Kayak Lengths & Usage

Kayak Lengths & Usage
Kayaking is a sport that has evolved greatly over time. New designs and materials have opened up kayaking to different styles of paddling. While it was originally a mode of transportation, it is now a multifaceted sport. Kayaking can be traced back to the Inuit and Aleut Indians of the Arctic, more than 1,000 years ago. At that time, kayaks were made of driftwood, and covered with animal skins. They were built individually, so each one was a custom fit for its owner. Today, there are a variety of kayaks, and kayak materials that cover a wide spectrum of the sport.

Touring or Sea Kayaks

Touring kayaks are the largest kayaks available, ranging in length from 17 feet to 20 feet. They have watertight bulkheads fore and aft, and gear compartments. Many sea or touring kayaks are used for multiday trips; properly packed and outfitted they can carry enough gear for at least a week. Their length and sleekness add to their speed, and ability to track straight.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are very similar to touring kayaks, but a bit shorter and wider. Kayaks in this class run 12 to 16 feet long. Recreational kayaks also can be used for touring, and are great for day and overnight paddling trips. With watertight bulkheads and storage compartments you can safely stow gear for a day, or a few days.

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are short, generally from 4 to 10 feet long. This class of kayak can be maneuvered easily, and is used for running rapids of varying degrees of difficulty.

Article Written By Andy McVeigh

Andy McVeigh lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is an avid outdoors enthusiast who enjoys paddling, biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, scuba diving and photography. McVeigh is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and is currently working on his MBA.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.