8 Different Types of Kayaks

Find out what type of kayak is perfect for you with our handy list.

By Mathew S. Chan
February 20, 2017


So you’ve decided to invest on a kayak, but did you know that there’s more than one type? You are probably familiar with the recreational kayak that you can usually rent out at resorts, which is a fine choice, but maybe you have other agendas you’d like to explore.

Deciding the perfect type of kayak involves a lot of factors like the distance you want to paddle, the conditions of the water, and how long you want to try the activity. Most kayaks come in single or tandem varieties and sometimes can even hold up to three people. With these factors in mind, let’s break down the different types of kayaks and see if we can find the perfect one for you.

1. Recreational Kayak
This is the kayak that people are more acquainted with. It is the most affordable and it’s easy to use. It’s best suited for novice paddlers, photographers, casual paddlers, and recreational fishermen. It’s best used on calm waters like rivers, ponds, and lakes, and it’s not advisable for open water during heavy winds or currents. Most are 10 to 12 feet long and are typically made of polyethylene plastic. They are also heavy, and if flipped in the water, it can be difficult to flip around.

2. Touring Kayak
Though more expensive, touring kayaks are much more versatile and useful. Unlike the recreational kayak, touring kayaks have more storage space and are handy for longer trips in open water, even in on rough conditions. They are typically 12 to 17 feet long and the hulls are especially made to battle heavy water. They can be either made of plastic or a lightweight durable composite blend.
a. Day touring kayak – this kayak has more storage than the typical touring kayak, enough for a whole day or overnight adventure. They are much shorter and easier to maneuver.

3. Modular Kayak
Modular kayaks snap apart into two to three sections, making it easier to transport and store. Modular kayaks were made to be easily handled by a single person and is large enough to fit in the back of most SUVs. The good think about modular kayaks is that you can purchase one to two additional cockpits to make it a tandem kayak, or group for more passengers. It also comes in the form of day touring kayak, recreational, and sit-on-top designs depending on your need.

4. Sit-on-Top Kayak
This type of kayak is ideal to use at tropical locations and in the warm weather due to its wider space. It’s a great kayak for recreational purposes especially for kids, fishermen, and swimmers because of the wider hull that makes it more stable on water. This type of kayak is around 10-15 feet, and because of the size, it can hold two or more passengers. Docking and getting in and off the kayak is also fairly easy to do compared to others.

5. Inflatable Kayak
If you are looking for an easy investment when deciding what kind of kayak to buy, look no further because an inflatable kayak might just be for you. Despite it being inflatable, it is very sturdy and versatile but harder to paddle and control unless yours has rigid frames or stiffening bars. They range from 10 to 15 feet long and can be pumped manually or electrically. Because they are inflatable, they are easy to store once deflated.

6. Folding Kayak
A folding kayak is also great for recreational use and day touring much like the inflatable kayak. The folding kayak has more benefits over the inflatable kayak, especially when it comes to storage space. It has a still frame, making it easier to control and is sturdier than an inflatable kayak. It will only take you about 15 to 20 minutes to assemble it. You can even fit it in a backpack.

7. Fishing Kayaks
This particular kayak is for anglers as it comes with rod holders as well as cooler holders for your caught fish. It also has a tackle box for easy access to your fishing gear. They are sturdy and can stand still, making casting lines convenient.

8. Whitewater Kayak
This kayak is a fun option for thrill-seekers. It works well on rapids and rough waters because of its rounded bottom and turn ups around the edges for easier navigation. Its size typically ranges from four to 10 feet long.