by Jullie

November 15, 2021

Parts of a Kayak

Many of the kayak parts’ names are straightforward and easy to understand, but there is a handful of terms that are hard to understand even after multiple google searches. 

This is our visual guide to the anatomy of sit-in and sit-on parts of a kayak.

Parts of a Kayak: Getting Oriented

Getting Oriented to Your Kayak
Feel free to use this visualization. Please, add a proper link to credit this article.

Here are the basic kayak parts explained from left to right:

  1. Stern: this is the back part of your kayak 
  2. Port: this is the left side part of your kayak
  3. Bow: this is the front part of your kayak
  4. Starboard: this is the right side part of your kayak

Anatomy of a Sit-on Kayak

Note: not all sit-on kayaks will have the following features (it depends on the kayak model):

Anatomy of a Sit-on Kayak
Feel free to use this visualization. Please, add a proper link to credit this article.
  1. Stern: this is the back part of your kayak
  2. Seat: this is the place where you will sit, your base of operations 
  3. Footwells: the footwells are the parts on the left and the right next to your legs, and through intervals, they are built into the boat
  4. Bow: this is the front part of your kayak
  5. Deck line: the lines are stretchy or non-stretchy (static) 
  6. Hatch: this is the entrance to the inner cargo area of your kayak
  7. Scupper hole: this is the drain hole for the water coming across your deck

Anatomy of a Sit-in Kayak

Note: not all sit-on kayaks will have the following features (it depends on the kayak model):

Anatomy of a Sit-in Kayak
Feel free to use this visualization. Please, add a proper link to credit this article.
  1. Stern: this is the back part of your kayak
  2. Hatch: this is the entrance to the inner cargo area of your kayak
  3. Seat: this is the place where you will sit, your base of operations 
  4. Deck line: the lines are stretchy or non-stretchy (static) 
  5. Bow: this is the front part of your kayak
  6. Thigh braces: these are the pads that embrace your thighs in the cockpit of your kayak
  7. Carry handle: this is an easy place for you to get a grip and carry or move your kayak
Anatomy of a Sit-in Kayak Side
Feel free to use this visualization. Please, add a proper link to credit this article.
  1. Cockpit: this is the central place for the “captain” to get in and command its kayak
  2. Deck: this is the top side of your kayak
  3. Hull: this is the bottom part of your kayak
  4. Keel: the kayak keel line is the profile of the hull bottom, it runs from stem to stem, and the keel can be seen by viewing the canoe from the side
  5. Coaming: this is the term used by boating enthusiasts for the edge of the cockpit
  6. Skeg: the skeg is a static drop-down tailplane that helps to keep the boat moving straight

What’s next? Read how to choose a kayak, what to include in your kayaking safety gear kit, and what to wear kayaking.

About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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