Canoe VS. Kayak: What Is The Difference

Knowledge ·
Canoe VS. Kayak: What Is The Difference

Now that you've decided on your water trip, you must first understand the difference between a kayak and a canoe. These are both aquatic vehicles. Both use paddles, and for thousands of years, people have used them to try, to differing degrees of success, to keep homosapiens out of rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans.


What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe? The difference is easy; it concerns where the athlete sits in the boat and what paddle they use to move it forward.      


This article will guide you on the difference between canoes and kayaks, regardless of the design, seating position, or types and gears. During the outdoor adventures, electricity is essential. We recommend Jackery Portable Power Stations to charge your electronics and devices with portability and versatility.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

The difference between a Kayak and a Canoe can be divided into three main parts: design, seating position and paddle.

The pros and cons of kayak and canoe are listed in this guide, which can help you choose the most appropriate one.

If you plan to kayak or canoe, follow some general tips and make some preparations.

We've listed five spots for kayaking and canoeing in Australia.

You can choose Explorer 500 or 300 Plus to charge your electronics during outdoor adventures.

Canoe VS. Kayak: What's The Difference

Kayaking and canoeing vary primarily because the kayak is a different kind of watercraft than a canoe.

Canoeists use an individual paddle. To ensure straight tracking, this is shifted from side to side. Kayakers use double-bladed paddles. A quicker and more effective paddling technique is achieved by twisting the blades to alternate to the respective sides.

Naturally, kayaks and canoes come in various styles tailored to specific uses, like paddle boarding. Five factors below may be used to discern the primary differences between a kayak and a canoe.  

canoe vs kayak

Canoe VS. Kayak: Design  

As previously established, a kayak's deck is often closed, whereas a canoe's is typically open. Closed decks conceal the top and interior of the boat, whereas open decks reveal these areas to the outside world.

These are the main distinctions between the two deck configurations. This way, a kayak with a closed deck encloses the paddler(s) and offers safety and secure sitting, whereas a canoe with an open deck allows the paddler(s) to move freely

Canoe VS. Kayak: Seating Position  

Squatting or kneeling are the two common ways paddlers sit in a canoe. The person paddling a canoe aligns their knees with the top edge and rim of the vessel while seated on a seat. To maintain stability, the canoeist kneeling places their knees on the boat's sides and moves closer to the front of the seats. 

When kayaking, paddlers often sit in a cockpit closer to the hull, or bottom, of the craft, with their legs extended forward and their knees supported by thigh braces.

Canoe VS. Kayak: Paddling Techniques

Kayak paddlers use paddles with two blades, while canoeists use one blade. A person paddling a canoe will put one hand on the handle and the other on the paddle shaft. They will move forward by making long, slow strokes that push the blade through the water. If there are two of you in the canoe, each of you will paddle on a different side.

A single paddle isn't enough to move you forward in a kayak because you're lower in the water. You'll move forward by putting each blade of the two-sided paddle into the water one at a time while holding the middle with both hands. You want to paddle in perfect rhythm in a double boat. Because it has two blades, the paddle will help you move through the water and turn faster.

Once you know how to paddle a kayak well, you can try to learn an "Eskimo roll," which is a more difficult move. If you flip over in your kayak, you can get back on by doing an "Eskimo roll." If your kayak flips over in the water, you can use your paddle and body to push it back up without getting out of the boat. You should learn this skill.

Canoe VS. Kayak: Transport and Storage

Canoes are more complicated to move and store than kayaks because they are bigger and heavier. However, you can only buy inflatable boats and kayaks suitable for short trips.

To sum up the differences between a kayak and a canoe, here they are:

A canoe with an open deck that you row while sitting or kneeling with a one-bladed stick. It's wider than a kayak, which means it can hold more things but moves more slowly on water.

A kayak is a closed-deck boat that you sit in with your legs spread out and a double-bladed paddle. A smaller, lighter shape that makes it faster and easier to move.

Canoe VS. Kayak: Types  

There is a difference between canoes and kayaks, and there are also different kinds of canoes. The most common are the river, whitewater, recreational, racing, and fishing canoes. Canoes are made from various materials, including aluminium, fibreglass, Kevlar, and flexible PVC. 

