Best Kayak Sail – Top 9 Kayak-Friendly Kits For Catching The Wind

Paddling is fun and all – but now and then, you’ll find yourself wishing someone else would do the hard work for you while you just sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Now, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? 

Well, technically speaking, there’s a way to make the winds work to your advantage – and it involves fitting your kayak with a sail. 

If you haven’t tried kayak sailing before, trust me: 

These things can be incredibly convenient – in more ways than one. 

The only issue is, how do you pick the best kayak sail? What should you focus on when browsing the market? And how do you know it will fit your needs? 

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. This guide is about to answer your questions – and offer a few kayak sail reviews and recommendations, too! 

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In A Rush? The Winner After 40 Hours Of Research: 

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Rapid Up Kayak Sail Kit

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Rapid Up Kayak Sail Kit

Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • Constructed out of durable, Rip-Stop sailcloth with a non-corroding spring frame 
  • Deploys rapidly thanks to the spring-open design of the internal frame
  • Stows flat on the kayak’s deck when needed 
  • Features a large central window and two side panels for excellent visibility on the water 
  • Comes with two quick-connect stabilization lanyards, a carabiner base clip, and a quick-connect dousing lanyard
  • The adjustable attachments conform to a wide range of kayak decks 
  • Instruction manual and storage bag are included 
  • Folds into a compact, 18-inch disc shape for storage 
  • Weighs only half a pound 

Are Kayak Sails Any Good? Benefits Of Using A Kayak With Sail

People travel by kayak with a sail.

Adding a sail to your kayak creates a whole new experience. I don’t expect you to take my word for it, though – which is why I figured I should start by discussing the numerous benefits of doing so. 

If you ever wondered ‘how fast can a sailing kayak go’, the answer is – pretty darn fast. The boost in speed from a good kayak sail comes with an additional advantage, though – you don’t have to put in the extra effort. 

So, you get to cover longer distances faster AND give your muscles a much-needed break from paddling?

Where do I sign up,” right? 

If you’re kayak touring, for example, using a sail to make the wind work in your favor would give your arms a rest and take some of the strain off – allowing you to reach your destination without getting completely exhausted. 

You also get to travel further without dreading the whole “now I have to paddle back” part of your outing, too. Paddle as far as you’d like – then let the wind carry you back to where you started. If that doesn’t sound convenient, I don’t know what will. 

Oh, and let’s not forget about anglers: 

The sail will be the secret weapon that kicks things up a notch if you’re into kayak fishing. 

And despite what you might think, they’re easy to set up and control, too. To prove my point, here’s a quick guide on how do you fold a wind sail: 

How To Use and Fold the Kayak Sail?

Kayak Sailing Tips 

If this is your first time trying to harness wind power with a kayak, chances are you’re not going to be an overnight success. But with a little practice and the right tips, your kayak will become a wind-powered machine in no time! 

The following video should help get you started on the path to becoming a successful kayak sailor.

Small Craft Advisory - How to Sail a Kayak

How To Choose The Best Kayak Sail: Things To Consider

kayaks with sails on tropical beach

Okay, given what we’ve talked about so far, can you see why I’m so excited to help you choose a sail kit for your ‘yak? 

These things are beyond practical; you’d be silly not to use them to your advantage. That brings us to the next major question: 

How do you choose the best kayak sail? 

Types Of Kayak Sail 

There are several types of kayak sails, meaning the design is definitely something you want to consider here when you start your search. 

I’ll cover the three main designs below so that you can decide what works best for your kayak – and we’ll go from there.  

Circle-Shaped Sails

Circle-Shaped Kayak Sail

Circle-shaped sails are – well, shaped like a circle. You could probably guess that based on their name, huh? 

So, how about I tell you something you might not know about them? 

The circular shape and overall style are more similar to a parasail than a traditional sailboat sail and allow them to be set up much like a pop-up tent. That alone makes them super-easy to use and store on a smaller vessel – such as a kayak. 

The best part is that they’re generally beginner-friendly – an excellent fit for paddlers who are yet to master basic sailing techniques. Oh, and most come with a handy “window” that allows you to see through the center of your sail. 

I should warn you, though: 

They’re designed to be used in one direction only; you can only use them in downwind sailing conditions due to limited mobility. 

Tall L-Shaped Sails 

kayak sail - Tall L-Shaped Sails 

L-shaped sails – they also go under the name of “free-standing kayak sails,” by the way – are the most advanced out of the bunch. They mimic the way an actual sail, like the one you’d find on a sailing boat, works. 

So, if you want the kayak-friendly edition of the “real deal,” this could be it. 

I feel I should remind you that L-shaped sails are anything but beginner-friendly; they’re way too technical for that. 

Experienced kayakers will love them, though! 

Thanks to their highly maneuverable design, you get to control your direction of travel and take advantage of the conditions, regardless of where the wind might be coming from at the moment. 

Also, the sails in this category typically feature a centrally-fitted mast coupled with a boom – the horizontal pole that holds the base of the sail down.

V-Shaped Sails

V Shaped Kayak Sail

Okay, following the principle of the circle-shaped sails, could you guess how the V-shaped ones got their name? That’s right – the top-heavy shape resembles the letter “V,” as in, the majority of the sail’s area is at the top, with the narrower area at the lower end. 

The sails are also known as the downwind spinnaker – which, again, has a perfectly reasonable explanation: 

The wide-bellied sail allows you to pick up more speed when you’re facing downwind. 

However, as it turns out, that’s also their main disadvantage – since they’re so top-heavy, strong gusts of wind could easily tip your kayak over. Plus, facing into the wind renders the sail virtually useless because they don’t change directions that easily. 

What Are Kayak Sails Made From? 

The second most important choice you’ll have to make is related to the material. The good news is that your options are generally “limited” to three standard options – plastic, laminated cloth, or carbon fiber and aluminum for the mast – so it’s not like you’ll be overwhelmed with choices. 

That said, choose wisely. 

Plastic 

Modern-day kayak sails are generally made of plastic. This material is the go-to choice because it’s lightweight, flexible, but still durable enough – although it might not last as long as laminated cloth. But that’s a different story; I’ll get to it in a moment. 

One disadvantage of plastic sails is that they require regular cleaning – and when I say “regular,” I mean after every use, especially if used in saltwater, to prevent degradation and splitting. 

They are budget-friendly, though – and that’s always a plus for sailing kayaks beginners. 

Laminated Cloth

Cloth would be the more “traditional” sail material – something you’ll generally find in some older models of kayak sails and L-shaped sails in particular. 

Laminated cloth boasts higher tensile strength compared to plastic, which, in turn, means that it can withstand higher winds without getting ruptured. 

What about the downsides? 

Well, kayak sails constructed out of laminated cloth tend to be thick and heavy – especially when they get wet – making them harder to put up and take down while you’re on a kayak. 

Carbon Fiber & Aluminum

Not to play favorites here, but carbon fiber is, hands down, the best choice of material for a sail – period. It’s strong, durable, lightweight, incredibly resistant to damage; it’s everything you’d want in a kayak sail. 

But being the definition of “high-quality,” kayak sails made of carbon fiber tend to be on the more expensive side, too. You get to decide whether that’s a deal-breaker for you or not, though. 

And where does the aluminum fit in? 

If the kayak sail calls for a mast – remember, the L-shaped variety has them – it will be made of either carbon fiber or lightweight aluminum. Oh, and in case you were wondering, circular sails, which often feature a supporting rod called the “batten” instead of a mast, will use plastic. 

Best Kayak Sails Of 2022 – Reviewed & Rated

1. Dyna-Living Kayak Sails

Dyna-Living Kayak Sails
  • Best Budget-Friendly Kayak Sail 
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
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My first pick for today’s round-up is a circular sail. I figured, what better way to kick this off than by showing you what a beginner-friendly, affordable sail for kayaks looks like before getting into the more high-end stuff. 

