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!

For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out the Best Sea Kayaks

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Quick Answer - The Best Canoes

  1. Mad River Adventure 14
  2. Old Town Penobscot 164
  3. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable
  4. Old Town Discovery 169
  5. Sun Dolphin Scout Elite SS
  6. Old Town Saranac 160
  7. Mad River Adventure 16
  8. Old Town Penobscot 174
  9. Sevylor Ogden
  10. Old Town Next

 

Comparison Table - Best Canoe

PictureNameLengthCapacityWeightTypePriceRating
Mad River Adventure 1414’3-person75 lbSolid$$4.9
Old Town Penobscot 16416’4”2-person75 lbSolid$$5.0
Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable16’2-person (with capability for 3)61 lbsInflatable$$$4.8
Old Town Discovery 16916’9”2-person91 lbsSolid$$$4.7
Sun Dolphin Scout Elite SS14’3-person84 lbsSolid$$4.6
Old Town Saranac 16012’2”2-3-person89 lbsSolid$$4.2
-Mad River Adventure 1616’3-person84 lbsSolid$$4.2
Old Town Penobscot 17417’4”2-person83 lbsSolid$$$4.9
-Sevylor Ogden12’4”2-person26.9 lbsInflatable$4.1
-Old Town Next13’1-person59 lbsSolid$$4.0
PictureNameLengthCapacityWeightTypePriceRating

 

Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Canoes for Paddling

Mad River Adventure 14

Specs
  • Capacity: 3-person
  • Length: 14’
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 75 lb
Features
  • Adjustable Comfort Seating System (for an enjoyable ride)
  • Center Bench Seat (for a potential third passenger)
  • Comes With Beverage Holders and Storage Trays (for on-the-go meals)
  • Durable Construction (for reliable long-term use)

BEST FOR: FAMILY GETAWAYS ON THE LAKE

Share your love of the water with other members of your family with a casual ride on your favorite summer lake. Two padded seats and an extra seat in the middle allow you to bring your kids, camp guests, or visitors for a tour of the open water. This canoe feels stable for paddlers who are just learning and any antsy riders they take along.

Old Town Penobscot 164

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Length: 16’4”
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 75 lb
Features
  • 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.

Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-person (with capability for 3)
  • Length: 16’
  • Type: Inflatable
  • Weight: 61 lbs
Features
  • Comes with Hand Pump and Storage Bag
  • Includes Two Seats and Three Seat Positions (for multiple configurations)
  • Reinforced Material (for protection against punctures)
  • Lightweight and Portable (for frequent travels)
  • Three Air Chambers (so you stay afloat if one is punctured)

BEST FOR: TOURING FLAT OR INTERMEDIATE WATERS IN YOUR SPARE TIME

The makers of this canoe call it unsinkable, but we’re okay not putting that to the test. Three separate air chambers and rugged material make the ride nearly as reliable as a solid canoe without the extra weight to haul around. You can stand in this boat without feeling like you’re going to tip and store it in the trunk of your car when you’re done. You can’t say that about just any canoe!

Old Town Discovery 169

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Length: 16’9”
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 91 lbs
Features
  • Generous Storage Space (for a day or weekend’s worth of gear)
  • Webbed Seats (for long-lasting use)
  • Center Yoke (for carrying over your shoulders)
  • Durable Carry Handles (for two-person carry)

BEST FOR: LONG-DISTANCE RECREATIONAL PADDLING

With its 1400 lb capacity and extra length, you can load this canoe down with weight and still paddle for hours without being weighed down. That way, you can bring all your food, clothing, and comfort items for a multi-day excursion and accessorize the boat as you wish. The efficient, agile hull design is meant to give you excellent mileage, like a real modern-day explorer.

Sun Dolphin Scout Elite SS

Specs
  • Capacity: 3-person
  • Length: 14’
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 84 lbs
Features
  • Square Back (for trolling motor hookup)
  • Three Seats (for 1-3 passengers)
  • Built-In Seat Cooler (for drinks and lunch)
  • Built-In Rod Holders (to rest your fishing pole)

BEST FOR: SCOUTING THE BEST FISHING SPOTS

Out of all the canoes on this list, this one has the best fishing capabilities. From the rod holders to the trolling motor hookups, you can use this canoe to find good fishing spots–including narrow spots regular boats can’t access. Grab a few buddies and some snacks and see what’s biting on the lake.

Old Town Saranac 160

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-3-person
  • Length: 12’2”
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 89 lbs
Features
  • 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.

Mad River Adventure 16

Specs
  • Capacity: 3-person
  • Length: 16’
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 84 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Front and Back Seats (for the most comfortable positioning)
  • Center Bench Seat (for a third passenger)
  • Padded Carry Handles (for two-person carry to the water)
  • Molded Cup Holders and Trays (to hold personal items)
  • Square Stern Mount (fits a trolling motor)

BEST FOR: RECREATIONAL FLOATS AND FISHING TRIPS

If you want to be able to use your canoe for both casual rides with your family and quiet fishing trips, the Adventure fits your criteria. With rod holders, trolling motor fittings, and plenty of space for your tackle box, the canoe can be fishing-ready in no time. When you feel more like taking your kids on a down-river adventure, then the easy-handling boat lets you take that opportunity too.

Old Town Penobscot 174

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Length: 17’4”
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 83 lbs
Features
  • Sharp Bow and Straight Keel (reduces drag)
  • Triple-Layer Construction (for reliable lightweight durability)
  • Molded Handles (for two-person carry)
  • Two Webbed Seats (for greater range-of-motion when paddling)
  • Generous Storage Space in the Cockpit

BEST FOR: TANDEM TOURING OF FASTER WATERS

Compared to the Penobscot 164, the 174 is longer and a bit more advanced for thrill seekers. Once you get the hang of canoeing on flat waters and graduate as a beginner, you can take on faster, intermediate-level waters if you so dare. This responsive boat takes on speed and turns like a boss while the high sides keep bigger waves from coming overboard.

Sevylor Ogden

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-person
  • Length: 12’4”
  • Type: Inflatable
  • Weight: 26.9 lbs
Features
  • 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.

Old Town Next

Specs
  • Capacity: 1-person
  • Length: 13’
  • Type: Solid
  • Weight: 59 lbs
Features
  • Removable Seating System (for personalized positioning)
  • Lower Profile (for easier paddling)
  • Adjustable, Padded Foot Brace (for barefoot comfort)
  • Extra Room Behind the Seat for Storage

BEST FOR: SOLO TIME IN NATURE

If you’re one of those people who likes to disappear into nature for hours at a time, then this solo rider is the perfect companion. The single adjustable seat, padded foot rest, and ample legroom let you find your own personal comfort level. This boat gives you the experience of riding both a canoe and a kayak, so you can just be left alone with your thoughts.

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CANOE

PRICE

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.

 

CAPACITY

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.

 

WEIGHT

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.

 

TYPE

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

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

YOKE THWART

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.

BOW/STERN

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.

COCKPIT

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.

FOOT BRACES

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

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.

KEEL

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.

 

 

READ MORE

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