Why has kayaking become so popular?
Kayaking is an activity that draws its attraction from the disconnection from modern technology and its associated worries it provides. The number of people who enjoy this activity regularly in their leisure time increases yearly. Kayaking is regarded as one of the most rapidly growing adventure activities in North America, as per recent National Sporting Goods Association and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).
A January 2009 survey noted a 15.2% increment from 2007 to 2008 in the kayakers in the 25-44 age group. The survey reported a general increase, in 2008, in the number of Americans who pursued outdoor, nature-based activities. The biggest reason for this growing trend towards kayaking is attributed to the fact that this activity lets one escape from the monotony and exhaustion of everyday life – even though it happens in urban areas these days.
Kayakers often speak of the inner peace they experience from the quietness and solitude of a kayak outing.
Another reason for its popularity is that kayaking can often be done with other adventure activities such as fishing, hiking, and photography. It is a personal and unique experience to travel and sit in a kayak by a historic plantation in the Deep South. You can enjoy this water sport alone or with your friends – and the trips can last from a few hours to a few days. You may start in calmer waters as a beginner and slowly progress to more aggressive bodies that will test you, both physically and psychologically. Enthusiasts prefer the latter, researching their own to find the best kayaks to match their hardcore kayaking preferences.
Those trying out kayaking can do so at highly affordable rates – typically $40 for 6 hours. This cost includes all gear and the kayak itself, but this also depends on the location and the demand. Consulting a professional guide is a great idea when going on a kayaking trip – they will advise you on which kayak types are suitable for your trip, the route to take to see the most idyllic sights, and any precautions you need to observe. (Find the Best Sit On Top Kayak Under 300)
Women and children are among the fast-growing fan base of this sport, whereas teenagers aged 14-15 are the only exception among whom it isn’t as popular.
The reason is probably their texting and social media obligations, which keep them away from physical activities; however, it is predicted that as they grow older, they will also begin to crave the relaxation, adventure, and real-life interaction offered by the great outdoors in the form of sporting activities like kayaking.
What are the different types of kayaks?
Kayak type depends on their body style and hull. Recreational paddling is the most common application of kayaks among leisure users. In essence, it refers to kayaking in calm waters, e.g., lakes, flatwater, ponds, sheltered ocean bays, salt marshes, etc. There are three types of recreational kayaks according to their accommodation capacity:
- Single – seats one.
- Tandem – seats two.
- Tri yak – seats three.
12-foot kayaks are the maximum limit for recreational activities. In essence, they have wider cockpit openings for easy entry/exit, a wider width (beam) for better stability, are lighter to lift because of their length, have lesser cargo holding capacity, and are composed of rotomolded plastic to keep their price between $300 and $800.
Here is a kayak comparison according to the activities they are used for:
These are sophisticated, durable, lightweight, and high-performance kayaks. As you’ll see in several inflatable kayak reviews, their better varieties have spines and rib frames, as well as forms to toughen their structure.
Some may incorporate puncture-resistant PVC hulls, as well as a floor base. Ranging in kayak length from 8’ to 15’ can easily be inflated via a foot pump in less than twenty minutes. They can be used independently or as a team for recreation and fishing in open coastal waters, flat water, and whitewater.
The versatile light touring kayaks are suitable for beginners – they are longer, with slightly more space for holding extra gear, and can be used for day trips and overnight camping scenarios.
They cost less than the sea touring kayak but are slightly less durable. Because of their versatility, they can be used as river or lake kayaks, provided that the weather is mild.
Sea kayaks were originally wooden boats used by the natives of Northern Canada, Alaska, and South-Western Greenland. They are sturdy enough to handle rough weather without tipping over, carrying more cargo, and tracking better.
Modern sea kayaks are composed of rotomolded, carbon-kevlar, or fiberglass. They may be longer than 12’ to enhance their tracking capability, but this requires the paddle-powered kayaks to be augmented with rudders to compensate for their increased difficulty in navigation due to their length.
2 Person Kayaks
Also known as a tandem kayak. These are made of rotomolded wood, fiberglass, folding, and inflatable material. They can have a big single cockpit or two smaller separate ones.
A single cockpit with adjustable seats is preferable since it can allow for solo paddling as well.
Because of their more full beams, these kayaks have longer paddles, and they are faster in the water because of their longer waterline and combined paddling power. The key to successfully operating tandem kayaks is the teamwork and understanding between the two paddlers and their correct positioning according to paddle strength.
Sit on Top Kayaks
These are among the most popular kayaks, particularly among young people/beginners, and are easy and fun to use. These are open kayaks with an open hull (i.e., a paddleboard) with a seat on which the paddler can sit on top.
Because of their wider beam, they can be easily kept upright and are also more stable. Even if they flip over, they can easily be upright again thanks to the open design, preventing water from swamping in.
Rotomolded type kayaks have air inside them, which keeps them naturally buoyant. Because of their open hull, they make for some of the best fishing kayaks.
Their fiberglass or plastic build makes them lightweight, low maintenance, and durable, so you’ll often see them at rental shops. They are available in both solo and tandem designs.
Fishing kayaks are either sit-on-tops or sit-inside. These kayaks, which come in solo and tandem models, are meant for use by anglers, which is why they need to have plenty of cargo space.
A more stable platform is present because of the typical side-to-side motions involved in fishing. Often, fishing kayaks come with extra storage space for fishing gear.
Sit-on-tops have already been discussed; in short, they sacrifice speed for the sake of stability, can navigate confined areas, and allow easy access to gear.
On the other hand, sit in kayak fishing has more incredible speed and protection with the drawback of restricted access to gear. Coastal fishers typically prefer sit-in kayaks for their properties.
Depending on the angler’s need, there is a lot of variation in fishing kayak features from model to model. Your fishing grounds will play a role in determining the type of fishing kayak you want.
If you are fishing in the ocean, you’ll need to cover greater distances and handle the wave and wind motion, for which a longer and narrower kayak will be optimal. On the other hand, if you are going to be fishing in sheltered flat waters, maneuverability will be your chief concern, so you should stick with a lighter, shorter kayak that can make fast turns.
Some fishing kayaks have integrated rudder systems for easy turning, course correction, and straight tracking. In contrast, some pedal-powered kayaks, i.e., have a secondary pedal system installed beside the usual paddles, which allow anglers’ hands-free movement by shifting forward / backward control to your feet – foot-powered kayaks are particularly useful for trolling.
In many cases, the kayak pedals are removable and mount into built-in hull openings.
When you’re outfitting a fishing kayak, remember that these will be considered extra parts, increasing the overall cost of the boat. It would help if you only got as fancy as your budget allows and then added more parts on your own as their need arises. (Read How to Build an Outdoor Lifestyle and Get Fit With Your Kids)
What are the top kayak brands?
Here are some great kayak brands that frequently enjoy highly positive kayak reviews from both professional and amateur boaters:
The Sport Kayaks offered by this brand are versatile boats. Essentially, they can deliver performance and reliability in whitewater rivers to match your adrenaline rush or smooth, sure movement in calm waters.
The SeaEagle 330, their most portable and light kayak, is also the most famous vessel of its kind in America – weighing in at just 26 pounds! You could fit it in the trunk of a small car, but it is robust enough to sustain the combined weights (up to 500 pounds) of two people while remaining easy to carry by only one. The other popular product is the SeaEagle 370, 32 pounds, and three individuals carrying capacity (650 pounds).
This boat lets you carry equipment for long camping, river running, or fishing trips. These vessels boat a hull made of extra-thick Polykrylar, an I-beam style construction floor for more rigidity, expandable spray skirts, front and back rope handles, removable inflatable back, and front-seat a self-bailing vale for drainage.
Tracking is crucial for a kayak, so skegs are incorporated into these kayaks to enhance their monitoring in many glasses of water to conserve paddling effort. Plenty of cheap competitors skip the skegs for a lower cost, but with its dual molded skegs, a Sea Eagle Sport Kayak will be the best kayak for the money.
The range of inflatable kayaks/canoes offered by Advanced Elements is highly suitable for use in family-based water trips/activities. They become fully inflated in a matter of minutes and are extremely easy to use, as well as very reliable. Manufactured from top-notch materials, these kayaks are designed meticulously.
They can be packed in a bag that goes quickly inside the trunk of a car, which means they are easily transportable for long journeys. Besides offering an extensive range of kayaks, Advanced Elements sells plenty of accessories and spares for kayaking.
