Kayaking is an exciting and versatile water sport that allows you to explore lakes, rivers, and coastlines with ease. Whether you’re a recreational paddler, an angler, or a nature photographer, having a stable kayak is essential for your safety and enjoyment on the water. This is where kayak outriggers come into play. Outriggers are flotation devices mounted on either side of the kayak to enhance its stability, reducing the risk of capsizing and making it easier to perform various activities while on board.
With the numerous kayak outrigger options available in the market, choosing the best one can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the world of kayak outriggers and make an informed decision based on your needs and preferences. In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of outriggers, factors to consider when choosing the right outriggers for your kayak, top brands and models, and essential tips for installation, adjustment, and maintenance. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to select the perfect outriggers to enhance your kayaking experience and ensure your safety on the water.
Understanding Kayak Outriggers
Kayak outriggers, also known as stabilizers or pontoons, are flotation devices attached to the sides of a kayak to increase its stability. They serve as additional support to prevent the kayak from tipping over, especially in choppy waters or when performing activities that require increased balance, such as standing to fish or taking photos. Outriggers are particularly beneficial for beginners, people with limited mobility, or those using kayaks for specialized purposes.
Outriggers enhance stability by increasing the effective width of the kayak, distributing the weight over a larger surface area, and providing extra buoyancy. This added support helps counterbalance any shifts in weight or sudden movements, making it more difficult for the kayak to capsize. As a result, paddlers can enjoy a safer and more comfortable experience on the water.
Top Kayak Outrigger Brands and Models
1. YakGear Kayak & Canoe Outriggers
The YakGear Kayak & Canoe Outriggers are an affordable, lightweight option that offers stability and durability. They feature inflatable pontoons made of durable PVC material, making them easy to transport and store. The outriggers come with adjustable straps and clips for easy installation and adjustment.
2. Pactrade Marine outrigger
The Pactrade Marine outrigger system features rigid PVC arms and inflatable pontoons for stability and durability. The arms are adjustable and can fit different kayak sizes. The system also includes an anchor trolley kit for added convenience.
3. Spring Creek Manufacturing outrigger
The Spring Creek Manufacturing outrigger system features hydrodynamic pontoons designed for maximum stability and performance. The system includes adjustable brackets and hardware for easy installation and adjustment. It is suitable for canoes as well as kayaks.
4. Brocraft outrigger
The Brocraft outrigger system features rigid PVC arms and inflatable pontoons for stability and durability. The arms are adjustable and can fit different kayak sizes. The system also includes a universal mounting kit for easy installation.
5. METER STAR outrigger
The METER STAR outrigger system features inflatable pontoons made of durable PVC material. The system includes adjustable straps and clips for easy installation and adjustment. It is suitable for kayaking, fishing, and other water activities.
6. Scotty Kayak Stabilizer System
The Scotty Kayak Stabilizer System features rigid, foam-filled pontoons for maximum buoyancy and stability. The system also includes adjustable mounting straps and a quick-release feature for easy removal. It is suitable for specialized activities like fishing and photography.
7. Taruor outrigger
The Taruor outrigger system features inflatable PVC pontoons and sidekick arms for stability and ease of use. The system also includes adjustable mounting straps and a quick-release feature for easy removal. It is suitable for kayaking, fishing, and other water activities.
8. Bicaquu outrigger
The Bicaquu outrigger system features inflatable PVC pontoons and sidekick arms for stability and ease of use. The system also includes adjustable mounting straps and a quick-release feature for easy removal. It is suitable for beginners and casual paddlers.
9. Lixada outrigger
The Lixada outrigger system features inflatable PVC pontoons for stability and ease of use. The system does not include a metal bar and is designed to be used with existing kayak or canoe hardware. It is suitable for kayaking, fishing, and other water activities.
10. KUNPENG outrigger
The KUNPENG outrigger system features inflatable PVC barrels for stability and ease of use. The system includes adjustable mounting straps and a quick-release feature for easy removal. It is suitable for kayaking, fishing, and other water activities.
Recommendations based on specific needs and preferences
The best kayak outriggers depend on individual needs and preferences, such as intended use, material, weight, and ease of installation. The YakGear Kayak & Canoe Outriggers are an affordable and lightweight option for recreational kayaking, while the Scotty Kayak Stabilizer System provides maximum stability for specialized activities like fishing and photography. The Taruor, Bicaquu, Lixada, and KUNPENG outrigger systems offer additional options for different needs and preferences. It is recommended to research and consult with experienced paddlers before making a purchase to ensure the right outriggers for your kayaking adventures.
Different types of kayak outriggers
Inflatable outriggers are made from durable, air-filled materials like PVC or urethane. They are lightweight, easy to transport, and can be inflated or deflated as needed. These outriggers are ideal for kayakers who prioritize portability and ease of storage. However, they may not provide the same level of stability as rigid outriggers, and they can be more susceptible to punctures.
Rigid outriggers are made from solid materials such as plastic, foam, or fiberglass. They offer excellent stability and durability, making them a popular choice among experienced kayakers and those who frequently paddle in rough waters. Rigid outriggers typically require mounting hardware or brackets to secure them to the kayak, and they can be bulkier and heavier than their inflatable counterparts.
