Kayaking: What you should know about inflatable canoes

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Kayaking: What you should know about inflatable canoes

Kayaking is trendy

Kayaking is a fun family activity

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There are enough rivers and lakes in Germany. They offer water sports enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the surrounding landscapes from a boat – for example with a kayak, which is equally suitable for singles and couples or families.

The kayak was originally developed by Eskimos from Greenland and was used for hunting in the open sea. This also explains the narrow and elongated shape of the body: it should make the boat faster. Nowadays, the kayak – at least in European regions – is only used as a means of transport or sports equipment in leisure time. Especially on sunny days you can see the agile boats in many places on the water, but the originals are more rare than inflatable kayaks. The advantages and disadvantages of the foldable models and what you should consider when kayaking are explained here.

Inflatable Kayaks: What you need to know

Derived from the Greenlandic word “Qajaq”, a kayak is also a canoe – i.e. a boat that is moved in the direction of travel with the help of paddles. However, since the canoe is a generic term, other boat types such as the Canadian are also included. In contrast to the Canadian, however, the kayak is not open at the top, but closed all around (except for the seat hatch). Single or double-seaters are typical, but there are also larger models for three persons. To move around in it, a double paddle is used: this is a paddle with two blades.

Inflatable kayaks are suitable for leisurely discovery tours through the surrounding towns, but can also be used as training equipment or for fishing. The most important requirement is that you can swim – you should also always keep an eye on the maximum load capacity. This not only applies to the number of people traveling with you, but also to the total weight (including luggage). The equipment can be stowed away on the outside of most kayaks: there are small nets or cords that you can use waterproof bags can attach.

Price vs. performance: That’s the difference

The so-called inflatable kayaks are usually made of polyester fabric coated with PVC or rubber. The boats are inflated using an air pump, which is already included with many suppliers. The air is pumped into the boat chambers provided for this purpose until enough pressure has been built up and the kayak has assumed a stable shape. In terms of price, the cheapest models are just under 170 euros. There are even single-seaters for under 120 euros. However, due to their rather thin boat skin, these inflatable kayaks are only suitable for calm waters such as rivers and bathing lakes.

Even if you have to make a few compromises in terms of workmanship, quality and driving characteristics with the cheapest inflatable kayaks, you can go on shorter paddling tours with them without any problems. For longer distances, on the other hand, you should rely on higher-quality models that have a higher operating pressure and more robust material. This makes them more stable – but also more expensive: Here, the inflatable kayaks are between 300 and 600 euros. The two-seater Gumotex Twist II costs around 800 euros, for example. In addition: The paddles and the pump have to be ordered separately.

The pros and cons of inflatable kayaks

Advantages of inflatable kayaks:

  • They are easier to transport
  • They are light in weight
  • They take up less space
  • They are cheaper to buy

Disadvantages of inflatable kayaks:

  • They’re harder to control
  • They are slower than “real” kayaks
  • They have less depth
  • They are more prone to cross and head winds
Protective gear for kayakers

Safety is also the top priority when kayaking

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Safe kayaking: the right equipment

  1. You need the paddle to steer and control the boat. It is usually included in the scope of delivery, but can also be purchased separately. In any case, you need a paddle with two blades – here you can still switch to another model that has to be plugged together. This makes it easier to transport.

  2. For short stretches on small rivers or bathing lakes, your ordinary swimwear is perfectly adequate on warm days. If it rains, it is advisable to wear waterproof clothing such as rain jackets and pants, as wetness draws heat away from the body. A is suitable for cold days and cool waters wetsuit.

  3. A helmet is not usually necessary on calm waters, but should be worn when whitewater kayaking. The strong currents as well as dangerous obstacles such as rocks and branches can injure you more easily if you should capsize with the boat.

  4. Children in particular should definitely and always have one life jacket carry in case you capsize with the kayak. But it also makes sense for adults to wear it, for example if you are kayaking on water with faster currents or on the open sea with waves. You should always have one to be on the safe side.

Tip: How to get into the kayak correctly

It sounds so easy and yet getting into the kayak is not that easy – especially when the boat is already in the water. To make it easy to get into the kayak from the shore, use one hand and one foot to keep the boat straight: get into the kayak with one foot first and balance yourself until the boat no longer wobbles. Only then does the second foot come into the kayak while you still hold on to the bank with one hand. And so until they have sat down safely. On the other hand, if you want to put the inflatable kayak in the sea on the beach, you can simply sit in the boat in shallow water and then push the paddle into the deep water. The paddle can be used as a support on any body of water, be it for balance or as a kind of extended arm.

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