Have you ever wanted to explore local waterways from the comforts of your own canoe? Maybe you’re a beginner paddler or maybe you’ve conquered level 6 rapids already. No matter what type of paddler you are, you’ll want the best canoe that you can afford.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’re obsessed with finding the best gear of the year and highlighting all of the key features that every paddler should look out for.

Fortunately, canoes have held their classic shape for centuries, so buying the right canoe for you might be an investment that can last years to come.

For more of out top kayaking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

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SUPs | Inflatable SUPsPaddles

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QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST CANOES

 

 

 

CANOES REVIEWS

MYCANOE PLUS ORIGAMI

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Average paddlers limited on storage and transportation space

SIZE: 14’6”

WEIGHT: 52 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 2 people

PROS: Folds into a compact case the size of a large suitcase, sturdy, durable, unique

CONS: High price point, fold seams more prone to breaking than traditional canoes, assembly required

 

 

 

MAD RIVER ADVENTURE 16

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Families, fishermen, and couples looking for a sturdy and reliable canoe that is perfect for calm conditions

SIZE: 16’0”

WEIGHT: 84 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 3 people

PROS: Extremely durable, spacious, stern comes with a mount to add a motor, center bench for third paddler, extended deck area

CONS: Slow to paddle and turn, challenging to solo paddle

 

 

 

MAD RIVER ADVENTURE 14

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Fishermen and recreational paddlers looking for a compact canoe with plenty of storage area.

SIZE: 14’0”

WEIGHT: 75 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 3 people

PROS: Very durable, versatile, comfortable, perfect for families or paddlers with a lot of gear

CONS: Heavy for its size, does not track as well as the 16’0” model

 

 

 

GRUMMAN DOUBLE ENDER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Touring paddlers who need ample space for fishing or camping gear

SIZE: 17’0”

WEIGHT: 85 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 3 people

PROS: Can be custom ordered to suit flatwater or white-water paddlers, will last for years, lightweight, durable, fast

CONS: Tends to tip when packed unevenly, length not great for beginner paddlers

 

 

 

OLD TOWN PENOBSCOT 174

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Intermediate and experienced paddlers wanting a canoe that speeds through flatwater

SIZE: 17’4”

WEIGHT: 83 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 2 people

PROS: Extremely durable, stable, great storage space, can handle larger paddlers

CONS: Lacks a hook or area to tie up the canoe, slow to paddle for beginner paddlers

 

 

 

GRUMMAN SOLO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Experienced paddlers wanting an agile, fast, and lightweight aluminum alloy canoe

SIZE: 12’9”

WEIGHT: 48 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 2 people

PROS: Extremely durable, fast, great at tracking straight, agile considering its length, lightweight

CONS: High price point, not great for narrow rivers or streams

 

 

 

OLD TOWN PENOBSCOT 164

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Touring with two paddlers or one very skilled paddler in all types of conditions

SIZE: 16’4”

WEIGHT: 74 lbs

PADDLERS: 2 people

PROS: Very stable, agile, handles wind very well, lightweight for its size

CONS: Can be challenging to paddle for an average or beginner paddler, high price point

 

 

 

SUN DOLPHIN SCOUT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Families and fishermen wanting a great overall canoe at a low price point

SIZE: 14’0”

WEIGHT: 95 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 3 people

PROS: Durable, stable, comes with drink holders molded into every seat as well as a cooler, dry storage area, rod holder fixtures

CONS: Slow to paddle, heavy, might be a challenge to paddle solo

 

 

 

OLD TOWN DISCOVERY 119

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Advanced paddlers wanting a compact canoe that’s agile and fast

SIZE: 11’9”

WEIGHT: 49 lbs

PADDLERS: 1 person

PROS: Perfect for trips – ample storage space, fast, lightweight, comfortable, durable

CONS: Relies heavily on the paddler’s experience to track well, cannot handle rapids

 

 

 

SUN DOLPHIN MACKINAW

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Families wanting a stable canoe that’s perfect for flatwater at a great price point

SIZE: 15’7”

