Thursday, August 5, 2021

Canoe Vs Kayak: 6 Interesting Differences!

Must read

Canoe vs Kayak? Yes, these are two different sports, and let us tell you about the difference you should have known earlier!

Often canoe vs kayak is two words that are used simultaneously by people who aren’t the sports enthusiast. Even when you see two people canoeing and kayaking, you barely see any difference.

People often get confused if these are even two different sports. Still, for your surprise, canoe and kayaks are two different activities that have lots of differences we weren’t even aware of. Because in the war of Canoe vs Kayak, the similarities are more in many aspects, which makes it difficult for people to understand the fundamental difference.

But you should be on top of your class, so read on to this article and be the smart guy in your group. Let’s know the difference between canoes vs kayak!

Canoe vs Kayak: 6 Interesting Differences to Know!

1. The Historical Difference

canoe vs kayakCanoe

A canoe is believed to be constructed first in between 8200 to 7600 BC, and its first evidence is found in the Netherlands. The boats generally look like a dough out of a tree with paddles, the first canoe, and the oldest known canoe is named Pesse canoe.

Later lots of other places in continents like Australia, America, and Africa have come up with the dugout boat evidence made out of carved wood used for fishing and hunting by the indigenous people. The canoe was more popular in the Canadian province of North America and later played a significant role in trading.


Kayak, on the other hand, has its origination in Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. The word Kayak is derived from the Greenlandic word meaning surface top. The Kayaks were made from animal skin, mainly seal, which was stretched on the wooden boat like frame or skeleton for the hunting purpose.

It is said that mostly in the early times, the Kayak boat frame was made from Whale’s bone because trees are few in the northern region. The kayaks were invented around 4,000 years ago, and the oldest one is preserved in Munich’s museum.

The primary difference between canoe vs. kayak lies in its historical origin and material used in making it.

2. The Design and Seating difference

canoe vs kayak

The boats are of different designs and are the most fundamental difference anybody will tell you when asked about canoe vs kayak. But the question is how you would identify which one is what? Let us make it easier for you then.


canoe boats have an open cockpit. It is the major difference you will come across in the boats. The area where the rower sits is known as gunwale, and the overall height of canoes are more than kayaks.

It can accommodate two or more rowers who sit in the middle, and because of the lifted middle portion, you need to sit with your legs folded or in a kneeling position because of lack of leg space. You can learn about canoe parts here!


Kayaks, on the other hand, have a closed top, and generally, single-seater boats are available, but tow seater is also available. The Kayaks have lower height allowing the water line to reach up to your lower body level.

Unlike canoes, you can sit on the floor of the kayaks and stretch your legs in the front. Once you are inside the boat, you are more likely to feel in level with the water and observe it from a much closer view. Learn about Kayak features and specifications here!

3. The Paddle shape

canoe vs kayak

The paddle shapes of canoe vs. kayaks are different because both of these sports are practiced in different waters levels and currents.

Canoeing paddles are generally single-bladed paddle, which means you will find only one broad paddle which allows the rowers in rowing one side of the canoe and then moving on to the other side. The pace is usually slow because canoeing is practiced in calm waters.

On the other hand, kayak paddles have double-bladed paddles, which allow them to have an easy movement while sitting in their kayaks. You don’t need to move your paddle across every time you want to move further as the paddles are longer than the canoe paddles.

4. Types of Canoe vs Kayak

canoe vs kayak

For getting the canoe vs kayak war interesting, there are four different types of canoes and three different types of kayaks. Let’s check them out one by one.

The four types of Canoes are:

1. Recreational canoes

The lengths of this type of canoe are between 13 to 17 feet, and are the most common types; it has good stability on the flat water and is best recommended for families or beginners.

2. Whitewater canoes

The length of this type is shorter than the recreational canoes, and it has lower stability in the initial phase. It is best recommended for those who want to sharpen their canoeing skills.

3. Square Stern Canoes

As the name says, these are flat in shape and it is designed so to accommodate a motor if required. You can take a square stern canoe for the long distance.

4. Racing canoes

These are quite different from all others as these are designed for specific purposes. This boat is much narrower and sits deeper in the water, which increases the stability and speed.

The three basic types of kayaks are:

1. Inflatable kayaks

As the name suggests, these kayaks can be inflated when needed, you can carry them along with you, fill them with air, and you are good to go.

2. Sit-inside kayaks

Sit inside kayaks has a cockpit where you need to fit yourself. There’s no extra space for anything but your legs, and it’s a closed space.

3. Sit-on-top kayaks

sit on top kayaks can get a little confusing with canoes, but these are not precisely like canoe boats. The cockpit is open, you don’t look packed in a boat, and the shape is narrower just the way a kayak seems. These are also available in inflatable form.canoe vs kayak

The Kayaks are furthermore subdivided into seven types based on different purposes:

  • Recreational kayaks

these kayaks include the sit on top kayaks and inflatable ones because it’s made for initial learning and ease of carrying.

  • Day touring kayaks

these are longer in shape and allows traveling in a straight line if you want to have a paddling experience for a few hours. The design provides better speed and is suitable for medium to long-distance journeys.

  • Whitewater kayaks

These sit inside types and are short in length, which is better for an intermediate level of kayakers.

  • Expedition kayaks

These are sit-inside kayaks, best recommended for long expeditions. These are longer, wider and have more dry storage areas and comfort.

  • Surf

These are best for surfing on the active water for adventure and thrill.

  • Racing kayaks

These are of sit on top types and are much longer, and narrower also is very unstable, which adds thrill in the experience as they are much faster as well.

5. Pros and Cons of Canoe vs Kayak

canoe vs kayak

Pros of Canoe vs Kayak can be many, and here’s a few that you should know.

  • Canoe Pros

Bigger in size and allows two or more people, which means fun time on weekends. No need to be an expert, the paddles are light, and that means a smooth, painless experience; also, you will not get wet.

  • Kayaks Pros

best for adventure and thrill, it moves faster, and double paddle allows more effortless movement. More comfortable to carry because of the availability of inflatable kayaks. Lots of options to choose from.

Well, yes, there are several cons of Canoe vs Kayak as well, but you should be aware of these facts as well.

  • Canoe Cons

it’s challenging to paddle alone as it is heavier, and also you cannot carry it everywhere; again, not a lot of options are available for waterproof storage.

  • Kayak Cons

If you like getting wet, then it’s not a con for you. In the closed cockpit kayaks, there’s less freedom of movement. It is not stable on calm water; you can turn upside down with your kayak. Initial lessons are easier but becoming an expert is a task.

These were a few basic differences you should know about canoe vs kayak. Now, when you see a person in a narrower boat, we hope that you will be able to identify the exact type.

There are lots of beautiful places in the world where you can enjoy canoeing or kayaking, and one of the best lakes in the world is Lake geneva. You can know about the exciting water sport and events that are organized here while exploring several other interesting facts about it.

Now, you must decide between canoe vs kayak, or else you can try both and decide later on what you enjoyed the most. Because both canoe vs kayak has its pros and cons, so choose wisely and try to become an expert in anyone you like.

This was an article on ‘Canoe vs Kayak: 5 Interesting Differences!’. If you have anything to add, please feel free to share your thoughts with us!

About the author

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Living Life