A Quick Guide To The Different Types Of Kayaks

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From the short and broad play boat to the long sleek lines of the sea kayak, each activity has its distinct style of the kayak to go with it. It might be difficult to tell these crafts apart and choose the right one for the journey you wish to go on.  However, if you are curious to know the difference between canoes and kayaks, we have another guide to understand is its distinctions.

To help you find out which type of kayak is best, here is A Quick Guide to the Different Types of Kayaks.

Table of Contents

If this is your first time kayaking, you may want to get the checklist on what to bring on your first kayaking trip and what safety tips to observe.

1. Sit-On-Top

Different Types Of Kayaks

A sit-in kayak keeps your legs toasty and dry, but a sit-on-top kayak guarantees that you will get wet. The spray from the waves, riffles, and paddle splashes will keep you moist for the majority of the period. Sit-on kayaks are best utilized in warmer temps and on warmer water because of this. 

The advantage of a sit-on design is that it’s simple to get on and off the kayak, whether you’re boarding or just want to go for a swim. You can re-enter a sit-on kayak from the water, albeit it won’t be the most elegant thing you’ve ever done. Some SOT kayaks come with padded seats for better comfort during long trips.

We have an detailed review of the Best Sit On Top Kayak for a great time on the water.

2. Sit-In Kayak

With a sit-in, you have more alternatives. They may be used in warm weather, but they can also be utilized in cooler, rougher water with the addition of a spray skirt. With a sit-in, the rider stays drier. They frequently have additional storage and alternatives for storing goods or kayak cooler and keeping them from becoming wet. 
[ Also Read: Best Kayak Cooler for hot summers ]

They are typically built with foot braces inside to brace their legs for a more efficient stroke and more force. Contrary to popular belief, sit-in kayaks are fairly spacious rather than confining. Also SIT kayaks are more stable in comparison to SOT kayaks, as you are sitting lower in the boat. This is where the center of gravity is nearer to the level of water.

Check out our recommendations on Best Sit-In Kayaks.

Sit in and sit out are further divided into various types, do read on…

3. Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are designed to be stable and straightforward to steer, and they usually have a wide hull, are less than 12 feet long, have a modest storage room, and a spacious cockpit for easy access. You can even add on a kayak canopy separately especially when you are kayaking on hot summers. We have amazing review on the Best Kayak Canopy if you want to get yourself one.

They’re perfect for lakes, flat-water streams, and saltwater locations that aren’t exposed to wind and waves. Recreational kayaks have a broader beam than a racing kayak, increasing stability and reducing the risk of capsizing. 

Recreational kayaks are shorter and more maneuverable than touring kayaks. If you’re new to kayaking, the improved stability of a leisure kayak may be more comfortable for you.

4. Crossover Kayaks

Crossover kayaks bridge the gap between leisure and whitewater kayaking, allowing the kayaker to tackle various situations without changing boats. 

Because it’s impossible to combine completely different kayaks, like a touring kayak and a waveski. Most crossover kayaks are built on a recreational kayak hull with features from more specialized designs such as pole holders for fishing or a hull for whitewater rafting. 

The crossover kayak, as a jack-of-all-trades, will allow you to dabble in more esoteric kinds of kayaking while still giving a good, dependable performance in most situations. They’re also suitable for treks that may include diverse settings, such as a river with low-grade and high-grade rapids.
[ Also Read: Our guide on Classification of Rapids ]

5. Fishing Kayaks

Best Five Kayak Trolling Motor Mount

Fishing kayaks designed specifically for fishing have storage compartments. Built-in rod holders, tackle bins, and other supplementary storage options for anglers are available on some models. 

One of the major advantages of fishing kayaks is that they are designed to be more stable, allowing you to stand up and throw or have a better view of the water beneath the surface. Many recreational kayaks may also be used for fishing; just look at the characteristics to ensure they’ll work for you. 

Fishing kayaks are designed to be shorter and lighter than typical touring kayaks, making them easier to transport and navigate in and out of the water. Check out our detailed review on the Best 2 Persons Fishing Kayak.

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6. Inflatable Kayaks

Most inflatable kayaks are geared for recreational use, although others are built for whitewater use. You may inflate them with a foot or electric pump before using them. Their hulls are large and robust, making them ideal for calm water. 

Inflatable kayaks can be folded down to a small size, and some types can even be carried in a bag. Inflatable kayaks are available in both sit-on and sit-in configurations. Check out our guide on the Best Inflatable Kayaks for portable kayaking.

Most inflatable kayaks are tough, rubberized nylon that won’t bend or dent when hit by pebbles. This implies they can withstand inclement weather as well as significantly rougher seas. 

They’re solid and simple to control, making them an excellent first project for kids or beginners. Some high-end variants have internal ribbing for further stability and can be used in critical situations.

7. Day-Touring Kayak

The day-touring kayak is longer and sleeker than recreational kayaks, with a hull that is generally 18 feet long and travels through the water more effectively. 

This helps the boat stay on course for more extended periods and minimizes the work required to paddle. Beginners who want to go on longer kayaking trips and improve their abilities before upgrading to a touring or sea kayak would benefit from a day touring kayaks. 

