Should I get a canoe or a kayak?

6:50 a.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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What are the pluses & minuses, based on your experiences?

At a glance it appears kayaks have the advantage in speed and maneuverability, but you have issues with them tipping over.

Canoes appear to have better stability and are easier to get into and out of.

Voices of experience, chime in!

10:45 a.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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my opinion is a canoe. for the reasons you said, as well as its easier to acces your gear, and you wouldn't need to go super light with everything, could even bring a cooler. plus have you ever tried to fish in a kayak? its kind of a pain. i also like to take my dog with me, theres no way hes getting in a kayak

2:12 p.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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As you might expect, it depends what you want to do. I have experienced extended trips in both.

In inland lakes and all rivers, I prefer a canoe. I'm usually paddling solo these days, but I still prefer a 16 foot canoe to a 16 foot kayak. I found that I was paddling my kayaks with a single-blade canoe paddle anyway, just because I prefer the single blade style of paddling.

On rougher water, such as the Great Lakes, a touring kayak is definitely the way to go for extended trips. In higher seas, a spray skirt is a necessity.

In general, kayaks may be faster when paddled with a double blade, but I would not say they are more maneuverable. They may be easier to paddle in a straight line, but all my canoes turn better than any kayak I've ever had, although I've never had a whitewater kayak simply because I'm not interested in that style of paddling. In my view, the purpose of a boat is to keep you dry.

I've never had an issue with tipping, in either a kayak or a canoe. But I think a properly designed kayak is probably more stable than a canoe simply because the paddler usually has a lower center of gravity.

At the risk of insulting kayak devotees, I usually describe the difference this way: paddling a kayak is science, paddling a canoe is art.

6:49 p.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Kayaks are usually lighter/easier to transport and better for rough water. I have kayaked near 1,000 miles in my kayak and have yet to flip it on accident. A canoe will allow more wiggle room and a passenger though. Since I pretty much always go alone, this is not a huge problem for me.

7:17 p.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Check out the hybrids at Native Watercraft. I was always a canoe guy when I lived in the piedmont. Became a sit on top kayak guy since moving to the coast. Sit ins are rough on middle age, semi crippled folks. I've owned a number of yaks, but never a white water model. I probably would not reccomend a true whitewater canoe to start with. They have excellent secondary stability, but feel like paddling a bottle cap to me. There is a ton of information and reviews over at http://www.paddling.net/ .

9:12 p.m. on May 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Here's the link to Native Watercraft. Some pretty interesting stuff they have. Even a pedal drive propeller, with a video showing how it works.
http://www.nativewatercraft.com/

After so many years of hiking,biking,canyoneering and ski touring, I had been considering getting a canoe or kayak. I read a great story once while working in Alaska in 1978, called Yukon Summer by Eugene Canton. He used a folbot(?) folding kayak and went down the entire Yukon River source to sea. And there's also Colin Fletcher who went down the entire Green River from the Wind River Mountains into the Colorado in Utah and down thru the Grand Canyon and out to the Gulf of California. Tho he did that in a small raft.

Personally I would like to explore Lake Powell which is said to have more shoreline than the east and west coasts put together?

6:40 p.m. on May 7, 2010 (EDT)
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What are your primary uses

Where are you planning to use it

Who are you planning to go with

What kind of load to you want need

How much do you want to spend

8:49 a.m. on May 8, 2010 (EDT)
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One consideration -- a canoe is great for getting out with small kids (and dogs!). You can load it up with luxury (compared to backpacking) camping gear and food, everybody travels at exactly the same pace, easy to load and unload. If you have a place where you can go lake-hopping with short portages then the kids can get out of the boat and stretch their legs a bit. Many happy memories of family canoe trips in the Adirondacks -- one early one of my older daughter in her first summer, before she could walk, happily propped up against a thwart, wearing a plastic bag with a hole cut it in it because it was hosing down rain, but she was as cheery as ever. I would often paddle solo with a big-bladed kayak paddle while my wife kept the kids occupied.

Canoes are better for lake-hopping, quiet water, winding rivers, sea kayaks are better for big open lakes as well as the ocean, where you can get some rough water.

The everyone at the same pace thing also applies to couples -- canoeing and paddling our double kayak together are the only sports where my wife can keep up with me. But also a caveat: when we got married my wife's ex-boyfriend got a bunch of friends together and bought us a canoe as a wedding present. We used to joke he was actually trying to bust up our marriage because at first we tried some easy whitewater together but we already (before kids) had different risk thresholds, and that led to a certain amount of tension and argument, sometiomes each of us trying to turn the boat in different directions, which is not good in whitewater! That seems to be common in canoeing couples, although we know some where the female partner is the more aggressive one.

