The best canoes to choose from in 2023

Isobel Becker
  Nov 27, 2022 1:35 AM

Some people simply can't picture summertime without canoeing. For them, there is nothing that comes close to the sensation of paddling a canoe across the sea. The variety of outcomes that can be had when canoeing is one of its most appealing features. It's a lifetime pursuit that evolves with age. You might go on a weeklong backcountry camping trip in your retirement or an afternoon outing with young children in a canoe.

Some people began paddling in canoes before they were able to walk. Maybe you fit that description, or maybe you're just starting. There is a canoe for you in either case, so it's all right.

There is a canoe to suit your needs, whether you want to start, upgrade, or go lighter. Knowing what is available and knowing what you want is both necessary for finding the best canoe. Here, we'll assist you in doing both. We provide links to a variety of canoes that are categorized by kind, size, material, and more. 
 

Our Top Picks 

1. Old Town Sportsman Discovery Solo 119 Fishing Canoe - $1099.99

The Old Town Sportsman Discovery 119 checks all the boxes when it comes to solo fishing. This canoe's smaller size enables you to fish in areas that you wouldn't typically be able to access. Although it takes some getting used to standing to cast, the Sportsman Discovery 119 is extremely solid despite its thin build.

The Sportsman Discovery 119 has an elevated, padded seat with a fully adjustable backrest that is made for all-day comfort. You must remain seated and upright while paddling and casting, so adjustable foot braces are necessary. Two additional rear-facing rod holders are located behind the seat, and rod holders are installed on both sides of the seat.

2. Wooden Skeena Canoe - ‎$5,036.32

The Skeena Canoe 18 from Wooden Boat USA is a lovely wood-striped canoe that integrates into natural surroundings and is designed for leisurely paddles on rivers and lakes. Canoes from Wooden Boat USA are expertly crafted from premium Canadian cedar and given a clear top coat of fiberglass and epoxy resin to increase their level of durability. 

Although it has two woven seats, the 18-foot Skeena Canoe may also be paddled by one person. You can carry your cooler pack and other equipment because it has a high weight capacity of 650 lbs. Despite its length and weight, this magnificent canoe is simpler to maneuver thanks to its gently rocked hull.

3. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe -  $1,799.00

Our choice for the top inflatable canoe currently available on the market is the Sea Eagle TC16. For people who wish to paddle but don't have the storage space or load-carrying capacity to own a whole canoe, inflatable boats are a great option. The Sea Eagle TC16 uses drop-stitching at every seam, which is different from other inflatables and enables you to inflate it to a higher pressure.

This canoe is wide and has a rigid, high-pressure construction. When these are combined, you have a solid foundation that beginners and kids can use to build their confidence. The three seats can be removed and rearranged, allowing the TC16 to be paddled by one to three paddlers at once.

4. Grumman 17' Double-End .050 Canoe  - $1,200.00

After World War II, Grumman was the first business to start producing aluminum canoes, and they have continued to do so ever since. The 17' Double-End is well-liked by families, recreational canoeists, and summer camps across the US. This canoe is incredibly durable because to its aluminum construction, and you can store it outside in almost any weather.

The Grumman 17' Double-End is made with accessibility in mind. This canoe is solid and inspires confidence in younger or less experienced paddlers because of its wide profile. Younger paddlers have more control and ownership over their paddling since low sides make it simpler for them to reach over the edges.

5. Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe - $520.03 

Sun Dolphin's Scout SS Canoe is an accessible triple canoe for general use. Although its three molded seats may not be as comfortable as the Adventure 14's, they do come with numerous integrated cup and rod holders. It handles well on flat or slow-moving waters thanks to its shallow arch and large hull. And because it is shorter, it is rather simple to strap it to a roof rack. The Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe's square stern, which enables the operator to attach an electric trolling motor, increases its adaptability.

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Types of canoes

You might be wondering why there are so many distinct types of canoes after glancing at the list. How different can canoes actually be, after all? We'll examine the characteristics that make boats appropriate for various environments in a bit, but first, let's have a look at the various canoe styles.

1. Recreational

The most common type of canoeing in the US is unquestionably recreational canoeing. Everyone from novices or families to seasoned paddlers participates in recreational canoeing on calm lakes, rivers, or ocean bays. Although you don't need a specialized canoe for this type of paddling, you should normally prioritize stability and comfort over speed.

