The Best Canoe for Beginners in 2023 | Expert Reviews and Top Picks

Canoeing is a fun and very relaxing sport, especially if you find the perfect calm waters. The thing is, if you’ve never been canoeing or don’t have a lot of experience, it can be confusing deciding on which canoe to choose. There are a lot of high-quality yet reasonably priced canoes available, but that doesn’t mean you can choose one quickly. You have to know what to look for in a canoe, and that’s what this article is here to help you do. If you’re looking for the best canoe for beginners, below are a few things to take into consideration before you make up your mind.

As a beginner, your best bet is to rent, borrow, or buy a used canoe as you learn the sport. But, if you want a new one, below are the best canoes for beginners.

1. What Will You Do with Your Canoe?

Some people will just go canoeing along the water, but some people use their canoe for fishing or hunting. If you’re going to use it for the latter, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to be bow-fishing, duck-hunting, etc. The answers to these questions will help you decide on the type of canoe that will work best for you, including the various features available.

2. How Many People Will Be Joining You?

Let’s face it, many people like to go canoeing because they want to be alone on the water. Others prefer to canoe with another person in the boat. This will affect the size of the canoe you end up buying because different canoes are made to accommodate different numbers of people or pets! 

3. How Good Are You at Canoeing?

You have to be honest with yourself on this one! The bottom line is, some canoes are simply easier to learn to maneuver than others. There are many canoes on the market that are reasonably priced, and they tend to be the easiest to learn as well. You can always move up to a more-advanced canoe later on, but if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll need to start with the right type of canoe.

4. What Is Your Budget?

For most of us, paying attention to our budget is a necessity. Canoes can cost under $100 for the inflatable ones or $5,000+ for the super-advanced ones. While price shouldn’t be your only consideration when buying a canoe, it is something to consider. Fortunately, if you shop around, it should be simple to find a great canoe without breaking the bank.

Now, let’s look at some of the best canoes on the market if you’re a beginner.

Best Overall - Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe

Tandem canoeing techniques

Even though this canoe is inflatable, most customers claim it feels and rides just like a solid canoe. It costs roughly $1,980 and is super-easy to get back into the upright position should you find that it’s tipped over in the water. It is also a very spacious canoe because it comes in a length of 16 feet and has two seats in it. It is reliable, tracks very well, and is in fact difficult to tip over while you’re on the water. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, very sturdy canoe, this is it.


  • Very easy to maneuver
  • No need for a roof rack
  • Feels more like a solid canoe
  • Very durable 


  • Some may consider it pricey

Most Affordable – Malibu Two Tandem Kayak

While this is technically a Kayak it has an open design to easily get in and out of and less likely to tip. This is designed for two people. There is plenty of room for extra supplies if you go solo, or room to have fun together with a friend.

It comes in around $800, but is typically on sale. 

It’s low cost means it does not come with a lot of bells and whistles. Simply some nice seats, straps, and handles.


  • The price is right! Very affordable
  • Very durable with its plastic/polyethylene design
  • Two seats for another passenger or more storage
  • Lightweight for its size – claims 58lbs, but feels lighter
  • Easy to Launch, very beginner friendly


  • Not a lot of extras, simple design.
  • No watertight storage area
  • It’s 12-foot length can cause issues for some
  • Not great for fishing or activities other than exploring

Best Value - Old Town Sportsman Discovery Solo 119

There are several things beginners will love about this canoe. For one thing, it sells for around $1000 and is therefore very reasonably priced. It has a weight capacity of 354 pounds, which is phenomenal for it’s size. It comes with rod holders, storage trays, comfortable seat, and elbow rests. This makes it the perfect canoe for people who love all-day canoeing trips.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Comes with tons of conveniences
  • Great hybrid platform to customize however you like
  • Great in shallow water


  • Low seat can be difficult to get in and out of
  • High side walls can make paddling uncomfortable for shorter people
  • It’s short and wide base makes it harder for long distances

Most portable - Oru Kayak

This is a great kayak for people who travel a lot because you can easily fold it into the proper shape, which only takes about ten minutes to do! It’s very durable and sturdy, but you are compromising some luxuries for it’s ease of use and portability. It can be a great weekend warrior and hold a few hundred pounds of weight.


  • Fully foldable and easy to transport
  • Can accommodate 2 or more people
  • Can be unfolded and put together in about ten minutes


  • Expensive
  • Not as maneuverable
  • Gimmicky
  • Some people have gotten manufacturing defects


If you’re a beginner I hope you consider all the important factors we discussed here. Canoeing is a lot of fun solo and with others. It opens up new areas to explore and adventures to have. 

With the popularity of a lot of these canoe’s you can likely find places to rent them to test. Or used ones locally a lot cheaper with minimal wear. You have to be happy with the boat you chose or you won’t have as much fun as I am. 

see you on the water!

-OP Editor