Welcome to the 2018 season

Our website will shortly be updated so that you can book and pay for your paddling online. Until then, reach us by phone, or by email at enquiries@chesterkayakhire.co.uk, where there will always be a prompt and friendly reply. See you on the river soon!

Tel: 01244 422007

Canoeing and kayaking – what’s the difference?

To the untrained eye, there is not a lot of variation when it comes to identifying a kayak from a canoe. However, there are some very minor differences in detail that can make a big deal in distinguishing between the two.

Here, we will aim to clear up the confusion and help you to be able to tell the difference between canoeing and kayaking:

The Vessel

Both of these craft are traditionally lightweight with pointy ends, with their size depending on the number of people to be seated in them. The main difference between a canoe and a kayak, however, is that a canoe has an open deck, whereas a kayak has a closed one.

Seating position

The seating position of the canoer or kayaker is another distinction between the two. In both a canoe and a kayak, you face the direction that you wish to travel. This may seem like an obvious statement, but in rowing you face the opposite direction. That said, it is the seat height that allows you to differentiate between canoes and kayaks.

In a canoe, the paddler can either kneel on the bottom of the boat or sit on a raised seat. The legs of the paddler are not elongated and remain in a seating position, sometimes with straps over the thighs.

Kayakers will sit in a low-placed seat with their legs extended in front of them. The paddler’s legs are tucked under the deck of the vessel and sometimes contain thigh straps.

The paddle

Another of the key variations between canoeing and kayaking is the paddle used. A canoeist will use a single bladed oar, whereas a kayaker will use a double bladed paddle.

One reason for this is that a kayaker is sat much lower than a canoeist. They sit just above the waterline and this position does not allow the body to comfortably or efficiently use a single bladed paddle, as movement is more restricted. Having a double bladed paddle means that there is less time in between strokes, generally meaning that kayaking is quicker than canoeing.

The canoeist’s single bladed paddle allows for a more powerful stroke, as the body is not as restricted as a kayakers. The lack of body restriction also allows for a more comfortable and efficient stroke, meaning that it is easier to change direction.

The terminology that surrounds the two also helps to distinguish between them. This is especially the case in sporting scenarios, where the boats are put into different classes and categories. The letters C and K are combined with a number to signal whether the vessel is a canoe or a kayak, with the number indicating the amount of people that can be seated in the boat. So for example, K1 is a one-seated kayak and C2 is a two-seater canoe.

Often when people intend to try out this activity, they will find that those who offer canoe and kayak hire will rent out both types of boat, as although they have fundamental differences, they use techniques that can be transferred to either vessel.