Before you start
The first thing to decide upon is probably your budget, a family canoe will set you back anything from a couple of hundred pounds for an old second hand model to a couple of thousand pounds plus if you want to get ultra techy, it is both pointless and depressing spending time investigating makes and models which are financially out of reach to you, & please don’t be put off by the prices at top end of the market, the Coleman Journey for example is very capable for the uses most families would demand of a
A make such as Old Town are very much worth a look as they tend to make different canoes for different uses, for example if weight is a consideration for you (how will I get it on my car?) there are solutions through the use of materials such as Royalex which has a high strength to weight ratio which can result in a family canoe at only 26kg …check out the Old Town site for some
Next consider the type of paddling you would envisage doing (camping trips, white water, day trips on small twisty rivers, or exploring big open lakes, sometimes solo, sometimes with friends, etc etc) and measure that against the following rule of thumb charecteristics which will seem obvious to many but I hope will help the newcommer.
Features to consider
– A longer canoe will tend to track straighter.
– A longer canoe will go faster
– A canoe with keel will tend to track straighter.
– A shorter canoe will manoeuvre more readily (a plus in fast moving water)
– A shorter canoe will not track as well in a straight line
– A canoe with a flat bottom will have more initial stability, (will feel stable on calm water)
– A canoe with a round bottom has greater secondary stability. (this stability kicks in if you lean out as if trying to tip over the canoe)
– A wider canoe will be more stable
– A wider canoe will be slower
– A narrower canoe will be less stable
– A narrower canoe will be faster
– A pointed bow will go faster
– A large ‘rocker’ (the curve along the keel line) will more maneuverable ie be more suited to white water and sharp turns.
– A canoe with Flare… the side walls open out towards the top, has good secondary stability
– A canoe with Tumblehome…. Side walls come in towards the top, has less secondary stability.
– A canoe with a greater volume will tend to have a greater capacity
You will probably not be able to get the perfect match for all of the attributes you feel you may need, the best advice is to chery pick the 2 or 3 features you really must have and see what craft measure up against those features, we would always encourage people to visit us or other reputable dealers, look us up on line or give us a call to talk through options and maybe see the variations for yourself, we do (as do some other dealers) have a demo fleet and are happy to put you on the water to try out some types of canoes or enrol you on one of our 2 star BCU open canoe courses. We would always recommend some basic instruction, though not essential it can really increase the pleasure you get from canoeing.
There will of course be some further expense relating to such things as buoyancy aids (a must!) and paddles but these can work out relatively cheaply particularly if you make use of the bargains to be found on eBay and we shall of course be happy to talk you through the options in these areas.
Finally we would always advise people to join the BCU (British Canoe Union) as they are the greatest single source of help and advice. These guys have information about access rights & licences, competitions, training, youth activities, local canoe clubs and much much more.
We paddle a
Please call us with any questions at all and if we can we will help, if we can’t we can usually point you in the right direction. See you on the water!
Regards Jenny and Terry of The Family Adventure Store in Wiltshire