How Large is a Canoe?

Trying to choose a canoe size can be difficult because there are so many lengths available. However, you can use the following information as a guide.

For Solo Use

If you are going by yourself, 10 to 16 ft will be sufficient. Most of these have capacities of up to 900 lbs. This makes it suitable for even the largest people. It also leaves room for gear. This size is also good enough for two paddlers if the trip is short. The sport canoes are usually 14 to 18 ft long. They have a capacity of over 1000 lbs.

These are good enough for extended trips. For groups or family outings, you need canoes that are 18 to 36 feet long. These are sufficient for three people and can be used in long treks. There are even bigger models available.


It is not the canoe size but the design that determines its speed and handling. The flatter bottomed hulls are best for the family or fisherman. They are slow but easy to maneuver. They are also very stable. If you want the all-purpose type, look for a canoe with a moderate rockered bottom. The hull should be hollow and arched.


The boat is narrow and usually powered by people. Some are operated by gas motors, electricity or sail. Most of them are pointed at the stern and bow. Human-powered canoes are used with paddles. The paddlers are oriented in the direction they are going.

Their positioning varies. Some kneel on the hull, but others are seated on the hull or supports. The paddlers positions are opposite that of rowers. The paddles are often double-bladed, but some are single-bladed.

Difference from Kayaks and Rowboats

The biggest difference is the kayak has a double bladed paddle. Many canoes have a t-grip on one end and a blade at the other. Kayaks are mostly closed deck while canoes are open. Rowboats are also different. They are powered by oars and rest on pivots at the gunwales.

The rower also sits with their backs to where they are going. This is opposite the travel direction. The Adirondack guideboat is also different. The dragon boat looks like a canoe. But it is not considered one because it is built in a different manner.

In the end, only you can determine what the best canoe size is. Most companies will allow you to try them out first. This will give you an idea if it is a proper fit or not.

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