Choosing the right skin-on-frame kayak for you

Whether you are coming to a class or having a custom kayak built for you,  first you'll have to decide which kayak you want.  I created this short guide to help you make an informed decision.

First,  do you want to go modern or traditional?  Traditional hunting kayaks are undoubtedly alluring but often don't meet the needs of the modern sea kayaker.   Their low volume restricts their use to day trips only,  and for most people the sitting position (legs almost flat,  straight out in front of you)  is difficult to maintain for more than a few hours.   Weathercocking is also an issue,  and all greenland kayaks will frustrate you in a wind coming from the rear quarter.   Finally,  they are nearly impossible to self rescue,  meaning that if you don't have a solid roll you shouldn't venture far from shore alone.   I don't want to give the impression that I don't like Greenland kayaks,  I just think it's important to acknowledge the limitations of the craft so the results meet your expectations.  

Reasons to build a Greenland kayak:  
Reasons NOT to build a Greenland kayak:
If you've decided on a Greenland kayak now to decide which one.   I build a West and an East Greenland traditional replica kayak.   I decided on these two kayaks after building and testing dozens of historic kayaks and in my opinion they are both the most well behaved and comfortable for their type.   Of the two,  the West Greenland is more comfortable and versatile,  it has the most footroom and weathcocks the least of any traditional boat I've paddled and it is decently stable.   It's medium length makes it more manuverable and more fun than most hunting kayaks,  and I also build a stretched out version for larger paddlers who would ordinarily sink the original version.

The East Greenland kayak is harder to recommend,  it's the least versatile kayak in my lineup,  but it is in my opinion also the most beautiful.  Slender, low slung, and swift,  this gorgeous kayak is more than the sum of it's parts.  

Modern Kayaks

For people who want the lightness of skin-on-frame but need a more versatile craft I have two modern designs to choose from,  the F1,  and the LPB.   The F1 is the "do everything" kayak that I designed for myself after a lifetime of frustration in modern touring kayaks.   It's equally at home on a week long ocean tour,  playing in fierce surf and winds,  or just exploring the local river or estuary.   At 14'3" many people are worried the F1 won't be fast enough to meet their needs,  but in my experience most people vastly overestimate the speeds they actually travel and will never reach the "hull speed"  of their kayaks.   What this means is that we have a whole generation of paddlers paying a skin friction/drag penalty for boat lengths they don't really need.   For normal kayak touring speeds of 3-4 mph the F1 isn't just as as fast as these other boats,  it's faster.   Reducing the waterline by a couple feet dramatically reduces the skin friction and this results in a noticable reduction in paddling effort.    Easier paddling is just the beginning though.   By reducing the length we create a kayak that is better behaved in the wind, easier to manuver,  fits better into sea caves,  tight channels, and your garage.   The F1 is a design created not by fashion or dogma,  but rather years and years of testing how we actually use our kayaks.   It's the kayak that I paddle more often than anything else.

Reasons to build an F1

Reasons NOT to build an F1

For those of you who feel the need for speed I reluctantly offer the Long Pointy Boat.   Why reluctant?   Because most people who want to build this kayak would be much happier in an F1.   Don't get me wrong, LPB is a great boat,  but like all kayaks increasing the length decreases the playfulness.   Longer boats are less manuverable, less stable, worse in the wind,  and more work to paddle at normal speeds (due to the increased wetted surface).   My point is,  if you aren't pushing hard enough to make use of that waterline,  all you've bought yourself is a worse version of my shorter boat.   The LPB is for the the dedicated fitness paddler who is out there pushing hard.   Want to know if that's you?   Grab a cheap GPS and a kayak and push that baby up to 4.5mph.   If at the end of an hour you're hungry and ready for more,  you need an LPB.   If you feel like you're going to blow an artery,  you want an F1.

Reasons to build an LPB

Reasons not to build an LPB

Hope this helps,  feel free to email me any questions,

Brian- owner/builder/designer

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