A Kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle. The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler. Their cockpit is sometimes covered by a spraydeck (or "skirt") that prevents the entry of water from waves or spray and makes it possible for suitably skilled kayakers, to roll the kayak: that is, to capsize and right it without it filling with water or ejecting the paddler.
Some modern boats vary considerably from a traditional design but still claim the title 'kayak', for instance in eliminating the cockpit by seating the paddler on top of the boat ("sit-on-top" kayaks); having inflated air chambers surrounding the boat; replacing the single hull by twin hulls ("W" kayak), and replacing paddles with other human powered propulsion methods, such as foot-powered rotational propellers and 'flippers'. Kayaks are also being sailed, as well as propelled by means of small electric motors, and even by outboard gas engines, when possible.
The kayak was first made and used by the native Ainu, Aleut and Eskimo hunters in sub-Arctic regions of northeastern Asia, North America and Greenland.
Kayaks (Inuktitut: qajaq (ᖃᔭᖅ [qɑ.'jɑq]), Aleut: Iqyax) were originally developed by the Eskimos. They used the boats to hunt on inland lakes, rivers and coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea and North Pacific oceans. These first kayaks were constructed from stitched seal or other animal skins stretched over a wood or whalebone-skeleton frame. (Western Eskimos used wood whereas the eastern Eskimos used whalebone due to the treeless landscape). Kayaks are believed to be at least 4,000 years old. The oldest existing kayaks are exhibited in the North America department of the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich.
This is a list of boat types. For sailing ships, see: List of sailing boat types.