Types of Kayaks

Buying a kayak for the first time can be quite an intimidating process. While you can learn how to kayak with almost any type of kayak, your intended use is of great importance.

Choosing a kayak is similar to picking a canoe. Both kayaks and canoes move through bodies of water using a paddle. They are a bit different, though. A kayak uses a double-bladed paddle, which allows you to move faster and easier through the water.

The type of kayak you’re going to choose will depend on the activity you wish to do. Are you going to paddle your kayak on a lake or on the river? Each kayak has a specific use, which is why they have different shapes and sizes.

Whitewater Kayaks – This is the ultimate kayaking experience which involves fast waters. Takes places on a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can mean a normal moving river, to an extremely fast body of water. These kayaks don’t track (go in a straight line) so they are very maneuverable. The tight cockpit is designed to keep you on deck, even if water conditions are brutal.

Sit On Top Kayaks – Easy to use kayaks that will give you a great overall tan. Very stable for a fishing trip. Nearly all sit on top kayaks are self bailing which means that any water that comes over the deck of the kayak will automatically drain itself out. They are normally extra wide which makes them slower. They are a little harder to handle and don’t allow the paddler too much movement control.

Sit In Kayaks – These types of kayaks allow for more storage. Sit in kayaks are more dry (due to their rather efficient hull design), therefore allowing for an extended paddling season. They have a fitted cockpit (the area where you sit) which allows for more control with your body than sit on kayaks allow. Sit in based kayaks have a raised lip that allow the skirt (or spray deck) block water from entering the kayak.

Recreational Kayaks – Appeals most to kayaking beginners. The hull’s shape is small for rec kayaks, yet they have a large cockpit. These types of kayaks are ideal for lakes, calm rivers, ponds, flat water, and creeks. Do not take these out on whitewater. Recreational kayaks are great for fishing, hunting, or even taking pictures. Typically, such kayaks have great stability.

Touring Kayaks – Great for tracking (going straight) and are comfortable for long trips. Touring kayaks are ideal for lakes, wide rivers, some inlets, and flat water.

Sea Kayaks – Perfect for paddling in the open ocean. Sea kayaks are normally very low, as to avoid the wind. Usually longer than 15ft, sea kayaks have a relatively small cockpit. Some sea kayaks will have rudders or skegs to make up for waves or windy conditions.

Surf Kayaks – If you want to try a new type of surfing, this is for you. Normally these are small and easy to maneuver.

Tandem Kayaks – Great if you want to paddle with a friend or with family members. Safe for all ages and very ideal for recreational use. Resistant to tipping, these kayaks have safety in mind. Tandem kayaks are great to use on ponds, lakes, or flat rivers.

Folding Kayaks – Most of these kayaks have a thin fabric over a light frame made from wood. A descendant of the original Inuit kayak. Modern ones are made from wood, aluminum, and plastic.

Inflatable Kayaks – Usually made from heavy duty vinyl, these kayaks are very sturdy. Usually weigh less than 40 lbs so really easy to carry.

Kayaks for Kids – Sit on top kayaks are usually the best for children. However, some sit in models like the Heron Jr. are ideal.