Kayak or canoe

Hey great site! Im very new here and am looking for some information, Looking for a 2 person unit for my wife and I to do some paddling in lakes back water streches or lower river tide water places. Looking to get out and see nature from the water! Need to know the pros and cons on what to go with as far as canoe/kayak? Looking for stability as well as effectiveness, A craft that will get us were we want to go with the least amount of strain as we are not as young as we once were. My cousin used to have a 2 person good sized kayak we both had double paddles and we could really get that thing going! Then someone told us to get a canoe more stable and with the wider paddle you can get a better bite and therefore more effective. Very serious and excited to take up a new hobby and could really use some help.

Thanks !

Where you are so new and unsure
your best bet is to get to a lake or river where there is a canoe/kayak livery, and then rent a tandem canoe one day, and a tandem kayak another day and see what appeals to you the most.

My wife and I have both canoes and kayaks, and when we are in the canoe we like that best and when we are in the kayaks we like them the best.

What ever you do, don’t buy one or the other with out first trying that particular make and model out.

jack L

jack L

If you are going to go tandem either in a canoe or Kayak

you must be willing to work together as a team. Although a canoe may have a slightly longer learning curve it seems to be less stressful on the couples, since generally they aren’t wacking each other with the paddles.

If you are definitely interested in a single paddlecraft that will accommodate both of you, you will find that there is a wider selection of tandem canoes than tandem kayaks.

Tandem kayaks are also considerably heavier than tandem canoes of similar price, somewhat harder to cartop and store. If you want to paddle the boat solo, I find that a tandem canoe although not ideal for solo use, is generally better than a tandem kayak.

The kayak would probably be faster and less effected by wind. If you want to be able to move around and access items within the boat easily the canoe would have the advantage.

more choices, easier on the body, you can move around a bit in it, canoe paddles seem to be easier on your shoulders, and last but not least, a good tandem canoe is much much cheaper than a good tandem kayak.

Great replys !

– Last Updated: Jul-31-10 5:27 PM EST –

Wow nice info thanks! We have a lake nearby that has a boat livery I have only seen kayaks there but I assume they have canoes as well great idea! Its actually like 5 minutes from our house going to check it out will report back btw is there any couples out there that has done this sort of thing if so would love to hear some of your experiences.

Going tandem
We enjoy both of our tandem kayak and tandem canoe. Kayak is heavier, faster and is indeed less effected by cross wind. Since canoe is effected by cross wind, I rigged a mainsail and a jib, and now I welcome the wind.

tandem canoeing
If you are new to canoeing, the thing you will likely find most frustrating initially is making the canoe go in the direction you want it to without turning.

If the canoe is reasonably in trim (balanced fore to aft) it will almost certainly turn away from whichever side the stern paddler is paddling on, even if the two tandem partners are paddling on opposite sides at the same rate with approximately the same force. The reasons are a bit complex and don’t really matter, but the stern paddler will need to do something to prevent this tendency of the boat to turn.

An important element is to initiate this “correction” before the boat yaws wildly off course. The stern paddler is in the best position to judge the canoe’s heading and can apply leverage more easily to course correct without slowing the boat too badly, so it will be up to the stern paddler (at least on flat water, like lakes) to take responsibility for steering the boat. The stern paddler has to realize that the bow paddler is not doing something to make the boat turn.

One way to course correct is for both paddlers to simply switch paddling sides simultaneously after every few strokes before the boat has yawed too far off course. Since the stern paddler can judge the heading much more easily, it is up to he/she to “call” the switches.

A more traditional way to course correct is for the stern paddler to utilize a “correction stroke” either every stroke, or every few strokes as needed. A correction stroke is partly for forward propulsion, but adds an element that tends to turn the canoe back towards the side the stern paddler is paddling on.

There are a number of different strokes that can be applied here. The most common is probably the “J-stroke” which will be described in every book on basic canoeing. This stroke, and the others, are not that hard to master, but it takes a bit of time and practice to make it smooth.

The most important thing is for the two paddlers to not start finger-pointing and blaming the other when the canoe takes off in some unintended direction.

and I would add…Couple advantages to a canoe is that: a) you/she can move around a little, b) take more gear c) stay separated by a good distance so your not knocking paddles. ( Read: less potential for grouchiness.) While I love my kayaks, I would not paddle double with my spouse. My wife ( and many others), is not focused on paddling but on everything else. unsynchronized paddling is the source of allot of fights on tandem boats. ( They don’t call double yaks “divorce makers” for nothing :-).

