Hobby Help Presents the Ultimate Beginners Guide for Paddlers

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We get it. For the uninitiated, getting started in paddlesports can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. In order to help more people get started, and take the mystery out of so many aspects of canoeing and kayaking, our friends over at HobbyHelp.com spent a month putting together “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Kayaking.”

A Brief History

First created for hunting by the Inuit tribe of the Arctic North American region approximately 5,000 years ago, there were initially two distinct types of kayaks: those made from driftwood and those made from animal skins stretched over whalebone frames.

Kayaks—otherwise known as “hunter’s boats”—were later covered in fabric by European settlers. Years later, in the 1950s, fiberglass was used to create the resourceful vessels. And in the 1980s, the very first plastic kayak was born.

Currently, the majority of kayaks are made from lightweight, durable polyethylene plastic.

Kayaking as we know it today first became popular back in 1845, thanks to sportsman and inventor John MacGregor. In 1936, kayaking became an Olympic sport. Today the activity is used for both leisure and competitive pursuits, and continues to grow in popularity.

Types of Kayaks

You may choose to rent a kayak from a local shop for your first few times on the water. When it’s time to buy, there are two basic recreational kayak types to choose from:

Sit-On-Top Kayaks
Used for recreational purposes on calm waters, this type of vessel is easy to get on and off of. Sit-on-tops are ideal for warmer climates (plan to get wet), and they have adequate space for possessions. The downside? They tend to be heavier than sit-in versions.

Sit-In Kayaks
This fast-moving option is perfect for cooler climates. Offering plenty of storage space and better control than sit-on-top versions, sit-in kayaks are ideal for choppy waters and long-distance kayaking. Sit-in kayakers must learn how to maneuver a wet exit.

Whether you opt for a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak, you’ll most-likely want to start with a recreational vessel.

Day Touring Kayaks
These sit-in boats track straight and are markedly more efficient than their recreational competitors. While they’re often more expensive, day touring kayaks are easier to control and transport.

Touring Kayaks
Ideal for long distances, these efficient boats track straight and offer plenty of storage space, though they come with a hefty price tag.

Inflatable Kayaks
This space saving option fits into small spaces, yet provide a fun and efficient kayaking experience. Choose from recreational models or more rugged options.

Folding Kayaks
Perfect for apartment dwellers and others short on space, folding kayaks handle well and fold for easy storage.

Fishing Kayaks
If you’re a fisherman at heart, you may opt for a sit-on-top fishing kayak. The vessel will even hold your rods.

Tandem Kayaks
Instead of splurging on two kayaks for you and your significant other or child, opt for a tandem kayak. Because these boats are made for pairs, this option is best if you never plan to go solo.

Kayaks and Canoes: Similarities and Differences

Sure, kayaks and canoes look a lot alike, but there are many more differences than similarities among the two.

The proof is in the paddles. Kayak paddles are longer and have two blades, while canoe paddles only have one.

Canoeists sit on a built-in seat or kneel on the canoe floor, while kayakers sit in a cockpit or on top of the vessel. The construction is also different, as canoes generally have an open deck.

To read the full article on how to get started in paddling, surf on over to Hobby Help

(Photos courtesy of Hobby Help, Jo Branson)