Best Canoe – Lightweight, Inflatable and Folding Canoes for Lakes, Streams, Rivers, Recreation, and Fishing

Whether you're going on a rugged backwoods lake trip, a family wilderness vacation, or a leisurely fishing excursion, a great canoe can make all the difference. Some canoes are built for speed and maneuverability, while others are built for carrying room and comfort. The best canoes will have a mix of all these qualities. Here you’ll find 5 products from some of the best canoe brands. They’ve been carefully selected and will transform your canoeing adventure.

For our featured products, we chose a mix of solid canoes, lightweight canoes, and inflatable canoes — because we know that everyone has different needs. We also recommend looking at our lightweight kayak reviews and inflatable kayak reviews for even more options. Additionally, if you are looking for a sturdy inflatable travel canoe, the Sea Eagle TC16 is a good option.
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Overview
PROS
CONS
Our Top Choice
Old Town Discovery Lightweight Canoe
Old Town combines tradition with innovation in their huge variety of canoes and kayaks. This lightweight canoe is ideal for hardcore canoeing and portaging.
Lightweight. Three-layer durability. Minimalist design and built-in yoke make it easy to carry. Carry handles. Spacious hull.
Built for speed and easy carrying, so it lacks more luxurious features.
Best Value
Lifetime Wasatch 3-Person Canoe
Lifetime offers great value on a huge variety of life essentials and recreational products. This casual canoe features quick-release seat backs for superior comfort.
Quick-release seat backs. Luggage-style handles. Highly stable design. UV-protected high-density material. Rated for use with a motor. Rod holders.
Heavy design.
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Inflatable Canoe
Sevylor specializes in high quality inflatables for water sports and recreation. This heavy-duty inflatable canoe gets the job done without all the weight or expense of a classic canoe.
Heavy-duty PVC construction. Polyester protects against punctures. Multi-air chamber design. Boston valve for easy inflation and deflation. Extremely portable and lightweight.
Not as strong as a standard canoe, but still great for lake use. Not as much storage space as standard canoes.
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS Recreational Canoe
Sun Dolphin is the largest selling brand for small boats such as kayaks, canoes and fishing boats. This recreational canoe is ideal for relaxing wilderness vacations.
Comfortable raised seats. Built-in cooler and dry storage. Square back for motor boating. Fishing rod and cup holders.
Not ideal for hardcore tripping since it's heavier and less maneuverable than some canoes.
MyCanoe Folding Lightweight Canoe
MyCanoe won a series of innovation and boating awards for their highly unique origami canoes. The folding canoe is surprisingly sturdy and fast on the water.
Lightweight. Extremely portable. 10 minute assembly and 5 minute folding. Fast.
The origami boat is safe and sturdy, but not as rugged or durable as a standard canoe.

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What Is the Best Lightweight Canoe to Buy? Read Our Canoe Reviews to Find Your Favorite!

So far, we’re sure you realize that a lot goes into the functionality of a canoe, including the shape of its sides as well as its entry line as you paddle. This review offers more pointers and tips to help you decide on the best canoe for your outdoor needs.

Related: 7 Essential Canoe Paddle Strokes to Make You a Pro at Canoeing
Our Top Choice
The Old Town Sportsman Discovery Solo is ideal for serious tripper looking for speed and efficiency. It offers the simplicity and utility of a solo canoe with the agility and sleek handling of a kayak. For a more leisurely canoe, check out the Old Town Saranac Family Canoe.

Old Town Sportsman Discovery Solo 119 Fishing Canoe - Grab-And-Go Watercraft for Anglers and Hunters Alike


Features

The folks at Old Town Canoes & Kayaks are all about craftsmanship. They have a long tradition of creating efficient, durable canoes and kayaks – but they're not afraid to innovate. That's why they use unique materials and building processes to create a variety of rugged canoes and kayaks. They have models built for casual family use and fishermen along with plenty of classic tripping boats.

