The evolution of kayaks from the traditional seal skin kayaks to modern inflatable kayaks

kayaksKayaks were originally built and utilized widely by the early inhabitants of the arctic in the Northern spheres mainly for hunting for food. They were ingeniously crafted from locally available products like animal hide, bones from whales and driftwood which can easily float on water. Fast forward to the 21st century and kayaks are now popular off the shelf outdoor leisure and sporting vessels.

Inflatable kayaks are particularly popular owing to their portability, durability and ease of use. They are usually made from Polyvinyl chloride, nitrylon or hypalon. PVC is a budget friendly, long lasting material that is manufactured in a variety of colors, however, when exposed to some chemicals, heat conditions and ultra violet rays of the sun PVC is easily damaged.

In most instances hypalon is the preferred kayak building material for most companies due to its availability, resistance to ultra violet rays and because of its durability. Nitrylon is a stronger substitute to PVC hence it is less likely to get punctured. Below is a list of some of the most common types of inflatable kayaks;

Sit- in inflatable kayaks represents the original design of kayaks that was originally used for most sporting varieties which were in use in many parts of Europe and North America. They have higher walls at the side which prevents too much water splashing into the vessel. It is also designed to ensure that the legs of the user are at all times concealed inside the kayak. They are widely used by those who enjoy kayaking in turbulent white waters.

In contrast to the sit-in kayaks, more recent kayaks that give the opportunity of paddling with the whole body exposed have been developed. This is the Sit on top kayak which has turned out to be a sensation on a lot of beaches worldwide. Due to their rigidity they are popular with leisurely open water paddling but their popularity in racing is also rising.

The invention of inflatable kayaks is good news for those who enjoy leisurely activities such as fishing and for kayaking beginners. Inflatable kayaks are very good due to their stability especially in relatively calm waters. These types of inflatable kayaks have the appearance of a canoe with comfortable deep seats and slightly higher walls that help in preventing water from getting into the kayak.

It is difficult to use a kayak without any water spray getting into a kayak. New design of kayaks are designed with a self-bailing system of valves i.e. they are built with a set of special valves that enable self-draining of any water that might find its way into the vessel.

Although sit-in kayaks may offer the promise of dry feet, sit on top kayaks provide much needed freedom of body movement. Sit on top kayaks are also fitted with adjustable seats that can be adjusted to various positions to suit the comfort of the pilot.

Inflatable kayaks have become very popular as recreational water vessels due to their affordability and their portability. There are inflatable kayaks that have been designed to carry more than one person. These are popularly known as tandem kayaks.