If you are a long time paddler, then you may be well-versed with the fact that strong winds blowing can cause your boat to go off-track. As a paddler, you want to paddle straight and not fight nature’s fury. Of course, you can prepare your kayak in various ways to thwart the effects of windy days. You can pack items beneath the deck or distribute weight alongside your kayak or opt for the appropriate sizes and shapes of boats. Though, have you considered an important aspect pertaining to your kayak? Yes, the skeg.
Skegs are small-sized, triangular-shaped fins or blades that are fitted underneath the rear side of the hull. By moving the skegs up and down, you can make your canoe head straight. Though, skegs do not turn sideways. Skegs that are fully deployed cause the kayak to head downwind; and, if the skeg is lowered midway, they drive the kayaks to turn crosswind. And if the skeg is fully raised, they increase the manoeuvrability of a kayak and turn them upwind.
In many ways, kayaks are similar to rudders. Nonetheless, skegs do not pivot sideways like rudders. Also, several skegs have two settings: deployed and not deployed.
Now, skegs are used in kayaks because are handy for tracking. Tracking is referred to as maintaining your boat in a straight line while you’re paddling and not allowing your kayak to get swayed away by the winds. With the help of skegs, you can track your boat by curtailing the effects of rough waters or unruly winds; these boat accessories push along the hull while connecting to deeper or stable waters.
Some kayaks have skegs while others do not. Usually, skegs are installed in kayaks that are meant for tours or long-distance paddling expeditions. Also, they are set up in boats that require extra help when covering long distances.
Now, if you are skegless and looking to buy one, do not consider yourself out of luck. Some kayaks offer the option of installing skegs, which you can purchase separately and follow by installing in your boat.
Nevertheless, many kayakers choose not to mount skegs for they perceive that such accessories add complexity to their boats. Moreover, they believe that skegs heighten the odds of leakages and breakdowns. Even so, people are mistaken about these canoeing accessories, for they are handy for tracking the kayaks.
Best 5 Kayak Skegs
So, you have finally decided to purchase a skeg but the problem is that the market has already got flooded with innumerable kayak skegs. Finding the right skeg can get extremely difficult and time-consuming. To help you out, here we have listed the best 5 kayak skegs that you can find in the market. Check them out –
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This Kayak Skeg is made from premium quality PVC and this is what adds to its durability. Water resistance can be reduced significantly by installing this kayak skeg. Easy to install and remove, this Fin Mounting Kayak Skeg is 4 inches wide and 8 inches long. You would not need any tool to get this skeg mounted on the boat, but it is advisable to use marine glue while doing so. It holds beautifully even in the face of extreme odds. It does not come out that easily which is great. You don’t have to use bolts or straps to mount it because that would make it difficult for you to slide it out when you are done with.
- Strong, thick and durable.
- Easy to install.
- Extremely flexible.
- No instructions attached which are really frustrating.
- Installing in on a slightly curved surface can be a bit problematic as the base of this skeg is flat.
MAYMII Kayak Skeg is a heavy-duty skeg that does what it does best i.e. helping the paddlers keep the kayak steady. It can easily be installed on almost all kinds of boats given the surface is not too curvy. All you need to have is the glue to mount it on the kayak; no need to drill a hole in your boat.
- Extremely easy to installs. No tools needed.
- It is made from extremely durable PVC materials.
- Significantly reduce the resistance of water
- Glue is not included.
If you have been struggling with kayak tracking, maybe it is the right time to give this MAYMII Mini Kayak Skeg a try. As the name suggests, this mini skeg punches above its weight by offering a robust performance. Once installed and put to use, you will soon realize that you are losing as much energy as before. With MAYMII Mini Kayak Skeg, you will have to make fewer correction strokes to keep the kayak steady.
- Easy to install. Just apply glue to mount it on the kayak.
- Helps kayaker save valuable energy.
- It can be fitted with almost all types of boats.
- The size is small.
- Some people seem to struggle while installing it with glue. So, you might have to use rivets instead.
- Does not work great with curved surface.
