Different Types of Kayaks (15 Kinds Explained)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: July 15, 2021
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So, thinking of going on a kayaking trip?

A kayak is an excellent transport to explore lakes, rapid rivers, open water, and coastlines in a fun way. Kayaks have stridden exceptionally since their foundation by the Inuit. It probably goes beyond 4,000 years.

There are different types of kayaks available on the market. It is important that you educate yourself on different types before making a purchase. In this article, I am going to discuss different types of kayaks, how they differ from each, and which one will suit you the best.

Types of Kayaks – In Detail:

1. Sit-On-Top (SOT) Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most popular type of kayaks. They stay very stable and are very easy to handle for everyone. Even new paddlers can paddle easily in these kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks can be used on the following waterbodies:

  1. The sea
  2. Rivers
  3. Lakes
  4. Canals
  5. Estuaries
Sit-on-top kayak
Sit-on-top kayak

Sit-On-Top Kayaks are a great option for those who want to get moving quickly and can’t afford a more expensive kayak. These types of kayaks are often the size of a small car, making them easy to pack into the trunk of your car and easily transport. They typically cost less than other types of kayaks, and they are easy to maneuver on the water.

A sit-on-top kayak is a kayak that sits on top of the water and does not have a cockpit, meaning you sit on top of the kayak. The kayak is propelled by the paddler’s legs in a kneeling position, so you can reach both sides of the boat. The sit-on-top kayak has a shell, which is made out of fiberglass or plastic. The deck is made from high-grade foam, and it is durable to use.

Sit-On-Top Kayaks Features

  • Rugged: The hulls are made of a material that is durable, like fiberglass or plastic. They also have a boat storage feature.
  • Boat Storage: The boats are fitted with a storage system
  • Because they can’t be inflated, they tend to take up less space in your car and are easier to store, meaning you’ll spend less money on gas.
  • Seat, Hull, Rigging, Footrest, Tracks, Tracks Adjustment
  • Seat – Comfort
  • Hull – Durable
  • Rigging – Tighten or loosen the rigging for paddling or fishing
  • Footrest – No footrest
  • Tracks – Easy to adjust or remove tracks
  • Foot Adjustment
  • Adjustable footrests are a common feature in sit-on-top kayaks. The footrest position can be adjusted to fit your individual needs.

2. Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks display tremendous stability on the water. They are comfortable to sit in. You can get into them easily. They are suitable for all paddling abilities from a complete beginner looking to buy their first kayak and to an experienced paddler.

Overall, anyone looking for an excellent kayak to spend a relaxing afternoon can buy this to be on the local stretch of water.

Touring Kayak
Touring Kayak

Touring Kayaks are light, portable, sit-on-top kayaks that can be used on most water bodies. They are used for touring and recreational kayaking.

They are Lightweight; Portable and can be used on most water bodies and are used for touring and recreational kayaking.

Touring Kayaks are a type of kayak that can be used for a variety of purposes and are typically used to explore the local area. They are usually longer and wider than recreational kayaks, with a higher volume of capacity for carrying gear. Touring kayaks, like touring cars, generally have some type of roof rack.

A touring kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for multiple purposes. They can be used for fishing, sailing, recreational purposes, and even used as small boats.

Touring Kayak features

Some of the features of the Touring Kayak include a lightweight yet durable design, soft molded backrest, and a comfortable seat. The Touring Kayak also comes with easy-to-use gear storage and includes a paddle with a whistle to make it easier for kayakers to be seen and heard.

  • Lighter yet durable
  • Soft molded backrest
  • Comfortable seat
  • Easy-to-use gear storage
  • Paddle with whistle

3. Surf Kayaks (Sea Kayaks)

This type of kayak is usually seen on the sea. These kayaks come with a few distinctive features that make them sharp in catching waves. These kayaks contrast sharply with other typical kayaks.

Other kayaks may crisscross the surface of the water because of their specialized hull and rocker, however, in terms of surf kayaks, they have fin clusters at their rear similar to those found on a surfboard.

With this quality thrown in, you have a longboard that you can comfortably sit in. Thanks to the hard edges, and a flat bottom.

Surf Kayaks (Sea Kayak)
Surf Kayaks (Sea Kayak)

Surf kayaks can be divided into two categories:

  • High Performance

High-performance kayaks are suitable for high-speed dynamic movement. This allows you to easily cut in on waves. High-Performance kayaks have a special class of four fins.

  • International Class

Fins are curtailed in international class kayaks. International Class offers a smoother flowing ride compared with high-performance ones. This type of kayak is the closest you will come across for a surfing longboard.

