When you learned to ride a bike, did you use a set of training wheels?
At least until you got your balance, and became confident enough to take them off.
Well, that’s what kayak outriggers are – but for the water!
And they’re not just useful for beginners, or reluctant paddlers – they can be very beneficial for a fishing kayak, too – adding an extra level of stability for anglers to reel in a monster catch.
Let’s take a look at the best kayak outriggers currently on the market – so you can be sure to stay right side up.
Table of Contents
- Kayak Stabilizer and Outrigger Systems – The Short Version
- TOP 7 Best Kayak Outriggers & Stabilizers 2023
- How to Choose the Best Kayak Outriggers for Your Kayak
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Kayak Stabilizer and Outrigger Systems – The Short Version
Although we have a full review with a buyer’s guide to follow, we can appreciate not everyone has the time to read through. With that in mind, here are our top three picks for the best kayak outriggers.
Our number one is the Yakgear Kayak Canoe Outriggers (Gen2), the only downside of which seems to be that it’s always sold out.
For a premium, high-end stabilizer system, the Spring Creek Float Package is the way to go.
The Scotty Kayak Stabilizer System and the Hobie Sidekick are also honorable mentions – especially for adding to a fishing kayak.
Read on for all these stabilizers, and more!
TOP 7 Best Kayak Outriggers & Stabilizers 2023
YakGear Kayak Canoe Outriggers (Gen2)
Perfectly designed to provide a more comfortable paddling experience – no matter the type of kayaking you or your family enjoys – the YakGear Kayak Canoe Outriggers is a top-quality stabilizer system.
The set comes with two outrigger arms, Railblaza Starport HD brackets, and stainless steel mounting hardware to resist corrosion.
The adjustable arms are 30-inches long, and can be raised or lowered independently, when you need to negotiate obstacles, or bring the craft back to shore.
Optimized for a total weight of under 350 lbs, they provide more than enough buoyancy for most paddlers and their setup, and will give you real peace-of-mind out on the water.
- Reasonable price point considering the quality.
- Premium quality hardware.
- Tough and durable construction.
- Full installation instructions (and video) included.
- Sport camera mounts on the floats.
- Adjustable float height.
- Regularly sold out.
YakAttack is one of the best kayak fishing brands in the business, and it’s this kind of product that tells you why. Easily one of the top kayak outriggers on the market – when it’s actually available, that is!
Spring Creek Hydrodynamic Kayak Stabilizer
If you’re looking for premium, solid outriggers that are going to stand the test of time, get the job done, and look absolutely awesome to boot, then look no further.
Probably the safest and most secure stabilizing float package on the market, the hydrodynamic design reduces drag, and has a 27 lbs per float additional buoyancy.
The universal receiver crossbar has been made to fit all kinds of kayaks and canoes, and has telescoping, adjustable arms, and is available in different lengths to suit nearly any kayak.
The floats themselves are made from lightweight polyethylene, and all the mounting hardware is included.
- Premium-quality construction.
- Super durable and long-lasting.
- Stainless steel hardware.
- Four pound float weight.
- Choice of lengths available.
- Choice of float colors available.
- They cost the same amount as some kayaks.
For the safest kayaking experience money can buy, you’ve come to the right place. Yes, they might be eye-wateringly expensive (just check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $500 for some perspective), but quality this good doesn’t come cheap, and they should last a lifetime.
Hobie Sidekick Ama Kit
Don’t be confused by the title of this product – ama is a word in the Polynesian and Micronesian languages used to describe what we in the west call an outrigger.
But the name ‘Sidekick’ is certainly fitting this offering from Hobie. Known for manufacturing outstanding pedal fishing kayaks (follow that link for some examples), this stabilizer kit smacks of their trademark quality, and will certainly give you the backup you need on the water.
The two inflatable pontoons are up and ready with just a few breaths, and the cross arms are fully adjustable.
Easy to install and weighing less than five pounds, this is a great kayak outrigger system for when you’re on the go.
- Name to trust.
- All hardware included.
- High, medium, and low positions.
- Ergonomically bent support bar.
- Intuitive “click-twist-click” adjustment system.
- On the expensive side for an inflatable.
Hobie rarely disappoints when it comes to kayaks and kayak accessories, and the Sidekick Ama kit is no exception. And speaking of kayak accessories, follow that link for some awesome ideas to add to your setup.
Scotty 302 Kayak Stabilizer System
Another inflatable stabilizer option, these floats from accessory specialists Scotty are made from a durable PVC material, with easy-to-inflatable bladders that offer 30 lbs of additional buoyancy.
Two 28-inch anodized arms are included, and four locking side deck mounts.
And not only that, but Scotty has thrown in no less than two baitcaster spinning fishing rod holders – which makes this one of the best kayak outrigger packages around. And if you’re looking for more kayak rod holder options – follow that link.
- Lightweight and durable.
- Easy to inflate.
- Quality mounting hardware.
- Two fishing rod holders.
- High buoyancy weight.
- Very stable.
- Again, pricey for an inflatable.
Known for their quality hardware and accessory range, the Scotty 302 kayak stabilizer system does not disappoint. Up there with the best kayak stabilizers on the market.
Brocraft Kayak Outriggers System
This Brocraft kayak outrigger is a little different from the others when it comes to aesthetics, opting instead to have four yellow floats fixed to 32-inch aluminum poles.
The floats themselves are made from durable PVC to improve kayak stability, and all the stainless steel mounting hardware you need is included.
The arms can be adjusted independently of each other, raised and lowered to negotiate hazards/for storage purposes. Highly rated, they make a practical addition to most hardshell fishing and recreational kayaks.
- Under $200.
- Lightweight aluminum construction.
- Built to last.
- Stainless steel hardware.
- The height adjustment system might be a little tricky for some.
- Reports that the rivets and bolts provided aren’t that great.
Suitable for use with most kayaks and canoes, the Brocraft Outrigger system is a little more affordable than certain other versions of the same product, which makes it one of the best kayak outriggers for anyone looking to save some money.
Lixada Kayak PVC Inflatable Outrigger
I’ve included this Lixada inflatable outrigger as an option for anyone interested in creating their own kayak stabilizer systems with a spot of DIY.
Although the complete system is available, this is just the inflatable pontoons, with no arms or bar included. Easy to inflate, they’re highly portable, with a double valve system that is tight and secure.
Ideal for a fishing kayak, the kit comes with two repair patches – just in case you do happen to damage either float, and the durable but lightweight polyethylene plastic hardware as a hole diameter of 1.3-inches – so you know what you need to fix it to your kayak.
- Great price point.
- Easy to inflate.
- Durable PVC construction.
- Repair patches included.
- Choice of colors.
- No bar, arms, or other hardware.
One for the DIYers out there, this allows you to construct your own kayak stabilizer, with inflatable floats you can add to whatever setup you’ve constructed.
Or, if you simply need a replacement for the floats you already have. Whether you choose this or the complete Lixada Kayak Stabilization System, it’s a great choice for your next fishing adventure.
Angle Oar Kayak Stabilizer Floats
Last but not least is this Angle Oar stabilizer, a slightly more affordable version of the Spring Creek kayak model, above.
Sharing many similarities with its more expensive counterpart, this stabilizer is a heavy-duty kit that is designed to attach to most sit-inside kayaks and canoes.
Constructed from super-durable, rotomolded polyethylene (the same kind of material that a hardshell kayak is made out of), they provide unbeatable stability out on the water.
Each float is 47-inches long, with a hydrodynamic design that reduces drag, while the telescoping arms extend from 69 to 83-inches in length.
- Durable, weather-resistant construction.
- Anodized aluminum and stainless steel parts.
- Very solid and stable.
- Universal kayak mounting system.
- Still on the expensive side.
An outstanding float and bar stabilizer setup, you only have to check out the video on this product in the buyer’s guide to see what it’s capable of. The extra buoyancy it provides would be great for fly fishing, while the minimal surface area beneath each float reduces drag and improves performance.
How to Choose the Best Kayak Outriggers for Your Kayak
If you’re new to kayak and canoe outrigger systems, or if you’d like to brush up on what you already know, here’s a handy buyer’s guide to help you choose the right setup for you and your small boat.
What is an Outrigger?
An outrigger is a structure that is attached to a boat, and can mean different things depending on the craft in question.
For kayaking and sailing, it refers to float rigging that extends out from the gunwales (sides) and improves the boat’s stability on the water, and a kayak’s buoyancy.
Outriggers help prevent the vessel from tipping and/or capsizing, and they can be very useful when additional stability is required – such as when you’re kayak fishing, or even whitewater kayaking.
Why You Should Use a Kayak Outrigger?
The first time I got into a kayak, my heart was beating out of my chest. It was a simple, sit-inside craft, but I didn’t feel particularly comfortable, and was unsure of my own ability to balance.
I guess sometimes the best way to learn is to be thrown in at the deep end – but I’d rather have not been thrown in at all!
A good kayak outrigger would have allayed all my fears, and provided a safety net that offers stability and security to the paddler.
Think of a kayak outrigger as training wheels for the water – although they’re not just beneficial to beginners and younger paddlers.
A good kayak stabilizer can boost confidence, and give a kayaker additional peace of mind when trying to focus solely on catching fish.
And they can be ideal for any humans who are on the larger/heavier side, or anyone who feels a little unsure of themselves in a kayak.
With a higher center of gravity, taller men and women can feel a little shaky when paddling a kayak, and a set of stabilizers can be very reassuring.
Speaking of, you can check out this review of the best fishing kayaks for bigger guys and gals if you’re looking for something with extra stability.
Regardless of if you decide to use a kayak outrigger or not, this extra stability should never replace the wearing of a certified PFD. Go here to shop some of the best fishing PFDs available.
Kayak Outriggers – The Negatives
Even the best kayak outriggers are not without their downsides, so in the interests of being fair, here’s a list of their “cons.”
- Kayak outriggers and stabilizers add weight and drag. While the weight might be offset with the additional buoyancy they provide, they can still contribute to a loss of speed.
- As well as adding resistance, a kayak outrigger is going to add width. This can be a problem when putting in/coming out, as well as with portability and storage – particularly for fixed outrigger arms.
- Installation can cause a bit of a headache. Many paddlers are reluctant to drill holes in their kayak, and there’s always a chance something can go wrong and cause permanent damage.
- Incorrectly installed, a kayak outrigger can impede your paddle stroke.
- Kayak anglers already have enough gear on board, and stabilizers can add profile/clutter on deck.
- Buying kayak outriggers for inflatable kayaks is tricky. You can’t drill holes in an inflatable, so you’ll have to think outside the box for installing a stabilizer on this type of craft.
Hardshell vs Inflatable Outriggers
As much as the debate of hardshell vs inflatable kayaks rages on (follow that link for the definitive conclusion), the same can be said for hardshell vs inflatable outriggers.
And the pros and cons are more or less the same.
Inflatable stabilizer systems are highly portable and easy to store – but they’ll take a bit of time to set up, and – although they’re made with durable materials, there’s still a risk of puncture.
Air-filled inflatable floats will always add extra buoyancy to your kayak, and they also happen to be much cheaper than their hardshell counterparts.
Molded PVC floats or hardshell kayak outriggers are more durable than inflatables, and they will also last much longer. Once installed, you don’t need to keep inflating them before your fishing trip.
The trade-off is that they’re more expensive, heavier, and more difficult to transport and store – just like hardshell kayaks.
The best outriggers are fully adjustable, so you can experiment with the optimum width that the floats extend from the port and starboard sides of your kayak.
But for most kayaks, outriggers should be somewhere between 30-36-inches in length from the hull to the float.
Most stabilizers that have independent arms come with universal mounting hardware, and are fixed separately on each gunwale – so your kayak’s size or shape doesn’t really matter.
However, if you’re using a universal receiver arm that goes across the top of the deck, I highly recommend measuring or double-checking your kayak or canoe’s width to ensure it will be compatible.
Which brings us nicely onto the next point.
Installation and Compatibility
Before purchasing a kayak stabilizer system, you must first ascertain how compatible it’s going to be with the kayak you own (or the kayak you intend to purchase).
Some kayaks have pre-installed deck mounts, mounting hardware, or pre-drilled holes that can accommodate such accessories.
