Travel and living

Canoe Or Kayak: Which Is Right For You

People have been paddling bodies of waters for centuries. The most popular forms of paddling vessels are canoes and kayaks. Most historical experts believe the canoe was first built sometime between 8200 and 7600 BC in the Netherlands. The kayak was first created by the Inuit, which were arctic people. Centuries ago both canoes and kayaks were created mostly for hunting, fishing, and transportation purposes.

Today, canoes and kayaks are mainly used for fun and recreational activities on the water. Canoes and kayaks have come a long way in design and function from when they were originally created. Determining which type of paddle boat is best suited for your water paddling needs will depend on many factors. Below we will compare canoes and kayaks in different factors and activities.

Room For Storage

Canoes in general have more space for storage which makes them great for paddling to a campsite where tons of camping gear is to be hauled. Kayaks have storage as well, but their storage is often small compartments that can house maybe fishing tackle or a few items; however, kayak storage keeps gear a lot more drier than a canoe. The larger capacity of the canoe makes them a better option for longer expeditions.

Number Of People To Be Carried

Most kayaks are built for one or two people in mind while canoes can seat on average 3 or 4. Canoes are great if you need to paddle as a family, or if you have an individual that is not capable of paddling their own vessel.

Ease Of Paddling

Because kayaks are paddled with one double ended bladed paddle, they are generally easier to paddle than a canoe and are easier for beginners to learn to paddle as well. Canoes are often paddled in tandem when multiple people are in them, and this takes some skill to get use to. Canoes are often heavier and longer than kayaks as well making them difficult for a single person to navigate at times. Regardless of what you choose, it will take multiple outings in both vessels to gain efficient paddling skills


There seems to be a debate on which is more stable between a canoe and a kayak. There are kayaks that tip over easy, but there are larger kayaks like the sit top ones that are more stable. Because of the weight and size, canoes are generally more stable than most kayaks and won’t tip over as easy, but there are some kayaks on the market that have the same stability.


A lot of paddlers will claim that kayaks are faster than canoes. This claim makes sense since kayaks are are lighter and some are designed for speed. So, if speed is a main factor a kayak would be best.


Canoe and kayak sitting is very different. On a canoe, you generally sit on a bench; however, if you get tired you could position yourself on a knee or even stand if you are skilled enough. Most kayaks you sit in and remain in the same position with no room to adjust if you get tired. Sit top kayaks are a little better and accessories for both canoes and kayaks can be bought to make sitting more comfortable. Another thing that makes canoes a little more comfortable than kayaks is that you will not get as wet in them. It can be pretty uncomfortable paddling wet especially if the weather is cool.


Canoes are much longer than a kayak and more bulky which can make transporting them to and from a body of water a hassle. For starters, you will need a large enough vehicle to strap the canoe on , or perhaps a trailer. If you are alone then carrying it can be a challenge as well. Canoe rentals could be a good option to consider. Unlike canoes, kayaks can be transported and carried pretty easily. They can fit in trunks, bed of trucks, and on top of car roofs.

Type Of Body Of Water

The type of body of water you will be paddling regularly should be a huge factor in determining between a canoe or a kayak. Kayaks ultimately perform better in river water with rapids or strong currents. The design and double sided paddle allows the kayak to be steered easier than the bulky heavy canoe. Canoes also take on water easier when the water is strong and rushing. This could create many types of issues including wet gear.

Type Of Water Activity

People use paddling vessels for various different reasons. Fishing is a popular activity that many people enjoy from a canoe or kayak. Most fishermen will say they prefer a kayak over a canoe when fishing. The main benefit of fishing from a kayak is that you sit lower to the water which makes casting easier. Since kayaks are faster you can also cover more area of a lake. The compartments of a kayak are perfect for carrying various fishing tackle and gear that is in arms reach. Canoes are better for a casual sightseeing paddle on calm water. Canoes also are better for nature watching since you sit a little higher up.

Storing The Watercraft

Just like transporting, the long length and bulkiness of a canoe could become an issue when trying to store it in a safe place out of the weather. Most kayaks can easily fit in a garage or shed without taking up much space and being in the way.

When deciding on what to buy just take your time and keep these factors in mind. If you are still really not sure which would be best, just remember that you can always take advantage of canoe rentals or kayak rentals to get the fill of each one. Kinda like test driving a car. Rentals for both kayaks and canoes are rather easy to find and are often located at popular spots near a water source.

If you have any questions, please ask below!