5 Best Family Canoes for an Unforgettable Vacation with Your Siblings

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Last updatedLast updated: December 18, 2021
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Where you go camping periodically, you have to think of other fun activities to do while on a trip, especially if you take your family with you. It would be boring if you just sat around a campfire telling stories all day. Save such activities for the evenings. However, you could improve your bonding time by doing something that requires the help of every person in your family. This is where canoeing comes in. The best family canoes are available to cater to the size of your whole family. Also, for you and your family to take part in such a fun activity together, you would have to own one of these water vessels. Of course, there are various canoe options available on the market.

However, if you are going to own one of these boats, you should make sure it is safe and that the capacity is big enough to support your small group of people. In addition to the above, length and width play a crucial factor in influencing the quality of the canoeing experience. You will also need to transport the canoe periodically from your home to a camping site. Add that to the fact that you may need to carry the boat to the water and back to your vehicle from time to time. If the vessel turns out to be too heavy, it may prove a problem. As such, these are some critical boxes to tick if you are going to buy a family canoe.

Having reviewed the best family canoes on the market, the below five options provided in the table would be ideal for any family. However, it is not enough to give you a list of options. There are also in-depth reviews of each product included, and a pros and cons section. Also, a buying guide is included if picking one canoe from the many options becomes an issue. As such, the information that made this review possible can be found on the manufacturer’s websites, vendor sites, and includes product descriptions as well as customer reviews.

Top 5 Best Family Canoes Review 2022


Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Saranac 160Editor’s Choice

  • Length: 16 ft.
  • Width: 3.1 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 850 lbs.
  • Seating capacity: 3 adults

Boat weight: 89 lbs.

The first pick of the day goes to the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks 160 Recreational Canoe that will preferably fit two people. It could be you and your spouse or you and your daughter depending on who you went on the camping trip with. The hull is made from thermoformed polyethylene. Three layers of the same material are put together to make the body of the vessel. Also, over time, while using the canoe, the vessel is likely to come into contact with hard surfaces and solid materials underwater. It would be disastrous if the hull got damaged at the slightest touch as that would result in a hull breach that would then sink the boat. As such, it helps that the boat is durable enough to withstand a few knocks without getting bruised.

Another benefit of using this boat model is the seats that come with the canoe. The manufacturer knowing comfort is a critical component of any canoeing experience, has included two seats for the boat’s passengers. Also included are adjustable backrests. In terms of design, both the bow and stern feature a contoured design which some might say makes the positioning of the seats possible. Where you are moving the canoe from your truck to the river, you will be glad to know there are molded handles on the deck specifically for that purpose. In addition to that, there is an ash carrying yoke positioned in the middle of the boat.

The vessel’s weight capacity of 1250 pounds or roughly 566 kilogramms is more than enough to comfortably feature two full-grown adults. In an unlikely event you may need a life jacket. You should buy one for each person on the vessel. Always make sure you and your canoeing partner are wearing your life jacket any time you are on the water because safety is a critical element of any enjoyable experience. Where matters warranty are concerned, you will be glad to know that you are covered for your whole life on the hull of the canoe. Any other parts can easily be replaced at not much extra cost.

Also, the tool is a solid performer, even in hard to maneuver situations. This is made possible by stabilizing chines and cross-section design of the boat.

Why is it special?

  • More than a century spent on innovating design and durability
  • Contoured seats with seatbacks
  • Big but handy

BRIS 4-person Inflatable CanoeBest Inflatable Canoe for Family

  • Length: 15.4 ft.
  • Width: 4.3 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 992 lbs.
  • Seating capacity: 3 adults
  • Boat weight: 100 lbs.


The BRIS 4-person Inflatable Canoe is our second option of the day and one that can fit a small nuclear family including both parents and two children. As you can see from both the image and the name of the boat, the canoe is inflatable. As such you will find this a lot easier to store in your garage when deflated. This may also make it one of the easier ones to transport even if you don’t have much room on your truck. You can use the extra space freed up to carry some camping essentials. Given that this boat is made of denier PVC, you would expect this to be the lightest boat in the line-up. However, this is untrue in this case with the weight being more than that of three of the other four boats listed.

The above is perhaps the only downside to owning this boat. A benefit of the PVC construction used on the canoe is extreme resistance to tearing or breaking. This durability is a necessary element of all canoes as water bodies can be rough and unpredictable. Knowing that your boat won’t break and start letting water in will give you the right mindset to take on even rough water patches. Also, the seams of the vessel are heat welded. Consequently, the boat can withstand almost any condition, whether it is high humidity, salty, and even freshwater.

Another feature of the boat is an inflatable air deck. The high amounts of pressure that fill up this area of the boat make it possible for the vessel to be stable. As a result, users can row with the same stability they would get if they were using another type of canoe.

While the device is rated for use by up to four individuals at the same time, you should make sure that they are not all adults. A fourth lighter and much younger person should be the only addition if you already have three adults sitting atop the boat. The vessel comes with aluminum oars attached, benches to sit on and of course, the foot pump has to be included.

What stands out?

  • Durable
  • Features a relatively large number of people
  • Comes with all necessary accessories

What cons did we manage to find?

