What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe

What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe

Canoes were widely used by human ancestors in primitive societies for fishing, hunting, and transportation. It has a history of 5000 to 9000 years. The kayak originated in the 1860s in Greenland, North America. The word means "man's boat" in the Eskimo language. These paddles were first made with skins of whales and otters. Modern canoes and kayaks are primarily used for recreational purposes as well as water sports, fishing, and travel. Both are lightweight boats propelled and controlled by the use of paddles. But each has its unique characteristics, and there are some key differences between the two.


Here are some differences between kayaks and canoes.

1: Difference in the design of the boats

All canoes usually have an open-top. It exposes the top and interior of the boat and provides more space for the user. So the canoe usually can take one to three people. It is suitable for driving on the lake or river.

Kayaks have sit-inside kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. The design of sit-on-top kayaks is similar to canoes. But the sit-inside kayaks usually have an enclosed deck, which covers the top and interior of the boat and protects the user. The sit-inside kayaks only can take one person. There are also tandem kayaks. And their speed is usually faster than the canoe. That's why it is often used in competitions.

 2: Difference in seats

The canoes often have no seats. The users usually sit in one of two ways: sitting or kneeling. When they are sitting, they rest their knees against the edge of the boat. When they are kneeling, they wedge their knees against the sides of the boat for stability.

The kayaks often provide you with comfortable seats. The seat of modern sit-on-top kayaks has a backrest. We have these kayaks available in our store. The users only sit in one of one way: They can stretch their legs forward inside the kayak.

3: Difference in paddles

The user usually uses a single-bladed paddle in the canoe. But canoes are heavier than kayaks. So it usually takes 2 people to work together.

The paddle of the kayak has two blades. The user should dip each blade alternately into the water.


According to the differences, what are the advantages and disadvantages of canoes and kayaks respectively?

Advantages of a canoe

  • More space for the user or storage.
  • Easy to get into or out.
  • It can take more people than the kayak.

Disadvantages of a canoe

  • Low speed than kayaks.
  • Needs more energy to paddle.

Advantages of a kayak

  • It is faster than a canoe and can be used for races.
  • More comfortable.
  • Sit-inside kayaks can protect the user.
  • The paddle has two blades, it needs less energy to paddle.

Disadvantages of a kayak

  • Less space for the user or storage.
  • It’s more difficult to get into or out of sit-inside kayaks.


We share the advantages and disadvantages of kayaks and canoes. So how does man choose between canoe and kayak? If you prefer to paddle leisurely in a river or lake, we recommend you choose a canoe. But if you are looking for more speed, we recommend you choose a kayak.

Back to blog