Types of Kayaks: Buying a Kayak? Kayak Buying Guide


KayakingKayaking as a form of recreational sports is gaining popularity in many parts of the world. It is a sport that appeals to individuals who have diverse interests. The main types of kayaking that are currently prevalent are whitewater kayaking, recreational kayaking and sea kayaking.

A kayak is a narrow and small boat that is manually propelled by a human being with the help of a double blade paddle. The deck of a kayak is covered and certain kayaks have more than one cockpit, to seat the kayakers or paddlers. The kayak had its origin among Eskimo hunters in the Arctic regions of North America, Greenland, and Asia.

The earliest kayaks were made by stitching seal-skins over a whale-bone skeleton frame. The skin jackets were sewn as close as possible to the paddler for maximum maneuverability. A waterproof skin jacket that was used to lace the kayak helped the Eskimo paddler to quickly regain posture in case the kayak toppled. The extremely cold water did not allow the Eskimos to swim for too long.

Modern kayaks come in different models depending on their functionality or intended use. The most important consideration while choosing a kayak is to decide the one that will suit a specific paddling environment. Whereas some kayakers would prefer touring lazy rivers, others would like to surf the rough ones and yet others would want to go fishing. Other consideration include whether the kayaker is going solo or with a partner, will there will be children accompanying the kayaker, the cost, etc. This article aims to list the purpose and benefits of the following different types of kayaks that can help anyone to choose the best cheap kayaks.


Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable KayakThese types of  kayaks are easily portable, can be carried by hand inside a bag. These hybrid kayaks are made of specialized PVC, nylon or Kevlar knitted fabrics. They can be easily inflated using electric or hand or foot pumps. They use low pressure air of less than 3 psi. Such kayaks are used on calm bays or for advanced river kayaking.

They are reasonably stable and easy to master. They can be compactly put away when not in use. Modern inflatable kayaks having multiple sections are being designed with a view to reduce weight and increase portability.


Tandem Kayaks

Kayaking2These types of kayaks can seat two paddlers at a time. Tandem kayaks are used for recreational purposes and usually used by seasoned enthusiasts. It is not easy for two beginner kayakers to paddle together in a synchronized fashion. Trying to learn kayaking using a tandem is a slower process.

A tandem is very useful when taking a family member or friend who is uncomfortable on the water. Tandems are also very stable. However, if they do roll over, they fill up with a lot of water and rescues become difficult.

Tandem kayaks are heavy and their weight is usually between 75 and 100 pounds. Tandem kayaks made of either fiberglass or Kevlar are also reasonably heavy. Manufacturers usually make plastic tandem kayaks up to a length of only 13 feet. However, tandems made of composite materials go up to 23 feet in length. Usually cost savings gained from using a lighter material is compensated by the length of the tandem kayak. Some enthusiasts opt for shorter tandems to reduce the weight. It is important to note the fact that shorter tandems are less stable than longer ones. Tandem kayaks are difficult to resell if you own one. Solo kayaks are the most preferred ones in the market.


Ocean Kayaks

Ocean KayakThese types of kayaks were so called to distinguish them from other kayaks that were used in rivers. Ocean kayaks are stable and can be used even by beginners who are learning to paddle. Manufactured of fiberglass or polyethylene they are cheaper than certain other types of kayak.

Some ocean kayaks are designed in such a manner that the cockpit does not get filled with water when the kayak capsizes. Re-entry is also easier and less traumatic. Ocean kayaks are manufactured to have more hull width. This helps them to handle rough waters easily.


Sit-on-Top Kayaks

sitontopkayakThese types of kayaks have been built with the recreational or beginner paddler in mind. Sit-on-top kayaks are mostly used for activities such as fishing, diving, touring, and surfing, or any other activity where the paddler needs to enter and exit the water fast.

Here instead of sitting inside the kayak, the kayaker sits on a depression provided on the top surface of the kayak. They may also have to change positions of seating, and access storage wells and hatches. These kayaks are a trifle wider than the traditional kayaks, and are, therefore, slower.

Sit-on-top kayaks are more comfortable and paddlers feel less confined. They come in single and two-paddler designs and modern sit-on-top kayaks have additional fittings like backrests.


Whitewater Kayaks

White Water KayakIf the paddler wants to take on fast moving and rough waters, he/she is going to need this type of kayak. Whitewater kayaking can be a smooth fun-filled trip or a challenging and dangerous sport. Whitewater kayaks are between 4 and 10 feet in length.

They are usually made of high-impact plastic such as polyethylene. The material is very durable. They are shorter and are easily maneuverable. Depending on whether the paddler is creeking, river running, playboating, or surf kayaking, the size of the kayak will be different. Whitewater kayaks are not manufactured to move with speed in the waters; this is because they move downstream in the direction of the current.


River Kayaks

River KayakThese types of kayaks can be used by beginner paddlers to learn whitewater skills. They can also be used by the seasoned paddlers to paddle down a river. They are comfortable and easily maneuverable.

River playboat kayaks are longer than whitewater freestyle kayaks and can be used as moderate types of river running kayaks. The playboat kayaks are not designed to do all the moves of the freestyle kayaks.


Fishing Kayaks

Fishing KayakThese types of kayaks are used to make forays into places where boats cannot reach out: inaccessible shorelines, reefs, shallow waters of the mangroves, etc. Fishing kayaks are very similar in design to sit-on-top kayaks.

However, they are slightly wider to provide lateral stability. They are inexpensive and have lower maintenance costs. Customized fishing kayaks come with rod holders, GPS, solar panels and built-in tackle boxes among other facilities.


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