Best Canoe for Family

Embarking on a serene canoeing adventure is a timeless experience that binds families together amidst the tranquil embrace of nature. Whether you’re gliding through calm rivers, exploring hidden lakes, or navigating gentle rapids, the right canoe can make all the difference in ensuring safety, comfort, and the creation of lasting memories.

The best family canoe has features like ample space, stability through a wide beam, durable canoe materials, adjustable seating, ergonomic comfort, storage options, and a balance between maneuverability and tracking. It’s a secure, comfortable, and versatile vessel for cherished multi-generational adventures on the water.

We know how difficult it is to find a perfect family canoe, but we are here to solve your problems. We have combined a list of 3 seater canoes that are best for your families.

Key Takeaways for Best Canoe for Family

Why there aren’t any 4 or more-seater canoes on the list – The provided list exclusively features three-person canoes that are best canoes for families. This is because of the intention of highlighting options for smaller groups. Larger canoes with four or more seats were not included in this compilation. Another reason is that 4 or more-seater canoes are not easily available in the marketplace.

Can one person comfortably paddle a family canoe – One person can paddle a family canoe, but it might be less efficient due to weight and balance challenges. Adjustments like centre seating can help, but solo or tandem canoes are often more suited for one person’s comfort.

Which of these family canoes is most secure and almost unsinkable – The Grumman 17’ Square Stern Canoe is known for its durable aluminium construction, often considered secure and almost unsinkable.

Which of these 3 seater canoes is most affordable – The Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe tends to be the most affordable option among these canoes.

Which one of them is the most lightweight and easy to transport – The BRIS 14.1ft 3-Person Inflatable Canoe is likely the most lightweight and easy to transport due to its inflatable design.

Which one of them is perfect for daylong paddling – The Old Town Saranac 160 Canoe is often favoured for its stability and comfort, making it suitable for daylong paddling.

4 Best Family Canoes – 3 Seater Canoes

Inflatable Canoe
BRIS 14.1ft Inflatable Canoe 
BRIS 14.1ft 3 Person Inflatable Canoe
  • Length:  14.1 ft
  • Capacity: 770 lbs
  • Material:  PVC
  • Seating:  3 persons
  • Durability: Least
  • Best Use: Can be used as a regular kayak or for fishing in ocean, bay, river, or lake.
Best overall
Sea Eagle Inflatable 16’ Canoe 
  • Length:  16 ft
  • Capacity: 915 lbs
  • Material:  1000 denier reinforced
  • Seating:  3 persons
  • Durability: Best
  • Best Use: Great for flatwater paddling, fishing, and camping
Value for money
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe 
  • Length:  13.5 ft
  • Capacity: 600 lbs
  • Material: High-density polyethylene
  • Seating:  3 persons
  • Durability: Third Best
  • Best Use: Ideal for fishing, hunting, and recreational paddling
super durabke
Old Town Saranac 160
Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe
  • Length:  16 ft
  • Capacity: 850 lbs
  • Material: Thermoformed polyethylene
  • Seating:  3 persons
  • Durability: Second Best
  • Best Use: Ideal for family recreational paddling and fishing

7 Best Family Canoes (3-Seaters)

 1.  BRIS 14.1ft 3 Person Inflatable Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

BRIS 14.1ft Inflatable Canoe is a versatile and durable watercraft suitable for fishing, kayaking and a tender boat for yachts and sailboats. The package includes an inflatable kayak, air deck floor, bench seat, oars, foot pump, carry bag, and repair kit. 

It has a three-person seating capacity and four individual chambers for improved safety. The removable drop stitch air deck floor and four fins provide excellent tracking and stability.

BRIS 14.1ft 3 Person Inflatable Canoe
BRIS 14.1ft 3 Person Inflatable Canoe1


Overall Length14.1 ft/ 430 cm
MaterialHeavy-duty PVC
Overall Width4.3 ft
Inside Width16.5 inch
Tuber Diameter17.5-inch
Seating Capacity3 persons
Number of Chambers4+
Max Person2 adults
Accessories3 Seats, Oars, Foot Pump, Carry Bag, and Repair Kit
Floor TypeRemovable Drop Stitch Air Deck Floor
Fins4 Fins for Improved Tracking

Prominent Features

  • The presence of four separate chambers ensures enhanced safety.
  • Stability and comfort are achieved through a removable drop-stitch air deck floor.
  • Improved tracking capabilities facilitated by four fins.
  • Versatile usability: suitable for fishing, kayaking, and as a tender boat for yachts and sailboats.
What I liked
  •  Versatile and usable for various water activities
  • Removable drop stitch air deck floor 
  • The four fins provide excellent tracking and stability
  • The package has accessories, a carry bag, repair kit.
What I don’t Liked
  • Inflated canoe’s weight is challenging for solo transport.

