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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    1,444

    Paddling with a kid: Tandem kayak? Canoe?

    My wife and I currently have basic individual kayaks which we use for day trip flatwater paddling on local lakes, ponds, and the Connecticut River. One is a Costco-special Equinox that's wide, stable, and has a cockpit sized to fit the average Costco shopper. We have a 4 year old, and for the past two years we've been taking him out by sitting him on my lap in the large cockpit and we paddle together.

    We're thinking of adding/changing this setup for two reasons:

    1. Dual paddling in one cockpit is becoming less comfortable as my son gets bigger.
    2. We're moving from Massachusetts to Nevada, and so our paddling locations will change from mostly smaller lakes to Lake Mead and Black Canyon Water Trail (basically the flatwater part of the Colorado just downstream of Lake Mead), so distances will be notably bigger and there are camping options.

    So what are people's thoughts on tandem kayaks vs. canoes? I was thinking with the tandem that I could pack some stuff in the second cockpit along with my son and that it would be generally faster to paddle. I imagine it would also be easier to load up on the van, but I haven't loaded many canoes.

    With the canoe, you can pack even more stuff (toss in a cooler), and me, my wife, son, and maybe even dog could potentially be all in the same boat, but I imagine it would be slower going. A square stern canoe is seems like an interesting option in case I wanted to put a little electric trolling motor on it for some assistance to cover more ground.

    Any flatwater paddlers with small kids have advice?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    DownEast
    Posts
    643
    We found a tandem kayak with a child in the front was the best solution for covering distance effectively. Load gear as far forward as you can to trim the boat.

    Canoe was only better for hauling lots of gear for short camping paddles.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    41
    I am biased because I grew up in Minnesota, but I say you can't go wrong with a canoe. You can carry a lot more than you would with a kayak. If you put the kiddo the middle make sure to have him sit low to keep the center of gravity low. I personally cannot convince my dog to stay in the canoe, but YMMV.

    But, if you have not canoed before there is definitely a bit of a learning curve to paddling efficiently (e.g. in a straight line). And, paddling a tandem canoe if you are the only paddler (e.g. just you and your kid) is a skill that can take a while to master.

    If you want a motor, I'd go the route of buying a regular canoe and getting a motor mount.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Calgary/Golden
    Posts
    5,614
    I had a flat-back canoe before.
    The ability to put a motor on is nice, but when you paddle solo, they suck. They get blown all over by even the slightest wind.

    I like a standard canoe myself, but I've never kayaked before and all I know is loading and packing a canoe solo.
    It doesn't matter if you're a king or a little street sweeper...
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    108
    The canoe gives your kid more room to move around -- which is good or bad depending on the kid. The canoe gives you more access to the kid without having to pull over. The canoe can fit your wife or an additional kid, dog, cooler, etc.
    The kayak will definitely be faster and you will not have to work as hard as in the canoe (especially because with kids, if you have more space for stuff you tend to use it) but overall I think the canoe is more versatile and if you have to have only one, get a canoe. I have done both but if I had to pick one I'd go with a canoe.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Shuswap Highlands
    Posts
    2,700
    We have a 17ft tripper that works very well for the 3 of us human with hound. More cargo space, and 2 paddling adults are faster than you with you non-paddling grom in the kayak. We paddle up to class 2 water with the whole family without too much concern. Just me in the canoe, especially without weight to trim, sucks with the slightest breeze - been contemplating a rowing kit for solo fishing on lakes.

    Just you and the kiddo, I would go kayak. So depends on the N+1 toy factor you subscribe to! Have fun!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Wasatch Back: 7000'
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    9,760
    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    With the canoe, you can pack even more stuff (toss in a cooler), and me, my wife, son, and maybe even dog could potentially be all in the same boat, but I imagine it would be slower going.

    Any flatwater paddlers with small kids have advice?
    This has been our experience when paddling Jackson Lake with a small kiddo. Especially, if you want to paddle to an island and camp. For an hour long paddle in a smaller lake, or reservoir, where your goal is just a bit of fun on the water with no need for storage, a tandem can be fun once you get the rhythm down. Bottom line, if I am alone, I'd prefer kayak. If I'm with a 4-10 year old, I'd prefer canoe.
    A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    20,375
    a double kayak with a center hatch would be pretty ideal, double kayaks are usually pretty fast becuz speed is a product of length, I have spent some time in my buddy's Kevlar Seaward Passat which is the ne plus ultra of doubles

    the down side is you need 2 people to paddle a double, they weigh narth of 70lbs depending on how much money you spent, due to the length transporting can be a problem, if you are really into seakayaking 2 singles will carry more supplies than 1 large double

    Once you own a double they are really hard to get rid of

    IMO you probably you want a canoe
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    Sounds like a canoe is the way to go. I don't foresee wanting to run a motor much, so standard over square back makes sense. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    on the banks of Fish Creek
    Posts
    2,592
    As a very general rule the maximum speed of any displacement hull--commonly called its hull speed--is governed by a simple formula: hull speed in knots equals 1.34 times the square root of the waterline length in feet (HS = 1.34 x √LWL).







    in other words get the longest canoe you can get.....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    on the banks of Fish Creek
    Posts
    2,592
    good excuse to start the kid on waterskiing....



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