Kayak or Double Paddle?

There are obviously a number of experts on this site and my hat is off to all of you for so willingly sharing your hard earned knowledge.

I have been canoeing for a number of years but consider myself a novice as I do mostly flat water and a few class 1 and 2 rapids. I do not fish and I only day trip usually for 2 to 3 hours. I currently have a Wenonah Adirondak which fits my needs to either solo or tandem on the rare occasions that my wife likes to join me.

I am envious of the kayak folks as they seem to move much less effortlessly with the double paddles. I have been thinking of buying a solo for myself but I am hesitant because of all of the threads that state you really need to know what you are doing. Additionally it appears that getting into and out of the kayak is tougher and there is little room to move around. As an alternative I have thought about using a double-ended paddle for the canoe. I appreciate any thoughts and information. However, please do not turn this into the never ending war between canoes and kayaks that I have observed on this site. Thanks in advance.

I have seen many canoers using a kayak paddle on the water. Perhaps you could borrow one and try it out.


I use both…

– Last Updated: Apr-08-06 1:18 PM EST –

single,and double blades with my canoe. Quite a few folks I paddle with use doubles. I even use a 90" greenland,and it works quite well. I use a single for slow leisure trips. A 240cm wooden for speed touring,and the greenland for long distance touring. If it gets real windy I use a greenland for good control using it extended if nessessary.
I have a Sawyer Shockwave solo canoe. Just my 2 cents.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Same Canoe

– Last Updated: Apr-08-06 1:31 PM EST –

I too have an Adirondack in Royalex. I'm the same type of paddler as you as well. I am currently content with my single, wooden bent-shaft paddles. They improve efficiency over straight-shafters - since it sounds like more efficient paddling is what you are after. What type of paddle are you using now?

If you're looking to just get more speed and distance off of each stroke, a smaller, lighter solo canoe combined with a double paddle might be the answer for you. The Adirondack is a fantastic canoe, but more for recreation and flatwater touring than real speed.

And yes, it is much easier to pop in and out of a canoe than a kayak. The lakes near me have all these small islands (or big rocks...) that I love to pull my canoe up to, hop out and have a sandwich.

I am with Bill
I use a Greenland paddle with my 29 inch wide solo canoe sometimes though for tripping I prefer a 240 take apart that slides through pack loops for portaging.

I even sorta mastered the sliding stroke. And with the Greenland paddle I can paddle on one side with a J, but I am wandering here…

A single blade is always used too. The double comes out when its time to beat upwind.

Efficient but wet
Adventure racers often use doubles because they are quite efficient.

You might find a longer one best suited to canoes.

You might also find you get a bit wet from water dripping off the paddles.

Double + solo=ecstasy…

– Last Updated: Apr-10-06 12:38 AM EST –

...I have a WNN Vagabond, and formerly used a WNN Sandpiper and started with an Old Town Pack . I've used a DOUBLE (not kayak) paddle in all three 95% of the time. I carry a bent single for a spare, but find I can negotiate almost any narrow passage with a double if the overhang isn't too low. I'm also a flatwater/Level I person. I had a 9' lightweight paddle custommade, and get almost no drips. Two-piece, of course. I have nothing against those who like the art form of learning 20 different single-blade strokes, but I just don't need it. A double is easy to use, and gives great leverage for sweeps and pries. By all means try it! Incidentally, I'd probably kayak if I could for greater efficiency, but the body won't allow it and I find I get all the fun I need in the canoe.

Funny thing
I got a big old Mohawk double blade to use when soloing my MR Explorer (a tandem that I often solo). It works pretty well though I don’t get the fine control that I do with a single blade so I generaly keep both in that boat. I really like it in windy conditions that otherwise are quite challenging in a high freeboard tandem paddled solo.

The funny thing is a few years ago I got a Swift Osprey solo canoe. On a very windy day I tried the double and found little or no advantage to it. By the time the wind was affecting that boat it was trying to take the paddle out of my hands as well. That extra blade was acting like a sail.

So I guess my opinion is a double is handy in some canoes and not so handy in others.

Kayaks are great if you can sit on the floor for long periods of time. You realy need the double to get any power from that position though.

Thank you
Thanks for all of the great suggestions. Sounds like my next step is to try a bent paddle and also try a double paddle. I am currently using a flat paddle.

I am not looking for racing speed but would like to be able to move a bit faster. As some of you mentioned, it gets tough when it is windy.

Thanks again

A suggestion:
You stated that you are " envious of the kayak people".

If that is so, why not rent a kayak and try one out.

I paddle both canoes and kayaks as do a lot of other folks, and they both have their places.

I can never make up my mind which I like better. When I am in the kayak that is my favorite, and when I am in the canoe, that is.

As far as getting into and out of a kayak there are several different ways, and once you learn them it is second nature and is as easy as getting into your canoe.

Why not continue with the canoe learning the sit and switch method with a single paddle which is much faster than a “J” stroke, but at the same time rent a kayak a few times and see how good they are on a windy day.

You just might end up paddling both.



thanks JackL
My ‘envy’ of the kayaks is that they appear to move through the water so effortlessly. Your advice to rent and try is good advice and I have nothing to lose. I will also need to look into the sit and switch that you mention. I have always used the j stroke. Was not aware that there was an alternative. Thanks again.

I have canoes, c-1s, and kayaks, and
if I am in a situation where I will have to be in and out of the boat a lot, I take an open canoe. This works out well when paddling streams where a lot of logs force pull-overs and portages. It also works out well when scouting WW creeks, because getting out of a boat, up a steep landing, scouting, portaging, and getting back in from poor locations, maybe under rhodedendron bushes, is easier with an open boat. Of course there is the bailing…

kayak lust
Before you succumb to this attack of kayak lust, check out the archives for the repetitive stress injuries that kayakers develop as they age.

As far as I know, there’s never been a similar thread for canoe paddlerss.

And stop calling yourself a novice just because you enjoy flatwater and lower-scaled rapids. That’s what an experienced canoer does. One doesn’t have to soil their pants to have fun paddling. I say leave the rodeo cowboy whitewater stuff to the yakkers who need it.

For years, all I used was
the J, but if you study yourself you will realize that all it is doing is slowing you down.

Even if it just a very suttle J.

On a day where there is a strong quartering wind you still can combine a J with your sit and switch.

I still use it on days when I just want to poke along, or if I am sneaking up on some swamp or forest critter

On a day where there is a horrendous quartering wind, leave the canoe at home and take the kayak.



Can I ask where you had your custom double made for you?

Double for an entirely different reason
I recently acquired a MR Freedom Solo for boating small rivers and streams. While I have many years of experience in canoes, and have been paddling touring kayaks for the past 6 or so years I was keen to use a double in the new boat. I have an injured shoulder, which gives me little or no trouble in a kayak but can become aggravated with a single paddle. Using a 260 Bending Branches in the MR-FS is a pleasure - no shoulder aggravation, and back-ferrying is a snap. I still revert to a single blade for whitewater, but 90% of the time I’m using the double.


Or, get a rudder.
Then you can focus on forward propulsion and paddle on whichever side you want without using any corrective strokes. My experience has been that I go much faster this way in my Sawyer Summersong than I do with either sit & switch or J stroking - much faster than J stroking. Probably not quite as fast as with a kayak paddle, but I can maintaing the pace using my medium Zaveral bent shaft with the rudder down longer than I can maintain the fast pace with my kayak paddle. I need a better kayak paddle.

The foot controlled rudder is quite handy on a canoe, especially when bird watching, fishing or messing with stuff in the boat. Keep a kayak paddle or double blade canoe paddle in the boat as back up for for a change of pace.