Later on as the kids got more independent I took great pleasure in taking off an afternoon or a day for sometimes intense solo or "boy's day out" kayak trips on Lake Champlain and smaller lakes. But with the kids more and more doing their own thing we're now talking about buying a folding canoe that we can take on a train up north, with the dog, so we can paddle together again -- just like old times.

My final answer: both! You just have to decide which to get first...

11:18 p.m. on May 19, 2010 (EDT)
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As one poster mentioned, it depends on what you want to do. I have to respectfully disagree with jonny five, in that canoes are not necessarily heavier than kayaks. A number of nice solo canoes are in the sub 30 lb range. The choice you make need not be your only one as far as a boat is concerned. I have a garage full of canoes and kayaks, each one a bit different and used for different purposes.

I teach canoeing and kayaking with my local club. One thing that I see is that many novices are ready to accept their need for some instruction with kayaking. Whereas, for canoeing, most will reference their experience as a scout, or at Grandpa's cabin and think that there is little to learn.

Canoes do fine in quiet water, but are also capable of ocean traveling with the addition of a spray skirt.

Which one is faster? A kayak, though only marginally.

Which one will hold more gear? A canoe.

Which is more maneuverable? Both equally, depending on the type.

Which is more stable? It depends on the design, but certainly a loaded tripping canoe will have the stability of a semi and handle like one as well.

11:54 p.m. on May 19, 2010 (EDT)
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It is much harder to roll a canoe! Then there is all of the bailing! And if you are planning Whitewater the crossdraw stroke makes you look retarded (no insult intended to people with handicaps!) and I know from experience it makes you feel retarded! So, if you prefer to paddle only on one side of the boat, and you have to take your hairy slobbering freinds, or your dog. I'd say Canoe. Otherwise, if the water is white, you need a deck and a good roll. By the way, on long distances, I think the canoe actually takes the medal for speed, But I have never seen a canoe that can do spin moves on a wave. (Aside from that little Savage Skeeter boat that might as well have been a kayak- and aparrently everyone else thought so too since they are not made anymore!) Honestly, I have two of each in my garage right now. That solves the debate for me!

9:59 a.m. on May 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I just bought a kayak, a Pelican 80XLT. I tried it out yesterday, it seemed very unstable. Now I have never been in one before, so just how unstable it should be I can only guess. But I should have bought a bigger one, I kinda fill this one up.

7:19 p.m. on May 20, 2010 (EDT)
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In that boat, yes, you might want to upsize i think. That boat should feel as stable as a canoe (more so, since your center of gravity is actually all the way on the bottom of the boat). If you don't feel stable in a flatwater craft, then you will never be happy, there should not be a huge learning curve on stablility. I would also think that a man that is going to cast a piece of art, that is worth way more than the boat he is in, should not have to worry about his artwork laying on the bottom of the river or lake.

9:59 p.m. on May 20, 2010 (EDT)
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With regard to Mike's question about stability. As Paddleman says, you might want to go larger. Bear in mind that stability is a relative thing. An example is what are called"Sporting" canoes. These are canoes for anglers, photographers with flat bottoms. They feel very stable at rest. Yet with a bit of lean, they feel very unstable. In contrast are other canoes, such as the OT Penobscot 16. I won't get in to a true ww canoe at this point. The Penobscot 16, with it's arch bottom, feels to a novice, unstable at rest. Yet the canoe becomes more stable with a bit of lean. For most uses, it is better(safer) to have a boat with some primary stability, but lots of secondary stability. Try paddling your Pelican for a bit. Paddle others, then you'll know better if it is really the boat for you.

10:00 a.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Paddleman, you are right about taking one of my bamboo fly rods out. I did take a UL spinning rod with me yesterday. And I did have it tied off to my life jacket with a piece of string. I felt a little safer on the second trip and caught some nice crappie. My problem is money, I am retired and just don't have much to spend. That is why I bought this one in the first place. Maybe next year I will upgrade, for now I just ask the Lord to get me back safe one more time.

