Watercrafts such as speed boats are great for thrill seekers, but some outdoor adventurers like to take things slow so that they don’t miss a single thing. Sitting out on a peaceful lake with nothing but a fishing pole, a good book, or a friend is a perfect way to spend a summer day. Many consider these boats to be the original water vessel. They have a simple design so they can be used by almost anyone- young or old- and even those that have never stepped foot on any type of boat before. Now if you are in the market for one of these vessels than you probably have noticed that there is a variety of materials, features, and styles to choose from. Below we have you covered and will navigate you through finding the perfect one.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Feels very sturdy, even when standing up
- Sun Dolphin Scout Elite SS
- Old Town Discovery 119
- MYCANOE 2.5 Plus Origami
- Old Town Discovery 158
- Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
- Lifetime Kodiak
- Old Modern Handicrafts
- Grumman Solo
- Old Town Discovery Sport 15
- Grumman Square-Stern
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Canoes
1. Sun Dolphin Scout Elite SS
Feels very sturdy, even when standing up
Exterior scratches and dents easily
Sun Dolphin is making our list again with the Scout Elite SS. The difference between this design and the Sun Dolphin Mackinaw lie strictly in the specifics. This unit is smaller, lighter, and more affordable than the Mackinaw. It also has a few subtle design variances as well.Read more
Users can select from either hazelnut or navy blue for their color options. It has enough room to comfortably seat three people, although the center seat also serves as a cooler for storing iced beverages.
This unit weighs in at about 84 pounds, which lies somewhere in the middle of the road between the heavier and lighter options. It measures to be 14 feet- which is just a tad bit shorter than the Mackinaw making it easier to load and unload on the roof of your car. It has a weight capacity of an impressive 765 pounds, meaning you can really load it up with enough gear for an afternoon on the lake without worrying about performance issues or tipping.
The materials for the seats as well as the outer shell are the same. They are all constructed from a high-quality Fortiflex polyethylene hull that is coated with w UV protectant to keep the components from getting weak and brittle with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
By far, the Scout Elite SS is one of the most affordable options currently available out there on the market. It may be just a bit smaller than some of the other options out there, but it is made to handle like a tank out there on the water, making it an excellent deal for those looking to save some money.
If you feel like most of the designs out there on the market are just too expensive for your budget, the Scout Elite SS is worth taking a look. It has the backing of a trusted brand behind it, and users rave that it handles well and is easy to use.
2. Old Town Discovery 119
Made from durable, high-quality materials
Web seats are very comfortable
Easy to drive
The exterior scuffs and scratches easily
We loved this design because it is simple and strong, and it the perfect design for solo trips out on the water. The Discovery 119 doesn’t waste any resources on extemporaneous features or gimmicks, and the exterior shell can be described using one simple word: classic.Read more
Users can select from three basic colors- hunter green, camouflage, or fire engine red. It has a sleek and basic design that has a shallow hull for easy navigation.
This unit is fairly lightweight compared to many of the others out there on the market and weighs in at just shy of 50 pounds. It also measures to be about 11 feet long, which will make it just a bit easier to load up on the roof of your vehicle.
The most noteworthy takeaway of the Discovery 119 (or any Old Town Canoes & Kayaks product) is that they are built to last, and some users have even claimed that they feel virtually indestructible. It is made from a three-layer roto-molded polyethylene which should be able to last for many years before any maintenance is required. The interior is pretty basic and is made from a stretchy nylon web that is simple, but it is also very comfortable for those long rides.
For one seater, this unit has a price tag that is slightly higher than most, but considering how much users rave about the quality of this design, we feel that it is well worth the price point.
If you are a lone wolf looking for a great water vessel to take out on the middle of a quiet lake to spend the afternoon alone with only the sounds of nature surrounding you, this is an excellent choice that is built strong to last for many years.
3. MYCANOE 2.5 Plus Origami
Folds up to make it easy to store and transport
Comes with paddles
Easy to assemble in less than 10 minutes
Sometimes you want to take your boat down to the lake, but you just can't muster the energy to load it up on the roof of your car. That’s where the MYCANOE 2.5 Plus Origami design really shines- it is able to be folded up into about the size of a folding table, and carried down to the water using a shoulder strap. Keep in mind, however, that is unit is still pretty heavy, so it isn’t an idea for long treks down to the water without putting a strain on your shoulder and back.Read more
Users can select from one basic design choice- white with sky blue accents. The folding feature is where this unit really stands out from the rest and makes it the perfect design for those living in small apartments that do not have any additional storage for big and cumbersome boats.
