Kayak and Canoe News

What’s the Difference Between Canoes and Kayaks?



Have You Ever Wondered…

  • What’s the difference between canoes and kayaks?
  • Are canoes faster than kayaks?
  • How were the first canoes made?

Have you ever been in a canoe or a kayak? You might be able to tell the difference between a canoe and a kayak by looking at them, but aren’t they basically the same type of boat? What’s the difference between the two?

In general, kayaks are considered to be a type of canoe. The recreational activity of “canoeing” can often refer to paddling either a canoe or a kayak. Kayak enthusiasts, though, will usually refer to paddling a kayak as “kayaking.”

Both canoes and kayaks are lightweight boats that can be used on lakes and rivers. They are also both powered by humans using paddles. They can both be used for various recreational activities, such as fishing, and they can both travel in shallow water.

Exactly when a canoe should be called a kayak is not always clear, although there are some basic differences in design and how they’re usually used. For example, paddlers usually sit on a seat or kneel in a canoe, whereas kayakers are usually seated on the bottom of the boat with their legs stretched out in front of them.

The paddles used in canoes and kayaks are usually different, too. Paddlers tend to use single-bladed paddles in canoes and double-bladed paddles in kayaks.

Canoes also tend to have an open deck. This means that the inside of the boat is open and uncovered. Kayaks, on the other hand, are usually closed-decked. This means that the inside of the kayak is enclosed and surrounds the paddler.

Canoes and kayaks have different purposes, too. Canoes tend to be like the sport-utility vehicles of the recreational boating world. They can carry more people and supplies, making them ideal for families to use for leisurely paddles around calm lakes.

Kayaks, on the other hand, are more like sports cars. They can carry fewer passengers and supplies. Their sleek designs tend to make them faster and better for use in competitive water sports, such as racing and slipping through whitewater rapids.

In general, kayaks are designed to be faster and more agile than canoes. In the hands of a professional paddler, most canoes can be made to travel as fast as comparable kayaks. Overall, though, kayaks are known for faster speeds, while canoes are known for greater stability and roominess.

These types of boats have been around for thousands of years. In fact, the first canoes were simply hollowed-out trees. Kayaks were developed by the Inuit peoples of the Arctic specifically for fishing and hunting.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may have you saying, “Hair today, gone tomorrow!”

Try It Out

Ready to paddle? Ask a friend or family member to help you explore the following activities:

  • It’s time to get off the couch and hit the water. Ask a friend or family member to help you plan an exciting adventure at a nearby lake or stream. If you don’t have a canoe or a kayak, you can usually rent one at parks that have lakes or streams that are popular for canoeing and kayaking. You can usually also rent other items you may need, such as personal flotation devices.
  • If you want to get prepared for what your experience will be like, watch the following videos, which contain lots of tips for your first experience in a canoe or kayak: + 3 Golden Rules of Canoeing Technique + 3 Golden Rules of Recreational Kayaking
  • Up for a challenge? If you have some cardboard and lots of packing tape, you can Make a Cardboard Canoe to use in a swimming pool! Be sure to get lots of help from an adult friend or family member, and don’t ever try to go canoeing or kayaking without a buddy!

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