A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: January 27, 2021
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Have you decided to try canoeing? The thrill of being out on the waters can be quite exhilarating. But your experience can be positively or negatively affected by the type of canoe you use. This is why picking the right canoe is important, because you want your adventure to be as comfortable as possible. Canoes are available in different shapes and sizes. You simply need to pick the one that’s suitable for your needs.
The market is flooded with many brands, so how will you know which one is the best canoe to buy? To make your decision making easier, we’ve listed the top eight canoes on the market. The products on our list were analyzed according to key features such as weight capacity, length, weight and warranty. All these features determine a number of factors such as performance and durability. From our list, one canoe that appealed to us the most is the SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe. We are impressed by its cost effectiveness for those who want value for their money. But you need to find what works for you.
To come up with our list of recommendations, we spent weeks researching and comparing customer reviews, as well as consulting with canoeing experts. Using the information gathered, we’ve also compiled a comparison table highlighting the major specs of each product. We’ve added detailed product reviews and a buying guide towards the end of the article. The goal here is to provide you with information that will make your selection process easier. So, let’s get started.
As stated earlier, the reason why this Sun Dolphin canoe is top of our list is because of its excellent value.
It’s the canoe to pick if you want to take your family out on a water cruise, as this recreational boat can accommodate up to three people. Each passenger has a drink holder molded to his or her seat which is convenient for leisurely days on the water.
There’s adequate space to store your gear thanks to the storage compartment provided. You can keep your cold drinks nice and cool in the cooler located under the seat in the middle.
You and your family are guaranteed a comfortable canoeing experience thanks to the contoured seats.
Transporting the canoe from one place to the next is made easier thanks to the carry handles. Still on the subject of transportation, make use of the tie down eyelets provided to secure your canoe for the duration of the trip.
Unfortunately, the canoe doesn’t come with paddles, so you’ll have to make an additional purchase.
This canoe is almost 16ft, which some might find too long. But bear in mind that you’re guaranteed more stability with a longer canoe. And extra stability is what you want especially if you’re traveling with family.
The manufacturer covered this canoe with a two-year limited warranty.
If a long lasting canoe is what you’re after, consider this Old Town Discovery recreational canoe. Made of three layer molded polyethylene, this hull can withstand a couple of knocks during your cruise.
Though strong and durable, you’ll be impressed by how surprisingly light this canoe is. Material used in its construction is also breathable and UV-resistant. Constant exposure to the sun during those hot summer days won’t prematurely damage the unit.
The canoe features a sleek design which makes it visually appealing. For people who want to embark on their adventure in style, this is the hull to pick. But the design goes far beyond the canoe’s aesthetical value: it allows the unit to perform well in the water.
You can expect a stable cruise if you pick this model – no need to worry about capsizing into the water.
Comfort is also guaranteed with this canoe. The nylon-webbed seats will provide you with maximum comfort. Carrying the unit from your vehicle to shore will be stress free. Simply make use of the molded handles.
This canoe supports two people. If ever you want to take your loved one on a romantic getaway cruise, consider this one. Just make sure both of you don’t exceed the 1150lb weight carrying capacity of this model.
Weighing a little under 90lb, you can tell it’s slightly heavy. But we’re certain you can carry it comfortably between the two of you.
You’re likely to be impressed by the lifetime warranty this unit comes with.
The canoe is almost 16ft in length which makes it rather long, but remember this means you’ll have a stable trip on the water.
Do you prefer to travel light? Then consider picking this inflatable canoe which allows for easy storage. This canoe weighs 60lb which makes it relatively lightweight compared to other models. Carrying it to the water will certainly be hassle free. You can easily fit it in the trunk of some vehicles.
This canoe weighs less compared to similar canoes within the same price range.
Many people are skeptical about the durability of inflatable canoes. That’s something you don’t have to worry about if you pick this unit, which is made from 1000 denier rated material. As a result, you’re guaranteed a long lasting canoe that can withstand any harsh conditions you may encounter while canoeing. The manufacturer even took it a step further by overlapping the seams for added reinforcement. Included with this hull is a repair kit that you can use to immediately fix the unit if damage does occur.
With a carrying capacity of 800lb, this canoe can accommodate two or three people—including their gear.
You’ll be impressed by the incomparable stability of this canoe – it’s even stable enough to stand in without feeling like you’ll tip over. The bow/stern molds on the unit increase trackability. You won’t be going off course for the duration of your canoeing adventure.
The adjustable seats will allow for a comfortable seating position during your cruise. And they also feature backrests to provide you with maximum support as you paddle.
