Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Has definition of kayak "evolved" ?

-- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 12:04 AM EST --

There seem to be items available on the market that
just barely, hardly, attempt to be, a kayak.

Is any floating stiff item = a kayak in 2013 ?
In my opinion , no it isn't.

Where is the line drawn, what are the parameters ?

I came across this today - a 10ft, 3 seater "kayak"

In my opinion it's a plastic floating barge platform,
what does it have, making it a kayak ?


  • Well, it's a sit-on-top
    There are a lot of SOTs that look similar to this, and they seem to be popular for fishing. This one is not a rowboat. It's not a canoe. Unless we develop a new word for this kind of boat, what else to we call it except a sit-on-top kayak? No, I don't think "plastic floating barge platform" is a name that will go down in history as the one that sticks.

    By the way, I'm not very good with numbers, but I counted two seats, not three.
  • Options
    It's a 3 seater
    -- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 12:03 AM EST --

    Look down at the bottom where it says "description"
    You'll see it listed as a 3 seater model :-)

    Maybe it's a kayak because of the double bladed paddle;
    --is that about the whole argument for the word usage ?

    Various countries interchange canoe/kayak words
    to mean the same thing for paddling craft.

  • Options
    It has "de-volved" as a result of marketing, and the sport has no real definition.

    Anything that a person can paddle with a double bladed paddle has become a kayak.

    Everyone nowadays has kayaked it seems and considers themselves a kayaker, which is okay I guess, but what they are referring to is much different from what many of us might consider "kayaking"

    I would consider a true kayak to be something that can be / must be edged to turn, requires a degree of skill to paddle, and is intended to be rolled.

    Others will disagree, but that is my opinion.

    The influx of rec boats is effectively reducing the sales and the number of people who learn the "art" of paddling in my opinion.

    My apologies to those who are about to flame me for my comments like they did about 2 years ago when I said the same thing. Wow did that piss some folks off.
  • Rec boats...
    -- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 7:25 AM EST --

    ...have dramatically INCREASED sales of paddle craft and have brought MANY MORE people into kayaking, by providing a low-risk, low effort entry into the activity. Although most rec paddlers probably don't progress to more advanced boats, a significant percentage get hooked and move on to "real" kayaks, and learn the skills required to paddle them. I have witnessed this first-hand MANY times. Without rec boats, there would undoubtedly be far fewer skilled enthusiast paddlers on the water. You've got it backwards; just ask any kayak dealer.

  • I agree whole heartedly
    Honestly how many people here the first time they went kayaking jumped into a sea kayak or whitewater boat? If it weren't for rec boats there would be a lot less kayakers out there.
  • Same is true of canoes
    If it weren't for Coleman canoes, the various aluminum styles, and of course some of the stuff made by Old Town, the number of people exposed to canoeing during their younger days would probably be less than 1/1000 of what it is, and high-end specialty boats would appeal to a far smaller market than they do. Cheap boats get more people on the water, and some of them get interested enough to eventually look for better gear.
  • Options
    Wear a kayak - sit in a canoe
    -- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 8:52 AM EST --

    I was under the impression that a kayak is
    supposed to fit you and react to your body
    movements from toes to head.
    Quite similar to a canoe with a saddle to kneel
    upon and use your body to control maneuverability.

    A big-flat-floating-platform defeats that concept
    of paddling with any skill, diluting the sport.
    I call them Fishing Platforms - not kayaks.

  • I have never owned a rec boat
    My first boat was a legitimate WW kayak. I later added an 18' sea kayak. Many of my friends/acquaintances have never owned a rec boat. I don't know the numbers for pnet but I bet it is more than you think.
  • It's not the paddle or the fit....
    I think it is how you sit.

    As far as paddle craft go, you sit in a kayak and can kneel in a canoe.

    That makes it easiest for me to categorize the paddle craft. But it does lead to some odd determinations, like a Pacraft would be an inflatable kayak.

    The paddle does not matter, even thousands of years ago the Aleutians were paddling their kayaks with single blades and double blades depending on the conditions.

