About Kayaks and Kayaking

History of Kayak

The history of kayak spans at least four thousand years. According to evidence available, the earliest kayaks were made by the Inuit people inhabiting the Arctic region. The Aleut and Yup’ik people also made boats that were used for hunting on lakes and rivers. Gradually, these boats were used on coastal waters of the North Atlantic, Arctic and North Pacific Oceans as well as Bering Sea. These kayaks were made of wood. Some tribes use the whalebone skeleton as the frame or foundation. They used sealskin or hide of other animals and stretched the material over the wood or skeleton. Eastern Inuit people used whalebone because they did not have trees in the landscape they inhabited. Western Alaskan tribes had access to wood.

There is no singular concept or design of kayak. The designs varied from one region to another, primarily depending on available raw materials and the climate. The purpose did influence the evolution of the design over centuries. The length, width and weight of the earliest kayaks varied depending on the purpose and how much stuff the people wanted to carry with them while hunting or paddling from one place to another. The Aleut people were the first to design a kayak that was seaworthy. These were longer and faster than those made by the Inuit and Yup’ik.

Kayaks had an extremely slow evolution for nearly four thousand years. The rest of the world was introduced to kayak only after European explorers learned about it. Yet, the kayaks through the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries did not undergo much transformation. The earliest record of kayak being used for recreational purpose beyond the Arctic region is of John MacGregor. He designed and created his own version of a kayak, which was basically a canoe, and called it Rob Roy. This was in 1845.

The major transformations happened in the twentieth century. Kayaks were still made of wooden frames and they were covered in hide or skin of animals. Fabric replaced the hide or skin and fiberglass replaced wood in the fifties. The first kayak to be made of plastic dates back to 1984. With the advent of fiberglass, plastic and fabric, kayaks became lighter, sturdier and more versatile. Today, there is inflatable kayak. A Sea Eagle kayak comes in various forms. There are contemporary kayak accessories as well.

Kayaks have been used for hunting and transportation. Kayaking is a competitive sport and a popular recreational activity. The history of kayak has some interested phases as there were designs with double and even triple cockpits. Usually, kayak is considered to be a solo vessel but two cockpits designs are very common. Triple cockpits are rare now.

Technological advancements and greater understanding of kayaking have lead to many changes. The dimensions, weights and other physical attributes are no longer subjected to speculation or personal assessment. These are chosen carefully depending on the primary purpose and the kind of course a kayak would be set on. The most remarkable transformation has been that of inflatable kayak. The youngest form of kayak made mostly of rubber has become the default choice of many beginner, intermediate and expert kayakers. Inflatable kayaks are safe, sturdy and reliable. They are easier to maneuver. The best ones are as suited for coastal waters or inland lakes as they are for class three whitewater rafting.

Kayak Market

Kayak Market – Rapid Growth

The US kayak market has literally doubled in the last decade: It exploded from 7.76mn in 2007 to 16mn in 2017 (the most recent year for which information is available).  The sport has also become increasingly safer in the last 10 years — almost 50% safer!  All of which means that the kayaking market is primed for expansion, with analysts projecting revenues exceeding $160mn worldwide by 2025.

Location, Location, Location

Market growth is expected to be strongest in the Americas.  Information regarding the distance most people are willing to travel for recreational purposes is sparse but, when all conditional factors are assumed, kayakers are likely to travel an average of 10 to 15 miles on a regular basis to kayak.  Members of clubs, and those engaged in competitive events, are likely to travel twice that distance, twice as often.

Ironically, the primary driving factor behind the expansion is indoor arenas: Exercise machines simulating kayaking, and artificial indoor waterways, have inspired enthusiasts to pursue the sport outdoors.  While kayaking’s health benefits are largely cardiovascular, recent studies have proven that time spent in nature lessens stress, leading to an uptick in outdoor activities amongst exercise enthusiasts looking to get the most from their workouts.

But kayaking also appeals to hobbyists, travel enthusiasts, and fishermen.  It is affordable enough that even those who do not live close to major water features can participate, and there is little to no learning curve.  Beginners need only a kayak, a paddle, and a lifejacket!

It seems safe to assume that there will be a boom in rental businesses catering to the market on and near waterways.  These retail outlets will constitute the majority of the market in rural areas — in rentals, wholesale purchases, and sales to consumers.  While seasonal, those that sell products and/or provide other goods and services may remain open year-round.

Unlikely Markets

Artificial indoor water sports and activities continue growing in size and popularity, adding to the overall market expansion.  Enthusiasts are drawn to these indoor facilities for their novelty, as well as their difficulty and accessibility.  Safety is also an issue: The conditions and atmosphere are entirely controlled, making them perfect for neophytes, as well as those with disabilities or physical limitations.

While novel today, these indoor facilities may one day be widespread, leading to organized league and individual competitions far from natural waters, physical therapy uses, and more.  All of which means that current projections could be far below the market’s actual value over the next decade.


The fisherman’s inflatable kayak is still around, but technological advancements have turned kayaking into a growing, multimillion dollar industry.  Indoor artificial waterways are introducing tens of millions of people to kayaking, while transforming what kayaking means.

