Kayak Vs. Canoe: Which Boat is Right for You?

Consider the pros of each before you buy

Woman Kayaking on a Serene Lake at Sunset
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The relationship between canoeists and kayakers is generally copasetic. Yet, there is an unspoken superiority—or friendly rivalry—that each group typically feels over the other.

It is similar to the sentiment between the skiers and snowboarders that share a mountain. Both enjoy a level of camaraderie that comes from doing a common activity, yet both feel that they are doing it better than the other. To add to the fun, let's look at 10 reasons why kayaks are better than canoes.

10 Reasons Kayaks are Better Than Canoes

Please bear in mind these are generalizations and with the latest developments in boat technology, these reasons do not hold true for all boats.

  1. Kayaks are easier for beginners to paddle solo.
  2. Kayaks are more maneuverable than canoes.
  3. Kayaks can keep gear dryer than canoes.
  4. Kayaks are faster -- 2 blades are better than one!
  5. Kayaks can handle rougher conditions than canoes.
  6. Kayaks won't take on water when waves come over the bow.
  7. Kayaks keep the paddler protected from the elements.
  8. Kayaks are lighter to carry and easier to load on a roof rack.
  9. Kayaks can include rudders to compensate for wind and currents.
  10. Kayaks allow the paddler to be closer to the water, which is a great feeling.

Do Canoes Have Any Advantages?

It's true that kayaks appeal to certain paddlers, but that in no way discounts the value or fun to be had in a canoe. Whether you paddle solo or with a partner, canoes do have their advantages as well.

  1. Canoes have more room for gear.
  2. Canoes are more stable.
  3. Canoes have more seating positions and adjustments that can be made.
  4. Canoes can be more comfortable for a wider variety of people.
  5. Canoes allow you to stand up if needed.
  6. Canoes keep you dryer when there is water in the boat.
  7. Canoes give you a better view because you're sitting higher on the water.
  8. Canoes are easier to get in and out of.
  9. Canoeing with two people is more natural than paddling a tandem kayak.
  10. Canoes challenge you to learn the art of paddling with one blade and water doesn't run down the shaft into your lap.

But We Do Love Kayaking

While the canoe argument sounds good, we're not quite done with the love for kayaks. Just for good measure, here are five more points to consider.

  1. Kayaks look cooler and have more style than canoes.
  2. Kayaks have more comfortable seats and backrests.
  3. Kayaks track better than canoes. (They go straight!)
  4. Kayaks are continually seeing new innovations each year.
  5. Kayaks allow you to roll the boat and cool off without fear of losing gear.

Which Boat is Right for You?

There is no right or wrong answer to this argument and canoeists and kayakers will banter about it as long as both boats exist. What is more important is the style of paddling you want to do.

Sure, your friend may want to talk you into a kayak, but what if you enjoy casual paddling trips with your family? For you, a canoe may be a better investment. Do you want to explore a variety of water, from rivers to large lakes and maybe the occasional long trip with a portage? A kayak might be right for you because they're versatile, easier to carry and offer a bit more freedom.

The point is that you need to examine how you will use your boat, then go out and explore your options. Your local paddling shop may offer demonstrations and allow you to test out different types of boats on the water. Take advantage of these or borrow boats from friends before you commit. You will be much happier that you made a good decision.