Canoe vs Kayak

If you are a beginner and looking forward to enter into canoeing or kayaking then this guide is going to help you for sure.

I will be answering all the relevant question related to canoeing or kayaking here i.e; which one is best for you, which to use chose, and which is easier to learn?

Along with that, I will be covering Pros and Cons of Canoes and Kayaks both. You might be interested in our Best Kayaks guide 2020 which I have written for you.

I am sure you are going to get a clear idea about both!

kayak vs canoe, canoe vs kayak, kayak and canoe, canoe and kayak, kayak buyer guide

Kayaks Overview

Kayak is made up of extra light material with extra light cover with opening top to sit in or on. It is a type of canoe originally used by Inuit. In kayaks, the paddler sits facing forward with legs in the front using a paddle which is double bladed. There are basically two main types of kayaks; one is sit-on-top kayak and other is sit-in kayaks.

These two categories are further categorize in other types of kayaks which can be used for various purposes and events.


The kayak was first created by an artic people called Inuit. In the early times, kayaks were made from wooden frame covered in sealskin. There used to be a small hole in the middle for a paddler to enter. Those Old kayaks were made for hunting purpose.

The design of early kayaks varied from region to region. Later on, they also build kayaks with huge storage spaces to transport families and goods.

Since, Inuit people used to live in icy environment and that is the reason there was a closed space to sit and store. That closed space to sit and store was keeping them dry and warm in cold weather.

The old design of the kayak made it easy to maneuver in icy waters with greater stability that makes it a vessel to be used in tough weathers.

In 1800s, kayaks were introduced in Europe which made them popular in that region as well. And later in 1936, it featured as Official Olympic sport at the Berlin Olympics Game.

Types of Kayaks

There are two types of kayaks: one is Sit-on-Top Kayak and other is Sit Inside kayak. And these two types are then further classified into other categories based on the usage and work.

Sit-on-Top Kayak

sit on top kayak, sot kayak, Sit-On-Top Kayaks

On Sit on top kayaks, the paddler sit on the moulded hull given on top of the kayak. It is the most comfortable design. The design of this type of kayak gives you enough room to move around with ease. You can easily manoeuvre this vessel. Mostly, paddlers with large bodies and long legs prefer going for SOT Kayaks.

Moreover, A SOT is a perfect vessel for summers and areas with hot weather.

Sit Inside Kayaks

Sit inside Kayak, SI Kayak, sit in kayak,

A sit inside kayak also known as SIT kayak has a small cockpit to fit in the paddler. In this kayak, a paddler sit inside the paddler. It is a perfect ‘yak to paddle in cold waters. It keeps the paddler safe from splashes of water. Since, a paddle sit inside the cockpit which gives him a complete control over the vessel. SIT is usually known for its speed and stability.


As I have discussed above that earlier kayaks were used to transport goods and people from one place to another. However, nowadays it is more like a sport and gaining popularity among masses.

Kayaking is becoming the most popular form of paddling in USA with approximately 13 million Americans participating in kayaking compared to 10 million Americans canoeing.

Different people use kayaks for different reasons. The two types of kayaks are further divided into various parts and types as per their uses and requirements.

There are people who use kayaks for fishing, camping, trips and races. There are different kayaks used to perform these activities as they have specific features to do it.

There are certain sports that are played with sit in kayaks like Canoe polo, which interestingly played with kayak with single two blade paddle.

On the other hand, SOT kayaks are used for fishing as it got enough space to move around on the deck.

Checkout: Best Inflatable Kayaks

Pros of Kayaking

  • Now let’s talk about the pros of kayaking!
  • Kayaking is an easy to learn as compared to canoeing.
  • A paddler has to put very little energy to paddle the kayak.
  • You can choose from a wide range of varieties which you can hardly find in canoeing.
  • Unless capsizing, your gears and equipment are stored dry and safe in kayaking.
  • They are very easy to transport than canoes.
  • The double blade paddles gives you more control and stability in kayaks than single blade in canoes.

Cons of Kayaking

  • You may have to invest some time in developing kayaking skills.
  • In case of a Sit-In kayaks, a skirt may be a scary part for beginners as it may be claustrophobic for many of them.
  • Double blade paddles are very heavy as compared to single blades.
  • In the situation of capsizing, you need skills to roll a kayak.