Inflating the canoe won’t take much time. In just under 10 minutes it’ll be ready for use. Though it’s easy to inflate, you can consider an electric pump to speed things along.
For people looking for a versatile watercraft, consider this grab-and-go canoe from Old Town Discovery. Whether you’re an angler or hunter, you’ll appreciate this canoe which we’ve rated the best multi-purpose canoe on our list. You can use it for fishing or hunting.
Weighing only 57lb, it’s one of the lightest canoes on our list.
This is the product to pick if you’re thinking of embarking on a solo outdoor adventure. With a weight capacity of 350lb, it can accommodate most people.
Paddle in comfort while sitting on the padded and contoured seat. You can relax comfortably on the backrest provided, while you wait for fish to take the bait.
With a length of 11ft, it’s also one of the shortest canoes on our list. A short canoe isn’t the most stable but you’ll appreciate that it can travel much faster than its longer counterparts. Also, a short canoe means transporting it will be easy, especially if you don’t have a large vehicle.
Another aspect you’ll appreciate with this canoe is its durability. The three-layer polyethylene construction makes the unit strong enough to withstand a few knocks if you happen to bump into rocks while adrift.
The hull is quite spacious. You and your gear will be accommodated comfortably.
Make use of the convenient handles to transport the unit from one place to the next.
And now, for our budget pick. We’ve picked this Sevylor Ogden canoe which can accommodate two people provided they’re within the canoe’s 355lb weight carrying capacity.
If you decide to go canoeing with this boat alone, you might find it difficult to navigate. So always make sure you bring a buddy along.
Aside from its affordability, what caught our attention is the attractive color and design. You can definitely canoe in style if you pick this unit.
Aesthetics aside, you’ll be impressed by the solid build. Made of heavy-duty PVC, the canoe will definitely last you long.
The manufacturer also included a polyester cover that’s designed to protect the canoe from punctures. To ensure the canoe remains afloat even after punctures, the boat features multiple chambers. If one chamber is damaged, the others will still remain inflated to keep the boat moving.
Leaks are the least of your worries if you pick this model, thanks to the Airtight system. Also, inflating and deflating the unit we’ll be quick and easy thanks to the Boston valve which is double threaded.
You can safely store your gear in the secure storage provided, and carrying the canoe to and from the water is made easy thanks to the carry handles.
Seats are not only elevated, but adjustable, to ensure a comfortable sitting position for easy paddling.
Along with the canoe, you’ll also get a pump, two paddles, pressure gauge and a carry bag. And the product is covered by a two year limited warranty.
Important to note is that the canoe can be set off course by extremely hectic winds, so avoid canoeing on a windy day.
Here’s another durable canoe which features three layers of molded polyethylene. And we’ve voted it the best recreational canoe. Thanks to the material used in the canoe’s construction, it’s pretty flexible. But you’ll appreciate how lightweight the hull is. You can expect a comfortable ride on this boat thanks to the padded seats. To add to your comfort, the bow and stern seats have an adjustable backrest to provide you with much needed support during long outings.
You’ll appreciate how this canoe is designed to offer you maximum stability and easy maneuverability. Chances of going off course are highly unlikely.
You’ll find the canoe easy to carry to the water. Simply make use of the carry handles provided.
This canoe has a 900lb carrying capacity and is ideally suited for two people. It weighs 87lb which makes it a heavy unit. But between the two of you, you’ll manage to carry it.
The canoe is 14ft long so you can expect to travel at relatively fast speeds if that’s your preference.
Old Town is known for manufacturing high quality canoes and this Saranac 146 Model is no exception. Made of polyethylene, you’re guaranteed a long lasting unit. It’s not only impact-resistant but it’s also designed to withstand most forms of abrasion during canoeing.
The seats are contoured to allow for comfortable seating during paddling.
Like most Old Town boats, this canoe also has a backrest to provide you with ample back support.
The boat has a 750lb carrying capacity but because of the narrow design it’s best suited for smaller passengers.
There’s ample space to store your travelling gear, food, and valuables. Make use of the cup holders provided to place your drinks during canoeing.
It’s easy to move around thanks to the comfortable carry handles.
You’ll appreciate that the unit comes with a lifetime warranty—much like all Old Town canoes.
The green color is a welcome change from most dull-colored hulls. So pick this unit if you want a canoe with a pop of color. This color also increases the canoe’s visibility while adrift. In case of emergencies and storms you’ll be easy to spot.
A few users have noted that it bows in the middle after some time. Just make sure you observe and adhere to the hull’s carrying capacity to avoid exerting too much pressure on it.
