Wild Things Canoes and Kayaks
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Kayaks: types, designs and uses.

The great variety of waters in Cornwall allow the owner of virtually every type of kayak good or excellent paddling for most of the year.  From tippy racing K1's and K2's through to stable, albeit somewhat slower, sit on tops; somewhere nearby there is a stretch of river, estuary or coastline where all paddlers can enjoy their kayaks to the max.

If you are contemplating your first kayak it is important to choose carefully and not necessarily buy on price alone. It may well be that a cheap model will suit your intended kayaking perfectly but we have a great deal of experience matching customers with the most suitable designs and this will usually give better long term value. The first step is deciding which type will best suit you from the many styles of kayaks available.


Choosing Kayaks - Cornwall

Sit on Top Kayaks

Believe it or not is now about 10 years since the sit on top kayak boom began in Cornwall. Its attractions are obvious and thousands of people are now kayaking who never would have taken to conventional kayaks. The lack of enclosing cockpit, inherent buoyancy and high initial stability are the main desirability features of a sit on kayak because of the high safety implicit in its design. Sit on tops are easy to get on and off and most offer easily accessible storage either on the deck or in hatches.

Sizes can vary from 2.5m models suitable for playing around on the beaches or in a little surf up to 4.8m touring sit on tops with many of the features of a similar sized conventional kayak. The level of outfitting will vary enormously and this often makes the price difference between quality and budget models.

Fishing Kayaks

The vast majority of fishing kayaks are sit on tops but many conventional designs can be used for a little recreational angling. Probably something like half of our sit on top customers ask for at least one fishing rod holder to be fitted. I suspect many of those get little use, but the more serious fishermen have a variety of models from about 3.3m up which are designed specially for kayak fishing. They offer paddlers access to new fishing grounds at a fraction of the costs and hassle of a motorboat and are easy to launch at many locations around Cornwall.

Touring Kayaks

These range in size from 3.1m up to about 4.8m and tend to be wider and more stable than the longer faster sea kayaks. Most are suitable for a complete novice and will feature watertight compartments and a drop down skeg for easier tracking in the crosswinds you are more likely to encounter when paddling offshore.

Sea Kayaks

Sea kayaks are more specialist and are designed with experienced kayakers in mind. On the face of it they will look like a longer touring model (for a lot more money) but the moulding of the hulls is more technologically advanced, the skeg systems more adjustable and they feature extra bulkheads and hatches. They are also narrower to enhance paddling performance because consecutive 30 mile trips on the open sea may be required during expeditions.

Whitewater Kayaks

Perhaps the only type of kayak which cannot be paddled to its full potential in Cornwall. Nevertheless, Dartmoor is just up the road and many members of the canoe clubs paddle whitewater kayaks as their main choice of boat waiting for winter access to some excellent rivers. Some of the most popular designs are those which also work particularly well as surf kayaks. A high degree of skill is essential to get the most out of these kayaks and learning to roll is a must. Whitewater boats can be subdivided into freestyle / playboats and creek / river running kayaks.

All Round Kayaks

Also known as general-purpose and more latterly as crossover kayaks. We think that a true all-rounder should be as capable of finishing a 15 mile sea trip as it should a trip down a grade 3 whitewater river. However, many designs put a heavy emphasis on whitewater paddling and suffer hugely in terms of easy paddling performance, so please take advice on what you really want to do with it.




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Wild Things, Piece, Redruth, TR16 6SF

The original Cornwall Kayak Shop - trading since 1985