Kayak Vs Canoe | Canoe Vs Kayak:  Major Differences In 2023

Spread the love


If you have a knack for kayaking or canoeing, then you might have thought what is the difference between kayak and canoe?  People have been using kayaks are canoes for more than a hundred years now. While I can’t say for sure how many hundreds of years, but few hundred might be the correct answer. 

Most people think that kayaks and canoes are very similar watercraft. However, this is not at all true. Right from the design to the hull structure, from construction material to the usage, kayaking and canoeing do have many differences. 

So, in this blog post, I will walk you through the major differences between a kayak and a canoe.

Here’s what you’ll discover in the post below.

1. What is the major difference between a kayak and a canoe?

2. What is kayak vs canoeing?

3. Kayak vs canoe: hull type, construction material usage, suited for, types of kayak and types of canoe. 

What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe?

What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe?

In this section, you’ll come to know the major differences between kayaks and canoes in terms of their hull design, construction material use, speed, stability, usage, suited for, accessories included and lot more. 

Kayak Vs Canoe Hull Type

Kayak Hull Types:

When you first go out for purchasing a kayak, do you think which type of hull is best suited for me? The hull of the kayak is the foundation element that ensures stability, tracking, manoeuvrability and speed of the kayak. In fact, the entire performance of the kayak is depended on the kayak hull type. 

So, here is the following kayak hull type. 

1. V shape hull
Kayak V shape hull

This is the most basic type of hull of kayak that ensures straightforward kayaking and paddling in the straight course without changing the direction of your ride. Kayaks with V shape hull design excels in tracking and navigation. You also don’t need to put in any extra effort to change the course or direction of the kayak. 

Moreover, V shape hull kayak can also withstand whitewater and fast-moving river rapids and slice at great speed. 

In fact, many V shape hull kayak features a pronounced keel line which makes them slice through the water easily as compared to kayaks with a flat bottom and pontoon hull style. 

The only drawback of the V shape hull kayak is that they lack some stability. 

2. Round hull
Kayak Round hull

The next common type of hull in a kayak is round shape hull If you are obsessed with stability and manoeuvrability, then round shape hull kayak should be on your top list. Kayaks with round shape hulls make cutting and slicing through the water easy-peasy. 

They also maintain good speed with their narrow nose shape and sharp design. They can also tackle whitewater and fast-moving rapids better as compared to flat and v-shaped hull-type kayaks.

3. Flat hull
Kayak Flat hull

 Kayaks with flat hull designs are considered to be the most stable kayaks for camping, fishing, recreational rides and many other purposes on water. Such types of kayaks are also wider and longer which makes their overall kayak deck and platform highly stable on a variety of water types. 

Whether you agree or not, but such types of kayaks are also built for speed and trackability. 

Flat hull type of kayaks is also great for beginners, kids and newbies as they offer amazing primary as well as secondary stability without compromising on speed and performance. 

However, kayaks with flat hulls can not tackle the mighty waves and whitewater. 

4. Pontoon hull
Kayak Pontoon hull

A pontoon type of hull kayak is specially made for fishing and duck hunting activities by combining the features of a flat hull and a v-shaped hull kayak. Stability is the top-notch feature of these kayaks at the expense of speed and manoeuvrability. Also, such kayaks are heavier and you might need a kayak trailer or kayak rack for carrying and transportation. 

Similar to a pontoon boat, pontoon hull or tunnel hull kayaks are made to give both primary and secondary stability. Also, such kayaks come with a sit-on-top design and wide deck space allowing the riders to carry fishing and duck-hunting adventures hassle-free.

5. Planing hull
Kayak Planing hull

If you personally ask me which is the best type of hull for a kayak, then I would say it’s planning hull-type kayaks that rule the water. 

These types of kayaks are small and short in lenght. They are built to tackle whitewater and fast-moving river rapids only. Such kayaks are flat like paddle boards and give enough confidence to riders to hop on the surface of the water to perform acrobatic moves and tricks. 

Though such kayaks are stable on water but large and wide surface area makes it slightly slow as compared to others.

6. Displacement hull

As the name says it all, a displacement hull kayak pushes the water away as the kayak moves forward. Such a kayak glides very smoothly at a certain speed and gives similar performance and stability to surfboards and stand-up paddle boards. 

Most of the camping, touring and recreational kayaks are backed with displacement hull design. 

7. Tri hull

Tri-hull kayaks are also called as multi-channel hull kayaks or cathedral hull kayaks. You’ll see this type of hull in sit-on-top kayaks from the Ocean kayak brands.  A tri-hull kayak offers great stability like a catamaran-style boat with enacted tracking and a well-structured keel line that is similar to v shape hull kayaks from bow to stern. 

