We love kayaking. It’s fun, adventurous and exhilarating. The scenery alone is enough to entice any outdoor enthusiast, let alone the amazing workout and nurturing community.
Just when you didn’t think kayaking could get any better, along came kayak sails!
Kayak sails are quickly becoming popular with paddlers.
Recreational day cruisers, sea tourers and kayak fisherman alike love the ease and convenience of moving a kayak without the use of a paddle.
Just like there are many types of kayaks, there are many types of kayak sails.
Deciding which one is right for you and your kayak takes some serious consideration.
Below is a comprehensive guide to our favorite kayak sails and why they are so awesome.
It’s time to break down the best kayak sails and why we here at Fin Bin love them.
We have highlighted sails for every kind of kayak and every level of experience.
From beginner sails to advanced tackers, get ready for some serious sail talk.
The Top 7
Summary: The New Wind Paddle has increased from a 45” diameter to a 47”, allowing the sail to catch more wind. This sail tolerates the widest range of wind directions and has a stiffer batten for increased control, so it’s not hard to see why this sail is our top choice. The New Wind Paddle 47” is the best circular sail for handling a wide range of wind conditions, providing the kayaker with more stability and sailing comfort. The sail is very user friendly, self-deploying in a matter of seconds. Storage is no problem either. Simply fold the sail in on itself and store in its carrying case.
This sail’s design is efficient for a circular sail. The flatter profile makes for more stability while sailing, which means less sail adjustment and a higher capacity for changing air conditions and unexpected gusts. This sail is highly encouraged for long sea tours, as it can withstand higher wind speeds than most other circular sails. Because of the efficient design, user friendliness and versatility, this sail ranks as our number one.
#2 Advanced Elements Rapid-Up Sail
Summary: If you are looking for a circular sail that is convenient to install, look no further. The Advanced Elements Rapid-Up Sail will easily attached to your kayak hardware in a matter of minutes, detaching just as easily. Adjustable, quick connecting lanyards and an included carabiner makes this sail one of the most universal fitting kayak sails out there. Because there are attachment hooks along the entire circumference of the sail, it can be conformed to any kayak shape. The internal spring frame allows the sail to pop open quickly and on its own.
The Advanced Elements Rapid-Up Sail has not only a viewing window in the front of the sail, but also side windows on the left and right. With so much visibility, sailing your kayak will be a breeze. (No pun intended.)
#3 Sea Eagle Quick Sail
Summary: With a unique V-shape design, this sail will catch optimal wind without obstructing your view. The Sea Eagle Quick Sail has an impressive 14 square feet sail area while only weighing two pounds. The bottom of the sail fits to any kayak deck easily and a convenient sail line attaches to hardware anywhere on the kayak. The Sea Eagle Quick sail deploys in less than a minute.
One aspect that puts this sail near the top of our list is that it doesn’t need any adjusting. The V-shape design allows the kayaker to sail in a wide range of wind conditions, while simply using the paddle as a rudder to steer. Its unique design allows for full range of visibility on the left and right of the paddler, and the viewing window on the front of the sail allows front visibility as well. If you are looking for a sale with total 360 degree visibility, the Sea Eagle Quick Sale is it. This sail is great for long excursions because it cuts paddle time in half. Paddle as far as you want, and then simply sail downwind back to your starting point.
#4 Wind Paddle Scout Sail
Summary: The little sister to the Wind Paddle 47”, this sail includes all the same design benefits but is smaller and much more beginner friendly. This is a good sail if you are learning to sail or just want a more mellow experience. Though it doesn’t catch as much wind as it’s 47” counterpart, it still has all the aspects to create a pleasurable sailing experience.
The softer batten will allow a novice paddler to have more control over deployment and take down, and the wide viewing window will give the paddler maximum maneuverability. This sail is made for slightly smaller boats, 8-14ft long, which means it is great for children or more petite paddlers. The Wind Paddle Scout Sail is our top choice for beginner and recreational kayakers. It is smaller, easier to manage and folds easily and compactly for easy storage.
#5 Hobie Sail Kit
Summary: Nothing mimics the exhilarating experience of sailing a sailboat quite like the Hobie Sail Kit. It is made with the same durable sail cloth as sailboat sails, and cruises through the wind like a traditional sail as well. This freestanding sail is controlled with a hand line and feet pedals for steering. It can withstand the widest range of wind conditions. Because it can tack like a traditional sail, the paddler can travel in many directions through the wind.