Recreational Canoe: Recreational canoes are typically between 13 and 17 feet long and are designed to be simple to manoeuvre for one to three paddlers. They should also be sturdy and stable. Commonly seen on lakes and slow-moving waterways, these canoes are the most popular kind.

Whitewater Canoe: These canoes are designed to be shorter than recreational canoes and specifically intended for one or two paddlers to navigate on fast-flowing water. They are much less stable, shorter, and more manoeuvrable than recreational canoes. Flotation panels are often added at the front and rear of the boat to manage extra water entering the canoe.

Canoe for Racing: Designed primarily for solo or tandem racing, racing canoes are narrower and sit lower in the water than leisure boats. For maximum force and speed, paddlers in racing boats assume a half-kneeling, half-seated attitude.

canoe types

(Image Source: Unsplash)

Just like with canoes, there are different kinds of kayaks that you can use for other activities. One of the best things about kayaking is that it lets you do many other things, from enjoying the rush of whitewater waves to relaxing on a lake all day.

Recreational Kayak: Recreational kayaks are ideally suited for kayaking on flat, quiet water, such as lakes, slow-moving rivers, canals, and protected coastal locations. They are typically 9 to 12 feet in length. They are simple to manage, comfortable, stable, and difficult to capsize.

Whitewater Kayak: When thrown about in whitewater, they are responsive and buoyant since they are broader and shorter than recreational kayaks. River runners may be as long as eight or nine feet, while playboats might be as brief as 5.5 feet, depending on their intended use.

Sit-on-Top Kayak: Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks are widespread in warmer areas; they include a moulded top that allows paddlers to sit on, rather than in, the kayak. They are perfect for diving and fishing from, as well as for exploring flat, calm water. SOTs are ideal for families and novices since all you need to paddle them is an essential ability.

Inflatable Kayak: It is less enjoyable but much less sturdy than other kayaks. Like SOTs, inflatable kayaks are mainly used for tandem paddling but can also carry considerably more quickly. In their open design, they resemble canoes more, yet they are paddled with two paddles, providing families and kids with comfort and entertainment.

Canoe VS. Kayak: Which Is Better 

There are numerous advantages to canoeing and kayaking, and your chosen route will primarily depend on your preferences and the conditions. It is advisable to try the other before investing all of your time and energy in the first. 

Pros of Canoe

Cons of Canoe

It is simple to enter and exit and has enough room to accommodate a lot of equipment.

Sitting in a comfortable posture.

Suitable for extended travels, offering both comfort and storage space.

Stable and difficult to capsize.

You may rise to get a better perspective.

You can quickly get proficient in the basics. You won't get too wet unless you're paddling on whitewater. You have a good view of your surroundings.

It's simple for dogs or children to go in the water.

Large and heavy boat.

Hard to store and move around.

They may absorb a lot of water during whitewater kayaking.

Compared to double paddles, single paddles are less efficient.

• More work in a canoe to obtain maximum speed.

*Pros and cons of canoe

Pros of Kayak

Cons of Kayak

Quick and straightforward to learn the fundamentals.

Quickly and with little effort, offering a wide range of kayaking disciplines.

In the unlikely event of capsizing, the paddler and gear remain dry.

Lightweight and portable.

Excellent mobility.

Handle whitewater well.

Feel connected with the water as you sit closer.

Double kayak paddles are more efficient than single canoe paddles.

• Very likely to become soaked throughout each session

• Expert kayaking abilities are difficult to acquire.

• It might be unsafe to go from still, flat water to swiftly flowing water.

• For students, spray skirts might seem constrictive and unsettling.

• Compared to single paddles, double paddles are heavier.

*Pros and cons of kayak

People who have never done canoeing or kayaking before can do them, but they should always get a helper for safety reasons. Initially, you might be better with good balance and core strength. But as you learn the basics of swimming, you'll realise it's more about rhythm than anything else.

Of course, some rivers and bodies of water are more challenging to get through than others. For first-time riders, looking for waterways that aren't too busy is best. It would be best to avoid waves, rough water, and waterfalls. If you hire a coach, they will keep you safe and teach you to canoe correctly

How to Prepare for Canoeing and Kayaking 

After knowing the canoe vs kayak, you should know how to prepare for them. Of course, it's possible to romanticise the difficulties of an adventure, but let's face it - we all want to experience pleasure and independence as soon as possible.

The secret to successful adventures is preparation: knowing where to paddle, who to paddle with, and what gear to bring. Even if you cannot choose every option, you still have the option to get ready.

how to prepare for canoeing or kayaking

Step 1: Practice First  

On opposing sides of the kayak or canoe, paddle. Doing this may prevent your kayak from pitching back and forth and increase its stability while moving. If you attempt to gain headway in a headwind or turbulent water, bend over for more stability.

Sync your paddling with your companion. Yes, discover your cadence. Setting the speed and matching it are the responsibilities of the stern (rear) paddler in response to the bow (front) paddler. This guarantees that your forward momentum is maximised.

Until you master the J-stroke and sweep stroke, you may maintain a straight course with your boat by frequently calling a "switch" to swap sides.

Make sure the shaft of your paddle is vertical. Better spoken than done. The alternative is what we refer to as "lily-dipping," which is fine when having a great conversation takes precedence over going somewhere specific, but if you have miles to cover.

An itinerary to stick to is a vertical paddle shaft, which will guarantee that your paddle blade is vertical during the power phase of your stroke, maximising your forward propulsion every time.

Step 2: Put On PFD  

You never know when something absurd will occur, and you'll find yourself drowning by accident. In 75% of drownings linked to paddle sports, personal flotation devices were not worn. Alcohol was a contributory factor in 20% of paddle sport deaths.

If you plan on engaging in frequent canoeing or kayaking activities, invest in a high-quality Personal Flotation Device (PFD) that offers comfort. This will significantly enhance the probability of consistently using it during your excursions.

Step 3: Dress for The Water Temperature  

Look at this depressing statistic: in 50 degrees of water, a person wearing street clothing has a 50% probability of swimming 50 yards. The actual death sentence is hypothermia, which impairs motor function and lowers core body temperature.

Step 4: Recognise Your Boundaries  

An essential component of well-planned travel is having a map and a feeling of the adventure ahead. Before leaving, measure. On flat water, novice paddlers usually cover two mph. Skilled paddlers seeking a physical challenge may reach 3-3.5 mph speeds. Consider the potential effects of river currents on your route and pace.

It would help if you worked with your partner to create a workable strategy since canoes are heavier, bulkier, and take more effort - typically from two people at a time.

Kayaking calls for more expertise from the player. Grasping the kayak paddle requires maintaining both hands in the middle of the paddle and dipping each end into the water alternately.

Thus, to appropriately submerge the tip when switching sides, you must understand how the kayak paddles' construction decreases wind resistance.

Step 5: Prepare for Essentials  

There is only a tiny hole in a kayak that lets water in. But once water gets in, it's harder to get out, so many kayaks wear a spray deck to keep water out of their boat.

Getting the big, heavy, and expensive gear is the most challenging part when just starting kayaking or canoeing. The following are the essentials for canoeing and kayaking, or you can check this gear guide accordingly.

Canoeing & Kayaking Essentials

Canoe or Kayak


Personal Flotation Device

Waterproof Gear

Water-Friendly Clothing

Sun Protection


Navigation Tools

First Aid Kit

Portable Power Stations

Waterproof Storage Bags

Emergency Whistle

Your kayak is less critical than your paddle. Before selecting a paddle, take your torso measurement and the width of the kayak into consideration.

The PFD must be worn for all water activities. If you want to kayak on the Gold Coast, ensure the PFD you choose meets Australian standards. It should be comfortable and fit well so you can do all your moves. Find jackets with pockets to keep the things you need close at hand.

Invest in a good waterproof dry bag to keep your things safe and dry. It would be best if you had these to store stuff like gadgets, extra clothes, food, and other personal items.

When you paddle, Jackery Portable Power Stations can make it more fun. Bring a small power station like the Jackery Explorer 500 or Explorer 300 Plus to charge your devices on your canoeing or kayaking. While getting ready is essential, remember to enjoy the journey.  

Jackery Portable Power Stations Explained

Take your canoeing or kayaking adventures to the next level with Jackery Portable Power Stations. Jackery Portable Power Stations are made for people who like being outside and care about the environment and their comfort. They give your tools a safe way to get power while on the go.