For those who enjoy DIY projects or are on a tight budget, homemade outriggers can be a cost-effective alternative to commercially available options. Materials such as PVC pipes, pool noodles, or even empty plastic bottles can be used to create simple yet functional stabilizers. While homemade outriggers may not be as polished or reliable as store-bought models, they can still provide adequate stability for casual kayaking adventures.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayak Outriggers
Kayak size and type
The size and type of your kayak play a crucial role in determining the right outriggers. Outriggers should be compatible with your kayak’s dimensions and design to ensure optimal performance. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific outrigger models or mounting systems that work best with your kayak.
Intended use of the kayak (fishing, photography, recreation, etc.)
Consider the primary purpose of your kayak when choosing outriggers. If you mainly use your kayak for fishing or photography, you may require more stable outriggers to support standing or moving around the kayak. For recreational use or casual paddling, a simpler outrigger system may suffice.
Material and durability
Outriggers are made from various materials, including inflatable materials like PVC or urethane and rigid materials like plastic, foam, or fiberglass. Each material has its advantages and drawbacks in terms of durability, weight, and performance. Consider the conditions in which you will be paddling and choose outriggers with materials that can withstand those conditions.
Weight and buoyancy
The weight and buoyancy of outriggers directly affect their ability to stabilize your kayak. Heavier outriggers provide more stability but may slow down your kayak or make it harder to maneuver. Lighter outriggers offer less stability but are easier to handle and transport. Find a balance between weight and buoyancy that best suits your needs and preferences.
Ease of installation and adjustment
Some outrigger systems are easier to install and adjust than others. Look for outriggers with straightforward installation processes, preferably without the need for drilling or complex mounting hardware. Adjustable outriggers are also beneficial, allowing you to fine-tune their position and angle to achieve the desired level of stability.
Portability and storage
If you frequently transport your kayak or have limited storage space, consider outriggers that are easy to disassemble or deflate. Inflatable outriggers are generally more portable and easier to store than rigid models. However, if portability and storage are not significant concerns, you may opt for more robust and durable rigid outriggers.
How to Properly Install and Adjust Kayak Outriggers
Tools and materials needed
Before installing kayak outriggers, you will need several tools and materials, including:
- Mounting hardware (straps, screws, etc.)
- Paddle or screwdriver
- Measuring tape
- Water-resistant sealant (optional)
- Safety gear (gloves, goggles, etc.)
Step-by-step installation guide
- Choose the mounting location for the outriggers based on your kayak’s size and shape. Make sure to choose a location that provides maximum stability.
- Using the measuring tape, measure the distance between the mounting points on the kayak.
- Attach the mounting hardware to the kayak using the screws, straps, or other hardware provided with the outrigger kit.
- Slide the outrigger arms into the mounting brackets.
- Tighten the mounting hardware to secure the outriggers to the kayak.
- Inflate the pontoons or barrels according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Attach the pontoons or barrels to the outrigger arms.
- Adjust the outriggers’ position to achieve optimal stability and balance on the water.
Tips for adjusting outriggers for optimal performance
- Experiment with different positions and angles of the outriggers to find the optimal configuration for your kayak and paddling style.
- Adjust the outriggers’ position based on the water conditions and weather.
- Make sure the outriggers are evenly balanced and not leaning to one side or the other.
- Check the outriggers’ tightness before each use to ensure they are secure and in place.
- Consider adding water-resistant sealant around the mounting hardware to prevent leaks or damage to the kayak.
Caring for Your Kayak Outriggers
Routine maintenance tips
To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your kayak outriggers, it is essential to perform regular maintenance. Here are some maintenance tips to keep in mind:
- Rinse the outriggers with fresh water after each use to remove salt, sand, and other debris that can cause corrosion or damage.
- Check the mounting hardware and straps for wear and tear, and replace them as necessary.
- Inspect the pontoons or barrels for punctures or leaks and patch them promptly.
- Apply a protective coating of wax or sealant to the outriggers to prevent UV damage and fading.
Proper storage techniques
Proper storage of your kayak outriggers is critical to prevent damage and prolong their lifespan. Here are some storage tips to follow:
- Store the outriggers in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight.
- Keep the outriggers elevated off the ground to prevent deformation or warping.
- Cover the outriggers with a protective cover or tarp to prevent dust and debris buildup.
Troubleshooting common issues
Even with proper maintenance and storage, kayak outriggers may experience some issues over time. Here are some common issues and troubleshooting tips:
- Leaking pontoons: Check for punctures or tears in the pontoons and patch them promptly. If the leaks persist, consider replacing the pontoons.
- Loose mounting hardware: Tighten the mounting hardware and check for wear and tear. Replace any damaged hardware.
- Uneven balance: Adjust the outriggers’ position to achieve a balanced and stable ride on the water.
By following these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure your kayak outriggers provide reliable stability and safety for many paddling adventures to come.
Choosing the right kayak outriggers is crucial for a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience. Outriggers provide stability and balance, making it easier to navigate rough waters, fish, take photos, and explore new places. By understanding the different types of outriggers available, factors to consider when choosing them, and how to install and care for them, you can make an informed decision and ensure your kayaking adventures are safe and fun.
Investing in quality kayak outriggers is a wise decision for any paddler. While budget outriggers may seem like an attractive option, they may not offer the stability and durability needed for longer-term use. High-quality outriggers from reputable brands can provide reliable stability, durability, and ease of use for different types of kayaking activities. By choosing quality outriggers and taking care of them, you can enhance your kayaking experience and ensure a safer, more enjoyable time on the water.