As the name implies, you sit inside this type of kayak with your legs inside. With the addition of a spray skirt, you are protected from rough weather or white water. Another advantage is that storage is also out of the elements. Entry and exit take a little practice from this type of kayak.
The greatest advantage of a sit-on-top kayak is the ease of getting on and off. They also provide easy access to cargo stored. They are designed for paddling or surfing.
These kayaks are shorter and are designed to fit more tightly around your waist. They are designed with a rounded bottom for negotiating rapids. One normally wears a spray skirt that keeps water out when negotiating a roll.
Characteristics of kayaks
The advantage of long and narrow kayaks are that they track straighter and faster than short kayaks. This is more important on larger bodies of water.
A short kayak is easier to turn on smaller bodies of water.
Wide kayaks are more stable for photography and fishing. However, wide kayaks are more difficult to keep straight. Narrow kayaks are less stable, but faster.
Kayaks can be made from several materials.
Plastic has the disadvantages of warping, distortion and scratching. All of these can affect stability and speed, while Fiberglas has the advantages of being lightweight and durable.
Kayaks can also be inflatable or folding.
Inflatables are generally lighter and obviously easier to transport. Inflatables can be made of unreinforced fabric such as Hypalon or heavy-duty vinyl. The disadvantages of inflatables are that they are not as rigid and therefore not as seaworthy. They are generally slower than folding kayaks and usually have less space for storing gear. The advantages of a folding kayak compared to an inflatable are speed and efficiency. Therefore, a folder is a better choice for serious travel.
Choosing a paddle
There are many different types of paddles. However, the two basic types are symmetrical and asymmetrical.
Touring kayakers are more apt to use asymmetrical paddles. The blades are flat and others are curved. Flat blades are good for beginners since they are easier to control.
Experienced kayakers will want a curved blade to grip the water better and give you more power.
Shafts and blades are made from various materials.
Carbon blades are light and stiff. Fiberglass shafts are also light and stiff. This combination will give you an easier stroke.