Enter Dyna-Living – a lightweight, easy-to-use kayak sail made of strong polyester taffeta, triple-stitched for additional durability. 

It also happens to be eco-friendly – if that’s something that matters to you. It should, by the way. 

The sail’s diameter measures 42 inches, making it a pretty sizeable choice. Don’t worry, though – it remains pretty lightweight, clocking in at 18.7 ounces. When it’s not in use, the sail fits in a 15.35-inch pouch for maximum convenience and portability. 

Speaking of convenience, setting it up is super-easy. You’re looking at a pop-up style kayak sail here; the fact that it’s quick-and-easy to deploy shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

Oh, and it features a convenient window in the center, allowing for good wide-angle visibility while it’s deployed. 

Technical Specs 

  • Circle-shaped kayak sail 
  • Polyester taffeta construction 
  • 42-inch diameter 
  • Weighs 18.7 ounces 

Pros

  • Designed for beginner to intermediate paddlers 
  • A wide center window for improved visibility 
  • Offers some protection from the sun
  • It’s the cheapest sail on the list 

Cons

  • Only works in specific wind conditions 
  • Doesn’t come with an instructions manual 
  • Not the best choice for more advanced paddlers

If you don’t have a lot to spend or you’re just getting into this whole kayak sailing thing, I highly recommend this budget-friendly pop-up-style sail by Dyna-Living.

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2. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Rapid-Up Kayak Sail Kit

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Rapid Up Kayak Sail Kit
  • Overall Best Kayak Sail
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Next, I’d like to introduce you to the Advanced Elements Rapid-Up sail, another circle-shaped sail kit that comes with the promise of outstanding performance: 

The sail is constructed of durable Rip-Stop cloth and features a large, central window and two side windows for maximum visibility. That’s not even the best part: 

The built-in “spring” frame deploys rapidly, living up to its “Rapid Up” name. It essentially springs open on its own, turning into a fully-functional kayak sailing system. If that’s not your definition of “easy to use,” I don’t know what is.  

I also found it to be incredibly versatile. With all the adjustable straps, ropes, and carabiners that come with it, you can pretty much count on it fitting your ‘yak, too, whether you own a hard-shell or an inflatable kayak. 

And when it’s not in use, the sail folds down to an 18-inch disc, ensuring compact storage. Oh, and it weighs only half a pound, too! 

That makes it a suitable choice for less experienced paddlers – although, again, much like all the other sails of its kind, it’s designed for downwind travel only. 

Technical Specs 

  • Circle-shaped kayak sail 
  • Rip-Stop cloth construct
  • Weighs 0.5 pounds

Pros

  • The internal spring frame ensures rapid deployment 
  • Folds down to an 18-inch disc
  • Large central window and two side panels for visibility 
  • Compatible with pretty much any kayak 
  • A reasonably priced kayak sailing kit 

Cons

  • Works downwind only 
  • Not as efficient in light wind conditions
  • Can be hard to keep down when not in use 

Honestly, when it comes to downwind sails the Rapid Up is my personal favorite. It springs open on its own – and fast – and is light and compact when folded down. Plus, the visibility it provides is hard to beat. Overall, it’s a fantastic sail at a more than reasonable price!

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3. Sea Eagle QuikSail Kayak Sail

Sea Eagle QuikSail Kayak Sail
  • Best V-Shaped Kayak Sail
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Okay, after showing you two circle-shaped kayak sails, I think it’s about time we’ve moved on to something different and gave other types of sails a chance to impress you. 

Enter the downwind spinnaker sail by Sea Eagle, named QuikSail: 

It’s a traditional, free-standing, V-shaped sail featuring a strong-but-lightweight aluminum mast and a 14-square-foot NeilPryde sail constructed out of laminated cloth. The choice of materials is a promise of incredible durability. 

