NOT ALL canoes are created equal and these days there’s more variety than ever. Here’s a breakdown on performance attributes of different craft:
WEIGHT: Canoe construction varies from heavy and durable materials such as polyethylene and aluminium to space age ultralight materials such as Kevlar, carbon-fibre and Innegra. Essentially, the lighter the canoe, the lighter your wallet. The lighter a canoe, the easier it is to paddle – as well as to handle off the water, so you’ll probably use it more often.
STABILITY: The width (or beam) of a canoe typically affects its stability. Wider means more stable, but slower through the water. Another factor that influences stability is the hull shape; a flat-bottomed boat may feel stable but it may be susceptible to capsizing when confronted by waves or boat wash.
SPEED: The length of boat usually contributes to straight-line speed. In theory, a longer boat should be faster.
CAPACITY: A boat’s capacity is dictated by its overall internal volume. A short, narrow boat will have limited capacity whereas a long, wide boat obviously has more. The height of a canoe’s sides (its freeboard) also contributes to capacity.
SUITABILITY: Some canoes are designed to do certain things well which can make them unsuitable for other pursuits. If you’re heading into moving water (rapids) then a short boat with high sides that is very manoeuvrable will be most suitable. An 18-foot fibreglass canoe with a flat hull can be disastrous in such conditions. If you’re taking the whole family on a weeklong flat-water journey, then a long, wide boat with massive capacity will be the best choice.
Testing stability levels of canoes can be awesome fun, plus it enables paddlers to learn their particular canoe’s tipping point and handling characteristics.
Top and bottom Canoes are made from different materials, such as Royalex (red canoe) and Kevlar (yellow).