The Sun Dolphin and Wood Skeena belong to this category.

2. Fishing

In spite of the popularity of fully equipped fishing kayaks, canoe fishing is still common in the US. Fishing canoes are some of the most stable boats available, built so you can stand up and cast without worrying about capsizing. There are also lots of square-stern canoes, or canoes that are motor-ready, that you can easily cruise in by mounting a canoe trolling motor aboard.

The Old Town Discovery is a great fishing canoe.

3. Tripping

The most traditional canoe activity is canoeing. The canoe first gained popularity because it could be loaded up for an overnight expedition, taken into the bush, and used to explore new territory. You need a longer canoe that can travel farther and carry camping gear if you're going on a canoe excursion. The ability to transport it through portage trails also helps.

The Grumman is a prime example. 

4. White Water

Canoeing on white water needs a respectable level of competence. If done correctly, navigating your canoe down raging rapids and white water chutes can be thrilling; if not, it can be terrifying. A white water canoe should be lighter, more maneuverable, and ideally have a little more rocker to ride over waves than a tripping canoe.

Buying Guide

Here are a few points to consider when canoe shopping:

1. Length

The length is the most typical location to start when selecting a canoe. To put it simply, longer canoes move faster and maintain their position better than shorter canoes. Its longer waterline makes canoes the best option for tripping since it makes them more stable against waves and easier to steer through the wind.

However, longer canoes can seem awkward to paddle, particularly if you're still getting the hang of paddling alone. Additionally, they don't turn as well, which makes them more challenging to maneuver in congested areas like rivers.

Tandem or three-person canoes range in length from 15 to 17 feet, but the majority of solo canoes are between 13 and 15 feet long. Make sure you have a space that is long enough to store your canoe before you purchase it.

2. Width

The width of a canoe varies depending on its form, but it typically measures between the gunwales at its widest point and is between 34 and 37 inches. Although they do exist, canoes that are both larger and thinner than these dimensions are uncommon, for example, the Old Town Discovery.

It may take some getting used to and seem less steady at first to use a narrower canoe. They generate less drag and move more quickly because they make less contact with the water. Many longer-tripping canoes have a narrower beam, which increases their top speed and cruising capacity.

Stability is something that may be found in width. Recreational and fishing canoes are some of the broadest models available, providing unmatched stability and confidence. These canoes won't set any speed records, but you can stand up in them and move around without worrying that you'll fall into the water.


 

3. Rocker

The canoe's curve from the bow to the stern is known as the rocker. Your canoe's rocker profile will be higher the more banana-shaped it is. Lower rocker profiles would be used to characterize boats that are flatter.

The canoe's bow and stern were elevated a little out of the water by a higher or more pronounced rocker. This provides you more room to maneuver over waves and makes your canoe ride higher over the water. Higher rocker canoes are more appropriate for whitewater or ocean swell than flatter canoes.

4. Weight

You will eventually need to maneuver your canoe off the water. This could involve carrying your canoe many kilometers along a route or hoisting it onto the roof of your car to pack it up for the river. Moving your canoe about on land will be more difficult and taxing the heavier it is.

In the end, it would be wonderful if all canoes were lightweight enough to be carried by one person, but that isn't the case. Most canoes weigh more than 55 pounds on average, thus at least two individuals are needed to move them.

Canoes that are light and ultralight are among the most expensive ones available. These boats need specialized materials for construction, and those materials are expensive. These canoes are frequently composed of fiberglass or carbon composite materials, which lessens their resistance to landing on rough beaches or being struck by rocks.

There are however inflatable canoes, like the Sea Eagle.


 

5. Capacity

The amount of weight a canoe can carry before becoming unsafely unseaworthy is used to calculate its carrying capacity. You would have a hard time staying above water if you tried to paddle a canoe that was fully loaded to the maximum capacity. You should only fill up your canoe to 70% of its specified capacity in order to maintain optimal performance.

All paddlers, their gear, and any additional items you are transporting are included in the canoe's capacity. Keep in mind that if you become wet, your weight will increase compared to when you're dry and fresh. Higher-capacity canoes will give you more choices.

