You’ve decided you want to try canoeing, so you’re considering the best canoe options available. First, you need to determine what features matter most to you, how much you want to spend, and what type of canoeing you plan to do (river touring, recreational paddling, etc).
Once you decide what’s important for you and your family, this list of the 10 best canoes is the most sensible place to start. These beginner canoes get you on the water right away, no motor or gas required. If you’re ready to paddle through nature’s waterways alone or with a few others, make your selection from the list below and get paddling!
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Quick Answer - The Best Canoes
- Old Town Penobscot 164
- Old Town Saranac 160
- Sevylor Ogden
Comparison Table - Best Canoe
|Old Town Penobscot 164||16’4”||2-person||75 lb||Solid||$$||5.0|
|Old Town Saranac 160||12’2”||2-3-person||89 lbs||Solid||$$||4.2|
|Sevylor Ogden||12’4”||2-person||26.9 lbs||Inflatable||$||4.1|
Reviews - The Best Canoes for Paddling
Old Town Penobscot 164
- Capacity: 2-person
- Length: 16’4”
- Weight: 75 lb
- Type: Solid
- Triple-Layer Construction (for reliable durability)
- Molded Handles (for two-person carry)
- Two Webbed Seats (allows for greater range-of-motion)
- Sharp Bow and Rounded Bottom (for less friction and easier turning)
- Ample Storage Space in the Cockpit
BEST FOR: TANDEM DAY TRIPS
The traditional design of this canoe has a sort of romantic date-on-the-water feeling about it. You can paddle this canoe alone thanks to the center yoke thwart (see features explained below), but rowing your love interest out onto the water for a special picnic sounds like the perfect way to create a treasured memory. Catch a glimpse of the sunset from the webbed seats as you row together in the open air.
Old Town Saranac 160
- Capacity: 2-3-person
- Length: 12’2”
- Weight: 89 lbs
- Type: Solid
- Two Deluxe Padded Seats and Center Bench Seat
- Dry Storage Compartment (under the bench seat)
- Molded Carry Handles (for 2-person carry to the water)
- Low Seats and Flat Bottom (for added stability)
- Molded Paddle and Rod Holders (so you can go hands-free)
BEST FOR: DAY TRIPS WITH NO PARTICULAR DESTINATION
Sometimes, you just feel like being out on the water, whether you’re alone or with a few friends. With this canoe, you can make spontaneous plans to explore the waterways with nearly zero preparations. Just carry the canoe down to any entry point you find on the water, and take a casual sail down nature’s expressway.
- Capacity: 2-person
- Length: 12’4”
- Weight: 26.9 lbs
- Type: Inflatable
- Multiple Air Chambers (so if one pops, the others stay inflated)
- Polyester Cover (adds an additional layer of protection)
- Bungee Tie-Down Storage (for personal items)
- Adjustable Elevated Seats (for comfortable seating)
- Comes With a Pump, Two Paddles, Carry Bag, and Pressure Gauge
BEST FOR: TESTING THE SPORT AND STORAGE LIMITATIONS
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a car to haul a solid canoe, then you may need a canoe without those limitations. An inflatable canoe solves your problems by packing up into a backpack-size package.
All safeguards are used to ensure the inflatable stays afloat as well as including multiple air chambers, puncture-resistant material, and an extra polyester cover. The simple design and price tag are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and city dwellers who want to dabble in the sport of paddling.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CANOE
We know price is one of the primary factors when choosing a canoe, so we included canoes from both ends of the cost spectrum, from a few hundred dollars to over 1K. If you have the budget for it and wish to seriously pursue canoeing, then you may consider investing in a quality model. If you’re just canoeing for fun, then a less expensive model will do the trick.
Think about how many people you may want to paddle with in your canoe. If you prefer canoeing solo, check to see if you can handle the canoe alone. Otherwise, most of the boats on the list can take an additional 1-2 people along for the ride. You may also want to check to make sure your boatload (your weight combined with the weight of passengers and gear) doesn’t exceed the weight capacity of the canoe.
Canoes tend to weigh more than solid or inflatable kayaks, so you need to make sure you can safely haul the boat to the water with another person or by yourself if you plan on paddling alone. If you or your passengers have physical limitations or you need to carry the canoe a long distance, then you may want a lighter weight or inflatable model.
Two types of canoes are available on the market right now: inflatable and solid. Inflatable canoes usually need to be blown up with a manual pump before they can be ridden whereas solid models can go straight into the water. Inflatable canoes are much easier to store and carry, and today’s technologies make them more puncture-resistant than ever. Solid versions are made of a variety of different materials to enhance their performance, durability, and portability.
Check this out for a more in-depth explanation of canoe buying considerations.
A yoke thwart is a bar that reaches across the canoe to provide a brace. The thwart usually runs between two riders, but a single rider can sit on the thwart to row. The thwart also tends to have a curved indentation so one person can carry the canoe over their shoulders.
The bow refers to the front of the canoe while the stern refers to the back. These terms are commonly used in the boating world, so familiarizing yourself with them makes it easier to understand the language.
The cockpit is the name for the inside of the canoe, the place where you ride. The size of the cockpit determines how much leg room and storage space you have available. If you’re tall or you want to take long trips, you may need a larger cockpit.
Some canoes have foot rests where you can place your feet during the ride. Foot rests allow you to brace your lower body and give your upper body more rowing power. Foot braces are usually adjustable and sometimes padded for the most comfortable ride.
Hull is the term for the bottom of the canoe. The hull shape affects how the canoe reacts to the water and your paddling. Flatter hulls tend to be feel less tipsy but also move slower while V-shaped hulls offer better tracking and speed with less stability. Flat hulls tend to be more beginner-friendly. Learn more about canoe hull shape here.
The keel refers to the centermost part of the hull, usually a beam that runs from the bow to the stern. The function of the keel is to help the canoe track and prevent the canoe from being pushed sideways in the wind.