The coexistence of man with the sea and rivers began thousands of years ago either for survival, transportation or trade. Sometimes he struggled. Sometimes he made great friendships. Sometimes friendship and struggle were intertwined during kayaking. The kayak is a long, narrow and lightweight treadmill that allows you to drive with a double-bladed paddle. It also expresses adventure, pleasure, peace and love for those who like kayaking.
Kayak has a long history earliest of them being dugouts. The most common societies using the kayak were the Vikings, the Indians, and the Eskimos. You may read more about the history of kayaks at the end of this review if you are interested. Materials and shapes of kayaks show differences between societies but the purpose is either to be used in sea, flat water or whitewater.
The kayaking is both a pleasure and an affordable sport. Those who like to spend time on the water can easily make the kayaking. There are shops selling sporting goods and cheap kayaks types on internet sites. You can purchase inflatable or fiber kayaks at affordable prices. Many users prefer fiber kayaks because they are lightweight. Inflatable kayaks are also light and not take up much space also many come with a special bags for easier transportation. After deflation some can be folded back to a bag shape again and easily carried around or stored. In sporting goods stores, kayak types are generally classified into three groups: fishing, sightseeing and rafting but they are also categorised in many other ways. For simplicity we won’t go into details since commercial ones are grouped in the seller's way of liking.
Today we still make kayaks out of wood but it would take a professional carpenter around 200 hours to construct a strip-build one. Therefore today we have more commercial built for sale rather than personal use make out of fiberglass or swelling materials. Although fiberglass is still one shall never forget that they are more vulnerable during impact and can get damaged easily and inflatable one much safer than they used to be thanks to new technologies.
The problem when buying a kayak is not to find the cheapest one but the safest for low cost. The cheapest kayak may seem to be the one that you would like to buy but kayaking may be dangerous if you can’t rely on your equipment in the middle of a lake or further away from land in sea. In fact we believe that not only safety but the comfort of the kayak will make your experience unforgettable so deciding on the best kayak for you might get complicated. The relatively low cost of the kayak is appealing and the equipment is easy to take care of. While choosing an affordable kayak and accessories you might consider reading the following.
Design: First of all you might have to decide where you want to paddle because the shape of the craft matters. There are three different designs and the bottom of the craft is shaped as its name; vees, flatbottoms and roundbottoms. If you decide on a flatbottom kayak which will be stable upon entry you may capsize easily in waves. So having a vee or roundbottom will be harder to control since it will be less stable and predictable but will be easier to control and safer in waves.
Today's modern kayaks typically do not have the tumblehome which increases efficiency but a flared bow that prevents waves from rolling into the craft. Although harder to use they are safer and more pleasant to use. Modern kayaks also have a floatation bag which will prevent them from filling with water and a foam knee pad and a foot peg for comfort. The kayak is weared but not kneeled upon like the canoe so you will want the knee pads protecting your knees and the foot peg to rest your feet. Since you sit in the kayak you will want to maximize your control over the craft as it embraces you.
Kayak: Inflatable kayaks are best suited for beginners since they are cheap and can be carried easily. They wary in one or two people sizes and most of the time come with paddles. If you prefer a solid sit-on-top kayak you can be sure that they are not sinkable but might tip over. Even if you tip over since it doesn’t have a cavity it won’t fill with water and sink. They might not provide the best comfort but are probably the safest and much easier to get in and out mostly suited for slow flows in rivers or beaches. On the other hand the sit-in kayaks are probably what you will want as you get more experienced. Inflatable sit-in kayaks are less common but they do exist but can be more expensive.
Paddle: As you sit in the kayak comfortably you will want to paddle it the best way too. Choose your paddle carefully since the kayak does not have an engine but the engine is you with the paddle. Do not forget that kayak paddles are long and double bladed. Canoe paddles single bladed should not be used in the kayak. Again depending on whether you want to go touring or whitewater choose the right paddle. The wide blades with a rigid shaft that are set at an angle to each other (feathered) are the whitewater paddles. With those paddles you will travel control in the rapids. On the other hand touring paddles have smaller blades and are narrow with flat or spoon shaped (cupped) blades since they are designed for comfort and efficiency. Kayak paddles are also designed for right or left hand control to maintain firmer grip. Most paddles are right-hand control but if you are left handed choose you paddle accordingly. The length of the kayak paddle depends on the width of the kayak and your torso length but an average sized person of 5’2”-6’2” (157 cm - 188 cm) in a solo boat uses a 80”-88” (200 cm - 220 cm) paddle.
Clothing: Deciding on the best clothing is as important as choosing the best kayak. It really might change your fun filled kayaking experience into a miserable one. When choosing the clothing do not get tricked by the air temperature, choose your dress by checking the water temperature. Also the accessories you bring with you will keep you safe. Here is what we suggest;
- bring a personal floating device in case there is an accident and you find yourself in water, most of the time it's also required by law but wear it even if it’s not, accidents can happen even in shallow water
- wear a hat since it protect from sun in hot weather and keeps your head warm in cold weather
- sunglasses will help you keep your vision and protect your eyes, still water can be very bright
- synthetic and wool clothes in layers will keep the heat in, can be added or shed and finally will dry much quicker than cotton
- shoes to protect your feet and also slipping
- a helmet especially if you are kayaking in rivers
- a wet suit will help if you have one
Practice: If you are a starter we advice you to start your experience with kayaking on a lake. Even with the best equipment a mild current in a river might be challenging. It takes time to learn how to paddle. Yes, there are styles that you need to learn for smooth kayaking that won’t get you tired too quickly. In fact there are long articles just written to teach how to paddle the right way for beginners. After you feel comfortable you may start your river adventures. There are outdoor sport groups that you may sign up to not only for safety but also for the pleasure of having a fun group activity while enjoying the scenery.
As we mentioned earlier dress properly and bring the necessary equipment. Take a lot of water, snacks stored in sealable bags and a sunscreen depending on the season. If you are planning to go out to the sea you will have extra storage on those kayaks made for the sea. It's also a good idea to store everything in waterproof bags especially your phone or other electronic equipment so invest in them to prevent accidental costs. Having a duct tape with you is also a very good idea, it’s one of those miracle products thats so easy to use but will even fix your kayak if there is any need.
History of Kayaks
In North America, the Indians used kayaks as a means of transport in shallow waters. In Africa, Europe and Greenland, kayaks have been used for years as well.
The Indians made their canals by covering the wooden frame with birch trees. Eskimos joined the whale bones to make kayaks and covered with seal oil to make them light. The natives of Africa and the Pacific are carved logs to make kayaks. Nowadays, kayaks produced from swelling and fiber materials are widely used.
The Vikings and the Indians have built their kayaks so that they can overcome long ways. Eskimo’s kayaks can progress in the stream, may go in the frozen, narrow and rough water. Their maneuverability is also very high.
With these kayaks, it is possible to go faster in still water. They were developed from Indian kayaks. Their length is 5-5.5 m and widths range from 80 to 85 cm and depth ranges from 30 to 40 cm. The person using the kayak extends his legs toward the floor. When rowing, the back stands upright. Face is turning towards the direction he is going. The paddles are double sided. The paddle must be used in both directions in order for the kayak to proceed smoothly. If two people use the kayak, one should paddle from left and other from the right.