Day-tourer kayaks have the same stability and mobility as recreational kayaks, but they have more control in rougher conditions.

8. Touring Kayak

The touring kayak is long and strong, making it quick and efficient across long distances. Most designs come with one or more interior bulkheads that allow for a large quantity of internal storage and range in length from 12 to 24 feet. 

Touring kayaks are frequently equipped with a rudder or skeg (a fixed rudder) to improve steering and adjust for wind, current or tide movement. The sleek shape and narrow beam of the touring kayak allow it to go fast through the water and track in a straight line for long periods. 

This lessens the paddler’s physical exertion and makes the kayak perfect for longer voyages. More equipment can be kept on hand with a larger storage capacity.

9. Sea Kayak

The sea kayak is a variation of the touring kayak with a larger rocker curve from bow to stern that helps it crest into approaching waves. It also features a V-shaped, thin front profile. They can handle rougher waves because of their design, but it comes at the sacrifice of stability. 

Compared to a regular touring kayak, the sea kayak is simpler to manage, track straighter, and is less likely to be overwhelmed by waves. As a result, it’s ideal for trips along the shore. Sea kayaks of today are built to transport a lot of gear. 

Sea kayaks, for example, may be used for journeys of two weeks or longer in conditions ranging from the tropics to the Arctic.

10. Folding Kayaks

The technology behind folding kayaks has advanced significantly in recent years, based on the skin-on-frame boats utilized by the Inuit and Greenlandic tribes. Full-length touring boats may now be packed into a tiny bag thanks to new materials. 

They’re light enough to carry about with ease. As a result, they’re the ideal answer for the storage and transportation challenges that come with longer, non-foldable touring kayaks. Folding kayaks are unusual. They can be collapsed into a small, portable bundle. They are small and light, making kayaking accessible to individuals who do not have a lot of storage room.

With so many possibilities, make sure you pick the perfect sort of kayak for a fun day on the lake.

11. Lightweight Kayaks

Best Lightweight Kayak

You will find Lightweight Kayaks highly responsive to paddle strokes and more efficient at cutting through the water, compared to those heavy built ones. They are usually made from high-tech materials like fiberglass, polyethylene or carbon fiber.
Most people confuse Lightweight Kayaks with stability and durability. Lightweight Kayaks are made with a different quality that not just makes them easier to carry, but also sturdy. Therefore, they are even safer than heavier kayaks. They can be carried over longer distances to reach remote places. This means, more places to kayak, away from the crowds.
You may be interested in our detailed guide on the Best Lightweight Kayaks.

12. Kayaks for Big Guys

Best Kayak For Big Guys

It is common that big sized guys may feel a bit doubtful about kayaking. But rest assured that kayak companies did design kayaks specifically for your bigger body frame. 

So, do not be discouraged or feel that kayaking is not suitable just because of your size or weight. It is just a matter of finding the right kayak for you. This guide will give you the confidence to glide on the water with a solid kayak like any other veteran kayaker.
Check out our guide on the Top 5 Kayaks for Big Guys. You can get any one of these 5 without the worry of tipping overboard or sinking due to the weight limit.

13. Kids Kayak

Best Kids Kayak

While kids can definitely use the same adult kayak that you are using, it may be counterintuitive. Especially for beginners because adult kayaks can be a bit difficult to handle or control. Moreover, adult kayaks are generally large or heavy. That can be overwhelming for a kid to manage.  

So, the last thing you’d want is to ruin your kids’ excitement with the wrong type of kayak, or worse – risking their safety. 

Teaching your kids how to kayak is quite similar to teaching them how to cycle. You would ideally want to start them with training wheels. 

(But there is no training wheels for kayak…)

Indeed, the idea is basically to offer a higher safety margin. So, your kids can learn safely and build their experience and confidence in a safer zone.

Same goes for kayaks too. Fortunately, the kayak manufacturers did make something specially for kids. We put together a list of the 5 Best Kayaks For Kids to help you decide which one suits your kids best.

14. Kayak For Dogs

Best Kayak For Dogs

Being a man (or woman)’s best friend, dogs are great companions. Even when it comes to the great outdoors. So, that includes accompanying you during your kayak trips as well.

It is heartbreaking to leave them on the shore while you go out paddling on your own right? 

Although some dogs can move as well as a seal on water, most dogs are afraid of the water. We have a lovely terrier with us for 7 years already. But till this date, we still have to wrestle each time when it comes to bath time.

That’s why, before you bring your beloved furries on board, the first thing to do is to ensure the kayak is safe and comfortable for your dogs. Check out our recommendation for Best Kayak For Dogs.

15. Kayak For Beginners

Best Kayak For Beginners

If you are a beginner, we understand that you want to make sure your purchase is worthwhile. Especially when it comes to big purchases like a kayak. You don’t want to make a mistake and end up spending money on something you use only once or thrice.
A good kayak is a perfect way to get on the water and enjoy nature. But there are so many different types and styles of kayaks to choose from. So, it can be hard to know where to start. Check out the
Best Kayak For Beginners.

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about any of the Different Types of Kayaks, or want to leave your own personal review, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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