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Types Of Kayaks

Types Of Kayaks

Kayaks have evolved considerably from their origins as Aleutian skin-on-frame hunting boats. They can now be categorized for the various modern purposes they fill including recreational, sport or fishing, light touring & touring, and sea / performance kayaks. The kayaks in each of these categories have dimensions and features that optimize the boat for that specific use.

Kayaks can be further categorized by the materials from which they are made. These materials include wood, roto-mold polyethylene (plastic), fibreglass, Kevlar and carbon. Other types of kayaks include inflatable and folding.

Grouping the boats into categories helps a paddler choose a boat that will suit their most frequent intended use.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are designed to be used by novices for lighthearted family fun near a home base such as a resort or cottage ‘always in Calm water’ conditions. They are usually a sit-on-top design or sit-in’s with large cockpit openings. Recreational kayaks are short (10′ to 12′) and have a wide beam (25″ to +34″s) for maximum initial stability. This limits their speed but allows for inexperienced paddlers to enjoy the sport with little skill and little risk of rolling over. They are often built from polyethylene plastic and are inexpensive yet rugged. Deck rigging is sparse and questionable hatches and bulkheads provide limited buoyancy should the craft become filled with water. Multi-adjustable ‘high-back’ ultra-comfortable looking seats are always part of the package. But, beware, these ‘high-back’ seats actually inhibit proper paddling techniques and hamper exits and reentries! 

Fishing / Angling Kayaks

Designed for fishing 1st and kayaking ability 2nd these craft enable anglers and hunters to penetrate the shallow waters and tight confines that larger boats are unable to get to pursue their sports. They are broad beamed as they need to have great stability for casting a fishing rod or swinging a shotgun. These kayaks are similar in design to recreational kayaks in that they are a sit-on-top or have very large cockpit openings. Today’s angling kayaks now often include specialized outfitting features such as rod holders, paddle parks, GPS & Fish Finding mounts, live wells an anchor, and other purposeful stowage receptacles. Fishing kayaks are usually made from roto-molded polyethylene (plastic) and often come in camouflage type colour schemes. While die-hard kayakers, canoeists and SUPers embrace self-propelled watercraft, kayak anglers can increasingly choose kayaks outfitted with lightweight electric trolling motors (Old Town Kayaks Predator XL and Wilderness Systems 140 A.T.A.K). 

Note: Technically, any type kayak can be outfitted to become a fishing or sport kayak. Simply purchase the required additions (i.e. rod holder), install it on your boat, and ta-da… you have a fishing kayak!

Light Touring & Touring Kayaks

Think ‘middle’ when you think of Touring & Light Touring Kayaks, meaning they represent the middle-ground in quality, design, length (12′ to 15′)  width, performance, stability, cockpit size, safety, and you got it price! Longer and narrower than the above styles, these ‘sit-in’ boats purposely, sacrifice a little stability to attain improved performance. Accordingly, touring kayaks require more skill than do recreational kayaks. 

Performance / Sea Kayaks

Longer (15′ to 19′) and narrower (20″ to 23″s) than all other kayak categories performance / sea kayaks reward paddlers with effortless efficiency and glide. They’re hulls have more curve (rocker) and upswept bows, which enables them to shed large waves and handle virtually any water conditions with skilled paddlers. Originally designed for rough, open waters these boats provide more cargo capacity and the very highest level of safety and performance. Sea kayaks are specifically with smaller cockpits and integrated thighbraces to help create the ‘One with Boat Fit’ required to best refine and develop paddling skills. Whether going out for an hours break or a week long adventure sea / performance kayaking opens a doorway to outdoor fun, fitness and a more positive lifestyle. 


Click Here for more detailed information on our website. Select Recreational, Touring or Performance / Sea Kayaks to view a complete listing of different types we stock.

If you have any questions or recommendations on how to improve this article, please call 613.376.6220 or email [email protected]

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