Everything you need to know about fishing kayaks to the best kayaking boat for you.
You may have them frequently on whitewater rapids or tranquil lakes and seas. The slender shape of the kayak is easily recognizable. Kayaks may have started off as a humble means of conveyance by the Inuit but it has now become a tool of leisure and sports. Nowadays, you will find various types of kayaks as well, each created to serve a specific purpose.
What is a Kayak?
A kayak is typically designed as a small, slender and narrow boat. It has to be manually propelled by the use of a paddle. Usually a double bladed paddle is used for the purpose.
Traditional kayaks have a covered deck and a single cockpit. However, some kayaks do have more than a single cockpit. Each cockpit is meant to seat one paddler. The cockpit in kayaks can be covered by means of a spray deck. The spray deck is used to prevent water from spray or waves from entering the kayak. This can be essential in many circumstances as the spray deck can prevent the kayak from capsizing. At the same time, skilled kayakers can roll the boat without ejecting or getting it filled with water.
The kayak had its humble origins in the subarctic regions of the world. In fact, the word ‘qajaq’ of the Greenlandic Inuktitut language has brought the word kayak. Hunters of the Aleut, Yupik and Inuit peoples were the first to use these boats on their fishing trips. The word ‘qajaq’ actually means hunter’s boat or man’s boat. Kayaks have been in use for more than 4000 years.
The Difference between a Canoe and a Kayak
These two types of boats are often confused due the similarities in their shapes. In fact, the difference between canoes and kayaks is rather blurred. Nonetheless, there are a few features of each boat that helps it stand apart from the other.
- In a kayak, the paddler will be seated comfortably on the bottom of the boat with the legs stretched forward. On the other hand, the paddler will have a proper seat to sit on in a canoe.
- The decks are different for each type of boat as well. A canoe generally possesses an open deck which means the insides of the boat are not covered. On the other hand, a kayak will have a closed deck. A kayaker will generally be surrounded by the boat once seated.
- There is a difference between the paddles used with each boat. A kayaker will use a paddle with two blades. However, a paddler will be using paddles with a single blade on a canoe.
- The purpose of each boat is different as well. A kayak is constructed with speed in mind. The slender shapes of these boats improve their speed rather significantly. That makes them great for competitive sports. Travel by a kayak will be faster than a canoe. Moreover, kayaks are rarely created for more than two people. In a canoe, there is more space available due to their larger shape. They can carry more people and cargo. A canoe will be designed to ensure stability and space.
Materials Used For Making Kayaks
Kayaks were originally created to help the hunters during their hunting sojourns. The kayaks were primarily used for hunting fish and other animals on rivers and inland lakes. They were even used on coastal waters of the North Atlantic Sea, Bering Sea, North Pacific seas and the Arctic Ocean.
Due to the unavailability of good resources, the hardy people of these regions used what was available to construct the kayaks. This meant the using animal skins to cover up a skeleton frame made from either whalebone or wood.
Of course, those days have passed. Now, there is a wider variety of materials to choose from. Many of these materials have been specially chosen to maximize the performance of the kayak. In fact, the choice of materials available to a kayak builder today is wide and varied. Some of the materials used for constructing these boats are given below.
- Carbon fiber
- Rubberized fabric
- Polyvinyl chloride or PVC
Out of these materials, polyethylene is the most commonly used material for creating a kayak. Kayaks made from this material tend to be light and still hardy enough for use. The choice of materials often depends on the purpose of the kayak. For example, aluminum is used for creating the frame in a foldable kayak.
Paddles for Kayaks
In any manually propelled boat, the paddles are the most essential accessory. Without a good paddle, it can become difficult for the rower to maintain control over the speed and direction of the boat. During sports, the importance of the paddle can multiply significantly. Without it, the rower can tip over and lose complete control over the kayak. High speed maneuvers become impossible without a paddle. An improper paddle can increase the risks of injury and even death.
Kayak paddles are specially designed to be suitable for use in kayak boats. They tend to be longer than the ones used with canoe boats. These paddles have a blade attached to each end. Additionally, the middle of the shaft is used for handling the paddle.
The Feathering of the Paddle
Most recreational kayakers do not need to know the difference between a feathered and an un-feathered paddle. However, there are some kayakers who need a feathered paddle. Long distance kayakers require such paddles to improve their performance.
In a feathered paddle, the position of the two blades is at angles to each other. The angle of the feather can be up to 90 degrees. Some paddles are specially manufactured with an adjustable system so that you can customize the feathering angle to your preferences. By placing a blade at an angle, the wind resistance can be eliminated. Kayakers will be holding the paddle in such a way that the blade slices through the air and preventing the wind from placing any pressure on it.