4. Fishing Kayaks

Although Fishing kayaks are designed for fishing, they are gradually losing this purpose. Fishing kayaks are increasingly becoming popular for recreational activity. The reason why they are extremely popular is that they are inexpensive, and require very low maintenance.

The fishing kayaks are known for their wide beams as they are over a meter in length. These beams maintain lateral stability and decrease the possibility of capsizing.

What is so cool about fishing kayaks is that they have room for adding outriggers. Outriggers are effective for stabilizing boats. They can be attached to either side of the kayak. Thus, they can increase the surface area in contact with the water.

Fishing Kayaks
Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are a type of boat that is used for fishing, usually in waters with a strong current. These kinds of boats can handle the water with ease and help the fisherman reach their target, as well as keep them from getting caught in unexpected obstacles. They range in size and design, but many have a flat bottom that is designed to sit low in the water, which allows for easier access to fish.

Kayaking is a type of whitewater canoeing where paddlers propel themselves with a double-bladed paddle. In kayaking, the paddler stands in a sitting position on top of and outside of the kayak. This differs from canoeing, where the paddler sits in the canoe’s hull. Kayaks are narrower than canoes, and usually less than 6 feet long and 18 inches wide. The fishing kayak’s high prow is used to help plow through the water while the kayak is being paddled.

Fishing Kayaks features the following:

  • – A full-length hard molded polyethylene deck for years of use
  • – The hull is carbon fiber and Kevlar giving a strong, durable frame
  • – The kayak is sealed with a Marine-Tex membrane that repels water and prevents water intrusion
  • – A rear storage hatch with a net holder you can put on the deck for your fishing gear.
  • – A 12V plug that fits into the jack of the paddle and charges the batteries.

5. Whitewater Kayaks

White Water kayaks come with a broad range of paddling types. The paddling types included are:

  1. Extreme creaking
  2. River running
  3. Playboating
  4. Surfing

Whitewater kayaks are often used to navigate whitewater rapids and are characterized by a long, narrow design for fast-tracking. Whitewater kayaks are generally made of lightweight materials such as fiberglass or polyethylene.

Whitewater Kayaks
Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaking is a form of recreational kayaking in which a paddler navigates a whitewater rapid. Whitewater kayakers are often characterized by their long, narrow design for fast-tracking. Whitewater kayaks are generally made of lightweight materials such as wood or carbon fiber.

Whitewater kayaking is a more extreme form of kayaking and is usually performed on rivers, Class II to V rapids. Whitewater kayakers usually wear a helmet, carry a paddle, and wear a life jacket.

Whitewater Kayak features

  • Inflatable floor for extra comfort
  • 100% lifetime warranty
  • Durable, lightweight aluminum
  • 30-second self-rescue line

Whitewater Kayaks are excellent for people who want to practice and improve their skills as kayakers. They can be used for recreational purposes, as well as for competitions like whitewater slalom racing and surf-kayaking.

6. Inflatable Kayaks

This type of kayak is the perfect choice for transport and storage. Inflatable kayaks are designed especially for recreational paddling. Inflatable kayaks are popular forms of transport for flat water.

You can easily inflate the canoes and kayaks in minutes. They come surprisingly stable to paddle.

The inflatable kayak is a type of kayak made from a material that is typically bright, durable, and waterproof. The inflatable kayak has been around for decades and has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. The inflatable kayak is easy to transport, easy to store, and inflatable seats are more comfortable than other types of boats.

Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are similar in design to traditional kayaks, but they are filled with gas that makes the boat inflate. When a person sits or paddles in the water, they cause the gas inside the kayak to expand, causing the boat to inflate. The gas inside an inflatable kayak is used as the buoyancy system for the craft, while the material of the kayak is used for its paddling surface. The material of inflatable kayaks also makes them an ideal option for beginners because they are affordable, lightweight, and easy to carry.

Inflatable Kayak features

  • Fully loaded with air
  • Single person or tandem kayak
  • Inflated and deflated in a few minutes
  • Compact for easy storage and transportation
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Easily portable between land, water, and air
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Long-lasting lifespan

7. Foldable Kayaks (Folding Kayaks)


According to Wikipedia; by the mid-1930s there were an estimated half-million-foldboat kayaks in use throughout Europe. And that was the massive turning point of Folding kayaks all over the USA and the world.

Folding kayaks are typically made of a variety of materials such as aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Some models are made of a combination of different materials. Patented designs have been devised for folding kayaks where the hull is constructed from a rigid plastic and polyurethane foam is used to absorb and dissipate the impact of paddling.

Folding Kayak
Folding Kayak

Whitewater Kayaks are versatile and fun to use. They can be used for a variety of activities. They can be used for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and canoeing.

They are lightweight and sit low in the water. The boats are made with durable materials and are easily accessible from the bow and stern. They have a maximum speed of five knots but are also great for leisure activities.

Folding Kayak Features

The folding kayak is a type of boat designed to be easily stored when not in use. It is typically made of plastic and is designed to collapse into a compact shape for storage or transport.

Here are some of the features of folding kayaks:

  • They are low maintenance
  • They are easy to transport
  • They can be taken apart and put together in a few minutes

8. Modular Kayaks

These are types that you can easily modify and separate each part and rearrange as per your requirements and modification desire.

Modular kayaks are designed to be light, easy to transport, and can be assembled in different configurations.

Kayak designers in the past few years have been designing modular kayaks that come already assembled. The main advantage of these modular designs is that they are easier to transport. They also make it easier for novice paddlers to go out on the water without having to worry about safety and stability issues.

Modular Kayaks
Modular Kayaks

The modular design also makes it easier for consumers to customize their kayak’s storage compartments or add a cargo box or a spray deck.

A Modular Kayak is a kayak that can be taken apart into small pieces and then reassembled into a whole new kayak. The pieces are usually color-coded, so it’s easy to see how to put them together. They are popular among kayaking enthusiasts.

Modular Kayak features

  • Modular kayaks allow you to slide in and out of your kayak to customize it for your paddling needs
  • Modular kayaks typically come in sizes ranging from 14 foot to 20 foot
  • Modular kayaks come with different features such as roto-molded cockpit, bungee deck rigging, and a skeg

9. Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are the kind of kayak that people choose especially for spending leisure time on the calm lake water. It comes with a wider beam (27-30 inches) so that paddler can relax there in the middle of the lake.

Kayaks are a type of boat that is made for recreational purposes. The two main types of kayaks are sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks. The sit-in kayak is an open hulled boat that has a cockpit and a bow that faces the front. The sit-on-top kayak has smaller and more compact hulls with an open cockpit at the bow, which means that the cockpit is not in the bow.

Recreational Kayaks
Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are a type of boat. They are typically used for leisure, such as fishing, boating, and paddling. Recreational kayaks are constructed to provide easy portability and transport.

There are many types of recreational kayaks, including single track, tandem track, sea kayaks, and sit-on-top kayaks.

The most popular type of recreational kayak is the sit-on-top kayak. It is the most versatile, durable, and safe type of recreational kayak.

Features of Recreational Kayaks:

  • Capable of carrying up to 2 paddlers
  • Offers a stable and secure ride
  • Offers a range of speeds from slow to flat out
  • Offers versatile control options
  • Provides an easy way to explore the outdoors

The recreational kayak is typically 16 feet long, with a beam of 5 feet and a weight capacity of 500 pounds.

Recreational kayaks are used for recreational purposes such as fishing, sightseeing, and swimming.

Shorter than a touring or sea kayak, recreational kayaks usually have shorter, wider hulls that are designed to make them easier to paddle.

10. Pedal or Motorized Kayaks

Kayaks that are motor or machine run and becoming popular day by day in all over the USA.

Pedal or motorized kayaks are like regular kayaks with a motor, typically a small electric or gas motor, attached to the rear of the boat. They are more popular in Europe but have made some inroads into North America as well. The motor adds speed and maneuverability to a conventional kayak.

Pedal or Motor Kayaks
Pedal or Motor Kayaks

Pedal or Motorized Kayak Features

  • 1. Pedals
  • 2. Motor
  • 3. Seat
  • 4. Footrest
  • 5. Kayak
  • 6. Paddles
  • 7. Rudder or engine compartment
  • 8. Storage compartment or tank bag
  • 9. Deck-mounted fishing rod holder

11. Tandem Kayaks

Do you hate solo kayaking? Then Tandem Kayak is your thing. These kinds of kayaks are specially made for two or more kayaks and come with enough space and stability.

Tandem kayaks are narrow, single-person kayaks that have a second person seated behind the first. Tandem kayaking is when two people paddle one kayak together, usually with the seated person paddling in front to steer and the other person paddling from behind to propel.

Tandem kayaking is often used for expeditions in kayaks that can hold long paddles.

Tandem Kayak
Tandem Kayak

Tandem kayaking is often used by tandem families who want their children to be

Tandem kayaks are used for recreational activities such as fishing, viewing wildlife, or touring. These boats are designed for two people who share the work of paddling. Both paddlers share the responsibility of steering and control of the boat. One person will typically sit in front, providing the main propulsion, while the other steers from the back.

Tandem Kayak Features

  • 1.      A tandem kayak is designed for two people to paddle
  • 2.      It is typically made from rigid plastic or composite material
  • 3.      It is generally used on calm water
  • 4.      Tandem kayaks are more stable than solo kayaks

Many people choose to buy a tandem kayak as a way to enjoy the sport of kayaking with a friend. It’s possible to paddle in tandem with someone else, making it easier and safer than solo kayaking.