Storage won’t be a problem with the Hobie Sail Kit. Hobie sailing kayaks are designed with storage for the sail right on the deck. The sail can be raised or lowered in a matter of seconds and fits perfectly into the hardware of Hobie sailing kayaks.
This sail is made for the advanced kayaker who has sailing experience and technique. The Hobie Sail Kit can travel at top speeds with an impressive 20 square feet sail area. A large sail requires more control, so be cautious when using a Hobie sail. Not for the faint of heart, this sail will present the paddler with a great challenge in perfecting their sailing technique.
#6 Aunazz Downwind Accessories 46”
Summary: The Aunazz Downwind Accessories 46” sail makes our list due to its extreme durability. Not only is it made of ripstop nylon sail cloth, but it also has triple stitched seams. That’s right, triple. You won’t be mending this sail anytime soon, if at all over the course of its lifetime. The batten is made with virtually unbreakable composite fiber material that is also very lightweight.
Just like the other sails on our list, this circular sail deploys and retracts in seconds. It springs open on its own with ease, making it a good candidate if you are thinking about paddling in more fickle wind conditions. The “take-down” string allows the sail to fold up easily into storage size. The Aunazz Downwind Accessories is a must have for convenience and durability.
#7 Mexidi Foldable Downwind 42”
Summary: A little wind will go a long way with this sail. The polyester taffeta sailcloth is air tight and will catch optimum wind. Triple stitched seams and composite fiber batten will make the Mexidi Foldable Downwind 42” a good investment if you are looking for a long lasting product. This is a good sail if you are learning to sail or just want a mellow recreational sailing experience.
As with other universal circular sails, The Mexidi attaches to any kayak with hardware or deck lines quite easily. It self deploys and also have a convenient take down string when you no longer need to sail. If getting into more advanced sailing is in your future, this sail is a good place to get some practice before moving on to more technical sails.
Benefits Of Having a Kayak Sail
It’s no secret why kayak sail are rad. They take the work out of paddling! But beyond giving your arms a break, sailing on a kayak is a whole different experience that can add a new dimension to being on the water. There’s nothing like cruising in the wind, speeding along the open water. It’s truly exhilarating and if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. Sailing in a kayak is a great way to cover more ground (well water, actually,) and will allow you to explore and see a lot more.
The main benefits to most kayaks sails is that they are universal and you can use them for multiple kayaks. It’s a good investment, because you don’t have to get them specific to a certain model of kayak. Some kayak sails, like the Hobie Sail Kit are kayak specific, but even that can be worth it if you love a certain kind of kayak and are willing to commit to it. Not only are kayak sails wonderfully easy to set up and take down, but they are also easy to store.
Kayak sailing is actually a great introduction into traditional sailing. There isn’t a lot of sail maneuvering on a kayak, but you will get a good idea of how wind behaves, and its effect on boats. Learning about wind direction, conditions and speed on a kayak will better prepare you for sailing on a larger boat.
Fishing on a kayak is easier with a sail as well. Paddling can be noisy and splashy, which can scare fish away. With a sail, you can be more stealth as you silently glide across the water to your desired casting location. Don’t worry about the sail competing for deck space with your fishing gear. Most kayak sails fold up into super compact sizes for easy stowing.
Kayak sails are easy to use, easy to store and durable. A great investment for any kayak enthusiast. You can use a kayak sails on any kayak and for any kayaking activity. The possibilities are endless. Whether you are learning to sail, fishing, or just want a new experience, kayak sailing is a must on any paddler’s to do list.
Things To Consider When Buying a Kayak Sail
Just like different kayaks paddle differently, different sails sail differently. It’s important to invest in a sail that matches the type of activity you want to do and your skill level. For example, you don’t want to purchase a sail that is too big for what you can handle, or too slow for the speed you want. Let’s break down the various elements of kayak sails so you can better decide what you want.
The “downwind spinnaker” design is a wide bellied, v-shape. It is wedged upward at the bow and is attached to the kayak with a line. This sail is good for getting use to maneuvering in wind, because you can use your paddle as a rudder to steer. The “circle” sail is most common and easiest to use. It is bow or center mounted and has a half-sphere shape to catch wind. The viewing window allows you to see where you are going while you sail. Because it doesn't need adjusting, it is a good sail for beginners. The only downside is that is catches a very limited direction of wind. If you aren’t facing almost perfectly downwind, it won’t take you very far.
