There are as many different kinds of kayaking kayaks as there are different ways to use them. That brings us to our first basic question: what are the different kayak types? Think of this as the ultimate all-in-one reference guide to all the different kayak varieties, essential differences between them, and best recommended uses! So sit back, relax, and take a deep breath – because it’s time to learn! Below you will find a quick list of the most popular kayak varieties, with brief descriptions and links that provide further information.
One of the most popular kayaking styles around is the tandem kayak type, which is ideal for people who wish to travel on one body but don’t need both hands free for boarding. The most common set-up is two people facing each other with one paddle between them, with the other hand in the front to assist with balance. Because one person is typically in the front, the other can easily hang behind and can be watched from the main cockpit view. Tandem kayaks can be used in a wide variety of situations, from whitewater rafting to freshwater lakes to long distance cruising; however, they are not the only one-man kayaking craft available, and other different kayak types are available, including freestyle kayaking, canoeing and ski boats.
Another popular type of boat, popular among newcomers to kayaking and across the sport itself, is the single kayak or cockpit kayak. This is the basic setup and can vary slightly from one manufacturer to the next. Typically, a cockpit kayak is equipped with one paddle and two paddlers; this means that the kayaker can stand up straight and use both his/her hands to control the direction of the craft. Paddle placement varies from craft to craft, depending on visibility, wind conditions and comfort.
Beginners tend to start with either a sit-on or sit-stay, also known as the “pro” and “com” style. Sit-on style paddles are attached to a rearward facing seat via a hinge, with the paddle being held in the hands while it remains in position on the seat. The motorized “com” style is attached to the motor of the craft itself, either on the boat or within the kayak itself. Although this might be easier for newbies, sit-stay and com styles are generally safe enough for novice divers. However, some craft provide separate controls for both the paddle and the motor; if your craft doesn’t have this option, consider purchasing separate controls for both.
The best kayak for fishing is still the sit-stay, but there are some variations for speed and range of operation. The single-stepped “stiff” paddle allows a very smooth sailing pace for new divers, while offering a good amount of control. Some “stiff” models feature a rudder, for additional maneuverability. For those looking for a kayak that’s more stable and can stand up to a little more wear and tear, the twin hull “tall” models are a good bet. These models include a main body of watercraft and the stern post, which offer more stability and comfort for larger divers. These are also a popular choice for fishing.
There are also varying options in terms of the kayak’s hull materials. Many newer, lightweight models feature aluminum hulls, which offer a light feel while holding the boat in one place. High-end models, many of which are double-walled, are often constructed of carbon fiber or Kevlar, which provide greater strength at the same time as superior flexibility. Lightweight, inflatable kayaks, on the other hand, are great for long distance travel and offer ease of storage. These are typically used by whitewater kayakers or for lighter river and lake activities.
Finally, there are many different kinds of sit-on-top kayaks. Sit-on tops allow users to sit up straight in the kayak and generally offer better overall stability and maneuverability than do ground kayaks. There are also sit-on top pontoon boats that are very well designed and built, and feature strong hulls and frames for durability. Further, sit-on tops generally fold up easily and quickly when not in use, saving kayak owners money in the form of storage fees. These boats can be used in all types of conditions, but are particularly suited to the outdoors and freshwater sports.
Regardless, of which kayak type you choose, there are many benefits to owning a boat that has a cockpit. For example, a cockpit offers an easy means of keeping both the kayaker and any nearby threats away from the sensitive electronics devices that often make up the kayaking cockpit. Kayakers who regularly fish will also find that a cockpit offers them a safer means of fishing, as they will have a greater distance at which to cast their lines. And, of course, a great cockpit will allow the paddler to sit up straight in the kayak, thus allowing them to better control the vessel in performance