Last but not least, we have yet another Sundolphin canoe which promises stability and optimal tracking.
If you’re not a fan of paddling, then opt for this hull which is can be powered by an electrical motor. Unfortunately, the motor isn’t included, so you’ll have to purchase it separately. But at least you don’t have to pay much for the canoe itself.
If you install the motor, the canoe steers and maneuvers pretty much like a regular canoe. The only difference is you don’t have to do all the work.
You’ll be impressed by the overall build quality of the boat. It is a durable unit which is built to last. And most users are impressed by how exceptionally sturdy it is.
The manufacturer made provision for storing your rods in the holders provided.
The canoe is big enough for three people and gear as long as you don’t exceed the carrying capacity.
You and your buddies can cruise in utmost comfort thanks to the contoured seats on the canoe.
We do wish the manufacturer had included a cooler to store your drinks. But given the low price, we suppose you get what you paid for.
What we liked:
What could be better:
Motor not included
Things to Consider
Are you ready to buy? In order to make a sound decision, there are facts you need to know. An informed decision will save you from buyer’s remorse. Have a look at the following guide as we outline all you need to know about canoes before making a final purchase.
Advantages of having a canoe
There are different watercrafts at your disposal. When embarking on a water adventure you can decide to buy a boat, kayak or canoe, to mention a few. So, why pick a canoe?
Canoes are generally much larger and therefore more suitable for a big family
They give you more room to maneuver compared to the other types
It’s easier to get in and out of a canoe
Canoes generally have more storage space to accommodate your gear
Since you tend to sit high above the water in a canoe, your chances of getting wet are slim
A canoe is more stable which will give you a sense of security and eliminate the risk of capsizing
Features to consider when choosing a canoe
We understand how your budget largely determines the canoe you buy. But that doesn’t mean you have to pick the cheapest one you find. Consider the following factors in order to buy the right one for you.
What kind of canoe do you need?
Ask yourself this: what do you need the canoe for? Do you want it for recreational use or for fishing? Are you planning on going on a family adventure? This will determine the canoe you pick. If you want to use it with family, then you’ll need a big one such as the Sundolphin Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe. If it’s for a one-man fishing adventure, then a smaller one will suffice. Here are examples of a few types:
River canoes: As the name suggests this type is ideal for use in rivers or streams. River canoes have excellent maneuverability. In addition, they’re also impact-resistant.
Recreational canoes: Pick this type if you want to venture on flat water. This type is very stable and works best for fishing, particularly in lakes and ponds.
Multi-purpose canoes: A smart move is to purchase a versatile canoe that won’t restrict you with regards to application. The Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman Canoe is one such example of a versatile canoe that can be used for many purposes, from hunting to fishing.
You can use multi-purpose canoes in rough and calm waters. In addition, you’ll appreciate how these have more capacity—especially if you’re using it as a family.
Seats and weight capacity
How many people are you planning to go canoeing with? Answering the question will help you determine how many seats your canoe must have. Aside from the number of seats, you need to consider the kind of seats it has. Some are more comfortable than others; canoes with flat benches are less comfortable than molded or contoured seats. Most canoes on our list including the Old Town Guide 147 Recreational Canoe have contoured seats that guarantee comfort.
If more than one person will be using the canoe, consider the weight capacity. Can it hold more than one person without the risk of capsizing? Check the rating on the canoe as it highlights the combined weight of passengers—and gear— it can handle.
Length and weight
The length of the canoe will determine the size of your boat. And the size and length of your canoe will determine factors such as performance, speed & transportation. A long canoe will be easy to transport if you have a large vehicle. And the opposite is true. The Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe is an example of the longer canoes on our list.
Smaller and shorter canoes such as the Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo will speed much faster in the water compared to their longer counterparts. If you prefer venturing into narrow streams and inlets consider shorter canoes.
Speaking of transportation, you also need to think of the weight of the canoe as this will determine:
How easy it is to carry
Whether it’ll be easy to load and offload from your vehicle
The distance you can carry it for
Generally, canoes can weigh as little as 40lb, with the heaviest weighing over 120lb. Needless to say a heavy canoe will be difficult to carry from your vehicle to the water. If you’re going on a solo water adventure, it’s in your best interest to buy a light one so you can handle it easily by yourself. On the other hand, if you’re going canoeing with your buddies, you don’t have to worry about weight that much.
How wide is the canoe? The width of the canoe will largely determine stability. Wider canoes are more stable than their narrower counterparts. On the other hand, narrow canoes, though not as stable, are easier to maneuver.