WEIGHT: 95 lbs

PADDLERS: Up to 3 people

PROS: Drink holders in every seat, durable, dry storage and cooler compartments, stable, great value

CONS: Not very agile, slow to paddle

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST CANOES

PICTURE
CANOE
BEST USE
SIZE
WEIGHT
PADDLERS
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
CANOE
BEST USE
SIZE
WEIGHT
PADDLERS
PRICE
RATING
Mycanoe Plus Origami
Overall
14'6"
52 lbs
2
$$$$
4.3
Mad River Adventure 16
Overall
16'0"
84 lbs
3
$$
4.7
Mad River Adventure 14
Overall
14'0"
75 lbs
3
$$
4.8
Grumman Double Ender
Overall
17'0"
85 lbs
3
$$$
4.8
Old Town Penobscot 174
Experienced
17'4"
83 lbs
2
$$$
4.6
Grumman Solo
Experienced
12'9"
48 lbs
2
$$$$
4.9
Old Town Penobscot 164
Experienced
16'4"
75 lbs
2
$$$
4.5
Sun Dolphin Scout
Budget
14'0"
95 lbs
3
$
4.4
Old Town Discovery 119
Budget
11'9"
49 lbs
1
$
4.7
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Budget
15'7"
95 lbs
3
$
4.5

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CANOES

LENGTH AND SHAPE

The length and shape of the canoe are two of the greatest considerations when choosing the best canoe for you. Before you buy a canoe, you’ll want to decide what type of environment you’ll most likely be paddling in.

Are you planning on conquering rapids or are you going to explore a flatwater lake? Will you be fishing, camping or taking your family along for the ride? Or will your canoe days consist of high-speed solo endeavors? If you’re looking for inspiration on where to go, check out of suggested paddling trips across the world.

Flat bottom canoes are best for fishing, flatwater paddling and paddling with families. They tend to be extremely stable, but slower to get moving. With stability comes a slight sacrifice of agility, but canoes that are great for overall conditions make for a great choice when you’re just getting started.

Canoes with high sides and a lot of rocker are best for whitewater and river paddlers. These canoes tend to be more agile and able to handle more of a beating. However, they take skill to navigate and will tip easily with children or when loaded with gear.

The ideal length of the canoe depends on where you’ll be paddling. Longer canoes, like 16’0″ and longer paddle faster once they get up to speed. However, they are a pain to navigate through narrow waterways and more difficult to turn.

Canoes on the shorter end of the spectrum are typically easier to maneuver and perfect for exploring caves and narrow streams.

Of course, the size of your canoe affects the size of your paddle. For help with sizing, be sure to read Paddling.com’s size guide to help you get the perfect match.

 

WEIGHT

If your canoe is too heavy, you might have a challenging time transporting it to and from the water or onto a roof rack especially without a trolley. Children might not be able to get the canoe out of the water without some help if it weighs close to 100 pounds. If this could be a factor, opt for a lighter canoe like one that weighs in the 40- to 50-pound range.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Are you planning to fish or camp with your canoe? Or do you want a basic, no-frills model?

Some canoes come with handy features like rod hold placements, dry storage areas, cup holders and a place to put touring gear. These little details can make a big difference if you know that you’ll want to do one type of canoeing.

If you’re planning to use your canoe for fishing, be sure to check out our special tips for kayak fishing.

 

MATERIALS

Canoes are made using several different types of materials ranging from wood to polyethylene to fiberglass to aluminum. Some materials like wood, polyethylene, hard plastic, carbon and aluminum are more durable than fiberglass or canoes specifically built to be lightweight.

Canoes made from polyethylene/hard plastic tend to be lighter than other materials, though they might not last for decades like the canoes made from aluminum alloy are known to do.

If you want a more in-depth look at popular canoe materials, this guide from Austin Kayak is a great resource.

 

CARRYING CAPACITY

Every canoe will have a specific weight capacity that it can carry, which is usually well above what you’ll ever need no matter what type or size canoe you purchase. However, if you plan on paddling with multiple people in a canoe and carrying gear, you’ll want to double-check that your canoe is capable of bearing that weight. Keep in mind that a longer canoe doesn’t always carry more than a shorter one.

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