Parts Of A Kayak – Kayak Parts

Parts of a kayak

For such a simple vehicle, a kayak has a surprising amount of parts. Understanding the parts of a kayak will increase your understanding of the activity and your ability to interact with other kayak enthusiasts.

What are a kayak’s fundamental parts? The bow, stern, kayak deck, kayak hull, cockpit, footrests, and kayak seat are essential kayak parts. It will be easier for you to engage with other kayakers and communicate with kayak shops about repairs, maintenance, and purchase choices if you know the correct names and positions of the parts on your kayak.

The remainder of this essay will take a closer look at each part of a kayak, what it accomplishes, potential damage sources, and recommendations for choosing a kayak that will meet your requirements. Understanding each of these parts is essential for using your kayak effectively.

You may read a short explanation of each kayak part below:

  • Bow: The kayak’s front.
  • Stern: The kayak’s back.
  • Kayak Deck: A kayak’s top deck
  • Kayak Hull: The portion of a kayak’s hull that is submerged in water.
  • Cockpit: The area where you sit in or on a kayak
  • Foot Rests: The pegs within the hull where your feet rest are known as footrests.
  • Kayak Seat: The bench you sit on when paddling a kayak is called a kayak seat.

Parts Of A Kayak

The Bow

Your kayak’s bow is the first item on the list. The bow is the front part of the kayak, to put it simply. Your direction of travel when on the water is determined by the orientation of your bow. The bow generally comes to more of a point, making it easy to distinguish from the stern.

The bow always refers to the front of the boat, whether you are traveling in a large cruise liner or a kayak. It’s pronounced similarly to how you bow after giving a performance, not “bow and arrow.” Fortunately, you only need to recall it once to know that the front of every boat is referred to as the bow.

Each model of kayak has a unique bow design that serves a particular function. You should be aware of the variations in bows when selecting a kayak for either whitewater or touring.

Whitewater kayaks aren’t made for lengthy journeys on calm, open water; they’re made for riding on top of turbulent water. They often feature a lot more snub-nosed bows for better control and agility.

Instead, lengthier touring kayaks will feature a much longer, narrower bow to let them more effectively cut or plough through the water.


It’s common for touring kayaks, which are the longer kind, to feature a bulkhead. Bulkheads are found in the kayak’s bow, in front of the area where your feet rest. You may store your gear and valuables in this walled-off area of the kayak to prevent them from becoming wet. It typically features a hatch that you can open and shut, which is a watertight cover.

Depending on the size of the kayak, the bulkhead’s size may change. The optimal place for the bulkhead will depend on how much gear you want to carry in your kayak.

The Stern

The rear of the kayak needs a name if the bow is considered the front.

What is the part of the kayak’s back? The stern of a kayak is its rear part. The stern of any vessel refers to its part. The rear is the stern of everything, whether it a little one-person kayak or a massive cargo or battleship.

Although it may be shorter than the bow, the stern will often taper to a point as the bow does. Similar to the bow, the stern could also include an internal bulkhead that enables secure storage of additional gear and equipment.

With whitewater kayaks having a shorter, stubbier stern and touring or sea kayaks having a more extended stern for stability, different kinds of kayaks have different sterns.

Okay, so the front and rear are the bow and stern. What are the names of the right and left?

What is the name of the kayak’s left side? The port side refers to the kayak’s left side. By keeping in mind that the terms “left” and “port” both include 4 letters, you may keep in mind that this is the case, as opposed to the right side, which is referred to as the starboard.

You could or might not have a rudder or skeg attached to the back of your kayak. Because of the different differences in nature between these two gadgets, you could favor one over the other.

Your kayak’s top side is where the rudder is kept, and it is lowered into the water. You can maneuver it thanks to foot pedals that control it. It improves your balance and aids in navigation, particularly in difficult weather.

What function does a kayak’s skeg serve? A kayak’s skeg aids in maintaining a straight course. When you need to utilize a skeg, it is lowered into the water from a tiny chamber at the stern of your hull. It won’t assist you steer since it doesn’t turn like a rudder, but it will keep you on course when the wind is blowing.

These gadgets each have a unique combination of benefits and drawbacks. Trying both is the best way to determine which you like most. Ask someone who has used them in bad weather, which is what they are intended to help with.