This unit weighs in at about 52 pounds, which makes it one of the more lighter options out there on the market. However, users might really begin to feel those 52 pounds when it is hanging off of their shoulder as they make their way down to the water. It also measures in at 14 feet. It can hold up to three passengers and has a weight limit of 440 pounds (however 400 is preferred for maximum performance).
The shell of this unit is made from a high quality and durable polypropylene that has been treated with a UV protectant coating. Plus, there shouldn’t be any worries of the materials becoming weak with continuous folding and unfolding, because MYCANOE claims it is good for up to 20,000 folds.
With any type of clever innovation also comes at a higher price point. This unit has a price tag that is about double of what many other similar designs sell for. However, if you are living in a tight space that doesn’t have room to store a boat, this design is going to be well worth the padded price tag to get you out there on the water.
If you are in the market for something that is easy to store, easy to carry and offers a comfortable ride, this unit is going to be perfect for your needs if you are willing to pay the hefty price tag.
4. Old Town Discovery 158
Lightweight and easy to carry for one person
Comfortable webbed nylon seats
Exterior cam scratch and dent easily
Even though the names are very similar, there are some very major differences between the Discovery 158 and the Discovery Sport 15. This design from Old Town is a lot more easy to manage than the Sport 15. It is considerably more lightweight and can even be unloaded and carried down to the water with just one person.Read more
Users can select from two distinct color options that include olive green and camouflage. It has two webbed seats in the front and the back, and a handle in the middle that is designed to make it easier to carry.
What makes this unit so great is that it weighs just shy of 50 pounds, making it one of the lighter options to be found on this list. The lighter weight also makes it easier to unload and carry down to the water on solo trips. It measures to be 15.8 inches long end to end.
The nylon webbed seats are unique only to Old Town products and are perfect for wicking away moisture, as well as being incredibly comfortable on long rides. The exterior shell is made from roto-molded polyethylene which will provide users with years of enjoyment before requiring any maintenance.
What users love most about this design is the affordable price point. It isn’t the least expensive design out there on the market, but considering that it can hold 2.5 passengers and it light enough for just one person to carry makes it an incredible deal.
For users that want something that is light enough to take out of solo trips, but also has enough room for those times that you want to bring along a friend, the Discovery 158 is an excellent choice for your needs.
5. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw
Easy to navigate
2-year manufacturers warranty
Easy to load and carry down to the water
Can feel unstable when full
Sun Dolphin is another great brand that users have come to trust for high-quality gear. Unlike the previous design, this unit as a few extra features that will help you get the most out of your afternoon, and it also has a feature that makes it just a little bit easier to mount on your car to take to the lake.Read more
Users can select from three sharp colors that will look great in the water, and they include navy blue, hazelnut (which looks like a muted red), and green.
This is a great unit for the family because it can hold up to three passengers at a time. It weighs in at 95 pounds, which means that you might need a little bit of help loading it up and unloading. Its good news is that has a stern and bow eyelets to make it easy to tie it down, and handles to make it easy to carry down to the water. It measures in at 15.6 feet. What’s great about this model is that the center seat also serves as a cooler, and there are cup holders that are great for storing drinks as well as all of your important gear such as phones and keys.
The exterior shell is made from a hard polymer which will really hold up over time without the worry of rusting. The seats are also made from a hard plastic which may become a little uncomfortable on long trips.
What we love most about this design is that it is able to hold up to three passengers while still offering a very affordable price tag. In fact, this is one of the most affordable options out there on the market, and it also comes with a 2-year manufacturers warranty in case it doesn’t meet your expectations.
If you are in the market for something that will allow you to bring a few extra passengers for an afternoon of fishing or just spending time together out on the lake, this is a great option that comes in at a really affordable price point.
6. Lifetime Kodiak
Seats have backrests
Rod holders for fishing poles
Can't remove the middle seat
This is a great design that is simple, affordable, and durable. It has a few extra features that you might not find on many of the other designs out there on the market that make it just a little bit more comfortable for those long afternoons on the water.Read more
Users can only select from a fire engine red color for this model. It has three interior seats that beige with black backs.
This unit measures to be 13 feet long and weighs about 96 pounds- which makes it one of the heavier options out there on the market. Luckily, It comes with components on the bow and stern that make it easy to affix to the hood of your car and handles that make it easier to carry it down to the water. Users will also receive 2 paddles included with purchase.
The exterior is made from high-density Polyethylene that is coated with a UV protectant that will not only hold up in the water, but it will keep it from becoming brittle in the hot summer run. The seats, as well as the backrests, are also made from the same type of materials.
Users love that this design can hold three passengers that weigh up to 600 pounds, and it comes in at a really affordable price point. This is one of the more affordable options currently for sale.
If you are looking for something that is affordable but has a lot of extra features that are perfect for fishing or spending time with friends on the water for an afternoon, this is a great option that won’t break the bank.
7. Old Modern Handicrafts
There is something quite lovely and a little romance about classic old world designs. You won’t find a lot of wooden designs on the market much anymore, because they are expensive and very time consuming to make. We were drawn to this design because it looks like a piece of art floating in the water.Read more
What we loved most about this product is that is sports a classic handmade design that you won’t find with many of the other products out there on the market. It comes in once simple brightly treated wood exterior and interior.
Users can select from designs that measure to be 16 feet or 18 feet. Considering that it is made from wood, one would assume that it would weigh a ton- but you would be wrong. This unit weighs in at about 50 pounds. Plus, it can carry an impressive 550 pounds.
The materials used to make this design are quite different than anything else on the market. It uses Canadian red cedar wood which is known for being incredibly soft but still very strong. To preserve the wood in the water, it is coated with a layer of clear fiberglass.
Due to the fact that each product is skillfully handmade, you can expect a price tag that will likely knock your socks right off of your feet. This unit will set users back about three times the price that they would spend on basic polyurethane or aluminum designs. However, if you are looking for something classic and unique that will stand the test of time- this is well worth the high price.
For users that want something that is unique and special (and have the money to spend), you simply can’t go wrong with a hand made wooden canoe. We love how much attention was put into every little aspect of the design, and how sharp it looks coasting along the water.
8. Grumman Solo
Lightweight yet heavy carrying capacity
Durable- some users have stated they have used Grumman products for 20+ years
What we liked best about the Grumman is that it looks like a bullet traveling through the water. It has a sharp and modern design that users really respond to, and it is also built to easily glide through the water for a smoother ride.Read more
Users have the option of selecting one of many colors options available that include red, olive, hunter green, royal blue, or basic aluminum. Keep in mind, however, that colors that aren’t aluminum or olive come in at a higher price point.
This unit only weighs 44 pounds- making it one of the lighter options on the market, and it can handle up to 585 pounds- making this unit one of the lightest and strongest designs out there on the market. It can hold up to 2 adults, although it only has seating for one. It’s 12 feet long, which will make it easier to load up on the roof of your car.
The outside shell is made from materials that you don’t see on many of the other models. It is made from aluminum that is age-hardened aluminum (which means it is a little bit tougher than other basic aluminum alloys), which is also stretch-formed.
Due to all of the work that went into the detail and durability of this design, it comes in at one of the higher price points. However, if you want something that can really carry a lot of weight without weighing all that much itself, this is well worth the padded price tag.
Users love Grumman products because they know that they are getting a high-quality item. If you want to ensure that you purchase a product that is low maintenance and easy to drive, you will certainly benefit dishing out the extra cash to buy this superior product.
9. Old Town Discovery Sport 15
Can hold up to 1,600 pounds
Old Town is a great brand because they make high-quality gear that is simple, yet comfortable and easy to use. Users love the Discovery Sport 15 because it is able to hold up to 3 passengers, and it still offers that sleek and classic design. While this unit can really carry a lot of weight, it also is one of the more heavier designs out there on the market.Read more
Users can select the front two different color options that include camouflage and hunter green. It has webbed seats that are perfect for hot summer days, and are comfortable on long rides.
As we stated earlier, this is one of the more heavier options out there on the market weighing in at about 120 pounds. You will certainly need a little bit of help loading and unloading this design, but luckily it can seat three passengers and it can hold just over 1,600 pounds, which is about triple of what many other designs can hold. It measures to be 15 feet long, and users rave that it is incredibly stable.
The webbed seats are constructed from stretchy nylon that will wick away water, and will also help to stay cool even when under an oppressive summer sun. The shell is constructed from black vinyl gunwales.
