Canoes-Endangered Species?

In the December Canoe and Kayak buyers guide, an article seems to state that canoes are becoming scarce in America. Is it the cost? A new kayak costs about $1000 but canoes are twice that cost. Used? Canoes don’t seem to have a reduction in price like kayaks. I would love to have a composite canoe but at $2500, yikes!

not price
when comparing similar materials, canoes and kayaks are comparable in price. Kayaking certainly has eclipsed canoeis in poularity here, though. Here is my take on why:

  • for a baic level of competency, kayaks are much easier to leran to use than a canoe.
  • Kayaks are more seaworthy in “big” waters, and they are less affected by wind.
  • Markeitn has placed kayaking in the young and trendy camp. Caone still retain the boy scout camp image for lots of people.

    I will never quit kayaking entirely, but the grace and beauty of a solo canoe has a magic feel for me that can’t be matched. And the advantages of a canoe for carrying lots of gear or protaging are obvious. Hopefully there will always be a market for both.

A new kayak…

– Last Updated: Dec-25-07 1:33 PM EST –

You state: A new kayak cost about $1,000.00, but canoes cost twice that much.

Take a look at my profile; only 3 of my canoes cost me a thousand dollars or more. Total investment in a fully restored Chestnut Pal: $1.200.00. Total investment in a fully outfitted Mohawk whitewater canoe, including shipping costs: $1,200.00. Total investment in a brand new/older model Bell Flashfire: $1,000.00.
All other canoes listed cost between $575.00 and $800.00 each; most were $700.00 or less.

If canoes are going extinct; the problem as I see it, is that too many first time buyers are seeking instant access to the sport, and instant gratification with their purchase. They don't want to invest much money in a quality boat or gear, and they don't want to spend the time necessary to gain, or improve paddling skills. Classes; forget about it! They know little to nothing about boats, and do little to no research regarding boats prior to their purchase.
High priority is "go right now".
What do the majority of them end up with? A small recreational kayak; put it in the water, get in & paddle. Takes up little space at home; easy to store, easy to load/unload, easy to maintain. Will the majority of those paddlers progress to ocean paddling, whitewater, lengthy trips on rivers, or go to the boundary waters?
Probably not! Too much hassle; requires good gear, effort & skills.
Will many of the pumpkin seeds go unused, or get sold at a loss, after the new wears off? Yep!
The instant gratification buyer moves on to a new "toy".

Canoes will never be extinct, but getting the cheapo pumpkin seed is "just so damn easy".

Other's "opinions" may vary.


P.S. I love the buyers whose instant gratification involves the purchase of high dollar canoes; which they know little about, learn little about, and choose to sell a year or so after their purchase, at a reduced price because........."I ain't using it" or "It's too tippy".

true words
you are right, thebob…, but canoes can hold their price. My mad river outrage is back out on the web for sale at a price higher than I sold it for. My dagger rpm kayak can be had at half price. Both worthy boats for their usage but canoes seem to keep their prices up…

Comparing to kayaks
It may seem that canoes are on the verge. I have noticed more canoes on vehicles in my neck of the woods in recent years. Perhaps because I am carrying one quite often.

When we head to the BWCA each year it’s fun to see the gradual increase in canoe topped vehicles the further north we go.

Arrive in Ely and presto, canoe valhala.

Agreed that on any local water bodies around here majority of paddle craft are rec kayaks for all the reasons previously posted.

Not in my garage.
I currently have more canoes than kayaks.

Kayaks are definetly THE

– Last Updated: Dec-25-07 3:05 PM EST –

growing sport and when i say kayaks i mean ocean. In addition to the reasons mentioned you have the ever growing number of baby boomers with the available money looking at enter an activity seen as safe, environmentally friendly, healthy and quick to learn. Sure canoeists are here forever but in terms of raw numbers it is sea kayaking. In terms of whitewater it is low down in numbers but again more white water yaks than canoes and one reason is cost. A used quality yak can be had for less than $400.00 where as the same think for a solo boat is maybe twice the cost. End result is that kayaks are the popular boats here.
One marketing area that kayaks has not made a dent in is in the local indigenous peoples - First Nations. They area a canoe nation and remain so.

It seems to be true that kayaks outsell canoes by a large margin in the States these days. Of course most of those sales are for punkin’ seeds – at least that’s what I see here in my part of the Midwest where true sea kayaks are nearly unknown. No need to elaborate on the reasons for that…

Wes’ comments about spotting more and more canoes as one heads into the North Country rings true with what I see. We canoe trip in Ontario almost every year and as we travel along the Great Lakes we see sea kayaks, but north of the GTA we see fewer ‘yaks & ever increasing numbers of canoes. On semi-wilderness trips in places like Algonquin, etc. I’ve never once seen a kayak. Canoes endangered? Hardly.

As to pricing - comparing apples to apples new composite kayaks are in the same price range as new composite canoes. Ten minutes on the ‘net doing pricing comparisons will show anyone that. RK

Check out Millbrook canoes. Get a
light, strong boat that costs nowhere near $2500. You will not find them in stores, but you will see them at open canoe slalom and downriver races.

ocean kayaks???
the sale of ocean kayaks is slowly declining. rec kayaks are the biggest segment of the paddling market by far and continues to grow, especially at the low end, 9-11 footers, for all the reasons outlined above.

