Kayak, Canoe or Paddleboard? Explore Your Options

7 minute read/watch

Which boat should you buy: a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard? All are wonderful options depending on where, how and with whom you want to paddle.

Aqua Bound ProStaffer, Ken Whiting, takes us through some of the pros and cons of each type of watercraft in this video:

Kayak Pros and Cons

Kayaks are ideal for those who prefer to handle their own boat or often paddle alone. The two-bladed paddle gives you a lot of control, especially in wind and waves. Because you sit much lower than in a canoe, a kayak is very stable.

two women in red kayaks along a rocky shoreline

Kayaks are a great boat for beginning paddlers to start out with

Good kayaks are designed to be an extension of the paddler’s body, so you can get very high performance out of a kayak in many different environments: whitewater, ocean surf, rivers and big lakes. They’re the most maneuverable and fastest of the crafts on this list.

Sea kayaks are great for multi-day camping trips as long as you don’t have portages. All your gear has to be split up into smaller bags to fit into the compartments of your kayak, so you want as little in-and-out and carrying as possible.

If you want to fish from a non-motorized boat, a fishing kayak is your best choice. It’s more stable than a canoe, you have the option of standing while you fish, and there’s plenty of space for gear.

There’s an astonishing variety of kayaks on the market including sit-inside, sit-on-top, and of all different lengths. Kids can share a tandem kayak with a parent or can be in their own small kayak and learn how to paddle it while very young.

Canoe Pros and Cons

A big advantage of canoes is their capacity for both people and gear. They shine on multi-day trips on both flatwater and rivers. If you love the idea of multi-day paddling trips where there are portages—overland carrying—the canoe has no equal. They’re designed for these kinds of trips.

two people in a red canoe on a mountain lake

Canoes are a great option for wilderness trips

If you and your family want to be able to paddle around local lakes, you might all be able to fit in one canoe, depending on how many of you there are and the ages of your children. For this reason they make great cabin boats.

Canoes take more skill than kayaks to steer, so there’s more of a learning curve in developing your paddle skills. They also sit higher on the water and so they’re not quite as stable, and they’re more susceptible to wind.

SUP Pros and Cons

Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) aren’t as stable as either a canoe or kayak and they’re not as easy to use on multi-day trips. They don’t perform as well over flatwater, either, although they’re great in surf—after all, SUP originated on the surfing waves of Hawaii.

man on a paddleboard in the water with a marina behind him

Paddleboarding is a super whole-body workout (photo courtesy of @jallestjernberg)

SUPs are wonderful at the family cabin because a kid or two or the family dog can hop on and ride along. They make great swimming rafts, too—hop in on a hot day and it’s pretty easy to climb back on. You can’t do that nearly as easily in a kayak or canoe!

If you’re looking for a good workout, a SUP gives the best full-body workout, hands down. Your lower body is constantly working to stay balanced on the moving board while your upper body handles the paddle strokes. This is why SUP yoga has been so popular.

Ken doesn’t cover this next type of boat in the video, but we definitely want to include it—the packraft…

Packraft Pros and Cons

If you dream of doing multi-day backcountry paddle trips, or if you love the idea of combining a paddle trip with a hiking or biking trip, you need to learn about the packraft. This inflatable, ultra-portable and highly durable little boat is designed for just such adventures.

man paddling a packraft with a bike strapped to the top

Packrafts are designed for backcountry bike and hike trips

Modern packrafts are made to deflate down into a size small enough to roll up and fit in your backpack or bikepack, and they weigh just a few pounds—much less than an inflatable kayak or SUP. Yet they can carry several hundred pounds—some of the larger ones up to 1,000 pounds!

Because they’re used with a kayak paddle and are easy to steer, they’re also great for the family cabin. Or if you like hiking to backcountry lakes with no access, the packraft is for you.

Choosing which type of paddle craft to buy can be a hard decision! You’ll want the one that will best suit how you’ll paddle, where you’ll paddle and who you’ll paddle with.

Start with the one you think you’ll be able to use the most. You can always add another down the road!

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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