Comparing hard shell kayaks VS inflatable kayaks

Published September 12, 2016

kayak-sit-on-topDifferent kayaks are built with different designs and materials to enable them to have superiority in charting different types of waters and for different applications. It is important for the kayaker to clearly understand the intended use for the kayak so as to be able to pick the right kayak. Below we will look at the major differences between two major types of kayaks; the inflatable kayaks, and the hard shell kayaks.

The hard shell kayaks are, as the name suggests, kayaks that are built with a hard outer covering/ hull. These kayaks are usually made from materials such as tough plastics including polyethylene, polyester, Kevlar, PVC, wood, carbon fiber or aluminum. Hard shell kayaks can be built in the sit on top kayak design or the sit in kayak design.

Hard shell kayaks are usually ideal for use in rough water conditions – although they can be used in any type of water conditions. They are usually used in rough water because they are less likely to be damaged when they smash onto rocks or getting damaged by sharp branches and other foreign things in the water.

Hard shell kayaks are generally better than inflatable kayaks when it comes to agility, speed, and control in the water. They have less drag and so they are able to achieve faster speeds and the paddlers can make sharper and faster turns. This makes hard shell kayaks good for sporting activities. Expert kayakers also prefer hard shell kayaks for activities such as kayak fishing and deep sea touring.

The disadvantages of hard shell kayaks includes the fact that due to their stiff body, they can be quite cumbersome to carry from one place to another. However, there are some hard shell kayaks that are designed such that they can be folded or snapped into different pieces for easy transportation. Hard shell kayaks are generally pricier as compared to inflatable kayaks.

Inflatable kayaks are kayaks that have one of the most modern designs. The inflatable kayak is made of materials such as hypalon, rubber or PVC. The kayak is usually in the form of a tubular bag that is inflated to form the kayak.

Since air is what makes up most of the kayaks body, the inflatable kayak is very light and hence very buoyant in water. The inflatable kayak is also wider than the hard shell kayaks. These features make the inflatable kayak have great stability in water – especially in motionless or slow moving water. This makes the inflatable kayak a huge favorite for recreational users and beginners.

The inflatable kayak is also preferred by recreational users due to its advantages in portability. The kayak once deflated can be folded into a small size that can be easily carries around. The inflatable kayak is also much less costly as compared to the hard shell kayak.

Inflatable kayaks are however not good for rough waters since they risk getting punctured. They are also not ideal for sporting activities due to their disadvantages in agility and speed.

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