Kayak vs. Canoe: Which is better?

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Difference between Kayak and Canoe

When to comes to having fun in a small, lightweight water craft, the two types that often come up in a discussion are kayaks and canoes. Interestingly enough, many people think that the two are the same thing. While it is true that there are a number of similarities between both, they actually have quite a few differences that may as well make them two entirely different water crafts. Let's take a look at what they are!  



In terms of capacity, canoes have a definitely edge over kayaks in that they can carry more than one person at a time. Kayaks on the other hand have been designed to carry only one person. Kayaks are also a lot less roomy on the inside obviously, and there is a limit to how much stuff you can fit in between your legs. In most cases, the most you will be able to fit into a kayak is a small bag and a few pieces of tools and safety equipment.


One of the most obvious differences between the two water crafts is size. Both types come in different sizes of course, although canoes are generally longer and larger than kayaks. Keep in mind that kayaks are intended to fit only one person at a time, so they really don’t need all that much space. That being said, many kayaks can be quite long with a flat and slim profile, although newer ones have since come out with round bottoms and no keels, owing to their use in sports such as free styling and river running.

In Operation 

Kayaks were originally intended for hunting and fishing use in the North Sea, and its simplistic design offers a hint as to its more utilitarian uses. In order to board a kayak, you will have to hold on to the vessel’s sides while easing your legs into the cavity. 

As you can imagine, this is quite a challenging feat when you are in the water, and you will have to perform the same operation in reverse when you want to climb out. Canoes do not require nearly as much dexterity, although care still has to be taken so that you don’t fall in. 

The two vessels also differ in the paddle used, with canoes generally requiring only one paddle as opposed to the kayaks’ double-headed one. Regardless of the paddle design however, both vessels require quite a bit of practice to maneuver.



  • Intended mostly for single passengers
  • Limited capacity for cargo 
  • Enclosed design 
  • Utilizes a double-headed paddle
  • Is quick and agile in use
  • Requires a fair bit of ambidexterity
  • Better option for whitewater use


  • Can hold more than one person
  • Has a simpler design than the kayak 
  • Uses only one paddle
  • Similar in operation to a kayak, although it may require more manipulation
  • Usually heavier and bulkier than a kayak 
  • Originally intended for North Sea hunting and fishing
  • Better suited to calm waters

Which boat is easier to use in a rapid?
  • Kayak
  • Canoe

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