Any experienced kayak angler will readily tell you that stability is worth its weight in gold. Big waves and fast currents can make girthy yaks feel like skinny dinghys real quick. In uncertain waters kayak outriggers can level the playing field against Poseidon and offer some peace of mind comparable to bigger boats. With a little DIY know-how and the right stabilizer you’ll find landing the big one to be much easier. Below are nine of the best kayak outriggers available to help keep your feet dry and your keel wet during your next adventure.
Yak Gear Gen 2 Stabilizers
Yak Gear’s kayak outriggers are an affordable and versatile set of outriggers that offer extra buoyancy to handy paddlers. Two HDPE pontoons connect to the boat via 30″ hexagonal aluminum tubes. Rod arms connect to the boat with included Railblaza Starport bases which allow for quick angle adjustments. A simple tension knob handles vertical positioning, which provides accessible over-water fine-tuning. Everything’s held together with stainless steel hardware. And threaded brass inserts on the pontoons make for a solid and secure connection. Each pontoon also features an extra insert for adding a Railblaza MiniPort base; which is perfect for mounting a Go-Pro or rod-holder.
Installation of the Yak Gear’s Gen 2 outrigger system will require drilling into the kayak. If you’re uneasy about putting a bit to your boat you could always try using built in track mounts. However, the forces generated by these Outriggers have been known to bend t-track with ease. Installation is straight-forward with either hull access or well nuts.
Overall we’re impressed with Yak Gear’s entry in the outrigger market. Well crafted components matched with RailBlaza’s mounts provide paddlers with plenty of mounting options at an attractive price.
Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System
Rigid pontoons are great for buoyancy and durability. But they’re big accessories that seriously embiggen your packout. Inflatable pontoons provide the same stability bonuses as rigid plastic. Just a tight bear hug and they quickly deflate for compact storage.
The Scotty 302 Kayak Stabilizer System uses Scotty’s proprietary mounting base to connect 28″ aluminum rod-arms to pontoons. Scotty rod holders (v 279) act as connection points for the rods. These can be mounted on either the hull or pontoon. Altogether the 302 system adds an extra 30 lbs of buoyancy to your ride.
Scotty’s 302 Stabilizers excel in providing extra stability in a lightweight and compactible formfactor. Over-water adjustments can be difficult – two hands are usually needed. The locking mechanism is also subject to failure in high-stress environments. These kayak outriggers are great for flatwater and slow-flow rivers. But you might want something a little beefier for big water.
Expandacraft specializes in modular buoy systems that do far more than offer extra stability. These pontoons offer the capability to transform a canoe or kayak into a completely different craft. Rotomolded HDPE pontoons are 4′ long and available in bow, middle, and stern configurations which allow for hydrodynamic outriggers between 8′ and 16′ or longer. Connecting hardware such as cross-bars, runners, and risers are available to secure a solid connection to your craft and position just above the water.
These kayak and canoe outriggers are not for the faint of heart. It’ll take some serious DIY know-how to successfully and securely mount these to your yak. Resulting craft are also going to perform far differently; your ability to paddle, steer, and transport effectively could be compromised depending on your configuration. The trade-off, though, is maximum primary stability. Short of a whale breaching on your starboard side we can’t think of much that would tip a yak with a 16′ long outrigger..
Expandacrafts kayak outriggers are available as individual components or as a complete kit. These are large, serious upgrades with quality components. And prices are reasonable, especially considering these are made in America. A single 8′ outrigger kit runs around $300 without freight, while bigger build-outs can easily push you past 10 Bens.
Wingman Cooler Outriggers
Outriggers are kinda like training wheels on a bicycle. They’re functional, they work great, but some of the older kids might make fun of you for having them. Wingman Outfitters took one look at tiny inflatable pontoons and then Tony Starked the hell out of them to make one of the coolest outrigger systems out there…literally. The result is a robust and multi-purpose outrigger system that is one of the absolute best options for long range canoe camping trips.
The Wingman Cooler Outrigger utilizes two 48 quart coolers to provide added buoyancy and stability. A telescoping frame made from high-strength aluminum tubing holds each cooler across the beam of the canoe. 2500 lb ratchet straps keeps the tubing in place. This system effectively redistributes what would normally be extra ballast into extra stability. Both coolers remain fully functional while serving as outriggers and actually perform better with extra weight/cargo.
We’re big fans of the Wingman Cooler Outriggers for several reasons. Foremost is that the Wingman Outriggers are an extremely elegant solution. It redistributes essential cargo without sacrificing utility. Coolers are an essential piece of kit for longer camp trips unless you’re keen on MRE’s and Cup O Noodle for a week. Secondly, Wingman Outriggers are made out of the Commonwealth of Virgina, down in the Star City of Roanoke. It’s great to see such awesome innovation out of our home state. The complete set comes with a single 30 lb frame and two coolers for just $499.
Optional upgrades like a table conversion kit, oarlocks, and platform extenders are available for extra functionality. And they’re continually tweaking the base model to make it better. Be sure to check out the Star City’s coolest cooler system.
