canoe or kayak ?

Been reading alot here on the message boards and there sure is some very qualified people so im hoping some of you could help me decide what way to go. Ive gotten to the point in my life where the power boat days are gone and want to just slow down and injoy whats out there. Im 56 yrs. old 5’10 235lbs. and love to fish as well as rivers and some rapids. I have paddled canoes on the Delaware river 35 years ago but not since. I do have a very bad back so long portages are out. I have never been in a kayak so im asking all of you for some ideas to think about. I sure need some help with comparing the two types of boats, pros and cons. Thanks

Come south to Denver
Hey Frosty if you want you are more then welcome to come on down to Denver NC and try my Solocanoe, and I could probobly get a kayak fo ryou to try also. I am a big fan of my solo Merlin canoe. At a recent church gathering I had two poeple say they loved it and one who said he hated it…TRy it.

Also JackL is north of you and he is always a good source of information.


prefer a canoe
also don’t have the greatest back in the world (been broken once) and find the canoe is far more comfortable. The canoe paddle is a lot easier on my shoulders too.I also own a kayak, but just because I don’t have the heart to sell it. Canoe seat is higher than the kayak, and gives you a little more natural seating position. Some kayaks are pretty comfortable too. Guess its just a personal thing. Go try both out as offered. It’s the best way.

bad back as well
but my experience is the opposite of the previous poster’s. i know back problems come in many styles and flavors, but i personally have found the kayak to feel more balanced and allow me to use my shoulders more and my lower back less… which for me is the right equation.

i’d strongly recommend renting or signing up for a group paddle that will get you on the water for a couple hours. test it out and see how your back feels after you’ve broken a sweat.

Bad Back
I had a lower back injury in January, and am just getting back into my kayak. It’s tight and painful at first, but loosens up after a while. Still ain’t right. Kneeling (as in: canoeing) might be more comfortable, but I love the kayak.

Also consider how you will transport your boat - is car-topping an option in your condition?

With a bad back,
you might consider a light weight canoe. Mine weighs 25 pounds, easy to car top, a dream to paddle.

Some differences
I used to canoe but really don’t have any technical knowledge of canoeing. I’m a kayaker now.

The first difference is that because you’re seated lower in a kayak, it’s more stable. Also, the kayak has a deck that keeps out more water than a canoe. So you can go in rougher water in a kayak than in a canoe and stay upright and dry.

I personally have difficulty with kayak seats. In a canoe you have more room to spread out your legs and change position.

Some might say the paddling position is more ergonomic in a canoe. Others might debate that. But it is certainly easier to paddle in a straight line, with less expenditure of energy, in a kayak and I think that may be what draws many people to give up canoeing and take up kayaking. A canoe works better with two people. Paddling alone takes more skill and energy.

It’s far easier to get in and out of a canoe than a kayak.

If you get a good seat, a kayak might offer more back support, but there are canoe seats that have a back rest.

It’s much easier to carry equipment in the dry storage hatches of a kayak—but easier to pack a canoe.

Dogs fit well in canoes.

With respect to the back and shoulders, in kayaking the effort comes from rotation of the torso. A “bad back” could mean different things so you would need to try kayaking and see if it’s compatible with your specific back problem.

Personally, I’ll never go back to canoeing, but for an older person, there are a lot of things about kayaking that bug me. So it’s a mixed bag and there are several aspects to consider when choosing whether to kayak or canoe.

For a person your size a great kayak would be the Current Designs Kestrel 140, especially if you can find it in TCS (thermoformed plastic). It’s very stable, has a large cockpit, weighs only 46 lbs, and is a fast boat for its length and width. You might be able to find a used one for $800 to $1200.

Also look at the
Sit on Top model kayaks in the 12 to 14 foot range. They have the general feel of a kayak without many of the hassles. Your legs stay out and they are generally pretty stable.

Many are designed for fishing (they have tank wells behind the seat) and can handle up to class II or class III rapids. I have a Manta Ray 14 and would also recommend looking at a Synergy and the Scupper Pro with the Tank Well (aka RTM Tempo).

The downside of these are that they are pretty heavy boats – around 50 to 65 lbs. If weight is a big deal, then the aforementioned canoes might be a better option if you don’t expect to have help at the put in.

