You’ve always canoed; but, boy, do the new kayaks look sweet and move fast! The dilemma is how to determine which is better for you, a canoe or a kayak? You can ask your friends, but they can’t always articulate why they like one option over another. (The simplest answer might be to rent a kayak and take it on an adventure! You can rent a variety of canoes and kayaks from St Croix Dock and Wakeboss.com… for a day or a week.)

Here are some of the basic differences and pros & cons for canoes and kayaks.

Canoe and Kayak Differences

  • Basic design differences:
    Canoes are open, like a row boat
    Kayaks are closed, they have a cockpit
  • Seating differences:
    Canoes usually have a bench seat, 2… sometimes 3
    Kayaks have a seat that is molded to the bottom of the kayak, with legs stretched out in front
  • Paddles:
    Canoes use a single-blade paddle, either switching from side to side or adopting a J stroke
    Kayaks have a double-bladed paddle
  • Types:
    Canoes may be purchased for specific uses: recreational, whitewater or racing
    Kayaks come in more types for the following uses: recreational, whitewater, racing, touring / sea, inflatable and ones where you sit on top

Canoe and Kayak Pros and Cons

We need to get past the design, because you shouldn’t buy a canoe or kayak just because it’s a beauty. (Although, to be honest, I am tempted to! Have you seen the new kayaks???) So, let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros of Canoeing:

  • Canoes are easier to get in and out of than a kayak.
  • Canoes are more stable than kayaks; in other words, more difficult to capsize.
  • Canoes are more comfortable because you can change your sitting position.
  • You can even stand up and move around in a canoe!
  • You can easily stow a ton of gear in a canoe.
  • Once you get down the basics, there is a shorter learning curve to mastering canoeing skills.
  • Since a canoe has a higher profile, you will stay dry… disregard that if you are in whitewater or hot-dogging it!
  • With the higher profile of the canoe, you get a better view of the surrounding terrain.
  • Portaging (where you by-pass sections of the river) is much simpler with a canoe.
  • Canoeing is conducive to bringing along mates, human or the furry-type.
  • Canoes are the winners when it comes to longer expeditions because they are more comfy and will hold more gear.

Pros of Kayaking:

  • The basics of kayaking are easy to learn.
  • There is more variety in kayaking than canoeing.
  • Your gear is more protected in a kayak than in a canoe.
  • Kayaks are not as heavy as canoes.
  • Double kayak paddles are way more efficient than canoe paddles!

Now for the biggies…

  • Kayaks are:
    …easier to paddle
    …easier to transport
    …more maneuverable
    …handle better in whitewater
    …immersed in the water, so you feel more connected to the environment
    …FASTER!

Cons of Canoeing:

  • Canoes are big and heavy making them challenging to transport.
  • The basic paddling skills required for efficient canoeing can be difficult to master basic, especially for a solo paddler.
  • Single paddles require more work and skill than a double paddle.
  • Canoes are slower than kayaks.
  • Your gear is unprotected… if you tip over, your gear is spilled.
  • A canoe will take on more water than a kayak.

Cons of Kayaking:

  • Although the double paddles are more efficient, they are much heavier.
  • Kayaking can be scary because you’re right down in the water, especially unnerving when you transition from flat water to fast-moving or whitewater.
  • It takes a long time to master advanced kayaking skills.
  • It’s hard to stay dry when kayaking.
  • Spray skirts are tricky and require skill for safe use. (It’s a good idea to complete a kayak course or get quality instruction before you use your skirt for the first time as knowing how to remove your skirt is extremely important.)

There you have it! If you still wonder which is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your venue? River? Lake? Calm water? Fast Water?
  • What’s your dream adventure? Time alone paddling? Family? Friends? Furry friends? (If this one, have you checked out the Radar Dog Vests?!!!)
  • Will you be doing quick, frequent outings? Camping trips?
  • What vehicle do you have for transporting? Roof rack? Truck? Trailer?

We hope this information helps you to find the perfect package for your next water adventure. For more information on buying or renting a canoe or kayak, call 763-483-7235.