Adjust the Fit of Your Touring Kayak

Touring kayaks are designed to fit the body of a kayaker in specific ways for the best kayaking experience. In this video our friend Dan Arbuckle, from California’s Headwaters Kayak, takes us through how to adjust the fit of your touring kayak.

How is a Touring Kayak Different from a Recreational Kayak?

Recreational kayaks are designed for stability above all else. They’re budget-friendly, wide, relatively short and have a large open cockpit. The interior is bare bones, and they’re meant for short excursions, not long days on the water.

Touring kayaks, on the other hand, are narrower and longer with smaller cockpits. These kayaks are designed for more speed and grace on the water, and are more comfortable for several hours of paddling. They’re designed to be an extension of your body with several touch points below the cockpit.

How To Fit Your Touring Kayak

A touring kayak should become part of you. Your back, seat, hips, knees and feet are all connected to your boat so you and your kayak move together. “You’re not just sitting in the boat, you become the boat,” Dan says.

Touring kayaks have foot pedals you can adjust depending on the length of your legs. You’ll want to adjust yours so you have a bit of bend in your knees and can move the foot pedals back and forth easily with your feet. You’ll want them adjusted so your legs are snug against the thigh braces, but not so tight that you can’t move them easily.

Your knees should be splayed inside the kayak, touching the inner sides of the boat. You’ll use your knees, thighs and hips to help steer and move your boat along. You can buy foam pads to adhere to the inside of your kayak to make those contact points more comfortable and fitted for your body.

Some touring kayaks have hip pads that are connected to the backrest of your seat, and thigh braces on either side of the forward cockpit. These help your body connect with the inside of the kayak even more.

Your backrest should be adjusted so you’re sitting upright, not leaning back. An upright paddling position means much better “torso rotation” with your entire upper body. Torso rotation involves moving your arms, shoulders, back and core in unison from side-to-side with each stroke.

man in a touring kayak

A good fit in your touring kayak means long hours on the water in comfort (photo courtesy of @villecourt)

Adjusting the fit of your kayak properly will help you be more comfortable, be a more efficient paddler and have more fun.

Here’s another video with more suggestions for getting the best individual fit in your touring kayak from our friends at

What paddle questions can we help you with today? Get in touch with our Wisconsin-based Customer Service Team: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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