The evolution of the kayak

A fun and healthy activity for all ages is kayaking. There is no better way to spend an morning, afternoon or evening than getting on the water and fully enjoying nature. Kayaking has been around a long time and has a vast history despite it seemingly being a new technology.

The origin of kayaking dates back to the Inuits using driftwood and animal skins to navigate their home waters. The word “kayak” means “man-boat” in the Inuit language. Surprisingly, these looked very similar to our modern kayaks in terms of shape. These were mostly used for hunting animals on the shorelines and in the water. The sleek design allowed them to move quietly and quickly. However, the Inuits had another version of the kayak that we don’t see anymore. It is known as a umiaq and was built to move entire families and villages to new locations.

Then, the kayak started to gain popularity in Europe. Once it hit that market, the kayak started to take off and be used for more recreational purposes. In the 1800s, there was a small, soft-sided kayak that made its rounds through Europe and gained popularity. Once the sport was on the rise, the 1936 Olympics added kayaking as an official sport.

This is when the rest of the world starting to buy into kayaking, especially the United States. White Water kayaking became the new adventure the conquer the world’s toughest rivers. This includes the Colorado River in the United States and the Salzachofen Gorge in Austria. These expeditions with the kayak led to the formation of the International Scale of River Difficulty. This scale is still used to this day to measure how dangerous river rapids are.

This was all on the soft-shell kayaks before the 1950s. Then, fiberglass became the normal material for roughly 30 years until polyethylene stole the show. This proved to be far cheaper and easier to manufacture. This also made it very easy for normal folks to buy the product. Since it could get in more hands of the public, it became a far more recreational activity. Kayaking shifted from a sport to a normal recreational activity that was affordable for many regular people.
The best part of using the plastic material, on top of the price, is its ability to last a long time. With proper care, it is not unreasonable to assume that your kayak can last 10-20 years with very few issues.

Today, kayaking is a very popular activity that millions of people partake in every year. Because it has become so affordable that buying a kayak is no longer a huge hassle for a lot of families. As time has gone on, industry leaders have worked on kayaks that hit all ends of the price spectrum. Anything from a durable, yet cheap kayak to a big, foot peddle powered kayak is available to hit many price ranges.

Now that you know a brief history of kayaks, you can truly enjoy the great memories these vessels provide!

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