Jackery ensures that their Portable Power Stations use lithium-ion and LiFePO4 batteries for a steady power source. These generators can use the sun's energy now that Jackery Solar Panels are added. This makes them an eco-friendly power source for the beautiful Australian scenery.

how jackery solar generator works for kayaking

Jackery Portable Power Stations offers more charging options than any other brand. These include solar panels, carports, and AC adapters. You can use clean energy, making your canoeing trips better, whether paddling along rough cliffs or looking for secret coves.   

Jackery Explorer 500

This Jackery Explorer 500 power station is made to withstand harsh weather thanks to its advanced temperature monitors and robust construction that can work in hot and cold conditions. Because it's so durable, it's an excellent choice for camping trips, outdoor activities, and backup power in an emergency.

With a capacity of 518Wh and a 500W inverter that can handle surges up to 1000W, the Jackery Explorer 500 can support multiple appliance charging, making it a versatile power solution for various needs. It is also designed for convenience, featuring a portable and light design that makes it easy to carry and use wherever power is needed.

The power station has three ways to charge it: solar panels, a wall outlet, and a car plug. This gives you options for how to charge it. With a noise level of 37.9dB, it's a quiet power option that won't bother you while canoeing.  

jackery explorer 500

Jackery Explorer 300 Plus

The Jackery Explorer 300 Plus portable power station is a lightweight and efficient power supply designed to meet the power needs for various situations such as kayaking, picnicking, camping, road trips, and emergency power backup.

This power station has a unique Battery Management System (BMS). It has 52 safety features and 12 BMS algorithms that work together to keep the device and any attached appliances as safe as possible. It also has four kinds of physical security to ensure everyone is safe.

This model stands out because it has an intelligent app control feature that lets users quickly manage the battery through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This makes it more modern and convenient to use. It's also very light - only 8.27 pounds - so it's an excellent choice for people who are always on the go.

jackery explorer 300 plus

Best Canoeing & Kayaking Spots in Australia

Australia's national song makes it evident that the water surrounds our country. Our nation comprises around 35,000 kilometres of coastline, and although you can drive some of it and hike others, nothing compares to experiencing it from the sea in a kayak.

Kayaking possibilities abound nationwide, ranging from mild to wild and all points in between, along the coast and the rivers flowing through the countryside. These five canoe and kayak spots are the greatest.  

Canoeing & Kayaking Spots


Freycinet Peninsula

There is breathtaking scenery, including pink granite peaks that glisten in the sunshine, turquoise bays, white-bellied sea eagles diving for fish, and slopes covered in intact eucalypt forest.

Sydney Harbour

There are many sheltered nooks, crannies, and relatively small waves because it has lots of lee and little fetch.

The Coorong

Canoeing in the saltwater lagoons near the Murray Mouth is best done in the autumn when the days are pleasant and the breezes are moderate.

The Whitsundays

This 74-island group is the epitome of a tropical paradise.

Bass Strait

Going out into the Bass Strait gives you a taste of actual sea kayaking; the area is quite remote, so the scenery is breathtaking, with towering cliffs, caverns, and abundant marine life.

Canoe VS. Kayak FAQs

The following are the frequently asked questions about the canoe vs. kayak in Australia.

  1. What is the difference between a canoe and a kayak?

People often need to realise that the two boats are different. Therefore, the kind of paddle you use is more critical when using canoes and kayaks than the actual boat. A canoe's paddle is single-bladed, whereas a kayak's has two blades.

  1. What is more stable, a kayak or a canoe?

Although their general shape makes canoes seem more stable than kayaks, this is only sometimes the case. They are often less nimble. Kayaks are more manoeuvrable and ideal for hunting and navigating confined locations than canoes but less stable.

  1. Which is fast, canoe or kayak?

The maximum speed of an equal-length fat canoe and thin kayak is the same. However, compared to the canoe, the narrow kayak will paddle more readily since it has a smaller wetted surface area and, thus, less friction. Some people choose kayaks over canoes because they are easier to paddle, not faster.

Final Thoughts

Which is better for you, canoe vs. kayak? The truth is that it does. Canoes are more stable, easier to get in and out of, and can hold more gear, so you don't have to bring as little. Kayaks are great for hunting and fishing because they are easier to move around than boats. Anglers and hunters can get to places they couldn't on foot or by boat, which helps them catch more fish or animals. 

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