This minimalist canoe is built for efficient lake and river tripping. Its lightweight design is especially useful for longer trips when you might be carrying the boat and your gear over land. The canoe is made with three-layer, roto-molded polyethylene for a rugged shell you won't have to repair for years to come. The yoke in the center lets you carry the canoe on your shoulders. The gunwales are made with durable vinyl and the end caps have convenient handles so you have another option for carrying the canoe.

The Discovery Canoe is available in red, green and camo.

Best Value
The Lifetime Emotion Wasatch Canoe is a highly reliable recreational canoe, featuring comfortable seat-backs and fishing rod holders. Looking for something more versatile? The Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak fits 1 to 3 people comfortably.

Lifetime Emotion Wasatch Canoe with Quick-Release Seatbacks, Carrying Handles, Rod Holders


Features

The Lifetime Store offers a huge range of products for life necessities and recreation. They create high quality furniture, playgrounds, gardening equipment and canoes and kayaks. Their main mission to offer great value for a variety of needs.

This heavy duty and reliable canoe is great for recreation and fishing. It has three seats, two of which have quick-release seat backs for support and comfort. The UV-Protected blow-molded high-density Polyethylene is highly durable. This boat is made for casual use, mostly in lakes. Central rod holders make fishing convenient and the included motor mounting bracket means you can take all the work out of paddling and get straight to fishing.

Sevylor's Inflatable 2-Person Canoe is an easy, inexpensive way to get out on the water, featuring rugged Airtight technology and heavy PVC durability. For added speed, check out theSevylor Big Basin 3-Person Inflatable Kayak.

Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Inflatable Lightweight Canoe Combo with Airtight Multiple Chamber System, Heavy Duty PVC


Features

At Sevylor, summer time is fun time. Their wide variety of inflatables make it easy to have fun in the water and are made with high quality materials to last many summers. Sevylor actually began as an electrical accessories company in post-WWII France. They discovered that their advanced welding machines could be used to manufacture PVC products, and thus invented the inflatable bathtub. The rest is history, and today Sevylor has become the king of water inflatables.

It's easy to have fun in this inflatable canoe. To say it's lightweight and portable is an understatement – this canoe glides easily through the water and can be packed away unlike any standard canoe. It's built with heavy-duty PVC and wrapped in polyester to prevent punctures, making it ideal for lake use. It's also designed with multiple air chambers so that one puncture won't sink the whole boat. Built-in storage compartments even let you store items while out on the lake. The seats are elevated to make it super easy to paddle along.

This inflatable canoe includes a pump, two paddles, a carry bag and a pressure gauge.

The Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS offers a little lakeside luxury with its built-in cooler, cup holders and comfortable seats. This is a great canoe for up to 3 people. Need something that's a little easier to transport? Check out the Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe. It’s sturdy enough for whitewater rafting up to Class IV rapids.

Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS 15.6' Canoe with Built-in Seat Cooler, Dry Storage & Cup Holders – Available in 3 Colors


Features

Sun Dolphin is the world's largest selling brand of small boats such as pedal boats, fishing boats, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks. They specialize in recreational designs that make it easy to combine the beauty of the wilderness with little luxuries like comfortable seating.

This canoe is built for luxury – you can practically bring your living room onto the lake. Cup holders, a built-in cooler, fishing rod holders and paddle holders offer everything you need. On top of that, this square-backed canoe is compatible with trolling motors so you can really relax. The canoe comfortably sits three people and is built with rugged UV stabilized Fortiflex high density polyethylene for superior durability.

This canoe is available in green, navy and hazelnut.

MyCanoe's award winning Origami Folding Canoe changes the game, making it almost unbelievably easy to take your canoe on the go. If the idea of a folding canoe isn't for you, but you still want something that can be folded away, then the Intex Explorer K2 2Person Inflatable Kayak might be for you.

