Canoe for Beginners: Read This Before Owning One
When it comes to paddling, canoes are more versatile than kayak.
17:44 26 September 2019
They’re easier to handle and will always be up for the task- whether it be helping you tread through different waters or handling a wide range of conditions.
If you’re new to paddling and are looking to invest in a canoe, choosing one can be a bit complicated and difficult. You have to put a lot of thought into key aspects like the overall shape and design, carrying capacity, weight and the materials that go into making one. Yes, all these aspects can really influence a canoe’s performance.
So before you go running to the store to check out the latest canoes in the market, you might have to think hard and clear about a few things.
In this article, we’ll be going over each and every thing that you should consider before buying one.
What do you want to do with the canoe?
First things first, what are you planning to use the canoe for? Are you looking for a canoe that you can bring to your camping trip by a lake? Or maybe you like going on an expedition? Perhaps, you like to go fishing every now and then, and you’re after a canoe that can help ferry your catch safely to the shore after your exploits?
Remember, paddling along the lakeshore next to your camping site is different from navigating down the rapids and rough whitewaters. A flatwater canoe won’t help you deal with river rapids, and conversely a whitewater canoe won’t be useful for crossing lakes.
Knowing how you plan to use your canoe is important before you go browsing through the makes and models of leading canoe brands out there. Unless you’ve got it all figured out, it will be difficult to understand what you’re looking for in a canoe, which is exactly what we will go over in the next section.
What you look for in a canoe?
Now that you’ve nailed the big question, let’s deal with the next. What you want from a canoe?
It varies from one canoeist to another, depending on what they want to do with their canoe. For people who are into hunting and fishing on a remote wilderness lake or river, it is really invaluable to find a canoe that can provide good stability initially and continue to offer that even when loaded with all the catch. For canoeists who’re fairly new to the game and are just learning the ropes of paddling, a deep, wide, stable canoe that can help your confidence soar is all you need to begin with. For those who’re into a bit of tripping, fishing and camping, a good all round canoe that offers stability, has enough space for loading gear and provides good speed and tracking would be the best fit.
If you’re not going to be paddling solo, then consider how many people will be accompanying you. After all, there has to be enough space for everyone. Going to throw your pet on board? Big dogs that tend to move here and there can take up as much as space as a human passenger, so you need to account for that too.
What type of canoe will be a good fit?
Next up is the type of canoe. When figuring out the right type of canoe for your skills and needs, it is very important that you mull over these things: where do you want to go paddling? And for how long? What would be the right materials, design and weight requirements for my activity? So let’s look at all these aspects.
For those who aren’t quite experienced in paddling and want to start by exploring their local river that’s suitable for canoes, a cottage one would be a good fit. It will be fairly small with just about enough space to hold a paddler and a small amount of gear, but often proves to be a great choice for learning basic techniques on. Go for canoes made from composite materials such as fiberglass, kevlar as they usually feel lighter and provide better glide through the water, helping you navigate flat water and calm lakes with ease.
If you think you’re better at paddling than an average beginner and want to put your skills to the test by entering rough courses every now and then, look for canoes with a better design. As a general rule, canoes with a flat bottom have better stability, which means you won’t feel wobbly when you’re trying to get in and out of them, or when you’re trying to move yourself around a bit while paddling. A canoe with a straight keel and a deep, round shape will be able to hold a clean straight line in the water, also known as tracking. Remember, a canoe with a narrow profile and finer entry lines offers better speed, while shallow canoes do a commendable job helping you mitigate sudden movements caused by blustery winds.
An expedition canoe is a better choice for those wanting to go tripping down the river for a week or so. They’re suitable for those who believe they are more than capable of handling flat waters and lakes, and want to graduate to the next level by taking on whitewater. A canoe that’s deep and wide and has fuller ends keeps you gliding above the waterline with great stability while providing a dry ride. Such a shape/design allows for efficient paddling and more portage, making it a right choice for navigating a boat full of gear down the big waters and rapids with greater control and handling. Take a look at canoes made from much more resilient materials as they’re designed to absorb all the impact that may occur in rough conditions. These canoes have built a bit of a reputation for being heavier than most and quite durable as well, so you can expect them to hold up to any kind of abuse you throw at them.
Tip: You’ll be taking a lot of stuff with you on an expedition so consider canoes that have just about large volume of space to store food, packs, gear and tents for your entire duration. Remember, more volume and superior construction for longer durability means your canoes can be a lot heavier than you could imagine and might cause a bit of a problem when you try to lift and put them on top of your vehicle.
To conclude, there are things that you might need to pay more attention to before choosing a canoe for yourself. Think about what kind of paddling you’ll be mostly doing, how long the trip will be and the kind of materials that will fit your needs and budget.