How Long are Kayaks

How Long are Kayaks?

 Size matters, and when talking about kayaks, this becomes even more relevant given the fact that, as a general rule, the longer the kayak, the faster it will travel through water. But as with anything in life, things are not so simple.

The most versatile kayak used for recreational purposes and beginners is the 12-14 ft long kayak. However, Kayaks come in different sizes to perform according to the type of kayaking experience you are looking for, whether it is speed, manoeuvrability, or stability. 

If what you need is a deeper understanding of the different options, here we have put together a guide to help you choose the best type of kayak for you!

Types of Kayaks and their average lengths

, “a good length” for kayaks depends on the purposes, preferences, and activities they have been designed for. Once you realise this, the task of choosing the right length of kayak for you may become a little easier.

Next, we’ll take a tour through the many variable options:

Whitewater Kayaks: mostly characterised by its length, volume, and stability, these types of boats are the adrenaline-loving-kayaker favourites due to their increased speed and manoeuvrability (which are directly related to the extent of the kayak).

 This type of kayaks can also be subdivided into:

  • Creek Boats with lengths that go between 7.5 – 10 ft. long. These evenly distributed volume creek boats are the perfect choice for any novice. Seeing as how this, combined with how they float over waves more than other kayaks, might make them feel more stable. Also, due to their length, creek boats travel faster down the stream.
  • Slicey Boats are between 7 and 9 ft. long. And because of their length, they may be as fast, or slightly slower than a creek boat, as well as go from smoothly surfing waves to run hard, steep rapids. That makes them the most versatile among whitewater kayaks.
  • Playboats are the shortest kayaks, as their lengths go from 6 to 8 ft. long, which also makes playboats the slowest. They are also designed to go through waves rather than over them. This makes them perfect for a variety of tricks, like cartwheels and loops.

Recreational and Fishing Kayaks: 

Typically ranging between 9 to 12 ft. long, these kayaks are designed to favour stability and ease of use over speed and efficiency. This, combined with their cost (much less expensive than more specialised vessels), makes them the most popular kayak type on the market, as we mentioned. And also, the ideal boat for beginners as they are lightweight and easy to manoeuvre.

Most of the designs you will come across in this category are of the Sit-on-Top kind, specifically built for recreation and comfort. Sit-Ins tend to be somewhat longer and broader than their sit-on-top counterparts by 36 inches and 20 inches for the length and width, respectively.

Technically, as long as you can fish from it, your kayak qualifies as a “Fishing Kayak.” But certain specialised features make them specifically designed for fishing, i.e., the kayak’s length (around 13 ft. long) is primordial. Seeing as how long the boat is, determines, at least in part, its stability.

 Simply put, fishing kayaks act more as a platform to fish from than they are kayaks to paddle, and this also means it provides anglers with:

  • More storage space for fishing gear.
  • More room for standing up.
  • Increased buoyancy to remain safely afloat.

 Fishing kayaks are also designed to favour lateral stability (which is necessary when shuffling on the boat and casting fishing lines). So it minimises the risk of the kayak tipping over in the process.

Touring (or Sea) Kayaks:

 Touring kayaks are the longest and narrowest vessels, specifically designed for long-distance paddling, in a variety of conditions. These are often used in trips around oceans, bays, and prolonged excursions out into the open sea.

 Designed to favour speed and efficiency over manoeuvrability, touring kayaks also track extremely well. Also, given the fact that kayaks in this category are generally used to traverse long distances on the water over extended periods, their design allows for more storage space.

 Sea kayaks average 15 ft. (for single-paddler touring kayaks). Entry-level sea kayaks start at roughly 14 ft. long and go up to 19 ft. in the case of more advanced touring kayaks. While Tandem touring kayak lengths can amount to 26 ft. long.

Kayaking out away from shore is its own kind of adventure! And this is especially important because whenever you go braving the waves, weather, and wildlife, the least you expect is quality, stability, and above all, seaworthiness. 

Since kayaks length helps provide you with two of those three requirements, you might find that touring kayaks are faster, track straighter, and move through the water better than shorter ones. When you ask yourself how long your kayak should be, consider that a longer kayak can be narrower and still displace the same amount of water. And therefore, it provides the same amount of buoyancy as a shorter but broader kayak.

The -REAL- importance of Length

 One of the main factors that determine whether or not your time on the water is fun and efficient is the length of your kayak. Also, consider that there is no perfect kayak for all uses and situations. So, once again, picking a boat with the right dimensions will depend on the type of activities you are planning to use it in, how much storage space you have available. And of course, how much you may want to spend on it.

 Among the aspects to take into consideration regarding our kayak’s length, we must highlight:

  • Shorter kayaks are designed to favour manoeuvrability and initial stability, as you can see in most recreational-style boats.
  • Longer kayaks provide better tracking. In turn, it makes the kayak better suited for longer outings as it takes less energy from the paddler to keep it going fast and steady.

 Another item to think about is how many people are going to be paddling with you. If you plan to go kayaking by yourself, then a solo kayak will do. But if you plan to take a partner or go with your kids, then tandems or even three-person kayaks might be a better choice for you.

