best canoe

Finding the best canoe can be a tough job because of the many options available now. That’s why we have created this best canoe buying guide and review so that we can help you come up with an educated buying decision.

This review will highlight the best canoes that are available on the market for 2017. The features, performance, advantages, and disadvantages will also be presented, allowing you to make comparison easier.

This post is quite long so we also prepared a comparison table of the top canoes of 2017 so that you can use it just in case you don’t have the time to read the entire post.

Best Canoes 2017 Review

1. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Discovery 133

The Discovery 133 model from Old Town Canoes is known for its amazing features, sturdy built, as well as smooth rides. It is built for recreational purposes, offering effortless rowing to canoeists, both beginners and professionals.

Whether you want to ride your canoe for fishing, hunting or water sports, the Discovery 133 will certainly give you that one-of-a-kind experience. It consumes less space, and very easy to carry, perfect even for out-of-town canoeing trips.

One of the drawbacks encountered by users is that this canoe can be slightly heavier than it actually looks. However, this weight difference is not really significant, as it can still perform all the needed tasks of a canoe.

Design, Features and Performance

By incorporating modern technology in its design, Discovery 133 is efficient and lightweight. It is constructed using a three layered polyethylene roto-molding. The canoe’s nylon web seats are also very easy and comfortable as you row your way into the water.

This canoe can be paddled in solo or tandem. For solo canoeing, it can be paddled from the center seat. On the other hand, for tandem canoeing, paddling can be done from the bow and stern seats. It is indeed a reliable choice for its flexibility and strength.

It is no doubt a good choice when taking into consideration strength, flexibility, effortless adjustment, as well as easy manageability. Its wide beam and keel design for the three-layer hull manufacture are what is needed for maximum stability.


  • Equipped with soft nylon web seaters
  • Huge comfortable sitting center
  • Easy to grip handles
  • Manufactured using three-layer durable polyethylene


  • Can be heavier compared to its looks, and other types

2. Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe

If you are looking for a canoe that does not just focus on safety, but also an amazing experience overall, you have the Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe as your best choice. It has been designed with amazing features; a quality that is a standard among Sun Dolphin canoes.

One reason why this canoe is a standout is because it is a motor-based equipment. This means that you no longer have to tire yourself with paddling. Even though the motor is not exactly attached to the canoe, you can use an electric trolling motor that comes with a durable transom.

However, the detachment of the motor can also turn out to be a drawback for this model. This means that you still have to spend some time in attaching it, making sure that it is done in a secure way. However, this has to be done in order to experience the ease later on.

Design, Features and Performance

The Sun Dolphin Scout SS Canoe offers a perfect balance with perfect control and grip. This also offers an optimal tracking and stability features while canoeing. According to design, the Scout is manufactured using high-density and strong polyethylene hull.

It comes with a size of 14 feet, while it was also launched originally with a size of 15.6 feet. It has a capacity maximum for three passengers as well, while still ensuring comfort among the riders. The Scout itself is lightweight, which means that it can be transported easily, perfect for out-of-town canoeing trips.

Since the attachment of the motor is optional for extra speed, you can choose whether you just want to paddle and enjoy silence at its best. However, if you need to use your canoe for other purposes which requires speed, attaching the motor can also be a good idea.


  • A motor can be attached for extra speed
  • Long-lasting and highly durable
  • Optimal tracking and stability
  • Offers perfect control


  • Some find it burdensome to attach the motor everytime

3. Grumman Solo Canoe

The Grumman solo is a canoe that is very easy to maneuver, efficiently gliding using either a single or double bladed paddle. This means that you have the option which type of paddle to use, according to your preferences and needs.

The 129 is a stable canoe option. It handles really well, turning and leaning nicely. It even tracks way better than what is expected with a solo canoe made of aluminum and equipped with traditional ends.

With its basic solo features, the Grumman canoe may not be well recommended for a long distance, and tandem canoeing. However, if you are looking for the basic solo canoe features, this option from Grumman is a good choice.

Design, Features and Performance

The Grumman Solo canoe weighs only 44 pounds, which means that it is designed to be very light, yet having quite a generous carrying capacity. It is also built tough, and designed to perform and last for a long time use.

The overall durability of this canoe is all thanks to its hand-crafted manufacturing using an especially designed stretch-formed, age-hardened aluminum alloy that is relatively stronger compared to standard alloys.

The 129 is a stable canoe option. It handles really well, turning and leaning nicely. It even tracks way better than what is expected with a solo canoe made of aluminum and equipped with traditional ends.


  • Easy to use
  • Wind neutral
  • Short, maneuverable canoe for solo trips
  • Made of durable aluminum


  • The use of aluminum in this body is unfamiliar to many

4. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Saranac 146

The Saranac 146 model from this manufacturer is designed with family and recreational use in mind. There is enough room for canoeists, with a high load capacity. It is all effective for fishing, as it comes with hold holders as well as a polyethylene hull, which are very durable.

There are several features that make this canoe a standout against the rest. One is its price. It is relatively affordable compared to others, such as actual boats. At the same time, while it is similar in length with other heavier canoes, the Saranac is relatively lighter at only 80 pounds. This is because of its thermo-formed polyethylene hull construction.

However, this canoe is not really well-suited for beginners, as well as young users, because it has the tendency to be unstable. Still, for experienced users, this is a great option because of its features and overall performance.

Design, Features and Performance

This canoe is designed as a mini-boat, which has the capacity to carry a maximum of 750 pounds. It comes with storage trays, seats, as well as several rod holders, perfect for anglers. It also comes with a front padded seat, a rear padded seat, middle bench, and a hatch right in the middle.

At a price that plays around an average of $600, it is a good option for a canoe. Other kayaks may be cheaper than this, but considering its load capacity and size, it is well worth the price.