6. Material

Polyethylene that has been rotomolded is the most typical material used to make canoes. Canoes for all disciplines are made from this inexpensive, simple-to-mold plastic, which is strong enough to withstand years of usage and damage. However, rotomolded polyethylene is heavy and prone to deterioration from UV exposure and harsh weather, so you should preserve your canoe appropriately. The Old Town Sportsman is made of three-layer polyethylene.

ABS laminate canoes use multiple layers of plastic to build a stiff, strong canoe that can withstand rocky and turbulent rivers. These canoes are a little bit lighter than rotomolded plastic canoes, but they also offer the benefit of having a UV-resistant exterior covering.

The strongest canoes available are without a doubt made of aluminum. No of the weather, these canoes may be stored outdoors and will last for many years. Aluminum canoes are uncomfortable to paddle through. The Grunman is made of aluminum, which results in its massive weight.

These days, wooden canoes are not very common. They paddle superbly and have unmatched aesthetic appeal, but they are not durable. Nowadays, handcrafted wooden canoes are used more by purists than the typical canoeist and are considered both a craft and an art form.

The Skeena by Wooden and Sea Eagle in this list are made of wood.

Fiberglass or carbon are incorporated into the building of composite canoes. Your canoe will be stiffer and lighter thanks to these materials, making it one of the lightest canoes on the market. These materials are pricey, though.


 

7. Features

The majority of a canoe's attributes come from its hull or design, which makes it suitable for specific situations. Some canoes, nevertheless, provide a little something extra to truly succeed.

Fishing canoes typically have the most features, including built-in rod storage, gear rails, cooler compartments, and comfy, high-back seats. Three-person canoes are available with a center seat that serves as a cooler. Or there are square-sterned canoes that can have a trolling motor installed.

FAQs

1. How much budget should I prepare before purchasing a canoe?

Canoe prices vary widely, but you'll probably need at least $1,500 to begin looking for a good new canoe. If you decide to go all out with your canoe design, though, the price may easily rise to $4,000 or even more.

2. What are some of the brand names?

The majority of other manufacturers with competitive prices also provide models with competitive features, so it's hard to go wrong. While there are some lower-end brands whose canoes are not supposed to excel in anything other than an attractive price, it's tough to go wrong.

Budget canoes from companies like Coleman, Sports Pal, and Pelican, for instance, are frequently bulky and ineffective, but they unquestionably satisfy a need in the canoe market as a whole. The higher-end brands include Old Town, Mad River, H20, Wenonah and more.

3. Is one canoe enough for me?

Only you know the answer, but I'll say that if you only want to use your canoe for one very specific activity, there's a good possibility that one boat will do the task without having to write a full book about it.

Although there are canoes that can be used for numerous things, they won't be as enjoyable to use as canoes made just for that thing. For instance, there are canoes designed for both solo and tandem lake trips. The shorter length will make it less efficient, and the solitary canoeist won't find it as simple to paddle as a specialist solo canoe.

4. What should my canoe be made of?

The debate over canoes made of plastic or composite has the following main points. Plastic ones outperform in terms of durability, cost, and weight. Canoes made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or even wood are lighter and faster than canoes made of plastic but are also more fragile. We advise starting with plastic unless you have extensive canoeing experience and are certain of what you want and how to care for it.

5. Which canoe size should I choose?

Regarding dimensions, there are two things to take into account. A recommended weight range will be provided by the manufacturer because each canoe is uniquely built. Remain with canoes that can support your weight. Sit down in the canoe next. The most crucial step in sizing a canoe is to go inside and make sure you are at ease. Make sure you are the right size, your feet can reach the foot supports, your legs can comfortably touch the thigh braces, and the backrest supports you appropriately.

Final Thoughts

Old Town's Discovery 119 solo canoe can be considered the best option out there. The Old Town Discovery 119 canoe honors and modernizes the tradition with its agile performance and robust polyethylene plastic construction.

The Discovery 119 canoe is a superb option for fishing and leisure use and is compatible with both single- and double-blade kayak paddles. Anglers and hunters particularly like it because of its small size and portability. This is certainly the best canoe for everyone.

To find out more about other outdoor sports gears, check out our other articles.