2.  Sea Eagle Inflatable 16’ Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

The Sea Eagle Inflatable 16′ Canoe, often called the Travel Canoe 16, is a high-pressure inflatable canoe that is portable, lightweight, and simple to store. It is the first high-pressure, all-drop-stitch inflatable travel canoe to receive a patent. 

With a setup time of under 10 minutes, the canoe is intended to be sturdy, stable, and simple to use. The TC16 can hold up to three persons and has a maximum load capacity of 915 lbs. It weighs about the same as conventional hard shell canoes in the same class and division.

Sea Eagle Inflatable 16’ Canoe
Sea Eagle Inflatable 16’ Canoe1


Material1000 denier-reinforced PVC
Length16 ft (4.88 m) 
Width38 inches (96.52 cm) at center
Weight65 lbs (29.48 kg) 
Depth20 inches (50.8 cm) at highest points
Load capacity915 lbs (415 kg) 
Setup TimeUnder 10 minutes
Seatswood web seats
Storage size40″ x 24″ x 16″ (101.6 cm x 60.96 cm x 40.64 cm) 
Side rails3″ thick rigid high-pressure (10 psi) inflatable drop stitch gunwales that stand 20″ at the highest points
AccessoriesPump, bag, and optional paddles included

Prominent Features

  • Exceptional stability with 20″ high-pressure inflatable drop stitch gunwales (side rails) and comfortable wood web seats.
  • Durable construction using 1000 denier reinforced PVC material, accommodating a maximum load of 915 lbs.
  • Comparable weight to traditional hard shell canoes of its class, yet conveniently packs down into a compact 40″ x 24″ x 16″ size for easy storage and transport.
What I liked
  •  Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Quick setup time of under 10 minutes
  • The high load capacity of 915 lbs
What I don’t Liked
  • Not suitable for rapid or strong currents

3.  Lifetime Kodiak Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

The Lifetime Kodiak Canoe is a reliable and stable canoe for outdoor lovers. It is made of UV-protected, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is blow-moulded and gives it durability and impact resistance. 

The canoe is 13 feet long and can easily fit three persons inside. It is already equipped with paddles and is prepared for usage. The Lifetime Kodiak Canoe is renowned for its stability and robustness, making it ideal for various water sports, including fishing, leisurely paddling, and exploring calm waters.

Lifetime Kodiak Canoe
Lifetime Kodiak Canoe


Length13” / 396.2 cm
Weight96 lb / 43.5 kg
Capacity600 lb / 272.1 kg
Maximum Width39″ / 99 cm
MaterialPolyethylene (PE)
Seating Capacity3
Hull MaterialHigh-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Height18.5 in.
Maximum Weight Capacity600 lbs

Prominent Features

  • Characterized by its robust and reliable build, offering a sturdy and stable platform for various water activities.
  • Crafted with durability in mind, the impact-resistant construction ensures resilience, 
  • Further augmented by UV-protected material that prolongs the canoe’s lifespan
  • and is designed to host up to three occupants for shared adventures comfortably.
What I liked
  •  Durable and impact-resistant construction
  • UV-protected for long-lasting use
  • It comes with two paddles
  • Suitable for various water activities
What I don’t Liked
  • The flat-bottomed hull design might be less suitable for more advanced or challenging water conditions.

4.  Old Town Saranac 160 Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

The Old Town Saranac 160 Canoe is a recreational canoe made for families, fishermen, and casual paddlers. It is designed to float across the water, making paddling fun easily. The narrow canoe has lower seats than conventional recreational boats, improving paddling performance.

Its sturdy single-layer polyethylene construction ensures its extended lifespan and wear and tear resilience. The Saranac 160 offers adaptability to diverse water conditions and is intended for use on lakes and ponds.

old town saranac 160
old town saranac 160


Length16′ / 487.7 cm
Width37″ / 93.98 cm
Weight89 lb / 40.37 kg
Capacity800-850 lb / 362.87-385.55 kg
MaterialThermoformed Polyethylene
Seating Capacity3
Hull ShapeFlat bottom
SeatsComfortable contoured seats
Suitable forRecreational use on flat water

Prominent Features

  • A streamlined design enhances paddling performance through a narrowed shape.
  • Prioritizing stability and comfort, its seats are slightly lower
  • The single-layer polyethylene construction ensures durability for long-lasting waterborne adventures.
  • Suitable for recreational use on flat water
What I liked
  •  Ease of manoeuvrability and smooth paddling experience
  • Comfortable seating with slightly lowered seats
  • Durable construction for long-lasting use
  • Versatility for various water conditions
  • Suitable for family outings, angling, and casual canoeing
What I don’t Liked
  • The storage compartment can get in the way of carrying larger items.

