Are you interested in owning a kayak, but you've no idea where to begin? Buying a kayak is a daunting task especially for beginners. Honestly, you can't risk making the wrong decision. Kayaks are modified to optimize for their desired function. But, before we get to outline the various types of kayaks in details, here are some key things to consider:
- The condition of water you'll be paddling in - Calm or running water?
- The intended purpose - whitewater kayaking, kayak touring, sea kayaking, recreational kayaking, etc.
- What size is most appropriate for you? Depends on the number of people who intend to accompany you in the trip.
- Whether you're you a novice or in experienced kayaking.
- Material and other accessories- plastic or composite?
Below, we have discussed 7 types of kayaks, categorized according to conditions under which they are best suited for travel.
1. Sit-on-top kayaks
Sit-on-tops lack a cockpit, implying that they're easier to board. They feature molded depressions and a sealed hull for sitting. Sit-on-tops are wider thus more stable as opposed to traditional kayaks. What's more? The easily accessible gear, the self-bailing drain holes and seats that are above the water level, makes this vessel an excellent choice for diving, swimming, and fishing. They also offer great fun for beginners and kids.
Sit-on-tops are very popular in a warm climate and less comfortable in cool destinations because external weather conditions don't cover your body. They give you a wet ride caused by splashes which are fantastic in the summer but a challenge in the winter. Their capacity ranges from single, double or even more passengers. Some have storage wells and bulkheads.
2. Recreational Kayaks
Recreational kayaks are made of polyethylene plastic and are very popular on safe water bodies such as lakes, ponds, and calm rivers. They're wide and usually 10-12 feet in length with a small storage area necessary for short day trips. However, some comprise of a more extensive storage area for day-long expeditions. The large and easy-to-access cockpit and wide beam contribute to its stability.
Recreational kayaks are easy to use, and you don't require any previous experience to paddle them. They are primarily designed for having fun, not particularly for comfort and speed.
3. Inflatable kayaks
An inflatable kayak is made to offer some unique services over hard-shell boats. Though some people consider them a total waste, they're quite seaworthy regarding storage and traveling to remote areas. It can comfortably fit in a pack for transport by a plane, a car, and even by public transportation. It sounds more efficient and secures carrying your boat in the trunk, as opposed to the roof.
On reaching your destination, you just need to inflate by hand, foot, or electric pump, then hold your paddles and cruise.
4. Touring kayaks
Touring kayaks are better compared to recreational kayaks with regard to performance and versatility. However, you need to dig deeper into your pocket. They're very stable and have more storage capacity and bulkheads with sealed hatches which enhance safety. These section trap air, which improves flotation to the kayak in case the cockpit fills with water.
Touring kayaks are very long, usually 12 to 17 feet, and their hulls are designed to improve lift in rough water and waves. Most come with a tracking system such as rudder. Touring kayaks are the best for long distances tours in open water, and offer excellent performance in harsh conditions.
5. Whitewater Kayaks
As the name suggests, whitewater’s are made for kayaking in destinations that require exceptional maneuverability to cope with rapids. I would prefer Whitewater Kayaks for an adventure, rather than use them for touring-they are slower, and it's hard to paddle them without swerving. They're shorter, basically ranging between 8-9 feet in length and comprise of rounded bottoms and more rocker to overcome waves.
Their rounded hulls design with fewer chimes makes rolling more comfortable because the kayak has minimum water contact. Less contact also exposes less maneuvering surface area to maneuver which makes it a snap to balance the kayak in the fast-flowing white waters environment.
6. Surf Kayaks
Surf kayaks should be your best company on the sea. They have designated features that categorize them into a class of their own. ln contrast to other kayaks which transversely cut on the water surface -enabled by their rock and hull cutting. Surf kayaks attribute a fin cluster at the back, analogous to those featured on a surfboard. a surfboard. Besides, their flat bottom and solid edges provide you with a long-board that you can comfortably sit on.
Further, Surf kayaks are divided into two broad sets, i.e., international class and high performance. High-Performance categories are specially made for high speed and dynamic movement that makes it easier to cut through waves. It also has up to four fin clusters thus making it suitable for new radical play-boating flat in, cartwheels stuff in, whatever, simultaneously working hard to retain the wave. On the other hand, the international class isn't the best for doing tricks. It involves just offers a smoother flowing ride along the stream as far as possible.
7. Folding Kayaks
Folding kayaks is a good for consideration due to its convenience during transportation. You don't require a large space to store your kayak, though that shouldn't mean that you ignore the performance aspect in the process. It will fit in a carrier the size of a bag pack when you disassemble.
The advantage they have over inflatable kayaks is their rigid structure and a more abundant storage space. The firm frame improves its performance almost similar hard-shelled kayaks. Also, the tight outer skin comprises of a stiff aluminum frame that features inflatable chambers that assist in stability and buoyancy. Assembling the kayak takes roughly 15-20 minutes for an experienced user.
Folding Kayaks are best for touring during your leisure time
The best approach on deciding the type of kayak to buy is to first experience by traveling with several that you come across. Once you have sampled a good number, it will be easier to point out your unique taste and preference, allowing you to reach to an informed choice when you decide to buy your own kayak. Another way is to consider how you love spending your time in the water- surfing, touring, recreation, etc. Go grab a kayak that's perfect for your next adventure!