This Canoe Buyers guide in a frequently asked canoe questions format is for all types of canoes both small and large and of every type of construction.
Are Canoe Ratings or Canoe Reviews worth reading?
We don't allow customers to review or rate canoes on our web site because it is usually full of "purchased reviews", so probably not. We get offered by many different companies to "purchase" positive reviews for both our company and or products. We absolutely decline this concept and trust that consumers are not so gullible as to put their faith in a five or four star made up rating system, or distrust someone or something because of some complaints. We have also found that most customers that have bad reviews of a canoes usually put the boat in the wrong situation and or did not fully understand what they were purchasing. No one boat does everything in every situation. The good news is we at directboats.com want you to make an informed decision so you will fully enjoy the canoe you are planning to purchase, please read the rest of the buyers guide below.
What is an editors review?
If we feel that there is widespread misconception made about a boat we will create on the item an editors review. For example a factory claims on their web site and the corresponding competitors sites that their jon boat is great for use on a stump infested river, well that is vague loaded assumption and exact details of that claim would need to be substantiated.
Canoes come in many different sizes and shapes made different ways with many different
materials. This is what makes buying one so hard. It makes selling them even harder. Our goal is to get you in the right one so you like boating and will want another boat from us in the future. Remember no one boat does everything, so choose what you want to do the most first. The first
thing to look at is what the canoe will be used for.
Why would I care to know how the different Canoes are made?
You will care when your canoe doesn't last as long as you hoped it would. Different construction methods have advantages and disadvantages,
A common construction method is what we called thermoformed. That means the hull (or bottom of canoe) is heated and stretched over the mold. With this method the bottom of the canoe is the thinnest. They are generally cheapest, because lesser cost material can be used in the creation of the canoe. If recycled plastics are used, a not so smooth surface is usually what you see, but that has a lot to do with the smoothness of the mold and how fast they are being produced. If the surface is not smooth, the canoe will be slower and harder to clean. There are some areas of a canoe that do not need to be smooth, for instance where your feet go, or where you may sit. If smooth, you will go crazy trying to sit in one spot, especially wet. There are several materials used in thermoformed canoes, common names are Ram-x(Hdpe), HDPE(High density Polyethelene), Royolex, just to name a few.
Another construction method is rotomolding. This method is designed to make bottoms and edges thicker. It is usually the middle priced of canoes, and possibly a bit heavier, but the canoe bottom (the most important part) usually lasts much longer. The boats are usually smooth finished meaning easy to clean and faster performance.
Laminated Rotomolding is a process where additional material is added during the rotomolding process causing it to be much thicker, usually a closed cell foaming agent to original material type.
Aluminum construction canoes have three technics for assembly. One uses a glue that is stronger than the aluminum to hold the boat together, blue bird buses are built this way. The negative of the glue is it's ugly and usually painted over if one layer thick. Another method is aircraft riveting and heating. This allows for aircraft aluminum not marine grade aluminum to be used. The heat causes a thinner material to become more brittle, or harder which ever way you want to look at it. The last method is strait marine grade aluminum and rivets. This method is usually heaviest. Probably the number one reason people like aluminum boats is weight followed second by the ability of a additional keel to be added to the bottom of the canoe. This allows it to track and wear out without causing the boat to leak. The number one reason people don't buy an aluminum canoe is leaking rivets.
Fiberglass or open molded canoes is the last method of canoe manufacturing. Some use hybrid names and some use kevlar in their laminate schedule. Some use two molds to make a wide bottom canoe, most use one. The standard fiberglass canoe is great for many reasons, one is thickness in the bottom. The other reason fiberglass canoes are great is glossy outside finish. Most boats are built out of fiberglass so people understand they are cool, easy to clean and last. The biggest fear to a fiberglass canoe buyer is dropping one on concrete loading it out of the truck.
How do I pick out a rental canoe?
If you are like most rental operators on a inland lake setting where cutomers simply pay you and take the boats out themselves, then a recreational hull is recommended. Canoe boarding can be quite a challenge unless properly instructed. Beach access is recommended though at www.directdocks.com we do have some floating kayak/ canoe launches if you do not have beach access. The next issue is what material or construction method has the most value for my situation. Value meaning, how much cost divided into how many years of service. Because every beach is variable there is no simple answer. Some things are obvious such as aluninum canoes in rocky rivers, not a good match. Even though cheapest up front cost, thermo formed canoes are thinest on the bottom, not a good choice for rental. Roto molded canoes are thickest on bottom and are recommended for most rental settings and use. Laminated roto molding where additional material is added in the molding process is most highly prized in the rental world. We feel this method provides the most value to the rental operator.
I take long trips, what is best?
These canoes are known as touring canoes and or tripping canoes. These typically are larger canoes designed to row easily. These are not great canoes to take out by yourself and or not the best canoes for maneuverability or stability. The main goal is large loads paddling as easily as possible with an experienced paddler. They are also best used in water with higher waves, such as the ocean or places where the wind creates higher waves.
I live on a lake and want one for the family, which is best for me?
The most popular type of canoe is a recreational canoe. These canoes have wider bottoms and or designed to hold a medium duty load with maximum stability for novice paddlers. These canoe hull designs make great rental canoes. Stability with decent maneuverability is the goal. Hull materials and construction vary but that will be discussed below.
I like to fish, is a canoe good for that?
Fishing canoes well... are for fishing out of. Most popular ones are square stern canoes. These are flat back or flat transom canoes designed to hold a small motor in the back. It gives you the best of both worlds, a boat that you can paddle and or use a motor with. Wide bottom or wide flare canoes are the best for stability over traditional square back canoes. These cost more but add tremendous stability, just what is needed when reaching over to pick up
a fish. Any canoe can be fished out of but when you want to make sure you don't take a dip while doing it a wide bottom square stern canoe is the ticket. These types of canoes have the most diverse uses and the most fuel efficient hull designs making them very popular.
I like to go by myself, what makes a canoe better than a kayak?
Solo canoes are designed for one person use. These used to be very popular until kayaks came out. However there are some people that like these especially when camping. You can carry enough gear for camping and still stay maneuverable. Also in water with waves you can stay drier and still keep your canoe small. High sides and gear storage are why solo, one person canoes are chosen over kayaks.
I like white water, what should I look for in a canoe?
Another popular solo canoe is a whitewater canoe. These have a specific short v rocker design and are made out of material that can take impacts against large rocks best. From the side they look bannana shaped. This allows the nose not to get stuck in the rocks. Drift boats have the same hull shape for the same purpose. Whitewater kayaks are best if rotomolded not thermoformed. A high grade, pure hdpe is also recommended.