Kayak or caone?

I have started to do some soul searching and I not sure of the answer, why I want a kayak over a double paddle canoe. I prefer a kayak but I am not sure if it is really best for my needs.

BTW, I am talking wood boats. Building it myself. Not a production boat. And yes I have built one before.

My primary use is a day boat for paddling. It will be a mix of big lake and small streams. No open water paddling. If I had a kayak, I might take to the Ocean on vacation but it would be rare. We do have a big lake and big waves, but big is 3 to 4 foot and that is only in really nasty times when I wouldn’t be out on the lake. Well except for the occasional barge or cruiser wake. But it takes a lot of wind to create waves like that for us.

I want to do some weekend camping with my niece. So I need to be able to haul some gear. This will take place on mostly flat water. Some of the rivers around us have shoals and maybe a couple of class 2 rapids. No real white water where we would be.

The advantages I see are that a canoe could be lighter (no decking) and probably a bit more convenient to camp out of. Quicker to build but that is really an issue.

Kayak being a closed boat is nice because it keeps unwanted water and animals and insects out. It can be rolled and a canoe can not. Of course she will probably never learn but the first 180 degrees anyway. :slight_smile: It would be a bit heavier than a similar canoe. Only in issue in portage and loading on the truck.

I will build a kayak at some point regardless, I just like them. Maybe I will build her a canoe and me a kayak for now. But I am serious in asking what advantages the kayak has for someone who spends their time on flat water and does a little camping?

My thoughts
I think that you don’t need to justify your preference for kayaks over canoes by weighing and balancing supposed pros and cons. Most folks seem to gravitate to one or the other. Many paddle both, but it’s a rare person that doesn’t prefer one over the other. I started out with a rec kayak when what I really wanted was a solo canoe. I have a much nicer kayak now, as well as several canoes. I enjoy paddling the kayak, but I just can’t work up the enthusiasm for paddling it that I have for paddling a solo canoe. I decided that I was going to do most of my paddling in the kayak this year and I wound up logging less than 1/4 my normal mileage. I found myself going several weeks between paddles. I just couldn’t get enthused enough about paddling a kayak, even a very nice one, to convince myself that I wanted to go out.

If you really prefer a kayak, I don’t think that trying to convince yourself that a canoe is a better choice is worth the effort. You won’t enjoy it as much and you won’t paddle as much. Get kayaks that will meet your needs and enjoy them.

Many would say that the canoe handles beer and otherwise bulky stuff better.

What I am not getting is exactly why you are considering a canoe - has your niece expressed reservations about being in a closed boat? Since you don’t seem to want one yourself, and it doesn’t sound like camping is exactly an all-the-time kind of use, I am not sure why you just don’t go right to the kayak(s). The canoe would only rule if you were doing a lot of camping and portaging. For other than that, a kayak camps fine as long as you can use smaller sized stuff. And a wood kayak cam come in pretty lightweight.

If you hit class 2 rapids in a long boat it might be more challenging for your niece than a canoe. But if she is inexperienced she’ll likely be swimming from the canoe as well, so walking around may be the best idea regardless of craft.

Sounds lik kayak
If you’re out in wind and wavs, kayak is the better choice. I don’t agre with the weight difference. While a caoe doesnt have a deck, it does have high gunwales, adding weight. Many canoes cary their beam almost the full length and hav high ends. Kayaks taper in both thise dimensions. My 17-foot kayak is much light than my canoe of same length.

Depends on the craft
and construction. My 10’6" canoe is less than half the weight of my kayak of similar length. If you’re into building, check out Chesapeake Light Craft’s canoe kits.

canoe vs. kayak
I own and paddle both on flatwater and whitewater. My thoughts, for what they are worth:

Canoes can be and are rolled all the time, but this is only really of value in whitewater, and only when the boat has floatation. Obviously, for most folks a kayak is considerably easier to roll than a canoe.

Overall weight, as said, is not an issue. Canoes can be lighter than kayaks of the same length since they don’t have decks, but that obviously depends on materials and the depth of the canoe. Tandem canoes are often much lighter than tandem kayaks.

