Buying Canoes for Your Family

Going out and gliding across a quiet lake or lazy river is a fun way to bond with your loved ones and enjoy family time in an exciting way. Canoeing is a very enjoyable and exciting activity for all ages – whether young kids to even older adults. You get to enjoy a serene view and fresh air while getting fit as you paddle the boat. Canoes offer a fun and easy way to glide through calm waters.

If you want to ride your canoe regularly, or if you want to buy one to let your family ride with you, you need to consider a canoe that’s great for your needs.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Canoe

Here are some things you’d want to consider before buying a canoe:

1. Type of canoe

The type of canoe you will choose will depend on your paddling plans, especially where you want to paddle. Canoes are categorized into its purpose, such as the following:

  • Recreational canoes

Recreational canoes are easy to paddle and are perfect for flatwater paddling. These canoes are stable, easy to control and hard to flip over. It’s ideal for leisurely cruising, fishing, birding and photography.

  • River canoes

For those who prefer the challenge of cruising running rivers and whitewater rapids, river canoes are the most appropriate. River canoes are abrasion- and impact-resistant and has high sides so you prevent splashes from entering the boat.

  • Multi-purpose canoes

Multi-purpose canoes are versatile and are built to handle calm waters to whitewater rapids. These canoes offer greater maneuverability and more capacity than recreational boats. These are designed to handle extended trips and big loads.

2. Size of canoe

Before buying a canoe, the first thing you’ll decide on is its size. The larger than canoe, the heavier it becomes, which makes it harder to portage. It’s also important to think about where the water access points are so that you can be sure that your canoe will fit in places you want it to. A long and large canoe may not be great for narrow rivers.

First, consider the length. Usually, popular canoes range around 15 to 17 foot long. Canoes these long are easy to maneuver and offer a good combination of speed, carrying capacity and manageability. Longer canoes are better for paddling over long distances, especially when you got them up to speed. For long touring trips, boats longer than 17 feet long offer better stability. Meanwhile, shorter canoes weigh less and are generally the easiest to maneuver and transport. These can take you to places where bigger boats won’t fit.

The width of the boat is also something to look at. Generally, the wider the boat, the more stable it becomes. The narrower the boat, the easier it is to paddle. Narrow boats are usually more “tippy,” but they are lighter and easier to keep steady.

Lastly, check the depth of the boat. In canoes, depth is the distance between the bottom of the boat to the gunwales or side rails. Depth also refers to the tallness of the boat, and the taller it is, the better it is in keeping water out. Depth also increases carrying capacity. However the taller the boat, the more it becomes affected by the wind.  You might also need to consider a canoe rack for pickup truck as well.

3. Weight

The weight of a canoe is also an important factor, since you want your canoe to be easy to carry to your destination. Usually, canoes are capable of holding between 1 to 4 paddlers. You should always look at the weight capacity of the canoe and consider your potential passengers if you will all fit in the weight limit.

4. Seats

As mentioned earlier, canoes generally can handle 1 to 4 people. If you have a small family, one regular canoe will be enough. But if you all plan to canoe together, then you might consider a longer canoe. Or you can simply take your kids one by one for a more intimate parent-child time together.

To make sure you’re buying a comfortable canoe, take a look at the seats. Different canoes will use different materials like wood, metal, plastic or foam to make the seats. It’s also very important to consider what you’re most comfortable at, and what looks best durable for you. The most comfortable ones are made with foam, which does not only add softness, but also as a flotation device to help your canoe stay afloat if ever you capsize.

5. Space for motor

If you want to go faster and in case you won’t feel like paddling, you must consider a canoe with a square back. This will allow you to mount a motor to the canoe which can use a stroll around the lake faster.

Best Canoes for Family Use

Where to Buy
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6 foot Double-Ended
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS 15.6-Foot Canoe
Old Town Rogue River 154 Recreational Square Stern Canoe
Old Town Discovery 158 Recreational Canoe
Old Town Sport 15 Recreational Canoe
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo
MYCANOE Origami Folding Canoe


For taking your family (or members of your family) to stroll the waters, here are some of the best ones to consider:

1. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6 foot Double-Ended

This one’s a great family canoe that can fit three people, with the right amount of space for three people to climb in and paddle together. It’s a double-ended canoe made of UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

This boat is perfect for leisure flatwater cruising, like during lazy summer days when you just want to relax in the quiet waters. It comes with drink holders for every seat, and a durable and dry storage compartment under the middle seat. These makes snacking out in the water while leisurely paddling away more convenient. There are also bow and stern tie-down eyelets and built in transport handles. It also comes with a rugged rubrail to make the boat hard-wearing for more inexperienced or clumsy paddlers. It’s available in two color choices: hazelnut and navy.


  • Seats three people
  • Storage compartment and cooler
  • Drink holders in every seat
  • Reasonable price
  • Two-year manufacturer’s warranty


  • It’s double-ended, so it’s hard to pack a motor
  • Not very agile
  • Slow to paddle

2. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS 15.6-Foot Canoe

This other unit from Sun Dolphin is a square-end version of the first one. This is a better choice if you want a canoe that can travel fast, since you can mount an electric trolling motor with this unit (motor not included). This canoe has a hull made of rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex polyethylene hull. Three people can sit at the same time in this canoe with a weight capacity of 800 lbs. But it’s lightweight at only 95 lbs., making it portable and easy to put in the water. The boat has a length of 15.6 feet, so it easy to maneuver and paddle.

Great convenience features like cup holders, dry storage and cooler under the middle seats come with this unit. It also has built-in rod holders by the side, which is ideal for fishing. The holders on seats on the either side can be used to store fishing gear. This canoe is ideal for giving you and your family a great time in the water and a great chance for catching a fish. You can choose from three colors: green, hazelnut and navy.