The use of feathering has been found by some kayakers to be necessary for their activities. Sea kayakers or fishing kayakers feel that they perform better when their paddles are feathered. After all, they need to travel long distances where wind resistance can make their progress slower. By eliminating wind resistance, the kayakers need to fight lesser against the wind. That helps them in conserving their energy for the long trip and move faster at the same time.
Other kayakers, however, do not derive any benefits from the feathering of their paddles. For example, whitewater kayakers need their paddles to be durable. Since they are already moving at a high speed, feathering does not provide any additional benefit.
The Weight of the Paddles
Kayak paddles are not supported by the kayaks unlike other boats. Therefore, the kayaker has to bear the entire weight of paddle. That is why kayakers prefer paddles that have been constructed from lighter materials. In fact, the expensive paddles tend to be the lightest in the market.
When purchasing a paddle, it is important to take into consideration its weight distribution. Weight savings are preferable for the ends of the paddle. This makes the paddle easier to hold and use. At the same time, it reduces the strain on the user.
Due to the significance of the weight, the materials for making a paddle must be chosen with care. In some paddles, the shaft is made of aluminum and they are cheaper as a result. In the more expensive paddles, the shaft will be created with carbon fiber or fiberglass. These paddles are lighter as well.
Selecting the Correct Accessories for Your Kayak
Due to the widespread popularity of kayaks, various accessories have been developed for it. While some kayak accessories are critical for the safety and performance of the kayaker, others are optional. You can take a look at some of the commonly used accessories given below.
The accessories you require for your kayak will depend greatly on the type of trip you are planning to take on it. Apart from the essentials, there are many other pieces of equipment that you can find useful. They may enhance the safety or the comfort of the kayak. Either way, they can make the activity a more enjoyable one.
You can never take your kayak out without a paddle. It will greatly influence the enjoyment you derive from your kayak. Therefore, you need to select the paddle carefully. You must be able to exert a good grip on it. At the same time, you need to think about your trip and ensure that the paddle is suitable for it. Paddles with wider blades will allow you to accelerate while longer ones are meant for traversing longer distances.
If you are planning to tackle rough water conditions with your kayak, a spray skirt will be essential. In fact, this accessory can be quite useful for most scenarios. A spray skirt is worn by the kayaker and attached to the kayak. This keeps water out of the cockpit making the kayak less likely to capsize. You need to ensure that you can access the grab loop even while wearing the spray skirt.
Coated nylon spray skirts are more comfortable during the breathability of the fabric. They can even be adjusted for various waist sizes. On the other hand, neoprene spray skirts are better at keeping water from entering the cockpit. However, these spray skirts have to be chosen according to specific cockpits and waist sizes.
This is another essential accessory you should use when you are taking your kayak out for a spin. For more leisurely trips such as seas and fishing, a helmet may seem unnecessary. On the other hand, the importance of a padded helmet cannot be underestimated when opting for whitewater or other similar sporty activities. A helmet can prevent serious injuries in such cases. After all, the head is one of the most commonly injured places.
You should choose a helmet that fits your head snugly. There should not be any movements whatsoever. It should be padded for ensuring comfort. A foam lining will be preferable as it can absorb most of the force during an impact with obstacles.
PFD or personal floatation device is another critical piece of equipment that should never be ignored. A personal floatation device is another name for a lifejacket. It does not matter whether you are good swimmer or not, you need a PFD while boating. It is immensely useful in all conditions.
Apart from the size, you have to check the fit of the lifejacket. It should fit like a glove. Never get a PFD altered as it can affect the safety. Instead, search and buy one that fits snugly. Always check the jacket for any rips or holes in the fabric before you use it every time. The straps should be secure.
In fast water conditions, it is easy to lose the grip on the paddle. By attaching a strap, you can ensure that you do not lose it. Without a paddle, you will be left at the mercy of the water currents. In the open sea, you may end up getting lost. In fast rivers, you run the risk of serious injury. Therefore, a paddle strap can end up saving your life.
Whistles and Lights
Both of them can be useful when you are adventuring the open seas with your kayak. They can be used to signal other people in low light conditions thereby avoiding accidents. You may even use them to notify other people that you need their help. Ensure that the torch you are using is waterproof or else it may not work when you really need it. Always test the torch and replace the batteries before going out.