Overall, the Saranac 146 canoe is a good boat as you may expect out of its cost. While it may not really offer you all the features that you may want, but as a fishing canoe, it is comfortable, serving its purpose accordingly.


  • Sturdy and durable in construction
  • Affordable
  • Includes a waterproof container
  • Well-suited for families
  • Can be used for fishing


  • Not designed for beginners
  • Some issues with stability

5. Sun Dolphin Mackinaw

The Sun Dolphin Mackinaw canoe is designed to serve different types of water activities and trips. It is known for its stability and durability, making it a good choice for canoeists of different categories.

For example, it is great for a fishing trip, as it has a fishing rod holder which can offer you ultimate ease while fishing. Also three people can fish together relaxed and seated comfortably.

One thing I like about this canoe is that it allows for a smooth and stable paddling and rowing. It is great for small families to have a fishing trip together. It is also stable and durable, with molded cup holders that are built-in along each seat, enabling the riders to enjoy their favorite drinks as they row.

Some reviews from owners report that this canoe is quite heavy. As a result, paddling becomes slower because of the weight. However, since it is designed for multiple users, carrying together can make it easier.

Design, Features and Performance

The Sun Dolphin Mackinaw is designed in a way that makes it easy to paddle and to track.  It is manufactured using a high-density polyethylene material that is shaped in a way which makes it stable even when standing on it.

For those who would like to explore fishing using this option, it is an optimal choice because of its durability and stability. Aside from riding as a family, it is also perfect for solo riding, as it is easy and enjoyable to use.


  • Well-suited for family use
  • Optimized stability through its hull design
  • Equipped with storage for eatables
  • Easy to paddle and track


  • Heavier compared to others
  • Slow paddling due to weight

Canoe Buying Guide – Factors to Consider

Choosing the right canoe for your use depends on several factors, mainly: types of materials used, design, as well as overall type and purpose of use. Let’s consider them one by one.

Materials Used

The following are the most commonly used materials in making canoes:

  • Polyethylene

Canoes that are made using polyethylene materials are generally durable, and often more affordable. They are usually designed for recreational canoeing. Even though you may have to sacrifice on performance when choosing polyethylene materials on your canoe, they are affordable, which means that it is perfect for beginners, as well as those who consider themselves as occasional paddlers.

  • Wood

A wooden canoe gives that artistic, natural feel. They are mostly handcrafted, using traditional techniques in making canoes. Since they involve labor in manufacturing, they are usually more expensive compared to others. They are also somewhat fragile, though they can also be expected to be of high performance.

  • Aluminum

Canoes that are made of aluminum have been the standard in this industry for several decades. While there are some models made of aluminum available on the market these days, they are less popular. Aluminum canoes are lighter compared to ones that are made from wood, but they are relatively heavier compared to other materials.

One advantage of choosing a canoe made of wood is durability. They are slower moving in water, which means that they are a perfect choice even for beginners. Also, they can be repaired by welding, though some scars and ridges may surface after.

  • Kevlar Composites

Kevlar is a composite fabric which is known to be up to 10 times stronger compared to steel of similar weight. Canoes constructed using this material are known to be lighter. They are also very easy to repair, and there are repair kits that you can get from the canoe manufacturers and dealers.

While high quality Kevlar based canoes are priced higher, their performance, durability, as well as light weight, makes them a good, long-term investment.

Canoe Design

The following are the most common characteristics of canoes that you can consider when determining the design:

  • Length

When it comes to performance, considering the distance starting from the edge of the stern, to the end of the bow is very important. Generally, a canoe that is longer is faster. It can also track in a straighter line, while offering better load capacity.

However, longer canoes are also expected to have a decreased maneuverability. This is because they are quite difficult to turn and steer. You may need to exert more force in order to make the canoe follow your guide.

  • Depth

The depth of the canoe also impacts some paddling aspects. For example, an increased depth in three areas, that is, bow, center and stern, means that it can offer more load capacity. This means that the canoe can deal easily through waves.

However, this can also mean that the canoe is heavier, and often less responsive to wind.

  • Width

The width refers to the beam, or the widest portion of the canoe. A narrower canoe can be faster, but they are usually less stable. On the other hand, a wider canoe offers better stability, though efficiency is often sacrificed.

Canoe Types

The following types are available on the market these days:

  • Recreational Canoes

Recreational canoes are designed to be maneuverable, steady and easy to control. They are typically designed also to be used for fishing, while being capable for use on overnight recreational trips. They can also accommodate two to three paddlers.

  • Racing Canoes

These types of canoes are generally designed for high performance use. They are manufactured using straight tracking, fast, and rigid hull materials without any excess weight. They are generally longer and narrower, and are asymmetrical in shape with eccentric appearance and features.

  • Whitewater Canoes

Whitewater canoes are designed for both performance and play. They are typically capable of holding two paddlers who would like to enjoy whitewater activities. Other additions include a flotation device in its bow and stern, thus preventing the canoe from getting filled with water. They also come with spray skirts, toe blocks and a kneeling pedestal which makes the canoes easier to control.

  • Expedition Canoes

These canoes are especially designed for longer trips, as well as heavier loads. They can be used by two more canoe paddlers, and are fitted occasionally with a spray skirt. Due to their increased bow depth and moderate rocker features, these canoes offer a dry ride, even in rough, white water conditions.

What now?

Canoeing is an activity that can serve as a bonding time between family and friends. However, the overall success of this activity is highly dependent on the equipment used, especially the actual canoes. As mentioned above, there are different types of canoes that you can choose from, making the search quite challenging. With this guide, you now have a better grasp of the factors and features that you need to look for in the best canoes. You may want to make a list of features that you want to see in these canoes, and make a good decision by comparing them with the available options presented.

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