    I don't think the fit matters, because some of the old Alaskan kayaks had huge cockpits that would rival today's Pungo 140.

    For whitewater paddlers it is often the paddle that decides whether it is a canoe or a kayak, but in actuality the kayaks that are converted to canoes have the seats changed for kneeling as well.

    The British called everything canoes, the sport was often referred to as sea canoeing. What we think of as a traditional canoe, they call a Canadian canoe.

    What get's me is these foot powered Launches made by Hobie that they call Fishing Kayaks. They are not even paddle powered and they look and weight like a row boat. But Foot powered fishing launch puts you out of the Cool Kayak Fishing Market as does row boat.

    If rowing became cool a lot more folks would use them for fishing than the "Kayaks" that are like low sided double blade canoes. Sefl rescue in a row boat is so much simpler as is bracing because of the 7 foot oar out to each side.
  • Options
    maybe never owned but rented/used
    Before "getting into" kayaking and buying a boat I did go out a couple times on a SOT rental with a couple of friends. It was an easy intro that let me know how I felt about the whole idea. Before buying I did research and ended up with a 16 foot sit inside as my starter boat. But it's far more common to find easy, SOT rentals and since my first trip was through some small surf it was far easier for me as a beginner to swim through the small surf then jump on.
  • Options
    no different than other sports or cars
    You have tricycles and bicyles some that you peddle by hand, some you peddle by foot by with legs forward. Some are goofy beach cruising contraptions and some are sleek race machines.

    Is it just a "fishing platform" if you can paddle it and it may be used when not fishing? Should the stores have a separate floating barge for fishing section when these are pretty close to other SOT kayaks?

    You just have to accept that for any activity there is a huge range of interests and skills. Sure some boats, cars, bikes turn out to be pretty worthless but on the whole they're just options to fit the wide range of people out there.
  • Perfect explanation
    -- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 1:05 PM EST --

    Yes, you explained that perfectly. As another example, many big-box stores also sell ultra-cheap, roto-molded flat-bottomed boats which are made to be propelled by oars or electric trolling motors. To give them a name, they'd have to be called Jon boats, but of course they are closer to being a beach toy than a real Jon boat. I wonder if any Jon-boat owners get their undies in a bunch about those "wanna-be" Jon-boaters who aren't "true" fishermen, duck hunters, trappers or river rats. My guess is that you'd have to look long and hard to find one who was concerned about this. Does anyone think that a good aluminum or stainless-steel Jon boat is "less" of an advanced tool for its intended purpose than a sea kayak? My guess is that people who actually NEED the "tool" that they use (a Jon boat in this case) are less apt to use insulting terminology to describe those who do similar things but at a much more casual level than is true for certain kayakers, who don't "need" their boats at all as a tool for work or related activities, and so some of them become more concerned with the image they wish to associate with their hobby than the activity itself.

  • Options
    Put seat on a PaddleBoard
    -- Last Updated: Jan-28-13 3:39 PM EST --

    If I glue a minicell seat on stand-up paddleboard is it a kayak ?
    Words have meanings; they can't be omni encompassing.
    They have definitions, parameters, guidelines.

    Coast Guard considers SUPs to be boats
    - they use definitions to enforce laws on the water.

    What is a kayak and what isn't ?
    Forum discussions involve opinions, as well as conjecture,
    hype, myth, marketing nonsense, perception, etc., etc.
    Just trying to weed thru it all.

    Barge = flat-bottomed boat, built mainly
    for river and canal transport of heavy goods.

    I won't call this a kayak, perhaps some might.
    Is a non-seperated twin hull catamaran = kayak ?
    (i.e. little or no square area webbing to sit on.)

  • kayak and canoe are cluster concepts
    Look up cluster concept in wikipedia. With a cluster concept, there is a cluster of features that define the concept, no one of which is essential. But when too few are present, most observers will say, "That really isn't a kayak. The guy pedals with his feet to move."

    Things defined by cluster concepts always cause a bit of controversy. It's unavoidable. But as Kierkegaard said of the Danish State Church, "There's no good saying it's a poor sort of a horse. It isn't a horse at all, it's a cow!"
  • Words have meanings...
    That's true, but their meanings change. They change because people choose to use words in new ways. If enough people use the word in the new manner then the new meaning gets put in the dictionary.

