Canoe and Kayak Differences

I know several people who have decided that they want to get out and enjoy the water but aren’t sure if they should use a canoe or a kayak.

Both of these are very popular types of boats and can be extremely useful for families, camping, fishing and for general outdoor fun.

There are a few key differences between a canoe and a kayak that make each quite unique in its own right. Which one you choose to paddle will depend on your needs and the type of outdoor fun you are looking for.

Canoe Facts

  • Canoes tend to paddle fairly high out of the water and can easily get pushed by the wind. This can make paddling harder and progress slower.
  • Canoes are typically very stable and will have a much wider width than a kayak.
  • Canoes have more of an open concept than a kayak and water will often get inside the canoe. Bringing a bilge pump along to get rid of excess water can be very useful.
  • Canoes are easy to enter and exit from the water because of their stability.
  • Canoes can be very versatile and be able to handle many different types of water however they do not tend to give the same type of good performance that is possible from a kayak.
  • Canoe seats are often simply a bench across the boat.
  • Canoes tend to have a decent amount of storage space and are great for transporting fishing gear, camping equipment or kids and dogs.

Personally I am a big fan of inflatable canoes which not everyone is familiar with. Inflatable canoes are fantastic because they can be placed in the trunk of your car or even taken on an airplane.  In fact for anyone debating whether to get into canoeing or kayaking, you should check out the Sevylor Colorado Inflatable Canoe, because it is a really great cross between a canoe and a kayak, mixing the various benefits of both.

Kayak Facts

  • Kayaks are usually much sleeker than a canoe and are able to pick up much higher speeds.
  • Kayaks paddle lower to the water and consequently are able to cut through winds much easier and travel a longer distance in far less time.
  • Kayaks are far more maneuverable than a canoe.
  • Kayaks are easily paddled solo whereas a canoe is most often paddled tandem.
  • Kayaks will usually have a closed in concept where you sit in a cockpit. This keeps you warmer, dryer and more protected from the elements. There are also sit-on-top kayaks that are for flat water paddling.
  • Kayaks use a double ended paddle that allows the kayaker to have more control and more precise technique.
  • Some kayaks have drain valves that allow you to get rid of excess water in the boat. These are most typical in whitewater kayaks.
  • There are many different types of kayaks that are designed to specialize in different types of water.

If you are interested in inflatable kayaking, check out our review of the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame, which is a great solo kayak.

Whether you paddle a canoe or a kayak will depend on your needs and preference, but the key is to go out and enjoy the water any time you like. That is what it is all about, getting out and enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors.