Kayaks and the Different Types of Kayaks

Kayaks allow people travel in water using their strength and energy with no motor power. As such they offer an excellent way to exercise and explore new waters. Kayaks serve different purposes such as recreational use, sporting, and adventurous paddling. In sports, they are used for speed racing and performing tricks in running water. If you are an enthusiast, here are some types of kayaks that you can check. All kayak types find different uses with the various advantages over the others.

Recreational Kayak

Recreational kayaks are the most common and suited for entry level paddlers. They are suitable for calm paddling, fishing, and photography in calm waters away from strong ocean currents and waves. The cockpit is relatively large to facilitate easy entry and exit. The wider beam (69-91cm) improves the stability of the kayak that has less than 3.7m long with limited cargo capacity. They are the cheapest in the market thanks to their cheap material and limited options. The downside to the recreational kayaks is that they do not perform well in the sea.

Touring and Sea Kayaks

The design can accommodate one, two or three paddlers. They are more maneuverable with a large cargo capacity and stability. Sea kayaks have a longer waterline, and they provide cargo storage below the deck. There are two variants of sea kayaks;

  • Strip-built

This kayak resembles the rigid fiberglass boat but relatively lighter.

  • Sit-on-top kayaks

These are mainly used for fishing and diving. They typically accommodate one or two paddlers but have model variants that accommodate three or even four paddlers. The seat of these kayaks is usually above the water level raising the center of gravity. These kayaks are wider and slower than their traditional counterparts so that they cater for the instability caused by the elevated center of gravity.

Whitewater kayaks

These kayaks are smaller when compared to other kayaks. Whitewater kayaks are made of polyethylene whose rigid structure allows the kayak to withstand the rapid moving water. They feature a plastic hull that allows the kayaks to bounce off rocky surfaces without leaking. The kayaks are relatively small ranging from six to ten feet. The small size improves maneuverability by slow the kayak. Whitewater kayaks rely on river current to propel them forward. There are two variants of the whitewater;

  • Playboat

The playboat is short and features a scooped bow with round stern. The playboat is highly maneuverable but not fast and stable. They are suitable for performing tricks in rivers.

  • Creekboat

Kayakers primarily use them in running waterways that are narrow with low water volume. Creekboats are longer with more volume than playboats. These features improve their stability and floating.

Flatwater sprint

They are suitable for racing in calm water. Paddlers sit facing ahead and use a double-bladed paddle that pulls the blade through water on either side propelling the kayak forward.  

Surf ski

The surf ski stretches up to 6.4 meters in length and 46cm in width. Consequently, paddlers need excellent balancing and paddling skills. Also known as surf kayaks, these kayaks feature an open cockpit. Kayakers use surf ski primarily for racing.  


Slalom kayaks have a flat hull with low profile decks. They offer great stability and maneuverability. However, they are not that fast in straight line.  

Inflatable kayak

Owners can easily transport inflatables using carry bags. Manufacturers use different materials such as nytrylon, Hypalon, PVC or polyurethane coated cloth. Inflatable kayaks come with foot, hand or electric pump. Other names for inflatable kayaks include duckies and IKs.

Many inflatables lack rigidity and have pointed rafts. These features make them suitable for use on calm waters. However, the sophisticated inflatable kayaks are hardy and appropriate for use in the sea. The major attraction of these kayaks is the portability and durability. They are very stable and easy to master. Their ruggedness in water allows them to bounce off hard surfaces instead of breaking. Some models of the duckies require more paddling effort and are relatively slower compared to the traditional boats.  

Pedal Kayak

Instead of a paddle, this kayak feature pedals that a person uses to rotate propellers or underwater flippers. Therefore, kayakers use their feet rather than hands to move the kayak.

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