    There is no arbiter to decide whether the new use is "good" or "bad", "proper" or "improper". Change just happens.

    The original boat, the one to which you objected, is a super-wide and short sit-on-top "kayak" for want of a better word. It's quite different from a sea kayak or a white water boat and no one who has seen examples of each is going to confuse them. Relax.
  • Options
    simple naming...
    you name it whatever it most closely resembles to avoid inventing new terms that no one knows. In some cases it may be clear that a combined name is a good idea and maybe makes for a fine trademark. Ultimately no one will buy just based on the name but by actually seeing the contraption and understanding what it's limits and benefits are (obviously not all do well at that but that has little to do with how something is named).
  • Options
    The cluster idea
    If I sit in a glider or prop plane and get stick time,
    I certainly wouldn't call myself a pilot.

    Yet anyone that puts a paddle in their hand, while
    on a floating ""item"" is a kayaker....in my opinion, no.

    It definitely opens up the cluster
    to an entire glob of goo.

  • Options
    not a problem
    I have no problem if anyone calls themselves a kayaker regardless of boat or paddle type because I know the concept is so broad that you would have to ask more questions (or see them in action) to really understand. Once it's broad enough to require more questions then it really doesn't matter if someone makes it yet _more_ broad. I suppose I'd like them to limit the term to small water craft though.
  • Options
    Organizing, clustering, etc.
    There are hierarchical systems existing in the world

    Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

    Is there a limit to how many people can fit on a Kayak
    - 5, 10, 15 when does it become a Dragon Boat ?

    We all know the olympics and racing clubs have strict
    definitions of which floaty thing goes in a unique group.

    Perhaps the term Rec Boat is the umbrella over most of it
  • Yeah, I just can't make myself care...
    ... about this either. Naturally if I'm talking to someone I just met and they say they go kayaking, or that they call themselves a kayaker, my own background interests will allow me to ask whatever questions I wish which will clarify exactly what it is that they do. If they've done 50-mile crossings in fog or rough weather, I'll know they won't be inviting me on such trips, and if all they do is poke around near shore in a fat rec boat, I'll know not to invite them on a long river trip, or one that requires good maneuvering and river-reading skills. Either way, they are happy and so am I, so I just can't imagine a reason to worry about applying strict boundaries to this terminology.
  • "Canoe" and "kayak"
    Think of these words as verbs, not nouns, and you have your answer.


    Unless you are from Europe, in which case you may come to the opposite answer.
  • bnystrom
    no like button but i +1 you on pnet
  • Speaking of which...
    ... when did it become okay for a whitewater kayak to look a whole lot more like a fishing lure than a traditional kayak, both in terms of its size and shape? We call them kayaks, but I bet if you could go back in time and show whitewater kayakers of the 60s and 70s a modern playboat, their initial reaction would be "what the hell is that thing? THAT'S not a kayak!"
  • Options
    Lines blurred
    I think the lines blur a bit between kayak and canoe when you start trying to define one or the other.

    Kayaks are generally decked....but there are decked canoes. Canoes are generally knelt in...but there are canoes you sit in.

    Canoes you sit in generally have a seat...but there are pack boats where you sit on "the floor"

    Either boat can be paddled double or single bladed.

    I think that to define a kayak versus a canoe that the amount of draft would be a critical factor.

    Good point above about rec boats getting more people involved in kayaking. I can buy that. But still don't necessarily concede that they are kayaks. They are...boats. And there is nothing wrong with boats. I just prefer kayaks and canoes....ha, ha.

    By the way, I play miniature golf....can I tell others that I am a golfer? I am sure that miniature golf has caused the sport of golf to grow. It's still golf right?

    I have a BMX bike too, so I also consider myself an avid cyclist.

    I know, I know. I am pushing it. Sorry.

    I agree that there are blurred lines. Just frustrating a little when no one understands your sport because all they can envision is the "miniature golf" version of that sport and most people have absolutely no concept of what...true...sea kayaking is about.