5.  Grumman 17’ Square Stern Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

The Grumman 17′ Square Stern Canoe is a tough and adaptable outboard-powered canoe. It has a square stern with a sturdy.125″ aluminium transom gusset that offers stability and support for installing outboard engines. 

The canoe is tougher and more durable than other square stern canoes since it is made of aircraft-grade aluminium. This canoe’s extra ribs improve its performance and strength. The 17′ Square Stern Canoe from Grumman is renowned for its durability, effectiveness, and dependability.

Grumman 17’ Square Stern Canoe
grumman 17' square stern1


Length17′ / 518.16 cm
Width38″ / 96.52 cm
Weight75 lb / 34.02 kg
Capacity770 lb / 349.27 kg
MaterialAircraft-grade aluminium
Seating Capacity3
Hull ShapeFlat bottom
Motor PadsMotor pads to secure outboards 
Transom gussetTough .125″ aluminium
Suitable forOutboard power and motorised use

Prominent Features

  • The Grumman 17’ Square Stern Canoe is built with aircraft-grade aluminium
  • Ensures exceptional durability to withstand rigorous water use.
  • Designed for outboard propulsion, it incorporates a tough .125” aluminium transom gusset 
  • Complete with motor pads for secure outboard attachment and ribs to enhance stability
  • The flat bottom hull shape aids in steady tracking.
What I liked
  •  Made from aircraft-grade aluminium for added durability
  • Designed for outboard power for added convenience
  • Transom gusset of tough .125” aluminium for added durability
  • Motor pads to secure outboards and ribs for added stability
What I don’t Liked
  • The aluminium construction might result in a slightly heavier weight than other materials.

6.  Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe

Overview About The Canoe

The Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe is a three-person canoe for canoeing and fishing. It has blow-moulded seats with two adjustable CRS seatbacks for comfort on the water. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), which was blow-moulded into the canoe, gives it durability, UV protection, and impact resistance. 

The integrated skeg enhances tracking and facilitates straight-line paddling. The Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe is appropriate for various water sports, including fishing, leisurely paddling, and exploring calm waterways.

Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe
Lifetime Wasatch 130 Canoe


Length13′ / 396.24 cm
Width39″ / 99.06 cm
Weight76 lb / 34.47 kg
Capacity600 lb / 272.16 kg
MaterialBlow-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
Seating Capacity3
Skeg Built-in skeg improves tracking
CRS SetbacksTwo adjustable CRS seatbacks for comfort on the water
Suitable forCanoeing and fishing

Prominent Features

  • Crafted with durable blow-moulded high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Ensures longevity and resilience against the elements
  • Versatile for a range of water activities, it offers comfort through adjustable CRS seatbacks
  •  Enhances tracking capabilities with its built-in skeg design.
What I liked
  •  Comfortable seating with adjustable seatbacks
  • Durable construction for long-lasting use
  • Built-in skeg for improved tracking and easier paddling
  • Suitable for various water activities, including recreational paddling and fishing
What I don’t Liked
  • The hull design might not be best usable in rough conditions

7.  Old Town Saranac 14’6

Overview About The Canoe

The Old Town Saranac 14’6 is a recreational canoe for families, anglers, and casual canoeists. Compared to typical recreational canoes, it has a slimmer profile and significantly lowered seats, which improve paddling performance. 

Because the canoe is built of a single sheet of polyethylene, it will last a long time and be durable. The Saranac 14’6 offers adaptability for diverse water conditions and is intended for use on lakes and ponds.

Old Town Saranac 14'6
Old Town Saranac 14'6
Length14’6″ / 442 cm
Width36″ / 91.44 cm
Weight79 lb / 35.83 kg
Capacity750 lb / 340.19 kg
MaterialThermoformed Polyethylene
Seating 3
Hull ShapeFlat bottom
SeatsContoured, moulded seats for added comfort
Suitable forRecreational use on flat water.
Additional FeaturesRod holders, storage options, and storage trays

Prominent Features

  • Features a sleek, narrowed shape, enhancing paddling performance through improved manoeuvrability and efficiency.
  • Its design prioritises stability and comfort with slightly lowered seats.
  • The single-layer polyethylene construction ensures durability, making it an ideal choice for recreational use in calm flat water conditions.
What I liked
  •  Ease of manoeuvrability and smooth paddling experience
  • Comfortable seating with slightly lowered seats
  • Durable construction for long-lasting use
  • Versatility for various water conditions
  • Suitable for family outings, angling, and casual canoeing
What I don’t Liked
  • Only suitable for flat-water activities

You Should Check these Things in a Best Family Canoe Before Buying

When buying a family canoe, several factors must be considered to ensure that you get the best family canoe for your needs. Here is a detailed explanation of each factor and how checking each can be useful:

Product Weight and Load Capacity

When selecting a canoe, consider its weight for easy solo transportation. Also, assess its load capacity to accommodate your family and gear. This assessment helps in making canoe transportation and storage requirements.