MyCanoe Folding Travel Canoe - Patented Design


Features

MyCanoe is a passionate little company from Knoxville, Tennessee. It took them 4 years to produce their high innovative foldable canoe so that it fit their high standards. They were backed by two well-established sporting companies – Coovy Sports and ATHLETE Beyond.

When MyCanoe unveiled their unique canoe, they won a series of awards including the Top 5 Innovative Product Award (GK International Boat Show, 2014), Boat of the Year (International Boat & Sailing Expo, 2014), Good Design Award (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 2015) and Coolest Gear of the Show (Paddle Expo, 2015).

Most users are immediately surprised by how sturdy the portable canoe feels in the water. Its lightweight design makes it fast and maneuverable in the water. The custom polypropylene construction is rated to last through 20,000 folds, so you know you can trust this canoe to last.

Best Lightweight Canoe Guide – Solid Construction Canoes vs Inflatable Canoes

What beats the feeling of just lying lazily on a floating island on that above ground pool in your backyard? Nothing, right? Wrong! Inhaling the fresh crisp air when paddling on a quiet lake or just sitting with your portable travel fishing rod hanging on the side of your canoe is out of this world.

Canoeing has been around for a long time, and the more modern designs still bring memories of the boats used by Native Americans as well as explorers. Canoes come in three different types: recreational canoes, versatile canoes, and river canoes. Recreational canoes are ideal for flat water paddling, while versatile canoes are multi-purpose and allow for greater maneuverability. And just like the name implies, river canoes are made for paddlers who love intense rapids and meandering rivers. Some of these canoes come with include paddleboards, but if you don’t like those, you can always buy your own canoe paddles to enjoy a more customized outdoor experience. If you become very serious about canoeing, you can take all your watersport equipment, strap it on a durable canoe car rack and travel to various exotic places where you can practice your favorite sport!

Your choice of a canoe will depend on the type of paddling you intend to do and how many people are joining you in the canoe – this is where size comes in. For example, a standard canoe should allow you to manage its speed and have enough carrying capacity.

In case you intend to paddle over a considerable distance, you may want to go for a longer canoe that’s easier to paddle and is more stable. Week-long canoeing excursions may mean having gear in your canoe, so you should make sure that your canoe can handle the weight without capsizing.

Video: How to Canoe | 3 Key Strokes All Paddlers Should Know

How to Canoe and the Three Key Strokes to Know. | Courtesy of PaddleTV
Price

The wonderful feeling that comes with canoeing is well worth the price. With between $ 270 and $1200, you’ll be in a position to buy a canoe that comes with adequate features to ensure a good paddling experience. Prices of canoes vary depending on a number of factors.

One of these factors is the material used to construct the canoe. You may have to pay more for a canoe made of polyethylene since it comes with a good combination of strength and weight. We also recommend you to stay away from cheap canoes since during our research we found out that such products not only dent easily, but that their construction doesn’t allow proper maneuverability.

Features

The following are the crucial features to have in mind when shopping for a canoe:

  • Type – Can either be a recreational canoe, river canoe, or a multi-purpose canoe. Your choice depends on the kind of paddling you intend to engage in.
  • Seats – How many seats are available? What is the material used to make the seats? Is the material fast-drying or does it remain drenched?
  • Materials - The lighter the material used to make the canoe, the easier it is to transport and maneuver.
  • Weight – If you intend to constantly go portaging, then weight is a major consideration. Canoes that are more durable tend to be heavier.
  • Size – The length, width, and depth of the canoe all come into play when determining the use, as well as the carrying capacity of the canoe.
Construction and Design

The design of a canoe’s hull and the side shape affects its maneuverability. Hull shapes come in various designs - one is a flat bottom hull shape that has great initial stability and is ideal for recreational paddling. The round bottomed hulls may not be stable initially, but are the least likely to topple over when canoeing in rough conditions. Those with shallow arch bottoms are a hybrid of the two and remain on track better.

A canoe is constructed with a rocker, which is that upward curve you find on the canoe’s hull. The more of a rocker there is, the easier it is for the canoe to turn. But canoes without a rocker remain on track easier and have a higher speed on water.

