13 Different Types of Kayaks

Of late, if you ask anyone about their latest fascination or their idea of a fun time, many individuals turn their heads to kayaking. Undoubtedly, it has grown to become a fun pastime and a thrilling recreational sport. Paddling through calm or lively waters as you sit in a kayak and unearth amazing terrain, fantastic landscape and beautiful views is an out-of-this-world experience. If you are not too much of an adrenaline junkie, who loves river rafting through rough and dangerous waters, kayaking will definitely be your kind of sport.

When it comes to the right kayak for you, you should know that no two kayaks are the same. There are a wide variety of them available and the kayaks are classified depending upon their type and design. Every design comes with its own paddling style, performance, maneuverability and control. So just to break it down for you, here are 13 types of kayaks that you can check out, so the next time you go kayaking, you are well prepared.

1. Recreational Kayaks

recreational kayak
recreational kayak

Main Purpose: For an enjoyable time paddling through calm waters.

You do not need any prior experience when it comes to paddling in a recreational kayak. In this type of kayak, you normally paddle through protected water bodies such as lakes and streams. It is meant solely for leisure so sitting back as you move slowly into the waters is something you can expect from a recreational kayak. If you want to try your hand at kayaking, you should go in for this kayak. They are usually available at rental fleets and local parks at a reasonable price and are very popular among individuals seeking to try out something new and fun.

2. Expedition Kayaks


Main Purpose: Designed for overnight or multi-day trips on open water.

Expedition kayaks are also known as sea kayaks. These kayaks arte equipped to carry a heavier load as it has a longer and deeper hull. You can carry enough food and camping equipment with you to survive for weeks. Their shape and design is perfect for slipping effortlessly through the wind and their long, narrow structure allows you to move in a straight line without any trouble. It offers seamless paddling and control when rolling and leaning. The pricing normally lingers on the costlier side and is popular among those who are into long sea journeys and trips.

3. Sit on Top Kayaks

Sit on Top Kayaks
Sit on Top Kayaks

Main Purpose: Meant for recreational purposes as well as fishing, surfing and diving.

These types of kayaks have only acquired a fan base in recent years. Sit on top kayaks are open deck boats and are ideal for few hours of fun in the water. They work best in warm climates and can carry more than one individual, a pet or even additional cargo. Anyone who wants to try paddling can do so with the help of a sit on top kayak as it is impossible to sink in them. It may flip over at times but all you have to do is flip it upright again and climb aboard. These kayaks are comparatively easy on the budget so you can give sit on top kayaks a shot, if you are interested in them.

4. Sit Inside Kayaks

Main Purpose: Great for those paddlers who move into chillier waters and want to remain dry.

Sit Inside kayaks have a special place known as the cockpit where you need to sit inside in order to paddle the boat. There is a cockpit rim attached to the cockpit. You can attach a spray skirt to the cockpit rim to keep water out. Your lower body remains warm inside the kayaks and so it protects you from the wind. These kayaks are perfect for those who like to stay dry while paddling in cool waters. Sit inside kayaks are not high on the popularity charts while they are fairly affordable on the budget.

5. Modular Kayaks

Main Purpose: Used as a fun leisure activity. Comes with a hard shell coat and is easy for transportation and storage.

Modular kayaks are as resilient and durable as recreational kayaks but the difference between the two is that a modular kayak can easily break down into two or three sections. This makes it easy to transport as well as store items. Even a single person can take over the dismantling and reassembling of the kayak. The kayaks fit into the back of any car and come in recreational, sit-on-top and day touring designs. They are very popular owing to their flexibility and come at a fairly good cost.

6. Inflatable Kayaks

Main Purpose: Meant for recreational purposes and is great for rafting, kayaking excursions, coastal explorations and kayak fishing expeditions.

Do not get carried away by the name, inflatable kayaks are sturdy and adaptable. They are light and easy to utilize while they come with feature compartments that you can blow up by foot, hand or electric pump. They are convenient on the budget as they are less expensive than fishing kayaks or ocean kayaks and owing to the versatility, are quite a rage among kayak lovers. Some have rigid frames to enhance performance while others have optional stiffening bars for the floor panel. These kayaks are easy to store and carry around.

7. Fishing Kayaks

Fishing Kayak
Fishing Kayak

Main Purpose: Designed especially for anglers and for those who love fishing.

Fishing kayaks are quieter and less noticeable than other fishing boats as it does not come with a trolling motor. It catches the fish unaware. These type of kayaks are very stable and can stand on for better visibility and casting. Catching fish in a fishing kayak is great because these kayaks are comfortable. They are slowly rising in popularity although they may be a bit on the higher side of the price scale. Fishing kayaks have rod holders and cooler holders while some of them even come with a built-in tackle box.

8. Folding Kayaks

Main Purpose: Great for exploring the seas. They offer access to any waterway and can be stored easily when not in use.

Folding kayaks offer easy portability and storage. It is basically made from fabric skin and comes with a wood or aluminum frame that is inserted into the fabric. When you are not using a folding kayak, you can store it in a hassle free way by simply fitting it into a car trunk or an apartment. When the seas get rough, they are sturdy and last longer than the other rigid boats. Foldable kayaks are giving inflatable kayaks a stiff competition and when it comes to the cost, these kayaks seem to be fairly reasonable priced.

9. Whitewater Kayaks

a kayaker

Main Purpose: Great for paddling through creeks, rivers and streams where rapid or white water is present.

Whitewater kayaks are fun, have a rounded bottom and turn up at the ends for navigation through rapid and whitewater. These types of kayaks are more suited for those who are adrenaline junkies. You feel sheer excitement and fear as you plunge through the water, falling down from the waterfall. Whitewater kayaks are strong and high on performance. With many people opting for thrilling adventures, it’s no surprise that the whitewater kayaks are much in demand. The cost of these kayaks can be on the higher side of things.

10. Sea Kayaks

Main Purpose: Ideal for paddling through oceans or large and unpredictable water bodies.

Sea kayaks come with two sealed bulkheads, one in the stern at the back of the seat and one in the bow in the front of the seat. This helps the individual to store an adequate amount of gear in the kayak. These kayaks are perfect for long trips or camping. Owing to the aerodynamics, they effortlessly steer through rough waves with ease. They are around 15 to 19 feet long and are heavy boats. Only a person who is well versed in the principals of navigation and is aware about the safety precautions can operate a sea kayak. It is fairly popular while the cost of the sea kayak is of a moderate level.

11. Surf Kayaks

surf kayak
surf kayak

Main Purpose: Meant for recreational purposes particularly surfing activities.

As the name suggests, surf kayaks are basically meant for surfing. The only difference here is that instead of a surfboard, the paddler sits in a kayak. This kind of kayaking takes place in the ocean. Surf kayaks come with features and a shape that is similar to whitewater boats. Most of the surf kayaks come fitted with spray skirts that are designed especially for the ocean. All you need is a helmet, a sturdy kayak, life jacket and good waves and you are good to go. The popularity of surf kayaks is slowly but steadily rising and some paddlers may find the cost of surf kayaks expensive.

12. Skin-on-Frame Kayaks

Main Purpose: Ideal for paddlers interested in paddling kayaks the traditional way.

Skin-on-frame kayaks were first used by Inuits and Aleut Eskimos. Today, these kayaks are constructed using a frame made out of driftwood and is covered with nylon cloth or canvas. Since the materials used to make these kayaks are cheap and easy to find, the kayaks are affordable to almost anyone seeking to own one which is why they are growing in popularity too. The skin-on-frame kayaks are unlike all of the other types of kayaks available. The kayaks themselves are low on maintenance and resilient in nature.

13. Kayaks for Children

kayaks for children
kayaks for children

Main Purpose: These kayaks are particularly designed for children.

Kayaks for children are smaller in size and so, they are the perfect choice for children seeking to try their hand out at paddling. Since they are smaller, the paddler can control the kayak and improve their paddling skills rather than struggling in an adult kayak. Kayaks for children are very popular and are cost effective too. These kayaks are easy to maneuver and so children can keep up effectively. It is the perfect sport for the entire family to indulge in as you traverse through lakes, flat-water or rivers.

Finding the Right Kayak for You

Kayaks are great for exploring any waterway, big or small in an up-close and personal manner. They are small, simple boats that can easily be maneuvered and enjoyed by a novice and yet after a fair amount of experience and skill can be used for paddling through thousand-mile expeditions far from any support.

Before going in for a kayak, you need to ask yourself: What is the right style and design for you? What kind of kayaking will you be doing most of the time? What is your budget like? Answering these questions will give you a brief idea about the kind of kayak you need to go in for.

If you are a beginner or you haven’t developed the adequate level of skill yet, it is best to opt for a kayak that is geared to a more casual kayaking style. As your skills and experience improve, you can go in for advanced levels of kayaking and even tackle whitewater rapids. After you determine the kind of kayak you want to go in for, you need to check out the price. The cost of an entry level plastic kayak is low while fiberglass boats will be higher in price. Exotic composite kayaks will be even more expensive. So be sure to check out the costs of inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks, surf kayaks, sit on top kayaks and sit inside kayaks among others when deciding on and finalizing the best kayak for you.

Kayaks are great for breaking the cycle of your monotonous life. For some, it may mean serenity, calm and peace while for others it may mean adrenaline rushing adventure and excitement. Whichever category you fall into, there is no denying that a kayak allows you to witness scenic backgrounds, quiet estuaries and spellbinding views that leave you scarred beautifully for life. We hope we have offered you adequate assistance when it comes to finding the right kayak to suit your travel and adventure escapades.

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