 However, contrary to what you might believe, how long a kayak is, does not play a significant role in evaluating its performance potential.

 What we do need to be concerned about are the dimensions of the cockpit, as opposed to the actual physical length. For the most part, people under 6 ft. in height will fit in conventional sit-in kayak cockpits. But if you are taller than that, then it’s always a good idea to test a 12 to 14-foot kayak to get a feel for the fit, seat height, and the legroom available. These aspects might tell you whether you’ll be able to get in and out of the kayak comfortably and without scraping your knees in the process. If you have to wiggle yourself in, it’s a sign that the opening is too small for you.


 Fitting permanent roof racks may not be practical to some vehicles. So you might want to consider a removable soft roof rack whose simple attachment method makes them the most cost-effective choice.

 However, this solution does not apply if your kayak has a large hull, in which case you should opt for a more advanced means of transportation.

Consistently transporting your kayak in a trailer reduces many of the physical obstacles you might run in when loading a boat on top of a vehicle. The main advantage of trailering comes in their loading height, as there is little-to-no lifting required. Trailers can be simple a wheeled box-like add-on, or advanced custom-made pieces that perfectly accommodate your vessel, but either way, they are a wise choice.


 Of course buying a 20 ft. long kayak when you live in a studio apartment may not be the smartest decision. So be sure to measure your storage areas before acquiring any kayak at all. If space is not an issue, building a wooden rack or storing it vertically by tying the back end to the ceiling of your garage or shed is the way to go.

 If you would like to store your boat outside, a shade structure or tarp is the minimum protection you ought to provide. Just confirm the cover is made from high-quality reflective material and make sure to leave an air gap above the kayak for ventilation. Because the absence of airflow around your kayak increases the odds of mould rapidly damaging it (even the highest-quality composites).

 With that being said, whenever you are in the process of choosing yours, remember that how long the kayak is, isn’t as relevant. Take into consideration your style of kayaking, length of trips, and storage availability. Having this in mind makes it easier to narrow down your selection and ensure you have proper fun on the water.

wp_get_post_categories($post->ID), 'numberposts' => 5, 'post__not_in' => array($post->ID) ) ); if( $related ) foreach( $related as $post ) { setup_postdata($post); ?>

About Me

We are passionate about the outdoors, kayaking in particular. We have built this website to share all of the tips and tricks that we have learned along the way, we hope you have as much fun as we do.


Legal Information

Planet-Kayak is part of an amazon affiliate programme, this means we may earn a small referral fee if a product is purchased from one of our referral links. This in no way affects the price you pay if you choose to purchase a product via one of our links. Amazon affiliate links help to support this website. Thank you for helping us produce valuable content.

Latest Posts

Paddling with the Birds: A Guide to Kayaking Birdwatching

“Paddling with the Birds: A Guide to Kayaking Birdwatching” combines the tranquility of kayaking with the thrill of birdwatching. This guide offers tips on the best gear, locations, and techniques to spot rare birds from your kayak. It’s a must-read for nature enthusiasts seeking a unique, immersive birdwatching experience.

Do You Need a License to Kayak in the UK?

Introduction Kayaking is a popular water activity in the UK, offering enthusiasts a chance to explore scenic rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. One common question that arises for newcomers to the sport is whether a license is required to go kayaking. In this article,...

What is difference between canoe and kayak

Introduction Canoeing and kayaking are popular water activities that offer unique experiences for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK. While both involve paddling across water, there are distinct differences between canoes and kayaks in terms of design, usage, and...

How much is a Kayak

In the UK, the price of a kayak can vary based on factors such as the type of kayak, material, brand, and any additional features or accessories. Here are some approximate price ranges for different types of kayaks in the UK: Recreational Kayaks: Entry-level models:...

Kayaking in Wales

Where are the best places to kayak in Wales? Starting with South Wales, the River Tawe, which flows through the city of Swansea, is one of the most popular rivers for kayaking in Wales. The river starts in the Brecon Beacons National Park, in the Cambrian Mountains,...

Kayaking in the far east

The Far East is a term used to describe all the countries of East Asia. The Far East includes countries like China, Japan, and Thailand. There are many places to explore and many cultures to experience. What better way to explore all that the Far East has to offer...

Best Kayaking Camping Holidays

Kayaking is ideal for you if you desire a surreal experience with nature. This favourite hobby of many is also bound to keep you physically and mentally fit. What if we told you that kayaking could also be your ticket around the world? Yes, you can visit some of the...

Kayaking Activities

Kayaking Activities Kayaking is an enjoyable activity for many people. Getting out on the water brings about relaxation and serenity. While for others, the adventure and adrenaline rush is what they are seeking. With so many different types of kayaking, such as...

Gift Ideas For a Kayaker

With the holiday season fast approaching, we are all keen to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones. If you have friends or family that enjoy kayaking, then there is a whole range of gifts you can get them to make their Christmas extra special. We’ve compiled a...

What should I wear while kayaking?

When going kayaking, your choice of clothing must be based on two important factors. First off, the weather condition for safety and next, your comfort. It's a good thing both factors go hand-in-hand, and that's why when you wear a loose, long-sleeved shirt on a hot...