canoe vs kayak. It’s time to choose your fighter. although to do so, you really need to know what the difference is between a kayak and a canoe. both are floating vessels; both have been used for thousands of years; both use paddles, and both can help prevent you from taking an untimely and unwanted swim in a lake, reservoir, sea, or ocean.
so what’s the difference?
Despite the fact that many use the two words interchangeably (and that your high school PE teacher didn’t know the difference and got angry when you asked), there is actually a clear distinction between a kayak and a kayak. a canoe ships are different. the gear is different. even the story is different. but few know what those differences really are.
what is the difference between a canoe and a kayak?
The main difference between a kayak and a canoe, or between a kayak and a canoe, is in the boat you use.
The canoes are an open-top design with the paddler sitting or kneeling inside, using a single-bladed oar to propel himself forward through the water. kayaks have an enclosed deck in which the paddler sits inside with their legs stretched out in front of them and uses a double-ended paddle to move back and forth through the water.
canoe: generally open deck boat, seated or kneeling position, single paddle.
kayak: closed deck boat, sitting position with legs stretched out, two-blade paddle.
If you came to this article hoping to get an absolute basics guide to the differences between canoeing and kayaking, there you have it. ready little more we have to offer you. close your browser and voila, cheat on that pub quiz you’re currently competing in.
If you’re interested in the respective histories of canoes and kayaks, a few more little differences, and where you can try each, stay put and read on. We’re having such a good time together, after all. right?
what equipment do you need for canoes and kayaks?
so we’ve already touched on the key differences in equipment between a canoe and a kayak. that is, the type of boat you use. but let’s delve a little (just a little, yes) into the benefits of each of them.
A canoe is open-topped, meaning the inner deck is less protected from the elements than a kayak, which is closed-topped. That’s why a canoe has high sides, making it more difficult for water to jump up and splash you as you paddle.
A kayak is lower, so you’ll be closer to the water than if you were to paddle a canoe. in a kayak, there is only one small hole where water can enter the boat (the same place where you will be sitting!). but it’s harder to get water out if it gets in, so many kayakers use a spray rig to keep water out of their boat. however, this does make it a bit trickier to get out of the kayak, so if you are going to use a spray rig make sure you have the confidence to put it on and take it off and get out of the kayak; if it capsizes, you may have to do it underwater!
Once you master the basics of kayaking and using a spray rig, you can try learning an “Eskimo roll.” An eskimo roll is a technique used to recover if a kayak capsizes. once your kayak is upside down in the water, you use your paddle and your body to force your kayak back upright without ever leaving the boat. it’s a great skill to learn.
Kayaks are much more agile and faster than canoes, due to their shape, lighter weight, and double-bladed paddle, which allows for faster, more agile piloting than a canoe. canoes, on the other hand, are more stable and more difficult to capsize.
a brief history of canoes and kayaks
The word canoe comes from the Caribbean kenu (pirogue), from the Spanish canoa. the name makes sense when you think about it and, in fact, a “pirogue canoe” is still an alternative name for a canoe, particularly one that has been made from a hollow tree trunk.
The oldest canoe ever discovered is the Pesse canoe, which was found in the Netherlands and dates back to 8200 BC. this is currently not only the oldest canoe, but the oldest known ship in the world.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are well known for their canoes. When Europeans began exploring the area in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, they were impressed by canoe designs, which ended up playing a key role in European exploration of, in particular, the interior of North America.
Kayaks can be traced back to the Inuit tribes of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. they were commonly used for hunting and were made of wood, with sealskin stretched to provide the closed top. Scandinavian explorers later took up kayaking and popularized it in Europe.
In 1924, canoeing was featured as a demonstration sport at the 1924 Olympics. Then, 12 years later, at the notorious 1936 Olympics (best remembered for being hosted by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany), canoeing became a full Olympic sport. nine events were contested, all in canoe sprint, and all for men only. It wasn’t until 1948 that canoeing and kayaking entered the Olympic Games as a women’s sport.
Today, rotomolded polyethylene is one of the most common materials used to make kayaks and canoes. it is flexible, strong and relatively inexpensive. fiberglass is also common as it is ultralight, very responsive, durable and easy to repair, and wood also remains popular. it may not be recommended for whitewater, but it makes you feel like an explorer from days gone by.
where to go canoeing and kayaking
You can kayak and canoe anywhere there is water. the ocean, the local canal, even your local pool, though good luck getting a kayak through the gates without the poor receptionist asking you some serious questions.
Naturally, not many people own canoes or kayaks as they can be quite expensive and especially difficult to store. so if you’re looking to go canoeing or kayaking, it’s best to google a rental point near you. where there is water, there are usually boats.
Here at Much Better Adventures, we offer a great selection of kayaking holidays both in the UK and beyond. From a 100km kayaking expedition through Scotland to four days of kayaking, hiking and wilderness camping in the Norwegian Fjords and even a week of hiking and kayaking in Cuba, there is something for every adventurer!
See our full range of kayaking and canoeing adventures around the world, and hit the water, no matter what boat you use or how many paddles you have on your paddle when you do it.