The kayaks were adapted to the waters in which they were used, and there is therefore a great variation in terms of both the kayak’s design and construction method.
Earlier the kayak was covered with sealskin from which the hair had been removed, but today they are primarily constructed with a nylon or canvas outer skin.
In Greenland’s hunting districts such as at Qaanaaq there is still a requirement that whaling for narwhals must take place in the traditional manner – i.e. from a traditional qajaq with hand-thrown lances and spears – despite the fact that it is of course more effective to hunt with rifles and camouflage.
The cold Arctic seas could be lethal, as could the weather too. It was therefore essential that the hunter was properly prepared by being dressed in a waterproof animal skin suit and by always being able to execute the so-called ‘Greenlander roll’.
From early childhood, the hunters therefore learnt and practised countless turns and rolls in the sea by means of their small oars in the event that they should suddenly capsize or turn over.
In this way they could get out of almost all critical situations.