How To Choose A Canoe

If you're making plans to take your family camping at a lake this summer, you might be tinkering with the idea of adding a canoe to the family fun. Before you commit to one of these smooth-gliding watercraft, you're going to have to figure out what size and style is best for your family.

From smallest to largest, the three general canoe sizes are: recreational, wilderness tripping and expedition. Let's start with a recreational canoe. At 13-16 feet long, this smaller canoe is perfect for tooling around a lake or taking a relaxing ride down a slow- moving river. It's ideal for giving canoeing a try. The wilderness tripping canoe is the next size up. This mid-size craft is about 15-18 feet long. This extra length increases carrying capacity which allows it to carry a cooler, tent or sleeping bags for a short trip into the wild. This increased size also adds enough stability to challenge choppier or swifter-moving waters.

Even though the wilderness tripping canoe is larger, it's still light enough to portage when you have to. The largest size, the expedition canoe, typically ranges from 18-20 feet long. Just like it sounds, this canoe can take on the most people, the largest weight, and therefore can hold the kind of cargo you need to go on a multi-day canoe trip. It's also the most stable and best at handling choppy waters.

So if you're thinking about putting paddles in your family's hands this summer, just consider the size of the adventures you're thinking of, then find a canoe that can make them happen.