The really open cockpit kayaks like the Pungo 14 also make good fishing machines, but I’d rather have my SOT in whitewater – less draft and no bailing or swamping.


canoe or SOT is better

– Last Updated: Jun-24-09 6:53 PM EST –

A canoe or sit-on-top both offer an exceptional variety of postures and positions and are great for my lower back troubles. They have kept me in boating and enhanced my fun!!!

In an open boat the paddler can sit, sit on the edge of the seat with both knees on the hull, kneel with both knees on the hull and rear not on the seat, or kneel on one knee. Pure heaven!!

Sit-on-tops offer the ability to lean way back with back support, stretch forward, lots of minor body position changes. This 60 year old, 6 ft 220 pounder gets MAJOR backaches adter no more than an hour sitting low in a kayak without much change and stretching out possible. Getting out of a kayak can also be a major ordeal. SOT kayaking will make you a better canoe paddler and understand the water better.

Try both, and I hope you have MANY MORE YEARS OF PADDLING PLEASURE like I have. Just a suggestion: if you try a kayak (sit in type) keep your trip short, no more than 2 - 3 hours, in case you need to stop.

Best wishes!!

you guys are great
Has anyone tried the native watercraft compass?

I paddle both
canoes and kayaks and I too have a “bad back”. I find sitting in a canoe and paddling to be extremely UNcomfortable. Kneeling in a canoe is even worse for me as it is especially hard on my knees and ankles.

That all being said, I can kayak for hours upon hours without any back issues. YMMV. But try out both and see what floats your boat and works best for you.

Another vote for the Sit on Top
I sold my canoes after getting the sit on top. It is amazingly comfortable. with my bad back comfort is really the most important thing. I can sit all day in the sit on top and only take a break every three or four hours. I can canoe for two or three hours without a break. In a regular kayak I can paddle for an hour or two before I need break to stretch. Your results may vary, but I wish I had tried a good narrow long sit on top before I was 45.

Another bad backer
I usually paddle a canoe. I have a 16ft Blue Hole Prowler, now made by Evergreen Canoe Co. I find that any paddling position for long periods of time make my back hurt. In a kayak, I am limited to short duration paddles. But in a canoe, I can kneel, sit, or stand to change up paddling styles as my back demands. The Prowler is very stable and standing is easy once you’ve tried it once or twice.

canoe is for 2 people
Kayaks are better for 1 person but pease consider buying a used kevalr or graphite kayak that you can carry. Canoes are often lighter. Hauling is the big issue and people usually use their lightest boat

Not so
Don’t agree that canoes are for two people, especially with all the solos available these days. I own a SOT (Tarpon 120) and a solo canoe (Wenonah Vagabond). I’m relatively young, in good health, and have a good back, but I still wind up grabbing the canoe about 99.9% of the time, primarily because it’s 20 pounds lighter and much easier to deal with. Extremely easy to cartop. I also find it more comfortable to sit in, as the posture is more upright, and my legs are more under me, instead of straight in front. Just sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and you get the idea that this is a less natural sitting posture. Finally, there is just the matter of personal style. I just prefer the more laid back style of paddling a canoe with a single-blade paddle. Other’s personalities just fit kayaks better. No way of finding out this aspect of paddling except to spend time with both and get a sense of which feels better to you.

torso rotation is key in canoeing too
People with bad backs often have trouble in one and not the other.

Sometimes the toughest part is getting in and out of the boat. It’s usually easier in a canoe.

The upshot with age is that paddlers sometimes find that kneeling is the way to go…with good padding under their knees of course.

Torso rotation when kneeling is a lot easier as its also hip rotation.

I have a pal that is recovering from a back injury and the excercises he was given are mostly torso rotaion excercises to develop the muscles in the abs and back that support your spine and also deliver the greatest power.

I have seen people with back injuries go both to canoeing and to kayaking so for sure one size does not fit all.

If you have limitations on weight carrying there are pack canoes sub 30 lbs like the Hornbecks and the Placid Boatworks line. You can have the seat on the bottom or built up a little.

For starters…how many phone books do you need to be sitting on to get up easily without ouching?

Try both
One may be much more comfortable to you than the other - but don’t take our words for it, as none of us probably has the same exact type and cause of back pain.

I paddle both - but not the canoe in large exposed windy locations - that’s where I reach for a kayak. For fishing, carrying loads, that’s where the canoe is best (IMO). Look at weights - the lighter boat gets used more.