Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whose kayaks are best?

Somewhere around 1824, Father Ivan Veniaminov wrote that the kayaks of the Eastern Aleuts were vastly superior to those of their neighbors.  I am paraphrasing.  This is not a direct quote.  Veniaminov wrote in Russian which I neither read nor write.  But I digress.  The reason I bring up Veniaminov is his assertion that one kayak is better than another without giving his criteria for making that judgment.
And the problem persists.  Or perhaps it has even gotten worse.  Actually, I'm sure it's gotten worse.  The problem as I see it is that in the old days when a kayak was a hunting craft, its excellence could easily be judged.  The best kayak was the one that got the most seals given local conditions. 
Almost two centuries have passed since Veniaminov's pronouncement on the excellence of the Eastern Aleut kayak.  The kayak is predominantly a recreational craft and determining which is the best is next to impossible because there are no agreed upon standards for judging recreational value. 
Which kayak is the best? Is it the shiniest, the cheapest, the fastest, the most stable, the ruggedest, the lightest, the best rollingest, the most comfortable, the roomiest?  Who knows?
Any kayak is better than no kayak.  If it gets you out on the water then it's good.

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