Gloves are optional accessories that you may wear when going for a kayak trip. Choose a glove that enhances the grip you can exercise on the paddle. Some padded gloves can reduce the occurrences of bruises and scratches which often occur doing whitewater sports.
These bags can be used for carrying anything you wish to carry during the trip. You can use these bags to carry food items and water bottles if you planning to be out on the sea for a long time. You can also use them to carry essentials such as lights and communication devices. Ensure that the bags can be attached to the kayak securely. You do not want them to wash away when you accidentally flip over.
While not an accessory per se, the clothing affects your safety, performance and comfort during a trip on a kayak. You need a dry top or a dry suit when the weather and the waters will be cold. Wet suits can be used when travelling over the open seas. Either way, you need your clothes to be comfortable and suitable to the weather and water conditions. They should be waterproof for reasons of comfort and safety.
Uses and Specialties of Kayaks
There is now an incredibly varied range of activities that involve kayaks. Even the kayaks have been specially designed and modified for use for different activities. You can take a look at the following kayak activities and find out which one is best suited for your needs.
Fishing with Kayaks
Kayaks were originally developed to help Inuit and other Arctic hunters to fish. That is why it should not come as a surprise to find kayaks being used for fishing and angling once again in the modern world. You will, however, need a fishing kayak for the purpose as these kayaks have been designed for the activity. A fishing kayak will have a more streamlined design to help you approach fishes more stealthily.
In recent years, fishing with kayaks has become a very popular activity. Kayaks are friendlier towards the environment as they do not generally use any mechanical components such as engines which give off toxic fumes. Moreover, the cost of a kayak is much lower than specialized fishing motor boats. These factors have helped increased the popularity of fishing type of kayaks by a significant margin.
Sport fishing with the help of kayaks has become a specialized form of the activity. This activity is also becoming quite popular. Kayaks even customize their kayaks to better meet the needs of sports fishing and angling. Either way, you need to select the kayak with care as it will affect your performance in the sport.
Before you purchase a kayak for fishing, you need to determine where you wish to enjoy the activity. You need different kayaks for fishing in a lake, a river and a sea. At the same time, the amount of gear you wish to carry on your fishing trip will also affect your choice.
You need to consider a variety of factors while making your selection. Take the following points into account when selecting the kayak.
- Longer kayaks tend to faster than the shorter ones.
- Wider kayaks tend to be more stable than slender ones.
- Certain kayaks will perform better in rough conditions with waves while others fare better on calm waters.
- A kayak should have a good rod holder. This is crucial to fishing.
- Seats with back rests can be necessary as you will be spending a fair amount of time on the kayak. The back rests will allow you to be comfortable for longer periods of time.
If you consult an expert or a professional fishing kayaker, you can receive a better idea about the kayak you should purchase.
Kayak for 2 People
Kayaks were originally designed for a single person. However, kayaks for multiple people were not uncommon even amongst the Inuit and the other Arctic peoples. Today, you can easily find a tandem kayak for enjoying the activity with a partner.
These kayaks have two cockpits so that two people can paddle together. However, this activity is very different from solo paddling. Therefore, there are certain points which have to be taken into account before purchasing a 2 person kayak for you and your partner.
- The Size
Since two people will be sitting inside the kayak, it is generally bigger. However, you need to ensure that it is big enough to be stable. While longer kayaks will ensure faster travel, stability will be enhanced in a wider kayak. Usually, the size you choose will depend on the purpose of the kayak and the skills you and your partner possess.
- The Weight
Kayaks meant for carrying two people are quite heavier than single kayaks. Therefore, you should find out if it will be possible for you carry the kayak with your partner. You may have to invest in a towing mechanism such as a sled if you are unable to carry it. However, you should not end up purchasing a shorter kayak in order to reduce the weight. Shorter kayaks tend to be less stable in the water. Moreover, they can be more uncomfortable.
- Kayaker Distance
A kayaker should be able to sit comfortably in a tandem kayak. It should not be too far, or there can be a danger of capsizing. At the same time, it will not be possible for you to reach your partner quickly during an emergency and vice versa. After all, you may end up passing items to each other during the trip. If the distance is too short, the kayakers will not be able to sit comfortably, especially the one who is sitting in the back seat. The distance between the two kayakers should be enough to give the right amount of comfort and safety.
- Storage Options
Since a dual seat kayak is generally used for leisurely trips, you may feel the need for a storage space. The space will allow you to keep essentials and non-essentials such as food, water, emergency lights and any other item you may need. Check out the storage space to see if it can be reached by at least one of the passengers. Some kayaks may have straps which can be used for securing gear during trips.