1:22 p.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Being a bulky guy (5’6” 210#) I will either use a Rubber DUCK inflatable kayak or my trusty Chippewa round-bilge canoe. I like this canoe because of the gentle rolling sides and it has a bit more of a flat bottom that gives this little baby great stability in my opinion and it cuts through the water almost effortlessly, I can pack all my gear into it and I have even taken my trail bike with me once, I have used it in white water (class 3 to 4 ) and I am still here to tell the tail and here is the best part of this canoe I built it myself, this saved me a load of cash and I could enjoy it even more because I built it and it was not that hard at all I did it over the winter in my shop but it could easily have been built in a basement with no problem. I found the design at http://www.boatdesigns.com/ under Human Power craft they have several different designs to fit your needs since I built the Chippewa I have also built the 17’ Stripper and will start on the 18’ Drifter this winter …maybe I have the grand Idea to build it and then do the Snake river or similar class of water, anybody want to join me. But I digress I will go for the canoe almost every time for the stability the added space for gear and the general ease to handle the craft I also find fishing from one more comfortable for me at least and a added bonus you can bring your best 4 legged friend or friends along and still squeeze in the wife or girl friend if you want. Any who that’s my story and I’m sticking to it RR

4:00 p.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow RescueRanger, that is really impressive. I would love to see some photos of it. Would you be willing to share some info such as how many hrs you think it took, and how muchit cost to do the project?

9:22 a.m. on May 22, 2010 (EDT)
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i own both it depends what yer doing and what body of water you will be paddeling on.

9:25 a.m. on May 22, 2010 (EDT)
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i have a vizcaya preceptions 17 footer.its perty stable on da big lakes but whan in a kayak and da waves get big nothen is stable but dats part of da fun.

12:02 a.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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The plans cost me $45 and materials cost me another $200 I decided not to go cheap and used the planks are 4MM marine grade okoume ply, 4 ounce glass inside and out. Ash Gunwales & thwart Iused Cedar for the decks. Paddels were brought I am not that good...yet

RR

7:01 a.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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That's beautiful, and quite impressive, rescue_ranger! Wow! Good job.

7:52 a.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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dis is great wish i had da time and patiants and skill to build dis.great job!!!!!!!!!!

7:53 a.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Alica! also thanks again for the water bottle stickers they came in the mail yesterday

9:25 a.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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i also like to take my dog with me, theres no way hes getting in a kayak

I had an old Perception Keeowee II kayak that my 60+ Lb. beagle-lab loved to ride in. He even had his own PFD. I thought, at first, he would sit in the front seat as I paddled from the rear, but soon realized that he preferred to sleep under the front deck, between my feet. I know now, that a nice single seat 13 footer w/ a fairly open cockpit would have sufficed, dog and all.

1:39 p.m. on May 23, 2010 (EDT)
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The plans cost me $45 and materials cost me another $200 I decided not to go cheap and used the planks are 4MM marine grade okoume ply, 4 ounce glass inside and out. Ash Gunwales & thwart Iused Cedar for the decks. Paddels were brought I am not that good...yet

RR

THAT! Is a thing of beauty!

10:54 a.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow, like the old canoes. Thats really nice.

Question What are the best in folding kayaks/canoes? Maybe inflatables? I want something I can carry on my back and put together when I need it. I don't have a car, so something very backpackable?

I have heard of Folbot, and Klepper Kayaks, has anyone used these? I read a story once called Yukon Summer where a guy in 1978 paddled a Klepper folding Kayak down the entire Yukon River.

12:37 p.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi Gary, Kleppers have been around for a long time. Folbots were originally an English copy of a Klepper and they later moved to the US. Ally and Pakboat make very nice folding canoes. Before you make your choice, you need to answer a couple of questions. What type of water will you be paddling? How much capacity do you need? Will you be carrying something else on your back? Any of these boats can be carried on your back. However, none of them will be light. You won't be carrying much else if you are carrying the boat, even if you go the inflatable route. Alpaca pack rafts are about the lightest you can go, and still have a durable watercraft. Their usage is limited. They are slow, and don't track well, nor do they have much capacity beyond yourself and a light pack. If you answer these questions, we can narrow down your choices.


Best,


Erich

3:18 a.m. on May 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Our Klepper is really heavy and bulky even when packed. Last I knew, the aluminum-frame Feathercraft were the best and lightest folding kayaks -- I don't know if there are any imitators out there now.

http://feathercraft.com/

We're looking at getting a Bergans Ally folding canoe made here in Norway, also with aluminum frames and I think about as light as kevlar boats.

http://bergans.no/sider_eng/start_produkter.asp

A quick search brought me to Pakboats, which seem to be a bit heavier put use inflatable sponsons (like klepper) to tension the skin an give permanent buoyancy, so maybe they're worth taking a look at.

http://www.pakboats.com/

I suppose there are others out there...

9:29 a.m. on May 25, 2010 (EDT)
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FYI, we have many folding kayaks at this page: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/folding-kayaks/ and folding canoes on this page: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/folding-canoes/

10:21 a.m. on May 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks, its still just a consideration. I am looking into doing a Lake Powell thing in the next few years. Lake Powell is one of the largest man-made lakes in the USA. I supposed 90% of the time the water would be relatively calm and I would carry about as much otherwise as I do cycling or hiking which is about 12 lbs not counting food and water. Though on Powell water would be easy filtered.

