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October 05, 2022 13 min read

Best Canoes

Old town canoe on a lake

To some, nothing sounds more dreamy than heading down a slow-moving river or paddling across an expansive lake in a reliable, family-friendly canoe. And, If you’ve stumbled across this article, then you’re probably thinking the exact same thing.

Whether you’re a complete newbie purchasing your first canoe, or an experienced paddler looking for an upgrade, it is helpful to compare different canoe brands and models to find the boat that is perfect for you. 

We highly suggest checking out these two articles How Many People Can Fit in a Canoe? and Everything You Need to Know About Canoe Sizes to determine the size of boat you need, as like with many things, they aren’t a one size fits all product. 

So, if you’re after a new canoe, here are 9 of the best recreational canoes that are definitely worth your consideration. 

GILI’s Top Picks: By Budget

Best Budget
Sevylor adventure plus inflatable canoe, green
Sevylor Adventure Plus

The Sevylor Adventure Plus is a fantastic inflatable canoe that comes with a reasonable and very affordable price tag. In total, it can hold 440 lbs and has three adjustable seats, so you can customize it as you wish.

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Best Mid Range
Pelican explorer deluxe canoe, red
Pelican Explorer 14.6 DLX Canoe

The mid-range pick goes to the Pelican Explorer 14.6 DLX, which can hold a generous 800 lbs making it an ideal expedition canoe. Fishermen will also appreciate its vertical rod holders, built-in cooler center seat, and it’s comfortable front and back high-backed seats.

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Best Premium
Mycanoe duo foldable
MyCanoe Duo Folding Canoe

The Duo Folding Canoe by MyCanoe ticks both convenience and high-quality boxes. This canoe, which can fold down into a portable carry bag, can hold 440 lbs. That weight can consist of two paddlers, along with a dog, fishing gear, or camping gear.

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The 9 Best Recreational Canoes

MyCanoe Duo Folding Canoe

Mycanoe duo foldable

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

14.5’ x 35”

43 lbs

480 lbs

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When you think of a canoe, a large, relatively heavy boat probably springs to mind. And although most canoes do match up to this vision in your head, there are actually some models on the market that have combined convenience with all the other benefits of canoeing.

The Duo Folding Canoe by MyCanoe is a prime example of this. MyCanoe has managed to create a canoe that can fold down into its very own carry bag when it isn’t in use.

The canoe's weight of 43 lbs, along with its compact design, makes it extremely easy to store and transport. The large garage space and roof rack/trailer you would have once needed can now be swapped for the back seat of your car and a cupboard in your house.

You’re also probably thinking that a foldable canoe isn’t going to be very durable out on the water. Well, MyCanoe carefully thought about the construction of their canoes and went with a double-layer marine-grade custom-manufactured polypropylene hull that can tackle open water and up to Class 2 Whitewater.

I bet you didn’t expect that even folding canoes can be classed as whitewater canoes, now did you? Along with its sturdy construction, MyCanoe added a 1.5-year UV treatment on the Duo Folding Canoe to help keep it in the best condition for years to come.

Canoes in themselves are fairly simple boats, unlike their kayak cousins, which typically come with a range of accessories and attachments. The MyCanoe Duo Folding Canoe follows this simple design, and although it comes with two padded seats, you do have the option to remove one and paddle solo.

When it comes to weight capacity, the Duo Folding Canoe can hold 480 lbs, so you could even pack your pooch, coolers, or camping gear on board with you if you so wish. And to top it off, MyCanoe made their Duo Folding Canoe compatible with their stabilizer kit so you can turn your recreational canoe into a fishing canoe with enhanced stability.

Specifications and Features

  • Made from double-layer marine-grade custom manufactured polypropylene
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Suitable for open water and up to Class 2 Whitewater
  • 1.5 year UV treatment
  • Two padded seats
  • Compatible with the MyCanoe stabilizer kit

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • Aluminum canoes, fiberglass canoes, wooden canoes, and even kevlar canoes can be extremely difficult to transport, but the Duo Folding Canoe can be compact down into a relatively small carry bag, making it far easier to carry to and from waterways.
  • Even though the canoe is foldable, it is still able to tackle Class 2 Whitewater. 
  • MyCanoe added a 1.5-year UV treatment to protect the canoe against UV damage.
  • You can choose to paddle the canoe solo or tandem.
  • It’s compatible with the MyCanoe stabilizer kit, meaning you can transform your recreational canoe into a great fishing canoe.
  • It’s on the higher end of the canoe price scale. 

