Everybody is somewhat familiar with canoeing, even if they haven’t ever touched a paddle before. It’s largely considered a fun and intriguing pastime by water sports enthusiasts all across the world. However, to those who have yet to experience canoeing for themselves, it can be hard to fathom exactly why so many people are fascinated with this activity.
To help address this problem, I put together 13 ways that explain why canoeing is such an addictive hobby for people of all ages. By the end of the article, you might have to try paddling on a canoe for yourself!
1.) No Prior Experience is Necessary
The foremost reason that canoeing is such a great pastime is that it does not require any previous experience. First-timers can hop into a canoe and get paddling within the hour.
For most other water sports—like windsurfing or wakeboarding, for example—there’s a slow learning curve involved. There’s no guarantee that they will be able to get up on their first try. Oftentimes, they either have to take a lesson or course with an instructor to grasp the fundamentals.
Canoeing is rather simple, as the basics of paddling are relatively easy to learn. Although many first-timers have an irrational fear of tipping the canoe over, the majority of canoeists will rarely ever take a tumble into the water. Even the ones that do tip over typically do so on purpose to learn the basics of a canoe flip and rescue.
You can find more information about why canoes have a fairly easy time staying right side up by clicking over to How Hard Is It to Flip a Canoe (+Tips to Stay Upright).
Plus, first-time canoeists also have the opportunity to ride in a canoe with multiple other paddlers if they do not yet feel comfortable venturing out alone. Having other people there to help ease the burdens of paddling makes canoeing a much less intimidating prospect.
2.) The Entire Family Can Join In for the Ride
Another reason that canoeing is so fun is that it’s an activity that’s open to people of all ages, from the young to the old. Given the simplicity and low impact nature of this water pursuit, few individuals are exempt from participating.
Unfortunately, not many other water pursuits offer this level of openness. Since other water sports are a lot tougher on the joints and are a bit more complex, some family members just don’t bode well with these water activities.
Take surfing, for example. Surfing requires a base level of strength and balance to switch from the prone position to the upright position. For family members with knee problems, this may not be possible to do. Other family members may be afraid of getting smacked with hard waves time and time again.
Canoeing is a much better alternative for family outings because there are not many negative aspects that could potentially turn someone away. Paddling on a canoe can be as leisurely or as extreme as you want it to be, which brings me to my next point.
3.) You Can Test Your Limits with Whitewater Conditions
Canoeists have the luxury of pushing their boundaries if they so desire. Although many recreational canoeists lean toward paddling in calm, flat waters, there’s also the opportunity to paddle in whitewater conditions.
For some individuals, taking a nice leisurely canoe ride on a pond or lake is the very definition of a fun time. However, the water and wind conditions need to be kicked up a notch for others to be fully engaged.
Fortunately, many popular canoeing destinations have begun to mark off particular waterways with ratings that indicate their level of difficulty (source). These difficulty levels range from Class A (easiest) to Class VI (hardest).
This classification system allows canoeists to work their way up and test themselves if they’ve grown bored with easygoing rides along calm waters. Providing canoeists with room to continually improve and build up their experience gives them something to strive for.
Some individuals have a strong preference toward pastimes that are goal-oriented. This classification system appeals to a broader demographic of people by offering the daring challenge of canoeing in whitewater rapids.
4.) A Fun, Unique Alternative to Running or Lifting
People are also drawn to canoeing because it is an unconventional form of exercise that most people aren’t yet accustomed to.
In most cases, people improve their fitness by implementing a consistent running or lifting routine. However, over months of training, performing the same old workout routine can feel monotonous. Mixing things up with canoeing is a fantastic way to get a workout without sticking to the same boring routine.
In a recent study analyzing the body composition of professional-level canoeists, researchers discovered that the average study participant had a lean body mass of 152.2 pounds (source), a considerable amount of muscle compared to the average human.
This is large because canoeing exhausts the back, arm, and ab muscles. Even the muscles of the lower body are worked to a degree. All of this muscle exertion leads to a marked increase in muscular strength, something that most people overlook when analyzing the fitness benefits of canoeing.
In terms of aerobic fitness, the numbers are also somewhat shocking. According to Men’s Journal, spending a whole day canoeing can burn anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 calories (source).
