Canoe vs Kayak

Canoe vs Kayak

Water sports and fishing are great outdoor activities. You can carry out such activities by making use of different watercraft such as a kayak or a canoe. Both of the vessels look almost alike; however, they are pretty different from each other. You may get confused while choosing between them. So, here we have made a guide for you that can help you in differentiating a kayak from a canoe. We hope that it will be helpful for you to find out which one of them is best for you and how!

Kayaks: The Basics

The Historical Background of Kayaks 

First of all, let’s take a brief look at the historical background of the kayaks. About 4,000 years ago, kayaks were invented for the first time by the Inuit and Aleut people in the Arctic regions of North America. They constructed kayaks out of whatever materials they could find, including wood, animal skins, and bones. They used to build the kayak frame using whalebones and driftwood, which had animal skins stretched over it. Afterward, the body was made waterproof by applying caribou and whale fat all over it. 

Initially, the kayaks were made for hunting purposes, but later on, people started making larger kayaks and used them for traveling and transporting goods. It is said that the enclosed design of a kayak is likely to have been since the people of these tribes used to live in an icy environment. Such design keeps the gear dry throughout the trip and also prevents the paddlers’ legs from cold, and keeps them relatively warm on the water. 

Back then, the kayaks were designed in such a way that they could conveniently handle the icy water without creating much disturbance. In this way, such watercraft granted the people tranquil and successful hunting expeditions.

Later on, kayaks were introduced in Europe in the 1800s, and they started gaining popularity in sports. Afterward, in 1936, kayaking officially made its place in sports at the Berlin Olympics Games. In 2015, it was found in a special report published in the USA that kayaking had become the most popular paddling activity, with 13 million people taking part in kayaking compared to 10 million people participating in canoeing.

At present, kayaks are widely used for angling, sports, and even for recreational tours. Nowadays, kayak manufacturing brands intend to produce smaller and lighter vessels that make them more portable than canoes.

Types of Kayaks

Kayaks usually come in two different types: sit-inside kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. Both of these types contain a variety of kayaks, each with different designs and specs. Nevertheless, one thing remains constant in all kayak designs, that is, the paddle with two blades at both of its ends. 

Sit-in Kayak

A sit-in kayak is more traditional than the other type. As the name implies, the kayak offers the paddler enough room to sit and keep the essential gear inside. It has a cockpit for the paddler to sit in, covered with a spray skirt to keep water out from the vessel. Hence, this kayak keeps your lower body inside the hull and offers you a dry, paddling experience. Such kayaks stand pretty valuable when it comes to paddling in colder regions.

Paddling on a sit-in kayak will consume less of your energy as compared to a canoe. In a canoe, the paddle needs to be moved from side to side to head straight, which can be tiresome. On the other hand, a kayak already has a blade there, so you can move your kayak in a forward and backward direction by just alternating your hands. 

Usage-wise, sit-inside kayaks are pretty favorable for rough conditions and multi-day tours. Since they cover half of your body, they are no doubt very promising for colder conditions. They can prevent your legs from continuous splashing of water, offering you a dry trip.

Sit-in kayaks, preferably shorter ones for better maneuverability, can also be used in whitewater rafting. Other sports like canoe polo also use sit-in kayaks, a game that is actually played in a kayak, not in a canoe.

Sit on top Kayak 

Sit-on-top kayaks, as their name suggests, offer a sit-on-top paddling experience. You can move your legs freely while paddling on them. Such kayaks are easy to use than the sit-inside ones and, therefore, are perfect for beginners. 

Sit-on-top kayaks are the best for fishing since you can move freely on them. Moreover, these kayaks drain water out of them on their own. They offer you storage for your gear in the hull. You can also take extra gear with you for paddling and can place them on the deck.

Since sit-on-top kayaks don’t cover your legs, they are pretty favorable to be used in hot weather or in regions with a warmer climate. If you are paddling in a hotter place, you’ll definitely feel an urge to dive into the water. While paddling on such kayaks, you can plunge into water for a quick dive and get back to it easily.

