Home Kayaks The Best Canoe for Your Family Buying Guide

The Best Canoe for Your Family Buying Guide

If you have a quiet river or lake near you, and you really want to float slowly and glide swiftly together with your family, then you need to try using a canoe. Canoes give your family a fun and easy way of experiencing the outdoors.

Modern canoes have refined designs and materials that have developed over the years, but still, evoke the memories of the boats used by early wilderness explorers.

This article gives you information on the buying guide, YouTube videos and reviews of the best 5 canoes for families.

Quick Top 5  Family Canoes;

*Keep reading for the fulling buying guide or jump straight to the reviews!

The Best Canoe for Your Family Buying Guide

Considering your paddling plans

When choosing a canoe for your family, you should ask yourself the following questions:

What kind of paddling does your family like – flat water touring, whitewater paddling, general recreation or river touring?

What type of trips does your family prefer - weekend tours, day trips or week-long excursions?How many people in your family do you paddle with?

Will you bring more or less gear along with you?

Choosing a canoe type

Recreational canoes: They are perfect for flat water as they are easy and fun to paddle. Ideal for photography, birding, fishing and general paddling because they are easy to control and do not flip over easily. Compared to other types of canoes, they are agile and stable.

Versatile/multipurpose canoes: These types of canoes are built to handle everything from white-water rivers to calm lakes. If you have a big family and want to maneuver around the lake or river, this could be the type of canoe for you. They are designed for extended trips and to handle more gear compared to recreational boats.

River canoes: If you enjoy the tough challenges presented by running rapids and rivers, this canoe is specifically designed for you. Confirm with your family though before you take them paddling. The high sides deflect splashes making them abrasion- and impact-resistant. To enhance maneuverability, these types of canoes have lots of rockers, that is, end-to-end curvature.


To determine the carrying capacity and best use of any canoe, you need to understand the length, width and depth.

Length: The most popular canoes are in the range of 16 feet to 17 feet. They feature a good combination of manageability, speed and carrying capacity. Longer canoes go for longer distances and are easy to paddle when you get them up to speed.

They hold more gear and stay on course. Shorter canoes are easier to maneuver, transport, less affected by wind and weigh less. Due to their size, shorter boats will take you to places longer boats can’t such as inlets and narrow streams.

If you are planning a longer touring trip, find yourself a canoe that is longer than 17 feet for stability purposes.

Width: Narrow boats are more efficient and easy to paddle while wider boats are more stable. Narrow boats are lighter and easy to keep them on a steady track, but they are slightly tippy.

Depth: The distance between the bottom of the canoe and side rails is referred to as depth. Deep boats will enable you to increase capacity because they have tall sides that help keep the water out. However, this type of canoe with taller sides is easily affected by wind. Shallow boats, on the other hand, are not affected by wind but they let water in easily.

Other Design Features to Consider

Initial Stability means when a canoe is resting on flat water, it is stable while Secondary Stability means that a canoe in rough water resists tipping.

Hull shape: The differences in the hull shapes of canoes is subtle, therefore, it can be hard to categorize a canoe. However, there are 4 general hull shapes you can consider.

They include:

For initial stability, flat-bottom canoes are great. For general canoeing fun and flat water paddling, these canoes are perfect. Since little of the hull is below the water line, flat-bottom canoes can easily turn and when fully loaded they can be slow.

Rounded-bottom canoes offer great secondary stability and less initial stability. In rough conditions, they are slow to tip and are designed for efficiency and speed in water. Specialized, high-performance canoes have this feature.

Shallow-arch bottom canoes give a compromise between rounded and flat bottoms. They have a good secondary stability and decent initial stability. They stay on track better and more efficient in water compared to flat-bottom canoes.

V-bottom hulls have a highly pronounced centreline than the shallow-arch bottoms. They offer a good combination of initial and secondary stability with better maneuverability and tracking compared to shallow-arch canoes.

Rocker: This refers to the amount of upward curve from end to end in the hull of the canoe. Canoes with a lot of rockers are easier to maneuver and turn, but when paddling it is hard to keep them on track. On the other hand, canoes with less or no rocker are easy to keep them on track and move faster. Most canoes will fall between the two.

Side shape: If you are paddling with heavy loads, consider canoes with sides that flare out since they offer greater stability and shed waves. Canoes with inward curving ‘tumblehome’ sides can easily let water in when paddling through rougher water conditions but make it easy to reach the water. Canoes with more tumblehome have reduced secondary stability.

Freeboard: This is the distance between side rails and the water line. Higher freeboard will keep you dry in waves and wind but makes you vulnerable to side winds. Lower freeboard will have the opposite effect.

Entry line: This is the shape of the canoe’s hull that cuts through the water. For better speed and easier paddling consider a canoe with sharp entry lines because it slices through the water efficiently. Blunt bows keep the water from slipping over the gunwales and are perfect for rough-water paddling.

