Common Types of Kayaks Available On The Market

Kayaking is a brilliant way to enjoy nature while getting some much-needed exercise. However, before you engage in this amazing water sport, you first need to choose the right kayak. There are various different factors that you need to consider when choosing the right kayak, especially if you are a newcomer to the sport. You need to take into consideration the exact type of kayak you need because some kayaks are better suited for particular environments than others. As such, you should try to learn about the various types of kayaks available in the market, so as to determine the one that’s best suited for your particular situation. To get you started, we have put together a list of the common types of kayaks available on the market;

Types of Kayaks

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are modified kayaks which are custom built and outfitted with various kinds of fishing accessories like rod holders, paddles, stows, and mounts for electronic devices such as chart plotters and fish finder. They have plenty of storage space to put your catch, gear, and accessories. They are available in both sit on top and sit in configurations, and offer access to coastal waters and large lakes so you can stealthily get to where the fish are. This type of kayak puts great emphasis on stability allowing the user to focus on the task at hand; that is catching fish.

Touring Kayaks

Also known as sea kayaks, touring kayaks are designed to cover the long distance at sea while carrying lots of gear. They are available in both composite and plastic versions, and usually, have hatches and bulkheads for storing your gear. They’re very stable and generally have extra length (measuring 3.? to 4.9 meters), which gives them maneuverability and speed. They can cover long distances over water and can withstand strong winds and currents. The touring kayaks are available in both sit on top and sit in configurations.

Types of Kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are designed to offer maneuverability that’s needed to navigate rough waters. They have backrests, bulkhead footrests, thigh braces, hip pads, and safety features like central foam pillars and grab loops. They generally deal with fast-moving waters, and come in a wide range of shapes, from the mega short freestyle models to the longest river running models which are built for safety and speed. Beginners can take advantage of these kayaks which are designed with an emphasis on stability. Unlike the touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks are smaller measuring about 1 2 meters to 3 meters long. They feature rounded bottoms and have a massive rocker, which means that the kayak’s ends are completely clear of the waters, except when plunging over a drop or punching through waves; this helps the kayak manage the waves better.

Recreational Kayaks

These types of kayaks are fun and simple because they generally offer a stable, easy to handle and affordable option. They offer quick and convenient access to small lakes and are ideal for day trips in calm waters. The feature a combination of lightweight, durable materials, and a manageable size which makes them easy to handle both off and on the water. They’re typically about 3 meters to 3.7 meters in length and can have a small hatch which can be used to carry gear. They also feature a large cockpit which allows for easy exit and entry. These kayaks usually sit on top and are a popular choice for the families with kids. Most of them feature multiple seating positions along with footrests which means different sized paddlers can enjoy using them.

General Purpose Kayaks

As the name suggests, a general-purpose kayak is a jack of all trades. This type of kayak is ideal for beginners or the intermediate paddlers who want to enjoy a wide variety of uses, as it offers you the chance to try a little bit of everything. Although a general-purpose kayak may not outperform the specialist kayak for a particular discipline, it’ll give you a great all-around kayaking experience.

Tandem Kayaks

Tandem kayaks generally come in various different models and are available in sit in, sit on top, and inflatable designs. They are a great choice for families, couples, and friends. Some come with a removable front seat for bringing a water-loving pet along or paddling solo. They have a storage space on board, adjustable seats and are designed to accommodate paddlers of different sizes.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are usually made from plastic coated fabrics and are most often used by campers because they’re lightweight and can be easily inflated and deflated to fit into the backpack. They are not only lightweight and easy to store, but they also offer good performance. These kayaks are a perfect way for both beginners and advanced kayakers to enjoy anything from the mellow flat waters to the whitewater rapids. The kayak’s self-bailing characteristics, high flotation, along with overall design come together to provide a maneuverable kayak that’s capable of navigating across lakes.

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

SOTs are designed for paddlers to sit on top rather than inside like in the traditional kayaks. They are made from solid piece of molded plastic with air on the inside for buoyancy. They are ideal for beginners and kids as they are very easy to use, and their self-bailing design prevents them from filling with water in case you encounter waves. Depending on the kayak model, SOTs can handle streams, rivers, oceans, and lakes. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the sit on top kayaks leave the body exposed to elements, therefore they’re best suited for warm climates.

ProTips: Types of Kayaks to Choose


As mentioned earlier, when choosing a kayak, you should carefully consider the type (and structure) of the kayak which suits your particular needs. For instance, if you’ll be kayaking for long periods of time, an inflatable touring kayak might be the most suitable option. On the other hand, if you prefer riding waves, you should consider getting a whitewater kayak. Buying a kayak without due consideration can be a costly mistake, so take your time and find the one that fits your specific needs.

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