Are Kayaks Faster Than Canoes? Pros and Cons – 2022

It’s a question that has been debated for years – are kayaks faster than canoes? While there is no definitive answer, there are certainly some pros and cons to both crafts that can help you decide for yourself.  

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the differences between kayaks and canoes, and see what might make one or the other a better choice for you.

What Is The Difference Between a Kayak And a Canoe?

Before we get into whether kayaks are faster than canoes, it’s important to understand what each of these two vessels is.

A canoe is a type of boat that generally has two seats and one or more sets of oars inside for propulsion. Canoes typically have limited cargo space and aren’t the best choice for long trips; instead, they’re ideal for short trips on calm waters.

A kayak is a type of boat that has one or two seats and one or more sets of oars inside for propulsion (or none at all). Kayaks are typically narrower than canoes, which means it’s harder to stand up in them; kayakers kneel while paddling.

Main Differences Between A Kayak And A Canoe

  • Canoes are typically longer in comparison to kayaks. This gives canoes an advantage in speed over some types of water. This is because the length of a canoe gives more “push” in moving forward.
  • Canoes are wider than kayaks, which can be good for stability but leaves them with less room to maneuver.
  • Kayaks typically have closed cockpits, while canoes generally have open ones at the stern (the back of the boat). This means it’s easier to get into and out of a kayak while paddling, while canoes might require that you stop your trip to get in or out of them.
  • Canoes generally have more than one person on board, while most kayaks are made for just one person. A tandem canoe is designed for two people to sit side-by-side, while some types of kayaks are made for one person.
  • Canoes are typically faster than kayaks because they’re longer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a speedy kayak. Kayaks are often shorter in comparison to some types of canoes. 

Are Kayaks Faster Than Canoes?

The debate over whether kayaks are faster than canoes will probably never end, but there is no simple answer to this question.

Both kayaks and canoes have their pros and cons, so the best answer is usually “it depends.”

For instance, if you plan on racing either of these boats or doing a long-distance trip that requires speed, then you might lean toward a canoe. If you plan on doing shorter paddling trips or like to stand up while paddling, you might be more comfortable in a kayak.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Kayaks And Canoes?

Now that you have a better idea of what makes a kayak or a canoe unique, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each boat.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Canoes can easily carry more cargo than kayaks. This is because most types of canoes have open sterns which hold gear, while most kayaks only have enough room for one or two people and whatever they’re bringing with them.
  • Canoes tend to be faster than kayaks because of their size, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a speedy kayak.
  • The stability factor is another big difference between canoes and kayaks. Most types of canoes have high stability, which means it’s pretty tough to tip a canoe over in calm waters. Kayaks tend to be a bit more unstable because they’re shorter, but some types of kayaks offer better stability than others.
  • Canoes typically require more effort to paddle than kayaks, since longer boats move faster than shorter ones. This means you might cover more distance with each stroke of the paddle in a canoe than in a kayak.
  • Canoes are generally cheaper than kayaks, at least fully-assembled models. If you want to save some cash on your next boat purchase, then you might decide to go with a canoe instead of buying both a kayak and a canoe.
  • Kayaks require less effort to paddle than canoes, which means you’ll build up fewer arm muscles if you choose a kayak.
  • Most people feel that kayaks are safer than canoes; this is because it’s easier to get in and out of a kayak while paddling, due to their closed cockpits.

What If I Still Can’t Decide?

Both kayaks and canoes have their pros and cons, so the best answer for choosing one is usually “it depends.” If you’re still undecided about choosing a kayak or a canoe, here are some suggestions:

Rent Or Borrow

If you want to try out both boats, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then it might be wise to borrow or rent the type of boat you’re interested in. This way, you can test them out first before deciding which one is best for you. 

Test Paddling One

If money’s tight and you’re not sure you’ll even enjoy paddling, then it might be wise to go with a cheaper option. This is because if you find that canoeing and kayaking aren’t for you, then the cost difference probably won’t matter so much. 

Test Paddling Both

If money’s not an issue and you do want to try out both kayaks and canoes, then it would be best to rent or borrow each. Then you can decide which type of boat is better for your needs and budget.

Shop Around

Kayaks and canoes aren’t the only brand name boats on the market, so it might also be a good idea to check out some other brands like surf skis, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), and packrafts.


So, are kayaks faster than canoes? While it might be impossible to give an absolute yes or no answer to this question, there are many differences between the two boat designs that can help you decide which one is right for your needs.


Where can I find a canoe to test it out? 

You might want to check your local sporting shops, or you could ask around in kayak forums to see if anyone would be willing to let you borrow their boat for a test drive. You can also rent both types of boats from some sporting goods stores or rental companies if they offer that service.

Can I use a kayak for overnight trips? 

Yes, but you may want to consider taking along a dry bag or portable cooler. Most models of kayaks don’t come with the storage space that canoes have, so if you need to take along enough gear and supplies for an overnight trip, then you might choose a canoe instead. 

Where can I find information on kayaks? 

There are plenty of resources available online to help you decide if a kayak is right for you. You can check out reviews, ask around in forums, or research different types of kayaks and the pros and cons that come along with each type.

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