Kayaking Terms for Beginners

Kayaking Terms for Beginners

June 19, 20182633Views

Kayaking can be far more than just paddling across a serene lake. You can glide gently downstream or whiz at breakneck speeds through whitewater rapids. There are ocean kayaks and freshwater kayaks. Freestyle kayaking allows the user to do tricks and spins in the water. The type of activity you’re pursuing, as well as your skill level, will dictate what kind of kayak you’ll need. Here is a list of kayaking terms for beginners to give you a better idea of how to choose the right vessel for your needs.


Where the rider sits in the boat.


The inner capacity of the kayak, measured in gallons. High-volume boats have “ballooned” ends and will pop back to the surface faster, a benefit to beginners and for more difficult rapids. Low volume boats have a thin profile, allowing the ends of the boat to cut into the water efficiently. Designed for freestyle kayakers, they are more easily swamped in heavy rapids than high volume boats.kayaking terms for beginners


The shape of the bottom of the boat. Planing hulls are flat bottomed, designed to skim across the surface at higher speeds. These types of boats spin more easily. Displacement hulls are curved in a more traditional style. These types have a keel and are easier to steer.


A solid platform to put your feet against for better stability. Some boats have adjustable foot pegs which allow you to stretch your legs out in calmer waters.

Thigh Hooks

Allow better control of the tilt of the boat through the movements of your thighs and knees.


This vertical wall in the front and behind the cockpit provides structural strength to your boat.

Creek Boat

A high volume boat with a larger deck that resurfaces quickly.kayaking terms for beginners

Play Boat

Built more for ocean use, this is a lower volume boat used predominantly for surfing waves and for freestyle tricks.

Downriver Boats

Falling somewhere in the middle of low and high volume, these boats offer comfort as well as control. They are a bit longer, allowing for greater speed in straight lines.

Armed with these kayak terms for beginners, you can explore all that the watery world of kayaking has to offer, whatever level you wish to reach.

Images via Kristoffer Trolle, FreeWine

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