Modern kayaks have evolved into specialized types that may be broadly categorized according to their application as sea or touring kayaks, whitewater (or river) kayaks, surf kayaks, racing kayaks, fishing kayaks, and recreational kayaks. The broader kayak categories today are 'Sit-In', which is inspired mainly by traditional kayak forms, 'Sit-On-Top' (SOT), which evolved from paddle boards that were outfitted with footrests and a backrest, 'Hybrid', which are essentially canoes featuring a narrower beam and a reduced free board enabling the paddler to propel them from the middle of the boat, using a double blade paddle (i.e. 'kayak paddle'), and twin hull kayaks offering each of the paddler's legs a narrow hull of its own. In recent decades, kayaks design have proliferated to a point where the only broadly accepted denominator for them is their being designed mainly for paddling using a kayak paddle featuring two blades i.e. 'kayak paddle'. However, even this inclusive definition is being challenged by other means of human powered propulsion, such as foot activated pedal drives combined with rotating or sideways moving propellers, electric motors, and even outboard motors.
Kayaks were created thousands of years ago by the Inuit, formerly known as Eskimos, of the northern Arctic regions. They used driftwood and sometimes the skeleton of whale, to construct the frame of the kayak, and animal skin, particularly seal skin was used to create the body. The main purpose for creating the kayak, which literally translates to "hunter's boat" was for hunting and fishing. The kayak's stealth capabilities allowed for the hunter to sneak up behind animals on the shoreline and successfully catch their prey.