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February 28, 2016
The One-Man Vessel: Kayaks Part 4


Here we are, campers!  The last entry of our blog series on kayaks!  So far we’ve covered nearly every type of kayak there is: recreational, sit-on-top, ocean, whitewater, inflatable, and folding.  Still, we couldn’t say that we’ve properly evaluated/explained the kayak without taking a look at those varieties that are made specifically for the sport enthusiast: fishing and military kayaks.  Nothing pretty or flashy here, just full-fledged functionality and purpose molded into a super-tough kayak form.  Dan you dig it?

Fishing Kayak: Angling for a better boat


Fishermen (and women) are a curious lot, where each one has their little tricks, rituals, habits, and even superstitions.  But when it comes to traveling on the water, more and more fishing folk are choosing a fishing kayak over the traditional motor boat.  These kayaks are specifically designed to hold everything from poles and nets to radar-based fish-finders and act as a very attractive alternative to motor-based craft, especially given the increased durability and lower cost of a kayak.  Fishing kayaks typically take advantage of using the sit-on-top or enclosed kayak design in order to maximize the use of space, though some higher-end models feature small towing attachments for a secondary dingy used for gear and other objects.  No matter the style however, fishing kayaks are unique in that they can be customized from the keel up to meet the needs of the buyer, even before they leave the factory!

Military Kayaks: Soldiers Only!


Before we wrap up our analysis of the many kayak models in existence, it’s only fitting that we mention the crème de la crème of performance kayaks: military models.  The ultra-quiet high-speed potential of the kayak on open water attracted the eyes of the military in World War II, especially the British Special Forces, and has continued to serve a role in the U.S. Navy SEALS and Special Forces teams to this day.  Made of composite metals and ultralight thermoplastic, military-grade kayaks are far beyond what the commercial manufacturing market can produce and are capable of launching from high altitude transport planes, helicopters or surfaced submarines.  Most models are capable of submerging below the waterline, creating low radar, infrared, acoustic and thermal signatures.  No question about it: these kayaks are not available at your local hobby shop, but it is still worth covering these heavy-duty kayaks for the simple reason that they’re out there somewhere! 

Sadly campers, this is the final entry in our blog series on kayaks and the many models on the market today.  But don’t despair!  We’ll be sure to visit the great sport of kayaking again in the future with more tips and tricks for experienced paddlers and newcomers alike.  Until then, here’s to enjoying the great outdoors!

February 19, 2016
The One-Man Vessel: Kayaks Part 3


Back for more kayak-style fun, eh?  Well you’re in luck campers, because we’ve just completed our latest entry in our blog series on the different types of kayaks available on the market today: inflatable kayaks and folding kayaks.  Probably one of the biggest maintenance issues of owning a kayak is the rather large, bulky amount of space that they take up when not in use, which has driven kayak designers to satisfy the demands of the more gadget and innovation-oriented paddlers.  Enter the inflatable and folding kayaks, and you’ve got a highly-specialized niche market that’s fallen in love with convenience!

Inflatable Kayaks: Not Just Hot Air!

With the millennial generation taking over the marketplace compactness and affordability have become major design requirements in kayak design, which is probably why inflatable kayaks have become so popular in recent years.  Simply deploy, inflate, and enjoy!  While inflatables have a design similar to a sit-on-top or recreational kayak, they perform equally well on calm water as white water and some are even suitable for the open ocean.  The basic construction of inflatable kayaks usually consists of a Kevlar-based fabric over several strategically-placed air cells running along the length of the kayak body, making inflatable kayaks much less expensive than their traditional counterparts.  Storage is simply a matter of deflating the main body and folding up the interior.  As with any specialty design, inflatables do have their drawbacks such as decreased durability and speed, but the most prominent is the extra time required to inflate/deflate the kayak before and after use.  All we can say is if inflatables appeal to you, be sure to get a high-quality air pump!

Folding Kayaks: Convenience…for a price!

There really isn’t much more to add to the description of a folding kayak beyond the basics: it folds up when not in use.  But don’t think that a folding kayak’s biggest claim to fame is simply folding in half!  Folding kayaks are fully-functional kayaks that can stretch 12-15 feet in length when fully deployed and yet fold up to a package the size of a suitcase.  Talk about portability!  Dense water-tight fabric stretched over a carefully-constructed metal frame made of detachable tubing is what forms the core of a foldable kayak, though some have small hinge and spring mechanisms that allow for quick deployment.  But the ease of storage comes with a price, and a pretty big one at that; folding kayaks are about twice as expensive as a Kevlar or plastic molded kayak and can take a total of an hour to assemble and pack away.  But if you have the money to spend and the closet to store it in, it’s hard to pass up a folding package of water fun.  Believe us, we’ve tried.