This fall, winter and spring I am going to live on the Parunuweap in Utah and the Paria. Neither have enough water for kayaking.

1:11 a.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I have been a canoe racer and ACA Moving Water instructor. I've canoed in the Canadian wilderness and on U.S. rivers. I've owned a 17 ft Grumman aluminum canoe and an 18 ft Mad River Kevlar canoe.

All that said... I STILL prefer my 18.5 ft. Eddyline Sea Star Kevlar sea kayak. It will carry all my gear and is so FAST compared to the fastest canoes and light to carry on a portage. Plus, if I flip I can roll up & keep on going. And then, being a sea kayak I can take it on the Great Lakes and the ocean, something you cannot safely do with a canoe.

Eric

10:32 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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"Canoes are better for lake-hopping, quiet water, winding rivers, sea kayaks are better for big open lakes as well as the ocean, where you can get some rough water."

Ditto to BigRed.

I canoed in rivers in Maine and in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota/Canada.

But, since I live on the ocean, kayaks are my conveyance of choice. Touring kayaks can fit plenty of gear and are great for solo paddling. I learned to roll my river kayak which gives me a lot more confidence in most weather conditions, but my favorite kayak is now a sit -on variety, a Malibu 4.4 which are now harder to find since production has ceased. They are stable enough to stand up in, yet if you do flip., you can just get right back in and paddle away. They are self bailing. Just paddle and the small volume open space quickly drains. Low in the water, they are not pushed around by wind, a small built-in keel means they track easily.

Avoid fiberglass in canoe or kayak. My canoe is 18' Old Town and can easily be carried on my shoulders. It will bend over a rock and pop back into shape. Good grief I have owned it for 36 years, but it now spends most days in the garage. Canoe cans fit a lot of camping gear, but it is easy is too take too much, so pack light!

http://www.oldtowncanoe.com/canoes/

2:54 a.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
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"Avoid fiberglass in canoe or kayak. My canoe is 18' Old Town and can easily be carried on my shoulders.

I assume it's an ABS boat, and they are pretty indestructible it's true. Our "honeymoon boat" see post above is an Old Town Penbscot 16.5, now in its 25th year as is our marriage -- except it's on long-term loan to another family back in VT as we (stupidly) decided not to bring it to Norway.

BUT ABS boats are heavy -- ours is 65 lbs. No big deal if you're just getting it to or from the water or doing short carries, but I have carried it upwards of 2 km in the Adirondacks and Algonquin, sometimes on brutally hot summer days. A boat that feels like a reasonable carry for a few hundred meters becomes a torture machine on longer carries, and that's when you start thinking about paying the premium for Kevlar or maybe trying a lightweight folding boat as we hope to do. I had back surgery over ten years ago, and while I survived the Algonquin trip a couple years later, at some point you have to start thinking about treating your back, shoulders and knees a little better -- preferably before surgery.

8:59 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes, I believe it is ABS, a honeycomb structure that is very durable. It has been several years since my last portage. Minnesota mosquitos are brutal when they sneak in under the canoe overhead!

3:11 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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Big Red, I had a Penobscot 16 and loved it. A good compromise boat and one of the fastest and lightest ABS boats of that size out there. One thing you might try if you have difficulty carrying it, is a different yoke, adding pads if you have not already done so, and using a tumpline. The latter takes some of the weight off the shoulders on the longer carries.

Regarding yokes, everyone is shaped differently, there is a lot of variation on what works for people. I like dished yokes, but not deep dished. I can't stand the Wenonah pads that are made by Chosen Valley, only because I find them uncomfortable. I know many who swear by them and find they work well.

As well, using the painters as "tag" lines, helps to keep your arms at your side without losing control of the canoe's angle.

Portaging is never easy, but like many things, there is a lot more to it than many would admit.

Best,

Erich

4:39 a.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Klepper (plus Long Haul, Pouch, Nautiraid, and a few more) makes folding kayaks that in many ways are a cross between a Greenland kayak (aka SOF, skin-on-frame) and a classic canoe, combining the virtues of both types: being both seaworthy, and good load carriers. Pricewise they belong to the costlier, but not costlier than some modern corbon-reinforced canoes or kayaks. And you can, if you belong to the handy, make your own:

http://yostwerks.com/

Belonging to the folding kayak enthusiast group www.foldingkayaks.org it will not come as a surprise that I love our Kleppers (we have one Aerius II and one XXL, both expedition version):

http://www.klepper.com/en/index.php

For the noninitiated it is easiest to describe the Kleppers (and their look-alikes from the US Long Haul, and a lot of other brands that are available from Europe, the US, Japan, and elsewhere) as modern versions of Eskimeau kayaks, most of them with folding wooden frames, covered by Hypalon, the fabric used in most rubber rafts, or PVC. There are also folding canoes made, not least by Pakboat, in NH, USA:
http://www.pakboats.com/