Wait until rowing takes off…
Once they start to make sit on top row boats, all bets will be off. Row boats are more beginner friendly than kayaks or canoes, but I think that facing the wrong way will always hamper their acceptance. However in white water you row facing down river and folks with the oar rigs in inflatable kayaks are catching eddies and fish.

As long as the conversation is drifting… ;^)

I row a few times each month with a friend in his wood 14’ Whitehall, been doing it for several years now – great fun. We row it on lakes and occasionally on rivers. Yes, there are definite drawbacks to facing rearwards on rivers, no problems on lakes. Though not known as great sailors (Whitehalls are harbor boats) my friend set his up for sailing as well – works just fine. I’m a canoeist through and through, but I do enjoy rowing. The abdominal workout is hard to beat. …and a wood Whitehall is a true thing of beauty – no fake fiberglass anywhere on that boat – the real deal – ahhh… RK

A new QCC 700 out of kevlar is around
$2500, or more.

A new Wenonah Jensen kevlar tandem canoe is around $2500.

So it has nothing to do with price.

If anyone thinks that the canoe is becoming rare, they need to take a look at the Adirondack 90 mile canoe classic each year, or take a trip into the Boundary Waters.

Each has it’s place and always will.

Cheers, and happy New Year,


different learning curves
Kayaking is easy to do to get from A to B. You can do something wrong on one side and the same wrong thing on the other and still get there. However its really hard to attain a level of expertise. (witness the videos simply on the forward stroke)

Canoeing on the other hand is harder to learn from the get go but once the basics are learned getting to an advanced level is easier.

Im talking flatwater here. There are other factors like sea sense(that canoeists dont seem to have a good grab on) and understanding a river (that canoeists seem to get some handle on earlier on)

Regional variation?
Just a non-data driven opinion… it seems the only thing that comes in from all corners is that rec and beginner/basic touring boat sales are high. After that it may depend on where you live.

One thing that kayaks really stink at is trips that require portaging. For that reason I doubt that serious kayaks will ever outrun canoes for camping and extended trips in the Adirondacks for example. But along the coast, canoes require more skill in conditions than most beginning paddlers have. Kayaks are more idiot-proof.

It could be argued that the relative kindness of kayaks to beginners also makes them much more dangerous than canoes. By encouraging a sense of security and control that isn’t really true, people may be more likely wander a bit too far in a kayak than a canoe.

Hopefully I’ll be exploring the diff this coming season.

Up here
I live in Ontario, Canada, and while I see lots of recreational kayaks and squirtboats around, I would say canoes outnumber them by about 10 to one. Just take a trip up the 400 hwy in the summer. Almost every car has a canoe and the dealers take orders on fiberglass and kevlar canoes because they can’t stock them fast enough.

I think it’s definately regional though, around here it’s almost impossible to go for more than a few hours without portaging and most portages are over granite outcrops where carrying a yak will kill your back and shoulders.

bingo Celia
a couple of years ago some guy was found clinging to a buoy off the southern coast of Maine.

He had a rec boat to the best of my memory and some but not enough cold protection.

He was lucky…when you see kayakers with their PFDS strapped to the back deck or canoeists sitting on them its fun to ask them if they know how to put one on in the water.

Even more fun to have them prove it. Then you get the “aha” look that tells you they are finally thinking.

Dubble paddle canoes
I think you hit on something when you said most people don’t know there are canoes you can sit on the bottom and dubble paddle.I have had many novices paddle my Hornbeck and want to buy someyhing like it.I think if they would start producing and marketing something like a 12’or14’x 28’ roylex cheap cute sit on the bottom canoe they would sell like crazy.They would have to do something make them less “canoe” looking and maybe invent another name.


couple other ideas

– Last Updated: Dec-26-07 7:59 PM EST –

There's been a lot of good theories so far. Here are a couple other thoughts.

"Kayak" simply sounds younger, hipper, more exotic. "Canoe" sounds older, slower, BSA badges and horse-collar PFDs. Even the name: "Old" Town.

Population shifts toward the coasts where kayaks are better suited than the more inland canoes.

80/20 rule: 80 percent of the people who try a kayak for the first time feel accomplished, confident and generally have had great time ...

The more kayaks there are, the more new paddlers will get their first paddling experience in a friend's kayak.

A $350 big box store kayak is a whole lot lighter and easier to deal with than a $350 big box store canoe.

When the unwashed think of canoes, they think of a tandem craft. When they think of kayaks, they think of solo craft. Why? The unwashed see them in big box stores. I have never seen a solo canoe in a big box store, ever. I maybe saw a tandem kayak in a big box store once.

Kayaks have backrests and look comfy. Canoes look like you're sitting on a picnic table bench.

Most first-time canoers will never get the benefit of trying the craft the way it is probably best paddled: while kneeling in it.

It’s called RapidFire by Placidboatworks