We’re in the home stretch of our kayak exploration: recreation, sit-on-top, ocean, whitewater, inflatable and now folding kayak varieties have all been explored.  We’ve saved the best for last however, so tune in next time to see our evaluation of kayaks that appeal to the great sport enthusiasts of the water-world: fishing and military kayaks!

February 13, 2016
The One-Man Vessel: Kayaks Part 2


For all of you paddlers out there, we’re happy to bring you our second blog entry to our blog series on kayaks and kayaking!  Last time we explained the recreational kayak and the sit-on-top kayak, both of which are awesome in their own right, but this time we’re going to be investigating the vessels most suitable for the wild, thrill-seeking paddlers: the ocean kayak and the whitewater kayak.  Not for the faint of heart, these kayaks are best suited to rough waters and non-stop adventure, so be warned: here there be monsters!

Ocean Kayaks: roaming abroad


The name “ocean kayak” may make it seem like this kayak model is only suited for the salty waves of the sea, but really an ocean kayak is perfectly fine on any large, open body of water.  Since these kayaks are meant for longer journeys, they are very long and streamlined compared to their blunt whitewater counterparts and have a higher center of gravity for better control at high speeds.  They have plenty of storage fore and aft, and are typically made of a low-friction fiberglass or Kevlar material to keep them sturdy and sleek on open water.  Given their larger size and heavier materials, ocean kayaks tend to be more difficult to launch and maneuver on land, but what they lose in bulkiness they gain in having a tried-and-true design.  In fact the sea or ocean kayak is actually the original kayak design that was first made by the Inuit to navigate the ice flows of the north, and has changed very little over the thousands of years since its creation.

Whitewater Kayaks: the Rough and Tumbler


For those water-travelers that are seeking some adrenaline from their kayak, whitewater kayaks are the perfect vessel to navigate the frothy mountain streams and rushing rivers of the outdoors.  These kayaks are small, stubby, and suited for little more than floating, but then that’s exactly the design you’d want when maneuverability and endurance are crucial in white water conditions.  Whitewater kayaks come in a variety of specialized sub-types, such as freestyle playboats, squirt boats, river runners and slalom boats.  Some like the playboat kayak give up stability for maneuverability to perform stunts and tricks, whereas others like the slalom kayak have a squat, low-profile that make them very maneuverable and stable but not very fast in a straight line.  Whatever your needs though, you can be sure that a whitewater kayak will be extremely lightweight and built for high-impact, rocky conditions.  Experience required!
Whew!  So far we’ve covered the casual explorer’s recreation and sit-on-top kayak along with the more thrill-seeking ocean and whitewater kayaks, but we’re not done yet!  There’s plenty more kayak fun to come in our next entry, where we take a look at the specialty kayaks: fishing and multi-purpose.  Stay tuned!

February 5, 2016
The One-Man Vessel: Kayaks Part 1

kayaks and camping

Whether you’re cruising along a rushing river, gliding across a mountain lake or fighting the ocean waves, nothing quite gets your blood pumping like a kayak.  Not only is kayaking great for outdoor exercise, but learning how to use one is relatively easy and a huge amount of fun!  In this four-part series, we’re going to identify the different types of kayaks available on the market and the best places to use them.  So roll up your sleeves and put on your life jackets!  Your kayaking reference guide awaits!

Recreational Kayaks: the camper’s best friend
kayak style 1

As the name implies, recreational kayaks are best for those paddlers out there who just want to slide across relatively-calm waters and get in touch with their inner-casual-outdoorsman.  These kayaks have a low center of gravity, larger cockpit and a broad beam, meaning that they’re very stable and easy to control while sitting easily on the water’s surface, no matter if it’s in motion or at idle.  Because of their ease of use, recreational kayaks are ideal for those getting into the sport for the first time, especially for those people that are already familiar with the handling of a canoe or rowboat.  Compared to the larger models such as sea kayaks, recreational kayaks usually come in at a short 12 feet or less in length which makes them light and maneuverable in and out of the water.  With the boom in kayak popularity, recreational kayaks make up the largest segment of the market and are usually made of less-expensive materials to keep them affordable for the general public. 

Sit-On-Top Kayaks: simple but effective
kayak style 2

Considered by some to be the successor to the recreational kayak, sit-on-top kayaks are simplicity itself.  Little more than a beveled, contoured hollow, sit-on-top kayaks are growing increasingly popular for their comfortable design, featuring a completely open cockpit and wide-beamed construction.  Sit-on-top kayaks are technically considered a kayak-canoe hybrid, and are especially popular among new and aging paddlers who fear having their lower bodies contained within a traditional kayak’s covering.  Because of their open design and high stability, sit-on-top kayaks are also appealing to fisherman and even scuba-divers for use as stationary, floating platforms.
Well we’ve successfully covered the kayak varieties most suitable for introductory and versatile kayaking, but don’t despair!  There’s plenty more kayaks out there that we’ll be covering in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned!

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