    While both sports have their place and merit, I would argue that they are rather distinctly different.

    With all due respect of course...

  • Definitions
    Heck, when questions of a definition comes up isn't it reasonable to first look at a dictionary? As paddlers I think we're a bit inclined to add items to a cluster - but those are more specific definitions than those used by the rest of the world.
    To a sailor or a navy man a ship and a boat are very different things, but not to most users of the English language.

    My Webster's New World says a kayak is 1)an Eskimo canoe* made of skins completely covering a wooden frame except for an opening in the middle for the paddler* 2)any similarly designed canoe* for one or two paddlers* made of canvas, plastic, fiberglass, etc.

    A canoe is a narrow light boat with its sides meeting in a sharp edge at each end: it is moved by one or more paddles.

    So paddles are a required means of propulsion for both and a kayak is a canoe with special features, like a deck of some sort. So if "canoe" is a family, "kayak" is a genus and so is "Canadian canoe" in other parts of the world. SOTs, rec kayaks, and such might be considered species or perhaps cultivars.

    Like you, I look at some of these species rather like I look at dandelions or other introduced weed species. But, like an orchid grower or other avid plant fanatic, I know I'm looking with the rather jaundiced eye of something of a specialist rather than just any old user of English. And introduced weeds are often not entirely without beauty and they can certainly be successful, at least in the short term or in badly disturbed environments. Like the commercial marketplace.

    I personally usually add to the cluster that a canoe paddler kneels or sits above the floor of the craft and uses a single blade. A kayaker sits on the floor and uses a double blade.
    Specialty organizations or race organizers, of course, add yet more to their clusters, and if we're involved with such groups, we need to accept their definitions. Just as we would accept class definitions of the organization in charge if we were entering orchids in an orchid show or dogs in a dog show.

    Rec boats and SOTs (which, after all, do have a deck of sorts and an opening in the center for a paddler) give me far less definitional problems than decked sailing canoes like some of the Rushtons which seem barely paddleable in the conventional sense - or the PacBoats which violate my personal additions to the "cluster" but not the common usage definitions.
    I don't see how paddle boards fit anywhere... If I were really serious about such systematics, I'd put them in a different family. Looks like they could be fun though...

    And of course there are folks of various skills and desires that can be found using (or trying to use) any of these watercraft. My guess is that what they (or we) start out paddling is probably pretty much a matter of chance - who they know that got them started, where they happen to live, what they can easily afford... And like any of us, if they keep at whatever it is they're doing, they'll get better at it. Maybe later they'll get a boat more in line with their needs or goals. If not, they'll drop out and there'll be another bargain boat for someone to try their hand at.
    Its all good if it gets folks safely on the water without a motor.
    Just my $0.02.
  • i dont call myself
    A kayaker. It's not a real thing. Unless you get paid to do it.

    I went to culinary school and don't let people refer to me as chef. It's annoying.

    Ryan L.
  • Options
    Let's keep it simple
    Here's an end to the argument: If it's made of seal skin over a whalebone frame held together with caribou sinew, it's a kayak.

    Everything else is a boat.

  • Options
    Baidarka vs Qajaq
    -- Last Updated: Jan-29-13 12:07 PM EST --

    Ancient word search game - and their meanings

    Qajaq is simply Inuit spelling for ‘kayak’.
    Of course the Inuit had no written language,
    and this spelling was invented by missionaries.

    Aleutian Baidarka simply means ‘small boat’ in Russian

    Some claim indigenous paddle craft are ‘canoes’
    Carib Indian ‘kanu’ derivative

    Language and marketing in 2013+ will be interesting indeed

    Maybe Canoe Poling is considered a 2 sided thrust
    and deserves kayak status in the future ?

  • Two different sports
    I think that now there are two different types of kayaking, sea and rec. I sm sure that there are many paddlers (myself included) that can only wish to see the sea for lack of location or funds for a sea kayak. I think that knowledgable rec kayaking should be considered kayaking, but not in the same level as kayaking on the ocean.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!