What Is a Recreational Kayak?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

A recreational kayak is a type of boat used by infrequent or beginner kayakers. It is modeled after a traditional kayak, which is a long, slender vessel designed to move swiftly through the water, though the recreational kayak is usually shorter and wider than a touring, or traditional, kayak. The width of the kayak is extended for stability and more responsive steering; touring kayaks tend to be longer for speed, but they also tend to be more difficult to steer, especially in rough waters. The cost of recreational models is likely to be lower than other types of kayaks as well.

Added stability and ease of use make the recreational kayak a great choice for beginners, hobbyists, and even fishermen. A person interested in fishing from the kayak will find added stability when shifting his or her weight, casting the line, and otherwise moving about the cockpit to reach items stowed inside or on the deck. It is possible to find a recreational kayak that features rigging to secure a fishing pole and other fishing equipment, further making this boat a great choice for such purposes. Some recreational kayak models even feature a sit-on-top cockpit that allows the paddler to sit on the deck rather than inside the boat itself.

Beginner kayakers will benefit from the stability of the wider kayak as well, since beginners often have trouble staying balanced in the narrow boats. The width will also help prevent the beginner from tipping over, which is especially important if the beginner kayaker has not mastered the wet exit. This is a maneuver in which the paddler escapes the cockpit of the kayak when it is capsized; wet exits take practice to do safely, so a beginner may benefit from the wider kayak to prevent the necessity of a wet exit.

Like other types of kayaks, a recreational kayak may be a single-person model or a tandem. Tandem models feature two cockpits rather than one. The drawback to a tandem kayak is the added length of the boat, which can make steering more difficult. The paddlers will also need to learn how to manage the balance of the boat with two people in it rather than one. These boats can be propelled more easily, however, since two paddlers will be supplying the forward power rather than just one. These boats can also feature a cockpit in which a paddler will sit, or a sit-on-top cockpit that allows for easier movement while sitting on the boat.

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