Canoes & Kayaks – What’s Best for a Day Trip on the Lake?

Kayaking on a river

The argument about canoes vs kayaks has been going on for a very long time. Unfortunately, many people fell for misinformation that leads them to believe either canoes or kayaks are better than the other.

If you’re still deciding whether to get either a canoe or a kayak, you have to be careful not to get carried with this old-age argument. To be fair, it can be really confusing for beginners to choose between a kayak and a canoe. That’s why in this article I will tell you the pros and cons of both kayaks and canoes. So, you can decide for yourself which one is better for you and have a ton of fun on the lake.

But which one is better?

The short answer is both are good. Many veterans have told their stories about how people are enjoying themselves with their canoes and kayaks. One more interesting thing is many beginners don’t even know the difference between a canoe and a kayak, yet they enjoy both.


Some key differences that you have to know between a canoe and a kayak are the cockpit, the seat, and the paddles. Let’s start with the cockpit first, canoes are often said to have open cockpits while kayaks have closed cockpits. Canoes’ cockpits are above the water and paddling in a kayak feels like sitting on a rowing boat.

On the other hand, kayaks’ cockpits are below the water level. Therefore, to prevent water from coming into the kayak, you need spray skirts. The reviews for spray skirt products are often mixed. Some people claimed they work well, while some claimed otherwise.


For the seat, canoes’ seats are designed like a bench, this way the paddler is raised up from the floor under your legs. Most canoes have 2 seats, while some have three. Some veterans prefer kneeling on the boat floor, so they can put more power behind their strokes.

For kayaks, the seat is placed very low near the floor. So, kayakers must paddle with their legs straighten forward. Prepare to use your knees as a brace when the kayak and their body is tossed around. But don’t worry, many veterans can use this to their advantage, so you can too.


For the paddles, canoes have a single paddle, while kayaks have a double paddle. The paddle of a canoe can be used on either side. Canoeists often use the ‘J’ stroke to paddle in a straight line without having to swap sides. For canoers, thanks to the double paddle, can just paddle on alternate sides to go straight.

Pros and cons

Now that you’ve learned the basic differences between a canoe and a kayak, let’s move on to the pros and cons. This section is specifically written to help you finally make a decision for the big day on the lake.

Pros and cons for canoes


  • You can carry a lot of your gear with you.
  • Ideal for longer expeditions.
  • You can stand up.
  • Canoes are easier to master.
  • You can see your surroundings better than with a kayak.
  • Portaging is easier with a canoe.
  • Easy to get in and out.


  • Heavy and difficult to transport.
  • Learning basic paddling skills can be very difficult.
  • Paddling on whitewater is more difficult since you’ll take more water in.
  • Paddling at a top speed is more exhausting than with a kayak.

Pros and cons for kayaks


  • Learning the basics is easy.
  • Can go faster with less energy than with a canoe.
  • Much more variety to it.
  • Light and easy to transport.
  • Can handle whitewater better.
  • As long as you don’t capsize, your gear will be kept drier than with a canoe.
  • Double paddles are more efficient than single canoe paddles.


  • There’s a very high chance that you’ll be drenched after a session.
  • Advanced kayaking skills are difficult to learn.
  • Using a spray skirt can be annoying and scary for beginners.
  • Double paddles are heavy.
  • Paddling on fast-moving water can be scary.

Choose one and have fun

I hope that the choice in your mind is clear now. Remember to always learn the basics first before you try more advanced maneuvers or skills. Whichever one you choose I wish you fun on the lake.

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