Hull Design

The canoe’s hull design impacts its stability and manoeuvrability. A flat-bottomed hull enhances stability, while a rounded one boosts manoeuvrability. Evaluating the hull design aids in selecting a canoe that aligns with your stability and manoeuvring preferences.


Enhance your canoeing experience with practical features like cups, coolers, and paddle holders. Reviewing available features lets you choose a canoe tailored to your specific activities and convenience preferences. The BRIS 14.1ft 3-Person Inflatable Canoe is loaded with features.

Storage Options

Keep your canoeing accessories/gear safe and dry by considering storage options such as dry compartments and bungee cords. By assessing storage choices, you can opt for a canoe that effectively fulfills your gear storage needs.


The choice of materials influences the canoe’s durability, weight, and cost. Options like aluminium, fibreglass, and polyethene have distinct characteristics. Examining material options assists in selecting a canoe that meets your durability, weight, and budget requirements.

Gunwales Material

The canoe’s top edges, or gunwales, can be crafted from aluminium, wood, or plastic. These materials impact factors like weight, durability, and aesthetics. Evaluating gunwales material aids in finding a canoe that aligns with your weight, durability, and appearance preferences.

Seat Type 

Comfort and adjustability hinge on the seat type. Whether it’s bench seats, moulded seats, or adjustable ones, this choice affects your overall experience. Reviewing seat types facilitates selecting a canoe that provides your desired comfort and adjustability.

Depth and Width

The depth and width of the canoe can affect its stability and weight capacity. A wider canoe is generally more stable, while a deeper canoe can hold more gear. The depth and width can help you choose a canoe that meets your stability and weight capacity needs.


The ability of the canoe to track straight can affect its manoeuvrability and ease of use. A canoe with good tracking will be easier to paddle and control. Checking the tracking can help you choose a canoe that is easy to paddle and control.


The canoe’s speed can affect how quickly you can travel and how much effort is required to paddle. A longer canoe with a pointed bow will generally be faster. Checking the speed can help you choose a canoe that meets your needs for speed and efficiency.

Skeg wheel

A skeg wheel can make transporting the canoe on the land easier, especially if you need to move it over rough terrain. Checking for a skeg wheel can help you choose a canoe that is easy to transport.

Rod holders for fishing (If you want to go fishing)

If you plan to go fishing, rod holders can be a useful feature. Checking for rod holders can help you choose a canoe suitable for fishing.

Compatibility with Motor and Offers Easy Installation

If you plan to use a canoe outboard motor, it’s important to ensure that the canoe is compatible and that installation is easy. Checking for compatibility and ease of installation can help you choose a canoe suitable for motor use.

Square stern canoes are designed to make motor installation easier. They have a flat back end that can accommodate a motor mount.

Seat Comfort and Removability/Adjustability

The comfort of the seats can affect how enjoyable your canoeing experience is. Removable and adjustable seats can make it easier to customise the canoe to your needs. Checking for seat comfort and adjustability can help you choose a comfortable and customisable canoe.

How Should You Paddle Together and Effectively in Family Canoe?

Paddling together effectively in a family canoe requires coordination and communication between the paddlers. Here are some tips and techniques to help you paddle together effectively:

  • Sit in the right positions: The person in the canoe’s stern (back) is in charge of steering, while the one in the bow (front) determines the speed. To guarantee efficient paddling, sit in the proper postures.
  • Use the J-stroke: The J-stroke technique allows the stern paddler to steer the canoe while the bow paddler maintains a consistent pace. Learn how to do the J-stroke to improve your paddling efficiency and control.
  • Communicate: Communication is key when paddling together. Use verbal cues or hand signals to communicate with your partner about the direction and speed of the canoe.
  • Maintain a consistent pace: Try to maintain a consistent pace to avoid paddling out of sync. This will help you conserve energy and paddle more efficiently.
  • Practice steering strokes: Learn some strokes, such as the sweep and draw strokes, to help steer the canoe effectively. 
  • Take breaks: Take breaks when needed to rest and stretch your muscles. This will help you avoid fatigue and maintain good paddling form.
  • Bring the right gear: Bring gloves and waterproofs to protect your hands and stay dry. This will help you stay comfortable and focused on paddling.
  • Plan your route: Plan your trip ahead of time and have a map to guide you. This will assist you in avoiding getting lost and safely arriving at your destination.
  • Teach your kids: If you’re paddling with children, show them some fundamental paddling methods and let them paddle in turns. This will increase their sense of involvement and engagement. 
  • Have fun: Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience of paddling together as a family. Take in the scenery and enjoy the time spent together on the water. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Paddling with Family (including kids)

