by Staff Writer
Kayaks were created by Inuit people many years ago to assist them with hunting and fishing. Since their creation, kayaks have evolved and are now used for more than just hunting and fishing. They are used worldwide for recreational and sport boats as well. Because of the large variety of styles that are available these days, shopping for a kayak can be difficult. You may want to review the following fact sheet to assist you in your search.
Basic design: Kayaks are boats similar to canoes that are powered by a human using a double-sided paddle to control the kayak. Kayaks usually have a covered cockpit to prevent water from entering the boat, as the boat sits low in the water. Kayaks are known for their maneuverability and lightweight material. Because of the design of a kayak, it can be rolled to an upright position if turned upside down without the passenger having to exit the boat.
Capacity: Depending on the style and type of kayak, they typically hold from one to three people.
Types of kayaks: There are many different types of kayaks. Listed below are some of the most common types.
White-water kayaks: These are made with durable plastic to withstand bumps and the impact from rough waters. Usually shorter in size than other kayaks, white-water kayaks are easier to maneuver. The size of a white-water kayak can range anywhere from 4 feet to 10 feet.
Sea kayaks: Sea kayaks are made with a longer waterline to increase straight motion through water. Sea kayaks are usually made larger to accommodate more people.
Recreational kayaks: Often, these kayaks are used for touring and are designed for calm waters. Therefore, they are made with larger cockpits and are used during fishing and hunting.
Racing kayaks: These types of kayaks are made specifically for faster speeds. Racing kayaks are made with fiberglass, which makes them more fragile than a regular kayak. They are very long in size and are harder to turn and maneuver; therefore, many racing kayaks are equipped with rudders to assist with the control of the boat.
Surfing kayaks: These are popular in coastal climates where surfing is usually a daily sport. They are made with heavy-duty plastics but remain lightweight and are very similar to a surfboard.
Inflatable kayaks: Usually the least expensive of kayaks, these boats are convenient for storage and travel. However, when purchasing an inflatable boat, it is important to take into consideration factors such as the environment in which you will be using the boat.
Material: Besides design, you may want to also consider material. For example, plastic kayaks are more heavy duty and can take more abuse than other materials. Although fiberglass kayaks are more fragile, they are less costly to repair if damaged and lighter in weight than a regular plastic or wood kayak.
Features: Depending on your experience and preference, you may want specific features, like foot rails. You may prefer larger cockpits for easier access and exiting of the boat. Probably the main feature to consider is the level of stability in a kayak as this may vary depending on the design and size of the kayak you choose. Initial stability is suggested for beginners and final stability is suggested for more tenured or experienced passengers. The more stable the boat, the slower the boat will typically be.
Dimensions: The length and weight of the kayak is going to affect how easily it can be controlled. The shorter the kayak, the easier it will be to control the movement of the boat. Also, the curve on the bottom of the boat, called the keel line, will make a difference as to how easily the boat can be controlled. The higher the curve, the easier the turn will be. However, high curves create less accurate turns. Therefore, people usually go with a medium curvature to avoid sacrificing turn control or accuracy.