Some features that make a tandem kayak worth buying are: buoyancy, stability, durability, and portability.

A tandem kayak is a two-person boat that is used for recreation or touring, with one paddler per side. It is usually wider than a single kayak, with more storage space.

Tandem kayaks come in many different shapes and sizes and come in different levels of complexity to suit the needs of the paddler. Some are very simple, while others can be quite complex.

Tandem kayaks are known to be more stable than single kayaks due to their double hull design. The design of the twin hulls creates a stronger platform that is not as prone to tipping compared to single kayaks that rely on only one hull.

12. Crossover Kayaks

Crossover kayaks are a type of kayak that allows for easier paddling and increased speed. They have a wider, longer hull, which makes them easier to paddle, and more stable than traditional boats. Crossovers are also able to surf on waves, compared to traditional boats. Crossover kayaks are popular for whitewater, sea kayaking, and surfing.

Crossover Kayaks
Crossover Kayaks
  • A crossover kayak is a type of double-ended paddleboat with a “waist” that swings from one side to the other. This design allows for a one-person boat to be used as a two-person boat, or a two-person boat to be used as a one-person boat, depending on the paddler’s preference.
  • The primary difference between a regular kayak and a crossover kayak is the pivot point. In a regular kayak, the seat is typically positioned on top of the hull which makes it difficult to get in and out of. In a crossover kayak, the seat lies at the bottom of the hull, and this allows for easy entry and exit.

Crossover Kayak Features

  • 1. Paddle and oar movement
  • 2. Scupper drain
  • 3. Seat back support
  • 4. Footrests
  • 5. Transportable
  • 6. Seat and back padding
  • 7. Aesthetics
  • 8. Storage space

13. Diving Kayaks

Diving Kayaks are a type of kayak designed to be used by scuba divers. The kayaks typically feature a modular system that allows for the addition of dry suits, tanks, and other diving equipment. They are also designed to be stable enough to use as a platform for scuba divers. Diving kayaks range from 60–130 kg.

Diving Kayaks (for Scuba Divers)
Diving Kayaks (for Scuba Divers)

Diving Kayaks are a type of boat that has been adapted for use on waterways and oceans. They are typically able to carry more weight than most boats because they sit lower in the water, reducing the amount of drag they create when moving through water.

Diving Kayak features

This listicle is on diving kayak features and accessories.

  • Diving kayaks are long, narrow, and lightweight
  • Divers use kayaks to submerge underwater to reach areas that are not accessible with scuba divers.
  • The kayak does not require a surface air intake valve for breathing, as it is submerged in the water.

14. Sail Kayaks

Sail kayaks are kayaks that are propelled by wind, typically on open water. A sail is used as a form of propulsion. Unlike a paddle, the sail does not generate thrust directly but only by changing the direction of the wind.

In recent years, some companies have begun to produce “sail” kayaks that use a paddle or a rudder to propel themselves through the water.

Sail Kayaks
Sail Kayaks

While some people use both paddling and sailing techniques, others use only one

Sail Kayak Features

The following are the features of a kayak:

  • 1. Cockpit
  • 2. Rudder
  • 3. Stand up paddle
  • 4. Sail
  • 5. Paddle
  • 6. Rudder pedals
  • 7. Foot pedals
  • 8. Kayak deck rigging
  • 9. Kayak storage compartments
  • 10. Kayak cockpit rigging

15. Sit-in Kayak

Sit in Kayak is a type of kayak that has a center seat which is an enclosure where you can sit. The seats are typically found on the top of the kayak or in the front and back, but can also be found on both sides.

Sit-in kayaks are typically used for recreational purposes such as fishing, swimming, or sightseeing. They’re usually less expensive than sea kayaks due to their simplicity and portability.

Sit in Kayaks
Sit in Kayaks

The Sit-In Kayak was invented by Gordon McGregor in 1957 and was originally designed for use as a fishing boat

A Sit-in Kayak is a kayak that has the comfort of a sit on top of it’s deck. The kayak is typically smaller than a touring kayak. It is more suitable for one person or for fishing and it can also be used as personal watercraft.

Sit-in-Kayak Features

  • Inflatable buoyancy (air chamber)
  • Rigid frame
  • Deck of double-walled polyethylene plastic
  • Foam-filled, closed-cell foam
  • Pocket on deck to store a spare air cylinder

Bottom Line

A kayak is your transport to travel around an estuary quietly, reach magnificent beachside campgrounds, enjoy surreal views that can’t otherwise possibly seen from the shore. Hop in on your kayak in a morning workout with your kids or friends, and get in on the action!

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