Canoe vs Kayak

Canoe vs Kayak – Which one is the good choice for you?

If you are starting canoeing or kayaking, there are certain questions that must be in your mind.

  • Which one will suit the best for me?
  • Which one is easier for me?
  • Which one should I continue for a longer time?
  • Canoe vs Kayak

  • canoe vs kayak

Getting confused in two similar conditions is always a confusing thing and we are here to solve your confusion. The below information will help you much in solving your confusion and knowing the difference between the two.

Ultimate Guide to Kayaking

After reading this guide, you will know which one suits better for you.


Brief History of Kayaks

History of Kayaks goes 4000 years back. Native people in the Arctic regions of North America built Kayaks for the first time. Those kayaks were crafted using driftwood and were having animals’ skin over the shell while whale fat was used to seal them and made waterproof. Those kayaks were very different from the modern-day kayaks not just in terms of materials from which they were built, but also their function was also pretty much limited to only two jobs.

In the start, kayaks were mostly used for hunting, but there were also bigger kayaks whose main purpose was to move families from one place to another. Families had to often move from one island to another in search of food or clothing or better chances of survival. In this case, kayaks were meant to provide a safer mode of transport in the sea.

We see kayaks have a close design which is maybe because they were supposed to be used in ice. It enabled people to remain dry and warm when they were on the sea in search of food and clothing. Since they are thin and sharp from the edges, small pieces of ice are less supposed to harm kayaks. Therefore, they were so widely used in the Arctic region in ancient ages.

The close design also meant that there will be little disturbances in the sea and kayaks will move easily from one place to another.

Making a traditional kayak is very difficult even with the modern-day equipment. The shape is difficult to achieve from today’s kayaks. This is mostly because the purpose of kayaks sailing has changed a lot nowadays. In early ages, it was just a need, however, modern man uses kayaks for sports purposes too and many other usages which we will be discussing ahead in this article.

It was introduced in Europe in the 1800s, after it was introduced as a regular Olympic sport in 1936.

Kayak Design

Roughly speaking, there are two types of kayaks. One type of kayaks is to sit in, while the other one is to sit on. But the common thing in all kayaks is that they have a paddle with blades on each end.

This style enables you to move your kayak using less energy as compared to canoe in which you had to move the paddle. The reason for this was that kayaks were mostly meant to be operated by only one person. If someone is using a kayak for fishing, he must catch fishes only for his own family and there was no one to help him in catching them. On the other hand, if a man wants to move with his family to other islands, there was no one there to help him paddling and moving from one place to another. So, this design on kayak enabled him to perform the jobs on his own.

The common type of canoe is the sit-inside type of canoe. It means that user feet and body are inside the hull of the kayak and are covered so they remain dry. There are many different shapes and sizes to sit inside kayaks too. These kayaks are mostly used in cold weather. Ancient Arctic kayaks were also sitting inside ones. The main purpose was to keep the body warm as well as dry from the cold and search for food at the same time.

Many modern kayaks are designed to sit on top. Although the feet and body of the paddler are exposed to water in this design, however, a paddler can easily jump in and out of the kayak.

Kayaks are usually portable, so you can easily move them from one place to another. You will be amazed to know that there are portable designs too available in kayaks. These kayaks are lighter than their harder cousins and are easiest to move from one place to another. You just need to do proper care and you have the lightest option available. Inflate the kayak, use it, and when you are finished using it, deflate and dry it and just pack it. These are so portable that they even get fit in your backpack. You can easily move them from one place to another.


At an early age, Kayaks were used to do hunting or transportation. However, modern kayaks are used in a variety of ways, including fun, holiday, etc. A 2015 report suggests that 3 million more people in America prefer paddling rather than canoeing.

There are many types of kayaking and you need a different type of kayak for each. If you want to sail in the sea, or want to kayak for multiple days, sit inside kayaking is more suitable for you. Since you won’t get wet, this one is preferred in cold conditions.

If you have a shorter sit-inside kayak, you can also use it in whitewater. Whitewater requires more stability and thin long kayaks are not suitable for them. Another new type of kayaking has started known as snow kayaking.

Canoe polo is another famous sport played inside a kayak contrary to canoe as the name suggests.

If you are a beginner, sit on top is the preferred type of kayak for you. This is because there are fewer technicalities required in this kayak. If you fall off from a sit on top kayak, you will just climb back and nothing else matters.

If you want to do fishing, sit on top kayaks are more preferred. This is because they provide you better moving as your legs are not restricted inside the kayak.

If you live in a warmer area, sit on top kayaks are more common. Kayaks are faster if they are long and thin, but then it loses stability. So, you need to compromise some speed for gaining stability. Short and wider kayaks are most used. These kayaks are widely used in whitewater and the open sea.

Most kayaks come only for one or two people, while there are some which feature 3 people sitting. So, if you have a large group to sail with, we prefer not to look for this option.



Canoes are also used for thousands of years. The oldest boat was found in the Netherlands in 1955 which was 10,000 years old. This gives us an idea about the history of Canoes. You might be thinking that Europe was the only place where Canoes were used, well, you are wrong here.

Not just Europe, canoes were also used in Africa, as indicated by the finding of the oldest boat in Africa. Dunfana Canoe was founded in Nigeria in 1987 which was 8000 years old. A Canoe in China has also dated back to 8000 years ago. All these findings indicate that Canoes were commonly used as a mode of transport in ancient times as well as modern times.