Considering the material

The best material provides a balanced combination of strength, weight and cost. It is easy to transport and maneuver a lighter canoe. Long-lasting canoes are normally heavy. You should know what is important to you and your family. 

The following are some of the characteristics of canoe materials:

  • CrossLink3
  • PolyLink3
  • Fiberglass
  • Kevlar
  • Royalex
  • Royalex Lightweight (R-Light)

The Extras

Number/position of seats: Find a canoe that has the number of seats to fit your family members. The seats in the canoes should enable you to sit low enough for stability and high enough to enable kneeling.

Type of seats: Canoe seats can be a woven cane, woven plastic or solid plastic. You should choose one that is comfortable for you.

Thwarts: These are struts that brace the sides of the canoe to provide stability, support and shape. They can be made from wood, fiberglass or aluminum.

Gunwales: These are the side rails that run along the top edges of the canoe to provide a good place to grab. They should be strong and smooth to protect your hands and paddles from wear.

The Best Canoe for Family

MYCANOE is an award-winning, performance origami, a foldable canoe that you can store in your closet and fits in your small sedan.

You will enjoy the canoeing experience with your family using this canoe. MYCANOE is a patented folding canoe that you can carry with you to all your adventures because it is lightweight as it weighs 52lbs.

In 10 minutes, it turns into a beautiful Canadian canoe and folds back in 5 minutes. It is 14.4 feet long with two seats perfect for sharing with family for a quick water trip. The carrying covers which are two pieces are used on the floor, meaning you carry everything with you to the water.

The marine-grade custom polypropylene body has been subjected to a 15 year UV treatment to enable it to withstand 20,000 folds. MYCANOE will still float in the event of capsizing, so no need to worry.

For added stability, MYCANOE has an optional stabilizer kit and the Plus model comes with a rowing system and a pair of oars. For the safety of your family and you, MYCANOE’s TUV performance and quality assurance tests are certified.


  • Folds easily into a compact suitcase.
  • It is sturdy and durable.
  • It is unique.


  • Can be expensive.
  • The fold can break easier than the traditional canoes.

This canoe is constructed with a super durable three-layer roto-molded polyethylene to ensure that you have years of worry free service. It has contoured seats with backrests that are adjustable for the comfort of your family and yours.

This 160 Recreational canoe has black vinyl gunwales that are durable and an ash center carrying yoke. The 86 pounds canoe features a comfortable molded handles, line easy-cleat and an anchor system mounting point.


  • It is durable.
  • The backrests and handles make it comfortable.


  • Can be expensive

This is a recreational canoe ideal for the family with a comfortable seating of three. It is a longer canoe meaning it has more space. It has a cooler and storage compartment under the center seat enabling you to carry snacks and drinks to your canoeing journey.

It has drink holders molded into every seat. This canoe features a built-in transport handles and a bow and stern tie-down eyelets.


  • Great value for your money.
  • It is stable and durable.
  • It has a dry storage and cooler compartments.
  • You can place your drinks on the drink holders.
  • It has a lightweight design that makes it easier to portage.
  • Comes with a two-year warranty.


  • It is slow to paddle.
  • It is not very agile.
  • It does not have foam seats which make it a little uncomfortable.

This canoe is designed for a solo use and suitable for paddling using a double-bladed paddle. It is efficient and lightweight. For years of worry-free service, the 49pounds Discovery 119 Solo Canoe is constructed with a durable three-layer roto-molded polyethylene.

The nylon web seats are durable and comfortable. The black vinyl gunwales are durable and the hull characteristics include shallow arch bottom and straight rocker sides.


  • Ample storage space.
  • It is lightweight making it easy for you to carry around.
  • Its construction and seats are durable making it ideal for when you are hunting and moving around in the canoe.
  • It is fast and comfortable.
  • It is perfect for trips.


  • It cannot handle rapids.
  • It heavily relies on your experience to track well.
  • You cannot use a motor for this canoe as there is no square end for mounting.

With a sleek design, this canoe looks modern and comes in a variety of colors. This canoe uses a single or double bladed paddle and is easy to maneuver and glides efficiently. Weighing only 44 pounds, Grumman Solo Canoe has a generous carrying capacity.

It is tough as nails and designed to last and perform well with the hand-crafted, special age-hardened, stretch-formed aluminum alloy which is stronger than the traditional alloys. Its durability will take you through all types of water while remaining light.


  • It is extremely durable.
  • It is fast and great when tracking straight.
  • It is lightweight.
  • Its length makes it agile.


  • High price.
  • Not suitable for narrow streams and rivers.


Family canoeing provides really memorable experiences for both younger and older family members. To ensure you are able to maximize the enjoyment of the experience, it is crucial you reference the buying-guide to purchase the most suitable canoe for your family.


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