Guide to Kayak Sails

Best Kayak Sails in 2020

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How many times have you been out in the wild on a kayaking trip, and thinking how much you would like for someone else to do the hard work for a change? Or how about something that keeps the kayak moving along while you relax and take in the scenery around you?

If the answer is yes, then what you need is a good kayak sail, but don’t jump the gun, because there are different types to choose from. Adding a kayak sail not only increases the value of your investment but it also adds extra power to your vessel from a different source other than the paddles.

But is it worth it installing a sail on your kayak? Well, as you can imagine a kayak sail works the same way as any other sail, by harnessing the power of the wind thrusting you forwards, and taking some of the strain away from your arms, the perfect way to relax and enjoy your surroundings, and as a bonus, you can take longer journeys.

Kayak Sail – Comparison Table

IMAGE KAYAK SAIL DETAILS
  • Made of: Eco-friendly PVC
  • Highlight: Protection from UV Radiation
  • Price: $$$
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  • Design: 2-piece mast
  • Highlight: Offers Great Visibility
  • Price: $$
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  • Made of: Eco-friendly PVC
  • Highlight: Comes with transparent Window
  • Price: $$
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  • Made of: Rip-stop sail cloth
  • Highlight: Offers more power
  • Price: $$
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  • Made of: Polyester Taffeta
  • Highlight: Designed for Serious Kayakers
  • Price: $$
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  • Weight: 36lbs
  • Highlight: Perfect for any Kayak Under 17′
  • Price: $$
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Choosing a kayak sail kit isn’t always as easy as it seems. They come in many shapes, designs, colors, and styles. These features aren’t an aesthetical option, they actually serve different purposes, like wind conditions or kayak hull

As always, to make life a little bit easier for you, we have put together this guide to kayak sails with what we think are some of the best options available in the market today. We look into the pros and cons, and we will explain how each of them works, so you can make an informed decision.

Why should I use a sail on my Kayak?

best kayak sail for lakes

Let us kick-off this review about sails with the obvious question, “why?” and we will try to answer this by stating both the pros and cons of adding a sail to your favorite kayak, and these easily adapt to all the different types available in the market.

Advantages

Right off the bat, the main benefit of having a kayak sail is the added speed to your kayak. Sails will help you harness the power of the wind which means you will be traveling faster without consuming a lot of energy by paddling, this can be rather useful, especially if you want to travel long distances, you will tire less quickly since you won’t have to do all the hard work the whole time.

Additionally, you’ll be covering that distance much faster depending of the sail shape, which will give you plenty of time to enjoy other things, like grabbing a quick lunch, or something to drink, not only you will be gaining speed but also convenience. And finally, it adds more fun to your kayaking experience by adding an interesting feature for you to focus on instead of just paddling alone.

Other advantages of Kayaking Sails include:

  • You can rest your arms for a while and let the wind do its thing.
  • You can perform other activities like kayak fishing.
  • Adding a sail can serve you as an excellent learning process for actually sailing on bigger boats.
  • They are easy to fix and store.
  • Most sails are easy to set up, it can take you between 1 to 10 minutes to install it, depending on the type of sail.
  • Most models are maneuverable which means you can easily adapt them to your needs.
  • Some models provide protection from rain and/or shade.

Disadvantages

One of the most common downsides to using a sail is how much it can affect the stability of your vessel during strong winds, a fact that most professional kayakers agree on.

While having a big sail will help you harness more wind power it also increases the chances of your kayak tipping over if you don’t place the sail in the right position when the strong winds hit.

If you have one of those sit-inside kayaks and you are using a sail it could affect the ability to roll which means you would either have to detach the mast or get off your kayak so you can secure the sail properly.

