Best Sails for Kayaking – Buyer’s Guide of 2020

Kayaking is undoubtedly an underrated water sport. It is an amazingly exciting activity which can guarantee you heaps of fun and thrill. It is only a matter of time or a random trip for you to be introduced to this sport and be blown away. Until that happens, you can certainly start reading and researching on kayak sail and see if it excites you.

The real deal is when you get out of your comfort zone (by using a standardized sailboat rig) and move a step up and purchase a kayak sail kit and install it on your kayak. As with any new experience, you will be slightly tentative and slightly edgy. But in no time, you will see that the basics are fairly easy to grasp and you have added a new skill to your water sporting activity. The more you sail, the better it gets. And the more you want it! As the wind blows, the maneuvering becomes more controllable and more fun. That is where the adrenaline kicks in and you get a real high. That is the beauty of kayak sailing. That is what makes this sport so popular amongst the masses all over the world. Try checking on this fact with your friends and acquaintances in Australia and New Zealand, as kayak sails and this sport is a massive hit in these places.

For a kayak sail kit to work at its optimum, the wind conditions need to be perfect, not too strong or not too low. It is in these conditions that you can optimize your kayaking speed and get a lot of thrill and excitement.

Moreover, you can always enjoy the paddling of a kayak along with a sail, when not in use. This is like having your cake and eating it or to have the best of both worlds! A good quality kayak sail kit gives you the flexibility to ‘change gears’ and switch from simple kayak paddling to the full-on sailing experience. It is these aspects of kayak sailing that people find innovative and practical, at the same time ensuring you get to have a great time out there with friends and family or all by yourself.

Most of the standard sailing kits take very little time to set up (as less as 30 seconds) and then it is good to be raised when in water. It is equally easy and efficient to bring it down as well.

Kayaking equipment is renowned to be reasonably priced so it fits and caters to people from all walks of life who are interested in this sport.

You need to ensure that you understand the different kinds of products available out there in the market, all serving specific purposes and are meant to cater to different users. Not all sail kits work on all kayaks. So always ensure that you are buying the right piece of equipment for the right kayak.

Recommended Dry Bags for Kayaking

Top 5 Kayak Sails

We have tried to cut down your research work and put together some of the finest sails for a kayak that is available in the market, for your review and consideration. Please review the specific description of each carefully and then ascertain which one best suits your needs and budget.

VGEBY1 Wind Sail

vgeby1 wind kayak sail

The packaging contains 1x wind sail and 1 storage bag. This product has a deployed diameter of 42 inches/108 cm. It has a coiled/folded diameter of 45cm. The packaging weight of this sail is around 800 grams.

This sail has an adjustable strap designed to give you great flexibility and suitability for your boat. That’s one thing you certainly don’t need to worry about as the size is usually a concern with a lot of kayakers.

This wind sail is made with premium PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material, which guarantees high quality of the sail with great durability, which doesn’t absorb water.

The wind paddle is super user friendly and its clips can make the boat’s running very efficient. You just need to lay the clip to stop it and is very easy to operate. It is recommended for all types of kayaks, canoes, boats (inflatable) et al.

The product has a satisfaction guaranteed policy. In case of any complaints or queries, you can contact the manufacturer by email to instantly address any problems or concerns that you may have.

This wind sail is reasonably priced at $46.99; however it is only available in orange color, so you aren’t exactly spoilt for choices when it comes to your favorite color.

Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail

advanced elements rapid up sail

This sail for a kayak is compact, easy to carry and set up. The Advanced Elements Rapid Up kayak sail kit allows you to play with the wind and guarantees you a safe sail for downwind sailing. Its key features include self-launching, self-standing, and stows either on-deck or below. It can be launched quickly and taken down at the same time once in the water. This is possible due to its lightweight and efficiency in sailing for your kayaks. The sail can be easily used on lots of different boats, adding to its versatility in different wind conditions and making it one of the most sought after products in the market. This Rapid Up Sail is bound to provide you with an enjoyable and thrilling sail kayaking experience.

