lets talk kayak vs solo canoe...

Georgia Kayaker—you said
’eating to survive’…do you and your group carry Rambo knives on these trips?

does that matter?

I do not mean to diminish the hit and switch style of canoeing

Since Tom Sebring wrote it so well in his brilliant article “Running the boat” in the Paddler Magazine (premier issue 1991 vol. 1 no. 1, page 42) I just cannot resist to quote him from that:

[…] “To master “hit and switch”, you need all the smoothness and art of the traditionalists, all the maneuvering strokes of the whitewater slalom racers, and all the sensitivity to the canoe’s behavior in the water that the freestylists embrace. Moreover, you need to learn all the strokes on both sides, and attain a near telepathic state of communication with your partner. Finally, since “hit and switch” is a sport, fitness and specific training will make a difference between dabbling and definitive mastering.”

It’s about WW background v. non

– Last Updated: Dec-27-07 12:14 PM EST –

I've seen good kayakers that'll make their sea kayaks just dance, no less grace than a WW canoeist. But frankly, the best of them are long boaters who also have some serious WW background under them and paddle a variety of boats in a variety of environments.

It's still very common for people who got into long boats in their adulthood to not take on WW or go back and experience solo canoes. Among our group locally, which has become fairly large in started-as-an-adult decent sea kayakers considering that the ocean is over 4 hours away, there are just three of us who have started into WW as well. And if I go ahead with the canoe this coming season, I'll be one of just a handful of canoeists localy who also do sea kayaks seriously.

For a lot of people in the US, it seems that paddling is about being in a specific boat rather than generally messing about in boats. Maybe it's a label thing - a desire to identify as a canoeist or a WW kayaker or a sea kayaker.

I think that’s it, Celia
In my experience as well, the smoothest boaters are those with a variety of paddling backgrounds, especially if some of it was in whitewater, where they had to use three things…boat, paddle and current…to go where they wanted to go. Having that background, one is tuned into even the slightest of currents, the least of leans, the smallest angle adjustments of the paddle to maneuver a boat gracefully.

Limiting paddling to one “camp” makes the learning curve a bit larger, if one even bothers to proceed down the curve more.

Although, part of the difference in making the canoe maneuver more gracefully, especially down winding streams, has to do with the paddle. I can paddle my kayak on one side for quite a distance, but the angles of the wrists dictated by the grip on the paddle make it much more awkward, so I find it best to just use both sides of the boat.


One type of boat, one type of water
It continues to amaze me how many folks I know who only do whitewater or only do ocean paddling or only do calm water. Almost as weird as those who only paddle canoes or only paddle kayaks.


I think mornstein nailed it.

– Last Updated: Dec-27-07 9:27 AM EST –

I think what I described above comes about for the reasons mornstein described. Simply making an average solo canoe go efficiently "from here to there" requires a much greater amount of skill than doing the same thing in a touring or rec kayak, and people who take the trouble to learn the necessary single-blade skills are already halfway there to making the boat do all sorts of other things. If the average kayaker feels okay about "getting from here to there" using only the most basic means of directional control, and in this case that probably is enough for most people, they probably don't percieve any reason to take it to the next level.

Okay, that's my theory, at least for now.

“Telepathic State”?
I agree that partners in a tandem canoe who tackle really difficult conditions need to be so in-tune with each other that they don’t need to talk much. That’s one reason I admire really good tandem paddlers so much. However, to imply that this “near-telepathic state” between the partners is a hallmark of the sit-and-switch style of paddling to a greater extent than for traditional tandem paddling is a stretch, unless saying “hut” consitites telepathy. :slight_smile:

Depends on how you started I guess…
If your first paddling experience is a kayak you are mostly right…

I personally paddled canoes first, and only gravitated to boats due to a growing interest, not because I dislike canoes…

And there it is…I tend to paddle the Yak like a canoe, except where it’s pretty obvious that Yak skills are called for…

Slip sliding away, Slip sliding a waaaaay…

(does anybody hear ole’ Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel out there in the distance???)

Canoe vs kayak
I fully agree with the comments linking white water experience with freestyle. I paddle both. My favorite paddling involves moderate moving, narrow, twisting, winding streams. These are places where I can appreciate the subtleties of interaction between paddler, boat, paddle and water. My skills on such streams and more powerful whitewater rivers have improved greatly since I got seriously involved in freestyle instruction. Many of the best, heavy duty whitewater paddlers have either a background in freestyle or have taken up freestyle as a means of improving their performance.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Kayak vs Canoe
I currently have a Necky Manitou. Previously, I’ve paddled canoes, the most recent a Dagger Reflection 15 (which, by the way, I loved). I’m a flatwater paddler into fishing, photography and just paddling.

Here’s my take (just the major differences that are important to me).

Pros for the Canoe vs Kayak:

o More space to carry gear

o Ability to move around more to stay comfortable (sitting, kneeling)

Cons for the Canoe vs Kayak:

o Heavier, more difficult to handle out of the water (at least for a 61 year old)

o Less stable (setting the hook when a bass struck my lure was problematic with the canoe – I tended to react quickly to the strike and forget about maintaining my center of gravity).

Those are the main differences that, like I said, were important to me. I’m very happy with the Manitou, but wish that I could move around more when I get stiff after a couple of hours of paddling.

Heavier–it depends on construction

– Last Updated: Jan-02-08 5:24 PM EST –

I have a sea kayak that comes in at 50 lbs. I have a solo canoe that comes in at 25 and several others that come in around 30-40. Our biggest canoe is Duralite and its an 18 foot tandem at 54 lbs.Seems to me that two kayaks would each come in at greater than 27 lbs.