Don’t assume that, just because Sea Eagle makes it, it won’t fit kayaks from other brands. It does – although I’d generally recommend it for medium- to large-sized kayaks since it might be a bit too much for small ‘yaks. 

When mounted on the right kayak, it can help you develop speeds of up to 7 knots, and since it’s free-standing, you can use your paddle as a rudder. However, it lacks maneuverability and could even end up tipping your kayak over if the wind gets too intense. 

Technical Specs 

  • V-shaped kayak sail 
  • Laminated cloth construction 
  • Extends to 81 inches 
  • Weighs 2.1 pounds

Pros

  • Free-standing design 
  • Features a NeilPryde laminated cloth sail
  • Can move a kayak at up to 7 knots 
  • Suitable for inflatable kayaks 
  • Excellent price-to-performance value 

Cons

  • It lacks maneuverability and can be difficult to control 
  • It could tip your kayak over 
  • At 43 inches, it remains bulky when folded down

If you’re looking for a free-standing, V-shaped kayak sail, then the Sea Eagle is your best bet – especially if you hope to achieve some solid speeds with it. 

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4. Dilwe Foldable Kayak Sail

Dilwe Foldable Kayak Sail
  • Best Foldable Kayak Sail
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Yup, we’re back to circle shape sails because if you want simplicity and budget-friendly pricing, these are your best bet. And that brings us to Dilwe’s foldable kayak sail: 

Simple, easy to set up, reasonably priced, and lightweight – that’s how I would describe this sail. 

It’s constructed out of PVC material, and similar to my first pick, the Dyna-Living sail, it features a 42.4-inch diameter, which not only proves efficient but provides quite a bit of shade, too. 

So far, so good, right? 

As for the portability, I don’t have any complaints there, either. I already mentioned that it’s light – and on that note, it weighs a reasonable 0.9 pounds. Plus, it folds down for convenient storage in the included bag when it’s not in use. 

My only gripe with this sail is that it doesn’t stand up to heavier winds that well. In fact, it doesn’t stand up to them at all and tends to deform somewhat as soon as the wind picks up intensity.

Technical Specs 

  • Circle-shaped kayak sail 
  • PVC construction 
  • 42.5-inch diameter 
  • Weighs 0.9 pounds 

Pros

  • Lightweight and folds down for storage 
  • It’s designed to offer some UV protection 
  • Has a clear window for visibility 
  • One of the cheapest sails on my list

Cons

  • Doesn’t stand up to heavier winds and could deform 
  • The overall durability is a bit questionable

If you’re a beginner kayaker and want a cheap, folding kayak sail that doesn’t weigh much, this is it. Still, I should point out that it doesn’t hold up well in stronger winds – so be careful. 

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5. BSD Batwing Sail Kit

BSD Batwing Sail Kit
  • Best Kayak Sail Kit For Advanced Paddlers
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★☆

My next pick comes from BSD – short for BALOGH SAIL DESIGNS – and goes under the name Batwing. If you take one look at it, you’ll see where it gets its name from: 

I’m stating the obvious here, but its shape resembles that of a bat’s wing – a hang-glider-inspired airfoil-designed, 11-feet-tall batwing, that is. Furthermore, it features a tapered fiberglass batten and a vertical panel for reduced sail stretch. 

In short, it’s impressive. 

The best part is that the BSD’s Batwing comes in several different sizes, all optimized for special uses – mainly daysailing and expeditions. 

And given that this brand is considered the “Cadillac” of sailing brands – the reputation it earned for its quality workmanship and functional products that set the standard for the entire industry – you know you’re in for a treat. 

But as one wouldn’t expect to buy a Cadillac for pocket change, you can’t expect their kayak sail kit to come cheap, either. 

