Advice to first-time buyers for choosing the perfect canoe

March 2, 2015

Enjoying time on the water in a canoe is a great way to enjoy nature. If you're a first-time canoe buyer, here's some advice to help you choose the perfect kind.

Advice to first-time buyers for choosing the perfect canoe

Different types of canoes

  • Solo canoes: Built for one person to sit and paddle comfortably, a solo canoe is perfect for the lone traveller. They have only one seat in the centre and cannot hold more than one person.
  • Recreational canoes: A basic canoe designed for day trips in good weather, a recreational canoe usually sacrifices speed and performance for stability and control. These canoes are best for novice or casual users.
  • White-water canoes: Made from tough materials that won’t catch on rocks, a white-water canoe is best for experienced white-water enthusiasts only. They’re highly maneuverable and very difficult to tip over.
  • Inflatable canoes: If you don’t have a canoe trailer or canoe rack, an inflatable canoe is a perfect alternative. It can be packed away in the car and inflated on site, saving you space on your way to the water.
  • Touring canoes: Touring canoes are usually built for a little more speed than recreational canoes, and they also have more room for your gear when out on multi-day excursions.

The biggest factor when choosing a touring canoe is size make sure it can hold you and enough gear to last you your entire trip.

Canoe sizing

  • In general, longer canoes are faster and can hold more weight, but they are harder to steer.
  • Shorter models are more maneuverable.
  • Most recreational canoes are around 14 feet, but a 17-foot touring canoe will comfortably hold two people and a week’s worth of gear.

Canoe materials

  • Aluminum: An aluminum canoe is heavy, but resilient to the elements. Most people who buy aluminum canoes are casual canoeists who plan on leaving it at their cabin year-round without proper canoe storage.
  • Fibreglass: A fibreglass canoe is very durable, resistant to abrasion and easier to repair than canoes made with other materials. Fibreglass canoes can vary widely in weight and are a popular alternative to heavier aluminum models.
  • Wood: A wooden canoe is about getting back to the basics. These canoes are lightweight and fairly fragile, but few synthetic materials can match their performance and look, especially if made from birch bark.
  • Kevlar: Extremely lightweight and durable, Kevlar was originally designed for bulletproof vests. A Kevlar canoe is best for more extreme conditions, like fast rivers and white-water conditions, but it's also very expensive.

Choosing the right canoe is the first step to getting out and enjoying the water. Remember, you’ll also need a few canoe paddles, some life-vests and maybe even a canoe stabilizer for choppy waters.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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