Its all about hull shape and materials. Sure Royalex tandems carry two people and can come in at 80 lbs, but that is less than two kayaks in poly! If you are going to compare apples to oranges make sure the math is right.

Canoes dont have permanent decks. Why carry a deck around for lily dipping in the pond?

Less stability? Not if you kneel, actually its easier to respond and right yourself before you go under in a canoe. But a moot question, everyone ought how to learn to respond to an oops no matter what your craft.

Now that I am packing for an eight to ten day saltwater trip that means carrying water , its a bit of a chore..all those little bitty drybags and fitting them into itty bitty spaces. I have a bunch of tandem canoe but refuse to go there.

The real issue is do you want to paddle with someone else? The real issue is not which is faster. For the average paddler, who cares? Most cannot get whatever they are paddling to hull speed.

Most of us have egos that want to be on our own and kayak marketers picked up on that long ago. We dont share well. Most paddlers have lousy tandem canoe skills because we lack the understanding of each paddlers job and we do not play well together.

Look at the results of the ADK 90 miler and compare canoe to kayak.

Now I know why I like both canoes and

I am probably the only guy in the world that has both a Chevy and a Ford 4x4 pickup and like them both equally well.

Cheers, and happy new year,


Sounds like poor communication…
Rather than eliminating those “jackass” canoists, why don’t you clearly state the goals of your trip and let any type participate within said bounds?

I certainly don’t think eating for survival is the pinnacle of outdoor enjoyment, but I understand why it’s sometimes a necessity. Rather than sticking to rigid guides, why not pack food and other accoutrements based on trip variables? Heck, if you plan your meals as a group (or at least coordinate them), those “jackass” canoists might even carry for you…they tend to be the minivans of the trip.

This is exactly what my friend and I did on our last trip. We laid out what we needed to bring, identified personal items like tents, clothes, etc. and shared items like food, water purification, wood cutting implements, etc. We then split the shared items and agreed on a menu. He took his Tsunami 175 and I my Mohawk solo canoe. The canoe afforded us the luxury of a small cooler which allowed us to upgrade from freeze dried meals to pre-cooked, frozen, vacuum bagged dinners and carry a small quantity of beer to boot.

Would the cooler have been appropriate on longer trips or one with portages? Probably not. Was I a jackass for carrying a cooler? Maybe to you, but we felt like kings as we ate our delicious hot dinner while camping on a small island mid river.

I do agree that a 4-6 man tent is probably excessive, but again, stating trip goals probably would have avoided the contention.


Draft depth – negotiating shallow water
In recent decades I’ve spent more time sailing than paddling. (One of my sailboats had a fixed 4-ft keel.) By comparision, my canoes need hardly any water. The same isn’t true of my paddle, however. In water less than 18 inches, my stroke becomes noticably restricted. From observing kayakers, I’m thinking maybe they can stroke efficiently in less water than canoeists need. Just a guess.

i’m really sick of seeing photos in magazines with people in these open ocean capable kayaks paddling on a pond with zero wind. they live inland and have a boat that’s designed to cope with the southern ocean.

i guess it’s like buying a hummer (i mean ford SUV).

canoe is slower

– Last Updated: Jan-02-08 5:08 PM EST –

The canoe will be slower. I don't care what model you buy. This might not be an issue, but you will spend a little more energy per hour in the canoe. Will a fast canoe beat a rec yak? In some cases, but this is not what you care about is it?

If you have a canoe and you are with kayakers, be prepared to be commandeered to carry that extra cooler/sleeping bag/grill that would not fit in the yaks. All of us kayakers LOVE to have canoers "help" them get to camp. Then we will complain how slow you seem. On the other hand, if you are the only kayaker in your group of canoes, it can work out nicely. (providing they are not smart enough to realized they have just been used.)

I don't think I would swap my kayak for a canoe. But I have both a single canoe and kayak for when I need each for it's special features nicely itemized above.

My Mohawk Solo 14 floats as high as either my Heritage kayak or my Old Town kayak. With no load, I think the canoe sit lighter on the water. The canoe is rated for 400lbs and the kayak only about 300. So, while they both sit very shallow with just me, as I add weight, the canoe will outperform the kayak as far as depth in water.

Taking a boatload of goodies to a remote spot for an extended stay. Sounds like canoe territory. Going for an overnighter or weekend with minimalist survival gear, use the yak.

I must confess, I have only been in my canoe ONCE since purchasing the kayaks. Sounds like you may be "suffering" the same.

Don't know what it will take to get both the wife and I back into the same boat. Gonna have to need to haul some crazy heavy load that none of my other craft can handle before that happens. Like you, we love the kayaks and keep our canoes so we can loan them to boatless (clueless) friends or perhaps the occassional deer hunting trip.

Zen, yer startin’ ta eereetate
us canooists wit remarks like dat… ;>)


Be in tune or swim
There is in hit-n-switch paddling a need to be in tune with each others moves. At speed in a racing hull, any mismatch in strokes can lead to an unplanned swim. In a recreational canoe there is little penalty for mismatched strokes, just a wiggle of the hull. So even if the only verbal commmunication is the ‘hut’ command, you need to stay in tune with your partners stroke cadence and effort. An experienced team needs no verbal commands even in tight streams, the bow throws the proper stroke to put canoe into the turn, the stern throws the complimentary stroke, the canoe turns quickly with little loss of speed, and most importantly stays upright.


dorks paddle canoes…
…and only cool people paddle kayaks.

Actually I have one of each and wouldn’t part with either.

No Soup For You!