Ancient canoes were simply dugout canoes where trees and logs were hollowed out with axes with a try to make a buoyant vessel. When Europeans founded Native Americans, the design of Canoes was changed from the ancient canoes. From this discussion, we can conclude that today’s design of the Canoes was somewhat discovered between ancient and modern-day canoes.

Like kayaks, Native Americans were using Canoes too for hunting and moving of families from one island to another. They were not aware of other purposes, for which Canoes were useful.


A canoe is designed in such a way that it is completely open. It is known from its shorter sides which are outside the water. This gives it more of a traditional look of the boat. Many people who are not aware of the different types of boats will just consider a canoe as a boat because there is little difference between both.

Canoes have benches on both sides, one near the bow and other near the stern. When two people are sitting in it, the first-person back will be facing the second person’s face. Canoes are much larger and heavier and are very difficult to move without paddling. You need more efforts to move them to the water than you need in kayaks.

The major difference between a canoe and a kayak is that a canoe’s paddle has only one blade. This forces you to remove the paddle out of the water before re-entering another side of the paddle. It makes canoe paddling more time and effort consuming than a kayak.

Moving in and out of a canoe is easier than a kayak. Stepping in and out of a kayak has a special method and if you don’t follow it, the kayak may leave you in the water. However, this is not the case with the canoe as it is more stable.

It has a lot of space for many people to sit and to store their gears, making it a perfect option for a family moving from one place to another. If we investigate kayak, at most 3 people can use it time, with minimum space left for gears to place inside.

The design also supports more space for the gear as paddles don’t consume space inside. Many canoes also feature space under your bench allowing you to keep more gears with you in the journey.

Usage of Canoes

Unlike ancient times, when canoes were only used for hunting and traveling, nowadays, they have many more tasks to perform. They are used in sports and in fun activities too. The number of people canoeing is declining in recent years, there are still 10 million people in America who prefer to canoe.

Canoes are preferred in slow-moving waters like rivers, lakes and are a popular mode of transport with your family. They are more stable, and kids find it fun to paddle in a canoe.

Some canoes are specifically designed for rapid whitewater and are not completely open from the top. They have additional covering and buoyancy devices.

Canoes for the family

Narrower canoes are usually used in sports by professionals and used in the Olympics.

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  • The main difference between a canoe vs kayak is its appearance. Canoes are much larger than kayaks. It indicates that transport in a canoe is more difficult if there is no water nearby.

Kayaks are more portable than a canoe, there are inflatable kayaks too. Kayaks have a lot of variety in terms of types, sizes, and kinds and are preferred for sports.

Since each one has its own strong points, it totally depends on you about whether to select a kayak or a canoe. If you need a lot of space, then go for canoes; or if you want to sail in rough waters, then go for kayaks.


If you want to do fishing and can’t decide about whether to select a canoe or a kayak, the guide below will help you in the decision.

Both vessels let you do paddle, but one is better than others. Let us dig deep into it.


Canoes have a lot more space than a kayak. You can use this space to place your fishing equipment easily. However, if you want to paddle yourself, it will be much difficult to do both tasks at the same time.

Canoes are large and long, which means that moving them in water is trickier. You will not find many canoes specific for fishing, see yourself, but people still prefer them because of space.

You can bring extra people with you on fishing who can help you in either fishing or paddling. Thus, making fishing easier for you. People who prefer using canoes for fishing endorse their opinion that a Canoe gives them much more space than a kayak can provide them making enough place for all fishing equipment and fishes itself.


In the field of Kayaks, you will find that there are many of them which are specifically meant for the fishing purpose. They come built-in with features that make them ideal for fishing. Some kayaks are very wide and have stable hull designs. This enables you to even stand in the kayak and do fishing.

Some kayaks even give you the option of dry storage. People most often use it to store electronic gadgets, however, you can use them to store the fishes you caught. Some kayaks give you special kind of paddles which are very to paddle. If you want to do fishing and are a single person on a trip, these paddles allow you to paddle and fish at the same time.

To maneuver a kayak is very easy. They can handle a wide range of conditions. You can use kayaks easily in the open sea or in whitewater. Seas are a large source of fishes and canoes are difficult to work in the sea. Thus, you have many more options in a kayak than in a canoe.

If you are in a cold place, you can use the sit-in kayak to help you keep warm and dry and do fishing. If you are in a hot place, you can use sit on the top kayak for fishing. Since your legs are outside the kayak, you can easily do fishing. You can move your legs and get stable easier in a sit on top kayak.

Dry storage allows you to store fishes in safe storage. You can easily transport your fishes back to the beach after catching them. Although there is less space for gears, other features add to the beauty of fishing in a kayak.



After reading all the guides, you must be able to answer this question yourself. Everyone has their own preferences; some prefer one while others prefer the other own depending on their own scenario and needs and like. Both the Canoe vs Kayak are raced from club to olympic level, with difference in the boat style depending on sort of water and direction.

If you want to do fishing on your own, and don’t need the help of someone else, you will better go for a kayak. This is because it gives you easy paddle options, so you can paddle and fish at the same time.

If you have 2-3 friends available to help in the trip, a canoe will be a better option. Some will paddle, others will do fishing and change the positions from time to time. This seems more feasible also because kayaks are not meant for more than 2 people at a time (maximum three) 

However, if you are sailing in the open ocean or in whitewater, again kayaks prove to be a better option for fishing. It gives more stability needed for fishing.

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