waves on the Great Lakes.

I feel “transitional” is a valid term and a transitional touring kayak represents one type of platform to enable a paddler to enhance his/her confidence and ability to paddle other boats with different characteristics.

Intended use and skill level

– Last Updated: Feb-02-08 5:28 PM EST –

I tend to think that when someone designs and refines a boat, that person has a certain array of uses and range of paddling skills required in mind.

The language has thousands of thousands of words because we need verbage to communicate, define, and comprehend things.

It is helpful when the designer or spokesperson informs interested parties as to the design intent of a boat.

The Valley video on You Tube with Peter Orton describing the intended performance characteristics and target paddler he had in mind when developing the Nordkapp LV is very informative.

No sea here…
Many people have never seen the ocean, much less paddled on it. The term “Sea” kayak is not as good for marketing to these folks as is “touring”.

well, Steve…
First of all, I know that the marketing department isn’t your best friend. you just try to design boats that’ll appeal to different paddlers.

Second, I guess it’s no different than any other kind of boat. Reading something like WoodenBoat, it’s easy to get caught up in the distictions between skiffs and dighys and dories and sharpies and so on. But they’re all sailboats, and if you pull the strings and waggle the stick the right way they’ll all make you smile.

Enjoy the water.

recreational racing
have you seen Current Designs Kestrel 160? I think they’ve just opened up the recreational racing category.

CD’s articulation
"A blend of the aspects of recreational and touring kayaks, Transitional kayaks favor turning and stability on calm waters, but have upturned bows and medium sized cockpits with thigh braces for better handling in rough conditions. Perfect for the developing paddler."

Of course, some of the boats CD catagorizes as recreational are pretty equivalent to what others term ‘transitional.’

Current Designs refers to their sea kayaks as touring boats. Until some recent marketing hijacking, I had always heard the designation of sea kayak and touring used interchangeably.

Mountain Bike

“Sea kayak” is much like the term “mountain bike.” Everyone knows a mountain bike is not limited to mountain use. Some mountain bikes never leave the city streets. And like many sea kayaks sold today, many rarely leave the garage.

Thanks, Now explain “Elite Recreational”