The Ladies’ Kayak Project


Men and Women are two very different creatures. It is for this reason that manufacturers have developed products that are gender specific. Everything from outerwear and shoes to skis and bicycles are gender specific. Why then does the kayak industry still expect women to use kayaks designed for men, by men. The goal of engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University is to address that very question, if they can get the funding.

Nearly all new kayaks are designed for men. Not surprisingly, most models also perform better for men than for women. Newer models begin to address these differences with multiple sizes and outfitting to accommodate varying body shapes, however one fundamental difference in the anatomy of men and women has not been addressed and that is the respective centers of gravity (CG). Designing women specific kayaks has the potential to expel the perceptions of many women that they are less able to learn basic skills, have fun as a recreational kayaker and excel as an elite athlete than men.

Another perception is that women simply aren’t interested in kayaking. In fact some kayak schools report having a ratio of equal or greater numbers of women to men in beginner classes. Why then are men three times more likely to stick with it? Having equipment that is designed specifically for women may be the answer.

Who ever does decide to dedicate a line of kayaks of varying genres to the fairer half of the population looks to benefit greatly. If a student comes up with intellectual property worth protecting with patents, they will own the patent with licensing rights to go to a non-profit organization to be determined. Of course there is a lot of research and development and other expenses involved in launching a female specific kayak line. For this the students at Carnegie Mellon University are asking for your help.

Implementing this project at Carnegie Mellon will cost $7000 in materials and lab fees. Fundraising efforts have so far raised just under $2k. Unfortunately donations are not to a non-profit and will not be returned at any time, however if you want to help get more women on the water act now. Donations are being taken until August 1st and are being limited to $25 per person with a $1.60 online processing fee. To donate go to