When a store calls something a touring kayak, it’s often a misnomer. All kinds of entry-level boats between ten and fifteen feet in length get lumped into the category. But the term “touring kayak” technically refers to boats you can take on a tour – a decent-sized adventure. They may not be 18-foot sea kayaks with storage space for a week, but they should be able to handle a weekend excursion for sure.
Riot Kayak’s Edge model demonstrates what a touring kayak should really be: easy to handle, able to store a night or two of gear, and generally a great boat to hang out in. It costs a little more than an entry-level recreational kayak, but this Edge kayak review will show you why it’s worth it.
What Makes for a Good Touring Kayak?
A good touring kayak is a step up from the standard recreational kayaks you might buy at a big box or major sporting good store. They usually have sealed bulkheads to keep your gear dry, a hull that tracks well in rougher waters (maybe a skeg or a rudder too), and pads in the cockpit to keep your hips and thighs controlling the boat. They might be narrower than a recreational kayak, but should have enough features providing extra comfort that a smaller cockpit doesn’t feel too confining. Above all, touring kayaks should be capable of taking you into more challenging waters and on longer excursions.
The Riot Edge Kayak in 11 feet long and weighs 54 pounds, though the company also makes a longer version with some added features. At 27.5 inches wide, the Riot is narrower than many similarly priced boats, but that makes it a little faster. It comes with a polyethylene hull and has a rounded design that’s easy to paddle. There’s shock cord webbing on the bow and stern sections for holding any gear that can’t be stowed inside, and the cockpit has a padded seat and integrated thigh braces for comfortable paddling over long distances.
What’s one of the worst things about entry-level kayaks? They’re so heavy! It’s a trade off between weight and price, and most people getting into the sport can’t afford a lighter weight carbon fiber boat. But you can upgrade the Edge to their “Bio-Fusion” hull construction, which walks the line between rotomolded and composite, using a thermoformed hull with carbon fiber reinforcements throughout the boat and Kevlar in the bow and stern. It’s stronger and lighter, but not overly expensive, and also environmentally friendly, since their process wastes as little material as possible. Bio-Fusion construction makes the boat about 10% lighter, but will cost a bit more.
The Edge comes with a built in skeg, which isn’t very common in the recreational kayak market. Having one further improves the boat’s tracking, and it’s easy to operate too, with a small toggle just below the cockpit rim.
Like to do a little fishing while you’re out paddling? The Edge comes with an integrated rod holder behind the seat; no one likes drilling holes into their new boat to get an aftermarket holder installed. There’s also a paddle hook at the front of the cockpit, so your paddle will be secure while you’re reeling in the big one.
Some users have complained that the hatch covers and bulkhead don’t fit tight enough, so the rear bulkhead doesn’t seal well. If you plan on carrying gear in here and want to be sure it stays nice and dry, apply some silicone sealant along the edges before you go.
They say you get what you pay for, and that’s nowhere truer than in the kayaking world. The Edge has a great design, is built of superior materials, and has quite a few special features, all of which make it a more expensive boat. If you’re not sure if kayaking is a sport you’ll continue in, the Edge might not be the best first purchase.
Hopefully this Riot Kayak Edge review has helped you understand what a touring kayak can be: an excellent boat for fishing, weekend camping, and long day trips through moderately rough water. It’s priced higher than entry-level kayaks, but comes with quite a few features that make it more comfortable to paddle long distances. While there may be issues with the storage compartments staying watertight, that can be quickly remedied with some DIY work or just by using dry bags. The Edge is a great all-around boat for a paddler who has spent some time in the water and wants to buy one kayak that will work well in a variety of situations.
Video of Edge kayak being used, by Riot Kayaks