Artificial waters provide access to an audience for whom kayaking was once literally out of reach, and inspiring them to pursue more traditional venues.  This is not only good for the kayaking, but tourism and trade at the state and local levels.

Types of Kayaking & Safety Tips

There are different types of kayak meant for varying versions of kayaking. The basic version of kayaking is essentially for recreation. The recreational kayak is also its simplest form. Fishing kayaks are different. Whitewater kayaking and other adventure sports require different kayaks. In this guide we shall talk about kayaking for beginners, the differences among fishing kayaks and inflatable kayaks among others as well as some safety tips.

Types of Kayaking

Recreational kayaking is the most basic form and is usually indulged in on lakes and other water bodies that do not pose any great threat. The lakes are well protected. Recreational kayaking on rivers is confined to the safer and steadier parts, not where the stream is rapid or the depths are too great. A recreational kayak is wider and more stable.

The second most popular form is touring. A touring kayak is longer than a recreational kayak. It also needs more paddling. Some touring kayaks look exactly like sea kayaks but they have just one sealed bulkhead. Touring kayaks are not suitable for seas as the unsealed bow area can get filled up with water. Touring kayaks are mostly used on lakes and other protected or safer areas.

Sea kayak is larger and have both bulkheads sealed. There is more space in the hatch for a kayaker to carry the required gear. You can actually carry camping gear in a sea kayak. This is not an inflatable kayak. Sea kayaking is fun but not recommended for beginners. Sea kayaks can be up to fifteen feet long and they can be quite heavy.

Whitewater kayaks are designed for rapids in streams, rivers or creeks. This is an adventure sport. The extreme sport is not recommended even for intermediate kayakers. There are some designated places where whitewater kayaking is deemed as safe. There is a classification system that implies the risks involved in kayaking at a particular part of a river or stream.

Surf kayaking is another form. It is a version of surfing and one uses a Sea Eagle kayak instead of a surfboard. Surf kayaking requires practice. Sit on top kayaking is either recreational or for a specific purpose. Fishing kayaks are sit on top designs. Apart from kayak fishing, such designs are also suitable for surfing and diving.

Safety Tips for Kayaking for Beginners

Beginners should always wear a life jacket, regardless of how great a swimmer one may be. Every kayaker should dress appropriately and for the local conditions. The weather and the immediate landscape should influence the choice of dress. Those who intend to kayak through the day or into the evening must prepare for a substantial change in temperature. One of the most important safety tips pertaining to kayaking for beginners is to follow the rules. Every designated area has some rules. Adhere to these.

Kayakers should wear a helmet if the water gets rougher in some parts. The kayaking course should be chosen after assessing the difficulty level. Beginners should not embark on courses rated as class two or higher. Drinking and paddling or kayaking is dangerous. Beginners should practice how to get into a kayak when they are in the water. If the kayak flips over and the kayaker falls, one must be able to get back in.

If you want to learn about kayak fishing, go to Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners.

A Comprehensive Guide to Kayaking with Kids

Kayaking with kids can be a memorable adventure. You should plan well and be an experienced kayaker yourself. You will need a 2 person kayak. This can be an inflatable kayak. The 2-seater kayak should have one child and one experienced kayaker. Two kids should not be teamed up with one kayaker, even if it is tandem kayak. There should be no room for surprises with the exception of the scenic beauty the children will get to explore and the fun they can have.

Every adult accompanying a child should be experienced in kayaking including paddling efficiently and must be totally trustworthy. Always choose the calmest waters. Never choose a course that has any of its parts categorized beyond class one. The best courses are slow rivers, peaceful bays and small protected lakes. Even after choosing the safest and calmest water, you must be aware of currents, tides and kayak traffic for the course.

Kayaking with kids should not be a daylong expedition. It should be half an hour for the first time. Older kids can easily spend an hour or longer. If you have a toddler or a baby, try to limit your expedition to the edge of the water. If you have to plan a long expedition, split it up into short trips. Pause at strategic places, especially where the toilets are. Not all kids experience the same level of comfort during kayaking. Familiarity of a child with water, ability to swim or the lack of it, strength and coordination of the kid and of course age or maturity will influence their experience.

You may want to get your child familiar with water in community pools. A better option is to get your child signed up for swimming lessons for a few weeks or months before you embark on the expedition. You can also teach slightly older kids the basics of kayaking, even paddling. A tandem kayak is great for children aged less than four. Children aged four to seven can do well on a 2 person kayak. Teenagers can get an inflatable kayak of their own.

Go for a 2-seater kayak with double paddles if your child can lend a hand. You can get smaller paddles for the children and regular sized ones for the adults. Safety gear such as personal floatation devices is a must. Toddlers or babies often dislike the personal floatation devices. Prepare them in advance so they are comfortable during the trip. You should have a safety line and float gear including paddle float for every adult, a throw bad for every adult and a tow line for every kayak. Do not tether or tie a kid to the kayak. This poses more risks with very little or no protection.

Pack some healthy snacks and have enough water. Hydration is important, especially for children. Buy weather and course appropriate clothing. Whether it is hot or cold, drier or wetter will influence the choice of clothing. Choose breathable fibers layered with water resistant material. Get waterproof boots for the kids, have extra pants or clothes, use enough sunscreen and give the children wide brimmed hats.


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