Interested in kayaking, but want to know more before you get started?

Here's a quick introduction to where to use a kayak and what kind of boats you'll find.

We know: Basic Types of Kayaks

What is a kayak?

A kayak is a small boat with a deck that is propelled by a two blade paddle by someone sitting, unlike a canoe which is open and propelled by a single blade paddle by someone kneeling. Kayaks are designed for one person or two and sometimes more.

Where are kayaks used?

Kayaking is a growing sport, and various types of kayaks are used for different kinds of water, including:

  • Whitewater, rapids and waterfall kayaking
  • Ocean or sea kayaking
  • Flat-water stream kayaking
  • Lake and pond kayaking

What are the main categories of boats and their advantages/disadvantages?

  1. Recreational Kayaks - stable and easy to paddle. These boats are designed for lakes, bays and slow moving water. Good for beginners, they are short and wide and easy to turn, but more difficult to paddle in a straight line. Recreational kayaks come in different sizes for comfort and often have storage areas for daytrip equipment.
  2. Touring or Sea Kayaks - long and stable, these boats are good for extended trips. They track well in a straight line, but are harder to turn than shorter boats. Varying models have more of less capacity to store gear. For day trips, you may want to choose a lighter touring boat with less storage and more maneuverability.
  3. Whitewater Kayaks - agile but less stable than other kayaks. These boats are designed to fit tight around the body, to make quick turns and be easy to maneuver. They usually have rounded bottoms or flat hulls for negotiating rapids. They are difficult to track in a straight line.
  4. Downriver Kayaks - often used for racing by more advanced kayakers, these long and narrow boats are designed for speed. Their straight keel makes them easier to track in a straight line, but difficult to turn, and they are easy to tip.
  5. Sit-on-top Kayaks - designed so the kayaker sits on top of the boat and the body is not enclosed. Less stable than other kayaks, they are easier to fall out of, but also easy to climb back on. Designed for both paddling and surfing, they come in one-seater and multiple-seater.

What are the different styles of kayaks?

Kayaks are manufactured for a variety of materials, including plastic, wood, fiberglass and kevlar. There are also inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks, and do-it-yourself kayak kits.

How much do kayaks cost?

A simple kayak can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, usually starting at about $500. More expensive kayaks can cost several thousand dollars, with lots of options in the $1,200-2,000 range. Paddles range from about $40 to hundreds of dollars.

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