Users can expect to pay about double of what some of the similar designs go for out there on the market. However, if you want something from a trusted company that is known for making high-quality products that will stand the test of time, this is well worth the padded price tag.
While it is quite a bit heavier than many of the mother models out there, it is built like a tank. Users can really load up the inside will all of the coolers and gear needed for an enjoyable afternoon without worrying about performance or tipping.
10. Grumman Square-Stern
Constructed from aircraft grade aluminum
Grumman is a name that is synonymous with high quality. This may be the last boat that you will ever need to buy in terms of quality, but it isn’t without its flaws. This option is incredibly expensive, and it is one of the heaviest designs we have found out there on the market.Read more
Users will have the option of selecting one of their many colors options that include red, green, blue, and olive. It is important to keep in mind that the red, green and blue options come at a higher price point than the basic olive option.
The bad news about this option is that it is one of the heaviest designs out there on the market. Users will certainly need to employ the help of a friend to load, unload, and carry this model down to the water. It weighs in at almost 140 pounds, and measures to be 17 feet long. The good news is that it is capable of holding about 875 pounds, which means you can load it up with all of the gear you will need for a nice day out on the lake without needing to head to the shoreline for supplies.
The reason that this unit is so heavy is that it is made from .05 thick 6016-T4 Aluminum. While this material makes for a heavier design, users feel that aluminum makes for the longest lasting designs.
The price of this design is one of the more expensive designs out there on the market. However, many users that have opted for Grumman aluminum designs in the past have used them for over 20 years without running into too many problems. Due to the rave reviews in terms of durability, we feel that this unit is well worth the price point.
If you want to buy one boat and be done with it, you can’t go wrong with a Grumman. The downside to this design is that it really isn’t made to be used by just one person considering the very heavy weight.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The last thing that you are going to want to do is spend money on a new design every few years. If you bite the bullet and dish out the extra money on a superior design from the start, you might not have to buy one ever again. What we noticed when conducting our research was the aluminum frames were typically the most durable. There were some reviews that we read that claimed that they had their aluminum designs for over 20 years. The downside to aluminum, however, if that it is often a lot heavier than other options. The next best option we found was polyethylene. This material is like a very hard plastic that is typically coated with a UV protectant to keep it from becoming brittle in the sun. This material might not last quite as long as aluminum, but it is typically more affordable and doesn’t weigh as much.
So you should consider where you will be using this canoe for a majority of your adventures and determine what material you would like your canoe to be dependent on where you will be using it. If you are planning on doing portaging you may want to go with a polyurethane canoe as it will be lightweight and won't be too heavy while portaging. If you are looking for something that you want to keep at the cottage and won't be carrying to often than look at aluminum.
If you intend on buying something that will hold up for years of nautical adventures, you want to make sure that it looks sharp. We made sure to select designs that offered more than one color options (most brands offered general colors such as green, red, and blue). We also wanted to make sure that we selected designs that were not only sharp, but that also had a shape that would allow it to cut through water easily. Typically, narrow canoes were made to cut the ware more quickly, which will allow the user to generate more speed. For us, it was more important to select designs that were just a little bit wider to promote stability. They might not move as quickly through the water, but they will be less likely to tip over if you like to stand up while fishing.
As with any other type of gear, we like features that will make life a little bit easier. Sun Dolphin is an excellent example of providing extra features. Their models not only offer things such as a cup holder and places to put your keys and phone, but the center seat on almost all of their designs opens up to be a built-in cooler. Features such as this make it easy to be out on the water all day without the need to head to the shoreline to load up on supplies. We also liked Old Town’s use of a webbed nylon seat. These seats are perfect for long rides because they are soft, limit the number of pressure points, and will dry quickly if they become wet.
There was a fine line that we walked in the cost department. While we wanted to ensure that we selected products that were affordable, we also wanted to include some of the higher end designs- such as those constructed from aluminum- that would truly stand the test of time. It’s important to note that if you want to buy a good quality boat that will leave you on top of the water instead of beneath it- you are going to have to dish out a pretty decent chunk of change when looking into investing in a canoe.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Buying a canoe is quite an investment, so it’s important that you take into consideration all of the things that are important to you. Be sure to check the weight of each product to ensure that it will be light enough to carry on your own if you are the type that likes to recharge your batteries alone out of the water. If durability is something that is important to you, aluminum frames are going to be the way to go. Many users that buy aluminum typically have no need to buy another boat ever again. If carrying capacity is something that is important because you require a lot of fishing gear, be sure to check out how much weight it can support before making your purchase.