Stability of Kayak

Different kayaks are designed for different areas; for instance, some are for kayaking in shallow water, some for rivers and streams, etc. The design has a great impact on the stability and speed of a kayak. The shorter and broader the kayak is, the more stable it would be. However, such a kayak will be a little slower. On the other hand, the longer and narrower kayaks are faster but are less stable.

Tandem Kayaks

Tandem kayaks offer paddling space for more than one paddler. Such kayaks come in both sit-inside and sit-on-top categories. If you don’t like to go on a kayaking trip alone and want someone to paddle with you, then tandem kayaks are for you!

Canoes 101

Brief History of Canoes

Canoes are said to be the oldest boats known to the human race. In 1955, the oldest ever wooden dugout canoe was discovered in Pesse in the Netherlands, which is said to be almost 10,000 years old.

Apart from Europe, there is evidence of ancient canoes that have been found in other parts of the world. The Dunfuna canoe is said to be the oldest one in Africa, about 8,000 years old, which was discovered in 1987 in Nigeria. Not only that, but another 8,000 years old canoe has been found in Kuahuqiao, China. 

All of the ancient canoes found by archeologists are dugout canoes. A dugout canoe is made out of hollowed logs and trees that add buoyance to the vessel. However, the design had changed when Europeans came into contact with native Americans, who used to build their canoes by sealing together birch bark and wooden frames with tree resins.

Just like the kayaks, people made use of canoes for goods and mass transportation. It is said that the first canoe in North America was used by the native people of the Caribbean for traveling from one island to another. 

In the present time, the construction of canoes includes fiberglass and canoe aluminum along with the wood that produces an outstanding riding experience, unlike the ones from old ages. 

Canoe Design

Now let’s talk about some basics of a canoe. A canoe is basically a lightweight vessel that has pointy ends and is entirely open on the top. The bottom of a canoe is flat, and the sides are slightly shorter arising from the water surface, making it look like a traditional boat. It usually has a bench at both ends that make the two paddlers sit in front of each other.  

Canoes are larger and heavier in comparison to kayaks, which makes them difficult to carry before and after paddling. The primary difference between a kayak and a canoe is that there is only one blade on the paddle of a canoe, unlike the kayak. You would need to pull out your paddle from the water and turn it back into it on the opposite side of your canoe. Thus, it can be more tiring and time-consuming for you than a kayak. But if you have someone else on the same canoe, paddling would become a little easier since you can move the paddle in one direction and the other person in the opposite direction. The majority of recreational canoes offer large room for your gear to put inside. This feature makes them convenient for family picnics or multi-day trips.  

It is much easier to get inside and outside a canoe compared to a sit-in kayak. The sitting style of a canoe is different from a kayak. In a canoe, you sit on a bench away from the bottom of the vessel with your knees bent. On the other hand, you usually have your legs straight out in front of you in a kayak. 

The seating design of a canoe offers you to take extra gear with you since space is not occupied by your legs. You can even put some of your stuff under the bench. However, all of the canoes are not the same. Different designs offer different specs for different activities.

What Are Canoes Used For?

In ancient times, people made use of canoes for traveling or transporting goods. However, nowadays, they have gained more popularity in sports and recreational activities than traveling and transporting. The results of some reports showed a slight slump in the number of canoeing people between 2010 and 2014. But still, almost 10 million people were reported to be participating in canoeing in 2014 in the USA.

Canoes are usually preferred for slowly moving water, such as lakes and rivers, and are pretty good for recreational tours. You can take your family with you as they are perfect for family camping. Moreover, they are much more stable, which reduces the chances of capsizing. Kids can even help you paddle very comfortably!

Unfortunately, canoes are not much resistant to the wind. Therefore, they are not so favorable for windy weather.  

However, all of the canoes are not entirely open on the top. There are many canoes designs available out there for whitewater cascades. Such vessels feature extra coverage and buoyance devices at both ends. 

There also comes racing canoes, which are slightly slimmer and more streamlined and promises the fastest performance. They are also used by amateur as well as professional canoeists. Just like kayaking, canoeing is also recognized as an Olympics sport, with both sprint and slalom.