Kayak Deck

The top part of your kayak that is above the water is called the deck. If your kayak is a sit-on-top rather than a sit-inside model, this can be the part you sit on. The kayak deck has several smaller parts, which we shall go over in more detail below.


You may fasten gear that you don’t mind getting wet by using the tie-down bungees that your kayak’s deck may have. These could be on the stern, the bow, or perhaps both. You may attach items like a water bottle, an additional paddle, or a cooler.

Extra bungee cords normally have a thickness of 4mm or 5mm. If you’re connecting anything large or bulky, bungees provide you a little bit more security. In any case, if you’re changing a set of bungees, ensure sure the new ones you buy are suitable for maritime usage.


You may carry your kayak more conveniently thanks to its handles. Typically, a kayak will have handles on the bow and stern.

Kayak handles come in two basic varieties, both of which are designed to be used for transporting the kayak:

Integrated or rotomolded handles into the kayak’s deck
Handles that are connected to the kayak by a rope or lanyard

Both of the styles of kayaks I own perform well. I would chose an integrated handle if I had to. Because carrying a lanyard is difficult if the rope on the handle breaks and you don’t have a replacement rope.

Make sure the handles are attached to the kayak with some high-quality hardware when purchasing a kayak. If the handles come out while you’re carrying it, you risk dropping it and denting the hull.

You are reading: Parts Of A Kayak – Kayak Parts

Kayak Hull

What do you name the kayak’s bottom? The hull of your kayak is its lower half. The part of the kayak that is submerged in water is called the hull. Displacement and planing hulls are the two different kinds of kayak hulls.

There are two major kinds of kayak hulls, however, there are many different varieties of kayaks.

Round displacement hulls may push or plough through the water. Most kayaks used for recreation feature displacement hulls.

Planing hull kayaks feature angled sides and flat bottoms. Planing hull kayaks are made for faster speeds and skim the top of the water. Planing hulls are a common feature of whitewater kayaks.


The great majority of kayaks are constructed using 4 primary materials. These are the materials:

  • Polyethylene
  • Fiberglass
  • Inflatable
  • Thermoform

Most newbies will ultimately inquire about the ideal kayak material. Polyethylene is the ideal material for a leisure kayak. Polyethylene is strong, affordable, and has a long lifespan.

But it doesn’t fully convey the situation.

The benefits and drawbacks of each kayak material are listed below:

  • Polyethylene is resilient and long-lasting. less costly, harder to fix when broken or punctured, and typically heavier
  • Fiberglass Most costly material isn’t extremely resilient to direct impacts, but it is lightweight, agile, and rather robust.
  • The inflatable is inexpensive, portable, and prone to breakage. It could not track properly.
  • Thermoform offers comparable performance to polyethylene and fiberglass at a cheaper cost, although the acrylic’s exterior layer may eventually get damaged.

Hull Form

When looking for kayaks, you may choose from four different sorts of hull forms. Different from the materials used to construct kayaks, each of these hulls has advantages and disadvantages and is better suited for certain forms of kayaking. Whitewater kayaks often have a different hull shape than touring kayaks as a result. These four forms include:

  • Pontoon-style
  • Vee-shaped hull
  • Oval hull
  • Flat

The Pontoon Hull

One of the most stable hull forms available is the pontoon style. Due of the high water contact, you won’t be able to attain high speeds on them. You have the least danger of falling over in these, however.

Hull With A V

Although its greatest claim to fame is its higher capacity to cut through the water, the v-shaped hull is also renowned for its ability to provide speed. Touring kayaks with flat-water tracking requirements sometimes feature v-shaped hulls to make it easier for the rider to maintain their straightness without having to continually course-correct.

Square Hull

Round hulls are made to move quickly. Less surface area is available for water resistance due to its rounded form. They are a popular option for whitewater kayaks since they are very maneuverable.

Square Hull

Last but not least, there are flat hulls, so called because, well, they are flat on the bottom. Similar to the pontoon style, they provide outstanding stability as well, but you won’t be setting any speed records with these kayaks. You can stay steady in calm or turbulent water situations thanks to the flat hull of many fishing kayaks.

In a kayak, guns

What is the name for a kayak’s sides? The gunnels of a kayak are its sides. However, unlike canoes, rounded kayaks don’t officially have a long side edge known as a gunnel. Therefore, the edge of the kayak’s cockpit is more properly referred to as. That is referred to as the coaming.


What is the name of the enormous hole in a kayak? The cockpit refers to the big opening of a kayak where you sit. You should be aware of the keyhole cockpit and ocean cockpit, which are the two basic types of cockpit designs. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Ocean cockpits keep water and waves out whereas keyhole cockpits are simpler to enter and exit.

Peek-A-Boo Cockpit

A keyhole-shaped kayak cockpit has a circular opening for you to sit in near the stern and a narrower hole for your legs as it goes toward the bow. Your knees or thighs may make some touch with the kayak across the narrow section, which aids with your stability. You may rest your arms from paddling on an armrest made of durable plastic.

A keyhole cockpit is comparatively different to enter and exit, and it also provides greater space for you to elevate your knee and move your leg. It lessens the amount of touch you’ll have with your cockpit, which might make it harder for you to use your legs as leverage to steady your kayak.

Oyster Cockpit

An ocean cockpit is an option, however, it has a much smaller opening than a keyhole cockpit. Your legs and body will have greater touch with the kayak as a result, but it will be harder to get in and out.

You can better steady yourself in the ocean cockpit. Additionally, it’s simpler to locate a cockpit skirt to cover the opening, preventing water from entering your hull.

Cockpit Curtains

A cockpit cover, sometimes known as spray skirt, is a neoprene garment that encloses your body and prevents water from penetrating the kayak hull. Only sit-in kayaks, not sit-on-top models, often employ it. You’ll need a cockpit cover if you’re riding in choppy waters to prevent a lot of water from entering. Due to their tiny size, ocean cockpit spray skirts are considerably simpler to locate.

Foot Rests

If you’re new to kayaking, you could have the following question.

In a kayak, where do you put your feet? In a kayak, you put your feet on footrests. The majority of contemporary kayaks include foot rests, however, some don’t. Kayaks with foot rest often feature various footrest spots integrated into the hull or adjustable footrest pegs. The rudder is additionally controlled by several footrests.

Although many kayaks come with footrests, those without may still be equipped with aftermarket footpegs or foot bracing. If you’re not the most confident DIYer, you may want to hire a professional to install them for you as it will entail screwing them into your kayak.

Foot braces offer you something else to brace against while you’re in a strong current, other than managing a rudder. You won’t have much control if your kayak is sliding about inside of it. However, knowing how to brace yourself against the inside of your kayak will aid in regaining control and maintaining its course.

Kayak Seat

The bench you sit on when paddling a kayak is known as the kayak seat. Choosing a comfy seat can prevent your butt from becoming numb and keep your back at a suitable temperature during extended paddle outings. Look for chairs that support your back and have a suitable contour for your butt.

The easiest method to determine if a kayak seat is comfortable before you purchase it is to just sit in it. If possible, rent the kind of kayak you’re thinking about purchasing and paddle in it for a time to evaluate the support and comfort of the seat.

The dimensions of your kayak’s cockpit are an essential factor to take into account while selecting a seat. You shouldn’t purchase a seat for a sit-inside kayak if it will not fit in the hole. You won’t have to worry as much about it fitting if you have a ride-on-top kayak. However, you need to confirm that the seat will fit in the available area.

Some seats just have a few anchor points or don’t anchor to the kayak at all. Another thing to think about is that you want to make sure your seat is secure and doesn’t move while you’re out on the water. Even while a seat with a non-slip pad below could be simple to install, it might not be completely non-slip.

Your body type, the style of kayak you’re using, and the location of your trip will all have a significant impact on the seat you choose. Get a back to the seat if you want to fish from your kayak to make the trip more pleasant. A simple seat might assist you avoid feeling too constrained while you’re traveling over rapids.

Cost is still another important factor. Kayak chairs with all the bells and whistles may cost anywhere from $25 to $250. Go easy on the spending, however, since the very inexpensive ones will probably wear out rapidly and need to be replaced. You generally don’t need a high-end one if you’re new to the sport. Any seat in the center, costing $50 to $100, will do.

Kayak Fishing Holes

The scupper holes on sit-on-top kayaks are one part that novice paddlers often misunderstand. Sit-on-top kayaks are constructed with these openings in the bottom. A sit-on-top recreational, touring, or fishing kayak’s bottom often has 6–8 self-draining scupper holes.

The purpose of the holes is to keep water from building up in the kayak’s cockpit. If your sit-on kayak tips over and fills with water, they also help to drain water from the cockpit.

