How to Choose a Canoe

How to Choose a Canoe
If you've just discovered a new passion for canoeing and want to make it a regular activity, start studying up on how to choose a canoe. Consider how you want to use your canoe. You might want to fish, go on a long expedition, or start racing with a local canoeing club. Each canoe is built differently and needs careful consideration before purchase. Look at its length, width, stability, and tumblehome in relation to your needs.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Canoe retailer
  • Canoe retailer
Step 1
Consider how you want to use your new canoe. Make a list of its potential uses, including white-rapid adventures, a quiet day of fishing, a tranquil family trip, or long-distance excursions.
Step 2
Choose between a strong or light canoe, and discuss your needs with a local retailer. A fishing canoe will probably be larger than a short and lightweight white-water canoe. Racing canoes are long and narrow, while camping canoes are wide and long. Longer canoes are typically faster but more unstable. You can use your canoe for more than one activity, but you don't want to spend more on a racing canoe if you primarily want to fish.
Step 3
Look at the hull, or bottom, of the canoe. A flat hull will provide stability when you're sitting motionless and is a good choice for fishing or novice paddlers. However, a rounded hull offers more maneuverability and speed.
Step 4
Decide if you need a keel for your canoe. The keel helps track and steer the canoe and can be used for lakes. A river canoe does not need a keel, and it could hinder its maneuverability.
Step 5
Study the tumbelhome of the canoe, or the curvature and width on its sides. Tumblehome makes it easy to paddle, but too much can tip your canoe and create a dangerous situation.
Step 6
Choose the length, width and carrying capacity of the canoe. Ensure the canoe will comfortably fit your paddlers without compromising speed or stability. An expedition canoe needs length to width ratios to maintain speed and carrying capacity. Sport canoes can be wider for stability.

Tips & Warnings

Rent the style canoe you intend to buy for a test run on the water.
Only buy a used canoe from a certified retailer to ensure quality standards.

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