I would certainly rent before you buy and don’t be afraid to rent two yaks vs a tandem. You’ll likely find that the two yak solution or single canoe meets your need for harmony best.

I prefer canoes for tandem rec paddling
I prefer canoes for tandem recreational paddling but try both if you can. Kayaks are less affected by the wind but you have to be in sync or things go all wonky. Canoes tolerate the bow and stern being out of sync, it will just go slower. I’ve found that in a canoe, if the stern paddler is relatively proficient he/she can paddle with just about anybody in the bow and let him/her go at their own pace and just match the stroke while taking care of course correction. Plus in a canoe if the bow person decides to take a break or take pictures or whatever the stern paddler can keep things plodding along whereas having just one paddler paddle in a tandem kayak is really weird to me. Plus you can put a lot of stuff in a canoe and have it readily accessible. I spend 99% of my time in flatwater sprint kayaks but I have a canoe in the garage for taking guests out on the river and for taking out solo to go fishing.

See pblanc’s post about steering a canoe. It is right on. When my older brother and I were kids, he used to go ballistic about my not pulling my weight in the bow because the boat was always yawing away from whatever side he was paddling on. Everytime he’d have to correct course he’d cuss me. Now all these years later we realize that is just the way a canoe behaves and that just a little correction at the end of each stroke keeps things straight when trim is proper.

Canoes are generally less wet
And can be much more comfortable than kayaks. There are several seat options. Seats range from plastic to cane. Seats can be angled or even bucket shaped on some models. Seats, on some models, can also be moved forward or aft for the bow paddler giving them options for more or less legroom. Back supports and pads are available in many price ranges.

Canoes made of light weight materials can make cartopping possible regardless of your age. And these boats are easier to carry if you need to do that.

Canoes are easier to get into and out of. Especially for us older folks.

The downside of canoes is that they are generally less effecient. Some of this is physics, much is paddler induced. Regardless, canoes present more surface area to the wind, and that is the only real downside. Not a big problem unless all your paddling is on big windy open water.

jack gave you good advice. Paddle both types of boats. If possible rent for the day the exact brand you will buy. Live with it. See how you feel after a couple of hours or more. Only then will be able to judge for yourself.

One final word: This past weekend while padding on a really pretty river i came across two new paddlers in new boats. All they had were the boats. No safety gear. Dah!!!

The boat is only part of the equation,. Buy the safety gear. Life jackets are required. A medium sized drybag to carry dry clothes and some rain gear. A small drybag to carry a cell phone, your wallet, a gps or a compass. A small medical kit is a good idea. A way to carry some foot wear incase you have to walk out. And 12 feet of line attached to the bow of the boat. Extra paddle. You have no idea how many paddlerless paddles we find along rivers. Bummer!

You never know. A little pre trip prep has saved my trip more than once.

Full disclosure, I own and paddle both canoes and kayaks. Love’em both.

KAYAK! (Too many votes for canoe)
My family owns 9 kayaks and 1 canoe so I may be biased but do know both. Kayaks are much faster, easier to paddle, and I find them comfortable once you get used to the slightly confining feeling of a cockpit. My back always hurts when I canoe! I agree with the person who said “Go Demo”. Try a canoe, try a tandem kayak, and try a 1 man kayak. My advice is actually to get 2 one-man kayaks. Having paddled both tandem and one-man, I find that my wife and I much prefer each being in our own boat, in control of our own direction, etc. I would recommend against a “Recreational Tandem” kayak as they are very slow and wide. Kayaks really should be 25" wide or less to handle well. Two one-man kayaks in the 12-14 foot range and 25" wide or so are fast and fun. I have taught many new boaters in this type of boat - they only feel tippy for the first 2 minutes.

The main thing is to get on the water but I think kayaking is a bit more intuitive and my whole family has found it more fun than canoes (mother, sister, wife, 2 children, etc.).

My wife and I love the canoe. We have paddled tandem kayaks before and had a blast but could not pack a cooler, lunch, and two young lady,s ( 6 and 11 ) plus their toys. I would not suggest our canoe, Grumman 17’. Super heavy to portage. But I would suggest a canoe.