Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Jupiter Outdoor Center Blog

A Brief History of Kayaking

history of kayaking

Kayaks were first created thousands of years ago by the Intuits who inhabited areas of Greenland, northeastern Russia, Alaska, and the upper regions of Canada.  Early on kayak frames were made from driftwood and wrapped in sealskins.  Kayaks were used to hunt and fish in the arctic water, in fact the word kayak translates to hunters boat.

The different regions had different styles of kayaks some boats were created wider and shorter while others were longer and thinner, just like our modern whitewater or touring kayaks are today.  These kayaks were designed to be able to allow a kayaker to upright themselves if they ever got turned over, a term we call an “Eskimo roll” in modern kayaking.

By the early 1900’s Europeans began to put a modern touch on the hunting boat used by the Inuits.  Using different materials then the traditional sealskin, kayaks became easier to make with more accessible materials.  With advancement in technology and a public interest increasing kayak racing eventually became an Olympic sport in 1936.

Since then lighter and more durable materials like fiberglass and plastic have been used to construct these wonderful watercrafts.  Kayaks have continued to transform and will continue to transform to the variety of uses.  From sea kayaking to white water kayaks there are many ways to enjoy yourself out on the water.

  • Posted in: