lets talk kayak vs solo canoe...

die hard kayaker here… got tired of the slow, tippy, tandem canoes… ( really it was my paddling partners suck, or get too drunk and flip me… whereas in a yak im responsible for me only :slight_smile: so I went kayak and havent looked back. till now.

so whats the difference aside from the obvious…?

how bout the pros/cons of each?

how do they compare in draft depth? I get alot of shallow water in the summer, to the poiunt of portaging my yak 4-5 times or more in a day trip. The less portage the better, so shallower the draft the more i like.

how do they compare in terms of speed and manuverability?

I’ll take a stab at it.
I have a QCC-500, and earlier this year I bought a Bell Magic. The QCC has been my hull of choice for trips to the Chesapeake Bay area, but this year I was going to the BWCA for a week and needed a tripping canoe.

Kayak pros: Secure out-of-the-weather storage in the for and aft compartments, warm and secure for inclement weather paddling, fun to move around with a Greenland Paddle, no need for sunscreen on bare legs, great seaworthiness in 2’ waves.

Canoe pros: Easy to load packs & barrels for tripping, breezy for hot & humid paddling, fun to drive with a bent-shaft for distance, fun to noodle with a dtraight-shaft in swamps, pretty good seaworthiness for a canoe. Damn light in Black Gold construction.

Speed? I have not compared top speeds using a GPS, but the Magic seems to git right along with either a bendie or a double. The QCC is no slouch for a 23" wide boat either.

Kayak & canoe cons: None. Chosen properly, each works well for me. The QCC would have been a pain to load and portage in the BWCA. The Magic would have sent me swimming in some of the waves I have paddled in the Chesapeake Bay and Long Island SOund. Choose well, Grasshopper!


one more for the canoe
Pro: multiple leg positions (with the details depending on what kind of seat you have in the canoe).

– Mark

if you aren’t paddling bays, oceans, the

– Last Updated: Dec-26-07 6:45 PM EST –

... great lakes, I think you have to first ask yourself why you are a die-hard kayaker.

Best Tool for the Task?
I have been in a similar quandry and some recent reading and websearch suggests the more variety you like in paddle places the more variety you need in your stable. I think draft is more a function of load and maybe some hull shape. As I age I like the move-about comfort and lighter weight of some noes and I’m willing to sacrifice some of the speed and wind handling of a sleek touring yak, on our open coastal rivers and sounds, if I can at least keep up with the middle of a mixed pack.

Thinking about a fast, low profile rec racing solo fitted with flotation bags for coastal day trippin’ n fishin’ with a double blade. Looking for one to try to see if it’ll be much faster and easier than my 14’ SOTs. Still like a little SOT for ocean wave riding, my 14’ SOTs for banging around rough areas, and my tough Dagger Legend noe for tandem I-II river n creek work, and hauling grandkids, dogs, river cleanup, lazy electric cruising, etc. Just thoughts of a newbie.

Canoes and Kayaks?
If you’re looking for speed then keep with the kayak. I don’t think there is a single canoe out there that will keep up with a good yak. I do agree with the others that I like my canoe because I can move around a bit, can pack a lot of gear if need be, stick to rivers and lakes and not the ocean.

My rig is set for poling, sailing, and paddling. Your yak can do two of the mentioned.

I guess it is priorites, trips planned, where you paddle. Doesn’t hurt to have one of each if you can swing it. I haven’t paddled one but a Rob Roy might work for you, decked canoe. Good luck.


Like Ford and Chevrolet, the argument will never end.

I’m a kayaker and have had a few issues with canoes on overnight camping trips.

First of all I like to keep everyone on the same playing field so it doesn’t matter if you paddle a canoe or a kayak as long as you can keep up with the group.

The only issue I experienced is with the amount of gear a canoe can carry. Such as: coolers, chairs, grills… etc. I know this doesn’t matter to a group of regulars but with a group of rookie paddlers this does present a somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere.

Geogia Kayaker
Could you elaborate a bit?

I don’t understand your comment: “The only issue I experienced is with the amount of gear a canoe can carry. Such as: coolers, chairs, grills… etc. I know this doesn’t matter to a group of regulars but with a group of rookie paddlers this does present a somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere.”

oh yes there is
try a RapidFire. It keeps up easy with a CD Caribou and a Wilderness System Shenai and a host of other boats.

Why get a boat with a deck when you dont need the deck?

Its not a matte of single or double blade. You can usually use each in either boat. There are short shafted single blades for kayaking and certainly double blades for canoeing.

The pack and portage factor is a big one. I have seen far too many kayaks dragged on lake to lake portages. Usually the owners are neophytes who barely know how to paddle.

Solo canoeists think like solo kayakers… I havent seen solo trippers with grills and beach chairs and very few coolers. You cant get them in a 24 inch wide canoe!

Us canooists are jus’ way too cool…


I’m guessing here . . . .
But I’d say he’s a minimalist camper, and he struggles with the jackasses wanting to bring along every creature comfort they own, which ruins his quiet nature camp. Harder for him to argue when the jackass has a 17’ grumman that will actually hold everything the guy owns . . . .


Hey Dugd
You have evidently never seen a J-boat.

They will leave the average guy in a QCC-700 or an Epic 18 in their wake.

And there are a bunch of other solo canoes that can out race a fast 17 or 18 foot sea kayak.

