Whether it’s the fear of being trapped in a kayak or the balance needed to stay upright on a paddleboard, there are a number of hangups people harbor about watersports. Overcoming those hangups is part of why kayaker Adam Masters wanted to rework the way people explore and adventure on rivers, leading him to create the Bellyak; a redesigned kayak that offers accessibility and a new perspective on the water.

Bellyaking Offers a New Way to Ride the River: Horizontally

a man paddling on a river in a lay down kayak

Image from Bellyak

The Bellyak takes a standard kayak and spins it into a prone paddle boat. Riders lie on their stomachs and use their forearms as paddles in the water. While that may sound intense, the Bellyak is designed to be fun for both lazily floating down a river and hitting class 3 rapids.

After trying out the Bellyak myself, I can see how both beginners and experienced river riders have tons of fun on them. Once I got the hang of it—which didn’t take long at all—I enjoyed the free movement between light rapids, tight control over rolls, and easy remounting when I needed to change positions. After paddling two miles along Asheville’s French Broad River, the steady speed offered a comfortable ride, while the rapids ran flawlessly thanks to the tight control of the lightweight boat. From what I saw, a Bellyak can give riders of all abilities a chance to embrace the water when traditional kayaks are too limiting.

Headquartered out of western North Carolina, founder Adam Masters and the Bellyak team currently manufacture three types of Bellyaks; the Play 35, 45 and Frequency, each shaped and designed to suit the needs of anyone’s skill level. Bellyaks are available online directly from the company’s website, Amazon, and can be found in select retailers in the U.S.

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

Kevin is the Assistant Editor for The Dyrt, with bylines in National Geographic Traveler and Atlas Obscura. Although originally from the swamps of Washington, D.C., he's now based in the trees of Portland. He's been interested in geography and travel since seeing his first map as a kid, and is now working toward seeing it all in person. You can find him exploring the coastal beaches or a record store in his free time.