Canoe Overview

Canoes are a paddling activity which are paddled with a single blade paddle. These can be used for sports, recreation, or competition.

History of Canoes

Canoes are the oldest way of transportation which was found in Pesse, in the Netherlands. The modern recreational canoeing was established in the late 19th century.

In 1924, Canoeing associations from Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany founded International Canoe Federation.

Later on Canoeing got the popularity and become the part of Olympics games in 1936. And that time main form of competitive sport was canoe sprint using sprint canoe. Afterwards, other competitions were included like; canoe polo, canoe marathon, whitewater canoeing, ICF canoe marathon, and Playboating.

Canoe Design

canoeing, couple in canoe, couple canoeing, canoeing for couple
Couple Canoeing

Now let’s talk about the design of Canoe here and how it is different from a kayak.

The Canoe is open at the top having a capacity of group of people to adjust. Sides are relatively shorter coming out of water giving it a traditional boat look.

There is a bench on either end; one close to the bow and other close to the stern making a perfect posture for paddling. They are heavier and larger than kayaks which make them heavier to transport.

Canoe has just one blade paddle making it different from kayaks. So in order to move forward, you need to remove the paddle from one side of the water and then re-enter on the other side.

Paddling a canoe can be tiring task as it does require lots of energy if you are paddling alone. However, if there is tandem in canoe and both the paddlers are contributing then it’s little easier.

The sitting posture on canoe is different than sitting on a kayak. On kayaks, you sit with your legs are straight out at the front whereas in Canoes sitting is like you are sitting on an elevated bench.

Recreational Canoes can have a lot of space for your gears making it easier for multi day adventures or you can store stuffs for family picnic.

There are few kayaks which are designed for whitewater rapids which is why they have extra coverage and buoyancy devices at both ends.

There are also racing canoes that are narrower and streamlined for faster performance. Racing canoes are used by professionals in Olympic games.


How to Paddle a Canoe – VIDEO


Like Kayaks, Canoes were also used for transportation of goods and people. However, now they are used as sports and outdoor activity.

Canoes are used in slow moving water like; rivers and lakes which are good to explore with your family. Canoes are quiet stable as compared to kayaks and they hardly capsize.

Pros of Canoeing

  • Canoes get a lot of space for your gears as compared to kayak.
  • It can be used for extended adventure because of the comfort and space it offers.
  • They are very stable and hardly capsize.
  • You can easily change your sitting positions which is not possible in kayaking.
  • You can easily stand up in a canoe and stretch your legs. You hardly get wet on canoe until you are in whitewater.

Cons of Canoeing

  • They are hard to transport because of their weight and design.
  • While canoeing in whitewater, it can take a lot of water as compared to kayak.

Kayak for Fishing OR Canoe for Fishing?

So this is the primary concerns of the beginners that whether to use Kayak for Fishing or use Canoe for Fishing.

So the straight answer is, Both can be used!

You can choose as per your convenience that which vessel suits you and you are comfortable in. There are pros and cons of both so you can decide based on their pros and cons.

So you can go through my pros and cons on both and decide which you are comfortable. At the end, it is all about your personal choice and comfort so decide accordingly.

Canoe Vs Kayaks – Bottom Line

I have covered almost all the points on Canoe and Kayaks – all the background, design, uses, pros and cons are discussed in great detail. So now you can easily conclude that which one is better.

In a nutshell, Let’s say Kayaks are easy to learn and are very light in weight. Being a light weight vessel it is easily transportable and widely preferred by the families for fishing. Moreover, they are easy to learn as well. Keeping in mind, they can easily be capsized and rolling it over is an art which is learned by a practice over a period of time.

Stand Up Fishing Video

Whereas Canoes are heavy and very difficult to transport. However, they have huge space to store your gears and perfect for multi day adventure or family picnics. They hardly capsize and are very much stable in rivers and lakes. They are very easy to learn even kids can paddle them.

As per my opinion, both Canoe and Kayaks have their pros and cons. One is good as some thing and other is good at another. So making one win over another is bit unjustified. However, the comment section is open for the discussion, let’s talk over it.

Leave a Reply