Once again it is the motor in the boat, not the boat.

cheers, and happy new year,


One Difference I Don’t Understand Yet

– Last Updated: Dec-26-07 7:26 PM EST –

There's one consistent difference I've seen for which I haven't figured out the reason. I have paddled with a lot more kayakers than solo canoers, and I know a few solo canoers who make their boats look so graceful when winding back and forth around obstacles, but have yet to meet a kayaker who does the same thing. It seems like kayakers have a mindset geared toward making their boats go *through* the water, meaning that they always respond to the need to alter course simply by steering. Among the halfway-decent solo canoers I know, they usually won't make large alterations to the direction their boat is aimed in cases where immediately beyond the obstacle they need to have the same heading as before. Instead, they will sideslip, often in conjunction with an abrupt reduction in speed or even a momentary back-ferry, and make the canoe go in whatever direction is necessary, maybe changing direction several times, but without any traditional "steering". I've often wondered if you put a kayaker in a canoe, do they continue to paddle like a kayaker, and maneuver the boat with steering strokes entirely? Or are general-purpose canoes inherently better at dancing in any direction *over* the water while the average kayak's main strength is moving in the manner of a ship. Clearly whitewater boating is a whole other story, so lets not go there for now. I just bring this up as a difference between the two boating styles I continually see, but which I have never seen discussed.

aah its all about boat time
I know plenty of kayakers who can make their craft dance like a quietwater FreeStyle solo canoeist. The principles of initiating , accelerating and concluding turns are exactly the same.

A sideslip is a sideslip and a post a post. Some do work better in a canoe as you can move around and redistribute weight fore and aft as well as side to side…you are limited by your seating position in a kayak to side to side redistribution.

Try a post in your yak. Initiate it with a strong sweep on the outside of your turn, give your boat a strong outside heel and then plant your inside blade vertical in the water by your knees and hang on!(Your former outside blade should be stacked above the immersed blade)

Sure, I’ll be glad to explain

– Last Updated: Dec-26-07 10:16 PM EST –

...but YakOfSteel summed it up pretty well.

I took a group of 14 paddlers on a 3 day 2 night self-sufficient trip. There were 12 kayaks & 1 canoe. The kayaks were 11'-6" to 14'. Of the 14 only three of us had kayak/camped before.

Our concept of kayak/camping is paddling and enjoying nature with a chance of roughing it and eating to survive.

On the first evening we stopped, built a fire and set up camp. While the kayakers sat around the fire eating and talking, the canoeist grilled steaks. Then they got out their folding table and chairs. Their cooler held more than our dry storage and they had everything in the canoe. The following morning they had bacon and eggs.

Because the canoe had so much gear, the kayakers waited for them all day on the river and then waited each morning for them to pack up. They also had a large 4-6 man tent.

Unfortunately it was an uncomfortable weekend and seemed like there was two groups paddling together instead of one.

I can see a group of friends in kayaks and canoes doing this with no problem but this group had never done this before. Everyone got along and there wasn't any problem but I decided to limit future trips to kayaks (only) and it has been much more fun.

are you talking flatwater only?
most people think of canoes as going straight but not ‘easy’ to steer - at least not compared to their perception of how easy a kayak is to steer.

On top of that having two blades ‘must’ make turning and steering a kayak easier than a canoe.

The end result is people who steer their kayak but maneuver their canoe. At least that is one facet of it from conversations I have had with people.

As you say…
…that was one experience. Sounds like the greenhorn canoeists who accompanied you on that trip were living it up, enjoying themselves and setting their own pace while you got all uptight and pissy because you had a tight schedule you felt you had to keep. Meanwhile you ate granolas bars & envied their good grub. Yep, that could piss a guy off! :^) RK

If you watch open boaters and kayakers
competing in slalom, the best ones in each division will go over the course without a lot of fiddly course adjustments.

Just to stir up some controversy, most kayakers are in “New School” short little squiggle boats, and new school kayaks really suck on a slalom course. That may be one reason why they need a lot of moment-to-moment management on ordinary river moves. But the most competent paddlers are very efficient in any boat.

I picture a 40 foot Winnebago
… turning up for a Volkswagon Microbus convention.

Canoe vs kayak
For purposes of this discussion I’ll assume we’re referring to touring kayaks and canoes(not whitewater and not racers). I believe that was where this discussion began.

Many of the recreational kayakers that I have met and observed have had little or no instruction and know basically that if you want to go left, you paddle harder on the right & if you want to go right you paddle harder on the left. This short learning curve is what I believe has been the driving force behind the explosion in sales of rec. kayaks. Obviously there is far more to the efficient propulsion and control of the craft and some have taken the time and effort to master it.

Control of a solo canoe is a bit more complicated since there is only one blade on the paddle. There are those who zig and zag as they switch back and forth for control as needed but those who paddle efficiently and elegantly keep their blade on one side (except for crossover strokes which is a whole other discussion)and use subtle changes in the blade angle and direction of travel to guide their craft. Learning how to do this well requires a bit of study and practice. Once mastered, the solo canoe is a much more comfortable and elegant way to travel or just to play (in my humble opinion).

There is no substitute for good, hands on instruction. The best place to obtain such instruction (again in my humble opinion) is at one of the various canoe symposia, Check out www.freestylecanoeing for a list of the comming events.


I do not mean to diminish the hit and switch style of canoeing but I believe that is beyond the scope of the question at the top of this thread.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works