Technical Specs 

  • Hang-glider-inspired sail 
  • 8 to 11.25 feet tall (Depending on the model)
  • Weighs 36 pounds 

Pros

  • Boasts hang-glider-inspired airfoil 
  • The full batten prevents flogging and ensures better handling 
  • Includes a heavy-duty bag 
  • The Zippy Reef provides easy reefing 
  • Available in several sizes designed for specific uses 

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options on my list 
  • Has a bit of a learning curve 
  • Not suitable for beginner kayakers

Maybe you don’t drive a Cadillac – but you could still get a Cadillac among kayak sails for your little boat. If you have the budget for it, that is. 

6. Large 46″ Kayak Downwind Kayak Sail

Large 46
  • Best Generic Downwind Sail
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Okay, we’re heading back to the budget-friendly portion of the market to discuss this large kayak downwind sail by Cozylive. When I say “large,” I mean it: 

This circle-shaped sail – that, by the way, boasts a waterproof polyester taffeta construction and triple-stitched seams – has a 46-inch diameter. 

That not only makes it a bit more efficient at picking up the wind but means you’ll get to enjoy a nice shade while you’re on the water too. 

All the while, it retains a light and compact design, weighing under a pound – 0.92 pounds, to be precise – and fitting in a 15.75-inch pouch when it’s folded down for storage.  

There’s not much that makes this option stand out from the other similarly-priced circle-shaped sails – except for the larger diameter, that is. Then again, I guess that doesn’t necessarily count as a downside; it is what it is – a cheap, lightweight, simple-to-use kayak wind sail. 

Technical Specs 

  • Circle-shaped kayak sail 
  • Polyester taffeta construction 
  • 46-inch diameter 
  • Weighs 0.92 pounds

Pros

  • Pops up and deploys quickly  
  • Has a clear central window for visibility 
  • A larger diameter picks up the wind easily 
  • Folds down to a compact size
  • Suitable for inflatable boats 
  • A cheap option 

Cons

  • There’s nothing “special” about its generic design 
  • Not sure how long it will hold up 
  • It can only sail downwind 

Sure, there’s nothing special or unique about it – but if you’re shopping for a simple kayak sail on a budget, this 46-inch sail is worth considering.

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7. Hobie Kayak Sail Kit

Hobie Mirage Sail Kit
  • Best Sail Kit For Hobie Kayaks
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆
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Did you seriously think I would put together a round-up of best kayak sail kits without including Hobie in it? I sure hope not. 

Before I get to the actual review, a quick disclaimer is in order: 

If you own one of the following Hobie kayaks, you’re in for a treat. If not, I suggest you keep on scrolling because this sail kit is designed specifically for Hobie’s Pro Angler and Mirage kayaks, including the Outback, Adventure, Sport, Revolution, Oasis, and Outfitter.

Still here? 

Well, then, now’s your chance to fit your Hobie kayak with this boom-less, free-standing sail with a two-piece mast and a rigid, diagonal batten. 

The sail also features a see-through window on the lower half, meaning it won’t block your view. 

It’s pretty bulky, though, clocking in at a hefty 16 pounds. I guess that’s understandable given its size and construction: 

It’s a highly advanced model, designed for a lot more than just downwind sailing, after all.

Pros

  • Allows for more advanced maneuvers 
  • A see-through window on the lower half 
  • Includes a storage bag 
  • Compatible with the Mirage pedal drive 
  • Not limited to downwind sailing

Cons

  • The sail kit weighs a hefty 16 pounds 
  • Only suitable for use on Hobie kayaks

If you own a Hobie kayak, you’ll love this sail kit. It’s incredibly sturdy and well-made, capable of advanced maneuvers, and compatible with the Mirage pedal drive system. If not – well, keep on looking.

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8. WindPaddle Adventure Sail

WindPaddle Adventure Sail
  • Best For Touring Kayaks
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Surprise, surprise – here’s another circle-shaped kayak sail. I mean, I did tell you these were the most popular among kayakers, didn’t I? 

