I think it’s safe to say that every kayaking enthusiast is concerned about one thing – stability. How stable your kayak is can be the difference between enjoying a smooth kayaking expedition or ending up in the water several times. There are situations where stability is even more paramount like when fishing, reeling in your catch, using a sail, or for beginner paddlers that are scared on the water.
A kayak outrigger will come in handy in the situations above. Yes, outriggers don’t exactly contribute to the sleek look of your yak and slow you down a bit. But the incredible stability they offer means you can turn your yak into a fishing platform and the confidence of beginner paddlers can be massively boosted which will help them get over their fear of the water in due time.
There are several kayak outriggers on the market. But not all outriggers out there are of high quality and some are just downright useless. This is why I decided to make this guide, to help you list all the things you need to take into consideration when choosing an outrigger or a stabilizer for your kayak.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Kayak Outriggers
There are several benefits of using a kayak outrigger. The most obvious benefit is improved stability which significantly reduces the chances of a kayak tipping over. Beginner paddlers lacking confidence will also benefit from using an outrigger. They’ll most likely take more kayaking trips in the future if they can be assured of the stability of their vessels.
You should be concerned about the stability of your vessel if you are using a sail, using a keel, while fishing, or if you are a tall and heavy paddler. The stability of your yak will most likely be less than ideal in any of the scenarios above.
Outriggers are also very versatile and can be used for both kayaks and canoes. So if you own both a kayak and a canoe, all you need is just one outrigger.
By improving your stability, outriggers also improve your balance which is beneficial when fishing. And a balanced yak means you can stand up to fish without falling into the water.
The main disadvantage of outriggers is that they slow you down. You are essentially trading extra stability for speed. It’s the law of physics and there isn’t much anyone can do about it.
I won’t bore you by going into all the physics involved with outriggers. But you can do a quick Google search if you are really interested in the science.
Solid vs. Inflatable Outrigger Floats
Outriggers can either be solid or inflatable. Solid outrigger floats are usually made of PVC and are very robust and durable. However, there is the drawback of solid outriggers being not as easy to store as inflatables.
Inflatable outrigger floats need to be inflated before use and pack into a very small, compact, and lightweight bag when deflated. They are easier to transport and store than solid outrigger floats. However, they are not as durable as they are prone to puncture.
The exterior of inflatable outrigger floats is usually made of tough materials but punctures are still a possibility.
How to Mount an Outrigger on a Kayak?
Mounting an outrigger is generally easy but someone not familiar with kayaks may have some trouble with them.
There are some outriggers that just need to be placed on your kayak. You want to place your outrigger in a place where it won’t interfere with paddle strokes or your fishing line.
And this means you have to place your outrigger closer to your yak’s stern. Find an open space of the right size after which you’ll have to carefully measure just how much clearance you’ll end up with.
Some outriggers will require you to drill into your yak. This could be a bit of a problem for some people. I’d recommend you don’t buy this type of outrigger unless you have some experience with DIY projects.
How to Choose Your Kayak Outriggers
Below are factors you should put into consideration when choosing your kayak outriggers or stabilizers.
You have to put the material of the outrigger float and arm into consideration. The float could be solid, rigid, and durable materials like PVC or inflatables made of poly materials.
Common materials used for outrigger arms include aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic. Remember to put the water condition where you’ll be kayaking into consideration. If you’ll be paddling in saltwater, you’d have to choose a material resistant to corrosion. Aluminum and fiberglass will be your choice of materials in this case.
Size / Length
First of all, your outrigger needs to be capable of handling the size and weight of your yak with you in it. Then, there’s also the size of the outrigger to be considered.
As a rule of thumb, your yak will be slower the shorter your outrigger is. Luckily, there are many outriggers on the market with extendable arms and you always use the length that gives the outrigger its best performance.
Ease of Removal
Manufacturers understand the need for paddlers to remove their outriggers for storage after use. This is why you’d find out that most outriggers on the market are easily removable.
There you have it, the best kayak outriggers on the market. You now know about scenarios where outriggers may come in handy and you shouldn’t hesitate to get one if you find yourself in need of extra stability.