Summer and water activities have an unbreakable bond. Once the sun is out and shines brighter, most of us are yearning to hit the water with some sort of water sport or activity. So, have you ever imagined the difference between kayaking and canoeing before? Both of them are world-renowned water sports with contrasts that you should know.

Thus, let’s see what the difference between kayaking and canoeing is. In fact, we wish to bring you a lot of things so keep reading till the end.

An Abstract of Kayaking and Canoeing

Kayaking- in kayaking, paddler overlooks forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle. Most kayaks possess closed decks. Also, this is used for traveling across the water. Specifically, kayaking is differentiated from canoeing by the sitting posture of the paddler. Also, with the number of blades on the paddle.

Colourful kayaks on the tropical beach
Colourful kayaks on the tropical beach

Canoeing- this is a recreational boating exercise or paddle sport. In canoeing, you kneel or sit fronting forward in an open or closed-decked canoe, and thrust yourself with a single-bladed paddle supporting your own strength.

a girl on a canoe
a girl on a canoe

History of Kayaking and Canoeing

Locals going down the Zambezi River in traditional mokoro canoes, Zambia.
Locals going down the Zambezi River in traditional mokoro canoes, Zambia.

About 5,000 years ago, the earliest kayaks were simple designs created by the Inuit and Aleut people to travel quickly across the water. Located in Arctic North America, these tribes would build the kayaks out of whatever kinds of material they could obtain, including animal skins, bones, and wood. Typically, there were two main types of kayaks—the first, made from driftwood, and the second, constructed from whalebones.

Initially, kayaks were introduced in Europe as soft-sided vessels sailing across the cold waters in the mid-1800s. However, the Germans and French were the originals to use the boats for pleasure.

Kayak racing was added as a game to the Berlin games in 1936. And later, kayakers developed a much light-weighted and more flexible boat. And in the 50s, kayaks came out from fiberglass.

John MacGregor, a Scottish lawyer who was also a sportsman, designed sailing canoes in the 1860s. Canoes decorated and equipped with a mast and sail and paddles explored throughout Europe and in the Middle East and advanced their use in lectures and publications.

However, the growth of recreational canoeing advanced after World War II in North America by the proliferation of small aircraft. Therefore, this allowed canoeists to approach distant wilderness waters not used since the Indians and voyageurs explored. Moreover, during the last quarter of the 20th-century recreational canoeing expanded in popularity, especially in North America.

Modern Designs and Materials Used to Build Kayaks and Canoes

Materials used: Rotationally Molded Plastic (Rotomold), Fiberglass, Kevlar, or Royalex.

Modern kayak and canoe designs

  • Concrete canoe
  • Fishing kayak
  • Flyak
  • Folding kayak
  • Inflatable kayak
  • International Canoe
  • Malia (Hawaiian canoe)
  • Recreational kayak
  • Sea kayak
  • Surf kayak
  • Sit-on-top kayak
  • Sprint canoe

Whitewater kayaks and canoes

  • Creek Boat
  • River Runner
  • Slalom
  • Freestyle Playboat
  • Squirt boat
  • Wildwater race boat

Types of Equipment Utilized in Kayaking and Canoeing

When it comes to the difference between kayaking and canoeing, knowing their equipments are essential.

  • Albano buoy system – a system of pointing out a kayak, canoe, and rowing racecourses utilizing lines of buoys.
  • Buoyancy aid – a professional way of personal flotation device (PFD) practiced by kayakers and canoeists.
  • Outrigger – a solid hull used to secure a canoe and placed rigidly and parallel to the central hull. Therefore, this will enable you to turn and hold your heel when navigating.
  • Paddle – utilized in kayaks and canoes for thrust. Paddles are made of plastic, wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or metal. In addition, paddles in kayaks are more elongated, with a blade on each edge, and handled from the center of the shaft.
  • Paddle float – buoyance aide, outfitted to paddle used to re-enter a kayak after a turn in free water. Also used for practicing kayak rolling.
  • Paddle leash – practiced for guarding a paddle, particularly on solo voyages where a paddle may float away through wind or waves and drop.
  • Sea sock – a sizeable insulated bag set inside the kayak and fastened tightly all around the edge of the cockpit. Thus, this enables the paddler to sit inside and blocks the kayak from loading with water during a capsize.
  • A spray deck – adjustable hood for a kayak or a canoe utilized in whitewater or harsh weather to stop water from entering the boat while paddling.
  • Tuilik – a traditional Greenland paddling jacket and spray deck combined into one piece of clothing, sealed at the face, wrists, and around the cockpit coaming.

Kayaking and Canoeing Locations

  • Whitewater – water swung around and aerated by the disturbance of a fast enough prompt that some of it turn foamy white.
  • Playspot – a spot where there are convenient stationary highlights on rivers, in particular rising waves.
  • Rapids – the fast-running region of a river.
  • Artificial whitewater courses – specific sites typically for competition or commercial use. Moreover, this is where water is redirected or drawn over a concrete watercourse to fabricate diverse water situations that can be regulated.
  • Whitewater rivers – rivers with one or more extensions of whitewater rapids consistently.

Popular Kayaking and Canoeing Venues Around the World

Moraine lake in the Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Moraine Lake in the Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • Cardiff International White Water
  • Canolfan Tryweryn
  • Cardington Artificial Slalom Course
  • River Dart
  • Dickerson Whitewater Course
  • Dorney Lake
  • Dutch Water Dreams
  • Kayakers at Eid Fjord, Norway
  • Eiskanal
  • Hawaii-sur-Rhone
  • Helliniko Olympic Canoe/Kayak Slalom Centre
  • Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre
  • Idroscalo
  • Kanupark Markkleeberg
  • Lee Valley White Water Centre
  • Millrace Rapids
  • Nene Whitewater Centre
  • Northern Forest Canoe Trail
  • Ocoee Whitewater Center
  • Ohio River Trail
  • Parc Olímpic del Segre
  • Penrith Whitewater Stadium
  • Račice, Czech Republic
  • Rutherford Creek
  • Saint Regis Canoe Area
  • Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park
  • South Bend –, Indiana
  • Stanley whitewater canoeing course
  • Symonds Yat Rapids
  • Tacen Whitewater Course
  • Teesside White Water Course
  • Texas Water Safari
  • River Thames
  • Hurley Lock
  • Boulter’s Lock
  • Tour de Gudenå
  • U.S. National Whitewater Center
  • Water Sports Centre Čunovo
  • Welland International Flatwater Centre
  • Wisconsin River
  • Wolf River (Tennessee)

Kayaking and Canoeing Competitions and Tournaments


  • Canoeing and kayaking at the Summer Olympics
  • Canoeing at the Asian Games
  • Backwaters Paddle Quest
  • Berg River Canoe Marathon
  • Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
  • Dusi Canoe Marathon
  • Fish River Canoe Marathon Slalom World Championships
  • Texas Water Safari

So, we hope you obtained enough knowledge on the difference between kayaking and canoeing, especially if you are a beginner at these activities. Let us know your favorite!


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