When you stack up those caloric numbers to jogging, you’ll find that canoeing is just as good of an aerobic workout. So if you’re looking to start your weight loss journey with unconventional means, canoeing might be the answer that you’ve been looking for.
Plus, you get the bonus of being able to absorb the sights and sounds of the nature around you, a topic we’ll discuss in greater detail next.
5.) Easy to Get in Touch with the Surrounding Environmental Scenery
Furthermore, canoeing grants people the opportunity to escape the stresses of everyday life and find peace within nature.
With all the hustle and bustle of work life, it can be difficult to find time to get in touch with your wild side. For most people, the only real time they spend outside is when they take a brisk walk around the town.
A brief stroll in the downtown area hardly compares to the tranquility of canoeing in the very core of nature. There’s something special about cruising along the water without having to keep track of the time constantly. Just sitting back, relaxing, and taking in the sights is about as fun of a pastime as there is.
From an outside perspective, it’s hard to understand the pleasure that accompanies the simplicity of nature. But when you go out on that canoe for the first time, the instinctual draw of canoeing becomes more and more apparent as you begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness.
6.) You Can Stay Relatively Dry Throughout the Entire Trip
Another pleasant aspect of canoeing is that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of being soaking wet. Most water sports require you to take a plunge into the watery depths, drenching you from head to toe. This is not a problem with canoeing.
As discussed previously, canoes rarely ever capsize in flat water conditions. Therefore, you can enjoy paddling in the dry confines of the canoe without ever having to set foot in the water. The only time you get somewhat wet is the occasional splash from an overzealous paddle stroke.
However, if you want to get wet, nothing is holding you back from taking a voluntary dip into the water! After a long paddling session with the sun beating down, this may be exactly what you need.
There will be times when you don’t want a droplet of water to hit you or your gear. But, conversely, there will be other times where the first thing you want to do is jump into the river or lake. Having these options at your disposal is what makes canoeing so appealing to people everywhere.
7.) The Rhythmic Motion of Paddling is Meditative
The next major attraction of canoeing is its meditative element. In today’s world, where everyone is up to their eyeballs in screens, your mind is almost always in a constant state of activity. Whether it be checking e-mails, watching TV, or scrolling through social media, your mind rarely has time to take a step back from all the chaos and recuperate.
The plain, straightforward motion of paddling is a helpful means to put your mind at ease. There’s no mentally taxing work involved. All you have to do is push and pull with the paddle again and again.
Oftentimes, it’s these simple little activities where we find the most peace. Since we’ve always been conditioned to be striving toward something, our minds hardly ever wander off on their own. With the alluring scenery of nature and the constant ebb and flow of the waves, canoeists are allowed to open their minds to the beauty of the wilderness.
You cannot quantify the relaxation stimulated by canoeing, but it’s important to consider nonetheless.
8.) You Can Paddle Alone… or with Company!
As aforementioned, canoeing doesn’t have to be a solo activity. The availability of tandem canoes and multi-rider canoes grants paddlers the opportunity to bring a few friends along for the ride.
It’s nice to have some additional company around when you’re out paddling in nature. Not only do you get to talk and enjoy good conversation, but it’s also much safer for you to commit to this route. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’ll have other people around to have your back.
However, there may be times where you have a free schedule, and your friends don’t. Under these circumstances, it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to rely on your friends to go out and canoe. If you have a strong call to adventure, you don’t have to limit yourself merely because there’s nobody else to tag along with you.
It’s a privilege to have the choice to go it alone or with other people. Not many other water sports can realistically offer this luxury.
With a sport like water skiing, for example, another person needs to be driving the boat while you’re being towed behind. So, unfortunately, practicing independently is not possible with this specific water activity.
Even though most people overlook the convenient accessibility of canoeing, it’s definitely a leading factor as to why so many people enjoy it.
9.) Can Be Done on Most Bodies of Water
Speaking of accessibility, canoeing is also extremely versatile in that it can be performed on practically any large-scale body of water.
As long as you have a means of transporting the canoe to shore, you can canoe practically anywhere. You can typically solve the issue of transportation with the addition of a basic roof rack.
The primary reason that canoeing is so versatile is that no special type of water condition is needed. With surfing, you need sufficient waves. With kitesurfing, you need adequate wind. People can partake in canoeing in flat water, whitewater, low wind, and high wind if need be.
