Taking your touring kayak out on a long expedition can be one of the most thrilling moments in your life. However, as any experienced kayaker will agree with, paddling can be an arduous activity when done continuously. What’s more, when you add choppy waters and wind to the equation, then things tend to get tougher. This is where the best kayak rudder systems and kits come in. They not only make kayaking more engaging and thrilling but also make every stroke count and keep you on course. Basically, a rudder is a sort of blade-like control device at the back or the stern of the boat. It’s what helps you navigate easier when you’re in windy or choppy waters away from the rough environment. Easily controllable by foot pedals, it’s also what locks the stern in one place.
However, that’s not all. Kayak rudders also ensure that the kayak tracks properly, which means that it moves straight on a body of open water such as a lake or the sea. So, is a kayaking rudder kit a necessity? Frankly, having a boat rudder in place can make your paddling job a hell lot easier and less fatiguing. Also, it’s no secret that no matter how intrepid you are, sometimes you need a little something to help propel you forward for keeping your kayak steady on choppy waters. To that end, here are the 13 best kayaks with rudder kits and systems.
How To Choose The Best Kayak with Rudders?
Kayak rudders, just like other kayaking assistance accessories such as the Best Kayak Paddle Floats, the Best Kayaking Helmets, and even the Best Kayaking GPS Watches help make the kayaking experience better. They help draw out the fatigue factor and make the activity more fun than work, safe, and secure. So, what should one consider before buying kayak rudders? Read on.
Kayak with rudder vs. skeg
Most rudder buying guides are more of a debate between rudders vs skegs, which kayakers have been debating for decades about. Basically, rudders are mounted on the stern and controlled by foot pedals when they go into the water, allowing for hands-free course correction. Skegs, as opposed to rudders, are lowered into the water from a skeg box. The more the skeg is in the water, the greater it tracks better. The only drawback – skegs don’t turn! For most situations, rudders are better than skegs. Even though they’re more prone to damage, they offer course correction which the skeg doesn’t.
Foot Control Pedal
The most important part of a rudder is the foot pedals, which are connected via strong stainless steel cables to the rudder. In order to turn your kayak right, you need to push the right foot pedal down while ensuring that the left one doesn’t have any pressure on it. Foot pedals come in three major configurations. The first is where the entire pedal slides, the second where the top half pivots while the adjustable bottom is fixed, and the third where the adjustable pedal is fixed and the entire pedal pivots. The first one tends to create a spongy effect that kayakers avoid, It’s the second and third systems that result in a steady platform even for multi-day touring.
Finally, we come to the lift line that allows paddlers to use and store the rudder while sitting in the cockpit. Usually, it’s in the form of a long looped cable knotted near your cockpit. When you want to raise your boat rudder for landing, launching or crossing shallow waters, it’s extremely helpful.
How does a kayak with rudder actually work?
As mentioned earlier, the rudder mechanism essentially involves pulling and releasing a cable for maneuvering the canoe, which is what allows it to turn on one side. Basically, when the rudder gets pulled on one side, say the right, a drag gets created on the right, slowing down the movement of the boat on the right. It’s what makes the kayak tilt on the right while maintaining the momentum on the left. In choppy waters or strong winds, this pulling and releasing mechanism helps you track straight.
Necky Vector Kayak Rudder Kit
One of the best kayaking with rudder systems is the Necky Vector Rudder Kit which’s designed for the Necky Vector line of kayaks. With a little bit of DIY work, you might even be able to make this kit work with other kayaks as well. However, if you command a Vector, then the installation and setup are as easy as it gets. All you need is two wrenches and a Philips and flat head screwdriver, and a drill if you’re trying t make it work for another ‘yak. You need to go through the said instructions carefully as you don’t want to drill any extra holes in your boat! That said, this kit comes with everything that you could possibly need to get your rudder working – the rudder itself, all cables and wires, nuts and bolts, and more. While the foot controls are basic, the performance and quality are excellent.
- Complete kit.
- Excellent performance.
- Easy setup.
- Designed only for Necky Vector kayaks.
- Lots of handiwork required to fit other kayaks.
Ocean Kayak Universal Rudder Kit
One of the best kayaking rudder system options is the Ocean Kayak Universal Rudder Kit, although it might be less universal than it lets on. This one works for the Drifters manufactured in 2013 or later, Zest 2, Tetra 10 and 12, Prowler Big Game Angler, Prowler 13, and Trident 11 and 13. So, if you’re handy and have one of these boats, then your work with this rudder kit is a breeze. That said, you’ll need everything from a hot glue gun, a rivet gun, a drill, and a jigsaw to install this thing. Like most of the rudders on this list, it comes with basic foot controls with replacement footpeg rails. Plus, it comes with all the cables and mounting hardware you’ll need to install the rudder on the canoe.
