Kayaking has become one of the favorite water sports of thousands of people worldwide. Not only that it is exhilarating and fun to travel across water in a very light vessel, but this also improves your stamina and overall health. Kayaking became very popular in the recent years and there are numerous worldwide destinations where you can try this water sport. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look to the history of kayaks and kayaking.

The first kayaks were created by an ancient civilization


The Inuit people were the first ones to create a rudimentary form of kayaks. Also, the Aleut tribes were known for building kayaks and using them to travel across water. These tribes were located in the Arctic North America. They used whatever construction materials they found around them to build kayaks such as animal skins, bones, and wood.

2 main types of kayaks were built back in the days

The Inuit and Aleut tribes were ingenious and they built 2 types of light kayaks. One of them was made from driftwood and the other one was made from whalebones. Basically, they would build light frames from whalebones and then cover them with animal skins. These vessels were very light, but not very durable. To make the kayaks waterproof, the Inuit and Aleut tribes used whale fat. This fat was placed in strategic points in the kayak to ensure it stays above water.

The buoyancy of the first kayaks was improved using seal bladders

The first kayaks weren’t very stable on water and to solve this problem, the antic tribes came up with an ingenious solution: they filled seal bladders with air and attach them to specific sections of the kayak to improve buoyancy. This also made the kayaks much more controllable and resistant to wear and tear.

Umiaqs could transport large families at once

Today you are familiar with small kayaks which are capable of transporting a single person safely and comfortably. This type of kayaks was also very popular back in the days. However, the ancient tribes also built kayaks called “umiaqs” which were capable of transporting entire families as well as their possessions. Obviously, these kayaks were larger and longer, some of them measuring up to 60 feet in length.

Kayaks were first used for hunting

Hunting was the primary source of food for ancient tribes and to simplify this process, they built different types of small kayaks. In fact, the word kayak literally translates as the “hunter’s boat”. The ancient tribes preferred to hunt using kayaks because these vessels were small, agile, very easy to control, and fast. Additionally, ancient kayaks also had a “ninja factor”, meaning that they could be used to sneak up around animals in the water or on the shoreline.

The kayaks become popular in Europe in the mid 1800s

This type of vessel arrived in Europe as a soft-sided frame boat and the Germans and French where the first ones who gave it a try. After a short while, kayaking became a type of sport and it was enjoyed by an increasing number of people. However, in icy waters, the kayak still maintained its practical purposes and it was heavily used by explorers of the North and South Poles.

Kayak races were included in the Olympic Games in 1936

At the Berlin games in 1936, kayak races were much expected and appreciated by the public. Later on around 1950s, kayaks were made from fiberglass which was a more rigid, durable, and light material. 30 years later in 1980, kayaks were made from polyethylene plastics. Today, Olympic Games feature a plethora of water sports which involve kayaks and kayaking. For example, the 1,000 meter race as well as the 10,000 meter race are very popular and enjoyed kayaking competitions.

Today’s kayaks are very durable, modern, and versatile

Nowadays you can rent kayaks for an affordable price if you want to try this amazing water sport. You might also be happy to know that today’s kayaks are much safer and durable and they are not “enhanced” or waterproofed using whale fat. These days kayaks come in various shapes, sizes, and they can also feature a plethora of colors. Today’s kayaks can also be used in different types of waters and some of them can easily accommodate 2 persons. These kayaks are perfect if you want to travel across water with your son and enjoy the spectacular natural landscapes around you.

There are many places where you can go kayaking these days, but it is important to pick a location where you will also get proper instructions and tips related to this water sport. We run a surf school in North Carolina and we also specialize in kayak tours. If you want to try kayaking, visit us and we will make your experience an enjoyable and sublime one. Check out our website for more details!