- Type of Trip
Not all kayaks are meant to traverse all waters. You should determine where you want to go out with the kayak with your partner. Take the preferences of your partner into account while making your choice. After all, a kayak for travelling on fast rivers will be different from the ones that are used on the seas. Either way, you need to ensure that the kayak has been constructed from strong materials and are safe for use.
When purchasing a 2 person kayak, you should remember that the wishes of your partner also need to be taken into consideration. After all, sailing on a dual seat kayak can only be a source of joy when you and your partner enjoy it together. Of course, a sailing trip can be difficult if one or both of you are amateurs. However, with time, both of you can reach a tandem while paddling which will make future trips more enjoyable.
Inflatable Type of Kayaks
These types of kayaks did not get very good reviews when they were first created and used in spite of the convenience they provided. Today, the feelings about these kayaks have changed. Manufacturers have managed to created high quality inflatable Kayaks. In fact, some of them are considered to be even better than the traditional kayaks. The massive surge of popularity has been made possible thanks the availability of high grade materials that keep the kayaks strong in spite of being inflatable. There are quite a few reasons why you should consider using an inflatable kayak instead of a traditional noon-flexible one.
- Performance has always been a major point of concern for serious enthusiasts and kayakers. Hard-shell kayaks have traditionally performed better. However, modern manufacturers are ensuring that their inflatables can give as good a performance as the hard-shell ones. The latest of these kayaks can give you a better performance than a similarly priced hard-shell kayak.
- Ease of storage and transpiration has always been the major advantage that an inflatable kayak had over the other kinds of kayaks. These kayaks are extremely easy to carry around. Moreover, when deflated, they weigh very less. You can easily carry them by means of a transport bag. If you want, you can carry them inside the trunk of your car instead of attaching it to the roof.
- The ease of use is another advantage of these kayaks. All you need to do for preparing the kayak for use is to unroll and inflate it. Inflating the kayak will take only a few minutes as long as you use an air pump.
- These kayaks tend to be more stable as well. In fact, it is difficult for these kayaks to capsize. If you are just learning how to paddle a kayak, these types of kayaks will prove to be a great aid for your learning process.
- Versatility is another great benefit of the inflatable boats. These kayaks can be used in nearly all conditions. The prevailing misconception is that these kayaks should only be used in calm water conditions. However, manufacturers have come up with ways to make the kayaks stronger and more durable. Therefore, such kayaks can be used in whitewater conditions without any problem whatsoever. You simply need to choose the correct one.
Kayaks for the Seas
The very first kinds of kayaks were created to help people traverse the open seas in search of fish and other foods. That is why many manufacturers have created kayaks that can tackle the conditions often faced at seas to help enthusiasts relieve the experiences of the ancient people. Of course, you can also use them to tour the beautiful waters around coastal areas. A sea kayak can be used not only on seas and oceans but also bays, lakes and other open calm waters.
These kayaks are radically different from the ones used for whitewater activities. The ones used in whitewater and sports activities are much more maneuverable. However, ocean kayaks exchange their ease of maneuverability for other benefits. Some of those benefits are given below.
- The cruising speed of an ocean kayak will be higher.
- The capacity for storing cargo is higher as well.
- Ocean kayaks tend to be more stable than whitewater kayaks.
- It is easier to maintain a straight line movement with a sea faring kayak.
- They tend to be more comfortable allowing journeys to go on for longer periods.
You can use a sea kayak to enjoy marine journeys that range from a few hours to a few days. Due to the enhanced cargo capacities of these vessels, you can carry a lot of gear, food and water to make your trip memorable. It might even be possible to carry around a complete set of camping gear in such kayaks.
A lesser known fact about the modern foldable kayaks is that they are directly the descendants of the original Inuit kayaks. Even the original kayaks could be collapsed and folded. By their very nature, foldable kayaks provide some interesting and useful advantages over the other kinds of kayaks. Some of those advantages are given below.
- The biggest benefit of opting for a folding kayak is that it is extremely easy to transport and store. By dismantling and folding the parts of the kayak, you are reducing the overall space required by the kayak. You can store the kayak in a bag which you can carry anywhere and keep in the trunk of your car. This is the major reason why people choose foldable kayaks.
- There is a misconception about foldable kayaks. People tend to believe that these kayaks are fragile and can break easily under stress. While these vessels do seem fragile, they are anything but so. Most manufacturers these days do ensure that their foldable kayaks are capable of handling a lot of stress. They use the strongest materials such as carbon fiber to ensure the strength of the vessel. Provided you choose your folding kayak wisely, there will be no danger of the vessel breaking apart in the water.
- There are no issues regarding the safety of the foldable kayaks that are manufactured today. Most of them go through a rigorous set of tests before they are launched into the market. Additionally, these foldable kayaks come in a variety of types and sizes. Therefore, you can easily choose a vessel that is wide enough to be stable for you.
However, in spite of their benefits, foldable kayaks have a few disadvantages that you should know about before making a purchase.
- It is essential to purchase a high quality foldable kayak. Cheaper models may compromise on the integrity and strength of the structure. Unfortunately, high quality vessels will be quite expensive and not all people may be able to afford them.
- Maintenance is another problem with these vessels. Usually, you need to clean them thoroughly after use in salty waters especially if aluminum parts have been used in the frame. You need to put in quite a bit of effort to maintain such vessels.
- Another problem you may face is assembling and dismantling the kayak. Even those who have good handyman skills require quite a bit of time to perform these tasks. The amount of effort and time required for preparing these kayaks for use or storage can be frustrating for many kayakers.
- If the kayak is not assembled properly, the risk of capsizing increases dramatically. Water can enter the vessel making it unstable if the seals have not been applied properly.
As the name suggests, these types of kayaks are specially designed for recreational purposes. If you have only a causal interest in riding a kayak or are just learning how to ride it, you will find recreational kayaks to be a good choice. These kayaks are meant to be used on calm water surfaces such as flat water rivers or lakes. They are also quite popular as they are quite easy to use.
Unlike other kayaks, a recreational kayak will have a larger cockpit. The large cockpit allows you to get into the kayak or exit it easily. The beam of the boats is wider as well. That increases the stability of the boat which is essential for beginners and causal kayakers.
A recreational kayak will typically be around twelve feet long. This decreases the speed of the boat considerably. On the other hand, this allows the boat to be lighter making it easier for people to carry. Handling of the boat is improved as well thanks to its length. You can exert a greater degree of control over the kayak in the water.
However, the cargo capacity of the boat is also reduced due to the length. The hull of these boats is wider. This means that you will find it impossible to track the boat. In other words, it is extremely difficult to keep travelling in a straight line using a recreational kayak.
Be that as it may, the cost of these kayaks is cheaper than the other varieties. This is partly due to the length but mostly because of the materials. As these kayaks are meant for recreational use, manufacturers do not place too many extra additions such as large storage areas. This keeps the costs down.
Sports Activities with Kayaks
Using a kayak to move across water is known as kayaking. However, the term has come to be associated with the different sports activities that involve the use of the kayak boat. Over the years, various sports have been developed that use kayaks. The most common type of sport invokes racing with the help of kayaks. This has, in fact, become an Olympic sport. However, other sports such as whitewater and surf are also quite popular. Of course, these forms tend to hold a lot of appeal for adrenaline seekers and enthusiasts.
- Surf kayak sports involve using a kayak to ride the surf and waves in the seas. In many ways, it is similar to surfing with a surfboard. In fact, both sports can be practiced in the same areas. The popularity of the sport has increased in the last few years. In many places, professionals take part in surf kayak competitions. Professionals prefer to use kayaks that have been specially designed for the sport.
- Whitewater kayak sports take place in rivers where the water currents are fast. Whitewater rivers are commonly chosen for the purpose which gives the sport its name. The speed of the water and the terrain determine the challenge posed by the river. There are a few subcategories of this sport which is determined by the style of the kayakers and the terrain. This sport is the most extreme form of kayak sports which attracts adrenaline junkies.
- Playboating is considered to be a subcategory of whitewater kayak sports. In this discipline, the kayaker will perform a series of technical moves and stunts in a single place. There are various moves and stunts that a skilled kayaker can perform such as the kayak roll. During competitions, points are awarded to each kayaker on the basis of the difficulty and flair of their moves.
Kayaking boats need to be specially designed to meet the needs of the sports. Some of the features of these boats are given below.
- These kayaks are more durable as they need to withstand a lot of stress and impacts.
- The maneuverability of the kayaks is higher than other boats.
- The weight of these boats is lower in order to maximize the performance of the kayakers.
A kayak can be a great type of boat to have around. They can be used for getting your daily dose of exercise or adrenaline rush. Either way, you need to ensure that you buy the correct kind of kayak based on how you are going to use it. You should always go through the reviews of kayaks before making a purchase. This will ensure that you have chosen a model that will give you the service you desire.