Emerging Trends In Sea Kayaking | Adventure Kayak Magazine | Rapid Media
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A sea kayaker paddles into a small cove on Georgian Bay. Photo Credit: Virginia Marshall

Industry leaders weigh in on what the future looks like for sea kayaking.

FIONA HOUGH

INSTRUCTOR TRAINER & GUIDE, BRITISH COLUMBIA

“I think we’ll continue to see a movement towards more technical paddling skill development versus traditional journeying skill sets. More people are seeking out certification as a way to hone skills for rock gardening, paddling in current and surf, or just for a fun day out, rather than looking to develop skills for longer trips. I also see more paddlers who never plan to instruct, taking instructor or guide training courses as a way of gaining expertise in their recreational pursuits. People who are nearing or past retirement age make up the largest numbers on the water. This also applies to the more technical disciplines, where you might expect to find a younger demographic.”

DARREN BUSH

OWNER AT RUTABEGA PADDLESPORTS, WISCONSIN

“I'm seeing shorter, more compact designs as folks are taking more short trips and they want to keep the weight down. I am also seeing a lot more interest in thermoformed ABS construction because of both price and weight. I'd say the most popular sea kayaks will be 14- to 15-foot thermoformed boats, followed by lighter composites of similar length. The hope is some of these folks get the bug and upgrade to longer boats. The problem is that boats last a long, long time. I have kayaks that are 20 years old that are still perfectly serviceable. We need to start using water-soluble resins (laughs).”

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NEIL SCHULMAN

CONSERVATIONIST & KAYAKING PUNDIT, OREGON

“I think the growing popularity of recreational kayaking is tied with our increased awareness of the health benefits of nature contact. It’s part of a return to green exercise that’s translating in the kayaking world into light, fast boats. There’s greater interest now in day and half-day touring without having to make the long drive out to the wilderness. People are also moving back from suburbs into city centers, where storage space is tight. Going hand-in-hand with this is the sharing economy’s growing inroads into the outdoor world. I think in the next year or two these start-ups will succeed and we’ll see how it evolves and affects paddle and rental shops as well as instruction and general safety.”

CLAY HALLER

PRESIDENT AT ADVANCED ELEMENTS, CALIFORNIA

“The market for portable kayaks continues to grow. Paddling in urban areas has become more popular and the ability to store your kayak in the closet of your apartment is a real benefit. They also have a huge appeal to the growing number of air travelers, which already amounts to nine million every day and is expected to double in the next 15 years. Like hard-shell kayaks, portables will continue to filter into very specific paddling segments such as fishing, touring, whitewater and ultralight packables, offering performance tailored to the activity. A continued trend will be the use of high-pressure, drop-stitch material like that used in inflatable SUPs to add rigidity and performance.” 

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