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A Beginner’s Guide to Canoeing

You might have the experience of riding a canoe if you love to go on adventures on your own. Canoes are super fun to ride and easy to paddle. These small boats can enhance your water experience to a great extent.

You can go solo or take a friend of yours canoeing. You can also take your family or go camping and canoeing for fun. There are single to multiple people riding canoes available in the market from which to choose.

You can choose one according to your choice and requirements.

Canoe has been a part of human history for centuries. Earlier humans rode canoes as a mode of transportation. However, in modern times canoeing is more of a sport.

Canoeing as a sport came around in the late 19th century. A Scottish lawyer and sportsperson, John McGregor, first introduced canoeing as a sport. Later in the early 20th century, several canoe federations began their operations.

After the increase in popularity, canoeing became an Olympic sport for the first time in 1936. Later, canoeing became vastly popular all over Europe. And at the present day, canoeing has become a recreational sport all over the world.

Is a canoe a boat?

A canoe is one narrow water vessel. It is a boat with some exclusive features. It is pointy at its two edges, and one or two people can paddle it in the water.

Canoeing is a part of the Summer Olympics. It became an official Olympic game at the year 1936.

Up until now, there have been various changes in the rules and methods of this game. Sprint and slalom are the two categories of canoeing in the Olympics.

There are canoe boats with motors in them. You can get it for your canoe if you want to focus less on the paddle and more on enjoying the sights or catching fish.

But kayaks are different from canoes. Kayaks have a double blade mechanism, and the rider sits in a kayak to paddle the blades. And riders kneel in a canoe that runs on a single-blade propelling application.

Types of Canoe Boats in terms of Shape & Size

 There are various sorts of canoe available in terms of shape and size. Such as –

River canoe:

The sides of these canoes are high enough to repel splashes. They are easy to maneuver.

Recreational canoe:

These canoes are ideal for flat water and stability. They are easy to paddle and recreational activities.

White-water canoe:

These are short, and their hulls are rockered. It does not allow a lot of water in the canoe.

Touring canoe:

These canoes have more efficient paddling mechanisms and speed than recreational ones.

Intermediate canoe:

These canoes are lighter and faster than recreational ones. They are an upgrade from plastic or aluminum canoes with more features.

Racing canoe:

These canoes are ideal for sports purposes.  Canoeing is a part of the Summer Olympics, and these canoes are perfect for this. Light materials are in use for their manufacture.

Fishing canoe:

These canoes are suitable to go to deep water for fishing. They are stable and easy to paddle for a long distance.

Solo canoe:

These canoes are small in size. They snuggle, and only one person can get inside these boats to paddle. That is, they are one seater canoes.

Tandem canoe:

These canoes are suitable for the use of two-person. There are two paddles in it. It is ideal for beginners.

Three/four-person canoe:

Three-person canoes are versatile and can also serve as one-person or two-person canoes with some extra storage space.

Four-person canoes are longer in size and require more work to paddle.  Two seats are in the middle and the other two seats are on the two ends of the canoe.

Canadian canoe:

These are canoes that families prefer to take on their family trips. They are traditional and perfect for camping trips as well.

Lightweight canoe:

These canoes are lightweight and easy to paddle. But strong currents are not suitable for it.

Aluminium canoe:

Aluminium is in use to manufacture these canoes. They are firm and stable.

Expedition canoe:

Suitable for camping and carrying around for a long time.

Fiberglass canoe:

These are durable and protected by a gel layer to avoid scratches.

Folding canoe:

It constitutes a frame and skin and can be folded for storing.

Square stern canoe:

These are ideal for attaching motors. The stern is square in structure for this purpose.

Multi-purpose canoe:

They perform in all kinds of situations and all types of water. They provide more stability and durability.

Types of Canoe materials

There are different types of canoe materials available in the market. You have to choose the ideal material for your canoe according to your need. The different types of canoe materials are:


Woods is the most ancient material to make a canoe. These canoes require more work to craft. The performance of wooden canoes is of high quality, but these are fragile.


Royalex canoes are well known for their durability index. Plastic, vinyl, and foam layers are in use to manufacture these canoes.

Tuff stuff:

The performance and efficiency of these materials are excellent. These canoes are sturdy and durable as well.


The speed and efficiency of plastic canoes are less than other materials. But they are durable and cheap. These are heavier as well.


Graphite or carbon is in use for the production of these canoes. These canoes provide better acceleration and maneuverability. It is stiff and firm.


Aluminium canoes are less available at present. They are harder to design and incorporate. If you are slow in canoeing and bump in rocks, you can go for this option for its durability.


These canoes are the best option if you want something durable at a low cost. Recreational canoeing is the best use for these canoes.

Kevlar Composites:

Kevlar is a much stronger composite than steel. These are durable and firm canoe materials.

Kevlar canoes are ideal if you want a speedy canoeing experience. Kevlar canoes are best for competition or racing purposes.

Fiberglass Composites:

Fiberglass composites are higher in price than Kevlar composites. But these are available in any shape and size. These are easy to mold and design.