Sevylor Adventure Plus

Sevylor adventure plus inflatable canoe, green

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

12’ x 33.8”

33 lbs

440 lbs

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As we stay on the subject of canoes that offer convenience along with traditional canoe benefits, it takes us to inflatable canoes such as the Sevylor Adventure Plus. 

Sevylor, who also specializes in inflatable kayaks, used their knowledge of inflatables to create their Adventure Plus inflatable canoe, which features multiple air chambers for stability and safety out on the water. 

Both sides of the canoe have replaceable PVC side chambers that are fitted with an I-beam construction. The floor chambers are also replaceable, and they too are fitted with an I-beam construction. 

After your day out on the water, you can deflate and pack the Adventure Plus into the provided carry bag. As it only weighs 33 lbs, even the smallest paddlers would be able to carry it from A to B, making it the perfect option for those wanting to combine a paddle into a hike or a camping trip. 

Along with the carry bag, the Adventure Plus canoe also comes with three inflatable polyester-covered seats that can be adjusted to improve back support. These seats can also be removed to turn the versatile canoe into a solo canoe or a tandem canoe, depending on your paddling preferences. 

In our opinion, inflatable canoes are the best canoe option for those shopping on a budget because, unlike traditional canoes, inflatables come with a reasonable price tag. And don’t worry, just because they have a low price tag, it doesn’t mean they compromised on their quality. 

Specifications and Features

  • PVC side chambers with I-beam construction
  • PVC floor chambers with I-beam construction
  • Three polyester-covered inflatable seats
  • Integrated spray decks with bungee cords
  • Included carry bag, manometer, and fin

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The Adventure Plus Canoe is extremely lightweight making it an ideal option for smaller paddlers or for those who wish to combine a paddle with other outdoor activities.
  • Both sides and the floor have separate PVC chambers that are fitted with I-beam construction to enhance the canoe's stability and safety.
  • It is suitable for solo paddlers or a couple with a young child.
  • It’s extremely budget-friendly.
  • Shorter canoes such as this are easier to manage on the water.
  • The carry bag could be of better quality. 

Clipper Canoes 16′ Fiberglass Ranger

Clipper ranger canoe, yellow

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

15’10” x 35”

68 lbs

Full weight capacity not known

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Clipper Canoes have two fiberglass canoes that are 16’ and 17’ in length. This particular canoe we’re discussing today is their 16’ Fiberglass Ranger that can accommodate two paddlers along with 150 lbs worth of additional gear.

Of course, with most canoes, the 16’ Ranger can also be paddled solo by moving one of the seats to the center bench seat. This configuration makes the canoe exceptionally predictable and maneuverable, even with only one paddler.

Clipper Canoe’s valued stability when designing their 16’ Ranger, so constructed the width of the boat to be 35” wide. Similar to that of kayaks and paddle boards, the wider the canoe, the more stable it will be out on the water. And sure, we know, a few inches may not seem like a big deal, but it really does make a difference to your canoe’s overall stability.

Specifications and Features

  • Made from fiberglass
  • Paddled solo or tandem
  • Bow and stern thwarts
  • Available in five colors

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • You can choose to paddle the 16’ Ranger solo or tandem.
  • The boat is relatively stable thanks to its 35” width. 
  • You can choose to upgrade the seats and add thigh foam pads.
  • There are 5 beautiful colors to choose from. 
  • It’s unknown how much weight the canoe can actually hold. 
  • The standard seats may not be the comfiest. 

Pelican Explorer 14.6 DLX Canoe

Pelican explorer deluxe canoe, red

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

14’9” x 38”

90 lbs

800 lbs

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If stability and weight capacity are something you’re after, then look no further. The Pelican Explorer 14.6 DLX Canoe not only has a 38-inch width, but it can also hold a generous 800 lbs in total. This means that you, your paddling partner(s), and all of your camping or fishing gear can load into the canoe and paddle along together. 

During the construction of their canoe, Pelican opted for their patented RAM-X material that has impact-resistant qualities. This construction means that your canoe will stand the test of time, and you’ll more than likely be paddling for many years to come. 

If you are a canoe fisherman, then you’ll also love to know that the Explorer features vertical rod holders, a built-in cooler center seat, and comfortable folding high-backed seats to make your time out on the water as pleasurable as can be. 

And, to make it even better, the Explorer comes with two drink holders to help you stay hydrated during your paddle, and two carry handles to help make transportation that little bit easier.

