Canoe vs Kayak

Are you wondering what is the difference between canoe and kayak? Well, then consider yourself lucky that you have landed in the right place. Here we are going to discuss briefly the canoe and kayak. We’ll mainly focus on their differences. In fact, we will inform you about their pros and cons.

Basically, there is a debate on which one is more popular to use: canoe or kayak? It’s really tough to say within a few words. They both have positives and negatives. However, read through carefully to know the facts.

Canoe vs kayak: what’s the difference?

There are many different types of canoes and kayaks out there, and some of them are extra-ordinary. In fact, it is tough to categorize them. Sometimes, it is really difficult to differentiate between canoes and kayaks. However, here we are going to explain the differences between them. Have a closure at the basic differences.


The top of the canoes is open. On the other hand, the top of the kayaks is closed.


The canoe can hold two or more persons. In contrast, the kayak is perfect for only a single person.


The canoe runs on the single-blade paddle. And the kayak runs on the double-bladed paddle.

History of Canoeing

Surely you want to know how the concept of canoes came about? Nobody knows exactly how the canoe was rowed first or what the first canoe looked like.

You may imagine a story like this: there was a hominoid once. And he saw a floated log. Then he got the desire to ride it. And he used a stick or something like that to propel that log. Finally, he noticed that he could use it for transportation.

Perhaps, the first canoe was introduced 10,000 years ago. And it was found in Pesse, The Netherlands. Another oldest canoe was found in Nigeria. And it has been dated to be 8,000 years old.

The canoes were made with a variety of materials including tree bark, logs, and animal skins. However, you will find a variety of canoe today.

Different types of canoe

Basically, the sizes and shapes of canoes hardly vary unless you take a closure look on it.  The different types of canoes are outlined below:

Recreational canoe

The recreational canoe is an amazing type of canoe. In general, these are between 4m to 5m long. And these are engineered to last longer.

In fact, they are more reliable compared to others. Moreover, it is one of the most types of canoes. However, recreational canoes are perfect for steady and calm water.

Whitewater canoe

The whitewater canoes come with unique designs. Basically, these are designed to run smoothly on the speedy waterways. However, the whitewater canoes are shorter and less dependable than recreational canoes. The positive thing is that these are easier to maneuver compared to their recreational counterparts. 

Racing canoe

Racing canoes are intended for a single person. These are thinner and sit deeper in the flat water compared to their recreational counterpart. The rowers need to sit in a half-kneeling position to get optimal support and strength while paddling. However, it is mainly used for racing.

History of Kayaking

The kayaks have a legacy of 4000 years of history. These have been introduced with the Inuit people. They used the kayak for hunting and transportation. The Inuit people crafted the kayaks with the whalebone or other wooden materials. Basically, the small kayaks were used for hunting and the large kayaks were used for transportation.

They designed the kayak to be effective and efficient for maneuvering through the icy water. Their design was even effective to prevent their stuff from getting wet. However, now things have changed over time. There are so many modern kayaks out there today.

Kayaking has gained huge popularity in the 19th century. Now kayaking is one of the most recreational activities.

Different types of kayak

Kayaks are varied in terms of their usages and functionalities. In fact, there are a wide variety of kayaks available to choose from. Let’s see the different types of kayaks.

Recreational kayaks

These are widely popular types of kayaks. Basically, recreational kayaks are 9 to 12 feet long. In fact, they are more reliable and cozy to use compared to other types of kayaks. Moreover, they are much easier to use. However, the recreational kayaks are best suited for use in relaxing waterways like canals, lakes, and the slow-moving river.

Whitewater kayak

The whitewater kayak is shorter but wider than the recreational kayaks. So these are more maneuverable than other recreational kayaks. The length of these kayaks is varied based on the function. The playboats are around 5.5 feet long. And the kayaks that run on the river may be as long as 8 to 9 feet.

Touring and sea kayaks

With a length of 12 to 18 feet, they are much longer and narrower than their recreational counterpart. In fact, touring and sea kayak are designed to be faster while driving.

Basically, these types of kayaks offer enough space for the kayakers both in front and rear sides, Kayaker can also sit inside. Some of them are equipped with poles to make steering easier.

Sit-on-top kayaks

This is a special type of kayak that is mostly used in comparatively warmer conditions. Basically, the SOT (Sit-on-top) kayak doesn’t come with the cockpit. But it features a molded top on which the paddlers can sit.

This type of kayak is perfect for enjoying the kayaking in calm water. The important thing is two people can easily enjoy kayaking together. It requires some basic skills to learn kayaking with the sit on top. So the beginners can easily use this kayak.

Inflatable kayaks

To be honest, the inflatable kayaks are not so durable. But it offers enough enjoyment for sure. It has amazing similarities with the SOTs. However, these are more portable than other types of kayaks. Moreover, it comes with enough space to sit for a couple of paddlers.

Racing kayaks

The Racing kayaks are much longer. More specifically, these are approximately 17 to 35 feet long. And these kayaks can hold up to 4 users depending on the size. These are mostly used for racing or marathons.

Canoe vs kayak: the ultimate debate which one is better?

Now it’s clear to you what is the difference between a kayak and a canoe. Surely you still have the question of which one is better to use. Basically, it is tough to figure out. In fact, canoeing is the best for canoeing lovers.

On the other hand, kayaking is the best for kayaking lovers. However, we are going to point out the positives and negatives of both kayaking and canoeing. Let’s have a look at the facts.

Positives for canoeing

  • The canoe will allow you to carry loads of belongings with you.
  • These are perfect for longer journeys owing to enough load capacity and comfort.
  • The Canoes are more reliable than kayaks. And it has more capacity to sustain over the obstacles.
  • It offers more comfortable sitting positions than the kayak. So it will be helpful for long distances.
  • The canoe will allow you to stand upon it.
  • If you can learn the basics, it will be much easier to master than kayaking.
  • Basically, you won’t get wet while canoeing unless you explore the whitewater.
  • You will get a better view of surroundings while canoeing.
  • As it can take more loads, so you can carry your kids and pets along with you while canoeing.
  • It is much easier to get in and out of the canoe.

Negatives for canoeing

  • As it is heavier than the kayak, so it is difficult to carry.
  • It is difficult to master canoeing for absolute beginners.
  • You will get wet while canoeing on whitewater.
  • Single paddles are less effective compared to the double paddles.
  • You will need to provide more effort for canoeing at the top speed.

Positives for kayaking

  • It is much easier to learn the basics of kayaking.
  • The Kayaks can be driven faster with less effort than the canoeing. 
  • You and your belongings won’t get wet while kayaking.
  • As these are lighter, so you can carry these with ease than the canoes.
  • It offers more maneuverability than canoeing.
  • Kayaking in whitewater is much easier than canoeing.
  • You will enjoy more while kayaking with your kids than canoeing.
  • Double paddles are more effective and efficient than single paddle.

Negatives for kayaking

  • It will take a long time to master the kayaking skills.
  • It may be terrifying to kayak on fast-moving water.
  • Double paddles are heavier compared to their single paddle counterpart.

Final Words:

Hope you have enjoyed this resourceful article, and now you’ve understood which one is the best suited for you. In my opinion, you should use a fishing kayak if you want to go fishing. Because fishing kayaks are specifically equipped with the necessary tools for fishing.

Both the canoe and kayak can be used for recreational purposes. In this case, you can opt with your own preference. If you have any questions, please comment down below.