Other disadvantages of Kayaking Sails include:

  • Some of the bigger models can obstruct the forward view ahead, while some of the smaller ones that attached to the front can also partially block your view.
  • Some manufacturers have solved this problem by adding viewing window panels.
  • Some of the higher-end models can be a little expensive for the occasional kayaker.
  • Since they have better performance can sometimes cost as much as a new kayak.
  • Anyone interested in these tops of the line sails would really need to be into the sport.
  • For the rest of us, who enjoy the occasional outing, there are some other affordable sails who work just as good.

When is the best time to use a Kayak Sail?

Moving on, we’ll answer another common question, when is the best time to use kayak sails? Now, if you are planning a weekend-long paddling trip with friends or family, you should really entertain the idea of bringing your brand-new sail along with you, especially if you will be doing open water kayaking.

Even the slightest breeze can give you the extra boost you need to rest your arms a little. If the plan is to go to the sea, bring your kayak sail, but if you are going to do kayak sailing in a narrow river instead with low hanging branches, and other similar obstacles, it may not be a good idea to use your sail.

Are There Any Tips for a Smooth Kayak Sail Experience?

Among the few questions that tend to go unanswered is if there are pointers for new enthusiasts to have a pleasant kayak sailing experience. Let’s see if we can answer that question by drawing from our own experiences in the subject, and perhaps give our article a notch.

Bear in mind that sailing in your kayak uses the same principles as if it were one of those larger sailing boats, after all, the physics is the same. Also, consider that regardless of the type of kayak sail you choose, you will have to adjust your technique.

Points of Sail

Points of sail is something any sea-faring enthusiast has heard of at least one time. They are the general guidelines everyone follows on how to sail according to the direction of the wind in relation to the position of their boats. If you are planning on doing kayak sailing then you should know them too.

  • Close Hauled: This is when you are sailing as close to the wind as possible, which means the air is coming towards the vessel at a narrow-angle.
  • Sailing upwind can’t be done.
  • Close Reach: One of the fastest ways of sailing. The wind is coming towards the boat at a greater angle.
  • Beam Reach: This is when the wind hits the craft on the side at a 90-degrees angle.
  • Running: When the wind hits your ship directly from behind, and the sails need to the position at a right angle to take full advantage.

Safety

The most important tip for practically everything in life is safety first, ask anyone who likes to do kayak sailing and they will tell you how much fun they are, but before you make your purchase, be aware of the risks.

Before heading out to your favorite kayaking location, double check the weather conditions. Whether you are paddling or using kayak sails, you don’t want to be doing it under a storm. Now, even if everything is set to be a perfect day for kayaking, make sure you wear your safety gear including a life jacket.

As mentioned before adding a sail to your kayak will have a direct impact on its stability during strong wind conditions. Make sure you feel comfortable in control of your vessel before heading out, also, remember that if you are kayaking on the open sea, high waves could also affect the stability of your craft. Lastly, a tip directly from the catalog of personal experiences, practice.

Before you start planning your next open water kayaking experience, make sure you do a couple of practice rounds on calmer waters just to make sure you got the hang of it quickly, especially deploying it and stowing it as quickly as the situation requires it. Also, make sure that you choose a kayak sail that corresponds with your skill level.

Know the area

sailing in summer

As part of putting your safety first, there is no better tip than knowing the area where you will be kayak sailing to prevent getting yourself into a dangerous situation or an incident while enjoying sailing your kayak. Also, remember you are not alone in the world, there will be other fellow sea kayakers and sailors around you, so be mindful of your surroundings to avoid any accidents.

Proper Maintenance

Another key tip to having a smooth kayak sailing experience is to keep your craft clean. There are several products you can use to clean your kayak and the sail once you are done for the day.

If you have been using a sail on the open sea and you don’t properly clean it afterward you risk the salt from deteriorating some of the materials. A properly maintain kayak not only guarantees a smoother experience, but it also prolongs its durability.

Bring supplies

If you are planning to be out for the day on your kayak, make sure you bring some essential supplies along, like food, water, and even a small first aid kit. No matter how many precautions you take before setting sail, it is always advisable you have these things with you on your kayak.

Know your equipment

It may be an obvious tip, and we might’ve mentioned before, but we like to put extra attention on this one, especially if you are a new kayaker. Adding a sail changes the entire experience, so make sure that you become sufficiently familiar with your equipment before you head to open waters.

Type of Kayak Sails

blue kayaks sail

Circle Shape Sails

Circle shape sails are exactly what the name entails. While it may resemble more of a parasail than a traditional sail it is the perfect option for beginners looking to start sailing kayak, they are easy to install, to handle, and most of them feature a viewing window allowing you to see the path ahead. They are perfect for people who want to learn the basic sailing techniques, and how sails work, before moving on to more advanced types.

V-shape Sails

Once again, a V-shape sail is exactly what the name suggests. Most of the sail is located at the top, leaving little to none obstacle near the lower end like other models do but that doesn’t manufacturers from adding clear viewing windows. Because they are located in a higher position, they can fully harness the power of the wind giving your kayak more speed, making them of the best options for sailing kayak.

L-Shape Sails

L-shape sails are what every experienced kayak sailor is looking for, and they are definitely not recommended for beginners just getting into sailing kayaks. Their style and design resemble more the look of the traditional sails you will find in a sailboat. Because they are intended for professionals, they can be very complicated to install and handle, and they normally are sailcloth.

Kayak Sail Materials

Plastic

Even though sails are often made of materials like carbon fiber, nowadays, most kayak sails are made out of different kinds of durable and flexible plastic, making them lightweight, although, the masts are often made of carbon fiber. They require constant maintenance after every use, especially if you are kayaking at sea.

Cloth

Older sails and most modern L-shape sails are still made out of laminated cloth and their masts are of carbon fiber. In terms of harnessing the power of the wind, a cloth sail work better than plastic and is less likely to break down due to pressure.

Even though one of the downsides is that sails made of cloth are much heavier and bulkier and difficult to transport and store, they are still among the most popular.

1. Hobie Mirage Kayak Sail Kit

It was designed specifically for the Mirage kayak. It has a length of 123-inches, covers an area of 20.25- It offers incredible stability and resistance in the water while you are sailing, offering a smooth experience thanks to its drive fins.

Another amazing feature is its two-piece mast which makes it easy to fold up using the furling hook when you are not using the sail. The Hobie kayak sail kit can be controlled with one hand while you can use the other to steer.

Additionally, it comes with a clear viewing window centered on the lower end of the sail, enhancing your visibility while you are kayaking. To complete the kit, the people of Hobie added a boomless freestanding sail and a rigid batten to make it somewhat easier to transport, making it one of the best kayak sail.

Pros

It can be used during upwind conditions

It works great with the Mirage pedal system

User-friendly control system

Cons

Difficult to transport and store

It can only be installed on Hobie Kayaks

2. Advanced Elements Rapid Up Kayak Sail

One of the fastest sails in our list, this Advanced Elements rapid up sail comes with a V-shape element which makes it perfect to be adapted onto any type of kayak. Its oval shape provides this sail with a V-shape when it is fully deployed.

Due to its design, it is best suited for kayaks with narrow decks, and the best part is that works well with both inflatable kayaks and hard-shell kayaks. Also, it comes with not one, but three viewing windows, one located at the center and two at each side, providing you with a full view of what lays ahead.

It is specifically designed to be used when paddling downwind, the wind speeds hits from behind and gives you all the speed you need to give your arms a little rest, making it one of the best kayak sails.

Pros

Affordable pricing

It can be attached to a wide array of kayaks

Easy to install, transport, and store

Three clear viewing windows

User-friendly controls

Cons

It can’t be used during upwind conditions

It comes with several loose pieces

3. Olilio 42 inches Downwind Wind Sail Kit

Continuing with our list of sails, the Olilio 42 inches downwind wind sail kit makes it to the list thanks to its advanced design meant to take the strain off of your arms while keeping optimal speed so you can enjoy your journey, relax, and take in the scenery around you.

