Best advice for a first time canoe buyer

Hello everyone! My fiance’s birthday is coming up and I’d like to buy him a Canoe. I’m simply wondering what’s the best canoe for cost and quality. We’d like one that is large enough to store a tent and some camping supplies, but not to the point that it’s difficult to row. I don’t know a thing about canoes but I’d like it to be a complete surprise so any advice would be a huge help. Thanks in advance!!

Paddle the Canoe
First of all,… please understand that you PADDLE a canoe,… NOT ROW! What is your budget? If money is not an issue, take a look at some new Kevlar canoes by Wenonah, Nova Craft or Esquif! They have websites to learn. What type paddling will y’all do? Lakes or Rivers? That will help determine what type canoe. Is he experienced at paddling? If not, but he is athletic/coordinated then go ahead and look into some performance type canoes and not the wide flat bottomed beginner boats that are no fun to paddle. Before anyone on this forum can give sound advice, you need to answer the above questions. Then STAND BY for a barrage of answers!

what a great birthday gift
Your fiancé is very lucky to receive such a great gift. As has already been pointed out, your question is not quite as simple as it might seem. One of the things I learned very early when I got into canoeing is that, although most canoes look very similar, they can handle and feel very different from each other. Despite how they might appear, differences in design, material used, options available, and manufacturer, means there is actually quite a bit of variety in the canoes available.

So it’s a little like asking what is the best motorcycle, set of golf clubs, or guitar. The honest answer is, “it depends.” The questions posed by the board member above will help get you on the right track. Like a motorcycle or a guitar, the best bet for getting the best one for you is to get a chance to try some out first before you buy. But it’s still an awesome gift to be told, let’s get a great canoe for your birthday, and then go about the fun of discovering what exactly that is.

Have fun with it.

Gift certificate
Buying a canoe is hard if you don’t know what you are looking for. Maybe a gift certificate to a local ,knowledgable, boat store so he can pick out what he wants.

Questions and Compromises
All paddlecraft, whether canoes, kayaks,SUPs, are compromises. In general you can weigh your back against your wallet. If its cheap (under $1000)it will be heavy (over 80#). If its cheap (under $750) it will paddle poorly.

Knowing how you want to use the canoe; camping trips on calm lakes and easy rivers with no portages or whitewater wilderness runs, or canoe trips with lots of portages; this knowledge will help to set the compromises.

How athletic are you as a couple? Can you lift and carry a heavy canoe, are you experienced paddlers?

Is there a good paddling retailer near you where you can test paddle canoes? Where do you live?

People here will be very helpful and knowing the answers to the questions posed will get you helpful advice.

Your fiancé is a lucky guy,



– Last Updated: May-02-16 2:23 PM EST –

read this material

remember the canoe needs storage space.

Assemble the online and local shop for sale locations then look at that resource every week.

After 3-4 weeks a fine canoe at a reasonable price will appear owner desperately needing $$$ for a new truck transmission.


Find the local club n join.

From a more newby perspective
I’d go a different way, assuming your fiance knows as much about canoes as you do (if he knows a lot about canoes I’d let him pick the boat out himself). I’d buy a used Old Town Discovery, or maybe a Guide though that might be a little small. Get your feet wet (so to speak) with that, and if you like it, then start getting more nuanced in your boat choice. Those Old Towns go for around $400 here on craigslist, come up frequently, and will resell for about the same amount. They’re not awesome canoes, but they do the job and they’ll get you on the water. And the price is right, especially if the seller throws in paddles and pfds.

an a rack, a tent 2 snow tires and a case of Molsons…