canoe/kayak whats the difference?

besides the height of the seat off of the bottom of the boat, what is the difference between a kayak and a canoe?

kayaks seem to have more stability than canoes. is that correct? is it something else?

Don’t …
Don’t jerk the lure, or reel it in too fast.

Nice, slow, and easy is the way to go…

You should be getting some bites pretty soon.



bored, aren’t you?
and trust me, you won’t beat the 200+ posts that the “Rude powerboater” scored.

That gold medal has been given out and gone now.

Thanx for trying… not


A canoe is a boat, pointed at both ends, powered by a paddle®.

So kayak is merely a subset of canoe.

Since there are decked canoes and double bladed canoe paddles and kayaks with large open cockpits these are not characteristics that can be used to distinguish one from the other.

You might want to refine your question.


all canoers are better looking then kayakers?

semantics and your attitude
In England all the craft we call kayaks are “canoes” and what we call canoes are “Canadian canoes”. BCU, the kayak training/certifying group from England is The British Canoe Union.


Forgive the above posters

– Last Updated: Aug-28-08 1:45 PM EST –

They are being sarcastic or don't know the difference.

The difference is distance vs quantity

Released from a roof rack at the same speed the kayak will bounce down the road farther but the canoe will run more cars off the road.

Paddlin' off

I’ll bring the popcorn…

This side of the pond they’re all
Bloody canoes.

Is there still blood on them from 1776?

try the search button
The bar is closing soon…we had that discussion hours ago.

Just too lazy I bet.

thank you - you answered my question, unlike anyone else. to everyone else - i know it sounded like a troll’s post, but it was an honest question. oh well.

Each boat has it’s pluses and minuses
I chose a solo canoe and set it up like an ‘undecked’ kayak because it could be adapted to my physical needs and could haul a lot of gear. I tried a lot of canoes and kayaks before buying and have been happy with the boat I have.

So what are your particular reasons for asking?

Why asking?
Serious question - are you thinking of purchasing a first boat and trying to decide on which kind of craft?

generally have covered over decks unless they are sit on tops, canoes generally don’t unless they are covered canoes(not very common—usually used in heavy white water or the olmpics)

Time for another Colonial

Canoes are associated with North America.

Dug-outs are associated with North America, South America, Polynesia, SE Asia.

Kayaks are associated with Greenland, North America, and Siberia (baidarkas).

Just where do the Torries get off being able to decide what a canoe or a kayak might be? All they have in the British Isles are those little corakles or hovever they spell it.

Time for another Tea Party - lets dump the BCU into the harbor! (And NOT the “harbour”)


HaHa! Very good point!
The British Isles seems like the only place in the whole world where early boat-builders were completley unable to figure out that a craft which is perfectly round is NOT a good design for “getting from here to there”.

oh, what the heck
I’ll take this one on again, even though I got slapped the last time. I’ll start with a disclaimer: I don’t think you can make an absolute distinction between canoe and kayak, but you can make a distinction that is statistically very good. I’m also not a boat designer or builder, just an enthusiast with an analytic bent. Also a glutton for punishment.

I continue to believe that seat height is the most important difference. Nearly all canoes have seats more than 5 inches off the floor; nearly all kayaks less. I used to say 5.5, but somebody told me he regularly paddles on a 5-inch pedestal in a canoe. I read somewhere that Greg Barton kayaks at 4 inches, so I can’t go much lower than 5.

Once you have a high seat, you can tuck your legs under or alongside it, so canoes give you seating options that kayaks don’t. Even when you’re sitting with your legs in front of you, you aren’t forced into the L shape of a kayaker, since your legs angle downwards. This is the most important difference for me.

The height of the seat determines the height of the center of gravity, and the center of gravity affects the stability, hence the width. Better said, for a given stability spec, you can achieve that spec with a narrower boat if you lower the center of gravity. Hence, kayaks are narrower than similarly stable canoes. Definitely no absolutes here; I know of 26-inch canoes and 28-inch kayaks.

Once you’ve settled the stability spec and the width, you can talk about whether to use a single or double paddle. The higher seat of the canoe makes it easier to get a vertical shaft with a single blade, and I suspect that is the main reason that canoeists typically use single blades, kayakers double blades. I’m on shakier ground here; maybe it’s more a matter of tradition.

Double paddles are easier to learn than single, at least at the entry level, so new kayak users avoid the frustration of zigzagging around with a single blade and come back for more. Thus, kayaks are better for newbies. Tandem canoes are better for couples who want to get divorced. (Okay, that was purely inflammatory.)

The final big difference is whether the boat has a deck. There are decked canoes and deckless (recreational) kayaks, but typically the reverse situation applies. This one, I’m pretty sure, really is a matter of tradition. I think the world would be a better place if there were more decked canoes. Not so sure about deckless kayaks.

Once you have a deck and a low profile, you can handle more wind and waves, so kayaks are typically used mroe on open water than canoes are. If you’re going on open water, you have to have a better plan for rescuing yourself (or rescuing others) than, “I’ll swim to shore and empty the boat.” Thus, kayaks typically have cords and other paraphernalia that helps with rescues. Again, no absolutes here; there are pond-only kayakers and rough-water canoeists.

Those are all the differences I can think of. Bring on the dispute!

– Mark

thank you to the few people who have replied with constructive and informative answers.

to the others: i am sorry that you misunderstood the intention of my question. i’m sure that you would not be such smartasses to someone whom you know is genuinely interested in picking up your sport.

that having been said, yes i am new to this and looking to pick up a boat. just trying to figure out what are going to be the better choices to look at and demo.

semantics and your attitude
Ref. “In England all the craft we call kayaks are “canoes” and what we call canoes are “Canadian canoes”. BCU, the kayak training/certifying group from England is The British Canoe Union.”

In the UK/GB (not just England) kayaks are kayaks which are a type of canoe (kinda like motor cycles are types of automobile, you still need to deal with DMV).

Canoes are canoes, open canoes, closed cockpit canoes or possibly Canadian canoes but the latter is a pretty old fashioned term.

BCU, operative word British. ECF (English Canoe Federation) is the England specific body.

The kayak training/certifying body in the US is the American Canoe Association (despite the fact that they dont operate much outside of the US). So are they all canoes in the US as well?

And while we are at it “quite good” may mean less than good not better than good and the rest of the world (and The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC))spells and pronounces it “aluminium” :wink: