kayak or solo canoe

My wife has decided to move out of the family canoe and into her own boat. She wants a small touring SINK but is afraid I won’t be able to keep up in our small tandem canoe. We keep a pretty relaxed paddling pace and I think she may feel like it is too slow in a kayak. Neither of us have paddled a kayak so I have no idea about the canoe vs kayak speed difference. She wants to be able to slip away and take some pics while my son and I fish and do “boy stuff”.

We are also considering a pack canoe for her but she has her heart set on a kayak.

Any advise?

btw- I am not a purist and have no problem using a double blade if it would help even out the speed

more info
Do you have a sense for how much each of you contributes to the speed of the canoe when you paddle together? I think Eric’s answer, while true about boat properties, assumes that you two have equal speed when paddling identical boats, which is probably not the case.

Also, what tandem canoe do you have, and have you paddled it solo at all? Where do you plan to sit (stern seat, bow seat facing backward, somewhere in the center)? It will be harder to learn to paddle the tandem fast as a solo than it is to learn to paddle the kayak fast, so there might be a period in which she is way out ahead and you are still trying to go in a straight line. Once you get the hang of it, a canoe can move along pretty fast.

In any case, it’s not necessarily a big deal if one of you is significantly faster than the other. That’s what paddling solo-together is all about: you separate, you rejoin, you separate, you rejoin. You very likely will not have such different speeds that a short frog observation or map check by the leader won’t let the follower catch up. One time this argument fails is when you are in a risky situation and want to stay together for safety; then the difference in speeds can force the faster one to slow down too much to be comfortable in the conditions. Another time, of course, is when you are trying to make a long distance, and you want to stay approximately together.

To sum up: If you contribute roughly the same amount of power to the boat currently, during the whole length of the trips you take; and if you don’t paddle in circumstances where staying close together is mandatory for safety; and if you can tolerate the learning curve of the canoe – then go for it. If one of those conditions isn’t met, think carefully about the consequences.


Chicks always want kayaks, so just let her go ahead and be a chick and get one. I dont know why anyone would want one, but then again I’m a man not a broad.

There is a simple answer to that
If she wants a kayak, she should have one.

If you like the canoe you should have that.

If she is afraid that you won’t be able to keep up with her, then all she has to do is paddle slower

jack L

Pack canoe v kayak

– Last Updated: Jan-30-11 8:48 AM EST –

Either will work unless either of you want to really pick up the pace. But racing in boats tends to produce a bad family dynamic, so just don't do that. Personally I think handling and usage are more of a question.

The biggest diff I see between the two is that a pack canoe may have more windage than a kayak - is your wife someone who is accustomed to handling a canoe in wind or has she been more of a passenger in that respect in the tandem? The reason for a double blade on a pack canoe is to handle this kind of thing - they can be a bear in wind without the double blade.

The thing that caught my eye is the photography part. Unless you have already invested in a waterproof camera, she is likely to find that more challenged in a decked boat than in a pack canoe. There just isn't a great place in a SINK to protect a camera from water that is also easy to get to on the water, unless you go for a longer boat with a day hatch (those who are more flexible, like many women, tend to find day hatches quite useful). The longer boat would likely be heavier than a pack canoe so more daunting if she wanted to go out by herself. SOT kayaks will do you but they are unwieldy for a single person the slide up on a car compared to the alternatives.

It may be that she just plain prefers the lines of a a kayak, and in that case think about the camera part when you go looking.

Another idea to really seal her decision one way or another would be to see if there are pool sessions available around you where you could bring your canoe and you guys could practice kayak to canoe on-water rescues. Since you paddle together, it's something that you should learn anyway. And it'd give you good information about what features are desirable in the boats to make this work. For example, it isn't likely to work unless the person in the kayak has a decent skirt, that kind of thing. If not that, look for something when the weather improves.

(and kayaks aren't a chick thing, though non-sequitors like the above are often a guy thing)

Pack canoes arent a chick thing
either but the light weight is often appreciated by women. You can get a decent length pack canoe with for 25 lbs. Not so a kayak.

If she likes this solo thing, she might like that she can go out on her own trips without assistance unloading and loading, though she might not mind the increased weight of decks.

Any reason for a deck? Is she planning on going out on very large bodies of water?

Solo canoes on the other hand…do seem to be a chick thing. I know a lot of female soloists. Its all a matter of what we have seen or experienced. Yours may be different.

Have her check out Hornbeck and Placid boats and the Vermont Tupper before deciding.

Everything is easier in a pack cane…exit entrance, accessibility. But you can’t roll one and they require some experience to paddle in big waters. I do use my RapidFire in the Gulf of Maine…but have had some years kayking starting with a Keowee…working to a CD Caribou.

I love my pack canoe as I can relax and read or take pics on smaller lakes. Kind of a floating beach chair. And the tan you get is even…

Solo canoes are a chick thing?? NOT.

Go to any public lake, pond, or river and you’ll see every chick there in a kayak. A pack canoe, by original design was for men to pack their gear into remote wilderness…trappers, hunters, etc.

Do this, rent a kayak for your wife and have her put her camera bag, purse lipstick, hair dryer and other girl items in the rear hatch. Get on the water and say “honey, take my picture”. After struggling to get her camera out of the rear hatch…and possibly flipping over, she’ll see the light. Be sure to stay out more than 30 minutes too…because she’ll be sippin her green tea and need to take a leak real soon. Then, you can watch her flounder while trying to get out to go pee. Be sure she watches you drift over to shore, standup, take one step onto dry land and drain the water snake.

I just dont know why anyone would want a yak when God already created the perfect watercraft…A CANOE!

