The first question of paddling is, one blade or two? Though the closed-cockpit design of kayaks steers some claustrophobes to the open embrace of canoes, the truth is that kayaks have advantages over canoes for those who are just learning how water behaves when it’s heading downhill. Kayakers keep a lower centre of gravity for greater stability, and have a ready blade on either side for reassuring low braces and quick accelerations without correction strokes. Here are a couple of noted names for both options.
remains the first name in canoes. The company’s Twin-Tex Zephyr offers a lively ride, but rank beginners will be more comfortable in the larger Raven, one of the most forgiving open canoes.
new Zen design is long enough to deliver forward speed so you can move around a river, but offers good planing and carving performance for, dare we say, meditative soul surfs.