Kayak vs Canoe for Arthritis Sufferer

Hi. I’m new here and would appreciate any input. My husband, David, and I are both 51 and are considering a canoe or SOT kayak for light exercise in area marshes, flat rivers, and lakes. (We are in north Florida.)He has had painful episodes of athritic gout in various places over the past ten years - knees, ankles, feet (which are extremely flat as well :slight_smile: I have nerve damage in my feet, which has eliminated hiking and running for me. This seems like something fun and beneficial that we could do together. Should we get a canoe or kayak and what type? Hlep please. Have tried to research this but am a bit overwhelmed by all the choices!

Thanks so much, BethAnn

test paddle both.
I am heavily biased towards kayaks, though, and do not like canoes at all. The SOT’s are the most comfortable way to get around on the water down here. The only slight advantage canoes may have is the cargo space. But many kayaks can haul a lot of gear as well. SOT’s are definitely easier to mount than climbing in a canoe and safer as well should you capsize.

Welcome to a great outdoor activity. There are some things to learn to stay safe but most have to do with common sense.

Find a local shop…
and find out when they are having a demo day so you can try out several types of kayaks or canoes.

I’ve found that my local shops are very helpful with newbie questions.

Carrying 2 boats is harder than 1 boat. I would like to see you consider a used kevlar canoe that is very wide and about 16 ft in lenght. It might weigh 45# and would be easy to load and unload. Racks and all that for moving a boat is the toughest part. Demo at dealer days and please consider lots of info at adk website. Many of these people are older and might suggest that you could move around more in a canoe. I love kayaks for racing but family fun is more fun in a canoe. Check the saddle seat option. Used kevlar might be $500. Hassle carrying 2 60# plastic kayaks and is there room to carry both. Some like a trailer.

different angle
I’ll answer from a different angle. My girlfriend has rheumatoid (sp?)arthritis and was about to be wheelchair bound about 7 years ago until she changed her diet and the foods she ate. She is totally fine now with maybe a week out of each year where she has minor pain other than take she climbs, backpacks, skies, paddles, runs and anything else.

theres a ton of info on this on the net. If you need more specifics email me.


we do want just one boat
Thanks so much for all the replies. Regarding diet, we consulted professionals, did (and still do)extensive research, monitored purine intake so as not to increase uric acid production, drowned him with H2O to help excrete excess, cooked vegetarian, and much more. One problem is that gout patients can’t eat beans, legume, most fish and other items usually in a veg diet. Anyway, we tried and wish this all had helped but the rheumatologist finally opted for meds, which have helped tremendously. We are very thankful and ready to “carpe diem!” Started light tent camping last year. Should have stated that we do want one boat, preferably used. The kevlar canoe sounds very interesting. How easily do they tip? Please keep those tips coming!! :slight_smile: BethAnn

Great Canoe Vs Kayak comparison
Check the Canoe vs kayak article on Mohawkcanoes.com

sea Kayaks are faster and better for rough surf than canoes.

Sit on tops are easy to get back in when you tip or want to swim, but they are wet.

Canoes are better for everything else.

canoe and Zaveral paddle
The kevlar canoe sounds very interesting. How easily do they tip? Please keep those tips coming!!

This year I picked up a canoe in order to take my dog with me on trips and day paddles. I’ll let others describe their favorite tandem canoe. But, I am now a convert to the ultralight Zaveral bent shaft paddles. Actually, I have a WW Zaveral which weighs a bit more than their ultralight but is more durable. Be sure to check them out if you get a canoe.

Canoes and Tipping
Look for one about 36" max width from a major manufacturer and you’ll be fine. You get used to the feel quickly. Make short easy trips while you learn. In a safe spot tip it on purpose to get a feel for what that takes and how to empty the water, etc. See some of the articles on this site under the “guidelines” section. Learn to get in and out properly, with boat stabilized and your weight kept low and centered.

Have fun.

Are you more comfortable?
Sitting on the floor or on a bench or kneeling with your tail on a bench or saddle?

I can’t sit on the floor with my feet out in front of me for any time, makes my back hurt, so I prefer canoes. I like kneeling but many sit.

My dad finds sitting down low in a kayak much more comfortable than sitting on or kneeling from a bench in a canoe which makes his back hurt. Go figure?

Typicaly you can move around a bit more in a canoe.

You can find canoes and kayaks wide and stable or narrow tippy and fast, for one, two or more people and inexpensive but heavy or light but pricey.

Your best bet is to try different styles of boat and see what works for you.

Re Canoe Choices…
Although we tend to use our kayaks most of the time these days, we still have two canoes - an 18’ FG Oneida, and a 16’ Bluewater Prospector in kevlar. If you have any mobility issues, canoes are certainly easier to enter than a decked kayak. The Oneida is a good tripping boat - tracks really well and carries a reasonable load for short camping trips. It’s also a very comfortable boat, as it has tractor-style seats which are set quite low within the hull; we;ve never felt the need to kneel while paddling to keep the weight low in the boat. The only flaw is the weight - it’s somewhere about 70 lbs., which means I can’t comfortably lift it unto our truck’s roof by myself or do solo portages.

The Bluewater is about 45 lbs., which I can handle. The prospector hull doesn’t track as well as the Oneida, but turns more readily, and it can handle a tremendous load for long trips. One thing - when lightly loaded and floating high in the water, it is somewhat ‘tender’, meaning that it’ll feel ‘tippier’ than the Oneida; it stiffens up considerably when you toss a bunch of gear aboard. It also tends to blow around more in stiff winds when lightly loaded, since the topsides are relatively high. Again, it does settle down once you get some weight aboard.

If you test-paddle any canoes, be aware that the performance will change as the weight aboard and the wind vary - might be an idea to rent the model you are considering fora day or two, and experiment with various loads and wind/wave conditions.

You do need to paddle both, but

– Last Updated: Apr-13-05 8:19 PM EST –

I am betting you will go for the canoe because of the arthritis issues. You might go ahead and try that first. Let us know what you chose.

Betting on
a canoe too. I paddle my canoe more often than my kayak. Like you, I’m in my early 50’s. I find the canoe easier on my joints. In my kayak, though it is a large cockpit rec boat, I still find myself “stuck” in one position without a lot of room to move around. In the canoe I can sit legs bent, cross-legged, legs out, one out/one bent, on the seat, on the floor, lay down, put a backrest on the seat and lounge about. I find that I am generally more comfortable in the canoe. Besides then I have room for that big old cooler full of ice cold beverages and the extra big bottle of Motrin.

Where will you be paddling ?
If it is primarily ocean than the only way to go is with a kayak, since they are easier to handle in rough water and wind.

If it those wonderful spring areas or smaller ponds and lakes than a canoe might be your answer.

A canoe is a lot harder to handle in high winds.

As others said you need to try both out and see what you prefer.

My wife and I paddle both single kayaks and a tandem canoe, and if we had to give one up it would be a very tough decision.



I’m just a young kayaker but
My canoe is 1200 miles away and I probably log 1000 miles in a kayak for every mile in a canoe. I wouldn’t trade my sprint boats for the world when it comes to flatwater racing/training or trade my touring kayak or surfski for paddling the ocean BUT and this is a bit BUT…

The canoe is where I want to be if I’m going to be in the boat all day in relatively protected water. Sit and switch canoe paddling is more comfortable for the long haul even for an athletic 27 year old that does almost nothing but kayak on the water. I’m sitting here right now with a severe case of sore-bum after a longish paddle in my surfski today after work.

If you are going for protected water a canoe is probably the way to go. It is easy to get in and out and the seating position is usually more comfortable. Be warned though. Canoes don’t like wind much and all canoes are not created equal. Most plastic tandem canoes are dogs. Find a canoe person to recommend a good composite tandem and maybe even give some technique pointers.

The original post stated that the boat would be used on marshes rivers and lakes. A canoe will handle the wind fine in those areas in any weather these folks will likely be out in.

Lots of good tandems come to mind.

The suggestions above about getting a kevlar rather than royalex boat are good if the budget allows. The kevlar boats are lighter and paddle better.

Here are some to look at:

Bell: Northwind, Morninstar

Wenonah: Adirondak, Spirit II

Madriver: Explorer, Malacite (Malicite is a little narrower, but a sweet paddler and you’d get used to the balance.

Other makers have nice boats out there too Souris River Q16, Hemlock Eagle.

These are all great general purpose canoes. You might find a used one or a good deal there.

Do test paddle all you can. Have fun.

Try both, but you can outfit a canoe
with backbands and foot braces so you can sit comfortably. I’m much more comfortable in my canoe that is set up to compensate for my physical limitations. I have arthritis (from injuries) and can move around in the canoe a lot more. Do what works for you.

Consider a Phoenix Vagabond
http://pokeboat.com/Vagabond.htm. It only weighs 46lbs and has a very large cockpit opening. Getting in and out is the trickiest part. I use a square boat float for a cusion on the seat and it raises my bottom high enough off the floor to allow me to cross my legs for a change of position from having them straight out in front of me. The boat still has plenty of stability even with this higher seating position. It’s very maneauverable and reasonably fast. My wife prefers the higher seating position in our Wenonah Solo Plus canoe.

Maybe someone in your area has Phoenix Vagabond that you can test paddle. I’d highly recommend a test paddle before buying unless you find a very good used price.

My lower body gets really cranky
when I am in any boat for awhile, but in a canoe I can just step out. In kayaks, even SOT, I have to crawl out. I would test ride both but I’m betting you like the canoes.

Thanks to all of you!
What great info! We really appreciate this and are starting the hunt (which is half the fun!) this weekend. Again, thanks - this has helped tremendously! David and BethAnn