If you’re looking for the right canoe to start or add to your fleet, here are some steps to follow in the process.

Know What You Need

Save time and money by deciding who will use the boat, what they’ll use it for, and how they’ll get it to the water. Answer questions like:

  • What kind of water (lakes, rivers, rapids, oceans)?
  • How long (an afternoon, a weekend, a month or longer)?
  • Any portaging?
  • How much cargo?
  • Who’s on board (no one, one person, full crew, adults, children)?
  • How will it get to the water (aka, is my car big enough)?

Know What You Want

Save time and money by knowing what’s available, who makes it, and what other people are saying about it. Answer questions like:

  • What kind of canoe best suits my needs?
  • Who makes the kind(s) of canoe(s) that best suit my needs?
  • What do the people who use these canoes have to say about them?

Know What You Want to Pay

Dreams are great, but they won’t get you on the water. Once you know what you need the canoe to do and which canoes meet those needs, decide how much you’re willing to pay. This step can come before you even decide your needs or wants, and it may change as you see what’s available.

Know Where to Look

Most people buy their new canoes either right from the manufacturer or from an outfitter.

Manufacturer direct

Not all manufacturers sell directly to the public, but the company’s website should indicate who carries their products if you can’t buy right from them. Canoe manufacturer websites include, but aren’t limited to:


Some outfitters carry only gear and accessories, renting out canoes rather than selling them. But some do offer new boats, and you can find them online and off. The big chains are a good place to start, because they can afford to have a larger inventory, you’re likely near one of their stores, and they will have an online storefront. Some popular ones are:

Other outfitters operate online only, or their online storefront represents a company smaller than the big names above. While you can’t go down to the store and see the merchandise, this isn’t an issue if you already know what you want. Here are four examples of what you might find online:

When in doubt, search for an outfitter specific to your location or to a location where you’d like to go paddling. It’s worth it to do a little work and get the canoe that best meets your needs.

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Written by The Review Guy

The Review Guy has years of experience in the kayak, canoe and outdoors equipment business. Establishing one of the largest adventure sports retail chains, he understands what makes for good equipment. Today, the Review Guy tests a variety of equipment and details the pros and cons to readers of The Wilderness Review. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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