A pack canoe was meant for men?
Such an absurd statement means you have never hung around a place that makes pack canoes.

Women should not travel in the wilderness? (note to self…you have been breaking the “rules”)

If you see hordes of chicks in kayaks on small bodies of water…it means one of two things. They don’t know pack canoes exist, or cannot get their hands on one.

Not to mean pack canoes cannot be used by men…CEW has a very neat light pack canoe…the Shadow.

Yeah, I make absurd statements yet you claim “Solo canoes on the other hand…do seem to be a chick thing”. WOW.

Broad definitions
Kayaks are neither faster or slower than canoes, as both follow the same rules. A fast, narrow canoe will keep pace with a kayak of similar dimensions. A whitewater canoe will be as fast as a comparable whitewater kayak.

If you want to get a rough idea of how fast boats are, consider the waterline length and the waterline width, then read the manufacturer’s description.

I have many times raced a 17’ Grumman canoe against short plastic kayaks like the Old Town Loon, Otter, or those Aqua-terra ones (can’t remember the name, but short, wide, stable boats with big cockpits). Solo in a Grumman, I would always win. Those boats put up a big wake, but they just couldn’t go as fast as a longer canoe.

Pack Canoes seem like very good substitutes for the “rec” kayak class. However, pack canoes are mostly only available in high-quality composites by specialty builders. As such, maybe it isn’t fair to compare a $600 plastic kayak to a pack canoe that costs more than twice as much.

Final thought - on windless days any canoe can go a reasonable speed solo. On very windy days, soloing a large tandem can be futile.

Thanks for all
the advise. I’m glad there’s not much difference in speed. I didn’t want to take her to test drive some kayaks only to tell her it wouldn’t work. We plan to rent some kayaks when the weather warms up and see how she likes them. Who knows, I might end up with one myself.

She tends to be a lazy bow paddler due to her camera addiction. If she is a little faster in a yak that just might be a good thing. We stay on sheltered water for the most part and we usually only paddle in good weather conditions. She isn’t the type to take off and go on her own unless it’s on our lake in the back yard so loading and unloading won’t be an issue. Can any camera junkies recommend a good kayak for photography? She is 5’6" and 135 lbs.

It has been mentioned that kayaks tend to be a wet ride, and thus not such a good place for a camera to be sitting while not in use. Regarding that, I say “no problem”. Although I’m strictly a canoer, my camera spends nearly all its time between shots in a Pelican case. It takes about three seconds to open the box and get the camera out. There’s no reason a person can’t do the same with their camera when kayaking.

If she wants a kayak, get her one. She will be happier with what she wants than with a compromise that she felt forced to accept.

I am not a photographer, but my husband is, and we both paddle kayaks. Any kayak that she feels comfortable enough in and has enough primary stability to handle a camera will be fine. Just outfit it with a nice waterproof deck bag. The hubby uses a Baja deck bag for his gear. It’s right there in front of him, no need to twist and turn to reach it.

She should demo some boats made specifically for smaller people. Note that being a small woman with a lower center of gravity, there are boats that will feel totally stable for her that won’t necessarily feel comfortable for a guy.

There is no right or wrong, just what she wants and feels best for her. (I tried a pack canoe and went back to a kayak.) If she wants a kayak, get her a kayak.


It is clear that…
you don’t know diddly about kayaks, and paddle with women who are hardly like any that I paddle with. But I suppose you are finding what you expect… too bad because you are missing out on meeting some really interesting ladies.

While I personally did advise a hard look at a pack canoe, it was partly on weight concerns. Just about everything you said about kayaks (and women in them) is hyperbole. Of course I do paddle both types of craft, which obviously you don’t.

canoes vs kayaks
I wouldn’t give flores the benefit of a reply. As a kayaker who’s also canoed, his rationale of “real men” only canoe and women kayak is beyond ridiculous. I do anticipate a petty, immature and well quite frankly, an ignorant reply from him however. Being around many walks of life I’ve learned to just ignore and marginalize his type. Since I prefer kayaking much more to canoeing, I guess that makes me not a “real man”. Which is funny as I’m coming up on my 20 year mark being in the Marine Corps. I think the bigger issue is, what does he care if some prefer kayaking over canoeing?

There is a difference in speed …
… depending on the paddle, all else being equal. In my kayak I sometimes use a single blade canoe paddle or the regular 2-bladed kayak paddle. Same boat, same paddler, same conditions. I am invariably slower with the canoe paddle. That is if I try to maintain a speed that requries some effort above “lazy paddling effort”. At speeds below “lazy paddling speeds” it is actually easier with the canoe paddle -:wink:

It’s all very scientific measure, he-he so no arguing about it! -;). If you paddle hard, a double blade moves you faster.

So, if she wants to paddle away from you in a kayak that has the same speed potential for her as your canoe does, she might as well be able to do to it -:wink:

She wants it.
As stated above, if she wants it, that is all you need to know. The sooner a man learns this, the better his life will be. Family outtings are not a race. Speed is irrelevant. The fastest boat waits for the slower one, simple. So what color does she like?

Let her go faster… Then you can have more peace & quiet… lol

I don’t mind at all when my wife is in the front of the canoe & the wind is at our backs… lol

Paddle easy,


…but she doesn’t think she looks good in purple so we will have to wait and see. She has been looking online and can’t wait to try some out. I’m happy to see her get excited about paddling. Canoeing was my idea and she was going to make me happy, but now she is getting her own kayak she seems to be taking more of an intrest.

I’m not sure why, but apparently you can’t take pictures from a new kayak with a old camera(1yr) so she needs another one. If momma’s happy…:slight_smile: