Choosing the right outrigger for you.

The most frequently asked question of Expandacraft: What size outrigger do I need?

A modular boat with a two-sided outrigger

“What size outrigger do I need”? I get that question all the time. Well here is the long answer.

So, you want an outrigger on your kayak or canoe. Well, you have some options to consider before ordering the kit or components that are right for you. There are so many options it can be confusing, but here is a good guideline:

  1. To stabilize a kayak and add a small motor on one side, you could get away with the minimalist rig. A bow to bow configuration on one side with a single cross tube. It’s been done often with Hobie kayaks but it has it’s limitations.
  2. One 12’9 outrigger with two cross tubes and low risers. Now this configuration will add enough extra flotation to allow you to stand up and cast net from a platform between the kayak/canoe and give you added rigidity for use in rough water. It also gives you a solid mounting point for a motor.
  3. A bow to bow set up on each side of your kayak/canoe offers good stability in either direction for a small sail or simply an overloaded craft in need of some sea legs.
  4. A 12’9 outrigger on each side changes the game completely. With this set up, you get a huge increase in stability, buoyancy, space and utility. Deck over the wings with as much as 18 square feet on either side! That’s a 3X6 deck space on the left and right of your canoe/kayak for whatever you want to put there. Alternatively, you could keep it as light as possible and simply use it for stability for sailing.
  5. Now, for those of you who want a HUGE amount of space and carrying capacity, you need to think about a 16 foot canoe with 16’9 outriggers on each side. This is like a party barge or pontoon boat capable of seating 6 adults with a bunch of gear for an expedition. Although we show photos on our website of a 16 footer with netting on the wings, most clients are opting for the aluminum decking or building their own wood deck for this configuration. With three 8 foot deck planks on each wing, you have 48 square feet of level deck in addition to the entire canoe. We’ve even seen clients put two 4X8 sheets of plywood down and set up a tent on deck with the bow and stern of the canoe open for seating and a storage hatch in the middle. Your imagination is the only limit.

Now, lets talk cross tubes. You can build your own if you have some basic tools, however, you should ask yourself a few questions before building your own or choosing from our kits.

  1. Do you need to take the boat apart each time you use it?
  2. Do you plan on using a sail, and if so, how big of a sail?
  3. How much weight do you plan to haul?

To put it simply, more sail need more overall beam. More beam requires a heavier duty cross tube. 1.5 inch square aluminum tube does fine up to an 8 foot beam for regular service, but a 10 foot beam or heavy service boat requires 2 inch square tube.
Now, lets talk about ease of use and ease of installation. It’s simple to bolt an 8 foot cross tube onto your canoe. However, if you want to slip passed a skinny part on the river or make quick work of putting it away and not towing an 8 foot wide boat over the road, you’ll want our sliding cross tube rig. This sliding rig will allow you to bring the outriggers up against the canoe to pass that skinny path while underway and trailer it with ease. Connector kits to mount these cross tubes are also widely varied depending on the shape of your boats gunnel.

OK, so now you have a bunch of information on how to choose the kit and configuration best for your needs. Remember, Expandacraft being true to its name, can be expanded on at any time, if you buy a 12 foot kit and find you need a 16, well, you simply order a few more components and there you have it.

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