Docooler Large Size Skeg is extremely well built to withstand rough weather. When mounted correctly, Docooler Large Size Skeg can make tracking super easy. These skegs are easy to take on and take off which is great. If you happen struggle a lot to keep the boat steady, Docooler Large Size Skeg will definitely come to your rescue. Turning the kayak should not be an issue at all even if you have installed two Docooler Large Size Skegs.
- Extremely lightweight in nature and can be moved around easily.
- Durable and extremely well built.
- Simple to attach with glue.
- Some kayakers have complained that the slot clips tend to get jammed every now and then.
- If you love to paddle in shallow water, you need to take these Docooler Large Size Skegs before entering shallow water otherwise you will end up damaging the boat.
This tracking fin is ideal for almost all types of kayaks and can be installed by applying glue. Made from high-grade PVC, this Small Kayak Skeg worth every single penny you spent on it. However, it has a downside and that it is not removable in nature.
Kayak Skeg Buying Guide
Refer to the following details to know about the important aspects when shopping for skegs for mounting on your kayak.
The majority of kayak skegs are composed of either rubber or PVC. Notwithstanding the material, they must be durable and waterproof. Besides, neither must they be extremely rigid nor too flexible.
When shopping for a kayak skeg, make sure that they are functional. Yes, they should propel the boat to go straight when paddling. In kayak skegs, you can avail two major types; rope-controlled and cable-controlled ones. In all, boat functionality has an important role in determining the use of skegs.
For example, in cases of highly maneuverable canoes for low-mileage jaunts for surf zones or rock gardens, the use of skeg is mandatory. Using skegs, you can change the course of your boat quickly and paddle in straight lines as you cover long distances.
3. Removability & Fixing
With removable skegs, you can take them off when required. For this reason, always opt for kayak fins which are easily removable. Further, they should be easy to attach. Also, ensure to apply the right glue when fastening the skeg to your boat to prevent them from falling off.
The shape of skegs is an important consideration for they affect the balancing and pivoting of skegs. As seen earlier, skeg blades do not move from side to side, though you can raise or lower them. Though, the shape of the skeg determines how well they pivot.
Different types of Skegs
Skegs are either fixed or adjustable. They are fitted under the stern (unlike rudders that are connected to the rear) and, thus, remain in contact with the waters even in rough seas.
Adjustable skegs use small-sized sliders that are positioned near the cockpit. You can control how far they fall into the waters underneath the skeg box. For a greater impact on the course of the wind, you must drop your skeg further down. However, remember, do not drop extra skeg for you then defeat their intended purposes.
Fixed skegs can be of different types. They can be permanently connected to your hull or mounted into a holder from where they are removable or dropped into specialized slots.
Pros and Cons of Skegs
Pros of Skegs
- Skegs work great in windy weather. It allows you to wield greater control over the boat in such condition but doesn’t expect it to you give you the same level of support that a kayak rudder offers.
- Since skegs are placed under the boat, there is very little chance that they will get damaged in the case of a major collision. However, in order to keep them safe, you need to raise them up when paddling in shallow water or when landing. Failure to do so might damage the skeg significantly.
- If you are more into the aesthetic of the kayak and want to make it look stunning and beautiful, you should opt for the skeg. Skegs are hidden from the public eye and that means, there is no way they will interfere with the aesthetics of the kayak.
- Skegs have fewer moving parts compared to the rudder and that means, there is very little chance that it will start acting up in the middle of the journey.
Cons of Skegs
- Contrary to what most kayakers believe, skegs are not immune to mechanical issues. Pebbles can get stuck in the skeg and can make it render ineffective.
- Skegs tend to eat up a considerable amount of storage space of the rear hatch.
- Skegs have fewer options when it comes to controlling the kayak.
In a nutshell, whether you choose to have skegs on your kayak or not is your personal preference. If you are a first-time shopper, take into account the benefits of skegs and decide whether you wish to install them or not. Conversely, long time paddlers who are tired of overexerting themselves to keep their boat straight should consider mounting skegs before heading for their next kayak ride.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.