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Canoe camping is one of the best ways I know of to really get away from it all. Leave the world behind and paddle up stream to a remote location and pitch a tent. Forget the smart phones, forget the TV. Simply embrace nature at it’s finest and unwind.
But if you have never embraced this activity before, knowing what the best canoes for camping are can be quite overwhelming. With canoes it’s not as simple as one size fits all. There are numerous variations to take into consideration. So buying one just for canoe camping may seem impossible.
But fear not, we have put together our experience and personal opinions to bring you what we think are appropriate canoes for folks that want to go camping. The two main types of canoes that are suitable to camping are recreational or tripping/expedition canoes.
Quick Links To Info On This Page
- 1 How To Choose The Right Canoe For Your Camping Trip
- 2 Going Canoe Camping, Here’s Our Top 3 Canoes
- 3 Unique Canoe Suited To The Campers lifestyle
- 4 Heavy Duty Canoe For The Fisherman & Camper
- 5 Check Out Some Canoe Camping Footage Below
How To Choose The Right Canoe For Your Camping Trip
The most common or popular size canoe is between the 16 and 17 foot range. These are typically larger and have the benefits of a combination of more storage areas, easier to handle for beginners and can travel at a decent pace when needed.
In regards to width, the wider the canoe is the more stable it generally is on the water. Narrow boats can tip easier due to less girth counteracting the motions.
Canoes also have different depths, the distance between the bottom of the canoe and the side rails (Gunwales). If you are going to be in open air expecting strong winds, a lower depth canoe is best suited. But most likely you won’t be in the open ocean for canoe camping. So you can get a canoe with higher sides. This is a better option as it denies more water from entering the boat and also allows more storage capacity needed for campers.
Because you will be carrying more luggage when camping compared to just going for a paddle, weight capacity can be an issue. Canoes come with a recommended weight capacity, so it’s advisable to adhere to this limit. Especially if you are a bigger person carrying a lot of gear. It all adds up and we don’t want to be sinking the boat now.
When you can, pack light as possible. But try to not compromise quality of living either. I personally like to take a camping tent cot. This is a portable one person sleeping cot enclosed in a tent. This kills two birds with one stone and saves on space within the canoe. Alternatively you can take long a lightweight air mattress and brave nature without a tent.
The Perfect Camping Canoe Would Look Like…
So without complicating the entire process, the best canoe to take camping would either a recreational or expedition becasue they could be 16-17 foot (For two people), wide and deep with a higher weight capacity to suit waters edge camping.
Below you can find a few of my personal recommendations with a quick overview of each canoe. Just remember to look for the things mentioned here and above all. Have Fun!.
Going Canoe Camping, Here’s Our Top 3 Canoes
Saranac 160 Recreational Family Canoe Review
A great wide canoe with a flat bottom that seems like it was built for the sole purpose of canoe camping. Made by Old Town Canoes and Kayaks whom funny enough reside in Old Town Maine. Since 1874, this company has built it’s reputation up to be one of the best manufacturers in the business. They even have dealers available overseas due to their popularity.
However, this particular canoe is one our best rated for canoe camping due to it’s incredible ability to handle calm waters and choppy waters while boasting a very full load. The weight capacity is around the 750/800 Lbs mark which is quite sufficient for a family load plus equipment. Because it is wide, long and has a flat bottom it is able to handle the extra equipment needed when canoe camping. The canoe is 16 foot which is ideal for campers.
What I do like about this model is that it has pre-molded holes in the shape of cups so that you can have a drink while on the water without spilling it. The center bench also has hidden storage area which is really good for keeping valuables safe and dry. There is also room for storage at the front and back of the canoe, so it’s ready to go camping. All it needs is some eager canoe campers.
Unique Canoe Suited To The Campers lifestyle
Hybrid Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS Review
Another great long 15.6 foot canoe, but this Sun Dolphin is a hybrid due to its design. The square back design means you can also use an electric trolling motor as well as paddles. Which can be good for emergencies and strong swells. The only thing worth noting depending on the motor, is that you may need a tiller extension so that you can reach the motor from the back seat.
The canoe weighs around 100 pounds which is quite good considering how strong and durable the Fortiflex polyethylene hull is. Which means it could possibly handle class II whitewater and survive the ride. It’s nice and wide too being 40″ and about 18″ in height.
Besides being quite a large and strong canoe, it’s the small features that win me over on the Makinaw by Sun Dolphin. Things like the included fishing rod holders on the seats and the center compartment. Which has both a dry storage compartment and a cooler section to keep drinks cold. There’s even storage allocated for your paddles which is a nice touch.
Overall the Sun Dolphin Mackinaw is a high quality canoe made with strong materials that will suit the canoe camper just nicely. Big enough to pack the family in and have room for equipment. The nice little bonuses that are included seal the deal for me.
Heavy Duty Canoe For The Fisherman & Camper
Old Town Recreational Guide 14.7 Foot Canoe
While this Guide 147 canoe by Old Town may not boast the center console features like dry storage and a built in cooler, it does have something that is above and beyond the rest. That is a super heavy duty construction.
If you want a canoe that is going to last, then this is the one I recommend. For a quick comparison, the first Old Town canoe I mentioned above is just a one layer polyethylene construction whereas this Guide 147 canoe is made from 3 durable layers.
With durability usually comes a heavier canoe and a higher weight capacity. Which is 875 pounds. While this thing is heavy, one person can mount onto a car alone if strong enough. So it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to take this thing solo camping.
Speaking of taking this Old Town Guide 147 canoe solo. It can be difficult. Due to the design and where the seats are located, you will need to buy an additional drop in canoe seat. The seat I would buy is the Wenonah Drop In Seat as it suits canoes up to 38 inches wide. This canoe is jut that, 38 inches while the Old Town seat only suits up to 37 inches. So the Wenonah would be the safest bet.
Get the Camo version if you can, it looks amazing.
Check Out Some Canoe Camping Footage Below