This rudder is known for its control and superior turning ability in windy conditions. Once it’s been installed, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in tracking performance.
- Full kit.
- Excellent control and turning ability.
- Requires some serious DIY work.
HOMSPORT Kayak Rudder Kit
The HOMSPORT Kayak Rudder Kit is something of a unique and one-of-a-kind rarity in the kayaking world – it’s affordable! Costing just $33, it’s an excellent option for those who’re on a budget but want to try a rudder without burning a hole in their pockets. The Homsport kit is a sure good place to begin – it comes with a rudder and its housing equipment. That said, you do need to be pretty savvy with your hands and adept at understanding institutions to make this kit work. So, you need to bring everything from cables and hardware to the foot pedals to install this one, but the best part is that you get to choose your own.
The tough and sturdy rudder is made from stainless steel and nylon. For installing, the wires run from the blade to the foot brace for controlling the rudder during paddling. These are also what secure the rudder and prevent it from self-deploying. Finally, you’ll be able to mount the rudder vertically on the stern and gain control of your boat in turbulent weather easily.
- Very affordable.
- Only includes the rudder and its housing. Everything else needs to be bought.
SmartTrack Kayak Rudder Kit
What makes the SmartTrack Kayak Rudder Kit one of the best kayaking rudder systems is that it’s one of the few rare ones that are universal! So, they can fit any boat that’s been designed to take on a rudder. The kit comes with a multitude of pin sizes as well as a universal mounting bracket. However, what you’ll really like are the elite pedal controls. So. not only are the pegs adjustable but also the rudder is actually steered by the smaller pedals mounted to the pegs. So, if you’re looking for firm pegs, then this might just be the product for you.
As is the case with most of the premium rudder kits, the performance and quality on this one are top-notch. Plus, its foot controls really do offer a vast improvement over the competition.
- Excellent foot controls.
- Complete kit.
- Great quality.
Wilderness Systems Kayak Rudder Kit
Designed for the Tarpon 135T tandem canoe, the Wilderness Systems Kayak Rudder Kit is an excellent choice for helping your boat stand tall against the nasty currents, waves, and winds. Since it’s a kit, the package comes with hardware such as tubes and cables, foot braces, and a large rudder, of course. It helps the kayak maneuver effectively in large bodies of water. The included nylon line feeds easily into the tubing, allowing you to set the rudder up easily and almost instantaneously.
Since it comes with a detailed set of instructions, all you need to install the rudder is a thorough understanding of how a rudder system works. The best part? The kit works like a charm even on the other Wilderness System kayaks such as the Radar and the ATAK 120.
- Comes with the entire kit.
- Helps the kayak maneuver easily.
- Fits well with Wilderness Systems kayaks.
- Will only fit specific kayaks.
JVSISM Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit
There’s nothing about the JVSISM Canoe Kayak Rudder Foot Control Direction Kit that you won’t like. One of the best kayaking rudder systems on this list, it could as well be just the thing you were looking for. Made with nylon, this gorgeous black rudder kit has a rudder with an approximate length of 19 inches that mounts vertically on the stern. Thanks to the pin diameter of 10 mm and the hole diameter of 7mm, the rudder can be easily installed while connecting to the foot brace with a smooth rope. Despite the foot control not being included, it works well with your kayak’s foot control itself and allows you to easily take charge of the direction that you want to sail in.
If that wasn’t enough, the rudder can also be easily secured in the raised position to prevent it from self-deploying. What’s more, you can use this system on a wide range of boats, including angling boats, marine boats, sea kayaks, and more.
- Excellent for all kinds of boats.
- Easy installation.
- Top-notch rudder system.
- Foot controls not included.
Bonafide Kayaks SS Rudder Kit
Do you own the SS series of watercraft and feel like they need an upgrade? Behold the Bonafide Kayaks SS Rudder Kit, one of the best kayaking with rudder kits. To begin with, you not only get the rudder but also everything else that comes along with it, including the SwingBlade and YakAttack components. The included Double Acting Foot Braces offer excellent tracking as well as handsfree steering capabilities. Furthermore, the SteeringReel provides additional on-the-fly adjustability for going from the high to the low seat position. Moreover, the ergonomic retractable lower handles on either side of the seat allow you to quickly stow or deploy your rudder too.
Going further, the vents above the waterline reduce wind drag, while the super-wide blade provides an extra surface area, making the rudder very responsive. Overall, the rudder offers better paddling performance, and hence efficiency.
- Compatible with SS series of Bonafide kayaks.
- Comes with SwingBlade and YakAttack features.
- Excellent performance.
- Not universal.
