What Design is Best for You?

Boats Overview and Design Categories

The Timber Boatworks kits are broadly categorized in three groups, the recreational or light touring, touring, and performance categories which is based on hull design, cockpit volume and performance in certain environments. The categories are also nested within the performance of the category above (recreational< touring< performance). What a recreational kayak is capable of when it comes to environments and conditions, as well as, efficiency and carry capacity the touring kayaks will do better. In the same stroke, what a touring kayak does best in efficiency, our performance category will do better. When choosing between many of the touring and performance kayaks this better or best decision will become a factor.

The Recreational Category is for paddlers that are intending on leisure paddling for 4 or less hours in one day, with a more stable, wider hull design and larger cockpits for comfort. These kayaks perform in drifting, fair weather, protected waters with limited wind and wave conditions. The limit is the length and broad side of the craft in very windy and wavy conditions will not be as efficient as the touring class craft. The recreational kayaks are between 12 and 16 feet in length and have wider beam for more stability in slower moving manoeuvres and drifting. The recreational kayaks have long waterlines so they track straight very easily. Our canoe could broadly be put in the recreational category due to their stability and reliability for new and experienced paddlers. These kits are very light (approx. 30-50 pounds) and this makes them easy to store and load vehicles.

The Touring Category is focused on offering kayaks that can be taken on up to month long trips in many changing weather and environments. We build these kayaks with long straight waterlines, more carry capacity, multi panel hull design for speed and efficiency and contoured cockpits for comfort. These kayaks are between 16 and 21 feet in length and generally are more narrow than the recreational kayaks. These kayaks are intended to be paddled with speed and heading, which in combination with the narrower beam makes the kayak cut through the water efficiently. These kayaks do not sacrifice stability for speed, due to the multi chine hull construction still allows for a rounded hull and large surface area for buoyancy. This means that the water entry of the kayak is very smooth and the waterline is long, which makes these kayaks very efficient for paddling long distances in all environments and conditions. They have more volume than the recreational kayaks, so more buoyancy is created and more gear can be loaded into the hatches. These kayaks are designed for "point A to point B" travel where the paddlers may come in contact with a range of paddle conditions and environments and require all of their gear to accompany them through out their voyage.

The Performance Category is our most refined craft with more efficiency and capability than our touring class. These kayaks are intended to give the best paddling experience for veteran paddler that want ultra fast, manoeuvrable, durable, ultra light craft for windy, wavy and coastal conditions. Each performance model is designed for a different purpose, and therefore, have very different features. The Anuri 16 is a hard chine kayak with a contoured deck that cuts through water easily and can be edged and manoeuvred at the whim of the paddler with high carry capacity and will travel long distances with haste. The Orca 16 is our Greenland inspired design with aggressive rocker and planing hull that can be paddle surfed, toured and navigate through shallow rocky environments with quick manoeuvres. Our Quick Build 14 is a hard chine ultra light kit with a build time of 60 hours, intended to be paddled in sandy shallow areas with aggressive rocker and contoured deck.

Solace Series vs. Lighting Series vs. "Take Apart" vs. Hard Chine vs. Greenland

Timber Boatworks has two large groups of kayak kits that fall under the Solace name or the Lightning name, and 5 general hull shapes. The Lightning series traces its roots back to the genesis of our company with the original design of the "Lightning," which had 4 panel hull, butt-joined panels with a high peaked deck. All of the kits that share the broad name of "Lightning" or "Solace" will have the same amount of hull panels as their siblings. The Number following the model name is how many feet the kayak or canoe is in length. The designation at the end of the name (EX, XL, or TA), are special features to each model. The "EX" designation stands for "Extreme," which means the profile of the cockpit will be narrower and the beam of the boat will be narrow, in comparison to the other models. The "XL" designation is for "Extra Large," which means the beam will be wider and the deck height higher with more contour at the cockpit. The "XL" models have the most volume for storing gear for example. The "TA" means "Take Apart," which the model is sold with a double bulkhead and gasket, so the bow and stern hatch can be fastened or removed from the cockpit and stored or transported separately. If requested, any model can be converted into a "Take Apart" kit with minimal effort and some guidance from out technical team at Timber Boatworks.