So that's the base, so to speak. But the available models vary a lot: From the XXL's mighty hull (almost as big as a Verlon Kruger Super Cruiser) which easily carries three people, and/or a lot of gear, to folding versions of racing kayaks, similar to those used in the Olympics (at the bottom here):

http://www.nautiraid.com/nautiraid-bateaux-pliants-canoes-kayaks.html

Some were designed for white water use, some like the Klepper Aerius line (Aerius I, II & XXL) optimized for long distance travel in the open sea, if need be. This type is used by many special forces, as they can carry an immense load (1/3rd of a ton for the XXL!), and have been used several times for crossing the Atlantic, as they are so seaworthy. Similar types are available from Nautiraid, Long Haul, & Feathercraft:

http://feathercraft.com/kayaks/traditional/index.php

Kleppers (and their US cousins, the Long Hauls) are fast to assemble (have been done in five minutes by two experienced paddlers), while more high-tech variants, like Feathercraft's line, takes closer to an hour, I've been told. The French Nautiraid line ends up somewhere in between.

http://www.longhaulfoldingkayaks.com/

Many makes can be sailed, and the Klepper Aerius line have built-in flotation, which most of the other makes have as well!

Good books about travelling with a 'folder' are

Dr. Hannes Lindemann: Alone at Sea (about his Atlantic crossings in canoe and Klepper Aerius II)

Maria Coffey's A Boat in our Baggage (about hers and Dag's travels with a Feathercraft K2 to a number of remote points of the earth, including lake Malawi and the Ganges River)

Paul Theroux: The happy Isles of Oceania (about his travels around the PAcific in a Klepper Aerius II, under a number of years).

Yours,

Tord S Eriksson,

Owner and moderator of the folding kayak forum:

Bagboater Yahoogroup (fairly dormant just now - much more active a few years back)

2:20 a.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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5:24 p.m. on September 12, 2010 (EDT)
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I love a handmade canoe. Very nicely done.

Now to answer the OP. I didn't read all the posts so I will apologize in advance if my opinion repeats any of the points already made.

I prefer a canoe. One is because my primary paddling is done in Ontario, Canada (Algonquin, Temagami, Chiniguchi) and trips can be quite portage ridden. In the words of my friend Claude "Laurie I am never letting you plan a canoe trip again - this has been the best hiking trip ever!" A canoe is much less awkward to portage.

There is also the stability issues. Getting in and out of a canoe, especially for a beginner paddler is a more stable affair than a kayak. That said, I am pretty adept at falling out of a canoe. Stability in a canoe varies by model - some have better primary stability than secondary. Ours, a Wenonah Prospector 16 in the Flexcore/Kevlar layup with the wood trim, is about 54 pounds. It has a good rocker and is much more stable when loaded. Our beautiful boat has wonderful secondary stability and it's awesome for Canadian style canoeing. You can turn her on a dime.

Now to give you something else to think about... space. If you are wilderness tripping with a kayak you are going to have to really consider the limited space. That said, I treat canoeing like backpacking and am somewhat minimalist about the whole thing. Our canoe holds three backpacks, my son, the dog (Shih Tzu - no pointing and laughing please) and the fishing crap. Sometimes, for 12 to 14 day trips, we'll take a separate food pack. For that, if using kayaks, we'd need three boats.

I think your best bet is to go to some rental places and try out different kayaks and canoes... then try out different models until you find one that suits. Really evaluate what you intend to do as far as paddling goes.

5:16 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Well, with a capacity of about 380 kilograms you can bring a lot in your Klepper :-)! Many years ago Klepper Aerius single-seaters were used in the Olympics for the white water events :-)!

Pakboats have versions of their canoes that are decked, and thus are kayaks :-)!

12:17 a.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Storage capacity is the advantage of the canoe. Speed is the advantage of the kayak. White water kayaks are highly maneuverable and principally unstable due to the flat bottom versus sea kayaks with pronounced keel. I never enjoyed trying to control a canoe with the single paddle limitation due as well to seating height above waterline requiring a crude paddle transfer. The kayak double paddle permits control, comfort and speed as needed. I've loaned my white water kayak to friends who usually return wet from the tumble as a result of going fast and not having the experience to control the instability.

5:22 a.m. on September 16, 2010 (EDT)
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If you don't think a canoe is highly manoeuvrable you should watch this video on Canadian style paddling...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4RJAeP7pDI

or this clip from Becky Mason's Solo Canoeing DVD...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPrIAuphWsA

edited to add...

