February 26 2016
Kayaking is a popular, low-cost way to get out and experience the literally thousands of waterways throughout the USA. Contrary to common perceptions, kayaks are not solely for sightseeing and paddling. Many kayaks are specially designed for fishing, overnight camping or other specialties.
If you’re new to kayaking and just beginning your search, you may be unaware of just how many different types of kayaks are for sale in today’s market.
Advancements in materials and other refinements have made kayaks a go-to option for those looking for a low-maintenance, low-cost way for getting out on the water.
Continue reading to learn more about the common types of kayaks, including their ideal use and price range.
1. Recreational Kayaks
The least expensive option, recreational kayaks are ideal for a beginner or laid back paddler. Recreational kayaks are only used in slow moving, calm waters of a pond, lake or small river, and can be dangerous in more open waters or heavy wind. They average around 10 to 12 feet in length and are mostly used for short trips. Their width provides stability and a large seating area makes getting in and out a breeze.
Price range: approximately $350 to $1800
2. Touring Kayaks
These types of kayaks are longer and narrower, but are better for traveling longer distances in open water. Touring kayaks hold up in rough water because their pointed hull helps the boat lift better in bad waves. They average between 12 and 17 feet long. Boats built to handle overnight trips are typically longer. Touring kayaks also have compartments that trap air and help the boat float if water gets into the cockpit.
Price range: approximately $800 to $3500
3. Sit-on-Top Kayaks
Most kayaks you come across will have a compartment you sit in. Your legs will extend forward through the boat. Sit-on-top kayaks though are completely open, and ideal for swimming, diving and fishing. They’re wider than recreational kayaks, so their stability is unmatched. Sit-on-top kayaks average between 10 to 15 feet long, and some models do include compartments for storage. Since you’re completely exposed to the elements, sit-on-tops are more popular in warmer climates.
Price range: approximately $275 to $2200
4. Fishing Kayaks
Fishing kayaks aren’t really that much different than other types of kayaks. Anglers are generally looking for a boat that is stable but easily maneuverable. Stability is important for seeing and casting. Some kayaks made for fishing will include a mount for a trolling motor, but all will have rod holders, a spot for a cooler and maybe even a built-in tackle box or live well.
Most fishing kayaks are simply another type of kayak that’s been modified to include the items listed above. The price will vary depending on the modifications.
5. Folding Kayaks
If you live in an apartment or need something that’s out of the way, an inflatable kayak may be the answer for you. When broken down, these kayaks can fit in something as small as a backpack. Most models have a tough outer shell that fits over a sturdy aluminum frame. Folding kayaks are ideal for leisure touring and not meant for overnight trips.
Price range: approximately $275 to $2500
6. Inflatable Kayaks
In the same vein as a folding kayak, the inflatable kayak is also made to stow away easily in a duffel bag. A manual or electric pump allows you to inflate the kayak quickly. Special compartments make an inflatable kayak more buoyant than a traditional model. However, it can be more difficult to paddle an inflatable and they can be more dangerous in rugged conditions. Inflatable kayaks average between 10 and 15 feet long.
Price range: approximately $300 to $1000
7. Whitewater Kayaks
Averaging between 4 and 10 feet long, which is short in comparison to a recreational or touring kayak, a whitewater kayak is made for shooting rapids in a river or creek. Rounded bottoms coupled with ends that turn up allow you to safely navigate these rough waters. Their shorter length makes them more responsive.
Price range: approximately $850 to $1200
Which kayak you ultimately choose will boil down to your comfort level and what you intend to use it for. A touring kayak for example will not work well in whitewater rapids while a recreational kayak will not work in an open bay or offshore.