It can be rapidly deployed and quickly stows flat on your kayak’s deck. The design of this kayak is specially designed to conform to different kayak decks and has been built from a non-corroding ‘spring’ frame which enables it to ‘spring’ open.

This sail is manufactured with high quality and durable rip-stop sail cloth and has adjustable attachments. It also comes with quick connecting lanyards, d-rings and carabiner which allows for easy attachment to multiple deck specifications. These features come in pretty handy when you are kayaking and are met with a strong tailwind. All you need to do is to quickly flip the RapidUp Sail which will give you the extra throttle to keep you pushing on.

This product comes with a storage bag, instruction manual, 2 quick connect stabilization lanyards, 1 quick connect dousing lanyard and 1 carabiner base clip.

Advanced Elements proudly present this product to complement and enhance the water sports experience of its users. This sail is priced at $74.95 and is only available in orange color.

Mexidi 42 inches Foldable Kayak Downwind Kit

mexidi foldable kayak sail

These foldable downwind kits are manufactured from eco-friendly and high strength PVC material. The seams are triple-stitched and perimeter batten is made up of unbreakable composite material. This is what we call durability and strength. These features also allow for the sail to maintain its shape in high winds, unlike other products in the market that can turn your kayak or canoe into heavy sailing equipment; not an experience you want to have when the winds are high and you are in the middle of the sea!

In addition to being portable (as these are foldable), they are lightweight too and can be easily transported around. The kit is easy to set up and deploy. It is ideal for a variety of kayaks, canoes, inflatable, tandems and expedition boats. It can withstand wind conditions of up to 13 knots. This sail kit has a transparent and wide view, allowing the kayakers or users with a clear view behind the wind sail. This also adds to the extra safety of the user during sailing.

The metal carabiner connection between the strap and boat allows for easy handling of your kayak and firmly fixing you to your kayak, providing more control and composure. The unfold size dimensions are 42 inches (108 x 108cm) and fold size dimensions are 15.8 inches.

It comes in a variety of colors such as blue, green, orange and red. You are bound to pick a color of your choice, unlike other products in the market which only manufacture them in 1 standard color.

Dyna-Living 42″ Durable Downwind Wind Sail

dyna wind sail

This durable downwind wind sail is made out of premium quality and eco-friendly polyester taffeta. This fabric is strong and durable and its triple-stitched seams make it very sturdy. The perimeter batten is manufactured from unbreakable composite material.

It has a compact design, is easy to use and set up and can be deployed with ease. All you need to do is hold the clips to move the kayak forward and simply lay it down to bring it to a stop. The power of wind is the power of your wind sail and paddlers get a lot of comfort during long trips. Its clear windows provide clear visibility and without any annoying blockages in your view.

The sail size is huge, i.e. 108 cm in diameter. This helps in protecting the user from UV rays and hence the hot sun during those long summer sporty days. The handling is super easy with a control strap that connects to your kayak. It also allows for firm handling during sailing due to its metal carabiners between strap and boat.

This wind sail kayak is lightweight and portable, as it can be folded into a 15.35 inches pouch and hence can be easily carried around or stored conveniently when not in use.

Its fitment specifications are: Fits for a solo boat to Touring kayak, SOT 8 – 15 feet. It is also suitable for kayaks, canoes, inflatable, tandems and expedition boats with suitable size.

Some of its key features include Polyester taffeta material with a product size of (approx.) 108 x 108cm /42.5 x 42.5″. The coiled/ folded diameter is 15.35″ (39 cm), and the target boat is Touring Kayak, SOT 8 to 15 feet. The target wind range is from 4 to 13 knots and best used in 4 – 15 knots of wind. (2-4 BFT) (1 cm = 0.39 Inches). The sail area is 9.62 sq. ft. (0.8937 sq. m2).

The Dyna-Living Downwind wind sail is designed for a novice to intermediate level of target paddler. It is available in Orange, Blue, and Red colors.

