Skip to Content

Is Canoeing Harder than Kayaking? (Canoe vs Kayak)

Any outdoor activity sparks joy and excitement. The more the adrenaline rush, the better. And to get that extra fun and involvement, any activity relating to sailing or paddling is an ideal choice.

To flow with a body of river is an absolute bliss. Bt nothing so amazing comes easily. You have to work hard to properly enjoy the ride. The river flows as it wills, so it is crucial to know how to flow along. One wrong turn can, and the fun will simply drown.

Is canoeing harder than kayaking?

Yes, in terms of difficulty, canoeing is harder than kayaking. Without proper training, both are difficult, but canoeing requires much practice. The common inclination to canoeing is also difficult to go through. Even with training, it is more difficult to handle a canoe than a kayak.

Why is canoeing harder than kayaking?


Canoeing is paddling a canoe with a single-bladed paddle where the paddler kneels and paddles in a single direction to go forth with the flow. It can be done in any water body, such as a lake, pond, or even river.

The boat has a smooth surface to prevent the lashes of the waves to come at it roughly. The wide body of a canoe gives it more space to keep the paddle. The seats are bench-like.

Kayaking involves paddling with a double-bladed paddle. The paddler is seated in the middle of the boat and paddles in the alternative sides each time to move forward. Kayaking can be done in a water body with heavier flows.


A kayak is a much lighter boat compared to not only the canoe but also many other boats. There is more gear and grip in a kayak. Kayaking is considered a much more popular form of sailing and is widely used for recreational purposes in the mountain water flows.


In terms of difficulty and period of learning, canoeing is harder than kayaking. It takes a stronger grip, and the learning phase of canoeing is much longer and difficult than that of kayaking.


The single paddle of a canoe is difficult to balance, while the double blades of a kayak paddle is more in balance and is easier to adjust to your body weight.

A kayak gives more grip and allows more hold on the paddles than a canoe. The paddles of a canoe is heavier on one side as it has a single blade. This tips off the paddler pretty easily.


A kayak is easier to maneuver. It is easy to control and generally flows along the river waves. With a canoe, it can be difficult to control the boat itself as it weighs a lot more than a canoe. And in case of waves or strong winds, a canoe can be difficult to put a halt to.   

The river is hardly predictable. In terms of a major lash of wave, a kayak is easier to row along the waves. Where a canoe can be difficult to manage as the weight of the boat The heavyweight of a canoe itself can be difficult to direct when a wave is going in the other direction.

Whereas with a kayak, the double paddles help control the movement, and the lightweight of the boat makes it easier to move in sturdy waves.


A kayak offers more storage space for the gear. A gear makes the ride smoother and allows more balance. A canoe has little space to place a gear. The storage of a kayak is waterproof, which keeps the gear safe in case of high tides or capsizes.

The kayak storage can be used to transport other electronic devices as well, which may come handy in case of any unforeseen emergencies.

To break things down the, difficulty level for beginners is given below-

Is canoeing difficult for beginners?

For beginners, it may seem that canoeing is much more comfortable than kayaking but in reality, the bulk and weight of the canoe makes it more difficult to control. Also the single paddle makes it more hard grip and keep balance.

Kneeling is also very difficult for any beginner, not everyone knows how to balance the body weight and the paddle weight.

A canoe has a more difficult instruction set. It is much harder for a rookie sailor to balance a heavy boat. And for a person with limited sense of balance, it becomes more difficult as the boat offers a single blade paddle which tips off to the heavier side fairly easily.

Is kayaking difficult for beginners?

When you want to learn kayaking, you get to start with a paddle with double blades. It means the weight of the paddle is equally distributed. This gives you more balance, and it is easier to adjust to your body weight.

Kayaks have seating arrangements for the paddler in the middle of the boat, so it is more comfortable and, not to mention, easier for anyone who’s just getting started.

A kayak allows much lighter sailing process. The double-blade paddles balance them out themselves. The seating space keeps the paddler in place. This way, the paddler can focus on the river waves and paddles without checking his balance every now and then.

Why is kayaking easier than canoeing?

Both kayaking and canoeing involve paddling and riding the water flows while maintaining balance with the flow. Honestly speaking, neither of the both is easy to control. But in some terms, kayaking is comparatively easier to learn and ride than canoeing.

Although the ease of any activity depends on the paddler but there are some points that go in favor of kayaking which are given below-

  • Faster to learn: The basics of the kayak is much more easier than the basics of canoeing, kayaking is faster than canoeing to learn.
  • Easy to control: Kayaks are lighter and easier to control than the canoe as a canoe is much more bulky in size.
  • Easy to balance: Kayaks have double-bladed paddles, which are easier to balance, while canoes are single paddled, which is harder to balance.
  • Takes on less water: Kayaks take on less water while paddling compared to canoes.
  • Requires less effort: A kayak requires less effort to paddle at top speed, whereas in a canoe, you need to double the effort to get the highest speed.
  • Easy to transport: A kayak is easier to transport.
  • Easy powering and tracking: The powering and tracking of a canoe is easier because of the double blade paddles.
  • More maneuverable: Compared to a canoe, a kayak is more maneuverable.
  • More efficient: The double blade paddles of a kayak is more efficient than the single paddles of a canoe.

The list above shows why and how a kayak is easier to learn than a canoe.

Canoes vs. Kayaks: Which one is Safer?

In terms of safety, a kayak has the thumbs up. A kayak is easier to capsize. A kayak is also lighter, which makes it more manageable if there is any mishap.

Why a kayak is safer? 

Both the boats are stable enough to not cause major problems. However, a kayak can be righted in case of a rollover. If such a thing were to happen to a canoe, it would be a major issue to get the boat on the right side.

The kayak is easier to manage as it is easy to capsize. There are several safety techniques, such as the “Eskimo Rolls” to handle a turnover.

Canoes vs. Kayaks: Which one is Faster?

When speed is the basis of comparison, kayak wins the race. A kayak rows faster than a canoe, and this is possible because of the lightweight structure of a kayak.

Why kayak is faster? 

A canoe is more bulky than a kayak. The bench-like seats in a canoe make it heavier than a kayak as well. The narrow shape of a kayak gives it more flow. And it is a fact that the longer a boat, the faster it goes.

The shape of a kayak is built longer than a canoe; this gives the kayak more movement.

The double blades of the paddle makes it easier to row for the paddler. And as kayak starts to move along the flow of the water, paddling becomes easier, and the boat starts to take up more speed.

Canoes vs. Kayaks: Which one is More Stable?

Even though both kayak and canoe are quite tippy, in terms of stability, canoe has a consistent win. The shape and structure of a canoe makes the boat more stable than a kayak. 

Why canoe is more stable? 

A canoe has a wider shape than a kayak which makes it more stable and comfortable to maneuver. The wide shape of a canoe gives it more stability and better hold over waves.

The longer canoes are more stable to row over long distances. The canoes stay on the course more easily and have more gear that holds.

A calm river can turn into a raging lashes of waves in the blink of an eye. This is why it is very much crucial to go sailing with the proper expertise.

For any beginner, it is best to start with an easier boat. And in terms of difficulty, a canoe takes the lead. A canoe is much harder to ride than a kayak.  

Any outdoor activity should be about the thrill of being close to nature and the element. Both kayaking and canoeing can take you along the waves and completely enjoy the ride. Whereas any boat is hard to control, as is the river, handling a canoe is much more difficult than a kayak.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do canoes have wheel?

How to tow a canoe behind a boat?

How does canoeing affect the environment?

Are canoes good for fishing?