There are two main categories of kayaks depending on the type of material used in the construction of the kayak. These are the inflatable kayaks and the hard shell kayaks.
The original kayak was a hard shell kayak. This is despite the fact that the material used to make the kayak was not as hard and rigid as some of the modern day hard shell kayaks. The Inuit’s original kayak was made by first constructing a rounded frame using light rigid materials which usually consisted of whale bones or drift wood. This frame was then tightly covered with seal skin with the knitted seams being made water tight using whale fat.
As time passed and more people adopted the use of kayaks, new kayak models started appearing with people using different kinds of materials to build their kayaks. Today hard shell kayaks are built with different types of material including aluminum, wood, polyethylene, PVC, and fiber glass among other materials.
Hard shell kayaks are usually vessels that can be used in rough water conditions. These are waters that might have objects that can be damaging to the kayak. These includes objects such as ragged rocks, sharp branches, broken bottles, and other foreign materials in the water that might cause damage to a vessel built with a less resilient material.
The resilience of hard shell kayaks varies considerably depending on the type of material used to construct the water vessel. For example, fiber glass is a very hard material but it is also very brittle and would crack or break if the kayak is smashed on boulders. On the other hand, materials like some tough plastics provide a better solution due to their combined flexibility and hardness.
The material used to build hard shell kayaks usually determines the weight of the kayak. Materials with more mass tend to be heavier. A heavy kayak usually has many disadvantages when it comes to handling the kayak in water and even in the portability of the kayaks. Kayaks are generally vessels that should be very easy to control and steer in the water and they should be vessels that one can easily carry from one place to another.
Hard shell kayaks that are built with light materials usually have a great advantage in speed and agility. Unlike inflatable kayaks and other water vessels, a hard shell kayak is very fast in water since the hard material provides less drag. The kayak design and shape also makes it streamlined and very agile in the water.
Hard shell sit in kayaks are especially superior when it comes to control and agility. This is because the pilot fits snugly into the vessel and he or she can use his/ her body to control the kayak. This is particularly with the use of the legs.
Hard shell kayaks can be used for many kayaking activities including sports such as kayak racing and white water kayaking. Hard shell kayaks are also ideal for fishing with some being specially designed for anglers.