There’s even a two-year guarantee on their kayaks offered by the retailer, Vortex. Advanced Elements have pricey, heavy-duty kayaks and light, inexpensive kayaks, e.g., the Advanced frame Sport Kayak, to match your needs and budget.
Perception guarantees to help you find a kayak to match your lifestyle. Whether for quality family fun, solitary relaxation, adventure, or simple exercise, there will be a Perception Sport kayak for you.
The Recreational kayaks from Perception let you quickly integrate kayaking into your life thanks to their swiftness, control, and ease of use, combined with stability and handling.
The Expedition/Touring line of kayaks delivers more performance, better compactness, and a greater capacity than their recreational line.
However, their handling is also predictable for beginners and pros, so they can easily be used for longer trips on all water types. Be it several day journeys or a boating trip in rough weather; these kayaks are guaranteed to deliver performance.
Priced at $505, the Tribe 9.5 kayak by Perception is inexpensive, easy to handle, and aesthetically appealing sit-on-top that works equally well in calm and rough waters.
This manufacturer claims to let you experience the world differently – a quiet ride, a day spent on the water, an extended trip, or challenging a tough river and its obstacles – all such adventurous moments are guaranteed to be made that much more special by the equipment provided at Riot, which is better equipped and better designed at any of their price ranges.
Recently, Riot has launched a wide range of thermoformed kayaks to cater to the needs of those looking for faster and lighter boats. They also claim that they focus on connecting with their customers online to ensure maximum value and experience from their products.
Riot has application-specific affordable kayaks for whitewater activities (playboating, river running, creeking, surfing) and flatwater (recreational, day touring, touring, fishing, SOT).
Calling itself the ‘rock star’ of kayaks, Tahe Marine has almost 25 years of experience. She offers various designations of composite/tripe layer polyethylene rotomolded kayaks to different tastes. All Tahe products are manufactured in Estonia.
The basic categories of Tahe kayaks are Wind, Reval, Spirit, Lifestyle, Tandem, Fit, and Aqua. Besides the specific Tandem line, most other categories also have two-person models chosen as required. (Read our Sevylor Tahiti Kayak Review)
The Fit line has the most extensive selection, including solo, tandem, recreational, fishing, motor & sail, sit-on-top, etc. A great feature of this manufacturer’s website is the ability to enter a Live Chat with their representative to get better guidance regarding your kayak purchase.
This manufacturer has been making top-quality whitewater kayaks for more than one decade. Starting in 2001 on North Carolina’s Green River, they joined hands with Legacy Paddlesports in Greensboro. They have moved to a modern manufacturing/testing facility in the same city.
The Liquid Logic team designs, manufacture, and tryouts its line of kayaks. One of their chief designers is Shane Benedict, who also happens to be an international playboater and a decade-long US Freestyle Team member, as well as a well-known NOC instructor.
Most of Liquid Logic’s employees have several years of whitewater kayaking experience. Liquid Logic is a global brand with centers in Japan, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia, thanks to its meticulous testing and high product quality, performance, and safety standards.
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Liquid Logic makes a complete range of whitewater kayaks, including creeks, freestyle, river runners, and crossover boats, besides several SOT kayaks. Their price range lies at $800 to $1100. The products are known for their quality, rollability, stability, and maneuverability.
There are also plenty of other manufactures with many excellent kayaks for sale. Finding the right manufacturer won’t be a problem once you learn to identify your needs and identify a good kayak’s critical characteristics. (Read Intex Excursion 4 Review)
How to pick a kayak
The kayak brands list in the market is quite extensive, as demonstrated by some of the best details above. Picking out the right one is mostly dependent on how you will use it and the experience you have, as well as your budget constraints. Even though kayak brands have much in common, there are also some distinctions between them that you need to understand to purchase the best all-around kayak to suit your needs.
Kayaks are usually categorized according to their intended purpose, e.g., whitewater, recreation, folding, or sea. Inside each of these categories, there are further refinements in kayaks available.
Recreational kayaks are meant for the casual paddler not interested in crazy performance. They include fishing, sit-on-top, inflatable, and boats with a shorter length and a bigger cockpit. Whitewater kayaks are utilized in rapid waters and are composed of hard plastic.
Touring or sea kayaks are used in open water and often incorporate below-deck storage capability for trips that last for multiple days. For those who will use the kayaks for travel, folding kayaks are recommended for their portability, hardiness, and versatility.
