Kayak sailing is becoming more and more popular with the kayaking community. While in the past, sailors sailed and kayakers paddled, we are now seeing more kayakers adopt the usage of a sail to take advantage of wind power. And at the same time have a blast! Here are types, tips, and our picks for the best kayak sail for you.

Types of Kayak Sails

Depending on the type of kayak you have and the type of install and control you want to do will determine the type of sail that is best for you. Below are the three types of kayak sails that are most popular with kayak sailors.

Downwind Spinnaker Type Sails

The downwind type sails use a spinnaker design to take full advantage of the wind. Popular downwind spinnaker brands are WindPaddle and Advanced Elements. Due to the design, these sails are best used in downwind so going upwind will be more difficult. On the plus side, you’ll be flying if you catch a good downwind.

  • Bowl Shaped
  • Parafoil Kite

Free-Standing Sails

These are easy to deploy and stand on their own. Kayakers are able to adjust these sails slightly, but not as much as a full rigging. Still they will give you all the fun of flying through the water on your kayak as well as the challenge of working the sail to maximize speed.

Full Sailing Rigs

If you’re truly serious about kayak sailing, you’ll want a full sail kayak rig. These rigs give the kayaker the most control in all types of wind. Kayakers will be able to trim the sails and move through the water in all directions. If it’s not just the thrill of downwind speed you’re looking for, then a full sailing rig is probably best.

Kayak Sailing Tips

Now that you’ve picked the best kayak sail for your kayak, it’s time to hit the water. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth and fun first sail.

  • Make sure your sail is installed properly. PIck a sail that is compatible with your kayak and follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. Failing to install your sail correctly can damage your kayak, your sail, and could lead to a dangerous situation for you.
  • Practice raising and lowering your sail before your go out on the water. Also practice trimming the sail, moving it in different directions. You want to be able to maneuver and stop sailing quickly if needed.
  • When you first start kayak sailing, you don’t want practice in rough waters or extremely high winds. Sailing can be tricky and you’ll want to get accustomed to the feel of using your sail.
  • Once you’re on the water, remember to always trim your sheets so that they are full of air. You don’t want your sails flapping. If your sail is flapping it means you’re not maximizing the wind’s power and that you need to adjust them.

Best Kayak Sail Options 2017

WindPaddle Scout Sail

The WindPaddle Scout sail is a great beginner sail. It’s quick to deploy and perfect for solo touring kayaks from 8 to 15 feet in length. When deployed, the WindPaddle is 42 inches in diameter.

Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail

The Rapid Up sail by Advanced Elements is a compact and extremely portable option. This is a downwind type sail which will propel you in a downwind. This compacts into an 18 inch disc. The fabric is rip-stop sail cloth. When deployed and installed there are three windows that won’t obstruct your view entirely.


Single String Parafoil Kite

A single string parafoil kite like the above is a great inexpensive and easy to deploy option. The above kite is ready to fly with the included line. It requires no assembly so you can be sailing quickly after you receive it. It can also be used off the water if you enjoy flying kites on the beach.

Hobie Mirage Sail Kit

The Hobie Mirage sail kit is specifically made for Hobie Mirage kayaks.  The kit comes with a 2 part mast, sail, lines, and storage back. If you’re a Hobie owner, this is a great option.

Sea Eagle QuikSail


The Sea Eagle QuikSail has an aluminum frame and 14 foot sail. It comes with a nylon carrying bag. It deploys in under a minute and when you’re finished using it, you can collapse it to 43 inches and stow away. This is a downwind type sail that will propel you through the water when the wind is blowing.

Harmony Upwind Sail


The Harmony Upwind Sail boasts to attach to any kayak or canoe. It includes out rigging to ensure stability when sailing or fishing. The telescoping mast extends 12 feet and holds a 40 square foot sail. The sail also has windows which ensures your view is not obstructed when catching some wind.



If you want to go the DIY route, there are some great tutorials out there. One of our favorites is Grayson Cobb’s kayak sail tutorial.


We hope you were able to find the best kayak sail for you and that you have a blast kayak sailing. It definitely adds a new element to an already great water experience.


featured image from flickr – platours_flickr – modified