Different Types of Kayaks – Which Kayak is Right for Me?

If you are looking to get into the exciting sport of kayaking, there are a few things you should know about choosing the best kayak for your needs.

First and foremost, in order to determine the proper kayak for you, you need to take into consideration what type of kayaking you plan on engaging in. To get started, ask yourself a few questions, like:

• Will you be using your kayak on lakes, rivers, or in the open ocean most often?

• Will you be engaging in competition?

• Are you looking to explore the natural world from your kayak or enjoy paddling through more turbulent waters?

• Will you be enjoying shorter, one day excursions or weekend long kayaking tours?

The answers you provide to these questions will help steer you in the right direction for your new kayak.

Sea Kayaks


Sea kayaks are designed to help you navigate the tough conditions of the open ocean. They are made from a variety of materials and are made to be durable under some of the most brutal water conditions. It is important to point out that while these kayaks were created to withstand paddling in rougher, salt water conditions, they can still be used in other situations as well.

Sea kayaks are created with an efficient hull that allows kayakers to paddle long distances in rough conditions without having to expend as much energy keeping the boat going straight. They have a longer waterline length and reduced rocker as well as rudders and an upturned bow for dealing with rougher water. They aren’t as nimble when on flat water, but offer better edging. They also have a watertight bulkhead to protect items stored below.

Recreational Kayaks


The most obvious difference in recreational kayaks and other models is that they are visibly shorter. Shorter kayaks can be maneuvered more easily than longer versions and are generally easier to use. They also offer larger cockpits and wider cross-section shapes to increase stability and ease of use. These attributes make them perfect for new kayakers to learn the ropes.

Sit on Top Kayaks


These are perfect for fishing, surfing and touring since they are extremely easy to enter and exit the water from. They have the same general shape of a traditional kayak, but you won’t get into the kayak itself. Rather, you’ll sit in an indented area of the boat that is slightly above water level. These kayaks are usually a bit wider than other models to compensate for you having a higher center of gravity and to prevent capsizing. These are perfect for people looking to use the kayak to do other things like fishing, diving or other recreation that requires them to enter the water regularly. The sealed hull makes them unsinkable which is great to have along as a floatation device.

Fishing Kayaks


Using a kayak when you go fishing means that you can fish in areas traditional fishing boats can’t go. They are virtually silent, offering you the ability to quietly enter and exit fishing holes. These can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Fishing kayaks combine the conveniences of regular recreational kayaks with the stability of sit on top kayaks to provide fishermen with a safe and comfortable way to fish in a variety of conditions.

Multisport/racing kayaks


These boats are made from high performance, lightweight materials that allow for minimal effort to be used to move them through the water. They are narrow and nimble and require a great deal of experience to paddle.

Whitewater Kayaks


These boats tend to be the most durable and are usually constructed of high impact polyethylene. They are short, which provide for excellent maneuverability but tend to require more effort to move them forward where the currents aren’t particularly strong. Whitewater/surf kayaks are designed to withstand heavy, constant impacts from large rocks without being damaged. They do require a bit of skill to navigate, but not because of the boat type, but the water conditions in which they are used.

The Next Step

Now that you are aware of the many different types of kayaks that exist and what they are used for, you are ready to purchase your first boat. It is important to understand that you should shy away from making your kayak purchase based on price alone. Ask a friendly professional at the store you are looking to make your purchase in so that you are confident you are making the right choice.

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