Canoe vs Kayak

by | Jan 3, 2019 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you like the idea of heading out on to the open water, it is vital that you choose the best equipment. As a beginner, picking your gear can seem like a daunting prospect. You may not think there is much difference between a canoe and a kayak. However, there are enough differences to impact on you, depending on your needs and circumstances. Therefore, this guide helps you to find the best option for a canoe or a kayak for your needs.

While there are many significant differences between canoes and kayaks, there are similarities. Also, your needs are not necessarily the same as other users, so think about what you need. Your budget, your expectations, and what you intend to do on the open water will influence the best solution. There are a suitable canoe and kayak for everyone, and with this guide, you will hopefully know what you need.

Similarities between canoes and kayaks

The obvious similarity is that both are forms of transport on water. If you’re looking for a mode of transportation where you power yourself, both canoes and kayaks are great options. Both boats are long and slim and not designed for transporting people. To the uninitiated, there aren’t too many differences between canoes and kayaks, but there are enough to matter!

canoe vs kayak

Differences between canoes and kayaks

There are differences between canoes and kayaks, and it is vital that you understand what they are. The most obvious difference is the equipment you use in each of the vessels. With a canoe, you will usually find it has an open-top, and it is designed for more people. A kayak has a closed top and is most commonly designed for one person. You will also find a kayak sits lower in the water than a canoe does. The canoe is a lot more maneuverable than a kayak, so you can literally dance on the water. Enjoy it by watching Mr. Marc Ornstein.

For many people, the difference between an open top and a closed top is crucial. With an open-top, there is more freedom, but greater exposure to water. With a closed top, you are likely to remain drier, but you have less movement. If you are claustrophobic, the open-top nature of a canoe may be more comforting for you. However, there are many reasons why one option may be preferable to the other for you.

The design of the paddles between the two boats is also different. With a kayak, the paddle has two blades while in a canoe there’s one, and it is shorter. The paddling technique used with a canoe also differs from the kayak technique. In a canoe, you shall use the rotating power of your torso not only your arms. Similar to a boxer rotating into a punch. While in a kayak you shall use more of your upper body strength.  The motion If you have a paddling technique preference, it is best to choose the one you are most comfortable with. Here you can learn more about paddles and paddling techniques.

People who use a kayak often wear more safety equipment too. That is because kayaks are more commonly associated with rapids and white-water locations. That means kayakers usually wear nose plugs, helmets and buoyancy aids. There is nothing to stop canoeists from using this equipment, but it is more often found on people in kayaks.

canoekayak - britanica info

Where can you use canoes and kayaks?

If you are going to be on a specific type of water, more often than not, it is best to choose a suitable vessel. While some people are comfortable in a canoe or kayak in any situation, there are locations where each boat excels. A canoe is a tremendous option if you are in a lake, on a river, or traveling through tough terrain. However, a canoe is not a suitable vessel if you are traversing stormy seas, so bear this in mind. If you capsize in stormy waters it is almost impossible to get back in.

Conversely, a kayak is ideally suited for the open seas. If you intend to travel considerable distances on flat water a kayak is a fantastic choice. Equally, if you expect the weather to be windy, a kayak is the most suitable option for you. Also, there are tandem kayaks, so you can enjoy paddling with your friends just like in the canoes.

Which is easier to transport – canoes or kayaks?

There are many different makes and models of each boat which may influence the ease of transportation. However, the general opinion is that kayaks are lighter and easier to carry. Of course, kayaks are usually designed for one person while canoes are for more people. That means there may be more people around to carry a canoe, spreading the weight.

Of course, a bigger vessel requires more effort to transport it, perhaps requiring attachment to a vehicle. Although, nowadays canoes are made of light material, so one person can easily lift it. 

Depending on your proximity to a lake or ocean, one option may be more suitable than the other. It is not impossible to transport kayaks or canoes long distances, but you may need some help. For the standard user, a kayak is the easier option to carry and a great vessel to start off with.

However, there are trailers suitable to transport both canoes and kayaks.

Canoe and Kayak trailer

Which is better for beginners – canoe vs kayak?

There are some reasons why a canoe may be better for beginners as opposed to a kayak. For one, canoes are very easy to get in and out of. That helps when it comes to feeling confident in the boat. Many people also find canoes to be more maneuverable, which can help develop confidence.

However, while a canoe has many benefits, it can be difficult to recover after capsizing, especially if you are alone. That is an essential factor to consider, especially if you are unsure of your skills on the water. Using a kayak may take more time to get used to, but when you do, it may be a safer option. Many users also find the double paddle of the kayak is easier to use.

Your fitness and agility may impact your choice

The matter of whether a canoe or kayak is better for beginners will often come down to personal taste. Your agility, fitness, and confidence levels will influence your thoughts, as well as whether you plan to sail alone. If you have the chance to try both boats with other people before investing, do so. Both vessels offer a lot of fun, so you can’t go wrong, but one may be preferable to the other.

Another thing to consider for a beginner is that kayaks are more fun to use. There are more tricks and rolls you can do in a kayak than in a canoe. If you are new to an activity, learning while having fun helps you feel comfortable. Therefore, knowing that you can develop skills and try tricks in a kayak is very appealing to many beginners.

As was discussed earlier in the guide, kayaks are generally easier to transport. That may be a factor that is important for beginners. Ease of use and getting started influences how people become involved, and kayaks may be more convenient for some.

Which offers more packing room – canoes or kayaks?

If you are going to be carrying a lot of items with you, a canoe will provide you with more space. If you are setting off on an expedition, the storage space of a canoe will allow you more home comforts. One of the great benefits of the canoe is the huge storage space. Going on a kemp, do not worry about the tent.

packing your canoe

Of course, while a kayak offers less storage space, your items will be drier in a kayak. If this is the most important aspect to you, they are likely to have the edge for storage solutions. If you capsize in a canoe, your belongings will start to float away. There is, therefore, more chance of losing your belongings if you use a canoe over a kayak.

Kayak storage distribution

You will find that there are strong positives and negatives associated with both canoe vs kayak.

Positive reasons to use a canoe:

  • They are easy to get in and out of
  • More than one person can use them
  • There is a lot of storage space for your belongings
  • Canoes can be maneuvered easily

Positive reasons to use a kayak:

  • A kayak is fantastic for use over long distances
  • Your belongings will stay dry
  • If you capsize, there is more chance of getting back in with the Eskimo roll
  • They are great fun with many tricks to try

With many great reasons to choose either a kayak or canoe, the choice is usually a personal one. Depending on what your budget is or what type of water you plan to sail on, there may be an obvious choice. If you are planning solo trips and adventures, a kayak is likely to be more convenient.

The conclusion is the choice is strictly personal.

The practicalities associated with both boats will often influence the final decision. It is great that a canoe offers more storage space, but a kayak will keep belongings safe and dry. Many people also find a kayak is easier to transport to and from the lake. However, a canoe is ideal if you plan family trips or adventures with friends.

It is impossible to say for sure if a canoe or kayak is better for you. There are many factors involved, and you have your own demands and expectations. There is no denying that both kayaks and canoes offer fun and functionality. The best way to decide is to try them both if you can. No matter what you choose, you are sure to enjoy yourself, now go try some out for yourself. You can also choose from the many different kayak types.