Most Popular Types Of Kayaks
The below are the most types of kayaks: they can tackle nearly any water type (freshwater or saltwater) and fit what most want to do with their kayaking adventures. Perfect for fishing, cruising, paddling down the river and general kayaking days. These types of kayaks are ideal for almost anyone looking to hit the water.
Sit On Top Kayaks
- Pros: great for fishing, easy to paddle, stable, lots of deck space for accessories.
- Cons: harder for kids or shorter adults, more expensive, not made for rough waters, likely to get wet, slower to paddle through the water, worse performance in the wind.
The most popular type of kayak is the humble sit on top (sometimes called SOT)! Perfect for nearby every type of water and activity, sit on top kayaks are the most common layout you’ll see from popular kayak brands like Pelican Kayaks, Hobie, Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Jackson Kayaks, Perception and many more.
Sit on top kayaks are often equipped for fishing. Those fishing kayaks will have dedicated rod holders, storage space, nearby storage for accessories and more.
Sit Inside Kayaks
- Pros: cheap, easy to get started, keeps you dry, simple for all ages, faster than most SOT (sit-on-top) kayaks
- Cons: easier to flip, often lower quality construction, not as easy to fish out of, no stand-up option, easy-access to fishing gear very limited.
The next most popular kayak layout is the sit inside. These are perfect for those that want to get closer to the water and paddle with ease. Sit inside kayaks are also popular with those who want to paddle faster as you are lower to the water.
Sit-inside kayaks are not without their flaws however. One major issue with sit inside kayaks it the issue of water leaking into your boat. In these cases, you’ll need to carry extra equipment (bilge pump) to get the water out of the kayak.
Touring Kayaks & Sea Kayaks
- Pros: speed, ease of use, light paddle touch needed, acceleration.
- Cons: easy to tip, hard-to-access storage, transporting is difficult on most trucks.
Going for a longer adventure on the water? Touring kayaks are popular for long-distance paddles! Many Touring or open Sea kayak layouts are longer, narrow, long-session friendly boats. Often 14 – 18 feet in length, open sea kayaks feature ample storage and slice through the water easily. Touring kayaks are popular for those who are going for long distances and also campers who want to take lots of gear, but have lots of ground to cover before they get to their final resting spot each night.
Niche Kayak Types
- Pros: perfect for single-use of whitewater.
- Cons: short, easy to tip, hard to steer at all, no other use.
There’s really only one type of kayak you’ll want if you’re going down a fast-flowing river: whitewater kayaks. Ideal for jumps, sharp drops and more, whitewater kayaks are made to take a rough ride on river rocks and still keep you upright. Short and stout would be an excellent way to describe this kayak style. Often just 4-5~ feet in length, speed is not provided in this kayak by paddling but rather by the river/whitewater that you are traveling down. Whitewater kayaks allow for you to have many options along rough waters like being able to pivot easily and go left-to-right with ease. While these attributes would be less than ideal in a lake or saltwater setting, they are actually perfect for the whitewater kayaker!
- Pros: Store anywhere, bring with you, cheaper than plastic in many cases.
- Cons: setup/tear-down time, rips can occur on the water, less stable.
Not everyone has lots of space for kayak storage! For our city-dwellers or those in cramped spaces or apartments, inflatable kayaks are ideal! Inflatable kayaks are perfect for the space-aware kayak owners that want to get out on the water but can’t haul around a small trailer or want to buy expensive roof-racks. The good news is that today you’re not giving up much in terms of kayaking ability with the popular inflatable kayak models out there. Even the most popular fishing kayak brand Hobie has inflatable options ideal for many.
- Pros: hands-free paddling, ideal for fishing, faster than paddles, easy to get started, turns quickly.
- Cons: very expensive, not great for very shallow waters, parts can get lost easily.
A sub-style or type of sit-on-top kayaks, peddle kayaks are worth mentioning as well for their uniqueness and speed. Perfect for fishing (and for longer-trips), peddle kayaks are often regarded as the premium kayak style due to popular models from Hobie and Jackson Kayak. Many peddle kayak models typically start around $1,700 and can reach $2,500 or more depending on layout and features. No one calls them cheap, but many call them the best that you can possibly have to go fishing or longer distances without nearly the physical wear that a very long paddle session can take on the average yakker.
Alright, canoes aren’t kayaks, but they’re still our paddling friends on the water! Canoes are ideal for slow-moving rivers and when you want to paddle with a friend.