Dilwe Foldable Kayak Sail

dilwe foldable kayak sail

This foldable kayak sail is manufactured with durable and high-quality material which gives it a strong and sturdy feel. The wind paddleboard has a compact design, is easy to set up and can be deployed easily too. The clear window of the sail allows for great visibility behind the sail.

The kayak also helps with UV rays protection and long exposures to the sun when out in the middle of the sea. It is a user-friendly product that can be used by simply holding the clips so kayak can move into action and you can stop it by simply laying it down.

This kayak is also compatible with kayaks, canoes, inflatable boats, etc. Some of its key specifications include an approximate size of 108 x 108cm / 42.52″ x 42.52″ and a package weight of 415g approximately. The material used is PVC and the Dilwe Foldable Kayak Sail is available in Blue, Red, Green colors. The kayak sail comes with a storage bag.

Types of Kayak Sails

A good kayak sail gives you a helping hand when you are tired paddling on your own or perhaps when you need that extra effort to keep your kayak pushing, given the wind conditions. This lets you soak in the weather and the scenery without worrying or focusing too much on maneuvering or stabilizing the kayak.

Kayak sails can take all different types of shapes, sizes, and styles. Each is ideal for a particular wind condition or kayak hull. The very first consideration when purchasing a kayak sail is to review and consider its design. Also important is to assess the behavior of the sail in wind conditions once out in the water. Please see below some of the common kayak sail types and the varying wind conditions in which these can be best utilized.

Circle Shaped Sails

Circle-shaped sails are the standardized and most common ones that you can find. These are also easy to use and one of the best options for amateur kayakers. These sails get mounted at your kayak’s center or bow. These sails are not very flexible and can only be used downwind. Given their shape, they can collapse and can be set up like a pop-up tent. This makes them easier to store and easy to use within the area of a kayak.

V-Shaped Sails

V-shaped sails (also called the downwind spinnaker) are wide-bellied or almost look like the shape of a bell, once they are filled with air. They are often attached to the bow of your kayak. Its shape allows it to launch the kayaks at very high speeds when downwind. However, when the kayak is facing the wind, this functionality of v-shapes makes them least productive.

L Shaped Sails

L-shaped (or free-standing sails) are most technical in use, out of the other options available in the market. They are as close as you can get to the functioning of a real sail on a sailing boat. These are hoisted on a mast that is centrally fitted. They are flexible and can be used in different wind conditions. As opposed to the other two options discussed above, L-shaped sails require a basic level of sailing technique skills to utilize them fully.

How to Choose a Kayak Sail?

The two most important elements when choosing a kayak sail are (a) material; and (b) width. Let us have a closer look at these two.

Material

The majority of modern sails for a kayak (including the masts) are manufactured with durable and flexible plastics. This makes them light and sturdy. This plastic equipment will require cleaning after each use, particularly when they are exposed to salt and chemicals commonly found in seas. This is to ensure that there is no degradation or possible splitting.

Some older versions of kayak sails (including the L-shaped sails) use a laminated cloth as its base. Such cloth has more tensile strength as compared to plastic and can withstand high winds without being ruptured. However, their disadvantage is that they are heavy and thick in fabric, which makes it difficult to put them up or to conveniently store them away.

L-shaped sails and masts are usually made up of carbon fiber or lightweight aluminum, which makes them light and sturdy. In the case of circular sails, their outside edge is usually stiffened to give it a pronounced shape by supporting it with a rod called a batten, often made from plastic to make it easy for them to be folded.

Width

If you are only planning to get a single sized sail, then a very common recommendation that provides you with versatility is 1-meter width.

A lot of factors come into play though for individuals who are not in the ‘usual’ range. Some of the factors include your weight, skill level, boat width, wind conditions and the safety and related conditions in which you are sailing.

Depending on the frequency of your sailing trips, you may need more than one size. In this instance, a 1 meter and 1.3-meter sail will cover you for all scenarios that a normal kayaker would get involved in.

