It’s safe to say that canoes and kayaks are relatively similar. Although, if you’re an expert on the subject, there’s no doubt you’ll be shaking your head in disagreement. So, I suppose I should clarify what we mean by that.
The thing is, canoes and kayaks both have similar purposes. They can both be put to use when casually paddling around, as well as fishing, sport, or even whitewater rafting. There are so many different uses for both canoes and kayaks that many people aren’t sure which one to choose.
If you’ve never used either one, picking between them can be daunting. Nevertheless, learning more about canoes and kayaks will make your decision easier by miles. Before you consider anything, you should have a good idea of what you want to accomplish. If you sort through their separate models and features with your goal in mind, the choice might be more obvious then you initially thought.
If you find yourself struggling with the choice and can’t pick between the array of canoes and kayaks, there’s a simple way to figure it out. You simply need the right information.
Canoes and kayaks certainly aren’t a modern invention. They were both built to fill a survival need, not for a casual paddle down a river. Hunting, fishing, and transportation were essential to survival.
In the modern day, we still use them for the same purposes. We fish and travel along rivers and oceans in mini-expeditions. However, these days it is not out of a need for survival, at least not in most cases. Instead, they put to use for sports and hobbies.
Even if you aren’t planning to purchase canoes and kayaks out of a need for survival, it’s interesting to learn where they come from. It’s intriguing to think about because they’re an ancient design that has hardly changed with time. Well, for the most part.
The history of canoes
It’s impossible to determine where canoes came from originally. These days information spreads quickly through various means, but in ancient times, that wasn’t exactly the case. Civilizations didn't have a way of easily communicating with each other. Up to a certain point in history, there was no way of knowing how many different kinds of people there were in the world. They couldn’t share their ideas or inventions.
Nevertheless, many of them began to build canoes of one manner or another. If you think about it, it just goes to show how ingenious but straightforward these boats truly were.
Some of the canoes of the past were huge. They were meant to haul supplies from one place to another. In fact, historians found that some of these mighty canoes could hold about 1,000 pounds of lumber.
Our modern-day canoes are similar to the traditional canoes of Native Americans. The design has changed over time for different purposes, but they almost always look the same, with a few small changes.
There’s a simple reason that this is such a standard design. When Europeans came to North America, they met the Native American people, getting to know how they ran the land. The Europeans were in awe of these little boats and their useful but straightforward construction.
They brought this information back to Europe and made their own. Overall, that was all it took to turn these boats into the recreational canoes we know to this day.
The history of kayaks
Kayaks have a similar history, but with a twist. That is, they were built to deal with more extreme conditions. The Inuit and Aleut tribes of Arctic lands in North America made the kayaks as a means of hunting and fishing.
Since the waters were so cold, it was necessary to keep the water completely out of the vessel. Therefore, they came up with an incredible design. In those times and parts of the world, people had to to make the most of what they had. In this case, they made use of light driftwood or whale bones and animal skins. They even made use of seal bladders, filling them with air like balloons and tucking them into the fore and aft of their kayaks, increasing buoyancy and safety.
Some of these kayaks are for a single hunter. Others could be 60-feet long, with enough room for whole families and their possessions.
Kayaks made their way to Europe as well, in the early 1800s. France and Germany were big fans, using them for recreational use and sport. By 1936 they were included in the Olympic games in Berlin.
Eventually, the soft framed kayaks of the past were replaced by rigid fiberglass kayaks in the 1950s. After that, the polyethylene plastic kayaks followed in the 1980s.
The Main Differences Between Canoes and Kayaks
While we began by telling you that canoes and kayaks are similar, there is a limit to their likeness. Basically, they’re used for the same purpose, and that’s all they share. The design, gear, and technique it takes to maneuver canoes and kayaks are quite unique.
Canoes are open-top boats that customarily seat more than one person on wooden benches. In contrast, kayaks are closed-top boats, seating a single passenger, and are meant to shield you from the water. They’ve always reminded me of the waterbugs that bob around on the top of the water.
The gear for canoes and kayaks is pretty different as well. Canoes use single-blade paddles that require you to pass back and forth, paddling on both sides. Kayaks have double-sided paddles that you can simply tip into the water on each side in a sort of seesaw movement. Each one requires practice to master.
On top of that, kayaks are low on the water and feel more stable in most cases. They might wobble about, but you don’t feel like you’re about to topple into the water. In my experience, canoes feel less stable. Although as soon as you get the hang of them, it isn’t so bad, and there are ways to steady them.
Overall, these humble vessels are unique from each other in most aspects, but they are both exceedingly popular all the same.
Everything You Need to Know About Canoes
There are quite a few perks to owning a canoe that become evident when you try them. First and foremost, you can hold multiple passengers. Being able to bring friends and family along will undoubtedly make your excursions more fun.