While on the subject of dimensions, it’s necessary to discuss the depth of the canoe as it also affects stability.
Canoes with taller sides are more affected by extreme winds which negatively impacts stability.
But on the bright side, this is the type to pick if you want a dry canoeing experience because they keep water out.
Shallower canoes, though more stable allow more water in.
The shape of the canoe is equally important because it affects the stability of your canoe. A few common shapes include:
Flat-bottom: This type is considered to be highly stable. Also, it’ll stay stationary in water for long periods of time if that’s your preference. Because of these two factors, this type is ideally suited for families or fishing. The only major drawbacks to flat bottom canoes are that they’re very slow and difficult to maneuver.
Rounded bottom canoe: If speed is your preference, then rather opt for a rounded bottom canoe. This type is designed to travel fast.
Shallow arch bottoms: Here is another type that offers maximum stability. Not only do they stay on course but they’re very efficient with regards to performance
V-bottom hulls: This type also offers stability. They stay on course even better than shallow arch bottom canoes.
Structure and build
The overall build of the canoe is important because it determines a number of factors such as durability, weight, cost and strength. Certain material is lighter than others. Also, certain materials are more durable than others, while others are more expensive.
It’s not uncommon for your canoe to hit a few rocks while adrift. You want a unit that can withstand such knocks. Here are a few examples of materials used in the construction of canoes:
Aluminum: Generally, canoes made of aluminum are known to be tough; you don’t have to worry about premature damage of your unit.
Plastic: If weight is your biggest concern, then consider a canoe made of plastic. The only problem is you may have to sacrifice durability for weight. As you can imagine, plastic isn’t the most durable material around.
PVC: Most inflatable canoes are made of PVC which is considered to be both strong and flexible. However, it’s unfortunately prone to damage from other materials.
Wood: Many traditional canoes are made of wood. Wood also provides some degree of durability and flexibility. Plus, canoes made of wood are aesthetically pleasing.
Aside from the build quality, you’ll need to consider the structure of the canoe. Is it inflatable or a solid hard shell hull? If a long lasting canoe is what you’re after, then one with a hull structure is ideal. Typically, one that features a hull structure usually has a highly durable three-layer structure.
Comfort: seats and adjustability
As mentioned earlier, you want your canoeing adventure to be as comfortable as possible. What kind of seats do you need? If you suffer from back pain, you might want to opt for one with a backrest. Is it padded?
If you’re going to spend hours sitting, then consider one with padded seats for added comfort.
Still on the subject of comfort, consider if the seat is adjustable. Your seating position will largely determine your comfort levels—or lack thereof.
Will you be canoeing with your toddler? You’ll need a seat that you can securely strap your child in during the ride.
For such a sizeable investment it’s worth considering the warranty the canoe is covered by. Different manufacturers offer varying warranty periods and terms so make sure you read the fine print. Is it covered for materials, manufacturing defects or both? Is the canoe covered for parts as well as accessories?
Most manufacturers need you to have a sales receipt for any warranty claims so make sure you keep it safe.
Some manufacturers take it a step further by including extra features on their canoes to attract more buyers. Granted, you’ll have to pay extra for these features but we think it’s certainly worth it. One notable extra feature you need to consider is if the canoe comes with paddles. Let’s face it, you’ll need paddles anyway—unless it’s a powered boat— so this will save you the additional purchase.
Does the canoe come with storage compartments? A canoe that has provision for your gear is ideal.
Some canoes feature carry handles. These handles will make it easy for you to carry the unit as well as enter and exit it.
There are always risks when it comes to any water sport including canoeing: from capsizing to injury, you need to be careful to prevent accidents. Your best bet is to take the necessary precautions such as wearing appropriate safety gear. If you’re new to canoeing, taking a few paddling classes will help you master the skills needed to avoid wrist or hand injuries.
From our list of recommendations, which model do you consider to be the best canoe? If you’re still undecided maybe our top three picks will help.
First up is the SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe, which we’ve awarded a 9.9 rating. The high rating is attributed to its stability, durability and cost-effectiveness. Plus, it’s big enough to bring your family with on your canoeing experience.
In second place with a 9.7 rating is the Old Town Discovery 158 Recreational Canoe. A durable canoe is always ideal. And we appreciate that it’s UV-resistant. The canoe is also pretty stable and the sleek design is a bonus.
Last but not least in our Top 3 List with a 9.5 rating is the Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe. It’s easy to transport, store, and use. Inflating the canoe won’t take much time. Plus, it’s stable and tracks straight.
Are you ready to go canoeing? Pick one and have the adventure of your life.