Over the years, kayaking equipments have undergone a major change. From a simple plastic kayak to better quality materials like rotationally molded polyethylene, fiberglass and Kevlar are all used to make kayaks today. The use of these materials has greatly enhanced the quality and performance of the kayaks thereby raising the overall standard of the sport.
Major Materials for Kayaks
Essentially, kayaks are made of three materials - rotationally molded plastic, fiberglass or Kevlar.
Rotationally Molded Plastic (Rotomold): The most widely used material, rotomold kayaks are the strongest kayaks and perfect for any roughing out. This is just a type of plastic but is tough, flexible and softer than usual plastic. Paddlers can easily take the kayak over a patch of rocks without worrying about any damage to the kayaks.
In fact even if these kayaks are thrown from the roof of the car, they would still suffer only a few minor dings or abrasions. Rotomold is the cheapest of all materials and is hence the most widely used for making kayaks. The only disadvantage of a rotomold kayak is that it is heaviest type of kayak.
Rotomold kayaks are the least expensive form of plastic or polyethylene kayaks. A more expensive form of plastic kayaks is the cross-linked kayak. The cross linked kayaks comprise of thick foam core between two layers (outer and inner) of plastic.
This foam core makes these kayaks very strong and durable than the rotomold kayaks. However, the drawback of these kayaks is that they are very heavier and more expensive than the rotomold kayaks.
Fiberglass: About 15 to 20 percent lighter than the rotomold kayaks, the fiberglass kayaks need to be handled a bit more carefully. Unlike the rotomold kayaks, these kayaks cannot sustain dings, abrasions or a bumpy ride over rocks. They have to be secured even from saltwater and cleaned thoroughly after a sea kayaking session as it spoils the kayak very rapidly. However, if used cautiously, fiberglass kayaks can last for many years.
Kevlar: Known for its great strength and durability, Kevlar kayaks are the lightest available. Kevlar is an extremely lightweight material usually used for making bulletproof vests. The ideal combination of strength and light weight has led to increase in the popularity of Kevlar kayaks.
One of the major disadvantages of Kevlar kayak is that if it develops any defect then repairing it is not very easy. Also, Kevlar kayaks are the most expensive kayaks available. However, Kevlar kayaks need to be handled carefully and cannot be subjected to major roughing out.
Wood: Wood is one of the traditional materials used for constructing kayaks. Wooden kayaks are very pretty and also perform very well in all conditions. However, they lack the variety in designs and sophisticated features that most fiber glass, plastic or inflatable kayaks offer.
Carbon: Carbon is yet another widely used material in making kayaks. Carbon kayaks are lightweight but offer great stiffness.
These are the most widely used materials in building kayaks and it is recommended that paddlers opt only for kayaks made from either of these materials.