Kayaking vs. Canoeing: What’s the Difference?

There are many different ways to enjoy a one-day or multi-day trip down the Buffalo River, and two of the most popular options are canoeing and kayaking. Many people—especially those who don’t have a lot of experience with either or both experiences—ask us about the main differences between the two.

To help you better understand the ways Buffalo River canoeing and kayaking can be different, while also somewhat similar, we’ve provided some more information below:

The basics of kayaking

kayakGenerally, kayaks tend to be smaller and lighter in weight than canoes. This often means they are faster on the water than canoes, and can be easier to load onto a vehicle and carry around when needed. They typically have a closed-desk design and are narrower than canoes.

While they are usually faster, kayaks are also less roomy and may be less stable because there is not as much surface area on the water. Kayakers work with double-bladed, curved paddles, and they may use thigh braces for added stability.

The most standard kayak is meant for a single paddler. Multi-paddler kayaks are available, but they are still built to be light and narrow.

Canoeing offers a different experience

canoeCanoes are typically larger and heavier than kayaks. This enables them to be somewhat more comfortable, despite being slower on average. Canoes are built for versatile travel, with an open-desk design that offers more roominess than kayaks. Paddlers sit or kneel in canoes, and no braces are usually needed.

In general, canoes are used in more leisurely settings, with canoers using flat-bladed paddles. They usually accommodate two or more people.

When deciding on whether you and your group should go canoeing or kayaking on the Buffalo River, consider the type of experience you’d like to have the skill level of everyone in your party. If you’re looking for speed, kayaking may be the better option. But if you would like a more leisurely trip, we might suggest canoeing.

Remember, if you have any questions, the staff at Buffalo River Outfitters is here to help. We have years of experience with Buffalo River kayaking, canoeing, rafting, floating and just about anything else you can do on our pristine national river. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you could use some guidance when planning your one-day or multi-day trip.