Even more perplexing, though, is the fact that many kayakers choose to use scupper plugs to block those holes and stop water from entering the kayak via the hull’s scupper hole. In this post on kayak scupper plugs, we go through kayak scuppers and explain how and when to shut them off using kayak plugs.

Principal parts of a Kayak


The bow of a kayak refers to its front part.


The stern refers to the part of the kayak.


The deck is the top part of the kayak where you sit or store items.


The hull of a kayak refers to its bottom side. There are several different kinds of hulls, with the following being the most popular:

A displacement hull has a V-shaped design with a hull that extends from front to rear. Such hulls allow kayaks to move quickly and directly, which means they track effectively.

Planing hull: Whitewater kayaks have a planing hull. They are made up of steep sides and a flat bottom. Although they can’t go at great speeds, they provide superb control for experienced paddlers.


The kayak’s chine is the part that joins the side and bottom of the hull. A kayak may have one or even multiple chine surfaces on each side. It depends on how the kayak is made.


A displacement hull’s keel is its clear centerline, which extends from the bow to the stern. The keel’s job is to aid in maintaining the kayak’s straight course.


The part of the bow and stern that sweeps upwards is known as the sheer. It is always above the water’s surface.


The kayak’s keel line that extends toward the bow and stern is called the keel line’s top part, or rocker. From stern to bow, a kayak without a rocker is completely flat. The kayak is simpler to turn when it has more rocker. Faster speeds and better tracking result from less rocker.

Deck fixtures

Deck fittings include deck lines, deck elastics, and other on-deck devices. Typically, they serve as attachment points for storing different objects.

Deck straps:

These are little more than bungee cords that may be used to keep smaller objects that won’t fit through the net. Deck elastics may be used to quickly connect water bottles, bags, and other similar accessories to storage containers.


The kayak can be carried to and from the water thanks to carrying handles. On the stern and bow of most kayaks are handles.


The kayak’s seat, as the name indicates, is available for use. While some kayaks have detachable seats, some have built-in ones. The material and stiffness of the seat might vary; it could be rigid, inflatable, reclinable, detachable, etc.


Foot pegs and foot braces are other names for footrests. When paddling the kayak, they provide a stable surface to push against. You can balance and manage your boat with their assistance. Footrests may be fixed or movable.


A skeg is a fin that is normally located close to the stern side of the hull. Typically, inflatable boats feature 1-4 detachable skegs.


Your kayak’s rudder aids in steering it straight and in regulating its course. The foot bracing on the rudder allows you to steer. The majority of rudders may be flipped up and used as needed.

Uphaul Rudder:

Rudder uphaul is nothing more than a rope that may be used to lower or raise the rudder. It may also take the shape of a lever.

Read more: Types of Kayaks

Sit-inside Kayak Parts

The parts of the kayak that we’ll emphasize right now are designed specifically to sit inside kayaks.


The area of the kayak where you sit is called the cockpit. Recreational kayaks have more room than touring and whitewater kayaks do. Because it is simpler to enter and depart the kayak, a bigger cockpit is more comfortable. However, the bigger cockpit also adds weight and slows down the kayak.

You can handle the vehicle more easily, do Eskimo rolls, and travel at faster speeds thanks to the smaller cockpits.

Cockpit edge:

The elevated outside of the cockpit edge is referred to as the cockpit coaming (also known as the rim). A sprayskirt, which keeps water out of the cockpit, may be fastened to the coaming.

Hip slings:

Hip pads are detachable cushions positioned at the side borders of the seat to cushion your hips and prevent movement when paddling. Both sea kayaks and whitewater kayaks contain them.

End toggles

Kayaks include end toggles as a safety precaution. They serve as a place to grasp on if you are in the water and hang over the end of a kayak.

A deck’s lines

Deck lines are nothing more than ropes around the kayak. When you need to empty the kayak or even during a rescue, you could grab them to get a firmer hold on the boat.

Compass pause

Navigation is crucial while using the kayak on the water. A standard-sized marine compass may be inserted into the compass recess.


Whitewater and sea kayaks both have a backband. It is a low backrest that is designed to assist you in developing good posture without obstructing your torso while you are paddling. A backband becomes necessary if you’re going on a long kayaking journey.


The bulkhead is a wall that divides the kayak into its component parts. It may be used to carve out dry storage spaces within the kayak that are waterproof, and it also makes the kayak more buoyant.


A hatch is an entryway to the kayak’s dry space. The dry area may be used to store items you wish to bring with you. The hatch’s duty is to properly seal the compartment so that water cannot enter.

Hatch Day:

A day hatch is a storage space that is located below the paddler’s cockpit and is easily accessible. Compared to the other hatches, it is smaller.

Knee braces:

Due to adequate contact between your thighs and knees made by thigh braces, you may become one with your kayak. Thigh braces help you manage your kayak and remain in it whether you’re on the water or in a whitewater kayak.

Rigging for a paddle float:

You may make your paddle float by attaching a paddle float to it. Self-rescues are much simplified on kayaks with paddle float rigging since the paddle float may be fastened to the kayak and used as an outrigger.

Now that you are aware of the components of a sit-inside kayak, it is time to examine the different parts of inflatable kayaks.

Sit-on-top Kayak parts

The parts of the kayak that we are focusing on right now are unique to sit-on-top kayaks. These consist of:


On a sit-on-top kayak, scuppers are holes that allow water to drain through. When water crashes onto the deck, they are useful. If you don’t need to utilize scupper holes, you can typically shut them up.


The footwells on certain sit-on-top kayaks serve as your foot supports since they are built right into the body of the kayak. They seem like a series of bumps that have been formed into the deck so that paddlers of different heights might find an appropriate footwell position. Longer kayakers will choose a footwell that is further away from them, while shorter kayakers will select a footwell that is closer to them.


Some kayaks include a pedal system resembling a flipper or a propeller. These enable you to paddle less and use your legs to move the kayak instead. You may take out these pedal drives while storing the kayak or moving it with a regular paddle.

Rod support:

You don’t have to carry your fishing rod in your hands all the time since rod holders may hold it securely in place. The majority of fishing kayaks are equipped with several built-in rod holders. If yours doesn’t, you may purchase accessories for attachable rod holders like these.

Railing Accessories:

Rails for accessories let you personalize the kayak. These rails make it simple to attach rod holders, fish finders, and several other accessories. To put it briefly, you may modify the kayak according to your needs.

Tank well:

Large things like a diving tank, a box, dry bags, and other areas may be stored on the deck of sit-on-top kayaks in the tank well (also known as the deck well). Usually, it’s close to the kayak’s stern.

Parts of an Inflatable Kayak

The parts listed below are particular to inflatable kayaks. They are not present in hard-shell kayaks.

Air cylinders:

There is always a chance of punctures and holes in inflatable kayaks. The issue is that a punctured tube will begin to lose air. This is where the concept of several air chambers is relevant.

The term “air chambers” describes discrete, unconnected air pockets inside the kayak’s body. In this manner, the kayak won’t sink if only one portion develops a puncture. The buoyancy of the remaining air chamber will keep it afloat, giving the paddler enough time to reach safety.


Through valves, air chambers are inflated and deflated. On inflatable kayaks, different types of valves are used. One-way valves, such as the Halkey Roberts valve or the Boston valve, are the superior ones.

Knowing the many parts of kayaks will enable you to choose one with accuracy. You may surely appreciate your kayaking experience a lot more if you know your kayak through and out.

Paddle shield:

The body of an inflatable kayak may occasionally have an additional layer of abrasion-resistant material on the side of the cockpit to protect it from wear and tear from the paddle while paddling.

Inflatable apron:

Some sit-in inflatable kayaks include coaming that wraps around the cockpit and has to be inflated to become stiff. Like a hard-shell kayak, an inflated coaming may be equipped with a sprayskirt.

As a result

You’ve mastered the main and some minor parts of your kayak at this point. When you inspect a possible new kayak or consult a kayak shop about repairs, upkeep, and accessories for your kayak, you should have a rough understanding of what you’ll be looking at from bow to stern, port to starboard, and everything in between.

Comprehending the varied components that constitute a kayak is a vital aspect for novices and experienced kayak users alike. The overall design, with particular attention to weight and material selection, plays a significant role in shaping the kayaking journey.

For those seeking a combination of efficiency and ease in maneuvering, lightweight kayaks emerge as the preferred choice. These elite lightweight vessels are masterfully engineered with cutting-edge materials and creative approaches that manage to minimize heft. Such design marvels don’t sacrifice the critical attributes of the kayak, thereby ensuring that essential characteristics like equilibrium, floatation, and steadiness remain intact.

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