Types of Kayaks | 14 Types You Need to Know In 2021

Kayak is growing around the world. It is estimated at around 16.4 million users. However, there are many types of kayaking for initiated kayakers. That is why it is a requirement to take some time to investigate which is the precise boat to use before getting into these long and thin varieties of kayaks. There are also others for extreme sports in muddy waters and others for simple agility sports.

And well, maybe for those who rent the wrong kayak, things won’t be so bad, but if you think about buying a kayak. Then things get a little complicated. Let’s have a look at the types of kayaks for beginners and how to use them correctly. You can have great discounts, BTW! They go from 2.5 to 10%.

The kayak is a boat whose origin is Eskimo. In its beginnings, you can build this boat with a structure or skeleton formed by bones that gave it shape and a cover of treated animal skins that made it airtight.

The lack of other materials in the environment conditioned the construction of this type of boat. They built with what they had most accessible. They used it for fishing and hunting, with harpoons, and for trips together. The kayaks made in Greenland were the most effective. In fact, by 1930, there were more than half a million kayaks throughout Europe. Among kayakers, you can find Alexander “Zee” Grant.

The person sits in the kayak, is well enclosed inside, and propels the boat with a double-bladed paddle. In the Sea Kayak or Touring Kayak, it is also possible to steer the boat’s course with a foot-operated paddle. In a kayak, the number of crew members can be one, two, or four (as a tandem kayak).

Types of Kayak

Here are some of the most popular kayak;

  • Rigid Kayaks
  • Detachable or modular kayak
  • Folding kayak
  • Inflatable Kayak
  • Self-emptying kayaks or sits on tops
  • Sea kayaking or surfing
  • Fishing Kayak
  • Kayak with pedals
  • Competition kayaking
  • Sea kayak or surf ski competition
  • Whitewater kayaking, surfing
  • Kayak polo
  • Kayak slalom or slalom
  • Closed kayak

Types of kayak According to their Materials

We can classify kayaks is how you can handle them at the time of transport or concerning the materials used for their construction. There are closed cockpit ones, and also open ones.

Within this categorization, we are with the next types of kayaks and uses:

Rigid Kayaks

This boat is the traditional kayak that most people use. They are manufactured in polyethylene, glass, Kevlar, glass, polyester, plastic, and wood.

Concerning size and weight, it varies quite a bit as to what they are made for, but generally, the weight can reach up to 20 kilograms, so it does not have to do with a simple boat to transport to the destination.

Detachable or Modular Kayak

The detachable or modular kayak has numerous assembly parts that provide the simplicity of transport and handling. This kind of boat’s highlight is that many brands accept transforming kayaks from a single person into a 2 or 3 person kayak by just adding a few pieces.

When it comes to assembling them, we are talking about something straightforward that takes a few minutes. So, there is nothing to worry about.

Folding kayak

The folding kayak is carried out in wood and aluminum materials covered with waterproof fabric that are easily foldable and has a rigid design that can shrink its size to the level of entering a large backpack.

Inflatable Kayak

The inflatable kayak is the most manipulable and straightforward to transport in this category because we can transport it in a simple way inside a big backpack.

On the other hand, although cheap, this kind of kayaks is precarious, so they are not suitable for training sports or anything like that, much less for traveling in rough waters.

This boat is ideal only if you think about having satisfying time fishing or having fun in the water.

Types of kayak According to the Activity

In addition to the previous categorization, it is also viable to classify kayaks according to the activity. You must remember that no kayak is designed for every kind of action and omitting this can turn into a complete and total disaster.

Self-emptying kayaks or sits on tops

This sits in a kayak or sits on tops moves away from what we know as kayaking by providing an open boat with feet out. Generally, it is not harmful to go out in the water, but it is quite broad on the negative side, so it is not the highlight of a professional kayaker.

Besides this, since we are talking about a shallow and open boat, you may end up soaked if you want to learn about turbulent waters. However, this boat is very permanent, so it is incredible for beginners.

Sea kayaking or Surfing

The surf ski is a type of kayak too narrow and extensive to run in the sea. It has a self-emptying system to prevent water from accumulating in our boat, and they are very balanced.

Being such a narrow boat requires a lot of experience to use it correctly. You can get a long-distance trip.

Fishing Kayak

This is a self-emptying kayak variable that has fishing complements. Some people leave their paddles aside to locate a combustion engine or use pedals. Get the best fishing kayak under 600.

Kayak with Pedals

Kayaking is an activity that needs a lot of energy in the arms to be done. As mentioned above, it has nothing to do with an activity that anyone can do.

An entirely possible option for those who do not have the possibility or want to use the paddle for a long time is to exploit these boats with pedals.

They use a system of turbines connected to pedals that propel the boat.

Competition kayaking

This kayak is possibly the thinnest and longest. They are manufactured primarily to achieve maximum viable agility through their superior hydrodynamic performance.

However, regardless of its development, this boat is enormously unbalanced and requires excellent maneuverability and experience to use it without capsizing.

Sea Kayak or Surf Ski Competition

This boat is created to be used in open sea disputes. They tend to be manufactured with fast and resistant materials and with an extension of about 6 meters. Concerning the width, they tend to be very narrow, even narrower than the sit on top kayaks we mentioned before.

Whitewater Kayaking, Surfing

This boat is among the smallest there is to offer the most significant viable maneuverability.

It does not have room to shelter elements, nor much less, but it goes well to carry out an enormous amount of movements that require accuracy and agility.

Kayak Polo

This boat does not possess enough, in particular, to carry out one to distinguish the others.

They are perfected for the sport of kayak polo, which is water polo mixed with bumper cars.

Concerning size, they are minimal and do not have storage space to shelter elements.

Kayak slalom or slalom

The slalom is a sport that consists of crossing gates completed with two rods that assimilate an improvised goal.

This boat is created mainly for this sport. Since the most relevant thing in this activity is mobility, these boats are tiny and medium-width, so agility is sacrificed to achieve safety and maneuverability.

Closed Kayak

Finally, these are the boat that most resembles the classic model that emerged well over four millennia ago. This is one of the most adaptable boats to the pretensions of each one. Generally, the width is at least 60 cm, and the length is 350 cm with a closed cockpit.

The height is perfect for achieving excellent security, and the length and beam can change a lot.

These boats have a waterproof skirt to prevent water from entering our boat.

How to Choose the Unique Kayaks

Selecting the perfect boat for your occupation, whether it is sports or recreational, is not a simple task. You will find lots of alternatives to these boats on the market. Choosing the right one is complicated.

And if there is no doubt about it, there is nothing more annoying than spending at least one-hour rowing, which is annoying.

We leave you some advice to choose the ideal boat:

  • Choose fast and resistant materials such as kevlar, plastic, or fiberglass.
  • Before purchasing, keep in mind to understand the location where you plan to use the boat.
  • Question the level of experience you have using this kind of boat.
  • Check the paddles so that they have the primary grip to achieve the greatest possible thrust.
  • Choose branded boats to be sure you get the highest quality possible.
  • If you don’t think about recreation, forget about inflatable boats.
  • Check the width and length of your boat. The thinner and shorter it is, the more difficult it will be to maneuver.

How many People think about Using the Boat?

Don’t forget this before buying or renting. You won’t be disappointed as they say here! If you have some inconvenience in your arms or think you might not adjust completely to a tour, you can choose a boat with pedals. This can improve your skills. Also, take into account your weight. However, most Americans do not fit into this 143-187 lb. (65-85 kg) weight range. This is contradictory because some are very heavy, and others are very light.

Types of Kayak: FAQ

Which type of kayak is best?

Touring kayaks provide the best tracking of any kayak (easy to advance). They offer plenty of cargo space in the bulkheads and are thin enough to swing like a whitewater kayak. Sea kayaks are perfect for coastal seas and the Great Lakes.

What is the difference between a sea kayak and a regular kayak?

Sea kayaks tend to be very narrow and very long, which means that you have the possibility of following them well. You will have the opportunity to keep them straight, you will have the chance to go entirely, quite a bit faster than a recreational kayak, but at the same time, they will be very inclined, and that is done on purpose for rough waters.

What are the two types of kayaks?

You will find two kinds of kayaks: flat water and white water.


Boats are not classified by water type, but it is still useful to start here and assume which area you plan to examine before choosing your boat between 70 and 80% of a kayak moves underwater. There you can take advantage of some fast maneuvers in the water.

The lakes: We are talking about the local lake here, not Lake Superior. If the weather conditions are good and the destination is nearby, you can go with a tour boat or a pleasure boat and entertain yourself. If the weather is terrible and the goal is close, people can overcome a purely recreational boat. Take into account bodies of water too.

The coasts: This is where the wind, the waves, the currents, the tides, and more come into play. That’s why having a course boat with a rudder, a fixed tracking fin, or a skeg (a folding fin) makes sense. If you live where you don’t mind swimming or plan to do some kayaking, a sit-on-top may be an acceptable alternative.

Rivers: We are not talking about technical speed. White water kayaks are out of the scope of this article. If you are floating on a river, you want a permanent, sturdy boat that turns quickly. It can be a short, permanent recreational sit-on-top boat or a day-trip kayak and a top sitting kayak.

Rivers and lakes: If you plan to use your boat in both flowing and relaxed waters, use a short course kayak or a kayak with a stool. These tour boats usually have a skeg. This configuration will allow you to turn responsively when the skeg is up and follow efficiently when the skeg is down. A short boat with a rudder would also be an alternative, but the rudders are commonly in longer boats.

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