You also have options of ‘Falcon Sail’ which can easily be modified from 1.0 to 1.4-meter sail, depending on your usage. The more wind you expect the higher the chances that you would prefer 1.0 square meter sail over the 1.4 one. The 1.0 sail gives you more freedom for paddle strokes due to its taller aspect ratio (i.e. a taller mast and shorter boom in comparison).

Even a small sail can enable your kayak to reach hull speed provided there is not a lot of wind. Once you achieve the hull speed, you do not need higher power as that will make it difficult for the boat to be handled and in a worst-case scenario, you may completely lose control of your boat. Needless to say, this isn’t fun and not efficient either.

Advantages of a Kayak Sail

The advantages of kayak sailing are profound and we list some of these for your benefit.

  • Thrill – particularly in heavy winds once the sail is put up.
  • Relaxed pace. It allows you to go far and do more. Stopping for breaks or absorbing beautiful scenery is entirely in your own hands.
  • The pace of your travel is controllable. It can be as fast or as slow as you like.
  • It is relaxing and therapeutic with the wind pushing you along in the calm surrounding of a sea or lake.
  • It is a thorough and productive workout. This is a side benefit when you adopt this as a hobby or a recreational sport.
  • Windy conditions become an opportunity for you to head out as opposed to staying in, which is what most people would choose to do.
  • Kayak sailing (with the sail up) makes you clearly visible and hence safer in the waters.
  • Falcon sails make you stand out. You become the center of attraction and people come and take advice from you on how to adopt this sport.
  • Kayak sailing is great for trolling and allows you to move with ease from one fishing hole to the other.
  • It helps you hone and perfect your sailing skills.
  • It is a great competitive sport where you can race against other kayak sailors and see who goes faster/upwind.
  • It minimized strain on your shoulders and other joints. When sail pushes ahead, there is considerably less strain on your shoulders and other joints as you paddle forward.
  • Kayak sailing/ surfing is a fun and exciting activity and a trend that is catching up with people from all walks of life.

Kayak Sailing Tips

Weather

It is always wise to set out sailing when it is a light-air day. Always remember to check the tide tables in advance and always be wary of sharp currents in the water. If it starts raining heavily then it is perhaps best to return home.

Surroundings

Always ‘test the waters’ before you get in it. If you are uncertain about the wind or sea/lake conditions, then avoid taking the risk by all means.
Never compromise on the quality of your sail which reduces your visibility or back view when setting up.

Right Sail

It cannot be emphasized enough as to how important it is to choose the right kind of sail and then to choose the appropriate width and material as well. There are numerous products in the market which are meant to suit different kayakers intending to sail in varying conditions.

Safety

Safety first always! Before you set out to sail, always ensure that you have given the details of your movements to a friend, family member or acquaintance. Always keep your life jacket securely fastened at all times and a paddle (in good working condition) right by your side, in case the wind suddenly disappears. If possible, go in a group or with a friend so you have a company and a backup. Always keep your belongings (including your smartphone) in water-resistant bags or pouch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to Sail a Kayak?

You set up the sail by tying the strings/mount at the sides of the sail to the cleat jaws (facing down and back). The mount cleats with the jaws facing down. These two strings are also connected using a perpendicular string (almost in front of the kayaker) which will hold the two strings together if the sail goes down due to high wind. This makes it easy for you to grab hold of both the strings which keeps the sail upright, whilst you are on the move and helping you maintain your balance at all times.

How to Fold a Kayak Sail?

You twist the bottom of the sail to make a little circle and then twist again from the other end to make another circle. The result should be that these two circles overlap each other to make it one small circle. There are straps on the side to lock the sail and prevent it from opening the circle folds that you made.

Are Kayak Sails Safe?

Yes. However, you need to take extra care in fast-moving water or wind conditions. Like with any other product, never compromise on the safety features, even if that means putting in more money than you anticipated.

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with all the vital information about the sport and the kayaking sail equipment. Also, safety is a consideration that should always be first for you. This is to help you understand what is best for your needs and budget and eventually assist you in taking a well researched and informed decision.

Happy sailing!