Surf skis have a reputation for being all about racing and downwinding but there are stable touring surf skis with storage hatches which are ideal for day trips, overnights and performance paddling.
I turned to surf skis as an alternative to sea kayaking.
After a near drowning stuck upside down in a closed deck skirted surf kayak 18yrs ago, I began to look for smarter sit-down and open cockpit kayak options.
There are a few stable surf skis like the Carbonology Cruze, Epic V6 and Stellar Sit on Tops (also surf ski’s) with storage hatches for day trips and overnights. But each are still 2x faster than sea kayaks and are great for downwinding and surfing.
Advantage of a Surf Ski over a Sea Kayak for Trips?
- Skis have super light weight options making it easier to carry by yourself thus also go faster with less weight to glide. The Cruze here is 28lbs with 2 hatches.
- Open deck means you don’t have to have specialized skills for wet exits and re-entries.
- Like a SUP, you can throw your legs over the side, sit in the cockpit sideways and pop out anytime.
- 2x as fast as sea kayaks! Better for up-winding and surfs straighter.
Tip: Super light skis are not tough like a heavy sea kayak. Strengthen with a keel strip under the hull.
What to Look for for Touring Surf Skis?
- Not all skis are tippy. Look for 21-22″ wide, same width as many sea kayaks. Stable means you’ll also have more fun surfing and downwinding.
- 1-2 storage hatches that can carry overnight gear.
- There are plastic cheaper skis but they’re heavier often as much as 50-60 pounds. Can you carry this solo and car-top it?
- Fit – Try the cockpit, is it comfortable? If you’re tall like me, do you fit? Can u use leg drive or just squeeze in? Cockpits can be customized to your butt fit, so the stock feel isn’t the only way.
- Try before you buy.
Check out the features in the Carbonology Cruze in this video (note: forgot to mention the scuppers)..
Big Folks in Surf Skis
Tall folks like me have less skis to choose from if you want to do the leg drive common in surf ski paddling. Stellar’s ‘Sit on Tops’ which are stable surf ski’s with hatches do fit tall folks. Check them out..
I’m 6′-5″ and have a 32″ inseam and fit well in the Carbonology Cruze. It can go to 33″. The cockpit seat or ‘bucket’ fits fine.
I didn’t fit in the Epic V6 both with length and width.
Gear for Surf Skis
Paddles – You can use a kayak paddle with a ski. You’re not required to use a wing paddle. Even a canoe paddle works!
Leash – I attach a coiled 8-11′ SUP leash to my waist straps on my PFD then to the stern bungees or tie-downs. I like to stay attached when in the water and launching. Also to my waist means it’s easier to detach if in a pickle.
Life Jacket – Low-profile thin PFDs are best so you climb back on easier. Mocke, Vaikobi and NRS each have options.
Hi-Vis Colors – For any paddling. It’s nice be seen.
NOTE: Do I work for Carbonology of Sitontopros? Nope, just really stoked to have this option of kayak/ski in the PNW. I think Stellar, Epic and Carbonology have equally great skis.
Check out my surf ski and SUP classes in the Pacific Northwest – www.salmonbaypaddle.com