Difference Between Kayaking, Rafting, and Canoeing

A woman in a blue jacket sitting in a canoe with a yellow paddle.

Kayaking, Rafting, and Canoeing are all water sports that include a boat. But their similarities end here. Each of the three sports is very different from one another and offers a unique experience. It’s, therefore, important to understand which sport is which. To help you distinguish, here’s what Kayaking, Rafting, and Canoeing are and how they differ from one another.


Kayaking is done in a small boat known as a kayak. Most of the kayaks can only fit a single person. However, some can allow up to 3 people. As kayaks are smaller, each person has his own boat to manage with a double-bladed paddle.

Kayaks are lightweight, which makes it easy for a single person to paddle. They are also narrow and can fit through tight spaces. They might not have the best balance as they can flip upside down. However, it’s not something to worry about as they can be flipped back just as easily. There are different types of kayaking.

Recreational Kayaking

It’s done for fun. Something you would like to do with your kids as it is entertaining and easy.

Sea/Ocean Kayaking

Kayaking on large bodies of water like the sea. Sea kayaking can be for as long as a few days. Because you have to travel long distances in sea kayaking, you might have to paddle a lot.

White Water Kayaking

It’s done in rough waters like a river with rapids and waterfalls. This can be really thrilling. Kayaks for white water are stubby and short.

Kayak Fishing

Fishing in a kayak can be really entertaining. Kayaks for fishing are more comfortable, stable, and spacious.

  A man in an orange kayak


Rafting is a group water sport that is done in an inflatable raft. A raft can fit up to 10 people. 9 people can paddle the raft at one time, four on each side and one on the back. Rafting is a very common tourist attraction because it is a very challenging sport.

It’s a great way to enjoy the white water. The thrill that comes with rafting is unmatched. As it’s a team sport, you might enjoy it more if you like doing things as a group. There are three most common types of rafts: paddle rafts, motor rafts, and a combination of the two.

Unlike Kayaking, Rafting is only done in rough waters. The paddles used in rafting are single-bladed, and the raft is completely open.

 Six people in a blue raft


Canoeing is done in a small, lightweight, and narrow boat called a canoe that's pointed on both ends. Most of the canoes can fit at least two people. As kayaks and canoes are very similar, you might wonder if they’re the same thing. Well, that’s not the case. Although the difference is very small, the two are still different.

Unlike kayaking, canoeing uses a single-bladed paddle. Moreover, in a kayak the paddler is sitting down while they paddles, whereas in a canoe, they're kneeling.

 woman in a boat

If you’re planning to go kayaking, rafting, or canoeing, make sure to pack right. You might want to pack clothes that are fit for such activities. If you’re looking for such clothes, visit Lost on Land, Found at Sea. We’re an Alaskan clothing store with one of the best nautical clothing for men. Make sure to check out our collection for all your clothing needs.

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