Kayaks have been used in the Arctic for thousands of years for hunting and as a means of transport, from Siberia through Alaska to the east coast of Greenland. Together with the Umiak open boat and the dog sled, sealskin kayaks have made it possible for Inuit peoples to survive in the harshest of conditions. Light and fast, the kayak was used for harpooning seals, walruses, and even whales, relying on stealth rather than speed for a close approach.

The kayak is tailor made to fit it user with both length and beam individually tailored so as to achieve a close fit and facilitate maximum control in all kinds of weathers.

Traditionally constructed of a wooden frame covered with sealskin the kayak had fittings to carry hunting gear, itself traditionally made of whale or walrus ivory.