Kayak vs Canoe: What Are the Differences?

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Kayak vs Canoe? Kayaking and canoeing are both great sports if you want to relax or have an adventure. There’s a lot of overlap between kayaking and canoeing, but they are two different sports with different gear. Here are the main differences between kayaking and canoeing: the boats, the paddles, and the techniques used.

Kayak vs. Canoe
Kayak vs. Canoe?

Kayak vs Canoe: The Differences Between these Boats

Kayaks can have an open-top (sit-on-top style) or a closed-top (sit-in style). They commonly seat one person, though there are also tandem kayaks that seat more than one. Kayaks sit low in the water, and kayakers sit on the floor of the boat with their legs stretched in front of them. Some kayaks have a watertight spray deck to keep water out of the cockpit, and they often have dry storage holds. There are many different kayaks for different purposes: recreational, touring, fishing, offshore, whitewater, and more. You can also get inflatable kayaks or pedaling kayaks.

Canoes usually have an open top and commonly seat two people, though there are also solo canoes and multi-person canoes. Each person sits on a bench with their feet on the floor of the boat. Canoes generally have higher sides than a kayak does, and the canoer sits higher above the water. Some have a flat bottom and others have a rounded bottom. Canoes are usually much longer than kayaks. There’s often more space to store gear. While most canoes are recreational in purpose, there are also touring canoes, fishing canoes, whitewater canoes, and more.

Kayak vs canoe? For more information, visit our Canoeing Page.

Kayak on Oxford Lake


Paddles and Paddling Techniques

Besides the boat, the other main difference between the two lies in the paddles. Kayak paddles are double-sided with a blade on each end. Canoe paddles are shorter and only have a blade at one end.

When paddling a kayak, you will paddle first on one side and then on the other in a smooth motion. Since the kayak paddle has two blades, you do not have to move the paddle across the cockpit. With a canoe paddle, you usually move the paddle from one side of the canoe to the other to propel the boat in a straight line.

Kayak vs canoe: For more information, visit our Kayaking Page.

Canoeing Tips for Beginners

Kayak vs Canoe: The Bottom Line

Some people prefer the agility and the lightweight maneuverability of a kayak. Others prefer the higher vantage point, the ability to carry lots of gear, and the stability of a canoe. It mainly comes down to the type of water you’re paddling in and which one you like better. Your local area may be better suited to one or the other, or it may be perfect for both types of watercraft.

Both types of boats come in countless styles, sizes, and materials. There are so many niches to explore within each sport! It’s up to you to decide which one you prefer. Either way, you’ll have wonderful adventures out on the water!

Kayak vs canoe?  Still undecided? We recommend both so you never have to decide!


A great resource for all paddle sports is the American Canoe Association website.



2 thoughts on “Kayak vs Canoe: What Are the Differences?”

    1. Thanks…the answer depends on needs and ability. Many of us like both canoes and kayaks. Some will prefer kayaks as they are easier to transport. Whatever your choice, you will be sure to enjoy the adventure.

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