For all of you paddlers out there, we’re happy to bring you our second blog entry to our blog series on kayaks and kayaking! Last time we explained the recreational kayak and the sit-on-top kayak, both of which are awesome in their own right, but this time we’re going to be investigating the vessels most suitable for the wild, thrill-seeking paddlers: the ocean kayak and the whitewater kayak. Not for the faint of heart, these kayaks are best suited to rough waters and non-stop adventure, so be warned: here there be monsters!
Ocean Kayaks: roaming abroad
The name “ocean kayak” may make it seem like this kayak model is only suited for the salty waves of the sea, but really an ocean kayak is perfectly fine on any large, open body of water. Since these kayaks are meant for longer journeys, they are very long and streamlined compared to their blunt whitewater counterparts and have a higher center of gravity for better control at high speeds. They have plenty of storage fore and aft, and are typically made of a low-friction fiberglass or Kevlar material to keep them sturdy and sleek on open water. Given their larger size and heavier materials, ocean kayaks tend to be more difficult to launch and maneuver on land, but what they lose in bulkiness they gain in having a tried-and-true design. In fact the sea or ocean kayak is actually the original kayak design that was first made by the Inuit to navigate the ice flows of the north, and has changed very little over the thousands of years since its creation.
Whitewater Kayaks: the Rough and Tumbler
For those water-travelers that are seeking some adrenaline from their kayak, whitewater kayaks are the perfect vessel to navigate the frothy mountain streams and rushing rivers of the outdoors. These kayaks are small, stubby, and suited for little more than floating, but then that’s exactly the design you’d want when maneuverability and endurance are crucial in white water conditions. Whitewater kayaks come in a variety of specialized sub-types, such as freestyle playboats, squirt boats, river runners and slalom boats. Some like the playboat kayak give up stability for maneuverability to perform stunts and tricks, whereas others like the slalom kayak have a squat, low-profile that make them very maneuverable and stable but not very fast in a straight line. Whatever your needs though, you can be sure that a whitewater kayak will be extremely lightweight and built for high-impact, rocky conditions. Experience required!
Whew! So far we’ve covered the casual explorer’s recreation and sit-on-top kayak along with the more thrill-seeking ocean and whitewater kayaks, but we’re not done yet! There’s plenty more kayak fun to come in our next entry, where we take a look at the specialty kayaks: fishing and multi-purpose. Stay tuned!