The design of the sides of a canoe also affects its maneuverability. Flared-out sides tend to fight waves, allowing the canoe to remain stable. Inward curving sides may let water in when paddling in rough waters, while a straight shape offers a compromise between the two.

Video What's Better – A Canoe or a Kayak?

Canoe Vs Kayak: Pros and Cons. | Courtesy of PaddleTV
Performance and Ease of Use

The performance of a canoe depends on its ability to maneuver and remain stable while on course. Maneuverability is determined by the shape of a canoe’s side, where a straight shape allows for easier maneuvering without toppling over. The entry line of the canoe also affects its performance, where a sharp line slices water easily and a blunt one is perfect for rougher paddling.

With the right paddle(s), using a canoe is pretty easy, but it’s always advisable to take a couple of them out for a test drive before you settle for one. Canoes don’t require any installation since they’re sold pre-assembled, and all you need to do is push them into the water and start paddling.


Get the Best Canoe of 2021!

It’s our hope and desire that this review has offered you invaluable information and buying tips that you’ll apply when buying a canoe. Better yet, we hope that you’ve spotted an ideal canoe to paddle away in on your next adventure. The expert brands featured herein have many more options for you to choose from, if need be.

Our Top Choice
Old Town Discovery Lightweight Canoe
Best Value
Lifetime Wasatch 3-Person Canoe
Sevylor Ogden 2-Person Inflatable Canoe
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS Recreational Canoe
MyCanoe Folding Lightweight Canoe

Canoe FAQs

What does canoe mean?
A canoe is a narrowboat with sharp ends that needs paddling to propel. Its primary purpose of for pleasure or competition (whichever you desire). People use canoes for general recreation, freestyle, camping, whitewater touring, and racing. Check out our comprehensive review on canoes for more details.
What is the difference between kayak and canoe?
The difference between a kayak and a canoe is in the position one assumes when propelling it forward. You need to sit and use a double-bladed paddle for a kayak, pulling it through the water on one side then the other. In a canoe, you have to kneel and use a single-bade paddle to push the vessel forward.
How to canoe?
If you want to canoe, ensure you park the vessel close to the water body, pack heavy items in the center and lighter items in the back and front. If you are many, assign someone to the bowman's role and another one the sternman to the front and back of the boat, respectively. After wearing a life jacket, get into the canoe, ensuring it is standing steadily. Use your hand or paddle to push the canoe into the water. When holding the paddle, your inside hand should be on top. Always put the paddle into the water in front and push backward in a smooth motion. Keep paddling so that you can keep moving. If your partner is paddling the left, concentrate on the right-hand side. Ideally, it would be best if you did it in sync with each other. Remember, you can steer the boat using a J-stroke. Sometimes, the canoe may flip accidentally, leaving you stunned. Don't be afraid but instead tuck the paddles and your belongings and hold onto the boat until you reach the nearest shore. To get out of the canoe, steer it to the shore (or dock), land it gently, and steady it. If on a dock, tie it down using the dock rope. On a shore, have the bowman get off and hold the boat steadily. Have your crew get off the canoe one by one. The correct disembarking posture is with your body low and at the center of the canoe. Start by stepping one foot out, steady yourself, and lift out the other foot.
How to tie a canoe to a car without a rack?
You can tie a canoe to a car without a rack; you need foam blocks to ensure the canoe does not slide off the roof. Use two straps and ropes to tie the canoe to the roof. You may need quick release ropes with hooked ends that firmly hold the canoe without tying a note. Ratchet straps, on the other hand, make it possible to keep the front and back firmly in place. You may also use zip ties to have a firm grip on the rope ends without tying a knot. Finally, get a red flag to alert road users that you are hauling a long canoe on the roof of your car.
How long is a canoe?
A canoe usually has a 14.5-foot and 17-foot length, even though you will find the length going up to 16 feet on average.