The Evolution of the Kayak (10)

Raising the Bar in Kayak Design and Performance:
New Standards For The Third Millennium

This article discusses the changes in kayak design, usage and performance over the past century and in recent years.

Part 6
Mobility: The New Dimension



Anybody can understand that a 4×4 off-road SUV is more mobile than a common, two-wheel drive car. Most people realize that a skin-on-frame Inuit kayak is less durable than a modern plastic kayak, and you couldn’t paddle it in some of the places that you’re used to paddle in. But what does mobility mean when it comes to modern kayaks?
It basically has to do with whatever limits kayakers and kayak fishermen from going where they want to:
Such limits include spots that are too difficult to launch your kayak from, or too difficult to beach it in. Other limits can be water that’s too difficult to paddle in because of currents, waves, ice, vegetation or submerged obstacles such as wooden logs or rocks.

Weather conditions can limit you as well: Canoes are difficult to paddle on windy days and so are most kayaks, including touring kayaks.
So, if for whatever reason you’re prevented from using some beach or going somewhere with your kayak it means your kayak’s performance is limited in terms of Mobility.


Your kayak’s mobility goes two things that matter to you:
Safety: You won’t drive a two-wheel drive car in a snowstorm or on ice because it’s unsafe to do so. Similarly, you wouldn’t paddle a kayak with limited mobility in water or weather conditions that are not suitable for it, and you won’t launch or beach it where you might capsize.
Freedom: You don’t think of a two-wheel drive as a great outdoors vehicle since its limited mobility would restrict your freedom of movement. This argument may be circular, but apparently too few kayakers pay attention to this issue, especially touring and sea kayakers.
What’s a fast kayak good for if it requires special places for launching and beaching? Why can’t you paddle a fast, expensive touring kayak in a fast stream or have fun with it in the surf?
And if you’re a fishermen the advantage of replacing your big, trailed motorboat by a cartop fishing kayak is considerably reduced if you can’t launch it, fish with it and beach it anywhere you want.


The W kayak offers a level of mobility that’s unprecedented, and may even be inconceivable for some.
Mobility is a feature that’s easy to demonstrate, and a picture tells more than words, especially if it’s moving. Therefore, it seems like the most appropriate thing to do at this point would be to have the reader watch the some online videos:

NEW: read more about motorizing fishing kayaks >>


  1. James Greenley

    It’s an interesting article, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in kayak design.
    One comment though; In some passages it felt like the people who wrote it were losing their objectivity.
    Jim Greenley

  2. Pete

    Both interesting and original. I didn’t expect the author to be objective in the first place because you can’t expect people who are involved in this business to be entirely objective about what they’re doing. In this sense I think the author did a pretty good job.

  3. April Leder

    New concepts, fresh ideas and different perspectives!
    I enjoyed reading it and I intend to go back and read it again, just to make sure I didn’t miss something.

  4. Quebec Seakayaker

    This article is a bit longish, and I can’t say I agree with everything it says but it was certainly worth reading.

  5. Knucklewalker

    Yoav, I understand you are passionate about what you’re doing, and I find that some of your ideas are very interesting, but I would have preferred to see less passion in your writing. I’m a seakayaker myself, and I believe you could get more people like myself interested in your design if you used more moderation in your writing.

  6. FLBobshark

    I’m a kayak fisherman and I like my SOT.
    I started reading this thing but I had to stop because it was too long and it looked to me like you guys at wavewalk were just shooting in all directions hoping you’ll hit something.

    The vids are cool

  7. Mike H.

    Here is my take on recent kayak history-
    I remember a few years ago some people were saying that a dual hulled kayak would have to be slower than a single hulled one because its wetted surface was bigger. Others said a kayak that featured a high seat couldn’t be more stable than a kayak in which the paddler is seated at the bottom of the hull. Then some people said that it was impossible to lean a kayak into the turn because it would overturn. Then some other people said the wavewalk kayak wouldn’t perform well in the surf, while others said it would surely have a ‘windage’ problem…and so on.
    All these people had two things in common – apparently none of them ever paddled a w-kayak, and they were all wrong in their predictions about it.

    I mentioned this because I think it’s important to keep our eyes and ears open to new arguments and test new technologies.
    Nothing is better just because it’s been with us forever, and nothing is good just because it’s new.

  8. Mark Question

    So– is the w kayak supposed to be the culmination of some evolutionary process??

  9. admin

    Evolutionary processes aren’t supposed to culminate in anything as far as I understand, and there isn’t necessarily a ‘final stage’.
    Things just keep evolving as a result of available resources and forces at play.
    I named this article ‘The Evolution of the Kayak’ because it was clear to me that kayak designs have been changing over time as a result of changes in demand and new manufacturing technologies such as computers, plastic materials etc.
    Utility patents are granted for new, original and useful ways to make something – not for abstract ideas. In this sense an invention such as the W Kayak is basically another new resource that can be used to design and produce new small watercrafts, including various types of new ‘kayaks’.

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