Hobie Sidekick Ama
In Polynesian the word “Ama” describes an outrigger pontoon; which was traditionally made from hollowed out trees. Bonus points if you really want to impress fellow paddlers: vaka/waka is the main hull, and aka are the connecting parts. A canoe with an outrigger could also be called a waka aka ama.
The Hobie Sidekick Ama borrows more than just nomenclature from Polynesian culture; it’s demonstrative of their superior skills as shipwrights. The Sidekick Ama is purpose built for Hobie kayaks. It attaches to the hull via 3/8″ well nuts directly behind the seat. Pontoons can be seated in low, mid, and high positions. And are secured with spring loaded buttons. The pontoons are made of durable plastic and are easily inflated with just a few short breaths – no pump required.
All in all the Hobie Sidekick Ama system is a great addition for paddlers running skinnier models, such as the Revolution or Oasis, in choppy water. They’ll do everything a kayak stabilizer is meant to do and will fit your Hobie without a hitch. The price is steep, but if you’re running a Hobie then you should be used to that by now 😉
Spring Creek Stabilizer System
Tippecanoe isn’t just a famous battle; it’s also what a lot of greenhorn paddlers do their first time standing. Canoes are typically prone to tipping because of their extended length, narrow width, and shallow keel. Standing steadily in a canoe takes some time to master. So outriggers are often a welcome addition.
Spring Creek’s canoe outriggers are a robust and durable option that will keep canoe lovers dry, sitting or standing. The tubular aluminum crossbar mounts to your ride via clamps to the gunwales. Cam locks enable additional width, up to 20 inches, which is great for switching from slack to fast water. Each hydrodynamic pontoon offers 27 lbs of buoyancy and weighs 5 lbs. Altogether the entire system weighs in between 17 and 20 pounds depending on the chosen size. The Spring Creek system comes in 30″, 36″, 40″ and 45″ widths.
Spring Creek engineered a high quality product with their stabilizer system. It’s not cheap. But Spring Creek is made in the USA. And their outriggers will keep you and your passengers safely positioned over the water for the duration of your canoeing career.
Boonedox Outrigger Pontoons
Most paddler’s are familiar with Boonedox’s eponymous cart. However they’ve applied their superior fabrication skills towards pontoons as well. The Boonedox pontoon outrigger embodies the companies design philosophy of simple, effective, and incredibly well built apparatuses. Hydrodynamic pontoons attached to 36″ arms attach to the hull using the same knuckle as used by the landing gear. The offset bar design needs just a quick turn of the wrist to lift pontoons off the water.
These kayak pontoons are a no-brainer for anybody already running a set of Boonedox landing gear. And for those running a different cart the kit comes with smaller profile mounting blocks. Boonedox pontoon outriggers are available for $329.
Stand N Fish
If you’re on a quest for ultimate over-water stability, then there’s really only one option; Stand N Fish. Based out of Sarasota, Florida Stand N Fish offers their “complete system” that will radically transform your kayak into a sight fishing machine. Two over-sized plastic pontoons extend laterally. Both are connected to a stand-up control tower that serves as a central command point for casting, rigging, and even anchoring.
The padded leaning post offers both your lumbars and abdominal comfy support while stretching your legs. A plastic tackle tray at waist level offers a level platform for tying flies or rigging gear. And a rod holder on each supporting strut keeps spare rods close at hand. One of our favorite features is the easily accessible stake out pole and remote anchor control; both of which permit stationary positioning from a standing position.
Perhaps most impressive of the Stand N Fish is its portability. It can be assembled in just 30 seconds. More so than any other kayak outrigger system the Stand N Fish offers the opportunity to radically change your fishing strategy through greatly enhanced stability and control. All these perks aren’t exactly cheap though. The complete system starts at $649 and optional accessories can quickly add up. Installation will require some serious modding skills. But luckily a thorough and complete set of instructions, along with accompanying video guides, make things easier. Before you pull the trigger on the Stand N Fish make sure your kayak is compatible.
Wave Armor is best known for their floating dock systems and accessories. Their modular dock system is pretty slick – sort of like Legos for building a dock. They’ve taken their skills in plastic and aluminum fabrication to produce a nifty stabilizer system that even fits sit-in style yaks.
Like other kayak outriggers Wave Armor’s solution utilizes a tubular aluminum crossbar with detachable vertical braces that connect to pontoons. Rather than clamping to the gunwale Wave Armor’s system is more permanently affixed with brackets that secure to the top deck. This approach permits adoption by virtually all craft – provided you have requisite DIY skills and inner hull access.
The Wave Armor stabilizer kit is priced competitively and made in New Jersey, USA.
Overview on Kayak Outriggers
Stability is a foundational component for success in any endeavor. Security in your standing is what enables us to push the boundaries in life. Considering water isn’t known for staying steady a pair of consummate outriggers makes a ton of sense for paddlers seeking to explore the edge. So for those seeking more solid footing in the blue we strongly consider making outriggers a part or your rig.