Kayak vs Canoe: What’s the Difference?

 

The weather is getting warmer, and you’re ready to plan your next adventure. So kayak vs canoe? Both means of water recreation have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s up to you to decide exactly what kind of adventure you’re ready to take on.

Let’s go over the major differences and for what each is best suited.

Kayak vs Canoe: Choose Your Adventure

When you choose kayaking or canoeing, you’re choosing between two very different experiences.

Most kayaks only have one seat. Even if you go out with a bunch of fellow kayakers, kayaking is definitely an individual experience. Kayaks are well-suited for both whitewater and relaxing exploits.

Canoeing is a team activity, requiring at least two people to even handle the paddling. Canoes can hold their own in faster waters but take a bit more expertise. Canoes are best for leisurely float trips or fishing.

Kayak vs Canoe: Design

While at first glance, canoes and kayaks have a similar shape, a closer examination will prove the two have very unique features.

Canoes are wider, with higher sides. They offer two to three raised benches for passengers and are usually about 15 feet long. Canoes are designed for multiple people, and the standard method of travel requires two to paddle.

Canoe oars have a grip at one end and a blade at the other for slicing through the water. Canoeing is a slower method of travel, as paddling takes a bit more work. For maneuvering a canoe, there must be an open line of communication and understanding of who is paddling on which side.

While this is a great opportunity for teamwork, it can also be an argument waiting to happen.

Kayaks, on the other hand, or more often a one-person vessel. Kayaks are smaller and provide an enclosed “cockpit” for the kayaker’s lower body.

There is a double-sided paddle for the occupant to use by holding the middle with both hands and paddling alternating sides. This makes for quicker movement and easier steering.

Kayak vs Canoe: Storage

Both boats offer storage capabilities, but the open nature of a canoe makes storage much more accessible. Since a canoe trip is often a day-long float down a river or around a lake, being able to reach your cooler for refreshments is important.

Since a kayak is smaller, there is less room for storage. Most kayaks have rigging across the front or back so you can strap down supplies that can stand to get a little damp. There is usually a separate waterproof compartment behind the cockpit, but that could prove tricky to access while out on the water.

Kayak vs Canoe: Capsizing Risk

This is probably the biggest issue people want answers for when researching kayak vs canoe.

Because of a canoe’s design and how it sits in the water, it is much more difficult to capsize than a kayak. However, if your canoe does capsize, you risk all your things getting waterlogged or floating away. The time it takes to right your canoe and resume your outing is much more intensive than a kayak flipping.

Kayaks seat you low in the water, which may make it easier for you to lose your balance (especially climbing in or out). Kayaks are designed for this possibility, which is why your supplies are strapped down or secured in waterproof storage.

Some kayaks even have a spray skirt, which is a piece of rubber or waterproof nylon secured around the deck and cinches around your waist. This prevents your kayak from filling with water if you capsize.

Kayak vs Canoe: Transportability

If you’re planning on making this your new hobby, it’s important to know how easy it is to transport your boat. A kayak can easily strap on top of any size car and may even fit inside an SUV or station wagon. Kayaks can be made from inflatable material or with a folding design for even easier travel.

Canoes, on the other hand, are much larger, heavier, and usually require more specialized equipment.

A great resource to check out for canoeing and kayaking is Watersports Bay.

Start Planning Your Adventure

It’s important to know what you’re wanting out of your adventure when choosing kayak vs canoe. Now that you know the major differences, you’re ready to start planning your aquatic escapades.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out our Lifestyle section.

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