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Best Kayak Outriggers and Stabilizers: 2022 Buying Guide

Written by: John B
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Whether you like to stand to cast with your fly rod, take to your feet to sight fish, or bow fish from a kayak, you’ll find that not every kayak is as stable as you’d like it to be.

And since buying a new kayak is not budget-friendly, you need a stability solution that won’t break the bank.

The good news is that there are outriggers and stabilizers that can significantly increase the stability of your ‘yak, allowing you to stand, cast, and fight, or to draw and shoot, with no trouble at all.

We’ve assembled a list of products that we’ve carefully researched and included a buying guide and a word or two on what you can expect from a kayak fitted with outriggers or stabilizers.

Quick glance at the best kayak outriggers and stabilizers:

Related:

Best Kayak Outriggers and Stabilizers Reviewed

Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System

Scotty Kayak Stabilizer System

Amazon 

Mounting system: articulating arms attached to rod holders

Outrigger type: inflatable

The list of outriggers and stabilizers is getting shorter and shorter, and fewer companies seem to be in the business of providing these devices to anglers.

Scotty’s #302 Kayak Stabilizer System is the best of the bunch, offering what I think is a better mounting system and greater overall quality than its competitors. That comes at a price, of course, and Scotty’s stabilizer system is the most expensive option on our list.

So what do you get for your hard-earned money?

Scotty’s outrigger kit comes with two inflatable pontoons, two 28-inch anodized aluminum mounting arms, and a set of baitcasting rod holders. Those last items may sound strange, but the idea is that the mounting bars attach to the kayak via two Scotty rod-holding mounts. You’ll need to pick a spot, drill the holes to attach the mounts, and secure them in place.

Be aware that you’ll need to supply your own screws and nuts to attach those rod holders, so a trip to your local hardware store or Lowe’s is in order.

But once the hardware is in place, you can adjust the outriggers via those rod holders, essentially customizing the position of the pontoons to provide the stability you need while staying clear of your paddle strokes.

The outriggers themselves are made from rugged high-grade PVC with properly sealed seams and excellent valves. In the real world, that means that leaking isn’t likely at all, and these stabilizers are very tough.

I wouldn’t expect that a sharp rock or stick, jagged stump or blowdown, or anything else short of a sharp knife or arrow could puncture these pontoons.

That said, inflating the bladder can be tough because of the design of the valve, which requires a tiny pin to be depressed as air is blown in.

So what’s the bottom line?

Scotty delivers tough, reliable, durable outriggers that are relatively easy to mount. Yes, you’ll need to supply your own screws and be willing to drill some holes in your ‘yak, but honestly, it’s not nearly as big a deal as it sounds.

And while the price may be a bit off-putting, this is clearly the best product currently available for stabilizing a kayak.

Pros:

  • Durable PVC material
  • Easy installation
  • Easy to adjust
  • Quality construction

Cons:

  • Expensive!

METER STAR Kayak Floats

METER STAR 2Pcs Kayak Inflatable Outrigger Stabilizer Water Kayak Floats Buoy,Produced with PVC Raw Materials, Reliable Quality

Amazon 

Mounting system: 32mm arms

Outrigger type: inflatable

Meter Star and Kunpeng are either the same company or have manufactured essentially identical stabilizers. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that only Meter Star actually sells the attachment hardware to attach these outriggers to your kayak or canoe.

Let’s talk about those outriggers first.

Made from tough PVC, they inflate via Boston valves and provide about 80 pounds of buoyancy. They’re tough enough to take impacts from sharp rocks and sticks, and I wouldn’t worry too much about a sudden emergency while fishing.

Seam quality is just OK, and some customers complain that leakage was immediate and severe. Chalk that up to quality control issues and the luck of the draw, and if I chose Meter Star’s stabilizers, I’d inflate them prior to use to test both the valves and seams for integrity.

The outriggers are attached via aluminum arms which must be purchased separately from Meter Star. It’s not entirely clear that this kit is truly universal, as the company claims, and I’m not sure that your DIY skills won’t need to be pretty advanced to make this work, spending on your specific ‘yak or canoe.

But properly fitted and adjusted, these outriggers make standing in a kayak or canoe a breeze.

