Kayak Types | Which One Is Perfect For You

So, do you want to know about kayak types to choose the best one to fill your purposes?

A kayak is a vessel used to explore the lakes, rivers, rapids, coastlines, seas and oceans of the world. It was invented by the Inuit people more than 4,000 years ago. A kayak is narrow, small and is propelled using a paddle with double blades. Kayaks are not the same as canoes. The main difference is that kayaks have a closed deck while canoes have an open one. In addition to that, canoes are propelled using a paddle that has a single blade.

Why Should You Learn about Kayak Types?

If you love exploring outdoor water features, you should learn about kayaking basics and various kayak types available today. From their origins as fishing crafts, kayaks are now used for many other purposes. Examples of these are recreation, military missions and scientific expeditions. For you to pick the most ideal kayak for each task, it is important to know the various types in the market. This ensures that the kayak you pick will be safe and effective for the job.

Different Types of Kayaks

There is a huge variety of kayaks today. Before buying one, you should gain a thorough knowledge of each type. Read on to discover the various types available, their differentiating characteristics and the most ideal one for you.

The types of kayaks available today include:

  • Sit-on-top recreational kayak
  • Sit-inside recreational kayak
  • Whitewater kayak
  • Sea kayak
  • Pedalling kayak
  • Kayak-Canoe hybrid
  • Kayak-SUP hybrid
  • Inflatable kayak
  • Tandem kayak
  • Folding kayak

Discover these types

1. Sit-on-top recreational kayak

The sit-on-top recreational kayak has an open cockpit. Therefore, it is easy to enter and get out of. This type is wider than most other kayaks. As such, it has a high level of primary stability. The sit-on-top recreational kayak is ideal for fishing expeditions. That’s because you can carry along all your gear quite comfortably.

Its open top makes the kayak prone to receiving splashes of water on its interior. Therefore, it can become quite a wet ride. However, if you are a skilled kayaker, you can navigate in a nimble way and stay dry. It is possible to emerge out of the water and enter this kayak while it is floating in the depths. Swimmers are able to accomplish this with some practice.

2. Sit-inside recreational kayak

This type of kayak has a closed cockpit but its opening is quite large. It is substantial enough such that you can sit in the kayak along with a child in front of you. This type of kayak is short and measures a maximum of 10 feet in length. In addition to that, it is a versatile kayak.

In the hot summer months, you can leave the cockpit open while in the cold winter months, you can add a skirt to prevent water from getting into the kayak. The sit-inside recreational kayak is often more affordable than sports or touring kayaks. Its compact size also allows it to be transported or stored efficiently. However, its dimensions reduce its speed and ability to track.

3. Whitewater kayak

This is a really short type of kayak. It measures 6 feet in length. It has a closed cockpit and is ideal for paddling in whitewater. It is also great for playboating in one spot. The whitewater kayak is ideal for performing tricks in. This is because you kneel inside it and control its sideways motion with your hips and thighs. As a result, you have total control over the kayaks’ movement.

It is important to know that the whitewater kayak is not ideal for running a river. It does not have enough length for accurate tracking. In addition to that, it does not have enough room to store extra gear.

4. Sea kayak

Also known as the touring kayak, this type is ideal for competitive kayaking and extreme exploration. It has a small cockpit and is compatible with a skirt. This cockpit is fitted with thigh braces inside. Therefore, you can use your hips and thighs to right yourself upright if the kayak rolls over.

The sea kayak is large and measures up to 12 feet in length. Its dimensions allow for accurate tracking and make this kayak very fast in the water. The sea kayak has a rudder which helps it to turn. Due to its length, this type of kayak is difficult to store or transport.

5. Pedalling kayak

This type of kayak is designed to be propelled using your legs. It is ideal for people who have shoulder or back problems. The pedalling kayak is perfect for long-distance kayaking. The larger, more powerful leg muscles have more endurance than the shoulder and arm muscles. As such, you can pedal for many hours without feeling any fatigue. The pedalling kayak can use flippers or a propeller under the hull to provide the forward thrust. Notably, it is quite expensive.

6. Kayak-Canoe hybrid

This is a type of craft whose design resembles a canoe but has the subtle features of a kayak. It has an open cockpit. It is also wide and short. There is a seat inside it and ample space for gear or luggage. The kayak-canoe hybrid is ideal for family fun. It is best used for activities such as fishing and camping. Moreover, it can navigate small ponds and lakes quite well.

7. Kayak-SUP hybrid

This is a unique type of watercraft that has long proportions like a kayak and lots of storage like a canoe. The kayak-SUP hybrid has a large cockpit that is compatible with a skirt. Its hull is quite long and provides space for your legs as well as some luggage. It can be used for long-distance kayak tours. However, the kayak-SUP hybrid is best used for fishing in flat-water rivers. It allows for accurate tracking and has a rudder to assist with navigation.

8. Inflatable kayak

This is a type of kayak which is often used purely for recreation. The inflatable kayak is made of various, durable materials. Examples of these are Hypalon, polyvinylchloride (PVC) and nytrylon. This craft can be inflated using a hand or foot pump. The inflatable kayak is very portable because it can be carried around in a bag.

Moreover, it is designed to have pointed tips in the front and back sections. This kayak is best used on calm water. It is durable, rugged and quite stable.

9. Tandem kayak

The tandem kayak is propelled by a pair of paddlers. There are two cockpits for them. For the tandem kayak to navigate forward effectively, the paddlers have to move in exactly the same way. They must create a rhythm of motion. The tandem kayak is more expensive than the single one.

However, it is more affordable than buying two single kayaks. It is ideal for use by families or groups.

10. Folding kayak

Unique in many ways, the folding kayak was developed based on the skin-on-frame kayak. It is made of aluminium or wooden frame covered in synthetic skin. Materials such as polyester, Hypalon, polyurethane or cotton canvas are used to make this skin. Due to its mode of construction, the folding kayak is more stable and stiffer than a regular kayak. As such, it offers better control and navigation in the sea. It is also more expensive.


Various kayak types are described above. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Some are good for group activity while others are ideal for individual fun. Some are perfect for use on rivers while others perform best on lakes and seas. By relying on this knowledge, you can make an informed decision about which one is perfect for you.

Leave a Comment