If you’re thinking about getting a kayak or canoe, you’ll want to learn a few things about these boats before buying one.
There are many various differences in canoes and kayaks, which are important, because they are made for specific uses. You wouldn’t want to be out in the ocean in a canoe, for example, nor would you want to be on a stream in a sea kayak. Read on to find out some of the differences between canoes and kayaks.
Generally, the flatter the bottom, the more stable the canoe; but with flatness, you give up some speed. The more rounded the bottom, the less stable yet quicker. Flat-bottom canoes are useful for beginners and people who want to joyride or fish. The stability affords comfort. These boats are great for short weekend trip or longer ones, in which you and your friends want to get away and enjoy some time on the water. If your canoe is big enough, you’d be able to fit a small cooler in it for a warm day on the water.
Lake canoes usually have a “v-bottom” to help them turn, while river canoes usually don’t, for maneuverability. If you’re going to be out on a lake, you’ll want the bottom with a “keel”, so that you can turn more easily against currents.
If you’re in a river, on the other hand, the flat bottom lets you move with ease, that is, without being dominated by rapids or strong undercurrents. If you’re thinking about taking a longer trip, where your route will mean connection streams and lakes, a v-bottom canoe will be right for you. These are usually rather portable and can be either towed or stowed on the roof of your car, minivan or Jeep ®.
If you’re in the market or mindset for a kayak, you’ll want to ask, Which one is right for me? To answer the question, you’ll want to know where you are planning on going. The “class” of the rapids refers to their intensity or how challenging they are. When you buy a kayak, it’s important to remember to think about what you want to equip yourself for. If you’re thinking about taking up kayaking as a hobby, it’s a good idea to get one that will at least let you go on waters that you won’t be able to when you start. In other words, if you think ahead, you’ll be able to develop your kayaking skills without having to buy a second boat, after you having learned the basics:
What are called “downriver boats” are fairly long (about 8.5 to 10 feet) and are good for beginners, because they track well and are generally stable. They do well on big rivers and on rivers with holes that you would rather get right through than end up in.
“Playboats” are shorter, around 8.5 to 9.5 feet long. The design is flatter overall and more narrow at the ends. This makes carving (cutting back and forth) easier. Playboats are great because they run rivers well and also are good at maneuvering and playing.
What are called “creek boats” are about as long as playboats, about 8 to 9 feet, but have more volume. The rocker is more extreme than you'll find in a typical playboat, enabling the creek boat to turn very quickly. This characteristic does, however, make a creek boat more likely to tip. Beginners usually do well in creek boats because the length makes the boat track well and the rocker makes the boat turn quickly. But it may take a few runs to get used to the tipsiness.
"Rodeo boats" are a shortened, lower-volume version of the playboat, usually about 7 to 8 feet long. Generally, rodeo boats have a low-volume bow and stem, but partly compensate for this loss of volume by adding some volume around the cockpit. This makes rodeo moves easier by letting the ends slice through the water easily, while still keeping the paddler above water. Rodeo boats are designed to stay in holes and to get vertical.
"Squirt boats" are more extreme versions of rodeo boats. They're typically made of carbon fiber or fiberglass, and are designed to have the lowest volume possible. They are actually made to stay underwater during play moves. Squirt boats are even less well suited to learning general whitewater skills than rodeo boats are.
Remember, each characteristic of a boat sacrifices another. There is no perfect boat that can be used for all occasions. Look at the type of paddling that you plan to do and get an idea of the characteristics of the boat that will best suit your needs. It’s also useful to talk to more experienced boaters- usually found in boat shops –about their experiences and suggestions.
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