Manufacturers of tri-hull kayak designs can also achieve more manoeuvrability than pontoon kayaks by adding rocker (curvature) to the outer hulls, which allows the kayak to turn more easily yet still feel supremely stable. Look for a tri-hull design if you want a higher-performance beginner sit-on-top kayak.

Canoe Hull Types:  

1. Flat hull
Canoe Flat hull

As you could conclude by its name, a flat hull bottom canoe is a flat beneath structure with a very little curve at the canoe’s belly, making it highly stable on flatwater and choppy waves as well. The primary stability of canoes with flat bottom hulls is great, but they struggle with secondary stability. 

Canoes with flat bottoms can also withstand wind, fast-moving river rapids and other daunting conditions on the water. They are best suited for camping and recreational rides on the water. 

2. Round hull
Canoe Round hull

Round bottom hull canoes are exactly opposite to flat hull canoes. The belly of such canoes is extremely curved and they are built for more speed and paddling efficiency. However, a such canoe can be extremely difficult to manage, especially for new and beginner-level paddlers. Also, they are less stable as compared to canoes with flat bottoms. 

3. Shallow arch hull

A shallow arch hull canoe is a combination of a flat hull and a round hull canoe which makes it both stable and well as high in performance. The design of such canoe varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and designer to designer. 

This type of canoe also excels in manoeuvrability, tracking, speed and better navigational ride. 

4. Shallow vee

Here’s another type of canoe that is a mixture of flat and round bottom hull type of canoe. The shallow vee canoe included a v shape at the bellow of the arch. This offers great primary and secondary stability with improved tracking and straight forward ride. 

A canoe can also tackle whitewater and fast-moving river rapids like a charm. 

5. Keels 

Although this is not a type of hull in a canoe, but important to understand. Keels are generally integrated into canoes for the structural purpose to help hold the canoe tightly on the water. 

It is not clear whether canoe keels have a significant impact on performance, stability or ride, however, they enhance the paddling efficiently and make rowing easy for riders. A canoe with a sharp keel will also glide through water easily and 

There are two types of keel in a canoe. Tee keels and shoe keels. Tee keel canoes are best suited for glide or surfing on deep and lake water types, while show keel canoes are made with a low profile to glide over rocks and are suited for shallow and white water. 

Kayak Vs Canoe: Types & Categories

Types Of Kayak available:

1. Inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are one of the selling kayaks in the market. They are robust, versatile, sturdy and durable for any type of water condition. For outdoor adventure seekers and anglers, they are perfect watercraft. Similar to inflatable paddle boards, inflatable kayaks offer ample of opportunities for travel and enjoying any water sports activity.

For example, inflatable kayaks are capable of fishing, river rafting, tandem rides, camping and many other purposes on water. That’s why they are the best and most selling kayaks. 

Not only do they make kayaking accessible for everyone, but they are built very durably, all thanks to their multi-layer PVC construction material and multiple air chambers carefully designed to give you additional stability and buoyancy to float on water. The overall design of inflatable kayaks is similar to hardshell kayaks with the obvious difference of beginning inflatable.

Another great benefit of inflatable kayaks is that they are very lightweight and easy to carry anywhere on the water. You absolutely don’t need a kayak rack or trailer to carry and transport inflatable kayaks. 

You can also store them anywhere in your home or in the garage. 

2. Fishing kayaks

Fishing kayaks

Now here come my personal favorite kayaks, which are fishing kayaks. As the name says it, this type of kayak is highly popular among anglers and avid fishermen. Such kayaks are loaded with some of the ultimate fishability features to take your fishing next level. 

Fishing kayaks are loaded with kayaking accessory mounting points, rod holders, adjustable seats, two storage hatches, bungee lacing, a transducer system at back, a rudder system, trolling motor mount, a skeg at the bottom, and a lot more. Such kayaks are purposely built shorter in length and wide in size to offer the utmost stability and impeccable tracking experience. 

There are multiple versions of fishing kayaks available in the market. For example, inflatable fishing kayaks, sit-on-top fishing kayaks, pedal drive fishing kayaks, cheap fishing kayaks at lot more. 

You can opt for the best fishing kayak as per your fish, budget, need and requirements. 

Some of the best fishing kayak brands are: Perception, Ocean Kayak, Hobie, Bonafide, Sea Eagle and Jackson Kayak. 

3. Sit in kayaks

Sit in kayaks

As you could by its name, sit-in kayaks or SIS are traditional-looking kayaks with sit-in design cockpits. These kayaks come with an open cockpit design with the option to keep a leg inside the deck. These types of kayaks are more suited for recreational rides, touring, camping and normal paddling on the water. 