The Lightning series are all 4 panel hull (3 chine) from the keel to the sheer line (deck to hull transition) and two panel decks. The Lightning series are all symmetrical design hulls, so they are widest in the centre of the boat, which is where the paddlers knees and feet are located in the cockpit. The Beam of the Lightning is 24 - 24.5" wide. The Lightning has a flatter deck than the Solace series, so paddlers with very large feet and legs may choose the "XL" models for more comfort. We offer the Lightning in a 12, 12 TA, 14 and 17 foot lengths, which makes it both recreational and touring application kayaks.

The Solace series are all 5 hull panel (4 chine) and two panel deck construction. The extra panel in the hull allows for a more rounded hull (more volume) and gentle transition at the bow and stern water entry.  The EX models have a 22" beam, and the XL models have a 23.75" beam.The Deck is contoured, so that it crests in front of the paddler (13 inches height in the Ex Model) and drops very low behind the seat (8 inches in the EX model.) This contour makes for more volume (specifically the XL model) in the cockpit for paddlers with large legs and feet, or require more space for comfort. The Solace series are offered in 16 EX, 17 EX, 18 EX, 16XLand 18XL.

Almost any of our kits can be made into a "TA" or "Take Apart" model. We have had successful customer builds of the Lightning 12 TA, Lightning 14 TA and the Trillium 21 TA. Extra wood, fasteners, gasket, epoxy, fibreglass and build manual are offered if you choose to make your kayak a take apart kit.

The Hard Chine kayaks are generally high performance kayaks because they have large panels with sharp chines (where panels join) and two panel deck construction. The hard chine kayaks are the Anuri 16, the Wannao 12 and the Quick Build 14 (in development.) The Anuri 16 is a Swede Form kayak, which means they are widest behind the centre of the hull, which is behind the hips of the paddler in the cockpit. The Swede Form makes the bow seem longer and more gentle transition to the water entry, which makes them more efficient craft. These kayaks displace water less abruptly which makes them very fast and easily manoeuvred at speed. If the paddler wants to edge the kayak, they can shift their hips inside the cockpit the kayak will turn and carve without changing the paddle stroke cadence. These kits are also generally faster to build because they have less stitching and gluing of joints, and large smooth surfaces to fibreglass.

 The final distinct hull design is the Greenland Style hull, which is known for its up swept bow and stern water entry. This kayak has an aggressive water entry and hull shape that allow the paddler to quickly manoeuvre the kayak for hopping on ice sheets, paddle surfing and playing in rocky environments. More panels are required to make this rocker but there are significant increases in its performance in wavy, windy and coastal environments.

Paddler Experience and Physical Attributes

The boat that is best suited to a person is determined by the size of the paddler, the intended use of the boat & the desired aesthetics of the craft. 

A larger paddler requires a larger volume boat to support their size. Factors such as weight, height and shoe size of the paddler are considerations when choosing the most suitable boat. We have included this information in the specifications under each model respectively.

The mobility and flexibility of the intended paddler is also a factor to consider. Some of the models are offered in a large cockpit opening or as a tandem for more leg room and ease of access. Foam padding and seat adjust-ability are also going to give comfort to paddlers in a lower seated position.

Another obvious factor to consider is whether you will need capacity for one, two or three paddlers. We have kayaks suitable for all of these in our line-up. 

If you plan to paddle extended trips on large bodies of water or the ocean, you will want a longer kayak. You will achieve a better glide (the distance the boat will coast with a single stroke of the paddle) from a boat with a longer waterline. Rudder and skegs may also be ideal for coastal or wavy conditions.

The volume of the boat is increased by making the hull wider and/or longer. The most efficient way to increase volume is to increase the length of the boat. A long & narrow hull moves easier and faster than a short & wide hull.

Now we have laid a foundation for you to look at the kayak kits and have information for you to consider for each of the models, series, performance and paddler preferences. Thank you for reading, and happy building. For any questions, please check our FAQ menu or call Timber Boatworks to speak to a technician.