How to Kayak – Part 1

Kayaking is a pastime enjoyed by many, either in a group activity or just paddling around as part of your leisure time. If you have never tried kayaking before it is never too late to take up this get-up-and-go activity and this blog is concerned with learning the skills, technique and all about the equipment of kayaking.

The kayak is believed to be an invention of the Inuits in North America, where they used the crafts on inland waterways for hunting. The boats are estimated to date back nearly 4,000 years and were originally made of animal skin stretched over whalebone. The early boats floated because of seal bladders located in the fore and aft sections that were inflated.

Today it is a much different story, and kayaks are all high tech, built out of fiberglass, plastic, wood or even Kevlar. The crafts today are built for multi-purposes and for use on lakes, fast water, streams and even the open sea.

The core of kayaking is all about paddling, but also technique plays a big part in the handling of the boat. Learning about these techniques and the equipment will give you a better idea of how to maneuver the craft.

Equipment

The boats are built to hold one to three people and depending on how they are constructed will dictate the price. Normally a plastic kayak will be the cheapest with Kevlar being the most expensive. It all rather depends on what you intend to do with the kayak that dictates the price and materials as there are several types of kayaks available including: racing kayaks, surf kayaks, whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks, sea kayaks and also hybrids.

The materials used for construction and the design of the boat differ depending on what your activity will be. For example touring kayaks normally are bigger with storage space for camping equipment. Whilst fast water kayaks are made of Kevlar or toughened plastic.

The most common kayak on the market is the sit-on-top, they are great for learners as they are very stable, allow easy access and are suitable for recreational pastimes such as fishing etc. These crafts are often made out of rotomolded plastic, which makes them light and easy to maintain. Sit-on-top kayaks are also wider so being easy to keep afloat, but as a consequence of the width they need longer paddles to propel them.

Important Distinction

There is some confusion over kayak and canoe paddles, the difference is quite easy as a kayak paddle will have two blades and not one like that of a canoe paddle. Choosing a paddle is a little more difficult than you might think as it depends on your size as well as the size of the boat. A smaller person may opt for a light paddle as it will be easier to handle.

We continue our look and paddles in part two of how to kayak and learn all about safety equipment and of course how to actually paddle and get in and out of the boat.