Big vs. small volume boats

Reading the day hatch thread just got me thinking. I’ve noticed for a while most north American kayaks (US, Canadian company) typically have relatively high volume. Big cockpit, high for/after deck compare to the traditional British designs. Sure, now there’re more lower volume boats from North American companies. But guess what, they call thoes boats “British design”!

So a while back in a kayak trip, I pop the question as to WHY North America kayaks tend to have high volume. One fellow quickly jumped in and said “to accomondate our proportionally bigger waist line”! :o)

A more serious answer (from an owner of a kayak store) thought it’s because many N.A. kayak manufacturers build canoes for decades before they start building kayaks. So a lot of the canoe characteristic was carried over to the kayak design. The ability to carry loads of stuff being one of the most obvious. Hence, the signature of North American kakay design was born.

But there’s probably more to that. I just love to know a little about them. It’s kind of the North American kayak history of sort…

That first guy’s answer, plus…
our proportionately bigger feet!

Well, maybe it’s only partly the Supersizing of America. I have noticed that some long-established kayak models have gained half an inch or so of beam in their newer versions compared with their dimensions of several years earlier.

Ever noticed that European shirts fit closely and American shirts are, er, “roomy” to accommodate beer guts?

All kidding aside, I wonder if attitudes towards kayaks is at the heart of this. If you view the kayak as a BOAT to SIT IN and avoid getting wet at all, you may gravitate toward higher volume kayaks. If, OTOH, you consider it a device that is an extension of your body, you will probably prefer a lower volume kayak, and so what if you get wet…it’s a WATERSPORT! I always feel like laughing at people who are obviously trying to keep their feet from getting wet while they enter or exit their kayaks. They must really hate paddling when there’s wind-caused spray getting on their faces and hands.

tour dreams?
I would suggest a couple of reasons. first, most people are not used to the way a low volume kayaks feels. Tight, tippy, and straight legs feel strange at first. Second, many people have dreams of long trips and buy a larger volume touring kayak. To tour in Baja and carry water, you need the volume. I for day paddles, I paddle my low volume boat a lot more than my high volume boat. For surf, my wife’s shorter high volume boat is more fun.

SUVs vs. sport cars
think of a small light british sports car,then think of an American Station Wagon. Think of a SUV then think of a Mazda Miata. The supersized vehicles outsell the classic low/light roadster.

but primarily the big/roomy boats reflect benign conditions,there’s no way a person would take a big empty boat into rough conditions,it doesn’t make sense. Then again there’s the Coaster. It’s like the MiniCooper of Sea Kayaks.

Very Likely…
folks dreaming of the “big adventure” of a multiday(week) expedition… We buy the boat to pursue the dream. The reality is that we are darn happy to get out for several hours on a nice weekend day. :wink:

Nope a lower volume boat makes day trips a delight. The reality becomes the dream, rather than the other way around. :slight_smile:


the dream of the multi-day (week)
trip is what lured me to a HV boat. Room for stuff! But I have since downsized to one of the smallest manufactured sea kayaks still available. And if I could have gone smaller into a betsie bay affordably I would have done that. Instead I am planning on building one.

LV is also quite relative it depends on what you’re used to and how big you are.

My old P&H Quest would seem relatively LV compared to someone elses humanga tubba plastic right.

"humanga tubba"
Copyrighted by Kwikle - 2/23/04. Will remember that. :slight_smile:


good stuff
and the fact that many of the NA designs originate in the PNW (Pacific NorthWest) where big trips in relatively protected waters is the norm. The Pacific coast has just recently become (last 8-10 years) a playground for recreational kayaking (and I don’t mean in a wreck (reational) boats, but serious ocean paddling.

Much of the saltwater paddling around here is in Puget Sound and the BC inside passage, with relatively calm conditions. Most of the paddling in the British Isles is…well a bit more exposed.


Pronunciation, Please
I like it, but am concerned that I am not pronouncing it correctly. Is it Hyoo-mung-ah Tub-bah, or Hyoo-munj-ah Tub-bah, or what? Thanks. Jeff

I was doing this

“Hyu-mung-a Tubb-a”