In a sit-in style kayak, the seat is located above the waterline which gives you a lower centre of gravity and ensures the overall stability of the kayak. Speaking about speed, the sit-in kayak moves smoothly and at great speed which makes them cover more distance with less effort when paddling a narrow and sharp touring sit-in kayak.

The only drawback of the sit-in type of kayak is that once you tip off your kayak it will be next to impossible to get in as the water might fill into the cockpit. 

4. Sit on top of kayaks

Sit on top of kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks or SOT in short are advanced level kayaks and bit wider and longer as compared to sit-in kayaks. These types of kayaks are suited for stand-up fishing, bass fishing and fly fishing experience. They have multiple storage options, which gives you a place to attach your kayaking or fishing gear. 

Sit-on-top kayaks are slightly slower and a bit heavier as compared to sit-in kayaks because of the additional load-carrying capacity and loads of features which they have got covered. 

Also, there are scupper holes on the sit-on-top kayak which allows the deck water to drain off, so you can stay afloat for a long time on the water. This also makes it the go-to kayak for beginner or novice paddlers with less kayaking experience. 

5. Pedal drive kayaks

Pedal drive kayaks

If budget is not your constraint, then I would personally recommend you to opt for pedal drive kayaks. Here’s why? Currently, these types of kayaks are the most advanced kayaks in the market. Similar to cycle, pedal kayaks are loaded with a pedal drive system that allows you to pedal the kayak forward as well as backward. 

This kayak also gives a hands-free kayaking experience with the help propulsion system. You can also mount to trolling motor on such kayaks and can their speed to the next level. 

Pedal kayaks are also a great option for fishing and duck hunting on the water as they give you a hands-free kayaking experince and also put you in one spot while you cast your line. They also offer additional power and toughness so you can also get big-size catches. Not to forget, they are good at speed as well. 

6. Tandem kayaks

Tandem kayaks

Do you want to take a buddy paddler along with you for kayaking and experiencing nature on the water? If yes, tandem kayaks are best suited for you. Tandem kayaks are one of many types of kayaks that are suited for 2 personal rides on the water. 

They come in an inflatable as well as another format to give you multiple options for buying the best tandem kayak for you and your partner. This type of kayak is generally long in length and features a stunning carrying capacity of around 300-600 lbs.

Tandem kayaks are slightly difficult to row as compared to solo kayaks because of the involvement of 2 people, but once you have set the synchronization with your partner, you’ll be good to go.

You can take tandem kayaks for camping, touring, recreational rides on the ocean or lake, and many other purpose on water. 

Following are the type of tandem kayaks available in the market:

A. Inflatable tandem kayak

B. Tandem pedal kayak

C. Fishing tandem kayaks

D. Sit on a top tandem kayak

7. Motorized kayaks

Motorized kayaks

Motorized kayaks are those types of kayaks which are compatible with the kayak trolling motor so that you can take the speed of your kayak next level. Such kayak also offers hands-free kayaking as they no longer need a pedal or paddle to row a kayak. With the kayak trolling motor, you can simply control the speed and direction of your ride.

Motorized kayaks are backed with an electric engine that moves the propellers and gives speed to the unit so that your kayak slices through the water. The motor also comes with a controller, allowing you to easily control the speed, direction and rotation of the kayak as per your choice. 

Motorized kayaks are best known for their speed and fast gliding. Traditional kayak moves at a speed of 2-4 knots whereas motorized kayak can move up to 25 knots mph. However, such kayaks are slightly on the expensive side, so you need to have big pockets to buy those kayaks.

8. Foldable kayaks

Foldable kayaks

A folding kayak is also called a collapsible kayak that can be folded into bits and pieces so that you can carry and store them anywhere in your home or at the garage. Such kayaks come with backpacks or briefcases where you can stuff and store folding kayaks.

Folding kayaks are generally suited for camping on a lake, touring on river water and carrying recreational and fun activities on the ocean. 

They are constructed with lightweight material, which makes them easy to carry and transport anywhere. Most of the foldable kayak is NMMA certified and meets all the quality and safety guidelines of US Costal Guards, which makes them worthy to buy. 

Oru Kayaks are leaders in making a folding kayaks. As of now, more than 50,000 Oru Kayaks are floating in the market 

9. Youth and kids kayak

Youth and kids kayak

Who says kayaking is only suited for adults, seniors and professional paddlers? In the market for youth and kids, kayaks are also available. These are mini-sized kayaks made with durable and ultra-lightweight construction material so kids and youth can carry them on their backs or shoulder with less effort. 

