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What’s the Difference between a Canoe and a Kayak?

Canoe Vs Kayak

Canoe Vs Kayak: Are they the same, or do they have any difference? Both of these boats are totally different when it comes to their purpose. Canoes are more like a simple boat that a paddler moves through the water using a single-bladed paddle. On the other hand, a kayak uses a double-bladed paddle and is best for competitive water activities.

Read on to find the main differences between a canoe and a kayak.

Canoe Vs. Kayak: What is the Difference?

Most people don’t know the difference between kayaking and canoeing because both of these boats look similar. However, they are different from each other in terms of shape, design, purpose, and much more.

Here is what you need to know about them.


The primary difference between these two boats is the vessel’s deck. Canoes have a wide, open top so that the rowers can sit inside if there are seats or simply kneel inside the canoe. The paddler has to push their boat forward by using a single-bladed paddle. Hence the inside of the canoe is uncovered and open. On the other hand, kayaks have a closed deck that contains a hole in the center of the boat to allow a paddler to climb and sit in it. The paddler has to sit on a low seat, stretching out their legs inside the boat. They have to move the boat forward with the help of a double-bladed paddle.

Hence, canoes have an open deck and a single-bladed paddle, whereas kayaks have a closed deck and double-bladed paddle.

Design and Style

Both canoes and kayaks are lightweight and thin boats. They also have one, or both tips pointed to help you smoothly drive them in water. This innovative and unique design makes kayaks good for racing and canoes good for sprints.

Although you can find all sizes of boats in the market, both canoes and kayaks are also available in bigger sizes. The size usually depends on how many paddlers a boat can carry. But the difference between these boats is their width. You can easily find a thin kayak, which only allows paddlers to sit on the thick paddleboards. But it is not the case with canoes, and they are not too thin. Apart from this, both of the boats are available in different materials like molded plastic, metal, and composite materials, including PVC, Kevlar, and fiberglass.


You may know that numbers and letters are used to classify boats. In their classification, the letter comes first, which defines the type of boat, such as C or K. After the letter, you can see a single-digit number that shows you the number of paddlers that can sit in the boat. For instance, traditional canoes that can carry a single person at a time have a classification of C1. A canoe with paddlers, tandem canoe, falls in the category of C2. This similar rule applies to kayaks, but usually, kayaks can accommodate only one or a few paddlers compared to canoes, which is another factor that makes them different from each other.

Additionally, it is important to understand that the type of boat deck can change the classification of the boat. For instance, if you have an open-decked canoe that offers space for one paddler, it will come in the classification of the OC1, whereas if you have a closed-deck canoe, it will come in C1 classification.


We have already discussed that both boats need a different type of paddle accessory. You also need to know that the style and shape of these paddles also differ from each other. A canoe only needs a single paddle, but it should have a T-shape handle at the end of the shaft. It helps the paddler to easily and comfortably hold the paddle while water paddling on each side of the canoe.

In comparison, kayak paddlers are longer than canoes’. They also have double blades so that the kayaker can easily row on both sides of the boat. This helps the user avoid switching sides every time they have to paddle on the other side of the boat.

Which One Should You Use?

If you want a boat for fishing, camping, or driving with your friends and family, a canoe is a great choice because of its size and seating capacity. It can accommodate two to three and even four paddlers at a time. You can also easily control your boat, especially when more than one person is paddling at the same time. But, of course, its longer and wide size will make it less compact and portable compared to kayaks. If you want to avoid this situation, you can purchase an inflatable canoe.

Moreover, if you want to enjoy challenging water sports and willing to learn the right methods and techniques to drive the boat, you need to choose a kayak for yourself. You will get a good variety in the market when it comes to kayak, including inflatable kayak. Just make sure to learn kayaking before getting into the water.

It is important to note that recreational water activities become a lot safer and secure if you opt for the right tool and equipment. This is why consider your preferences and the purpose of buying a boat so that you can make the right decision.

Wrap Up

Canoe Vs. Kayak, now you might understand their difference. Both of these boats may look similar, but they have different designs, purposes, styles, tools, shapes, and configurations. So, be sure what you want to achieve from a boat before buying one.

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