Keep in mind; canoes typically work best in gentle waters. There are unique canoes for rough waters, but most people prefer to paddle along peacefully. Think of a lake, large pond, or placid river.
Unfortunately, canoes can be quite wobbly, depending on the design. That can be a significant issue if you hit rough waters or have unreliable passengers. All they have to do is shake the boat, overcorrect, and send you all into the water.
I know that can sound a bit daunting, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It takes some serious effort to tip your canoe into the water, but it does happen. Nonetheless, as soon as you’re used to your canoe, keeping it upright and steady won’t be an issue.
Additionally, if you’re anxious about this aspect of buying a canoe, all you have to do is avoid narrow canoes. Choose a wide flat-bottom canoe. These are much easier to keep upright.
What to consider when picking a canoe
There are several matters to take into consideration when selecting a canoe. Most importantly, you have to figure out what kind of boating you want to do. In other words, you need to determine whether you plan to coast along in smooth waters, rapids, or ocean waves.
Once you’ve figured that out, you can think about the size of the boat, the number of passengers, the shape of the hull, and the materials. By narrowing down these aspects, you’ll be well on your way to picking the perfect canoe for your next adventure.
There are several types of canoes on the market, so you should be able to find something that you can enjoy. Recreational canoes are ideal for beginners because they work best on relatively calm waters. There are also solo canoes, tandem canoes, racing canoes, and even whitewater canoes.
While it will seem like there is quite a variety on the market, you'll find that they look nearly the same. The main difference will be the shape of the boat. That will affect how they balance and function, and how many passengers you can bring with you.
Everything You Need to Know About Kayaks
When it comes to picking the best kayak, you will need to consider similar details that you would with a canoe. Start by determining where you plan to paddle the most. You can choose between rivers, lakes, oceans, or rapids. Many kayaks will be suitable for a mix, but make sure to do your research before you seal the deal.
For instance, if you don’t pick the right kayak for whitewater rapids, you could put yourself in danger. Whitewater kayaks are built to flip over quickly. It might seem like an odd requirement, but it’s crucial. Rapids will toss the steadiest kayak over, and you need to be able to flip upright again under your own power.
Other than that, you need to focus on your budget, because that will help determine the rest. If you want a lightweight but durable kayak that is easy to load and carry, it will cost a pretty penny. However, if you can deal with heavier options, they will be equally as durable and less expensive.
You also need to keep the size and weight capacity in mind. That might not seem like such a big deal, but it will undoubtedly affect the way the kayak moves through the water.
Additionally, if you plan on taking trips in your kayak, you could also consider cargo hatches, as well as investing in a comfortable seat.
What to consider when picking a kayak
The environment you’re going to be paddling in is the most important thing to take into consideration. If you’re going to be in lakes and relatively calm rivers, a recreational or sit-on-top kayak should suit you just fine.
If you plan to spend more time in the ocean, you could try a long, narrow touring kayak, built to cut through waves with ease. Or consider sit-on-top kayaks to bob along or surf the waves safely.
Needless to say, whitewater kayaks are a must if you plan to hit any rapids. It’s probably the most important rule to stick to of all.
There are plenty of other options that you can also explore, such as tandem kayaks, inflatable kayaks, racing kayaks, and children's kayaks.
Overall, it’s safe to say that there is a wider variety when it comes to picking a kayak, and it can be overwhelming at first. Still, many people love kayaks for that reason. They have a lot more possibilities, you feel stable, and they’re perfect for solo or group trips. Plus, when on a kayaking trip with a group, you won’t have to worry about someone else making your boat unsteady.
Canoes and Kayaks — the Perfect Transportation for Your next Adventure
In the end, picking between canoes and kayaks all comes down to you and your plans. As long as you answer the question, “what kind of paddling do you want to do?” You’ll be able to make up your mind in no time at all.
If you’re more interested in extreme sports, kayaks are a bit better. They feel more stable, you can use them in every setting, and you can count on the splashguard to keep water from getting into your kayak.
On the other hand, if you want to bring some passengers along, a canoe is the obvious choice. They’re perfect for little getaways from ordinary life. You can coast along at a lake and read a book or chat with friends without a care in the world.
No matter what you choose, you’re going to have fun, so don’t stress over it too much. It will take a little while to get used to your new vessel, no matter which one you pick, but that’s well worth the effort.
We know that you probably want us to tell you whether one or the other is better, but we can’t. Every person has different preferences, and they are both fantastic options.
Besides, canoes and kayaks each have a certain charm. As long as you weigh your selection carefully and determine what’s best for you, you’re going to be happy with it.
We would also love to hear from you! What is your favorite little boat? Have you tired canoes and kayaks? Which one did you like best, and why?
Any information you can offer is going to be a huge help to other readers. So if you have some experience struggling with this dilemma, we would love to hear about it in the comment section below!