Which One Should I Choose? A Kayak or A Canoe?

When it comes to differentiating a kayak from a canoe, you will notice that the main difference is their appearances. Canoes are relatively larger and heavier than kayaks, making them difficult to carry or transport from the dry land to water and vice versa.

Nowadays, kayak manufacturers are producing portable vessels on a large scale, including folding and inflatable kayaks that attract more people.  Moreover, there is a large variety of kayak designs available as compared to canoes.

If you are into water sports and looking for a vessel, you’ll see there is a vast market that deals in kayaks for sports than the canoes. Well, if you are trying to choose one of the two, it is entirely up to you whether you choose a kayak or a canoe. Each of them has its own benefits. It depends on the purpose you want to use it!

 Canoes can endure extra gear and offer you to take your family to take with you on camping or adventures. You can even take kids and with you on a canoe that you can’t while using a kayak. That is why canoe enthusiasts love canoeing. Also, you don’t need to have or learn any technical skills to handle the paddle on a canoe. All you need is to learn the ins and outs of paddling a canoe, and you are all set for paddling.

In a nutshell, kayaks are the best if you want to cruise on coastal waters. They are a lot easier to maneuver and can even handle rough water conditions. On the other hand, canoes are outstanding for family trips and camping since they are more spacious and stable.


And what about FISHING?

We have just talked about the sports and recreational adventures on the water so far. But what about fishing? Let’s see what’s best for fishing!  

Fishing: Kayak or Canoe

Fishing is a pleasant outdoor activity. If you like fishing and want to go out to catch some, but you are confused and can’t decide about the type of watercraft that can meet your need, here is a little guide that can help you out of your confusion!

Both vessels allow you to paddle, and you can find one easier than the other one, depending on your need. Now let’s see how they can be beneficial for fishing!

Let’s Start with Canoes

Canoes are larger and more spacious, giving you a large room to put extra gear along with your fishing stuff at the same time. However, you might find them much more difficult to handle if you are supposed to paddle by yourself. As they have a single-bladed paddle, you might find it bothersome to head straight. Therefore, adding a trolling motor can help you out from this difficulty.

It can also be very problematic to take a canoe to the water and then back to the land due to the large size. Moreover, maneuvering a canoe on the water can be a little difficult because of the lengthy structure.  

Even though canoes don’t come in a large variety, some designs are categorically built for fishing. Some of them even have customizing options. Compared to a kayak, you have more seats in a canoe. You can kneel on your canoe while waiting for the fish to take the bait. Also, the canoes offer more stability so that you can stand and move around on the craft while holding the fishing rod.

It would be a good idea to bring someone with you who can lend you a hand for paddling while heading out for fishing on a canoe. Moreover, the seats on a canoe are higher from the bottom than a kayak, which can help you a lot by giving you a clear vision for fishing.

Now Let’s Take a Look at Kayaks for Fishing?

Apart from sports and recreational kayaks, there is a large variety available of kayaks designed for fishing. Such kayaks are known as fishing kayaks that feature great specs to make your fishing adventure wonderful and more comfortable. Most of them are extra wide with a stable hull that offers you a chance to stand while catching a fish. Moreover, most of these kayaks provide you dry storage to put your gear, especially the live bait. These kayaks are easy to paddle; some come with pedals that lend you a hand to make fishing easier.

When it comes to maneuvering, kayaks are easy to handle in different conditions such as whitewater and open oceans, making them more durable and versatile than canoes. You can keep yourself dry and warm in wet or cold weather in a sit-inside kayak, which comes with more compact hull lengths making them way easier to carry around.    

So, Which One is Better for Fishing?

Again, your personal preference decides which vessel is better for you and which is not! You can have tools for fishing in a fishing kayak, which features all those specs that can make your fishing adventure easier and enjoyable. On the other hand, you can use canoes to serve this purpose by adding the features you need for fishing. However, they are not that versatile as the kayaks are! They are not so favorable to be used in rough water conditions.  



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