Its circular shape is complemented by a heavier batten to help you navigate during high-speed winds without having to constantly readjust.

Overall, this downwind wind kit by Olilio is the perfect fit if you are looking for something you to give you an extra boost during longer journeys or to give you a time to relax while still moving forward.

While not recommended, you can attach this kit to smaller kayaks to gain increased speed, although bear in mind it could destabilize the kraft.

Pros

Larger size

Easy to use during high wind speed conditions

Longer control lines

Cons

Bulky packaging, difficult for transport and storing

Unsuitable for smaller kayaks

4. VGEBY 42inch Wind Sail

One of the smallest kits designed by VGEBY, this 42-inch Wind Sail was designed to be attached to small recreational kayaks. Its smaller area is still able to push your kraft forward, without taking up the whole storage space. On the downside, like other models made by VGEBY, this sail kit has limited maneuverability.

While this has been one of the lightest and easy to transport sail, kits designed by VGEBY it is also the one the least pulling potential and a limited capacity to harness the power of the wind. This kit is meant to be used by occasional kayakers with little experience who just want to have a bit of fun and a little help with the paddling.

Overall, the VGEBY 42-inches Wind Sail is considered more of an accessory than actual kayak sail, due to its speed restrictions. However, there is a large segment of recreational kayakers who fully enjoy using this sail.

Pros

It can be used on any type of kayak

Easy to use

Cons

Too small to be attached to bigger kayaks

5. Westwind Sail Kit with Bag

Making an entrance on our review list is the Westwind Kayak kit, and no, there is no relationship with the critically acclaimed TV series, but it is considered one of the most affordable and efficient sail kits on the market.

This sailing kit has been in the market for some time now and has made quite a name for itself. It has always been a popular option for people who look for a solid price-to-quality ratio, and an easy-to-use sail.

It operates similarly to a parachute by pulling you forwards, leaving little room for maneuverability which is why considered an “entry sail kit” meant for new kayakers. If you are searching for an easy to install kit, the Westwind is among the easiest.

Pros

Small packaging

The sail can be installed on any kayak

Easy to install and control

Cons

May work slower on heavier kayaks

6. BSD Batwing Sail Kit 32 Inches

kayak sail

Named the “Cadillac” of kayak sails, the BSD Batwing 32-inches sailing kit makes it to our list as one of the oldest products in the list. With over 25 years evolving and improving, it is the most advanced kayaking kit in the list, and it is perfect for sea kayaks.

The BSD Batwing sail kit really lives up to its reputation as the most durable and functional sail on the market today, and it is hard to find another one that can compete against it toe to toe. It can be installed on any kayak, but it was mainly designed for kraft 17-inches or under.

The BSD Batwing sail kit comes with everything you need to make the installation, reef systems, boom, cam cleats, outrigger, and the leeboard. Although there are multiple features like phone support and detailed manuals, the installation process is somewhat complicated, especially for beginners.

Pros

Built using durable and resilient materials

Easy to adjust directionals

Fastest sail kit available in the market

Cons

One of the highest price tags

Not-so-easy setup

Hopefully, now that you have reached the end of our review, you’ve learned a thing or two about kayak sailing and you will be inspired to get yourself a sail and start a new adventure.

There is no denying that adding a kayak sail to your kayak not only increases the levels of fun, but it also brings the sport to a whole new level. Having a quality sail means you won’t be exhausted from paddling, and be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds you.

The best part is that while you let the wing take control as you sail, you can sit back and relax or even start fishing. Just bear in mind that not everything is fun and games during a kayak sailing.

If you add a sail kit to your kayak you need to put your safety first, practice makes perfect, so make sure you had a lot of it before heading to the water, always check the weather conditions before sailing off, and never forget to be mindful of the things that are around.

If you have found our information useful, and you want other fellow kayakers to get involved let them know about our buying guide, so they too can choose one of the sails listed above.

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