A kayak is typically a narrow, inner-tube watercraft that is usually propelled primarily by a single double-sided paddle. The word kayak comes from the Greenlandic phrase qajuk ( IPA: [qaujaq] ). The original kayak used a flat panel canopy that was raised by paddles. Modern day kayak models are more likely to use a flexible fabric surface that can be deflated for easy storage and transport.
Kayaks come in many different shapes, sizes and designs. The craft’s configuration and construction vary according to the use. Recreational kayaking, touring kayaking and speed boats are some of the most common kayaks today. Kayakers are able to select from an assortment of kayak models including sit-on, side-door, ski, paddle-in and freestyle. Each type of kayak will provide a style of kayaking that best suits their individual style.
Sit-on and side-door kayaks are best suited for individuals who wish to simply lounge and relax while whitewater rides through their kayak. These kayaks have a flat bottom, long straight profile and an open cockpit. Paddle-in kayaks, as its name implies, feature a cockpit area just below the paddle where passengers can rest. These kayaks offer the best maneuverability. They are also the fastest and most efficient mode of kayak travel.
In the case of freestyle kayaking, which means racing through the river without any sort of navigation system or electronics, sit-on kayaks are the best. These kayaks have a flat bottom with a wide open cockpit area for swimming. This is the kayak of choice among serious kayakers. These kayaks also offer the best maneuverability.
Freestyle kayaking is not complete without a kayak canoe. Typically, a kayak canoe is larger than a kayak but smaller than sit-on or side-door kayaks. These kayaks have an extended cockpit which opens up in order to allow storage of items such as fishing gear and paddle. Kayaks with canoe tops have the ability to maneuver rapidly through rapids, especially those found in large rivers.
River kayaking requires specialized equipment such as river fishing kayaks. These kayaks are designed specifically to handle water through the rapids. Typically, these kayaks are wide and long and have a flat bottom. The major advantage of river kayaking is the great feeling of floating over the sweeping currents of a large river. This gives the novice kayaker the confidence and experience to begin kayaking more smoothly and confidently.