However, for the majority of kayaks, you should be prepared to use some basic DIY skills to install an outrigger system – and not everyone likes the thought of drilling holes in a kayak’s hull.
Watch the video below from the YakAttack product – which is a good metric for how to install other kayak outriggers.
Perhaps surprisingly, kayaking outriggers are quite expensive, and most will set you back over $200.
But it’s worth paying a little more for the comfort and security they can provide while out on the water.
And you can always save some money by checking out this article on the best budget-friendly fishing kayaks out there!
How to Make a DIY Kayak Outrigger?
While there are plenty of excellent, ready-made kayak outriggers on the market, there’s no reason why you can’t build your own at home with a bit of thought and some basic DIY know-how.
The video below is a great place to start – although bear in mind that the quality and effectiveness can be hit or miss – depending on how handy you are.
What exactly do kayak outriggers do?
Kayak and canoe outriggers help increase the stability of your craft, and help prevent or reduce the risk of the kayak tipping over.
They can instill confidence in anyone who is new to kayaking, larger/taller/younger paddlers who are a little unsure of themselves, and anglers who would simply like some extra support when reeling in a big fish.
Are outriggers necessary?
No, not at all – they aren’t required for paddlers to enjoy kayaking.
But you will definitely notice a difference in stability between using a kayak stabilizer kit and not; and that can be a very attractive and reassuring prospect for many paddlers – particularly beginners.
And speaking of beginners, this article covers the best fishing kayaks for anyone who is just starting out in this awesome sport.
Are outriggers necessary for fishing?
It depends on what kind of outrigger you’re talking about!
On a fishing vessel, an outrigger is a pole that allows the crew to have more fishing lines in the water, without the risk of entanglements.
And as more lines mean more fish, outriggers are considered necessary for this type of fishing.
For kayak fishing, they have a different connotation.
Most modern fishing kayaks are incredibly stable, like this selection of the best stand-up fishing kayaks – which are specifically designed for anglers to enjoy standing casts and reels.
As such, stabilizers are not necessary for practicing the sport, and you can still catch fish either way.
But if you’ve ever tipped or capsized a kayak, and felt that horrible heart-in-mouth moment, then you will understand how valuable these devices can be.
Had you been using a stabilizer, there’s a good chance your kayak wouldn’t have tipped, and that is an attractive prospect for anyone looking to stay safe, warm, and dry.
Not to mention preventing all your on-board gear and equipment from going in the drink and sinking to the bottom.
How long should my kayak outriggers be?
Experts and kayak professionals recommend that your kayak outriggers should be between 30 and 36 inches long.
Having adjustable outriggers is useful for playing with the optimal width of each arm, either side of your kayak. Experiment in shallow water to find out what works for you.
How do you install outriggers?
It depends on the particular product, but most kayak outriggers are installed in a similar fashion – by attaching a mounting bracket to the gunwales of your kayak, and then adding the outrigger arms.
Care must be taken to ensure the system is perpendicular to the kayak, and, if the arms are independent of one another, they are level across the width of the hull.
With most manufactured outrigger stabilizer kits, full installation instructions should be provided, but there are plenty of YouTube videos and guides out there if you need more assistance.
How stable is a kayak with outriggers?
Extremely stable – especially if you’re adding extra stability to an already stable kayak!
Check out the following footage which shows just how much effort it takes to tip a kayak with stabilizers installed. The particular product shown is the Angle Oar kit which is in our review, above.
Do outriggers slow down a kayak?
Alas, yes, outriggers can slow down a kayak. Adding anything to a kayak is going to increase drag, especially if it consists of two arms and floats extending outwards from the hull.
It’s not exactly streamlined, is it?!
Still, if you’re kayak fishing, you’re not going to be that interested in winning races. In this sport, comfort, security, and stability on the water are far more important than speed.
The best kayak outriggers can really help with balance and stability – no matter the type of paddling you’re enjoying.
I hope this article has helped bust some of the jargon, and you’re more clued-up on what a kayak stabilizer system is capable of.
Let us know in the comments which one you’ve gone for and why.
Stay safe out there, and happy kayaking!