Everything to know about kayaking


            Kayaking is one of the fastest growing sports worldwide, particularly in United States. Modern technology allows for mass production of kayaks, with good quality of the vessels and with affordable prices. Today’s kayaks, built predominantly with materials like fiberglass, wood, plastic or Kevlar allow for safe and, at the same time exciting paddling experience. In that way, a boat invented 4.000 years ago is being re-invented and its original purpose is being forgotten. Traditional kayaks were used by the Inuits for hunting and fishing, and were constructed with materials found in nature: whalebone and seal skin as the most common of those.

             The various design options when making kayak offer great range of options when it comes to type of usage as well: they can be used professionally or for recreational purposes, and also on different water environments, including lakes, river or sea. When it comes to amateur kayaking, or just that typical recreational drive around you favorite lake, it is necessary to be familiar with certain basics of technique and elements of equipment. Since kayaking is in fact a very delicate relationship between a person, kayak and a paddle it is easy to make beginner’s mistakes, but almost anybody can master the fundamental requirements with a bit of practice.

             When it comes to equipment, it basically consists out of two elements – a kayak and a paddle. Body of a kayak can be made of different materials, and therefore they vary in prices: from the cheapest ones made out of plastic (ranging from $250 to $1.500) up to the most expensive versions constructed with a lighter and stronger material called Kevlar (up to $4.000). Design also has many variations, so kayaks used on sea are usually longer, and those used on whitewater rivers have stronger bodies so they can survive all of the impacts when hitting rocks. When it comes to paddle selection, it depends on number of factors – your stature, size of the kayak and stroking preferences. Unlike canoes, which have only one blade, kayaks use two-bladed paddles, and they can be shorter or longer, narrower or wider, flat or curved, or even feathered. Another element of equipment, which is not actually basic but is very important, nevertheless, is safety equipment. PFD (personal flotation device) is essential requirement for any kayaking attempt and should always be selected with care.


            After you decide to give it a try, it is time to get into the kayak and to actually start experiencing the real deal. Here are some general steps you need to follow, if you are a beginner:

  • Go the a good, secure kayak provider where you can also get general pointers for start
  • Learn how to properly wear your PFD
  • Learn how to adjust and sit in the kayak (essential for good control of the kayak)
  • Learn how to get into the kayak (while it is on water)
  • Learn how to properly hold the kayak paddle
  • Learn how to paddle with forward stroke
  • Learn how to exit kayak

              Kayaking is a very entertaining activity, and it is probably best to start with one or more friends, since this usually provides a lot of fun and laughter about all the mistakes and problems controlling a kayak brings along.

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Basic facts about kayaking


              Kayaking is a very, very old method of moving across water, and even though many people nowadays just see it as a water-sport reserved for small number of enthusiasts, that was not the case in the old days. Inuit people, formerly know as Eskimos, created these low-to-the-water, canoe-like boats thousands of years ago. Using elements provided by nature, like whale skeletons or animal skin (particularly seal skin) they constructed frames for these moving devices which were predominantly used for hunting. Literal translation “hunter’s boat” clearly indicates the original purpose of kayak.

            Options for stealth approach and extreme maneuverability of the small boats offered various advantages when searching or approaching the pray, or for transporting goods and people. Europeans fairly quickly noticed those elements of kayaking and they copied the design and system of construction. Over time, certain changes were happening, and the design was perfected along with better and better material being used.

            Shape was kept intact but with major alterations in certain types, and today’s mostly used kayak contains covered deck and one or more cockpits, each providing a sitting position for one paddler. Designers of kayak boats nowadays have great range of options, but generally have to balance in between certain contrastive elements – stability vs maneuverability, size vs speed, etc.

            In Berlin, during the 1936 Olympic Games, kayaking appeared for the first time as an official and recognized sport, and a few decades later, during 1950s, the first examples of fiberglass kayaks have been produced. In the 1970s whitewater kayaking experienced great expansion in popularity, and a decade later, in the 1980s, even lighter (and better) polyethylene kayaks appeared. There are different materials of course that are used today in the construction of modern-day kayak, mostly metal, fiberglass, plastic and the most recent – super-light carbon fiber. Everything depends on the way potential user wants to use his boat, and what type of water he will usually ride it on.


            Since size and shape of the kayak boat depend so much on the type of water, the same rules apply for the other important element of kayak riding – the paddle. This essential element also comes in great variety of ways, different sizes and shapes are available although the general rule of double blades (so you can paddle from both sides of kayak) has to be respected.

            Kayak can be used professionally in the specific terms of sports and training, but also in recreational purposes or various types of outdoor activities. Thanks to its large maneuverability and great range of design options kayak is being used in fishing, diving and wilderness exploration. It has even found a good use in military or rescue activities, in situations such as floods, when search and rescue operations are necessary.

            Most people are slightly intimidated by kayaking, thinking that it is too hard to learn or too strenuous, but it actually provides fantastic, no-stress way of getting some fresh air and burn some calories all of this while enjoying nature and beautiful scenery. Basic kayaking can be learned within minutes, and with upgrades in technology it is going to be easier and easier. However, safety should always be the number one priority to anybody who sits in this ancient, but in the same time modern, water vehicle.

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