  • Seats three people
  • Storage compartment and cooler
  • Drink holders in every seat
  • Built-in rod holder
  • Just the right size
  • Handles on sides make it easy to haul around
  • Two-year warranty


  • Cannot fit a full-size motor; only works with a trolling motor

3. Old Town Rogue River 154 Recreational Square Stern Canoe

From the oldest and largest manufacturer of kayaks and canoes in the world, this boat is reliable for family use. It has a decent size and a lot of storage space for storing family meals, personal items, first aid kits and more. It can sit up to three people. It has a square stern that can fit small outboard motors up to 4 horsepower, so you can reach remote spots in a matter of minutes. This canoe isn’t massive and is great for smaller passengers, perfect for hanging out with your kids. This small size makes it easy to move around in the water. Its polyethylene hull adds durability and makes it able to take a beating.

This boat has a molded storage tray along with a water-resistant hatch and a drink holder in the middle seat. It has sufficient leg room and provides enough space for three people to paddle without worrying about hitting the person in front or behind them. If you’re going to fish with this canoe, you will find the integrated cooler useful in keeping your fish fresh even if you’re in the water all day.


  • Seats three people
  • Built-in cooler
  • Drink holders
  • Square back that can mount a motor
  • Water-resistant hatch and molded storage
  • Contoured bow and stern seats for comfort


  • Comes only in green

4. Old Town Discovery 158 Recreational Canoe

Another reliable canoe from Old Town, this canoe is a perfect all-rounder. It’s designed to be steady, durable, stable and easy-to-handle. This boat is intended for two paddlers on a day trip on calm waters. There are no under-the-seat storage like the other models mentioned in this list, but there are two comfortable, breathable and durable nylon web seats that will support you for all-day cruising. It comes with an ash thwart to provide rigidity while giving a kneeling paddler something to lean against.

The best thing about this canoe is it’s built to last. The three layer polyethylene hull of this boat is designed to take some beating, and the gunwales are made of sturdy black vinyl. You can transport the canoe with the help of handles molded to the end caps. This boat is 15’8” long and 87 lbs. light. You can buy it in camo, green or red.


  • Durable construction built to last long
  • Comfortable nylon web seats that allow air to flow freely
  • Ash thwart
  • Lifetime hull warranty


  • Seats only two people
  • Doesn’t come with built-in storage
  • Expensive

5. Old Town Sport 15 Recreational Canoe

This canoe has three seats, but it can handle up to 1650 lbs., so you can squeeze in people into seats or on the floor. It can fit up to four people, especially when you’re canoeing with your kids. But if the boat is not packed with people, it offers ample space for a lot of gear, especially if you plan to go fishing.  It has comfortable web nylon seats and a square stern that can be mounted with a motor.

This canoe is also made of three-layer polyethylene frame that makes it very durable, with vinyl gunwales and easy-carrying handles. The handle makes it easy to bring anywhere. It’s a great canoe for a recreational stroll into the waters, and for camping out.


  • Seats up to 4 people
  • Durable construction built to last long
  • Square back that can mount a motor
  • Comfortable nylon web seats that allow air to flow freely
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Doesn’t come with built-in storage
  • Expensive

6. Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Canoe Combo

Looking for a cheap yet reliable canoe? This inflatable, 2-person canoe is a good choice. Yes, it only fits two (and it may mean romantic dates by the lake with your spouse), but it’s fully packed with amazing features. First of all, it’s fully inflatable and made from heavy-duty PVC with rugged polyester cover. Since it’s inflatable, it’s easy to pack if you plan to go camping or going out of town. It comes with its own carry bag. You don’t need to worry about air, because it also comes with a pump and a pressure gauge as well.

This boat has an airtight system that guarantees no leaks. If ever a puncture occurs, the multiple air chambers prevent the canoe from completely collapsing. The Boston valve is double-threaded for easy inflation and deflation. It offers comfortable seating that allows you to adjust the seats to suit your height. This boat is an entry-level canoe recommended for people who plan to use it occasionally.


  • Inflatable and portable
  • Affordable
  • Heavy-duty PVC construction
  • Comes with carry bag, pump, pressure gauge and two paddles
  • No leak guarantee
  • Multiple air chambers
  • 1 year warranty


  • Only seats two people
  • Needs assembly and pumping
  • When wind is blowing from both sides, it may affect direction

7. MYCANOE Origami Folding Canoe

If there’s an inflatable canoe, there is a foldable one. This is the best folding canoe you can ever find. The origami folding system of this boat is a product of modern technology. It can be folded up into a big suitcase that can fit most car trunks, and then assembled into a boat in 10 minutes. Once unfolded, the canoe stretches 14 feet and has two seats. The amazing thing about this canoe is that nothing is left behind – the carrying case is also part of the canoe. The crafting of this boat is just brilliant. The portability of this canoe helps protect it during transportation, so you don’t have to buy a roof rack or hire a trailer truck for hauling your canoe.

This canoe is big enough to fit three adults or two adults and two children. It is made out of polypropylene that is highly durable. It has a 15-year UV treatment and the folding system is rated for 20,000 folds. The slim profile of this boat allows you to travel fast as you paddle.


  • Seats three people
  • Foldable and portable
  • Lightweight
  • Can withstand 20,000 folds
  • Easy to transport as it folds into a size of a suitcase
  • Durable and safe


  • Needs assembly
  • Not great for rough water conditions
  • Not as durable as solid canoes
  • Expensive

If Canoeing isn’t your primary interest you might want to check out kayaking.  Make sure you have all the proper equipment like kayak paddles for example.