Most people find canoes easier to portage and they are unquestionably easier to load and unload. This becomes a real factor if you ever want to do multiday canoe tripping in the classic “lake-to-lake” style ala the Boundary Waters, Quetico, Algonquin, the Adirondacks, etc, in which multiple portages per day are the norm.

A kayak is generally more efficient to paddle than a canoe even when the canoe is paddled with a double-bladed paddle, since it has considerably more surface area above water to catch wind. That said, there are certainly canoes that are faster than some recreational kayaks. If you want to go fast or far, the kayak is hard to beat.

I believe that kayaking is generally easier to learn from scratch, as it is easier for a beginner to make the boat go straight with a double-bladed paddle and the kayak usually is more efficient. A kayak may be harder for newcomers to get in and out of without getting wet, and this may be a factor during colder weather.

If you are looking at stitch-and-glue or skin-on-frame construction from a kit, you will certainly have more options to choose from with a kayak. I have not built any strip boats but my guess is that a strip canoe would be easier to build since you don’t have to construct a deck or interior bulkheads, and you don’t have to bond the deck to the hull. There are lots of good stripper designs out there for both canoes and kayaks.

For some of us I think there is an esthetic to canoeing that kayaking lacks but I’m sure the opposite applies to others. I enjoy both and which boat I choose often depends on my mood. For shorter day trips I’ll often pick a canoe. In colder weather I find it easier to get in and out of a canoe without getting my feet wet, and easier to keep my hands warm and dry in a canoe. For trips involving much portaging or carrying a lot of gear, I would definitely pick a canoe. For long day trips, windy days, or when I just want to put in miles quickly, the kayak is the obvious choice.

the difference
is actually quite simple—you can haul a lot more stuff in a canoe and you can handle a lot more rough water in a kayak

a canoe can be filled to the gunnels with camping equipment, food, beer etc. My old old town tripper(sold this summer sniff sniff) could hold 1/2 ton of stuff and for expeditions on rivers(up to class II) it was ideal but some times it would have a tendancy to swamp in really big WW or on really windy days on lakes–also took more effort to paddle solo–

since I often go alone(wife doesn’t like the outdoors) my wilderness systems tempest 170 kayak is just the ticket. I can go out on really windy days–20knots and it will carry up to 350 lbs of stuff–in fact the more loaded it is the better it behaves in wind and big (3-4 feet) waves And since I like to sea kayak and go also on large lakes, it is ideal for my needs.

One final peice of advice however. You said you will occasionally be paddling on class II WW and on some scalely rivers—don’t take your wooden boat on class II or where you will be likely to hit rocks. You will stave up your boat–even if it is fiberglass reinforced–stick to big open deep water(at least 6 inches)—regardless of whether you build a canoe or kayak—if you do go in shallow fast water where you will expect to hit a rock buy a rototmolded plastic boat.

one more plus for the canoe
Multiple seating positions. On a trip of more than half an hour, I shift my legs around a lot: sometimes both tucked under the seat, sometimes one extended forward and one tucked under, sometimes both forward and relaxed, sometimes both forward and locked against foot braces.

With a kayak, you have fewer leg-position options. The skinnier the kayak, the fewer the options. My thighs and lower back start to hurt after an hour in most kayaks.

– Mark

C2G makes lots of sense!
C2G said:

If you really prefer a kayak, I don’t think that trying to convince yourself that a canoe is a better choice is worth the effort. You won’t enjoy it as much and you won’t paddle as much. Get kayaks that will meet your needs and enjoy them.

Of all the answers, and all are appreciated too! This one makes more sense than anything. I like kayaks better. Maybe not the best choice, but it is what I like. Your comments made up my mind. A kayak for me!

My niece is 17 and LOVES the outdoors. She is a Girl Scout canoe instructor. She is excited to try Kayaking with me. But I am not sure if she may find a canoe more comfortable for her. Thats part of what got me thinking about a canoe.

Again, lots of good answers and advice. Thanks to everyone! But I think I have made up my mind.