We love us some kayaking – and we are not the only ones! In fact, kayaking goes back thousands of years. We wanted to see what the first kayak looked like – check it out!
The first ever kayaks were created by the Inuits thousands of years ago. Inuits lived in the arctic, areas like present-day Greenland, Northeastern Russia, Northern Canada, and Alaska. Kayaks were constructed using frames made of driftwood and had skins made out of seal skin. There were almost totally unsinkable too because they used air filled seal bladders to help with buoyancy.
Inuits used these early kayaks primarily for hunting and fishing and were used almost exclusively during the summer months. A fun trivia tidbit for you, the word “kayak” literally means “hunter’s boat.” You’ll thank us when that comes up in trivia next month.
There was no real standardized design for early kayaks as the shape and size were largely determined by the needs of the inhabitants in specific areas. For example, the Inuits who lived near the present-day Bering Strait were wider and shorter so they could store game and supplies and were more stable in the rougher waters.
The kayak shape has stayed largely the same. It was created by the Inuits because it allowed them to stay stable on the rough waters surrounding the arctic and allowed people to right the boat themselves and get back in quickly. This was an especially important design aspect because spending any more than a few seconds in the frigid waters could mean death.
Kayaks had great utility for the Inuit people. They provided them with fast and efficient water transportation that made it easier to hunt and get from place to place. It was not long until the utility of the kayaks was recognized by Europeans exploring the Inuit land.
The seal skin of the original Inuit kayak was replaced by fabric by Europeans and the first foldable kayak was designed by a German inventor in 1905.
It wasn’t long until kayaks became a part of sports. Kayak races were included in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and kayak clubs started to pop up all over Europe for enthusiastic sportsmen.
The first fiberglass kayak, the design that most closely resembles modern-day kayaks, was invented in the 1950s and was developed into a sportsman’s leisure tool in the 1980s. The design and shape of the modern-day kayak have remained largely unchanged. Kayaks are still designed to be stable in choppy water and easy to flip over.
Now to get to the Justin Case Kayak part of the story.
At JCK, we loved the original kayak design that the Inuits came up with. Wrapping a sturdy and light frame in a buoyant and strong skin was what kayaks were meant to look like. When we started to design our kayak, we wanted to create something that paid homage to the kayak’s great history while taking advantage of modern advancements in technology.
Since their creation, kayaks have been a powerful and unique device for both leisure and utility. No matter what kind of kayak you have, we are sure that your sense of adventure has remained the same as the Inuits that created them.
Happy adventuring to you! May you be inspired by the story of the kayak to create your own adventure story this week!