What is a Kayak?

Kayaks are a kind of boat that is slim and small and is used by a limited number of people, often a single person at a time. In some other terms, it can also be mentioned as a canoe. It is considered to be a sport equipment by many, as the major use of this particular boat is generally in sports and aquatic races. Various kinds of kayaks are available in the market and their designs differ with their usages. If classified broadly, the major kinds of kayaks are – surf play kayaks, fishing, and leisure and tour kayaks often termed as ocean kayaks.

The design of kayaks is very significant to the purposes that they serve. For e.g. leisure kayak is easy for beginners, it is light in weight and can be manoeuvred easily. It is to be noted that though it’s light, it is durable enough to withstand all weather conditions. Kayak generally comes with two cockpits for two people, as leisure is often in company and safer thus. The ocean kayaks or the tour kayaks are designed with a longer journey in mind and therefore have more capacity to store as they have a compartment for the purpose of storage as well. These kayaks can carry supplies that would last for at least a day or two. They are relatively stronger in built and can withstand tougher conditions and violent waters.


The fishing kayaks, as the name suggests, are used for the purpose of fishing. They are more narrow and sleek in their design, thereby enabling the occupant to manoeuvre into spaces which are far tighter. Such kinds of kayaks come in two major designs. The first one has the occupant sitting on top and the other one has a cockpit for them. Both have their advantages and should be discussed with the dealer prior to buying one. This helps the person in choosing what serves their purpose best. For e.g. the first kind enables the person to move out freely and is ideal for warm waters whereas the second one if utilized correctly would be ideal for waters which although shallow, have a relatively stronger current.

Though the kayaks are often mentioned as canoes, there is a difference between the two and it features the sitting and paddling positions of the occupants. In a kayak, the paddler sit facing forward with his legs forward as well and uses a two bladed paddle. On the other hand in a canoe the paddler does sit facing forward but is in a kneeling posture and uses a single bladed paddle. Initially designed as a hunting vessel the kayaks over the years have become a major source of aquatic recreation and sports. The sport has grown in stature and multiplied into various sub branches some of which have also been inducted in to the Olympics.

The modern kayaks and ocean kayaks in particular are designed with the help of the computer aided designs or CAD and are far better than their native designs. This is not surprising considering the fact that today their use and utility has also diversified into fields not earlier imagined.

You may also like to read Plastiki.

References: kayakhelp, ineed2know

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About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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