Can You Use A Regular Kayak in the Ocean? Terrible or Brilliant?

Kayaking is a popular water sport that can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, from calm lakes and rivers to the more challenging waves of the ocean. 

While kayaks come in various shapes, ocean kayaks are designed specifically for use in the open sea. So, can you use a regular kayak in the ocean?

You can use a regular kayak in the ocean, but it’s not recommended due to safety concerns. Regular kayaks lack the design, stability, and safety features needed to withstand rough open-water conditions like waves or currents, making them less suitable for ocean kayaking.

Keep reading to learn more about ocean kayaks and what makes them different from other kayaks.

The Difference Between Ocean Kayaks and Other Kayaks?

There are several types of kayaks designed with different characteristics to suit different purposes; these types include recreational, ocean, touring, whitewater, and fishing kayaks.

Ocean kayaks, also known as sea kayaks, are specifically designed for use in the ocean or other large bodies of water with varying conditions. 

Here are some of the main differences between ocean kayaks and other types of kayaks:

  1. Length and Width: Ocean kayaks are generally longer and narrower than other types of kayaks.
  2. Hull Design: Ocean kayaks typically have a longer, more pointed bow and stern, which helps the kayak cut through waves and reduce resistance. They also have a deeper V-shaped hull, which allows for more efficient tracking and stability in choppy water.
  3. Deck Features: Ocean kayaks often have a more enclosed cockpit with a spray skirt to keep water out. They also have more storage space and are equipped with bungee cords and deck rigging to secure gear and equipment. 
  4. Weight: Ocean kayaks tend to be heavier than other types of kayaks due to their size and construction materials. This added weight can make them more challenging to transport and maneuver, but it also adds to their durability and stability in rough water conditions.
  5. Skill Level: Ocean kayaks are best suited for intermediate to advanced paddlers due to their longer length and narrow shape, which requires more paddling skill and experience to maneuver in rough water conditions.

Overall, the differences between ocean kayaks and other types of kayaks come down to their design, stability, and safety features.

Can You Use A Regular Kayak in the Ocean?

You can technically use a regular kayak in the ocean, but it is not recommended as regular kayaks are not specifically designed for the unique conditions found in the open ocean. 

Kayaking in the ocean can present several challenges, including strong currents, waves, wind, and changing weather conditions, which can make it more difficult to control and navigate a kayak that is not designed for those conditions.

A regular kayak may not have the necessary features to ensure stability and safety in the ocean. It’s also not built to withstand the saltwater environment and can quickly become damaged or corroded, which can compromise the safety of the vessel.

How to Choose A Kayak for Ocean Kayaking?

a photo of an ocean kayak to show can you use a regular kayak in the ocean

If you plan to kayak in the ocean, it is best to use a kayak specifically designed for that purpose. You need to make sure that the kayak has the features necessary to keep you safe and comfortable in rough open water conditions. 

Some popular brands of ocean kayaks include Wilderness Systems, Perception, and P&H Sea Kayaks

My top pick for an ocean kayak is this Perception Carolina 14 kayak, but if you want more options, you can check out my other picks for the best ocean kayaks here.

It’s important to try out different kayaks and find one that fits your needs and skill level. Consider renting or borrowing different types of kayaks to try them out before purchasing one to find the one that is right for you.

Other Tips for Ocean Kayaking

As mentioned before, ocean kayaking can be challenging, so here are some additional tips to keep in mind when kayaking in the ocean:

  1. Check the weather: Before heading out on the water, always check the weather forecast and ocean conditions, and avoid kayaking in high winds, rough surf, or strong currents. You can learn more about the best times to go ocean kayaking here.
  2. Wear the proper gear: Always wear a PFD (personal flotation device) and dress appropriately for the water temperature.
  3. Bring necessary equipment: In addition to a kayak and paddle, bring necessary safety equipment, such as a whistle, signaling device, and first aid kit. Also, consider bringing a marine radio or cell phone for emergency communication.
  4. Know your limits: Ocean kayaking can be physically and mentally demanding. So, you need to Know your limits and don’t push yourself beyond what you’re capable of. It’s recommended to start with shorter trips and gradually work your way up to longer journeys.
  5. Stay hydrated and fueled: Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and fueled during your trip.
  6. Respect the environment: Ocean kayaking is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean, but it’s important to respect the environment. So, avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging sensitive habitats, and always practice Leave No Trace principles.

By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable ocean kayaking experience. Remember to always prioritize safety and be prepared for the conditions you may encounter on the water.

Kayak your way to Freedom

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