Kayak vs Canoe: Difference and Comparison

About 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, which is a fact that everyone knows. Of those water, the majority is Saltwater.


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Water is not only used for drinking and other essential uses but also is used for leisure activities. Transport through water has been said to be present since ancient times and was the only way of communication between countries and people on different continents.

To make travel in water possible, man invented some tools which are together called watercraft. This watercraft includes various boats, ships, submarines, surfboards, etc.

One such kind is Kayak and Canoe. But these two are primarily used for leisure activities.

Key Takeaways

  1. Kayaks are designed for one or two paddlers, with a closed deck and a cockpit; canoes are open-decked and accommodate multiple passengers.
  2. Paddles in kayaking have blades on both ends; canoe paddles have a single blade.
  3. Kayaks are often more maneuverable and faster, while canoes offer more stability and cargo space.

Kayak vs Canoe

The difference between the Kayak and canoe is that Kayak uses double-bladed paddles, and the passenger shall be in a sitting position. In contrast, the canoe employs a single curved-bladed paddle, and the passenger will kneel.

Kayak vs Canoe


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonKayakCanoe
General-purpose usageLeisure activities and competitions.Family recreation activities and transport
DecksClosed decks provide secure seatingOpen deck providing free movement of the passenger over the Canoe
PaddlesDouble bladed paddlesSingle curved bladed paddles
Position of the passengerIn a sitting position with extended legsThe kneeling position makes the propulsive shape of the watercraft for speed. The sitting position is rarely employed.
ShapeNarrower and lightweightBroader and more water is touching the surface of the body of the canoe


What is Kayak?

Many specialised watercraft are available, and Kayak has its place on the list. Kayak is the name given to the type of watercraft which is more commonly narrow and pointed(only on one side).

Kayaks are most commonly used as sports equipment than for transporting things.

The design of kayaks in such a way that it is lightweight and slimmer but are very durable against intense weather conditions as well. The design varies with the purpose and the need.

For long-distance travel, the kayaks are designed in such a way as to have more storage compartments.

The double-bladed kayak paddles, which the passenger uses to propel through the water by pushing the water on both sides.

The history of the kayaks dates back to ancient times when Inuits used them for navigating waterways, fishing, hunting, and transporting across small lands around the arctic regions. They made the first Kayak from wooden frames with a small hole in the middle for the passengers to sit.

In modern times kayaking was brought to people’s daily activities through the efforts of John MacGregor. Kayaking was added to the Olympics initially in 1936.

There are two main kayaking types: sports kayaking and Sea kayaking. The first represents a short course, while the latter one is the one that takes place for weeks also.

Aside from leisure and recreational activities, Kayaking has several health benefits. Such benefits include improved muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

These enable people to be in good health while enjoying adventures.

In some workout plans, kayaking has been added as one of the elements that help in burning belly fat. It is observed from the studies that about 500 calories per hour can be ignited by kayaking.

The benefits that kayaking gives are,

  1. Helps in weight loss: As it burns the excess fat in the body, it helps reduce weight.
  2. A stress buster: Leisure activities bring about relaxation in the mind of those busy doing stressful jobs all day or week.
  3. A refreshed mind: Kayaking with friends and other people in locations that are hand in hand with nature will yield people a refreshed mind to continue their life with ease and happiness.
  4. A portal for social wellness: Group activities with others will enable one to be a part of society mindfully.
  5. Source of vitamin D: The kayaking people are exposed to sunlight, a rich source of vitamin D, essential for several physiological processes of the human body.

What is Canoe?

A canoe is a similar form of a kayak and is said to be the upgraded design of a kayak, by some people, with some milder differences from kayaks. The canoes are identified with pointed ends on both sides, with more passenger space.

A canoe is a similar form of a kayak and is said to be the upgraded design of a kayak, by some people, with some milder differences from kayaks.

The canoe is used more commonly for transport purposes across lands by waterways.

The history of canoes dates to ancient times when people in the Caribbean areas used the canoes for transport purposes across the lands. It is also said that there are shreds of evidence that the Indians have used canoes since ancient times.

The construction method of the canoes and the materials used to construct them differs from area to area. Still, the most accepted and used method is the one introduced by the Native Americans using the birch backlogs.

This method was taken to the whole world by European travellers and missionaries around the 14th and 15th centuries. There was a saying that the French used canoes for trading and exploration when the United States and Canada were initially discovered.

The first canoe made dates back to around 8,000 to 7,500 BC.

Canoes use single-bladed curved paddles. The canoes are for the flatter waterways and are more suitable for inland transport.

The benefits that canoeing gives are almost the same as kayaking, with the additional thing that canoeing can be enjoyed as a family, as the canoes provide space for more passengers.


Main Differences Between Kayak and Canoe

  1. TheKayakk is a watercraft with pointed ends on one side, whereas the canoes will have pointed ends on both sides.
  2. The paddles in a kayak are double-bladed, while the canoes use single-curved paddles.
  3. The kayaks are used more for sports, while the canoes are used predominantly for family leisure activities.
  4. The kayaks employ the passenger to sit, whereas the canoes enable the passenger to sit or kneel based on their needs.
  5. Kayaks have closed decks for comfort and secure passenger seating, whereas the canoes provide open decks.
  6. The kayaks don’t have much storage space for the long term, whereas the canoes have specialized storage spaces for cargo also.
Difference Between Kayak and Canoe
  1. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2079848
  2. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/24/1/article-p16.xml
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