Sea Kayaking is an Age-Old Tradition

A sea kayak (or touring kayak) is one of the oldest modes of water transportation known to man, and some scientists estimate that the Eskimos used them some 4000 years ago. These small boats are actually rated as seaworthy vessels and may even incorporate a spray deck.

While the long, thin kayaks may not be as maneuverable as their lake cousins, they are built for speed, carrying capacity, and ease of paddling. With room for camping gear, food, and water, sea kayaks are generally favored for long trips. Plus, the thinner, longer design means the vessel is perfect for moving fast and staying stable on the water.

Introduction to Sea Kayaking

Ancient Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking and river kayaking are completely different animals, and, while being familiar with onboarding and dismounting a boat and comfort level on top of the water may be useful, that is pretty much where the similarities begin and end.

According to one article, there are some pretty big differences when migrating from lake to sea. First off, you must actually paddle in order to get anywhere on the sea. While a river flows from one spot to another, and, paddle or don’t paddle, you will eventually end up in the same spot, the sea takes a vaster and more nebulous approach. If you want to get anywhere in the ocean, you are going to have to work for it.

Not only won’t the sea help you move in any direction, it will actually fight you to get there. From the ever-present ebb and flow of the tide to the erratic winds, there is no easy direction. Strong core muscles and a healthy relationship with endurance are pretty much your only friends out in a sea kayak.

Secondly, multi-point turnarounds are a way of life on the sea. In a river kayak, you do not turn around much. Sure, you get trapped behind a low-hanging branch here or in a stagnant pool there, but, for the most part, you are on the move from point A to point B.

Sea kayaking may require many turnarounds, from catching up with the group to exploring a site on your own. The trouble is that the long, slender build of a sea kayak is built for long, straight travel. The result is that it will take many paddle strokes to turn the vessel around.

While turning in a short, stocky river kayak is pretty manual, turning in a sea kayak, like downhill skiing, requires edging. By shifting your weight, you can increase resistance on one side of the boat while simultaneous reducing it on the other. The upshot is that the boat will automatically begin to turn, which is a critical concept out on the open ocean.

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The Freedom of a Touring Kayak


The sea is awesome. There is no other feeling like the sense of freedom you get out on the open sea, looking back at the land (if you can see it), the water supporting you, and the sky above you. It is a feeling that gets into your blood.

Plus, there are spots you can explore that you could not even see on dry land – hidden coves, secret beaches, mysterious reefs, and dark caves.

Exploration in while sea kayaking is a never-ending adventure, as the ocean is vast and islands and land masses are large. You can easily imagine yourself as Marco Polo or Captain James Cook, as you explore peninsulas, coastal waters, and the forgotten camps of times past.

Plus, you will see the foreign sea structures, shipwrecks, and exotic creatures on the crystal-clear ocean floor as you glide along in your sea kayak. Sure, it is a lot of work, but what out there that is worth it isn’t. There are many tours and outfitters that offer sea kayak vacations, from those in Maine and Alaska to those in Scotland, and Greece.

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Sea Kayaking Essentials and Wrap up

There are some essentials that are important to procure before feeling the freedom of the cool ocean breeze on your face, however, and, even if you are renting, you are still going to want to track down at least a few of the following items. Trust us, they will make all the difference.



For 25 years ExOfficio has built top quality clothing that not only looks great, but that performs exceptionally well. REI, Patagonia, and Helley Hansen will also do really well in sea conditions.  And, while you are at it, be sure to get a waterproof dry storage bag to put those clothes in. You will thank us later.

Storage Racks:We are talking racks for your boat, here, not your car. If you are buying a boat, we can think of no better storage system than one than those from Suspenz. Rack kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and more. It is estimated that, unless you live on the water, your boat sits in storage 90 percent of the time. Make sure it is stored correctly with Suspenz.

Kayaks:For 30 years, Old Town and Necky have designed and produced world-class kayaks for river and sea use. You can find their product pretty much anywhere, but take a look at company histories, inventories, stories and more at their websites.

Paddles:Many kayak and canoe makers are in the game to make boats, not paddle.  Do yourself a favor and get a set of premium paddles for your next adventure. We promise, you will see the difference, and Aqua-Bound manufacturers some of the best paddles on the market. Plus, they won’t break your bank account.

If you follow these gear tips, kayak with respect, and sit upright facing in the right direction you should do ok on the open water, but be prepared for a workout as the sea gives nothing away for free.

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