Specifications and Features

  • Made from Pelican’s patented RAM-X material
  • Suitable for fishing
  • Vertical rod holders
  • Built-in cooler center seat
  • Folding seats
  • Two drink holders
  • Two carry handles

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The Explorer is an incredibly stable canoe thanks to its 38-inch width. 
  • It can hold up to 800 lbs which are perfect for those with excess camping or fishing gear
  • Pelican crafted the Explorer from impact-resistant materials to help it remain durable for many years to come. 
  • There are fishing features such as rod holders and a built-in cooler which is ideal for fishermen.
  • The weight and size of the canoe may be difficult to carry and transport.

Lifetime Kodiak Canoe

Lifetime kodiak canoe with two paddles

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

13’ x 39”

96 lbs

600 lbs

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The Lifetime Kodiak Canoe was built from a high-density polyethylene construction and features a sharp bow to improve the boat’s speed and tracking. Along with the sharp bow shape, Lifetime decided on a wide flat bottom for greater stability, and they added a tracking skeg to also help with the canoe’s tracking.

Inside the canoe, there are two seats with adjustable seat backs and a center bench to accommodate a third passenger. The front seat has two cup or water bottle holders, the middle bench has two combination cups and fishing rod holders, and the back seat has two trays for storing small items. 

Something we particularly love about the Kodiak Canoe is the fact that it comes with a motor mount, so you have the option to transform it into a motorized vessel. Along with the option of adding a motor, Lifetime also included two paddles to help you get out on the water as quickly as possible. 

Specifications and Features

  • Made from high-density polyethylene
  • Sharp bow
  • Flat bottom hull
  • Tracking skeg
  • Two seats and a center bench seat
  • Water bottle holders
  • Fishing rod holders
  • Trays for storing small items
  • Motor mount
  • Includes two paddles

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The canoe features a sharp bow and a skeg to help improve the boat’s overall tracking.
  • The wide flat bottom gives the boat increased stability.
  • There are three seats to accommodate three passengers.
  • You can use the Kodiak as a recreational or a fishing kayak, thanks to the included fishing rod holders.
  • Both the front and back seats are high-backed and adjustable to help with comfort during long days on the water.
  • You have the option to add a motor if you’d prefer the canoe to be motorized.
  • The Kodiak is one of the heavier canoes on our list.

Old Town Saranac 160

Old town saranac recreational family canoe

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

16’ x 37”

89 lbs

800 lbs

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Old Town Canoes constructed their Old Town Saranac 160 hull from thermoformed polyethylene. Inside the hull, they installed two comfortable contoured seats along with a center bench seat that also doubles up as storage. 

At a total of 16 feet, the Saranac is one of the longest canoes on our list, and its size actually comes with a few advantages. Expedition canoes such as this not only slice through the water faster than other models, but they also give paddlers more space to move around and a much greater weight capacity. 

The Saranac can hold 800 lbs which is more than enough for two paddlers, camping gear, food, and water. With all that being said, however, the longer length does make the Saranac much harder to transport and store, so that’s something to keep in mind before purchasing. 

Old Town wanted their Saranac canoe to be versatile, so they kitted it out with features suited to both recreational paddling and fishing trips. As we mentioned previously, the center bench seat also doubles up as storage, and part of that storage is a 6” hatch that can house important items such as your phone, wallet, or keys. 

And when it comes to fishing accessories, Old Town included molded-in rod holders in the bow and center seats, molded-in flush mounts for rods in the front and back seats, molded-in storage trays for small items or tackle, and molded-in paddle rests and cup holders. 

Specifications and Features

  • Made from thermoformed polyethylene
  • Center seat doubles up as storage
  • 6” dry hatch
  • Molded-in rod holders
  • Molded-in flush mounts for rod holders
  • Molded-in storage trays
  • Molded-in paddle rests
  • Molded-in cup holders

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The Saranac is suited to both recreational paddling and fishing. 
  • The center bench seat doubles up as storage with a 6” dry hatch to keep your important belongings dry. 
  • There are numerous rod holders dotted throughout the canoe.
  • There are also paddle rests, cup holders, and storage trays so you can be hands-free if needs be. 
  • Its long length may make it difficult to transport. 

ITIWIT X500 Inflatable Touring Canoe

High pressure drop stitch, Inflatable canoe

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

16.7’ x 39”

70 lbs

550 lbs

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The ITIWIT X500 Inflatable Touring Canoe was crafted out of 100% polyvinyl chloride and stitched together with high-pressure drop stitching to create a sturdy canoe that could give traditional canoes a run for their money. They also went one step further and placed reinforcements on the areas which are regularly exposed to friction. 