Whether you choose a canoe or kayak, there is a certain joy and peacefulness that comes from paddling that you can't find in any other activity.... I can't really put it into words.

Here is a canoeing video of the Outer Fox Islands on Georgian Bay (Lake Huron)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1RC8SUCn0I

and here is Killarney...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2fM9viNPWs

Ontario, Canada is spectacular for paddling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dniiDkcDn98

12:56 a.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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LaurieAnn reminds me of seeing an expert canoeist run Class V to the amazement of hotshot kayakers and rafters on California rivers. He learned in the southeast with pole or paddle and was smoothe. That said, one needs about ten boats to cover all of the settings very well but you can get creative by combining techniques into new applications. Packrafts are light but sometimes you want self-bailing inflatables, and sometimes you need speed as in sea kayaks. If you are getting in and out of a kayak you're crunching abs -rather tiring and slower than stepping off a canoe or larger raft. Hardshell yak is versatile though. Pull it in low water. Dry bag available with or without gun rack.

3:26 a.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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As a paddling writer(among my other outdoor pursuits) it has been very interesting to read the various opinions on this forum regarding whether to choose a canoe or kayak. A good deal of it is the proverbial "apples and oranges" comparison. Equating the performance of a 1960's 17 foot Grumman with that brand new 17 foot Eddyline, is like comparing my Grandfather's 1960 Chrysler Imperial with my wife's Subaru Outback. Most kayaks are solo boats with limited capacity, while that old Grumman was designed to haul well over a half ton of gear and paddlers. Canoes have come a long way since the Grumman was the standard, and the svelte Eddyline I love to paddle is a far cry from that rotomolded slug I paddled in Cabo.

Truly each has it's advantages and the choice should begin with an honest assessment of needs. The kayak came to be as an extremely lightweight craft for one person to hunt seal and walrus in Arctic waters. With little capacity, it was capable of bursts of speed, but was not intended for extended journeys with supplies.

The birch bark canoe evolved as a means to carry goods and people, sometimes for great distances.

Today's craft that are based on these aboriginal designs, still have many of the same parameters, however, their uses are now almost purely recreational.

To learn more about the choices, look for a series of upcoming paddling articles on Trailspace.

12:31 p.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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LaurieAnn: The control issue between the canoe vs kayak relates to the single paddle vs the double paddle as well as the energy and dexterity difference required to move the weight and water displacement area of each craft. Swifter response is obviously achieved with the double paddle. The majority of canoes are heavier and with higher water displacement than the majority of kayaks. The higher water displacement of the canoe requires greater energy/effort to control due to the greater amount of displaced water including its' surface resistance on the canoe. A heavy laden canoe is tougher to control. Maneuverability suffers as a result of the heavier canoe and reduced response time of shifting the paddle. I don't question the capability of the canoe. Both craft have their place. But their differences in general are quite clear. The canoe is designed for load carrying while the kayak is designed for speed. The difference between the white water kayak and the sea kayak relates to maneuverability. The semi "V" shape of the sea kayak is for maintaining a fairly straight direction due to wind and tidal forces acting against the kayak. A rudder is usually included to assist in directional control. The white water kayak has a flat bottom so it can turn on a "dime".

7:30 p.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Okay....here's a question, can you use a kayak paddle with a canoe?

I know the canoe is wider, but is is doable? Or would I just be hating myself for trying?

11:51 p.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I've seen it done by solo canoeists. They claim much more speed, as the need to switch sides in order to steer is eliminated.

12:24 a.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I do one or two lake canoe trips a year and occasionally we have an odd number of people going. I have found that when soloing in a gear laden canoe, I prefer a kayak paddle. I find using it easier than switching from one side to the other and dripping water each time I cross over. My canoe is 48" wide in the middle and considerably more narrow in the back where I paddle. I have found that the longer the kayak paddle the better, my new one is 240cm. My canoe is wide enough to fit a 70Qt ice chest width wise and the cooler fits perfectly in the bear boxes where I go, hard to do that with a kayak. Every once in awhile, its fun to load the canoes with gear and cold beer and paddle in where normally you would have to backpack to.

3:55 a.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Performance, you are right that each craft in the traditional sense, evolved for different purposes. However, as they became recreational craft, the shapes have adjusted to meet different needs. Rather than comparing a sleek solo sea kayak with a tandem tripping canoe, we should be comparing the solo kayak with a solo canoe, perhaps something along the lines of a Clipper Solitude. The differences between the two are much less obvious. As designed, both have low sitting positions for the paddler, the canoe having a tractor type seat much like the kayak. The Solitude tracks very well and has reasonable load carrying ability. It has more capacity than the kayak, and is easier to load. Lacking a deck, it is lighter, but also more subject to wind and waves. You can paddle the Solitude with a double paddle, or Minn Switch style with a bent shaft.

There also seems to be a perception that a canoe is steered by changing sides. While in the Minnesota Switch style I mentioned above, this is the case, it is not necessary for general canoeing. Most issues come from poor form. The First Nations and voyageurs who paddled thousands of miles each year, developed strokes that required a minimum amount of correction. Most difficulties arise from a stroke that does not follow the keel line, and a paddle that is not vertical.

As well, a number of kayakers today are learning about the efficiency of using Greenland paddles.

So, with differences in fine points, perhaps we should should adopt european nomenclature for these craft. In their terms, all are canoes. The difference is that one is closed and the other open.

1:17 p.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I've logged a lot of hours paddling a loaded canoe with a kayak paddle, often as the sole engine as my wife nursed or just hung on to one kid or the other, or with unskilled guests up front. But I really enjoying using a single blade, working in tandem with another paddler, and using the full suite of control strokes. I've found that a canoe is much more maneuverable on a tight winding creek than a touring kayak because with well-coordinated paddlers using draws and pries you can more or less turn it on its center. (Possible also in a touring boat but it takes a lot of lean and plenty of room for a sculling sweep...) I also learned a silent "indian stroke" where you keep your paddle vertical and keep it feathered in the water on the forward part, no dripping or splashing.

10:25 p.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't know... maybe this is my female perspective coming through but I find paddling a canoe to be a bit romantic... especially when the morning is like this and the lake as smooth as glass.


... and the paddling is like a hot knife going through soft butter. We met a few kayakers on one of the many portages along this route. I daresay that they were a little less than impressed with carrying them.

Whichever you end up choosing, I am sure you'll enjoy paddling. Just make sure you get a good and comfortable PFD and that you use it.

12:51 a.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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The "indian stroke" is a beautiful stroke. A good example of using a deep water paddle and in the water recoveries is here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwSu3Cf7igE

3:20 a.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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The "indian stroke" is a beautiful stroke. A good example of using a deep water paddle and in the water recoveries is here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwSu3Cf7igE

That's some pretty paddling! Never knew you could do ballet with a canoe...

8:37 a.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for that link Erich,

I can see I have a lot to learn.

I had a tour guide show me how to paddle a wooden flat bottom boat by paddling on only one side by sitting at the rear of the boat. I haven't been able to do it very well (in a canoe). Obviously more practice is needed, but I think some more instruction is going to be in order, first.

The videos do help a lot though.

1:30 p.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't really see what this pretty water ballet on a perfectly flat surface has to do with transporting yourself, and your equipment, along a water way, or across a sea, or lake. What you need in real life is endurance, navigation know-how, and more than basic knowledge about packing your canoe/kayak.

It is to me like knowing how to roll your kayak in a swimming pool with skin-warm water, when the reality is quite different (for most of us, anyway).

You need to know how to handle your vessel in wind, and waves, often waves that goes against the wind, or wind that goes against a current, making things even harder to handle.

None of the artists I've seen doing fancy things with their wooden canoes wear any PFDs, nor any safety lines to their paddles - I would think it would be, for these inspirators to many of us, the right thing to show some basic safety awareness.

You can drown in kneedeep water, and water is usually colder than you think, and you should always dress for the water temperature, not the air's!

Many years ago me and my wife rolled our Klepper Aerius II, in near freezing waters, some hundred yards from shore, and we only survived because we were correctly dressed, in Chillcheater Cags and trousers, with Chillcheater Polartec underwear (dry suits had been even better!). Took about ten minutes to swim to nearest rock, and then half an hour to get rescued by a passing fishing boat, and then a few hours more to get indoors, and out of the wet clothing. Had we dressed for the air I wouldn't be here writing this!

2:49 p.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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I am a firm believer that knowing how different strokes move the canoe can only be off benefit when tripping. Pries, draws, sweeps, buttering, C's and J's are all important and a good paddler learns how to use the strokes in different situations. The freestyle or canoe ballet is merely an expression of these skills in flatwater conditions.

4:05 p.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Point well-taken, show-off moves may not have any real utility in the "real-world" situation. But they're fun to watch and demonstrate a kind of unity of boat and paddler that I would aspire to. And I daresay that many of the people who can do those kind of moves have mastery in the tougher situations as well. Tord, if you and your wife had truly mastered bracing (forgive me if you had, and I totally agree about PFDs and clothing) you might not have gone over in in the first place. I don't have that kind of mastery in a boat, but on skis one of my favorite tricks over the years has been to do a series of telemark turns with my legs crossed. Basically a pretty useless skill, except that I have accidentally crossed my legs many times, usually in deep powder, and pulled to a stop without falling. These things are all connected...

