Types of Kayaks and Canoes

There are a few types of kayaks in which you can choose from out there in the world and this page is to show the basic difference between them. Each kayak has its own plus and minus to them for the individual using them depending on experience. The four main choices of kayaks are; Sit on Top (SOT), Recreational, Hybrid, Touring and White water. These groups can be divided out again of more speciality boats below this categories. Generally longer kayaks are faster and easier to paddle giving up a little stability. Shorter kayaks generally give up speed, tracking and ease of paddling for more stability and quicker turning. REI’s kayak types video.

Sit on Top (SOT) kayaks are great kayaks during the summer and for use off the beach. img_3119 They can be used in creeks, lakes and some rivers maybe up to a class 2 as well. SOT usually offer more stability for the kayaker and self-draining holes ( why they are great for beach and surf). One possible down side is they are usually shorter but also when you can stability, you usually loose some controllability. They may not track as well as a touring kayak but more like a recreational kayak.

  • 1, 2, and some 3 passengers
  • Highly stable and great for beginners
  • Generally boat is shorter and turns quicker, less track-ability.
  • Great for beach, lakes, creeks, and some small rivers up to class 2


Recreational kayaksare kind of similar to a SOT kayak  and between a Touring kayak as they may considered a hybrid of the two.

 Recreational Kayaks
This img was borrowed from the Necky website to show what a recreational kayak looks like since at the moment, we do not have any at our site.

Rec-kayaks are fairly stable and generally shorter like a SOT but offer a cockpit (larger then touring) and some with deck hatches like they have on touring kayaks. These kayaks are great for beginner kayakers and short trips because of a slightly larger beam (width of the kayak near cockpit).

  • 1 and 2 passengers
  • Highly stable and great for beginners
  • Generally boat is shorter and turns quicker, less track-ability.
  • Great for lakes, creeks, protected ocean and some small rivers up to class 2


Hybrid – Kayaks / Canoes are generally referred to and a combination of a kayak and canoe. They are great multipurpose boats for families and water outings for those who like to do more then one thing. img_4099 These boats maybe a cross between a canoe and cockpit style or a canoe and SOT style.  Some have a slight cockpit feel when in it while others may have more of a SOT feel. Hybrid boats are generally pretty good for multiple style uses instead of having multiple boats for different uses. They will also at times be more affordable then having a specialty boat (one for a specific type of paddling) since they can reach across different styles of paddling and sometimes when compared to a single specialty boat.

  • 1, 2 and some 3 passengers or (two adult small child)
  • Highly stable and great for beginners
  • Generally boat is shorter then a canoe and turns quicker, less track-ability to kayaks but more then a canoe.
  • Great for lakes, creeks, protected ocean and some small rivers up to class 2
  • May be used for combination of purposes such as fishing, hunting, sailing, rowing or family boat (optional gear maybe required depending on make).


Touring kayaks are great for longer paddling trips since they are easy to paddle, have very good track-ability and have some hatches for over night trips. The down side is they can have less stability. img_2948 On a touring kayak you can wear a skirt or spray skirt to help keep the cockpit drier. The cockpit on a touring boat are fitted, or smaller fitting then a recreational kayak to feel like they wrap around you. Can some times be a little tight fitting for some people.

  • 1 and 2 passengers
  • Less stable and good for beginners – advance users
  • Generally boat is longer and paddles easily, good track-ability but a little difficult to turn because of length.
  • Great for lakes, creeks, ocean and some small rivers


White-water kayaks are smaller boats usually under 10 feet with some only about as tall as a man. Some are “creekers” and others “play boats” and generally do not track very well in flat water because they are designed to use the motion of the river for controllability.  img_1265 Some will use them in the surf to ride the waves doing tricks among other amazing moves because of their small size. The cockpit is small and wraps around the paddler wearing a skirt with very limited storage room.

  • 1 mainly and some 2 passengers
  • Less stable, limited storage and not easy to paddle in. Good for intermediate – advance users
  • Generally boat is short and light for quick turns and easy mobility.
  • Great for surf, rivers and limited flat water.


Some good Kayaking related links: