A Brief History Of Kayaking

A kayak is a small, narrow boat that is usually driven by a double-bladed paddle. The word kayak comes from the Greenlandic word qajaq. Kayaks were used from ancient times. Now, the kayak is one of the most sophisticated watercrafts that is used for recreation and hunting as well. It has a long history of being sophisticated. Let’s explore more about the history of kayaking.

Evolution of Kayaks

The kayaks have been around since 4000 years ago to be used in the waterways. Perhaps, the first kayaks were introduced by Inuit, Aleut, and Yup’ik. These indigenous people used for hunting along the coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean.

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By visiting the North America section of the State Ethnological Museum in Munich, you can see some of the old kayaks from the sixteen century. However, now you will find a wide variety of kayaks with the ergonomic design and durable construction.

The Design Principle of Modern kayak

Basically, the modern design depends on some factors. With these factors, modern kayaks have reached this stage. The modern kayak is engineered with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. However, the following factors should be considered for modern design.


The displacement should be proper. Because the kayak will drown if its displacement is not capable enough to take the load of the passengers. And the kayak won’t be able to tackle the large waves if its displacement is obsessive.

Most of the kayaks are designed to take load up to 143 to 187 lbs. There are also some kayaks out there that can take loads up to 100 to 110 lbs. Basically, these are engineered for the amateurs. In fact, the kayaker will feel more comfortable with the kayak that can take more load than that of his own weight.

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The touring or sea kayak should be long as it needs to take more load. It’s a general concept that the long kayak is faster and it can take more loads. But the problem is that it is not easy to maneuver. Apart from that, it is a matter of hassle to carry and store.

On the other hand, the short kayaks are slower. But it is easy to maneuver. Moreover, it is easy to carry and store as well.

Most manufacturers design the kayak for intended users. Actually, they manufacture both types of kayaks.


The maneuverability not only depends on the length but it also depends on the rocker. The kayak with more rocker is easier to maneuver. In contrast, the kayak with less rocker is a bit longer.

Beam Profile

The beam refers to the overall width of the cross of the kayak. The kayak with a wider hull is more robust compared to the kayak that has a narrow hull. But the kayak with the thin hull is easier to paddle. 

Construction Materials

Once upon a time, the ancient kayaks were made from the sewn seal or other animal skins stretched out on a wooden frame or whale skeleton. And they used the kayaks for their personal usages.

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Now recent years most of the kayaks are manufactured for commercial purposes. In fact, the modern kayaks are made from aluminum, fiberglass, polyethylene, plastic  and marine-grade plywood. The durable fabric is also an important material of the modern kayak.

However, one thing I should mention here is that kayaks with wooden hulls are easier to use. You don’t require an extra set of skills.

Types of Kayaks

With modern evolution, there are a variety of kayaks available on the market.

The Main Types of Kayaks are:

  • Sea Kayak
  • White water kayak
  • Recreational kayak
  • Racing kayak

Sea Kayak

Basically, the Sea kayak is intended for travelling and it can take the loads for two to three people. This type of kayak is made from a variety of materials. Apart from that, they come with a longer waterline. Modern sea kayaks typically feature rudders. It may also incorporate a couple of or more internal bulkheads.

Whitewater Kayak

White water kayaks are made up of top-quality plastic. Sometimes polyethylene also can be used as a material. And this type of kayak is around 4 to 10 feet long. You will find two main types of white water kayak: Creekboat and Playboat.

Recreational Kayak:

Recreational Kayaks are designed for those who’d like to kayak for fishing or taking photographs. In fact, this is the most popular type of kayak.

The recreational kayak typically can be around 10 to 12 feet long. And it comes with the limited cargo capacity. 

Racing Kayak

There are two types of racing kayak out there: white water kayak and flatwater sprint, also known as sprint kayak. We’ve explained the white water kayak earlier. However, it is much faster. On the other hand, sprint kayak is perfect for calm water. The sprint kayak is widely used in the Summer Olympics, and it’s first debuted since 1936.

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The interesting thing I should mention is that kayaks were used in World War II. To be more specific, the kayaks were used by the Nato Special Forces as well as British Commando.

Moreover, the kayaks were also adapted by Australian Military during the Pacific War from 1941 to 1945. They used the kayak for about 33 raids and some other missions on the Soth-east Asian Islands.

Wrap Up

To sum up, kayaks are mainly used for recreational purposes, for example, fishing, hunting, enjoying the natural beauty and photography. Most importantly, modern kayaks are much stylish as well as durable and reliable. Hope you enjoyed the article. If you have any queries feel free to write down below. Your opinions are more than welcome here.