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Where Were Kayaks Invented?

Brief History Of Kayaks

Published June 16, 2022

Where were kayaks invented is one of the most commonly asked questions by a beginner who have just started kayaking, but answering it often turns out to be more difficult than you think.

The first kayak was made approximately 5000 years ago in Arctic North America by the local tribes. This was the beginning of the kayak, and they made it with whatever they could find, like wood, animal skin, or bones, which were sewn together to form a waterproof covering over the frame of the boat.

The first kayaks were not very large, but they were wide at the bottom to hold more people and more belongings. So, let’s learn how kayaks evolved in the past years and how they became so popular among the people.

Where Were Kayaks Invented? Brief History Of Kayaks: Summary

When and Where Were Kayaks Invented?

Kayaks has been a part of human history for thousands of years. It is believed that the first kayaks were made by the native peoples of Arctic North America and Alaska around 5000 years ago.

These kayaks were constructed from materials like wood, animal skin, or bones, which were sewn together to form a waterproof covering over the frame of the boat.

They invented those kayaks to travel around the water area, but later on, they also used them for fishing. In the beginning, only rich or powerful people would have kayaks, which was a sign of their dignity or richness.

But later on, common people learned to make kayaks, and everyone living across the water area started making their own kayaks out of different materials, but the most common was sealskin. People started making kayaks with sealskin because it was hard, waterproof, and easily available material to make a kayak.

Brief History of Kayaks

Old kayak from indigenous people

Kayaks are a type of boat that is propelled by the user’s hands with the help of a paddle. They were invented in the 3000BC by the Inuit people, who lived in Alaska and the North American region.

Inuits used kayaks as a means of transportation to get around their environment, which was full of water. They could also use them for hunting purposes.

The kayak was made of animal skins stretched over wood frames and covered with oil or seal blood, which kept out water. This allowed the Inuit people to go on long journeys without worrying about getting wet or cold.

They were used for hunting, traveling, and fishing. These boats weren’t too different from the ones we use today, but they were made out of animal hides, wood, or other materials available in their area at the time.

But, the first modern kayak was created by Greenlanders in 1789. It was made from wood and was used as a hunting boat. Kayaks are still used today by hunters and tourists who want to explore different parts of the water. So in the early 1800s, white men used kayaks to explore the Arctic.

Kayaks Evolution: Then VS Now

Today, you can find many kayaks available at many different price points, but what has changed? Let’s take a look at how they have evolved over time.

In the beginning, there was the Native American dugout canoe. Dugouts were made by hollowing out tree trunks to create boats that could hold up to five people and their gear. These boats were very slow-moving and required paddling with two hands on each side of the boat to move forward. The overall design was simple and effective for its time period!

The next step in kayak evolution came with the invention of canvas-covered craft by early explorers like Jacques Cartier. These early models were not as durable as modern-day vessels due to their lack of proper materials such as fiberglass or plastic, but they did allow for faster speeds due to lighter weight materials being used throughout construction as well as increased buoyancy.

Today, kayaks are made from various materials, including fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber. These materials make kayaks much more durable than they used to be. They also provide more space for storage, which is important when you are out on the water for an extended period of time.

In addition to being made out of different materials and holding more cargo than before, kayaks have undergone another major change as well: they no longer have to be made by hand.

Nowadays, you can order a kayak online and have it shipped right to your door without ever meeting the person who built it or seeing where they do their work.

This is the real evolution that you have been enjoying for the past few years.

Modern Kayaks

Today’s modern kayaks are designed to be used in various ways. They are designed to be lightweight and easy to store so that they can be taken on long trips or short trips.

They are also designed with various features that make them more comfortable and easier to use. Modern kayaks come in several forms, including sit-on-tops, sit-insides, and inflatables.

Modern kayaks are made of fiberglass or carbon fiber, making them both lightweight and sturdy. They also have many different types of seats available depending on how you want to use them: some have adjustable seats, while others have fixed seats that don’t move at all.

So, let’s discuss everything about modern kayaks in detail.

Types of Modern Kayaks

There are 3 major types of modern kayaks available in the market. So, let’s get to know everything about them in detail.

Sit-On-Top Kayaks:

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most popular type of modern kayak in the world. They are easy to use and a great choice for beginners because they provide good control and maneuverability. They also have a large cockpit, making it possible for you to carry your gear easily.

Sit-on-top kayaks can be used in all types of water conditions, but they are unsuitable for whitewater rapids. They usually come with sealed bulkheads, making them ideal for recreational use.

This type of kayak is made from polyethylene plastic, which means that they are durable and lightweight at the same time. You will find these kayaks used by people who want to fish or snorkel while on the water without worrying about getting wet inside their boat.


Sit-inside kayaks are also a common and well-known type of kayak. These kayaks feature an enclosed hull, meaning they have a watertight storage area at the bottom of the boat. The storage compartment lets you dry your gear while paddling through rougher waters.

These kayaks are perfect for beginners because they provide better stability than other kayaks, making them ideal for those just starting out on the water. They also have a large cockpit opening that makes it easy to get in and out of your kayak without having to climb over anything or struggle with getting wet feet.

Inflatable Kayaks:

Inflatable kayaks can be both sit-inside or sit-on-top kayaks, but they are made of a material that allows them to be folded up into a small package, making them ideal for travel. They are also very lightweight, which makes them easy to carry.

These kayaks tend to be less durable than other kayaks, but they are still very much worth the investment and will last for a long time if properly cared for.

These kayaks are perfect for beginners and experts alike because they are so easy to use. You can easily set up an inflatable kayak in just a few minutes, so you will never have any problems getting out on the water whenever you want.

Usage of Modern Kayaks

Kayaks were first invented to travel and hunting purposes. But on the other hand, modern kayaks are used for multiple purposes. So, let’s have a quick overview of the usage of modern kayaks.

  • Fishing: Modern kayaks are often used for fishing. You can use them to get closer to your target fish, or you can simply use them to reach areas that would be inaccessible by other means.
  • Recreational Purposes: Modern kayaks are also being used for recreational purposes. Many people go out on the water at night or during the daytime just to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of nature. This gives them peace of mind while also they get to enjoy nature.
  • Kayaking Sports: Modern kayaks are also used for kayaking sports and racing. If you are more interested in having fun than catching fish, you might want to try out some kayaking sports. There are many kinds of kayak races and competitions where you can compete against other people and see who’s fastest.


Now you know where were kayaks invented and the brief history of kayaks. I had also written a brief of how kayaks had evolved from when they were first invented till now. So I hope you have found everything you were looking for in this article.

If you have something in mind or anything is missing in the article, you can tell me by writing in the comment section below. I check the comment regularly and reply to them within a few hours. So, don’t hesitate to ask anything about kayaks or canoes.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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