  • Safety First: Prioritize safety by ensuring everyone wears a fitted personal flotation device (PFD) or canoe life jacket. This will keep everyone safe in case of an accident or emergency.
  • Choose the Right Equipment: Select the appropriate kayak or canoe for your family. Choosing the right equipment will ensure everyone is comfortable and safe while paddling the canoe.
  • Plan Ahead: Research the location and check the weather forecast before leaving. This will help you choose a calm and suitable water body for your family’s paddling adventure.
  • Hydration and Sun Protection: Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle close at hand and making a conscious effort to drink enough throughout the day. Protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen, hats, and lightweight, breathable clothing that covers exposed skin.
  • Pack Essential Gear: Create a packing list to ensure you have all the necessary gear for your family kayaking trip. This will ensure you have everything you need to stay safe and comfortable on the water.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Consider each family member’s abilities and comfort levels when planning the duration and intensity of your paddling trip. Starting with shorter trips and gradually increasing the distance and difficulty level will ensure everyone has a positive experience.
  • Teach and Practice Paddling Skills: Before setting off, teach your children basic paddling techniques and safety rules. This will help build confidence and ensure everyone can manoeuvre their kayak or canoe.
  • Stay Together and Communicate: Establish clear guidelines for staying together. This will ensure everyone stays safe and no one gets lost or separated from the group.
  • Respect Nature and Wildlife: Encourage your family to respect the environment and wildlife. This will help preserve the area’s natural beauty and ensure your family’s and the wildlife’s safety.
  • Choose the Right Clothes: When choosing clothes for a kayaking trip with your family, remember a few things. First, you want to protect your skin from the sun. Second, you want to wear clothes that are comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Choose the Right Time: Children’s paddling and swimming abilities and maturity levels can vary widely, so the age at which they are ready to go it alone will vary. Choosing the right time to introduce your children to kayaking will ensure they have a positive experience and are excited to continue paddling.

FAQsBest Canoe for Family

Who steers in a 2 person’s canoe?

In a 2-person canoe, both paddlers typically share the responsibility of steering the canoe, using their paddles to manoeuvre the canoe.

What type of family canoe is best for beginners?

A stable recreational canoe with a wide hull is ideal for beginners. It offers better balance and therefore, these canoes cannot tip over easily, making it easier for newcomers to learn and enjoy canoeing.

The Old Town Saranac 160 Canoe is often considered a good choice for beginners.

What kind of canoe is the most stable for families?

Canoes with a flat-bottomed hull tend to be the most stable for families. This design provides good stability for various family members, including children.

The Lifetime Kodiak Canoe are known for their stability, making them suitable family options. 

Can you fit 2 adults and 3 kids in a 3-seater canoe?

It’s unlikely to fit 2 adults and 3 kids comfortably in a 3-seater canoe. This setup would exceed the canoe’s capacity and compromise safety and stability.

Is a wider canoe more stable?

Generally, a wider canoe is more stable. A broader hull increases stability by providing a larger base for weight distribution, making it suitable for families and beginners.

What is the best material for a canoe for families?

Rotomolded polyethylene canoes are often best for families due to their durability, affordability, and resistance to impact. They require less maintenance compared to materials like fibreglass or wood.

What are the differences between inflatable and hardshell family canoes?

Inflatable canoes are portable and easy to store, while hardshell canoes offer better performance and durability. Inflatables are lighter and more convenient for travel, while hard shells are more robust and stable.

How important is the hull design of a family canoe for stability?

Hull design significantly impacts stability. A flatter hull provides better initial stability, while a rounded hull offers better secondary stability. Families may prefer greater initial stability for comfort.

Why is the choice of gunwale material significant for a family canoe?

The choice of canoe gunwales material impacts durability and maintenance. Aluminium gunwales are more durable but can be cold to the touch. Wood offers a traditional look but requires more upkeep.

How do the depth and width of a family canoe impact its stability and capacity?

A deeper canoe can hold more weight and passengers but may sacrifice some stability. A wider canoe offers better stability but might be slower in the water. Balance is key for family canoes.

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