What do the little hand icons mean?

The details section at the bottom of the kayak design pages uses some symbols to help you find the boat that is appropriate for you. Each boat is rated in various categories so you can quickly pick out the general characteristics of the boat at a glance. The symbols used are little hand icons giving you a thumbs up or down on whether the design is suitable for a particular use, paddler or purpose.

  Excellent: These designs are very well suited for this purpose.
  Good/OK: These designs will work for this purpose.
  Poor: These designs are not that well suited for this purpose.

Each boat is given a thumbs up or down on the different characteristics listed below. This is not a comprehensive listing of all the possible needs or uses of a kayak, it is instead intended as a course comb that will help you sift through the designs to choose those that are worth a closer study.

Small Paddler Generally best suited for paddlers weighting about 160 pounds (72 kg) or less and/or less than 5' 9" (175 cm) tall.
Average Paddler Suitable for paddlers weighing between 150 (68 kg) and 220 pounds (100 kg) and between 5' 5" (170 cm) and 6' 3" (190 cm).
Large Paddler For heavier and taller paddlers over 200 pounds (90 kg) and/or 6' (182 cm) tall. People with large feet (size 11 and up) may want to look at these boats.
Beginner Paddler The boats marked "Excellent" are generally easier for inexperienced paddlers to handle. They tend to have greater stability and/or straighter tracking than the other designs. These boats require less skill to get the most out of them. The boats marked "Good/OK" are within the ability of beginning paddlers, but it may take more practice to get the most out of the kayak. Boats marked "Poor" should only be considered by beginners if they are willing to put up with a steep learning curve and truly desire the other performance characteristics of the design. But if you really want any these kayak, don't be put off by my rating, you will learn how to handle any of them pretty quickly. The ratings are only relative.
Lakes and Rivers These kayaks are best suited for paddling in the sheltered waters of small lakes and flat water rivers. These boats tend to be easier to maneuver to explore twisting rivers and small inlets. Kayaks are adaptable enough that just about any design is suitable for sheltered water.
Open Water These are sea worthy vessels which, with the proper skills, can handle just about anything you throw at them.
Extend Tour These designs have the volume and carrying capacity to load with a weeks worth of gear and head out. The boats marked "Good/OK" have a little less volume and can not carry as much gear.
Surf These boats can handle the rough conditions of breaking surf. They are designed to fit well for proper bracing and they have the acceleration neccessary to catch and ride a wave.
Fishing Comfortable fishing requires solid stability so you don't need to think about staying upright while you are trying to land a big one.
Racing While none of the designs are intended as "flat-out racing machines", these boats should be competative in "recreation or touring" class races.
Ease of Build Based on an arbitrary 1 to 5 scale where 1 is the easiest and 5 is the most difficult. The hardest boats have been successfully built by complete beginners, but they may have some parts which make them more difficult than the other boats. Generally this is due to a complex shape which may take more time and patience to strip.