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Should I rent a Canoe, Kayak, or Paddleboard?

The Pros and Cons of Canoeing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding


State Park Kayak Storage

Kayak and canoe rentals at West Lake Park in Hollywood, FL.

Photo © by George E. Sayour

It used to be that the only thing you could rent on a lake was an aluminum canoe. Then with the advent of plastic boats in the 1980s and 1990s, kayaks became easier and cheaper to make. Now kayaks are readily available in most places offering paddling rentals such as at beaches, lakes, and parks. In recent years another paddling addition has found its way into the rental market. That being standup paddleboards. So, with so many options it gives vacationers or locals looking for a fun outing a choice to make, leaving many of them to ask the question “Should I rent a canoe, a kayak, or a paddleboard?

Here are some of the pros and cons of canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding to help you make that decision.

Renting Canoes

When renting a canoe, one factor that will come to your mind is how many people will be paddling with you. In other words, will you paddle the canoe solo or with another person? While a beginner can paddle a canoe alone, it is often easier for inexperienced paddlers to paddle with another person in the boat. Of course many marriages have failed after only a short time out on the water in a canoe with one’s spouse.

Canoe Pros

  1. You can carry a lot of gear in a canoe.
  2. Two people can paddle one boat.
  3. Canoes are relatively stabile and don’t easily tip.
  4. You sit up higher in a canoe
  5. You stay drier in a canoe.

Canoe Cons

  1. It is more difficult to paddle with a canoe paddle.
  2. Canoes are not as maneuverable as a kayak.
  3. Canoes can take on water and sink.
  4. Canoes are difficult to steer in wind or current.
  5. Canoes are not used in the ocean or most open water scenarios. (see #3)

Renting Kayaks

Different types of kayaks might be offered for rental. There are recreational kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, touring kayaks, and sea kayaks, to name just a few. Recreational kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks can be rented by just about anyone. Touring and Sea kayaks are more narrow and tippier and therefore require some experience or a participant who is a little more daring.

Kayak Pros

  1. Kayaks are faster to paddle.
  2. Kayak paddles with their 2 blades are easier to use.
  3. Kayaks are more maneuverable.
  4. Kayaks don’t take on water as easily.
  5. Kayaks can be paddled in rougher conditions.

Kayak Cons

  1. Kayaks have limited room for gear.
  2. Kayaks typically only hold one person.
  3. You have limited mobility of your body in a kayak.
  4. Kayaks tip easier than a canoe.

Renting Standup Paddleboards

Standup paddleboards are the latest of the paddling rentals. Boards can vary in materials from plastic to fiberglass and are made for different abilities. Paddleboards are sized for weight and SUP paddles are contingent on paddler height. At least basic instruction is required to learn how to standup on the board and begin to paddle it.

Paddleboard Pros

  1. You are up high on a paddleboard and can see down into the water.
  2. Larger paddlers, paddlers with back problems, and paddlers who get cramped sitting in kayaks might find it more comfortable to paddle standing up.
  3. They’re great for surfing.
  4. When you tip over, you just climb back on.

Paddleboard Cons

  1. Balance and at least some coordination is required to standup on and paddle a paddleboard.
  2. Waves, wind, chop and current all make it difficult to paddle a paddleboard.
  3. Keeping a paddleboard tracking straight requires proper technique with using a paddle with only one blade.
  4. You will get wet while paddleboarding. Paddleboards don’t hold any gear.
  5. Paddleboards require instruction to get started.
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