The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: K is for KAYAKING


Kayaking is one of our FAVORITE activities in Central Oregon, and we try to get out on the Deschutes River or the Cascade Lakes as often as we can. You can join, too! We'll discuss a bit of the history and nuances of kayaking in this post. 



We owe kayaks to the Inuit in the northern Arctic. The word kayak translates to "hunter's boat," and that's exactly what they used these small, covered vessels for-- hunting and fishing to provide food for their families. The design of the kayak allowed Inuit hunters to sneak up behind their prey without alerting them. 

The Inuit people used many materials to construct their kayaks, but most often the frames were constructed from whalebone, with animal (usually seal) skin to create the body. After gaining popularity among Europeans in the mid-1800s, the design and materials of kayaks began to change in order to incorporate recreational desires. In the 1950s, the first fiberglass kayaks were developed, followed by polyethylene plastic kayaks in the 1980s. 

The sport is now considered one of the most popular water sports in the world, with 10 different white water kayaking events in the Olympics! 

The Basics: What's the Difference
Between Canoeing and Kayaking? 


Apart from the obvious difference in appearance, canoeing and kayaking require different techniques, and gear. Canoes traditionally have an open-top construction, and kayaks are typically closed on top (though you'll notice Wanderlust Tours actually uses an open-top kayak-- we'll get into that later on). 

When canoeing, the paddlers use a single-bladed paddle, paddling on opposite sides of each other for balance. Conversely, kayaking utilizes a double-bladed paddle, and riders paddle on both sides to move forward and backward. Paddlers in canoes generally sit on a wooden bar that crosses the boat, or they kneel on the bottom of the canoe. Kayakers are almost always seated, with their legs stretched out in front of them. Canoes are generally used to carry more people and supplies than kayaks. For this reason, kayaks are often easier to maneuver. 


This sport is so dynamic; there are lots of varieties of kayak, and kayaking! Here are a few: 


Whitewater Kayaking

This is perhaps the most common type of kayaking that comes to mind. There are several genres of whitewater kayaking, but the basic idea is to tackle the more difficult rivers, streams, and creeks where rapids (creating "white water") are present. There are several whitewater kayak designs, depending on the desired

Photo courtesy of  Mega Kayaks

Photo courtesy of Mega Kayaks

Sea Kayaking

Sea (or "Touring") Kayaks are, as their name suggests, seaworthy, and are generally designed for longer journeys out on the water. These kayaks are less maneuverable than other kayaks, favoring a more elongated shape to increase cruising speed and o allow for more cargo. These kayaks can be used for marine journeys around the world, and can usually accommodate up to three paddlers. 


Surf Kayaking

Surf kayaking is exactly what you think it is: surfing waves on a specially-designed kayak! This has become a popular sport in areas where traditional board surfing occurs. These kayaks are often designed with a flat planing bottom, and a sharp, surfboard-like nose to help crest waves.   

Sit-On-Top Kayaking

This is the type of kayak we use on our Kayaking Tours! These are great kayaks for general recreation, and work great for specialized activities like fishing, diving, swimming, and even surfing! These are easily used by all skill-levels, as they are easy to paddle and very stable. The shape of these kayaks is similar to other traditional kayak shapes, but rather than sitting within the kayak, you're seated in a molded depression on top of the kayak. For this reason, these kayaks are generally more comfortable, accommodating nearly all body sizes and types.