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Guide to Canoes and Paddles

by Erich Volkstorf
July 20, 2011

Whether you're buying your first recreational or touring canoe or adding to your quiver of whitewater boats, there are numerous factors to consider in selecting the right craft.

What type, shape, and materials? How long? And what about a paddle to make it go?

Learn your keel from your yoke, your aluminum from your composites, and your tumblehome from your rocker before you choose your next canoe.

Choosing Your Canoe

Parts of a Canoe

Don't know your keel from your yoke? Even a seemingly simple canoe can have a confusing number of parts, features, and terms. Here are the basic parts of a typical canoe, from bow to stern »


From natural birch bark to modern composites, a wide range of materials and constructions are used to build canoes today. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and no one material does it all well »

Shapes and Curves

Tumblehome, flare, and rocker. Flat, round, vee, shallow arch. A canoe's shape and curves directly affect its stability, speed, and tracking »

How Long?

What length canoe to get? It depends on how and where you'll use your canoe »


Choosing Your Paddle

You need something to make your canoe go, so choose the right paddle for your trips.

Parts of a Canoe Paddle

To help you differentiate your grip from your tip, here are the basic parts of a canoe paddle »

Selecting Your Personal Propeller

You need something to make your canoe go. Choosing a paddle is a bit like a black art. Science is a good beginning, but feel makes the final determination »


How to Paddle a Canoe: Strokes and Techniques

Learn how to use that canoe paddle properly. From the J stroke to the sweep, draw, and pry, here are the basic paddling strokes and techniques you need to know for any canoe trip »

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