Here is a comparison between recreational and touring kayaks – a couple of widespread kayak types:
|Day or greater
|Ponds, calm bays, small lakes, slow rivers
|Lakes, slow rivers, bays, currents, ocean
|Novice to intermediate
|Intermediate to professional
|Better than touring
|Good (depending on the length of the boat, and the rudder)
The two fundamental design properties of a kayak are its maneuverability and stability or performance. A kayak’s stability describes the backward/forwards rocking of the vessel or its potential to tip over.
The maneuverability is determined by the kayak’s hull structure, length, and width. Depending on the category and type, kayaks with more excellent stability have lower performance and in reverse.
The design has the following dependents:
Generally, shorter kayaks (max. 12 feet) will track much easier than more extended (13+ feet) and glide with lesser effort. However, it should be remembered that the length being discussed here is of the boat’s waterline (i.e., the line at which the boat is sitting in the water), and this waterline may be considerably shorter than the overall length of the boat.
|Easier to turn as well as maneuver.
|Easier to paddle for extended distances (after you reach a certain speed).
|Ability to make faster turns.
|Can hold a straight line better in order to stay on course.
|Best for rivers, estuaries, small lakes, but not that suitable for longer trips.
|Great for open water and satisfactory on smaller water bodies.
|Somewhat more bulky.
|Less influenced by winds.
|Can carry bulkier loads without a great loss in performance.
|Easier to transport.
|Glide a greater distance per stroke for more efficiency.
|Recommended for young kayakers.
|Accommodate more gear.
Wider kayaks have greater initial (or primary) stability in calmer conditions. In contrast, narrower kayaks travel faster and provide improved secondary stability if they lean towards their side in rough conditions.
|Greater secondary stability (resistance to capsizing).
|Greater initial stability (stability when entering the vessel).
|Can be easily made upright if they capsize.
|Easier to enter and leave.
|Width corresponds to slowness.
|Greater efficiency in paddling through water.
|Requires greater effort when paddling because of its bulk that requires more water displacement.
The depth of a touring kayak – the height from its hull to its deck’s top – can vary from 13” – 16”. For SOT kayaks, this depth may lie in the range of 11” -16”. Paddlers who are taller and larger should ensure that there is plenty of depth to have space for maneuvering and legroom.
Taller sides also aid in water deflection, besides potentially providing greater storage capacity. The downside to this is they’ll catch more wind leading to slowdowns.
This is the triangular metallic plate found beneath the stern; it can be lowered and raised. Kayaks with skegs yield better tracking in cross-currents and crosswinds by reducing the kayak’s ‘weathercocking’ effect.
It is adjusted to various positions using hand controls located close to the cockpit. It can be challenging to grasp for novices, but enthusiast kayaks incorporate it as a principle.
This is a paddle attached to the top of the stern and can be lowered into the water using a hand lever. It can be manipulated up/down and left/right.
Foot levers in the cockpit enable the kayaker to set the direction for the rudder, which makes turns more comfortable to handle.
Each boat has a limit on the recommended weight. Here’s what you need to think about:
- The number of paddlers.
- Will it be utilized for a single-day outing or multiday trips.
- How much gear will it carry?
These three factors will contribute to the weight – do that math before comparing your result with various boats’ weight capacity.
Touring kayaks incorporate storage areas, usually found at one or both ends of the boat, enclosed on the deck via a lid. These bulkheads provide the buoyancy needed to keep the boat afloat if the boat capsizes, but only so long as the hatch lids remain secured.
There are several types of hatch lids with their distinct features:
- Plastic lids come with gaskets fixed to the deck and lid; they are closed using cargo straps and are general purpose in nature.
- Neoprene covers are stretched over the hatch and can be used with a more rigid outer covering; they are also secured using straps. Although they are suitable sealants, stretching can be challenging, and they only work if they are correctly positioned.
- Rubber hatches snap to the molded deck lip or hatch ring-like Tupperware. A hatch strap is used to keep them from getting lost.
- A toggled hatch has a gasket and toggles for sealing the plastic lid.
- Employ several smaller drybags instead of a single big one.
- Replace worn-out gaskets.
- Place float bags in the hatches for extra buoyancy if the boat capsizes.
