Outrigger Canoes VS Kayak VS Other Canoes

When compared to each other, kayaks and canoes are quite similar to one another. People sit in them, paddle, and both vessels silently glide through the water. However, they also have their differences as well: canoes use paddles with a single blade, while kayak paddles are double-bladed. Seats of a kayak are lower—they are located right on the floor of the boat, on the same level as the waterline. On the other hand, the seats of a canoe are raised just a little below or on the same level as the top rail of the boat.
An Outrigger Canoe Sits On The Beach


Kayaks are faster since they sit lower in the water, so that means less time in paddling through the water and less wind resistance. Also, the double-bladed paddles are more efficient—unlike a single-bladed canoe paddle, you don’t have to paddle from one side to the other on a kayak.
However, everything will depend on whether the person is a skilled kayaker or not. If you put one beginner on a kayak and the other on a canoe, the canoe will surely race ahead. Because they are so light, kayaks are harder to control—it would probably just spin around in the hands of a rookie kayaker.


Canoes are generally wider, and have more of the vessel touching the water. While this means more resistance, on the other hand, canoes are more stable, gliding straight on calm waters, and would fare better in rougher waters and against strong winds than a kayak.

Canoes are used for a wide variety of activities, such as racing competitions, whitewater canoeing, fishing and exploration. There are many different types: first, you have the playboats, which are most similar to kayaks. Whitewater canoes with high sides to keep water out, no matter how turbulent, and places to tie floatation bags to in case of capsizing, as this will help keep the vessel afloat. Racing canoes are made of lightweight materials such as Kevlar or fiberglass, and have a narrow beam, spray skirts and closed decks. Recreational canoes, such as fishing canoes, might have rod holders to make fishing more convenient. Camping canoes have space for attachment of necessities. Canoes are pretty much adaptable with the addition of sails, motors and outriggers. They, are in a sense, like Legos, like the catamaran, which is basically two six-people canoes attached together.


We’ve established that canoes are much more stable and balanced, but when an outrigger is attached to the boat’s rigging, extending beyond the gunwale of boat, these additional floats add even more balance and stability to its overall performance. In an outrigger canoe, the outrigger is a long, thin and solid hull that is used to lend support and additional stability to the main hull. This is a very important feature, especially when sailing in open seas. One good example are the rather crude bangkas of the Philippines: the vessel is majorly made out of wood, with outriggers attached on either side of the boat. Although crude, they are very effective in crossing the seas when fishing or island hopping.

Wooden oars on outrigger canoe with canoeists in background

Outrigger Paddling Techniques

Canoe paddling is radically different from kayaking or rowing. “Canoers” use a single-sided paddle with a straight or double-bend shaft.

outrigger paddling

Here are some of the most basic strokes:

The forward stroke, also known as cruising stroke, is considered to be the most basic stroke of all other canoe paddling stores. The paddle blade is dipped into the water at the front side of the canoe then drawn backwards. It is used to move the canoe forward without making it turn. This technique is mostly used by the bowman, or the person paddling at the front of the vessel.
The reverse stroke or back paddling is basically in the opposite direction of the forward stroke. This is used to stop the canoe, or make it go backwards. The paddle blade is also turned around, using the back face.

The J-stroke is like the forward stroke, but towards the stroke’s end, the paddler rotates the paddle and pushes it AWAY from the canoe. During this stroke, the paddle side being used to push against the water is the side used to straighten the canoe. This is to ensure that the canoe doesn’t steer away from the side of the stern man. This stroke is most efficient used in relatively calm waters. This technique is named so, because it looks like the letter “J” when done on the port side.

Before paddlers master the J-stroke, they use the goon/rudder stroke or superior stroke. Unllike the J-stroke, this stroke uses the opposite side of the paddle to steer it along. It is like a basic stroke, but with a little more wrest in the end. This stroke is more commonly used in white water and rough waters.

For rapids and strong winds, the Indian stroke or Canadian-J stroke can be used to paddle straight. It’s also the stealth paddling used in calm water, as it doesn’t make any sound when done correctly. This blade doesn’t leave the water with this technique. Instead, the paddle is moved forward then the grip rotated in the palm.

What is an Outrigger Canoe?

The outrigger canoe is a kind of canoe by having one or more outriggers—which are basically support floats—attached to one or both sides of the canoe. These rigs act as balance, helping to balance the hull when in rough waters or paddling very fast. It is, in a way, a sort of safety net for the people in the canoe, preventing the canoe from capsizing, especially in open waters. Smaller canoes often have just one outrigger on the port side, and larger canoes may have one each on either sides, or even more.

Purple and White canoe sitting on sand

The hulls of the outrigger are longer and narrower, making it more dynamically efficient on the water.

Canoe Types

There are many kinds of outrigger canoes: the OC1, OC2, OC3, OC4 and OC6, with the numbers pertaining to the number of paddlers in a single-hull vessel. For double-hull canoes, there’s the DC12 or OC12, which is twelve people paddling a double-hull outrigger canoe or two six-person canoes rigged into one, such as a catamaran. V1, V2, and so on are outriggers without a rudder.

Originally, the first canoes were built with two purposes in mind: fishing and transportation. Canoes are of varying lengths and weight, but the designs are similar. Compared to modern canoes nowadays, these canoes would be seen as short, bulky and heavy, with little to practically no attempts at streamlining, as they were built more for practical purposes rather than speed. But leave it to mankind to be naturally competitive—probably a couple of bored fishermen deciding to have a race on who gets to a certain point first—and voila, an entire sport was born.

The most popular outrigger canoe used in racing is a six-person canoe, but for those who want to paddle on their own, there are also solo outrigger canoes available. More info here

Coleman Vantage

Fishing from a canoe is one of the most effective—not to mention rewarding—ways to fish. Imagine being able to glide along any surface effortlessly and quietly, from deeper waters to sand flats that are chock full of weeds, basically being able to sneak up to fish without them even noticing your approach.
One great canoe would be the Coleman Vantage. This touring canoe measures 13 feet 6 inches, weighing only 25 kilos, or 56 pounds. The beam measures 37 inches or 94 centimeters. It can hold up to 295 kilos, or approximately 650 pounds. It can carry up to two people, with seats that have rod holders for fishing convenience, and comes with two oars and two paddles. Going fishing or river exploring as a family? This canoe features an optional rowing seat that can be easily detached.

Coleman Vantage

The canoe is made of a plastic-like material called Ram-X, which is virtually indestructible. There’s added protection with sleeves over the gunwales. For convenience in carrying it, there are carrying handles at both the fore and aft. The hull is rounded and keeled to prevent side slipping, and improve tracking as well. For easier maneuvering in waves, the bow and stern are at a moderate slope.
With a small craft like a canoe, you are, once again, the silent hunter. Another kind of boat, especially motorized ones, would take so much more time as they scare fish off and you’ll have to wait again for the fish to come back and settle down. With a canoe, your fishing rate will surely increase, as you can now glide towards those spots you previously couldn’t get to.


If you’re a nature enthusiast (as you most likely are), one great thing about the stealth is you will get to observe animals in their habitat without disturbing them, such as kingfishers with brightly-colored plumage doing their own fishing or turtles lazily basking in the sun. Check here for more info –