WindPaddle’s Adventure Sail is a bit bigger than my previous circle-shaped recommendations – and given its 47-inch diameter, it’s a perfect fit for larger kayaks up to 18 feet long. So, if you’re looking to equip your touring ‘yak with a sail, this could be it. 

The great news is that, despite its larger size, WindPaddle’s sail still weighs only 15 ounces and folds down to 16 inches for storage. Pretty neat, huh? 

The sail’s built tough, too, boasting Rip-Stop nylon cloth construction, reinforced by triple-stitched seams and a batten made of composite materials. It’s no surprise that it can withstand a wind range of 5 to 30 knots without any issue. 

Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, it features a central clear window to ensure visibility while on the water. 

Of course, you’ll need ideal wind conditions to get the best out of the WindPaddle – but that’s an issue with all circle-shaped sails. 

Technical Specs 

  • Circle-shaped kayak sail 
  • Rip-Stop nylon cloth construction 
  • 47-inch diameter 
  • Weighs 15 ounces 

Pros

  • A good trade-off between speed and bulkiness 
  • A larger diameter makes it more efficient 
  • It remains lightweight and folds to a compact size  

Cons

  • It can only be used for downwind sailing 
  • The clear plastic window gets damaged by saltwater 
  • Somewhat limited maneuverability

If you need a larger sail to “back you up” on your touring expeditions and sea kayaking trips, WindPaddle’s 47-inch circle-shaped sail has you covered. 

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9. Falcon Kayak Sails

Falcon Sail
  • Best High-End Kayak Sail
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★☆☆

There’s one more kayak sail that deserves mention on this list – the one by Falcon Sails. All I’ll say is – prepare to be impressed. 

These aren’t your generic, run-of-the-mill kayak sails. Quite the contrary: 

Falcon Sails are made-to-order sail kits that combine efficiency, compactness, and simplicity in a high-end package – which amounts to impressive sailing performance. 

The best part about their made-to-order policy is that all the pieces in the kit are optimized to fit your kayak, making the rigging job much more manageable. 

While we’re at it, the kit includes stainless steel hardware, high-quality rivets, a standing line kit, deck, and under-deck adapter blocks, two tie-down kits, forestay pulley – and more.

Moreover, the construction quality is top-notch. Each Falcon sail features a 3.8-ounce Dacron cloth and a carbon fiber mast that’s lighter but stiffer than the alternatives. 

Now, add a central window design for visibility and the fact that the entire kit weighs less than 4 pounds – and you’ve got the perfect kayak sail.

But as you can imagine, premium quality comes with a premium price tag. That will probably be a deal-breaker for some – especially beginners. 

Technical Specs 

  • Tall L-shaped kayak sail 
  • 3.8-ounce Dacron sailcloth construction 
  • Weighs under 4 pounds 

Pros

  • Custom-made sails that suit your needs 
  • The kit part list is made according to your specific kayak 
  • Includes a complete rigging kit 
  • Setup takes less than a minute 
  • Break-down mast and boom for easier storage 

Cons

  • Falcon Sails are among the most expensive kayak sail kits 
  • Not something I’d recommend to beginners 

Yes, I know that they’re expensive – but Falcon Sails are the best in the game. Plus, you get to customize every detail – including the color and logo – to your liking and ensure compatibility with your ‘yak.

Conclusion 

Okay, I think that’s about it when it comes to kayak sailing kits. The only thing left to do now is taking a moment to weigh your options and choose the best kayak sail for your needs. 

I think I’ve made it pretty apparent which of these is my favorite – the ADVANCED ELEMENTS Rapid Up Kayak Sail Kit. I mean, it’s reasonably priced, suitable for a wide range of kayaks, and features an internal spring that makes deployment a breeze; that’s more than enough for me. 

That said, your needs might be different than mine. So, as always, I encourage you to consider what you want – and choose accordingly. Any kayak sail kit I showed you today can be a worthy option; it all depends on what you need. 

Feature image by Patrick Forrester (CC BY 2.0)