Kayak vs Canoe: A Quick Review

Kayak versus Canoe Review 2023

People have been using kayaks and canoes for thousands of years. Despite being around for so long, their use has never dwindled.

What started out as a mode of transportation or a fishing vessel has become a leisurely pastime for many people today.

However, even with the increase in recreational use, many still use these boats for fishing, exploring, and transportation.

You might think kayaks and canoes are similar, but the fact is they couldn’t be more different – especially when it comes to their features, pricing, and uses.

We’re going to break down kayaks versus canoes and which boat is the right choice for you in 2023.

Kayak vs Canoe Features

The main difference between a kayak and a canoe is the boater’s position in the vessel, and how they move the boat forward.

But, there are more features that separate the two. The designs, paddles, seating, and models allow kayaks and canoes to stand out from one another.


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The most obvious difference between a kayak and a canoe is their body, design, and how they’re built.

Canoes are much bigger than kayaks, with wide frames and a hollowed-out cavity where the boaters sit. Canoes seat more people and can transport more weight which means they are better for group activities or transporting gear. Canoes have tall sides and deep bodies, which means they sit higher on the water than kayaks.

Kayaks are built with a sleeker, more narrow design. They have an enclosed body, so the boater actually sits inside the kayak. They carry less weight and have less storage than canoes, but move faster. In a kayak, you sit much closer to the water than in a canoe.

However, due to their sleek designs, kayaks are more likely to capsize and plunge you underwater.
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Seating in Kayaks vs Canoes

Getting seated inside a kayak is a very different ordeal than a canoe. Let us explain.

Since canoes are open, it’s much easier to enter them. You climb inside while maintaining your balance and find your seat on a bench that runs the width of the boat. This is a much simpler entry, but way less comfortable. There are canoe seats with backing as well to make it more comfortable.

Because you have to climb inside a kayak, getting seated can be a little trickier. Sliding yourself in while avoiding a capsized kayak is difficult for beginners. Sure, you need to overcome this task in both canoes and kayaks, but with kayaks, it’s harder.

Once you get inside the kayak, you will usually have a seat with a backrest, which is why they’re more comfortable.

Sit-on-top kayaks do exist, which makes entry a little easier.

How to Safely Get Into a Kayak?

Before setting out on your adventure, it’s vital to be aware of the weather conditions and dress accordingly with protective clothing and safety gear. Make sure you equip yourself with a life jacket, spray skirt for keeping water away from your kayak as well as other necessary items. Additionally, let someone know about where you are going and when you expect to come back—don’t forget to learn how to use all essential safety equipment!


To propel both boats forward, you’ll use paddles. However, the method of paddling and the types of paddles differ in kayaks versus canoes.

Due to their size and weight, you’ll have to use more effort to move a canoe. They’re heavier and larger than kayaks and can carry more cargo and passengers, making them harder to push.

Canoe paddles are usually shorter and have a single blade. Instead of a second blade on the end, there’s a T-shaped knob for your hand to hold. You place one hand at the top of the knob, and your second hand lower in the middle of the paddle.

So if you really want to move, you’ll want to bring a friend. With 2 people, you can each paddle on one side to avoid going in circles. If you’re alone, you’ll have to switch sides between strokes.

Kayaks, on the other hand, have two blades per paddle – that’s one at each end. All you need to do is hold the middle of the paddle and alternate sides as you glide through the water. You can operate easily alone or with a partner.


When thinking about pricing, you’ll need to know what you want out of your kayak or canoe.

How many people do you want to fit in it? Do you need storage? Will you be fishing in your kayak or exploring in your canoe? These questions will indicate your price point.

Generally speaking, you can get a kayak for cheaper than a canoe. There are inflatable kayaks that are very affordable if you want something easy and portable for recreation. Canoes don’t really have that option.

However, the price tag on a kayak can jump way ahead of a canoe if you’re shopping for a top-of-the-line fishing vessel.

The fact is, you can find either a canoe or a kayak at a suitable price point. It all depends on how you plan to use your kayak or canoe.

Kayak vs Canoe Uses

Now you know the difference between kayaks and canoes and how their prices will depend on your use. So now it’s time to cover how you can use each boat differently.

Sure, you can use either a kayak or a canoe for leisure, fishing, or exploring. However, they’ll outperform each other in some ways.


Kayaks and canoes can both be used leisurely or recreationally. They’re a lot of fun and you can spend an afternoon paddling around in either.

If you’re looking to have a great time with a bunch of friends, a canoe would be a better option because it has more seating and the ability to hold more weight. If you’re looking for alone time on quiet waters, a kayak will do just fine.

Considering kayaks are lighter and easier to transport out of the water, we would suggest a kayak for solo use. If you’re leaving your canoe tied up to the dock or you have friends to help you load it on and off your car, this won’t make much of a difference to you.


Again, you can use both a canoe and a kayak for fishing, but a kayak is a much better fishing option.

Firstly, they’re more maneuverable. If you’re sport fishing or reeling in heavy fish, being able to maneuver yourself easily will make a big difference. They’re also more efficient and require less energy. If you’re reeling in big fish, energy is something you’ll need to preserve.

Sit-in kayaks also offer you dry storage options. So if you’re a serious fisherman with state-of-the-art gadgets you need to keep dry, a kayak may be the way to go.

However, canoes are generally more stable due to their width. They also can carry more gear and they’ll give you more space for reeling in, gutting, and storing your fish.

Both canoes and kayaks can be outfitted with mounts and other accessories to improve your fishing experience and help you bring home the catch of the day. But if you truly want a vessel for sport, a kayak is the right choice.


If you’re an adventurer looking to go on exciting excursions, tours, or into the ocean we’re going to recommend a kayak for many reasons.

Due to their longer and slimmer nature, kayaks travel faster and can cover more distance. Kayaks specifically made for exploring will also feature relevant storage options to house your camping gear and other accessories.

If you’re looking to venture in whitewater rapids, there are specially-made kayaks built for buoyancy and maneuverability. These will keep you right-side-up in the trickiest of waters. There are also canoes built for this exact use, but kayaks are often chosen over canoes for this category.

Kayaks are also more versatile. If you haven’t decided what kind of adventuring you want to do or what type of waters you want to explore, a kayak will be able to perform well in more environments than a canoe.

Kayak versus Canoe – The Verdict

When it comes to choosing a kayak versus a canoe, it’s truly up to each boater.

If it’s speed you want, then a kayak will suit you well. Are you looking for a leisurely activity the whole family can join? Then a canoe should be your choice.

Kayaks versus canoes is an age-old debate, and there isn’t one right answer – only you can decide which vessel is right for you!

We’ll say a kayak every time, but we’re a little bit biased. This is thekayakpro.com after all!

Whatever you choose, we’ll see you on the water!

Article Author
Robert Walker has been a Kayak enthusiast for over a decade. He's owned several different Kayak's, but only recently got into Pedal Kayaks in the last few years. This website is Robert's way of sharing his passion for Pedal Kayak's with the world.