- Materials: Kayaks can be composed of fiber and resin or solid plastic. The two principle fibers used in the manufacture of kayaks are Kevlar and fiberglass. Resins include inexpensive polyester, slightly costlier vinyl, and expensive epoxy. Plastic kayaks are cheap, durable, and are roughly 10% bulkier than their fiberglass counterparts. Fiberglass kayaks aren’t as rigid as plastic ones and require a more significant deal of attentiveness when padding. The latter does not perform well in rocky water bodies, and extended exposure to saltwater can compromise their lifetime. However, their weight is less than plastic kayaks. Kayak made from Kevlar is even lighter and matches the strength of the plastic boats.
- Price: Both the construction materials and the design play a role in determining the kayak cost. A kayaking school named Kayak Academy has stated that the minimum cost of a sit-in touring vessel will be at least $1000 in the current market. A plastic molded kayak will lie in the price range of $1,200-$2,000, whereas the epoxy resin/fiber ones will cost more than this.
- Considerations: The style and type of kayak which will suit you depends on your intended use. If you intend to utilize it for multiple-day trips, you should choose a kayak in the sea / touring category. Novices ought to consider a recreational kayak since you need a most stable kayak when starting to become proficient in basic paddle strokes, after which you can progress to a performance-oriented kayak, should you desire. Furthermore, material, construction, and weight are also directly related to how portable the kayak will be.
- Expert insight: Before choosing a kayak, visit your nearby kayak retailer and try out as many of their styles and types available. Depending on the abovementioned factors, you may find one brand better than the other. Also, spend time researching kayaks by visiting manufacturers’ websites and reading reviews from other uses.
How much is a kayak?
There is no single answer to how much kayak costs do because there is so much variation in prices with different models/categories. When thinking about how many are kayaks, you need to decide the model you want to use:
Whereas an inflatable kayak costs the most minor $200, it is also the least robust and offers little to no versatility. It is only suitable for beginner kayakers who plan to use it for a leisurely excursion at a local pond. Plastic kayaks can be another affordable option. They are comparable to the inflatable ones while also offering somewhat increased durability. The catch is that they can get damaged quite easily and can be challenging to repair if they develop a hole.
If you have more funds or intend to use the kayak in rough conditions, a sea kayak will be your best bet. Don’t expect a cheap kayak in this category – they start at $1,000 and can have a maximum price that exceeds $3,000. But these boats are robust, lightweight, and highly durable. They also pack in more storage rooms, as well as features like adjustable seating.
Besides the kayak itself, you’ll need to purchase paddles. Paddles made out of fiberglass cost around $150, whereas lighter carbon versions can have a price tag between $275 and $500. Life jackets are also recommended since boating accidents can happen, especially with beginners.
Other accessories include fishing pole holders, additional storage, customized seats, etc. You can easily find cheap kayaks for sale through a quick internet search – lookout for clearance sales to get the most significant discounts! (Take a Look at Our Kayak Reviews)
Kayaking can become a gift that keeps giving if you put enough effort into it. You can quickly learn the essential skills in a matter of days and enjoy honing those and learning more advanced ones in the following years.
It is a sport with health benefits such as strength gain, weight loss, and stress loss and can lead to an overall healthy/fitness-oriented lifestyle. If you enjoy a challenge and don’t mind social interaction, this is the sport for you. Even if you like to spend time alone, a lake’s still waters will be most inviting.
Although it may seem somewhat unorthodox or even hazardous, you can kayak with dogs! Of course, they have to be your pets, to begin with, and well trained to obey verbal commands, as well as be familiarized with the vessel itself. You might think it will be hard to keep the dog in one place for so long, but training them isn’t all that difficult.
With proper security features in place, e.g., a doggy life jacket, you can have lots of exciting adventures with your pet in open water, lakes, or rivers. Also, stay clear of the rookie mistake of attaching the dog to a rope or leash – if the kayak capsized, your dog would be trapped beneath it and may even be dragged downriver alongside the boat, out of your reach!
Kayaking with a dog can be an enjoyable experience. In essence, it will give you time to develop a special bond with your pet and lead to some fantastic, glowing memories and, most definitely, to some quirky pictures to share with friends and family.
Once again, ensure that the dogs are well trained not to hinder the kayak’s handling for you and take all necessary precautions into account before embarking on a trip with your pets.