A Quora user posed this question a while ago, “what are the types of kayaks one can use for kayaking?” instead of responding to the question in the Quora platform, I have decided to write an elaborate response to assist many users struggling to understand kayaks.
Kayaks are grouped into various types depending on the usage and materials. To explain the types of kayaks, I prefer to base my opinion on the materials uses for building Kayaks rather than on the usage. Why?
Kayaks constructed from different materials can be used for the same purpose. For example, a fishing Kayak can come from composite, plastic, wooden, and many more materials. Besides, the types of materials are what makes a Kayak suitable or unsuitable for certain ventures.
The other way to address these questions is to describe the types of kayak brands, going this route is strenuous exercise. Why? We have several companies with different types of Kayaks brands from the same materials. For example, Intex Company is known to produce inflatable and foldable Kayaks. Conversely, other companies are producing inflatable kayak brands such as the Sevylor kayaks.
The Most Common Types of Kayaks
Wooden types Kayaks
4000 years ago, Kayaks were primarily the means to find food in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. Before technological advancement, the older boats were made of wooden and animal skin. These were the available materials at the time due to the limitation in the invention. Wooden Kayaks are still available in the 20th century and there is no sign of them getting extinct. They are here to stay for several reasons, such as the availability of raw materials. The earth is endowed with plenty of vegetation and human have found a better way to utilize the trees. Kayak is one of the ways to put trees into better usage.
Wooden types of Kayaks are gradually reducing and left to an individual with skill and techniques to produce their watercraft and a few for sales. The beauty of these Kayaks is the ability to traverse any type of water bodies, such as whitewater Kayaking, flatwater, mild rivers, lakes and many more.
If you are not a fan of synthetic products, you better stick to a wooden Kayak, which many people consider as an environmentally friendly boat. It naturally decomposes as opposed to other types of modern kayaks.
Drawbacks for wooden Kayak types.
The wooden kayak has many drawbacks, first, hardwood is getting fewer and fewer by the day. These Kayaks are built from a wooden tree that has lasted many years. But such mature trees are no longer available. To construct a boat Kayak in the 21st century and beyond, you are forced to use an immature tree that with a short lifespan in water.
Woods are vulnerable to small insects like beetles. The insect will dig into the boat for such food and lay eggs. This drastically reduces the lifespan of your boat. Also, you risk capsizing into the water as a result of the leaking holes done by the insects.
Plastics Kayak types
The modern man is thinking fast and as a result, invented the plastic Kayaks. These Kayaks are strong and can withstand strong winds, waves and sharp objects as opposed to wooden materials. The Kayaks are suitable for kayaking in white water. Due to their hard body, you can maneuvers the rocky rivers, coral reefs water bodies, and more. Kayaks have many advantages.
Pros of Plastic Kayaks
First, they have long shelve life, these Kayaks if taken care of well can outlast you. Second, they are easy to construct as opposed to the wooden Kayaks. Third, they are light in weight, you can move with your to the furthest destination of the lake, all you need is a simple carrier like a bicycle, but if you have cash, consider buying a Kayak trailer.
No need to add unnecessary cost to your budget, get your bicycle out and hit the road to the lakeshore. Fourth, they can be molded into different shapes. You may argue that the shape doesn’t matter, but lovely looking equipment is all you need to have a pleasurable and adrenaline challenging expedition.
Usage of Plastics Type of Kayaks
The boats are suitable for an array of watersport activities, such as recreation, sporting, tours, fishing, and more. The best kayaks for whitewater rafting. You hit the rocks and you are good to go, you flip into the water, pull yourself and get back to the Kayak. Plastics Kayaks are strong and durable.
Cons: Expensive compared to other types of kayaks materials.
Fiberglass Types of Kayaks
The use of fiber materials in Kayak production started in the early 1950s, what fiberglass have managed to do is to provide better quality and fine finish of the Kayaks. For example, to produce a fine line and texture is a daunting task in a plain plastic kayak. But with the introduction of “fiber-reinforced plastic kayaks,” we have Kayaks with straight line and angles.
In addition, the fiberglass kayaks are lighter in weight compared to plastic materials. These Kayaks are stiffness, which can be a cause of concern for tall people who may need to stretch a little to fit into the Kayak. With rigidly, you are bound to feel pain on your joints.
Advantages of fiberglass Kayaks
- Lightweight compared to other Kayaks i.e. Plain plastic kayaks
- The strength to weight ratio is high giving them the required stability, durability, and more.
- Flexible design that appeals to water sport enthusiasts.
- Can be costly due to fine finishing.
The Kayaks are high performing crafts despite their lightweight. Did you know that Kevlar crafts are sturdier than carbon, but lighter than fiberglass, if you didn’t know, now you know and the more reason why you need to get one?
Advantages of Kevlar Canoes
- Resistance to chemical, with the boat you are safe when subjected to a number of chemicals in water.
- Very sturdy while maintaining a low weight.
- Plug and play kayak
- Good stability
- Cut resistance
- Flame resistant, can be stored in the house where cooking takes place.
- Faster than fiberglass boats.
- High tensile strength
Disadvantages of Kevlar Kayaks
With the numerous benefits come the drawbacks, the boats are pricey. You have to pay more to enjoy the comfort and leisure it has to offer. Further, the boats are less strong compared to fiberglass, this is as a result of the fewer materials deployed in the production of Kevlar Kayaks. Moreover, the boats have low comprehensive power. These kayaks are not suitable for surf zones, never paddle around sharp rocks and other materials with the boat.
Carbon Types of Kayaks
Carbon kayaks are for paddlers that worry about the weight and would like a high performing craft. It has the highest rigidity and strength among the composite kayaks. If you need a high duty Kayak, then, this is not the Kayak for you. It is best suited for light water surfing, such as mild rivers, lakes and flatwater kayaking. This Kayak is costly and you need to invest good money to acquire a new one, or else you can always opt for a used carbon kayak.
Carbon/Kevlar Kayaks Types
The other types of Kayaks to consider are Carbon/Kevlar, a combination of the two materials to produce a sturdy and strong watercraft for various activities. These kayaks are light due to carbon while at the same time have an elasticity of Kevlar. The beauty of these Kayaks is the ability to combine the features of the two materials into one stiff and strong product. You can use the boat for recreation, fishing, and more.
These are a few and most common types of kayaks that you can use for Kayaking, they type to purchase depends on where you are going to surf, the purpose of surfing e.g. fishing, touring among others.
We have discussed details about the pros and cons of kayak construction materials. You can check on this article to get more information that will help you make an informed decision when doing your purchase. We wish you all the best in your Kayaking endeavors.
Earlier, I ranted how I struggle to patch an Intex K2 explorer kayak and how awful it was. With frustrations, I came up the new invention of applying adhesive glue without a patching piece. It worked but for how long. Also before proceeding to Kayak, ensure to observe the canoe and kayaking rules and regulations by your country or state