Modern kayaks serve diverse purposes, ranging from slow and easy touring on placid water, to racing and complex maneuvering in fast-moving whitewater, to fishing and long-distance ocean excursions. Modern forms, materials and construction techniques make it possible to effectively serve these needs while continuing to leverage the insights of the original Arctic inventors.
In the 1740s, Russian explorers led by Vitus Bering came in contact with the Aleutians, who had taken the basic kayak concept and developed multiple designs specifically for hunting, transportation, and environmental conditions. They soon recognized the Aleutians were very skillful at hunting sea otters by kayak. Because otters were a popular commodity in Europe and Asia, they would exploit and even kidnap Aleutians and keep them aboard their ships to work and hunt.