Feel Free Beaver Tail Kayak Rudder Kit
Designed for the Lure v2 and Moken v2 Series of canoes, the Feel Free Beaver Tail is one of the best kayaking rudder system options on this list. It allows you to drift hands-free in open waters, even in windy conditions. Besides the Moken and Lure v2, the rudder also works with Dorado, Lure 13.5 and 11.5, and the Moken 12.4 and 14 boats too. The intelligently designed rudder combines the movable rudder pedals with fixed footpegs, giving you better control of the boat along with better performance.
What’s more, the large blade is perfect for both tandem as well as sit-on-top kayaks. There’s even a rudder pin to be installed through the stern’s vertical cavity and secured with a split ring. Rounding up the features are all the necessary components you need to install the rudder and the new toe control rails.
- Works with most Lure, Moken, and Dorado kayaks.
- Great quality.
- Toe control mechanism for steering.
- Slightly expensive.
Crack of Dawn Kayak Rudder with Mounting Kit
Easily steer your kayak almost hands-free using the Crack of Dawn Kayak Rudder with Mounting Kit. One of the best kayaking with rudder options, it’s designed to fit almost all the major boat brands, making it somewhat of a universal rudder kit. The easy-to-install kit comes with all components you need for the same, including a high-quality rudder, the foot pedals, the tracking system, as well as all the assembly parts. It even comes with a mounting bracket that attaches easily to the preexisting holes in your kayak. So, you don’t need to fuss about the rudder and can enjoy a hands-free paddling experience, especially if you’re angling or fishing. Despite not coming with any instructions, this is one easy to install rudder that’s worth the money.
- Allows you to steer the kayak hands-free.
- Very easy to install.
- Compatible with most kayak brands.
- Comes with a limited warranty period.
New Black Plastic Watercraft Kayak Rudder
Yet another excellent kayaking rudder system is the well-built New Black Plastic Watercraft Kayak Rudder. The strong and robust product is designed from high-density plastic that increases its longevity and ensures you many years of exceptional performance. Moreover, the compact and collapsible design of the rudder only adds to its wow factor. However, what you’ll like is its finely machined and firm structure that allows you complete control over the course of your boat.
If that wasn’t enough, the rudder works beautifully with the foot control system. Despite the lack of an installation guide and fasteners, the rudder is easy to install and extremely lightweight too.
- Extremely well built.
- Easy to install without tools.
- Made from premium quality materials that add to its durability and strength.
- No installation guide.
- No fasteners.
MonkeyJack Watercraft Canoe Kayak Fishing Boat Rudder
There’s a lot to love about the MonkeyJack Watercraft Canoe Kayak Fishing Boat Rudder. This game-changer of a rudder helps keep your boat tracking straight or steer it in the direction you want. The easy-to-install and use rudder mounts vertically onto the stern of your canoe without the use of any tools. What’s more, you can also secure it when it’s in the raised position to prevent the rudder from deploying on its own.
But, that’s not all. The rope run from the foot brace to the rudder is smooth and offers easy control over the rudder as you paddle across the lake or the sea. Finally, what does it in is the excellent foot control and overall performance, which makes it a must-have part of your gear.
- Easy to install and use.
- Excellent performace.
- Can be secure when it’s vertical.
Bullnose Kayak Rudder Clamp
Behold the Bullnose Rudder Clamp On Rudder for 24-55 Thrust Trolling Motors, one of the best kayaking rudder systems on this list. Making for the perfect companion for your trolling motor, you’ll notice an immediate increase in the performance of your boat when you use this rudder. The clamp-on product fits most 24 to 55 lbs thrust transom electric trolling motors as well as a few select pull bow mounts as well. Designed for a hassle-free fishing experience, the item is manufactured from impact plastic thus ensuring durability. Cementing that further are the stainless steel crews.
Aside from fitting any shaft that measures 1.125 inches in diameter, this rudder also doesn’t self-deploy, so you don’t need to be worried about securing it too. Costing just $40, this is one excellent rudder that’ll hugely improve your kayaking experience.
- Excellent quality.
- Doesn’t self-deploy.
- None, really.
Festnight Adjustable Locking Kayak Foot Braces Pedals with Tail Rudder
Sitting atop the list of best kayaking rudder systems is the Festnight Adjustable Locking Kayak Foot Braces Pedals with Tail Rudder. This is one rudder that you’ll find no fault with. To begin with, it’s very easy to install and operate, and you can simply change the direction using your feet. Furthermore, the adjustable braces firmly lock them into place exactly where you want. The icing on the cake is that the steering system seamlessly connects to the rudder blade and its support system.
Going further, you’ll even love the foot control system that holds the rotating pedals and the base rod. Perfect to be used by a large variety of watercrafts, this is right up your alley if you’re an avid kayaker.
- Easy operation.