Pros:

  • Hypothetically comparable with canoes as well as kayaks.
  • Works well to provide stability

Cons:

  • Attachment arms must be purchased separately.
  • Quality control can be an issue
  • Installation will be complicated

Bicaquu Portable Kayak Stabilizer

Bicaquu Portable Kayak Stabilizer, Kayak Outrigger Kit, Safe for Kayaking Fishing Beginners Canoeing(Blue)

Amazon 

Mounting system: bent arms

Outrigger type: inflatable

If the Scotty #302 is out of your price range, my recommendation is the Bicaquu portable kayak stabilizer. Easier by far to assemble than the Meter Star, it works well for the price and is a dependable choice for anglers on a tight budget.

Superficially, I can’t tell the difference between the Bicaquu and Meter Star outriggers, other than that Bicaquu offers them in multiple colors and quality control seems to be tighter. So far, I haven’t heard of any complaints about leakage from the seams or valves, and the PVC seems plenty tough to me.

I think it’ll take serious impacts and just shrug them off, but I’d keep real sharps like knives and arrow heads well clear of them.

The mountain system is intuitive, requiring that you pick your location, drill a few holes, and assemble some plastic brackets to hold the bent arm attachments. Honestly, that’s no big deal at all and no more complicated than installing the Scotty #302.

That said, I do think the Scotty is the superior product, and I’d trust their material and workmanship a bit more than Bicaquu’s. That said, Bicaquu offers their product at about $100 less than the Scotty, and that can make or break a purchase for many anglers.

Overall, I think this product is superior to the Meter Star but inferior to the Scotty.

Pros:

  • Durable PVC material
  • Easy installation
  • Quality construction

Cons:

  • Quality control and construction standards are probably not the equal of Scotty

What to Consider When Buying Kayak Outriggers or Stabilizers

Stability

The whole point of adding outriggers or stabilizers to your kayak is to improve stability, and if a product doesn’t deliver on that front, it’s worthless.

The good news is that the three products on our list all work, and when properly inflated and installed, they dramatically improve stability in ‘yaks that are otherwise tippy. 

You should have no trouble standing to cast, fish, and fight with any of these products, as long as you’ve done a good job with installation.

Ease of attachment

That brings up a critical issue that’s easy to overlook.

On one end, you have the very easy-to-install Scotty #302; on the other, you have the mysterious Meter Star that promises universal compatibility but looks to me like it requires some real DIY to get it to work properly. The Bicaquu is much closer to the Scotty, and it won’t take much to assemble correctly.

That matters a lot because if you can’t get the outriggers attached properly, their durability, quality, and performance is meaningless.

In this sense, then, the Scotty is probably the best of the bunch.

Durability

PVC can be tough material, and it can really take a beating without springing a leak. 

But that depends on the quality of its manufacture: thickness, material quality, seam sealing, and valve quality.

And here again, the Scotty #302 comes out on top. 

I have no question about punctures with sharp rocks or sticks, and this would be the product I’d choose, if I could afford it.

Placement 

Of the two performance issues that are easy to overlook, placement is the easiest to deal with.

Typically, you want to locate your outriggers rearward of the cockpit of your ‘yak and well out of the way of the rear of your paddle stroke.

That’s critical for paddling, and improper placement will be a hassle you simply don’t want to face!

Drag

But no matter the placement, expect significant drag increase with your outriggers attached. As hydrodynamic as they may look, they’ll have the effect of lead weight on your kayak’s speed and handling, and they’ll make your ‘yak more susceptible to currents and wind.

That's just a simple fact you’ll need to consider, a trade-off for the gain in stability.

Stabilizers, then, are typically better for calm water like ponds and lakes and short paddles to hot fishing spots.

Our Pick: The Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System!

There’s no question that the Scotty is the most expensive of the three products on our list, but it’s just as true that the build quality, ease of attachment, and overall quality control of this product is superior to its alternatives.

Attached via Scotty’s real-world tested rod mounts, you can depend on this system to work - and to be easy to install properly. In fact, it’s going to work with any ‘yak you’ve got, and that - in and of itself - is a great reason to choose it.

The outriggers themselves are tough PVC that will resist punctures, and you can depend on the quality control at Scotty to ensure that the valves and seams work as they should.

Overall, this is the best product on the market to improve kayak stability, and it’s the one I’d pick if I were spending my own money.

About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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