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Like any other product, kayaks come with a variety of sizes that are useful depending on what the user is looking for. The size of a vessel often determines how comfortable, fast, and manageable it will be during those long exploration through the waterways. This article will make a comparison.

How long is a kayak?

A kayak is often described as a small, narrow boat that teams up with a double-bladed paddle to help the kayaker explore the waterways. Their size range goes from 6 to 20 feet long, usually depending on the type. For choosing the most convenient one, there are a few things to keep into consideration, such as speed, maneuverability, size and transportation, but more on that later.

Consulting a professional is the most advisable thing to do when it comes to determining which would be more suitable for both experienced and new kayakers. As for the size difference, kayaks are often classified as short, medium-length and long. Of course, it will depend on both the brand and what they’re used for. With that being said, let’s jump right in.

Short Kayak

Whitewater kayaks are known to be the shortest on the market, often ranging from six to ten feet, although the most common size is eight. Since they don’t paddle very well, they’re not recommended for slow waters, without mentioning that their length and lack of a rudder results in them not tracking in a straight line. Another thing to mention is that their hulls don’t allow fast movement through the water because of their shape.

However, this doesn’t mean that short kayaks cannot have strong spots. One of their advantages is the fact that they can navigate rapids with ease and they’re short enough to fit inside a van or truck bed, unlike their larger counterparts. Examples of these include the Astro 24 Whitewater Playboating Kayak, measuring 6 x 25 feet in length and width, respectively, which can romp through rapids with ease. Of course, whether or not it’s ideal for a trip will heavily depend on what the kayaker wants.


Both experienced and new kayakers use medium-length kayaks for recreational purposes. These often range between ten and fourteen feet, good for calm lakes and slow-moving rivers. Medium-length kayaks are the most stable of them all, often being recommended for beginners, fishermen and casual paddlers, which makes them a great fit for those who like to sail for fun.

Another great thing about these little fellows is the fact that they can fit on top of a vehicle by using a roof rack. They can also be placed in a truck bed with an extension rack, as well as being moved with ease by those who have a cargo van, although it is advisable to put it diagonally for ease of transport. An example of these medium-length fellows is the Pungo 105, which measures 10.5 feet long and 30 inches wide. Its width makes it very stable, often having its best performance in flat waters.


Long kayaks are best used for touring, often measuring from twelve to twenty feet in length. They move fast and straight through the waterways and their performance is the best when it comes to sailing through large lakes, fast-moving rivers and the ocean. These long fellows usually require trailers for ease of transport, although they can be easily accommodated on longer vehicles and RVs that can store them on the roof without an issue. A great example of these big boys is the Dagger Stratos 12.5 feet kayak, which allows the user to paddle straight with ease, although they would have to possess a rack or additional space in their vehicle for it to fit properly.

Choosing the Best Length Kayak

As it was mentioned a few sections ago, speed is one of the things that shall be considered when it comes to picking a kayak. For those who want a speed craft, the best option is a thin vessel of 17 feet long. However, shorter, nine-feet kayaks tend to be most recommended when it comes to recreational kayaking. On the other hand, new kayakers should choose shorter and slower models, whereas the faster options shall be left for the most experienced.

According to the experts at Sports Rec, maneuverability is another key factor when it comes to choosing the best size for a kayak. A nine-foot craft can be maneuvered around twists and turns with ease, often being a must when it comes to narrow waterways, such as rivers. However, if being able to change directions is not a concern for the kayaker, they can easily roam around with a seventeen-foot vessel, which is often used in open rivers and lakes.

Another thing to look into while choosing the best size of kayaks is the size of the individual that uses it. Shorter vessels are best suited for children and shorter adults, although longer vessels allow greater comfort and mobility. With that being said, those kayaks that are too short for their user can restrict their movement and represent a security risk in case of a capsize. On the other hand, storage and transportation are not something that shall be forgotten either, since those with a car rack would have no issue with securing it on top of their car, whereas kayakers that don’t have one will have to use the space they have. Also, the user needs to take into consideration whether the vessel will be kept when it’s not being used or not.


Whitewater kayaks are the shortest on the market, often measuring up to ten feet as a maximum. They’re best suited for rapids and short enough to fit inside a van or truck bed, although they don’t paddle very well. Thus, they won’t have the best performance in slow waters.

When it comes to medium-length kayaks, these vessels are recommended for both experienced and new practitioners, often ranging between ten and fourteen feet. The longest models in the market measuring from twelve to twenty feet in length, moving straight through the waterways. Maneuverability and speed are key factors for choosing sizes.