Difference Between Kayak and Canoe (With Table)

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, which is a fact that everyone knows. Of those water, the majority is Saltwater. Water is not only used for drinking and other essential uses but also is used for leisure activities. Transport through water is said to be present from ancient times and was the only way of communication between the countries and people in different continents.

To make travel in water possible, man invented some tools which are together called a watercraft. This watercraft includes a huge variety of boats, ships, submarines, surfboards, and many more. One such kind is Kayak and Canoe. But these two are primarily used for leisure activities.

Kayak vs Canoe

The main difference between the kayak and canoe is that kayak uses double-bladed paddles and the passenger shall be in a sitting position, whereas the canoe employs a single curved bladed paddle and the passenger will be in a kneeling position.


Comparison Table Between Kayak and Canoe (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of Comparison



General-purpose usage

Leisure activities and competitions.

Family recreation activities and transport


Closed decks providing secure seating

Open deck providing free movement of the passenger over the Canoe


Double bladed paddles

Single curved bladed paddles

Position of the passenger

In a sitting position with extended legs

The kneeling position to make the propulsive shape of the watercraft for speed. Sitting position is rarely employed


Narrower and lightweight

Wider and more water is touching the surface of the body of the canoe


What is Kayak?

There are many specialized watercrafts available, of those Kayak has its place in the list. Kayak is the name given to the type of watercraft which is more commonly narrow and pointed(only on one side). Kayaks are most commonly used as sports equipment than of a transporting thing.

The design of the kayaks are in such a way that it is lightweight, slimmer, but are very durable against intense weather conditions as well. The design varies with the purpose and the need. For long-distance travel, the kayaks are designed in such a way to have more storage compartments.

The kayak paddles are of the double-bladed type which is used by the passenger to propel through the water, by pushing the water on both sides.

The history of the kayaks dates back to ancient times when Inuits used them for navigating waterways, fishing, hunting, and transport across small lands around the arctic regions. They made the first kayak from wooden frames with a small hole in the middle for the passengers to sit.

In modern times the kayaking was brought to the people’s daily activities by the efforts of John MacGregor. The kayaking was added to the Olympics initially in 1936.

There are two main types of kayaking, namely, sports kayaking and Sea kayaking. The first represents a short course while later one is the one that takes place for weeks also.

Kayaking apart from leisure and recreational activities also has several health benefits. Such benefits include improved muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness. These enable the people to be in good health while enjoying the adventures.

In some workout plans, kayaking has been added as one of the elements that help in burning the belly fat. It is observed from the studies that about 500 calories per hour can be burnt by doing kayaking.

The benefits that kayaking gives are,

  1. Helps in weight loss: As it burns the excess fat in the body it helps in reducing the weight.
  2. A stress buster: The leisure activities bring about the relaxation in the mind of those people who are busy doing stressful jobs all day or week.
  3. A refreshed mind: Kayaking with friends and other people in the locations that are hand in hand with nature will yield the people the refreshed mind to continue their life with ease and happiness.
  4. A portal for social wellness: The group activities with other people will enable one to be mindfully a part of society.
  5. Source of vitamin D: The kayaking people are exposed to the sunlight which is a rich source of vitamin D, which is essential for several physiological processes of the human body.

What is Canoe?

A canoe is a similar form of a kayak and is said to the upgraded design of kayak, by some people, with some milder differences from kayaks. The canoes are identified with the pointed ends on both sides with more spaces for the passengers. The canoe is used more commonly for transport purposes across lands by waterways.

The history of canoes dates to ancient times when people in the Caribbean areas used the canoes for transport purposes across the lands. It is also said that there are shreds of evidence that the Indians used canoes since ancient times.

The construction method of the canoes and the materials used to construct differs from area to areas but the most accepted and the most used method is the one which was introduced by the native Americans using the birch backlogs.

This method was taken to the whole world by the European travelers and missionaries around the 14th and 15th centuries. There was a saying that the French used canoes for trading and exploration in the times where the United States and Canada were discovered originally. The first canoe made dates back to around 8,000 to 7,500BC.

Canoes use single-bladed curved paddles. The canoes are for the flatter waterways and are more suitable for inland transport.

The benefits that canoeing gives are almost the same with kayaking with an additional thing that canoeing can be enjoyed as a family also, as the canoes provide space for more passengers.



Apart from recreational activities or transport purposes, the usage of watercraft extends to more domains than we could ever imagine. The selection of either canoe or kayaks is based solely on the needs and the interest of the individual.

But, a piece of knowledge about those is essential to determine their interest and needs.



  1. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2079848
  2. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/24/1/article-p16.xml