Ultimately, canoeing on a particular body of water depends on the individual’s experience. Obviously, beginners should build up their skills with low winds and flat waters before moving on to harsher conditions. Still, the opportunity for a challenge will always be present nonetheless.
For this reason, canoeists don’t have to rely on the elements nearly as much as some other sports. Since the wind and the waves are so fickle, there are times where surfers and kitesurfers have to pack their bags and go back home because the conditions aren’t conducive to their sport. Luckily for canoeists, they don’t have to deal with this problem nearly as much.
If you want to take a glimpse into what some of the most popular canoeing destinations are, click over to Can You Canoe Anywhere? (Places to Go & Places to Avoid).
10.) Become a Part of the Massive Canoeing Community
In addition, the canoeing community is strikingly large, making it easy for canoeists to connect with other people who share a similar passion for the water. The bonds forged through canoeing have the potential to last a lifetime, as this water sports activity is founded upon positive social interaction.
Now you’re probably wondering, how many people are a part of the canoeing community anyway?
Needless to say, there are a considerable amount of canoeists out there that are more than willing to help you along in your paddling journey.
It’s important to note that the canoeing community is not only large. It’s also tight-knit. There are multiple internet forums, websites, and YouTube channels that are dedicated solely to teaching newcomers how to best enjoy their canoeing outings—and that only has to do with its online presence!
There are also numerous lakes and rivers where locals help to instruct newcomers in the art of canoeing. These efforts may seem insignificant, but collectively they have done wonders for this outdoor hobby.
11.) Ability to Explore Areas that Cannot Be Accessed by Large Boats
Furthermore, the sleek maneuverability offered by canoes allows paddlers to explore waterways that would otherwise be barred off to them.
Larger boats have trouble navigating through narrow, swampy bodies of water. There are too many obstacles to make this kind of free exploration feasible.
Since canoes are not nearly as big and clumsy as motorboats, paddlers can feed their wild side and investigate these hard-to-navigate regions. Part of the allure of canoeing is being fully encapsulated in nature. There are few better ways to do that than to access areas where nature completely envelops the entire area.
What’s more, canoeists do not even have to worry about the potentially damaging effects of shallow waters. Since people power their canoes with manual labor rather than an electric motor, there’s far less risk involved with exploring these confined areas.
12.) Canoe Camping Trips
In addition, the structure of the canoe is designed with an ample amount of storage for long bouts on the water. This extra storage makes canoe camping one of the most popular outdoor activities for canoeists.
Essentially, a canoe camping trip resembles a normal backpacking trip, except your primary means of movement is paddling along riverways instead of walking on hiking trails.
By taking part in a canoe camping trip, you get the full experience of canoeing and camping all rolled up into one. You can spend hours paddling along the water and taking in the scenery, then stop for the night and set up camp. The best part about canoe camping trips is that you can pick up where you left off the very next morning!
To some of you, this may seem a little extreme. But keep in mind that not all canoe camping trips have to be self-guided. Surprisingly, there are many tour-guided canoe trips available to the general public. It’s just a matter of going out and finding them.
These trips are certainly not for the faint of heart, but they offer canoeists a fantastic outdoor escape. With these camping trips, canoeists can relate to nature on a whole different level compared to other water sports.
13.) Easy to Take Breaks When Needed
Lastly, canoeists are afforded the chance to take breaks whenever they’re too exhausted to paddle. Although paddling is fairly easy to pick up, the feeling of body soreness compounds with every paddle stroke. After paddling lengthy distances, having the capacity to sit back and relax is extremely convenient.
It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to be in a state of constant muscle exertion when you’re out on the water. If you don’t feel like paddling, you don’t have to! You can sit there and float in the canoe and wait until your muscles are rested enough to start anew. It’s not like the canoe is suddenly going to capsize as soon as you stop paddling!
Canoeing with other people also lends itself to more possible breaks if need be. Riders can take turns paddling, offering each person some much-needed rest on long canoeing trips. Sharing the load with other paddlers is a great way to keep the energy up and stay engaged in the experience.
The Bottom Line
Canoeing is a great outdoor hobby that practically anyone can do. If you’ve made it this far, you obviously have an interest in canoeing, so go out and paddle! You may stumble upon your next big passion on the water.