Canoe, Kayak or Canadier – Where is the difference?

Canoe, Kayak or Canadier – Where is the difference?

Are they all synonyms? Not really. In everyday language we say canoe and kayak and most of us don’t really know what a canadier is. A canadier is what we understand when we think of a canoe. And canoe is actually the general term for both boat types, kayak and canadier.

To keep it simple, we will stick in the following with the common terms canoe and kayak. For both types we use a paddle in order to move forward and to navigate. Depending on the model, kayaks and canoes can be used for bathing fun, water sports, fishing and long distance trips.

Difference between canoe and kayak

The image and table above give you a short overview of both boat types. In addition to that,  we would like to go into greater detail on particular aspects and tell you for which use a kayak and canoe may be better. If you should be still unsure after reading this article, we highly recommend you to stop by a local specialized store or to try both at a boat rental.

Kanu Kajak Unterschied

Single-blade paddle
Double-blade paddle
Boat shape
comfortable tours
sporty tours
Seat position
kneeling or sitting
deep sitting
mostly closed
Luggage load
Price range
middle – high
low – high


For a canoe you will use a single blade paddle. The paddle technique with a single paddle is a bit more difficult to learn, in particular when paddling alone. Therefore, there exists canoes for 2 or more persons. A canoe is normally completely open, which means that it doesn’t have any deck as splash guard. But there are some canoes that come with a little deck at the stern and bow. When paddling, the paddler is sitting or deep kneeling. It has a lot of space for luggage.

For a kayak you use a double blade paddle. This means, that it is perfect for everybody who prefers paddling alone.  Moreover, a kayak comes in most cases with a splash guard. The paddler is always sitting in the boat and the seat position is much deeper than in a canoe. So, in kayak you are much better protected from splashing water. Thanks to its flatter and smaller shape, a kayak is much faster and more wind-resistant than a canoe. However, it has less luggage load possibilities and loading is a bit more complicated. That’s why most kayaks come with a luggage strap on the bow and stern, in order to attach properly your luggage.

Which boat type is the best for me?

It depends on what you would like to do with your boat. If you are planning long tours and the daily travelled distance doesn’t really matter to you, then a canoe might be the inflatable boat for you. It has go much more space for luggage such as for camping equipment. Moreover, an inflatable canoe is the more family friendly boat since it is quite easier to get in and out. It is ideal for paddling on rivers and lakes.

If you like it a bit more sporty, then an inflatable kayak is the right choice for you. It’s small shape makes it much faster and at the end of the day you reach longer distances. Most of the good inflatable kayaks come with a splash guard, which protects you from water when paddling through challenging water conditions. For everybody who enjoys being outside on his own a kayak is just perfect. Depending on the model, it is the ideal boat for paddling on the coast, on rivers and lakes as well as on wild water. For a paddle beginner, we would recommend you an inflatable kayak since there are already good models for an affordable price. The paddle technique is easy to learn and in inflatable kayaks are much lighter.

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