PVC or nylon fabrics are in use to make these softshell canoes. These canoes are either inflatable or require an internal frame for their construction. But you cannot take these on stronger currents of water. They are ideal for white water canoeing.

Size & weight capacity of canoe boats

The weight-bearing capacity of canoes depends on their length and width. The regular canoes are two seated and 16 inches long. They can carry a weight of about 900 – 950 pounds.

To get a rough estimate of the maximum bearing capacity of your canoe, multiply its length and breadth and then divide it by 18. The outcome is the approximate number of people and gears it can carry. Then multiply it with the average weight of humans.

Then you can decide, according to your weight and gears, what size of canoe you need.

  • Solo: 13 or 14-foot canoes with a capacity of 300-400 pounds.
  • Two-person:  14 to 17-foot canoes with 700 – 900 pounds of maximum capacity.
  • Three-person: These canoes are 15 to 17+ feet long. Maximum weight capacity depends on its width and length.
  • Four to seven-person: These can be even 20 feet long. And the bearing capacity can exceed 1000 pounds.

Price of canoe boats

Canoe boats are available in different price ranges, starting from 900 to even 300. Prices of canoe boats are given below –

900$ – 1500$:

Most canoes range from the size of 14 to 17 feet in this range. Folding, solo, tandem, recreational, Canadian, fishing, racing canoes, etc., are found under this price category.

Clipper, Grumman, Lincoln, Mad River, MyCanoe, Nova Craft, Old Town, Sun Dolphin, etc., are a few examples of the brands.

1500$ – 2300$:

Clipper, Grumman, Lincoln, MyCanoe make canoes in this range. The types vary from double or tandem canoes to recreational canoes and more. The size ranges from 16 feet to 20 feet.

2300$ – 3000$:

The canoes in this range can be of any size, starting from 16 or 17 feet up to 20+ feet. Wenonah, NorthStar, Mad River, Souris River manufactures these pricey canoes. These are deluxe canoes with the best materials and features.

You can also go for second-hand canoes if you want to invest less for the learning phase. Used canoes range from 350$ – 500$. But look out for damages and return policies.

Rental cost of canoe boats

The rental cost of canoes varies depending upon the type of canoe and the duration of your ride.

If you are going for one-day canoeing, then you can rent a canoe for 40$ to 60$. For more than one canoe, it will cost you more.

If you are renting a canoe for two days, the cost will range from 35$ to 50$ per canoe each day. And the additional day that you add to this renting will cost you more than 25$ each day.

How to transport a canoe?

Using a trailer:

You can use a trailer to transport your canoe from your home to the riding place. People use this method for covering shorter distances.

On car-top:

If you are going to a distant location for canoeing, then you will need to mount your canoe upon your car and tie it with paddings.

On a cart:

Adding carts to your canoe is easy to transport. You can also attach your bikes to the cart and then paddle them to transport your canoe to the canoeing location.

Your car must have a stable and firm rack upon it to tie the canoe and balance it. Place your canoe upon the car rack in an inverted manner. Then use a rope or rubber strap to fix the canoe. Tie the front and rear part of the canoe to the bottom of the car hooks as well.

How to store your canoe?

Keep out of moisture:

Do not let your canoe touch the ground while storing it. Otherwise, the moisture content of the earth can affect the material of your canoe. Keep it off-grounds for better storage.

Using a canoe rack:

Using racks is the best way to store several canoes at a time. You can store 6 – 10 or more canoes in a canoe rack according to their weighing capacity.

Using a suspension:

Hanging your canoes using a suspensor saves the ground space and saves your canoe from moisture damages at the same time.

Weight distribution:

Distribute the weight along its length equally while storing your canoe. Else your canoe can deform or break.

Protection from the sunlight:

To protect your canoe from UV rays, use a tarp to cover it while storing. 

The steps for building a canoe storage rack: 

  • Take two vertical posts and insert and fix them to the ground.
  • For the rigidity of the posts, put cross braces.
  • Put wooden beams horizontally to the posts to place the canoes in them.
  • Use a tarp to cover the setup and keep it off the grounds.

Tips for choosing a canoe boat for yourself

Type of paddle:

River, white-water, flat water, etc., require canoes of unique features.

Duration of canoeing:

You have to estimate the duration of your average canoeing before buying the canoe. The material must be compatible with that.

The number of riders:

Riders and their weight determine the size of your canoe. So select your canoe after measuring your weight and gears.

Type of trip:

The type of the trip and the water you are canoeing must be kept in mind while selecting the canoe.

Length and depth:

Narrow down the types and sizes of the canoe before buying according to your needs.

Canoe building materials:

No matter what material you choose, try to get the best product for durability and effectiveness.

Go for a test canoeing after you have selected the categories for your canoe. You can try 2 to 4 canoes to find the ideal one for you.

Canoes are fun to ride. Canoeing is an official sport in the Olympics and a great way to spend your time. It is a recreational activity, and you get to enjoy the sights at the same time. You can go fishing, riding, paddling, racing, etc., in a canoe.

Those who have not tried canoeing must try it even once in their lifetime. You should not miss out something this energetic and therapeutic activity from your life.