Last but not least, the “L-shape” sail is a more traditional sail that requires some sailing knowledge. It is the largest design, meaning it will catch the most wind and be the hardest to control. It is free standing, and because you can tack a freestanding sail, you aren’t limited to downwind direction only.
Some sails are plastic made, which makes them lightweight and hard-wearing. Because plastic is susceptible to salt erosion, it is important to clean a plastic sail after every use with fresh, clean water. Plastic can also be used in a free-standing or v-shape sail masts, but is less durable than a carbon fiber or aluminum mast.
Laminated cloth is heavier and very durable for high winds. It is a traditional fabric used in freestanding sails due to its ability to handle more wind. It has the highest tensile strength, but it is also the heaviest, something to think about for storage and set-up.
- Experience Level
The faster you sail, the more advanced your technique must be. Sails that catch more wind require a lot more control and will not be a good idea for a beginner. If you are starting out, go with a smaller, lighter sail that will give you time to work on your skills. If you are more advanced, you will go faster with a larger sail that catches more wind.
Before you invest in a sail though, do your research with us at Fin Bin and other sources. Even try a friend’s out first. Make sure you know what kind of sailing you want to do and what kind of sail you want to invest in.
Top 5 Kayak Sailing Tips
There are a lot technique tutorials out there for how to sail a kayak, but here are our top five tips to get you started:
#1 Start slow: As I mentioned before, a little wind goes a long way. Don’t buy a sail that catches more wind than you can handle.
#2 Learn about the wind before you sail: If you learn about wind behaviour and trends, you will be better prepared on the water when you actually start sailing.
#3 Take a lesson: I can never stress this enough. Water environments are very unpredictable and can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. I always recommend taking a few lessons when getting into any water sport.
#4 Don’t forget sun protection!: Always come prepared with sunscreen and any other UV protective clothing you can. Your skin will thank you later.
#5 Stay safe: Like they say, better to be safe than sorry. When on the water, ditch your urge to be fashionable and don that life jacket. Get familiar with water rescue and what to do in case of an emergency. Even the calmest day on the water can still be unpredictable, so it’s always good to be prepared with the right safety gear and knowledge.
- How Do You Fold a Kayak Sail
Folding a kayak sail is fairly simple. L-shape or freestanding sails can wrap around the the mast and can be rolled up. You can also detach the sail from the mast and fold it up. V-shape sails are a little smaller, so people typically just wrap the sail around the two masts that create the v-shape.
Circular sails are the easiest to fold. Simply fold the sail in on itself for a more storable circle with a smaller diameter.
- How Do You Install a Sail To Your Kayak?
Unless you are using a kayak specific sail, like the Hobie Sail Kit, kayak sails easily attach to the decks and rails of kayaks. Many sails come with hooks, loops and carabiners that are made to be attached to lines and eye loops that already exist on your boat. They can be adjusted to any size kayak. The v-shape sails typically are wedged in place on the deck. Below are some videos that will give you a better idea on how to set-up a sail.
Final Thoughts - Which Should You Get?
If you are anything like me, you probably skip ahead to the end of articles to get the jist. Well, if you have skipped ahead, let me sum up how to choose a kayak sail for you.
The New Wind Paddle 47” is your best bet for a good all around sail. It’s design makes for comfortable sailing, but will still presenting a challenge as it catches more wind with a slightly larger sail area. This sail can travel in more directions downwind than most other circular sails, but is still easily collapsible if the paddler gets overwhelmed.
If you are looking for a truly beginner friendly sail, try a smaller circular sail. They typically can only go straight downwind, but they sail slower to give the novice time to get used to sailing and progress on technique. Once you have mastered a smaller circular sail, try bumping up to a larger v-shaped sail or a circular sail with a larger diameter.
For the advanced kayak sailer, try a more traditional freestanding sail, like the Hobie Sail Kit. You can travel in multiple directions other than just downwind, so you will get a chance to perfect your navigation skills. You also will catch the most speed, as L-shaped/ freestanding sails typically have the largest sail area.
Take another look at our list for top sails to get a good idea of what you are looking for. Get a sail that is right for your skill level and the type of sailing you are interested in. Above all, have fun! Kayak sailing is a great activity that will enhance your paddling experience no matter what your skill level is. So stay safe, have fun, and get sailing!
For a look at some of our other favorite kayak accessories and top kayaks, make sure to check out our top kayak main page!