Youth and kids kayaks are small and size. They can be in the length of 8 feet, 10 feet and a maximum of 11 feet. 

Stability is a paramount feature of youth kayaks as they are made for kids. 

10. White water kayak

White water kayak

When discussing kayaking vs canoeing, how can we forget about white water kayaks? Whitewater kayaks are built to tackle whitewater and fast-moving river rapids. They are mostly sit-in-style cockpits with drain plugs to keep the water out, allowing you to enjoy the water splash and cutting through the waves.

Types Of Canoe Available:

1. Inflatable Canoe

Inflatable Canoe

Similar to inflatable kayaks there are inflatable canoes which are driven by one or more than one paddler facing the direction of travel and using paddles for rowing the canoe. Inflatable canoes are usually made with PVC construction material and drop stitching technology, which makes them lightweight as well as durable. When inflated, the canoe becomes highly rigid and stiff.

Although an inflatable canoe cannot offer the same level of stiffness and rigidity as a hard canoe, inflatables do offer other benefits like lightweight and is easy to store, carry and transport anywhere. Inflatable canoes are also loaded with two more seating arrangements allowing enough riders to glide in one go. 

Most of the inflatable canoes are spacious and offer ample legroom space for all riders. These canoes are suited for normal day touring on the ocean, gliding on lakes and canoeing in local ponds or beaches. 

2. Fishing canoe

Fishing canoe

These are the most advanced canoe that can be taken out for fishing or duck-hunting adventures on the water. Fishing canoes are similar to fishing kayaks in terms of features and upgrades but with the obvious difference in structure, design and construction material used. 

Fishing canoes are also compatible with trolling motors to take the speed of your canoe next level. 

Some of the notable features of a fishing canoe are: rod holders, fishing mounting points, a fishing ruler, a rudder system at the back, ample of deck storage space and a lot more. 

3. 2 person canoe

2 person canoe

Two person canoe is suited for carrying two riders and big-size adults. This type of canoe is loaded with an impeccable carrying capacity, which makes it perfect for family adventures on the water. 

The ideal carrying capacity of the two-man canoe is around 400-600 lbs. You can get multiple versions of a two-person canoe available in the market starting from an inflatable two-man canoe, fishing two-man canoes and wooden canoes for two people. 

4. 3 person canoe

3 person canoe

Just like 2 personal canoes, 3 man canoe is also loaded with the same features and attributes with an obvious difference in carrying capacity. Also, 3-man canoes are slightly on the expensive side because of their carrying capacity and are also heavy to carry from one spot to another. 

The average carrying capacity of 3 man canoe is 400 lbs. 

5. Whitewater canoe

Whitewater canoe

Whitewater canoes are suited for river rapids and fast-moving whitewater. They are suited for professional riders with years of paddling experience. Also, handling and rowing a whitewater canoe requires great skill and effort. Hence, an experienced paddler should only buy and invest in such a canoe. 

Kayak Vs Canoe: Construction

Kayak Vs Canoe Construction

In this blog post on kayaking vs canoeing, we have completed our discussion about. Types of kayak and canoe available, the hull of kayak and canoe. It is now essential to do a thorough comparison between the construction material of kayaks vs canoes. 

Construction Of Kayak:

1. Wooden kayaks

Wooden kayaks are mostly suited for people who like to DIY their kayaks. These kayaks are made using the stitch and glue process with wooden construction material. Such kayaks come with a complete design kit and stick material, allowing you to set up your kayak easy-peasy. 

Of course, you don’t have to be an advanced woodworker to make one. The deck and hull of such kayaks are generally made with fibreglass material to give protection to the wooden layer of coating, making them durable and long serving in life.

Wooden kayaks are of course heavy to carry and suited only for recreational and touring adventures on the water. 

2. Glass made kayaks

Glass construction kayaks are also known as fibreglass kayak which is made with aramid fabric and graphite fabric construction material. They are made with the layers of these fabrics blended with others. Later they are applied to mould. These types of kayaks are included an outer layer of colored gel coating which makes them a superior finish and good looks. 

Kayaks that are made with glass construction material are very fast, responsive and lightweight as compared to others. Also, the hull of such kayaks are durable and can resist any impact or collision on and off the water. 

3. Rotomolded kayaks

Rotomolded kayaks are made using rotational moulding technology which uses a high-temperature oven to melt the polyethene material in a large-size rotating metal mould. This process makes the complete hull and deck of the kayak in one single step. Such a type of kayak allows the paddler to enjoy more unique benefits while kayaking at an economical price point.