Regarding the canoe’s seating, ITIWIT included wooden front and back seats along with an inflated center bench seat to carry the entire family. In total, the X500 can carry two adults and two small children, but of course, you can also paddle it tandem or solo if you need some time to yourself. 

There is something we particularly love about the X500, and that is how wide it is. Wider canoes work best as recreational or fishing canoes because, during those activities, stability is favored over speed or tracking. 

And although inflatables tend to be much lighter than traditional canoes, that sadly isn’t the case with the X500. In total, the X500 weighs 70 lbs, but it does come with a trolley bag that can be wheeled to and from the water's edge.

Specifications and Features

  • Made from 100% polyvinyl chloride
  • High-pressure drop stitching
  • Wooden seats
  • Inflatable center bench seat
  • Included trolley bag

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The X500 can carry two adults and two children, making it a great option for families with young kids.
  • It may be heavier than most other inflatables, but it is still easier to transport than a traditional canoe.
  • It comes with a wheeled trolley bag that you can use to store and transport the canoe.
  • It is extremely heavy for an inflatable. 

Sun Dolphin Scout SS

Sun dolphin scout canoe, green

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

14’ x 38”

84 lbs

765 lbs

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When Sun Dolphin designed their Scout SS canoe, they wanted it to be compatible with electric trolling motors to give the user the option of paddling it manually or converting it into a motorized boat. With that in mind, they gave the Scout SS a square back transom so you can purchase and connect an additional motor if needs be.

They constructed the hull of the Scout SS from UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene and molded the seats to not only make them comfortable but to also have them aid in flotation. The seats, which can hold up to three people, also have built-in rod holders for canoe anglers who want to fish hands-free. 

All things considered, the Scout SS is a very basic canoe, but sometimes basic is all you really need. 

Specifications and Features

  • Made from UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene
  • Compatible with trolling motors
  • Molded-in bench seats
  • Built-in rod holders

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The Scout SS can hold a decent amount of weight, making it a great option for canoe anglers.
  • Its 38” deck provides a wide and stable platform.
  • You can attach an electric trolling motor thanks to its square back transom.
  • There are fishing rod holders to allow fishermen to fish hands-free.
  • It’s a very basic canoe. 

Mad River Canoe Adventure 14

Mad river canoe adventure, green

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

14’ x 37”

75 lbs

875 lbs

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If you need a kayak that can hold everything but the kitchen sink, then the Mad River Canoe Adventure 14 is the one for you. This durable polyethylene canoe can hold a whopping 875 lbs meaning even larger paddlers can hop in and paddle down their favorite waterways together in one boat. 

Mad River Canoe gave their Adventure 14 a multi-chine shallow arch hull to provide smooth tracking and stability in a range of water conditions. 

They also knew that when you’re paddling a canoe, you’re typically out on the water for long periods of time. And, of course, they want their paddlers to be comfortable, so they then gave their Adventure 14 padded seats with adjustable backrests. 

As well to the comfortable front and back seats, Mad River Canoe fitted a center seat and gave the canoe plenty of storage space so paddlers can store their coolers, belongings, and fishing gear. 

Specifications and Features

  • Made from polyethylene
  • Multi-chine shallow arch hull
  • Padded seats with adjustable backrests
  • Center bench seat

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • The Adventure 14 has the highest weight capacity of all the canoes on our list.
  • Its multi-chine shallow arch hull allows the canoe to remain stable on the water.
  • The front and back seats have adjustable backrests for enhanced comfort.
  • There is plenty of space to store belongings. 
  • We don’t have any cons, so it’s a 5 star from us!

FAQ’S

🏆 Are canoes better than kayaks?

The question of are canoes better than kayaks will all come down to personal preference, but the majority of people will say that kayaks take the top spot. 

Kayaks are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and faster than canoes. They’re easy to transport on the roof of a car and can usually be carried to the water by a single person. We’ve gone into more detail on the differences between the two over on The Difference Between Canoeing and Kayaking, so it may be worth checking that out so you can come to your own conclusion.


👍 What are some good canoe options?

🏝️ What’s the difference between a canoe paddle and a kayak paddle?

The main difference between a canoe paddle and a kayak paddle is that a kayak paddle would be a double-bladed paddle, and a canoe paddle would be a single-bladed paddle. 

This means that a canoe paddle will only have one blade at one end, whereas a kayak paddle will have a blade on both ends.

Jay Regan
Jay Regan


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