8:56 p.m. on September 19, 2010 (EDT)
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You are right Big Red, that having the balance and boat handling skills to perform freestyle, will lead to better boat control in more natural situations.

Tord, freestyle is a sport that is in very controlled situation, so PFD's are not worn. True, there is the possibility that someone could drown, but as you saw in the video there are many people, including safety boats, that are at these events.

When I teach paddling, everyone wears PFD's. However, I should point out that no one uses attachment lines on their paddles for canoes. And anyone that advises using them are jeopardizing their safety and the safety of others. There is a risk of entrapment, especially in whitewater.

I was not intending by referencing freestyle, to say that these would all be moves that you would use in a tripping situation. However, no matter what the craft or situation, precise boat control is of the utmost importance for safety and comfort. Across the country, you will find whitewater slalom canoeists and kayakers practicing moves on flatwater courses set up with gates. While I don't paddle slalom, I have practiced on these courses and also set up my own English gate. The latter is easy to set up and teaches boat control. Someone might also ask how whitewater slalom pertains to wilderness situations. A lot! Hitting a gate costs points, but hitting a mid river rock, can sending you swimming. Certainly there is more to tripping than boat control. But to trip safely, you need solid boat control.

As far as the strokes you saw used in Kim's demo, many of these are actual strokes you should know how to use if you canoe. Draws and prys certainly, forward strokes, yes, and with little need for correction. Back paddling, yes, that comes in when doing back ferries in tripping on rivers. The bow rudder, that again is used when approaching shore. In the water recoveries are the norm in whitewater paddling. The only strokes I see used in Kim's routine that I would consider just show, are the bow pry with a one handed sculling pry finish and the circle stroke. The latter is a variation on the box stroke which is a good stroke to know. The basic strokes you should be comfortable with are a good forward stroke, a proper J with the thumb pointing downward(not a goon stroke), prys, draws, cross draws, high brace, low brace, Duffek, bow rudder, reverse bow J. Add to that the Canadian stroke, cross forward for whitewater solo, a C stroke for all solo, a sculling draw side slip, and a sculling pry side slip.

I should point out that Kim Gass is a very experienced paddler, in both kayaks and canoes, and trips in canoes extensively, both in the US and north of the border from her home in Maine.

I hope you find this helpful.


Erich

2:10 a.m. on September 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Kim is quite the character too. She made it up to one of the gatherings I host every year but sadly I was in hospital and didn't get to meet her. The people helping me with the gathering said that she was a joy to paddle with and her technique was excellent. These guys are seasoned paddlers to say the least. Kim is a much more experienced paddler than I... that's for sure.

Erich is right about control and the time to learn that you don't have control is not when you are in rough waters or whitewater. I'm not a whitewater paddler, that's what portages are for... lol. If you plan to get into that end of things I highly recommend taking a course.

7:58 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I thought this week's BubbleStreet cartoon by Paul Mason might be fitting...

http://www.canoerootsmag.com/component/content/article/121/855-bubble-street.html

2:51 p.m. on October 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Definitely!

Actually, the choice is decked, or not decked, and firms that make folding kayaks, like Nautiraid, Long Haul, Featjercraft, Klepper, Pakboats, and a few others, makes something halfway between a decked kayak, and an open canoe, they are the optimum in many circumstances:

Easier to pack than a conventional kayak, more seaworthy than a conventional canoe.

In an open canoe you can pack as you like, and if you roll, accidentally or not, your cargo will float away, or sink (unless you have secured everything).

In a kayak, if you roll, items might accidentally be lost, and you can get trapped by loose items. In most folding kayaks, the cockpit is fairly open, even if you normally use a sprayskirt, thus things close to you have to be secured, while those in the extreme ends are packed more like a kayak: FILO - first in, last out!

Some love to go WW with their canoes, some have a sprayskirt covering their canoes, from one end to the other, like the one that is available for the Krugers!

My experience with Kleppers is that they improve a lot when loaded properly, as when lightly loaded they are very much victims of the winds, thus they can outperform normal kayaks only when loaded - a friend always used to carry a 20 liter tank of water in the Klepper's peak, to decrease the windage.

We have no room to store a hard shell kayak, thus folding kayaks suit us just fine (one is in our bedroom cupboard, the other in the cellar)! Price-wise the difference isn't that big, a performance kayak, folding kayak, or canoe, cost a lot! If your aim is fishing, or just having fun, maybe a SOT (sit-on-top) is a better option - those a neither kayaks, or canoes, but use double paddles like kayaks! Unless they are made by Hobie ....

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