Types of Kayaks – Recommendations and Buying Guide
Kyle W Updated on February 7, 2021.by
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There’s no better feeling in the world than spending a fun day kayaking with family and friends. But, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t need convincing. So, let’s cut to the chase and talk about why you’re here.
You’ve decided to join the elite community of kayak owners, but aren’t quite sure which one to get. You’ve likely come across several different types of kayaks in different shapes and with various capabilities, and you just don’t know where to start.
Lucky for you, we’ve got all the answers. Here’s the ultimate buying guide to choosing the right one, as well as our top recommendations.
Types of Kayaks – Where Do You Intend to Use Yours
Before we can even discuss the different types of kayaks that exist, there are a couple of things you need to establish from the get-go. For starters, where do you intend to use your boat? You might be wondering why this is important since all of them are essentially built to float in water.
True as this may be, specific kayaks are built for use in specific environments. So, if you want to get the most out of your kayaking experience, you first need to identify the nature of the place you’re going to use it in and how you’re going to use it.
Just like there are cars designed for off-road use, there are kayaks designed for water rapids and others well suited for still waters. Every kayak model is designed for optimum performance within its designated environment.
Water bodies can generally be grouped into two. There are inland water environments, which include canals, ponds, inlets, bays, lakes, and smaller rivers. Then there are open waters which refer to every other larger body of water like big lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans.
Kayaking in a small water body versus in open waters with huge waves makes for totally different experiences. Let’s explore this in detail.
1. Lakes and Ponds
Paddling on a quiet and serene lake or pond offers a calm and relaxing ride. The waters are still, so you’ll glide leisurely along the water surface without any of the hustle and bustle back at the shore. Kayaking on a larger lake, however, means that you could encounter large waves that pose some level of danger to both you and your boat.
2. Rivers and Canals
Waterways in this category come in all shapes and sizes. You may encounter rivers that give you a smooth and gentle ride downstream. You may also encounter others like whitewater rapids that give you an adrenaline rush as you battle through them.
These waterways are best left to advanced kayakers who have years of experience paddling in rough waters.
But, regardless of an individual’s experience level, kayakers still have to be extra vigilant when navigating these waterways as they are notorious for changing abruptly without any warning. The speed and level of activity of going on both above and below the water surface could change drastically in a matter of seconds.
3. Seas and Oceans
Much like rivers, the level of activity in the sea or ocean could also change in an instant. Factors like storms, tidal fluctuations, the speed of the wind, and other elements can aggravate already hostile conditions making it difficult for kayakers to navigate these waters.
To be on the safe side, it is always a good idea not to venture too far off the coastline. Ensure that you take all the necessary precautions to prevent a mishap.
Different Types of Kayaks
With that brief overview, you can immediately see why you need to get the right vessel for the environment you intend to kayak in.
If you’re chasing an adrenaline high, then you need to get a vessel that can withstand the knocks and bumps that come with navigating whitewater rapids. If you want to explore the small lake in your city and take your family with you for a relaxed weekend outing, then you need to get the right yak for that as well.
Kayaks can be classified based on their style or by the specific activities they are designed for.
Kayak Types Based on Style
There are two main kayak styles you’ll come across – Sit-on-top kayaks and sit-in kayaks. The difference between the two types can be attributed to the vessel’s cockpit.
Sit-on-tops have an open cockpit with a seat on the surface. Your feet remain uncovered. Sit-ins, on the other hand, have an enclosed cockpit that you sit inside of. So, you’re covered from the waist down.
How to Choose the Best Type of kayak – Buying Guide
When buying a kayak for your on-water activities, here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
For anyone who intends to traverse long distances on the water and get to their destination quickly, a touring kayak is designed for just that purpose. They are longer narrower and, as a result, offer less resistance. If you prefer a leisurely paddle around your favorite water spot instead, a recreational kayak will suffice.
Lakes, seas, and open rivers don’t have as many obstacles as ponds, creeks, and rivers. Recreational kayaks are well suited for maneuvering around these types of waterways. Touring kayaks, on the other hand, are built for open waters where you’re not required to make any sharp turns or sudden changes in direction.
Recreational and light-touring kayaks are better suited for kids or smaller individuals. They may, however, not be ideal for larger people. Touring kayaks would be more suitable for such individuals since they provide a higher degree of comfort and mobility. Also, check to see that your sit-in kayak isn’t so tight that it restricts your ability to get in and out of it quickly.
Transport and storage
Recreational and inflatable kayaks contain more storage compared to touring yaks, which are more accommodating. The vessel you buy should not only transport easily, but it also needs to be outfitted to store your essentials during your kayaking expeditions.
Unlock a Whole New World of Adventure
Now that you know all the different types of kayaks you can choose from, ensure that you pick the right one based on the specific environment you’ll be kayaking in, and the activities you intend to engage in.
Regardless of the one you pick, kayaks guarantee the best on-water adventure you can ever have. So go on – get yourself a shiny new kayak today. It’s worth it.
Are you confused about the length of kayak you should get? Check our guide to choosing the optimal kayak length.