Rotomolded kayaks are mostly suited for touring, camping and whitewater on river rapids

4. Thermoform kayak

The thermoform kayaks are made with ABS plastic construction material with a top layer of acrylic that is heated down and then drawn down onto mould to create the hull and deck of the kayak. The hull and deck are created separately and joined adjoined together. The great advantage of thermo kayaks is they are lightweight and durable at affordable pricing points. 

5. Inflatable kayaks 

Inflatable kayaks are made with drop stitching material which makes them the most lightweight easy-to-carry kayaks of all time. Along with drop stitching material, PVC materials and fabric are also used to make the kayak bit more durable and long serving in life.

Construction Of Canoe:

1. Thermoform

This type of canoe is typically made with lightweight thermoform material, which is one kind of plastic. This material makes the canoe lightweight, cheap and very durable for long-lasting usage. The majority of the thermoform canoe and suited for recreational rides. 

2. Poly

This canoe is made with a triple layer of construction with polyethene plastic material, which makes the canoe durable and affordable. Such canoes are lightweight and suited for camping, touring and recreational rides on the water. 

3. Royalex

This type of canoe is made with vinyl construction material which makes the canoe more durable and long-lasting in life. Because of experience vinyl construction materials, such canoes are slightly experienced. 

The benefit of such canoes is that they retain their shape for years and give you the same performance, ride, stability and balance as a new canoe even if you use them after a year or two. 

4. Fibreglass

Fibreglass uses fibreglass, cloth, and resin to create a very stiff and lightweight canoe. They’re able to form much more complex shapes with fibreglass, so they’re very efficient as well. Not as durable as plastic, fibreglass canoes can be repaired. Again, one of the biggest benefits of fibreglass is its lightweight.

5. Wood 

Last on this list of kayak vs canoe construction we have wood-constructed canoes which are handmade with the help of cedar stripe wood by leveraging fibreglass material.  The cedar wood makes the hull of the canoe well-optimized for stability, speed and balance. 

Also, this type of canoe is a great example of stunning manoeuvrability. 

Canoe Vs Kayak: Speed Comparision

Canoe Vs Kayak Speed Comparision

Speed Of Kayak: 

Speed of the kayak depends on many factors such as the type of kayak, the experience of the paddler, the paddle which is used for kayaking, hull design, weather condition, skill level and strength of the paddler. However, the average speed of a normal recreational kayak would be anywhere between 3-4 knots. Also, a kayaker’s skill level has a significant impact on the speed, which can take a speed to a whole new level. 

On the other hand, a newbie or a beginner-level kayaker will move the kayak at a much slower pace compared to the experienced paddler. Keeping this in mind and the above factors to be considered, a novice kayaker will move the kayak at the speed of 2-3 knots per hour which is slightly less than the moving average. This speed can be maintained for several hours on the water.

Speed Of Canoe: 

The speed of the canoe also depends on the same factors just like the speed of the kayak does. The average speed of a canoe is close to 3 miles per hour, but it depends on factors like the type of canoe, the experience of paddler, canoe shape, weather conditions and so much more. For example, you can choose a 2 person canoe or a fishing canoe, which might glide at a speed of 2-3 miles per hour. Whereas, the foldable canoe is much more faster and moves at a speed of 4-6 miles per hour.

FAQs About Kayak Vs Canoe

What’s the difference between a canoe and a kayak?

A canoe is an open-top watercraft that is typically propelled with a single-bladed paddle. A kayak is a closed-top watercraft that is typically propelled with a double-bladed paddle.

Which is better for beginners, a canoe or a kayak?

For beginners, a canoe is generally considered to be easier to get started with due to its stability and ease of use. Kayaks can be more challenging to control and balance, especially in choppy or fast-moving water.

How do I choose the right canoe or kayak for my needs?

When choosing a canoe or kayak, consider factors such as the type of water you will be using it on (calm lakes, rivers, or rapids), the weight capacity you need, the amount of gear you will be carrying, and your personal preference for stability and maneuverability.

How much do canoes and kayaks cost?

The cost of a canoe or kayak can vary widely depending on factors such as the material it’s made of, the brand, and the size and features. Basic canoes and kayaks can start around $300, while high-end models can cost several thousand dollars.

How do I transport a canoe or kayak?

Canoes and kayaks can be transported on the roof of a car using special roof racks or on a trailer behind a vehicle. It’s important to secure the boat properly to prevent damage during transport.

How do I maintain a canoe or kayak?

To maintain your canoe or kayak, you should clean and dry it after each use, store it in a cool, dry place, and check for any signs of wear or damage. You may also need to apply protective coatings or make repairs if necessary.


Leave a Comment