A girl kayaking

Best Types of Kayaks

During all of this social distancing, you want to go somewhere where the people aren’t. You want to spend all day in the sun, out at sea, on the lake or even at your local river. But before you go into your local outdoors/sports store, you should get a good idea of what you will need to begin your adventure. 

There are 2 MAIN types of kayaks: white water and not (aka flatwater). Whitewater kayaks are built tough, contain safety features, and are designed to float and stay together. Whitewater is its own beast and deserves to be treated as such. Those people and their boats have WAY more experience and knowledge and have earned their place on the rapids. For the rest of us or those that want to relax and not stress over dying, this guide will be helpful. 

While these are great for adrenaline junkies and those with spots to go, this guide is going to focus on the different types of flatwater kayaks for you to consider. 

Sit-In vs Sit On

So when you’re floating along, you’ll notice that there are two different categories of kayaks. Simple enough: you sit on them- similar to a canoe, or you sit in them- like most of us picture kayaks. While the debate is hot, this is really a user preference thing. 

Sitting on top is the best method for beginners. It is more stable, easier to get in and out of, some are self-bailing – meaning you don’t need a bucket to throw the water out, and you are guaranteed to get wet in them. 

Sit-in kayaks are good for keeping you a little drier, a little easier on the back, work better for cooler environments and they are easier to use.  They are a little harder for in and out, especially if you flip, but both of these boats offer comparable experiences. 


A tandem kayak in use.

While you have seen those cute couples or families riding in a two-seater, aka tandem, kayak, you should know they’re a little more work than they look. They can be built tough and be sit in or sit on, but they are generally larger and thus take a little more power to push across flat waters. It’s a great time for friends or to put your kids in, but know that you better REALLY like the person you’re sharing a boat with or you’ll be upset about who is doing all the paddling. 

Kayak Uses

Various kind of kayaks on the beach

There are a variety of types of kayaks that can be sit-in or sit on top. You can determine from there which works best for you. 


The one we all know and love. You can get it in either style, there’s a large reservoir for storage, and your poles can be nicely secured to the boat. Many of these are smaller to fit down the rivers or smaller areas around. While it can limit the space inside the boat, it doesn’t detract from the fun. These are great for a casual day on the lake or river and can also be used just to float around. 


These are more versatile, and you’ll need to pay a little more attention to the details. If you plan to be on a river more, you want to consider depths and sizes a little more than on a lake. With a lake, you don’t have to worry about rubbing the bottom or fitting through tight spaces quite as much. But these kayaks are tough, they forgive easily if you bump or shake a little. While they can be a bit larger in length, these boats are ideal for beginners who want to just enjoy their time and aren’t worried about the finer details. 


If you live near a lake or cove, want something very laid back and not the hassle of storing and keeping up with a hard boat, these could be for you. I wouldn’t take one on a river or anywhere with sharp rocks, but to float around, relax with friends and then deflate at the end of the day. You can get your money’s worth from these. 

There are also racing, touring, and paddling kayaks that you may be interested in. These are a little more specialized and not meant for those that just want to kick back and relax. But they are worth mentioning as types of kayaks. 

Don’t forget the gear!

A "boat load" of kayaks

For those like me that just want to enjoy their time, you only need the basics:

  • Kayak
  • Paddle (one with good grips!)
  • Life vest
  • Water/snacks
  • Sunscreen. 

All of these are 101 supplies that you not only should have, but things like a life jacket are the law. While you don’t have to wear it the entire time, you have to have it on board.  

If you want to go for rougher waters, you should look into a helmet, waterproof containers for your phone and valuables, and talk to your local guides about what gear you’ll really need. This can depend on o the area, where you’ll be going, who is in your group, etc.

Hopefully, this guide gave you enough information to get started on a kayaking adventure! Remember to always be safe and enjoy the ride!

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