How To Compare Kayaks And Canoes

Two canoeing accessories that have gained popularity over the years are Canoe and Kayak. Both can be paddled by people, both float in water and both are very lightweight. So aside from the obvious designs they share, what are the main differences? And if a Canoe is really called a Kayak, when do you know that a particular model is either a Canoe or a Kayak? And what factors should you consider in making your choice? In this article I will explain the differences between the two.


The primary difference is in the sit and the stay position of the canoe and kayak. Canoes are sit-on top kayaks whereas kayaks are sit-on-top boats. A sit-on top boat means that it has the steering wheel in the middle of the cockpit and the paddle is placed in the center of the cockpit with the paddle gearbox placed beneath the seat. On the other hand in Kayaks the cockpit is wider, the paddle is placed directly under the seat, and the steer is at the back of the cockpit.

Next to consider is how stable is the canoe and how stable is the kayak? Sit-on top boats are more stable as they do not have much extra weight from bowels and bow outboard motor. However, in order for the canoe to be called a kayak it must have a sit-on-top motor and a hull that are strong enough to carry the weight of the paddle and all the gear. Paddle systems with a sit-on-top have been developed by a number of companies including Polar Bears and Fathom. Some Canoes do have a hull that is strong enough to hold the weight of the paddle but it does not have the stability to maneuver in choppy waters.


Many kayaks and Canoes have a deck along with a seating option. Typically the seating will not be located in the middle of the kayak but on either side of the cockpit. In the US, on large boats, single seats in front of the bow on big Canoes are common.

The type of Canoe you choose depends entirely upon your preference. Smaller canoes are easy to maneuver and they are good for getting around narrow beaches and bodies of water. Medium sized canoes are good for wide open sea kayaking and river kayaking and larger canoes are better for ocean kayaking and floating. Smaller canoes, sit-on tops and sit-on-top boats, also came in a wide variety of sizes and can accommodate up to eight people comfortably. These larger sized canoes are great for longer trips and for deep ocean or river passages where additional space may be required.


There are differences in Canoe And Kayak construction but the main difference is in Canoe hull design. A Canoe has a single hull that sits on top of the kayak and is generally wider than a kayak. A kayak however, is more stable when using both Canoe hull designs. It is generally recommended that Canoes are used for short camping trips as compared to Kayaks as Canoes are light and easy to maneuver.

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