Other Factors to Consider
The type of design that you decide upon will all depend on what you intend to use it for. If you are more inclined to strap it to the roof of your car and head out for a solo trip on the water to take a break from all of the people that are making you crazy, you will want to first and foremost check out how much the unit weighs. Some are designed to be carried down to the water by two people- one at the front and one at the back. If you intend on loading your boat up with coolers, picnic baskets and fishing gear for an entire day on the water, you certainly want to look at the weight capacity. Some boats can only hold up to about 400 pounds, while others can hold almost 4 times that amount.
This is something important that we looked at because heavier designs often mean that users are a little bit more limited in the products use. While going out on the lake with some friends might seem like fun, you might have a day where you just want to pack up your fishing gear and head out on your own. If you have a boat that is too heavy to load up solo, it might mean that your planned getaway will be foiled. That’s why we tried to include designs that were fairly lightweight without sacrificing carrying capacity and durability. As we stated earlier, polyethylene is a great material for being affordable, holding a lot of weight, but still being relatively lightweight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Besides the differences in their basic design, the main difference between the two is based on how the user sits in the unit. For a kayak, the user sits inside, whereas with these products users typically kneel on the base, or they sit on a raised seat. Kayaks have a paddle with dual blades on each end to promote speed, and these products typically only utilize a paddle with one blade. Kayaks typically only hold one traveler, and there usually isn’t a whole lot of additional space for gear. These products often have a massive weight capacity not only for additional gear but for multiple passengers. To put it more simply- kayaks were designed to travel fast, whereas canoes are made for a more leisurely pace.
If you have ever stumbled across an abandoned house in the woods, it more than likely had an upside boat sitting in the driveway, and that boat was most likely made of aluminum. Like more aluminum products (such as aluminum siding on houses) it gained massive popularity after World War 2. It was a metal alloy that was incredibly affordable to manufacture, and it was very durable as well. Almost all of these types of boats that were manufactured after the war were aluminum, and some are still out there on the water to this very day. The reason that you don’t see as many out on the water as you used to is the same reason that vinyl siding has replaced aluminum on newer homes. Aluminum is just far too expensive to manufacture today. Most of the products you will find on the market are made from hard plastic- which is also considered to be very durable as well as lightweight and affordable. For those that simply will not venture from their classic aluminum designs, there are still some companies that make them, they are just set at a much higher price point.
Most users that select these types of boats for leisurely afternoons or for fishing will benefit from a wider design. If a design is narrow, that means that it is designed more for speed because they can easily cut right through the water without much resistance. The downside to speed is that you lose a lot of stability, which will make you more prone to tipping. If you want to load up your boat with coolers and fishing gear, and want to minimize the risk of tipping over as much as you can- the wider models will be more beneficial to your needs.
Sometimes, these things happen. In the event that it flips over, the most important thing to will need to keep on you is your composure. Keeping calm in the event of something going wrong is always the key to success. Once you have collected yourself, make an attempt to try and flip it back over. If you cannot seem to make it happen, simply swim the vessel back to the shoreline where you will be able to push it onto dry land. Once your boat and all of the passengers are safe and accounted for, that is the time that you try and retired your gear. It is important that all of the gear be your last priory in the event of a flip because your life and the status of your boat is the most important part. Gear is often more replaceable than your life or your boat.
Unless is it specifically stated, most of these models don’t come equipped with a paddle. So, how do you go about picking out the right paddle for you? For these types of boats, you will want to select a design that has just one blade on the end (dual blades are designed for kayaks). Typically, you will need to take into consideration your height, plus the seated distance between you and the water. You will have the option of selecting a wooden design or a synthetic design. Wooden options are more classic, and typically run up a higher price tag. Synthetic models are generally more durable and affordable, but they have a less romantic look about them.
Unless you are apart of the lucky few that have a body of water on their property or within walking distance, you might have to contend with the dilemma of getting your boat to the water. If you are concerned about taking it for long distances, inventing in a kayak rack is a great way to ensure that is snug and secure on the roof of your car. However, if you are just traveling a few miles away and have some jumper cables, most brands have eyelets on the stern and bow of their products to allow users to affix it to their car with cables and ropes.