What is happening with "rec" kayaks also happened with whitewater boats in the 80s. Durable plastic boats became more readily available and became affordable. You're seeing that on a large scale with all sorts of retailers selling "rec" kayaks. Kayaking has gone mainstream. School is out, the weather is warm, so right now you see a lot of "casual" paddlers. Typically, in my neck of the woods, Southern WV, you mostly see whitewater kayaks but now if you drive on route 19 you notice lots of rec kayaks, usually in the back of pick up trucks. They have replaced and surpassed the popularity of the aluminum John Boat sold by Sears.
What's fascinating to me is how different parts of the country reflect different boats and styles of paddling. Whitewater play kayaks and rafts are the norm where I live. Touring boats, not so much. I've never seen a wave ski, paddle boarding is considered an oddity, and we have our own version of a "guide boat", its called a dory. I've never seen anybody pole in wv or even paddle a canoe made of Kevlar. I have a much harder time finding folks who will paddle a class I or II stream than a class III, IV.
What I like about this website is its diversity. We all embrace "paddling". Is there a right way to do it? Sure there is, its my way of course!
PFD's (Life Jackets)
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