  • The whole package is sometimes even more cumbersome than other canoes

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks 160 Recreational CanoeBest Large Family Canoe

  • Length: 16 ft.
  • Width: 3.3 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 1250 lbs.
  • Seating capacity : 3.3 adults
  • Boat weight: 86 lbs.


Old Town Canoes features another one of their products on our list in the Kayaks Saranac 160. The boat, like a lot of the other options on our list, is rated for utmost three full-grown people. As such it comes with seats for the same number of people with two of them having backrests. On the matter of backrests, they are adjustable for optimum comfort. You can fit up to 850 pounds of weight on the device inclusive of the three adults and any gear you might want to carry with you. Here the center bench is especially useful. You can use it to store food and drinks.

Like its predecessor by the same manufacturer, there are carrying handles included in the design. As such movement of the tool from the parking area to the riverbed or shoreline is a piece of cake with enough human resources. The stability provided by the boat on water is something to write home about. Even anglers can use the tool without fear of capsizing at the slightest tug. Also, the fish you catch will make good use of the storage space provided.

In addition to the above the construction of the boat will ensure minimal damage even if the boat gets knocked around a bit.

What makes it stand out?

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Stable construction making it easy to maneuver
  • Seats with adjustable backrests
  • Handles to hold on to as you move the boat

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Warranty does not cover seats

SUNDOLPHIN Mackinaw 15.6-Foot CanoeBest Customer Service

  • Length: 15.5 ft.
  • Width: 3.5 inches
  • Weight capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Seating capacity: 3 adults
  • Boat weight: 104 lbs.


The Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe would be another quality addition to your camping gear if you plan your trips around water bodies. The boat is made of high-density polyethylene and is similar to the Old Town Canoes Kayaks 160 Recreational Canoe in terms of body strength. Due to rough waters, this is necessary to ensure the safety of you and your family and any other parties involved in taking on the water. Perhaps a notable difference in the design of the boat from that of the Old Town model is the lack of backrests. Users will thus have to rely on their spimes for support, and that may bring about additional strain while paddling.

Seeing as though you may need to paddle, the manufacturer included holders for the tools that allow you to do that. The paddles, however, will have to be purchased separately. Something else that you might have to buy if you are using this tool is a trolling motor. However, this is only if you want to take most of the paddling out of the equation. At most, the vessel can only fit three adults totaling to about 800 lbs.

It is also possible that you might get thirsty while in the middle of a water body. As such, it helps that you have a storage compartment that doubles as a cooler under your center seat. In addition to that, you also a molded drink-holder on every seat.  The boat weighs a little on the heavier side, but this is almost expected of a high-quality three-person vessel. However, if at least two people can help lift the boat and carry it to the water, then the load will be lightened significantly.

Why is it special?

  • Sturdy construction
  • Drink holders
  • Storage compartment

What are the flaws?

  • Heavy
  • No backrest on seats
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Sun Dolphin Scout SS CanoeBudget Pick

  • Length: 14 ft.
  • Width: 3.2 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 765 lbs.
  • Seating capacity: 3 adults
  • Boat weight: 84 lbs.


The manufacturers have outdone themselves with another addition to our list. If you compare the dimensions of this boat with that of the Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe, you will see that this is a smaller size vessel. However, to some, that margin might be negligible. That being said, you will find that size also affects the weight of the device and the accessories that the boat can hold. Almost as a requirement, the boat has to have a slot for paddles, so you don’t have to keep them in your hands the whole time. Also, design-wise the craft has a square transom which is a common theme with some of the manufacturer’s other offerings.

If you do end up buying a motor which is recommended by the manufacturer, it will be easy to install due to the transom mentioned above. Also, because the seats are molded into the vessel, the boat does not feature storage space or a drink holder. As a result, you might have to look for other means to carry your beverages. The design of the seats is meant to boost stability. If you compare the boat with others of the same caliber, you will realize that this is a lighter version.

The boat can only fit three adults. Some couples have been known to switch out one adult for two children. It is essential not to overload the vessel as that would lead to less stability which could, in turn, have disastrous results. Also, you get a limited lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects and some damage.

What makes it special?

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Lightweight for a three-person boat
  • Square mount for a motor

What cons did we find?

  • No drink holder
  • No storage compartment
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Things to Consider

If you want to experience canoeing with your family, then you have the needs of more than one person to consider. As such picking out the right canoe may be a bit more complicated than if you were picking out a vessel for yourself. However, if you have the correct information, this process would go a lot smoother. Nevertheless, the features to consider in each canoe are all the same. They are listed below.

Features to consider while choosing a family canoe


What are the measurements of the canoe? For every option we have provided above, we have listed how long each vessel is. You have to remember that legroom is limited and the shorter the length of the vessel, the smaller the legroom. Therefore for you to make the purchase, you have to be accurately aware of the people likely to use the boat and their height measurements. Where the people are taller, you are better off with a longer boat. However, there is still a limit to how long canoes can get.

Also, the width of the boat matters a lot. It should be enough that users don’t feel cramped while at the same time, they should be able to paddle comfortably. As such the ends of the boat should not be too far apart and that is why the size ranges from around three feet like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Saranac 160 to 4.3 feet displayed by the BRIS 4-person Inflatable Canoe in the best family canoe review.5 Best Family Canoes for an Unforgettable Vacation with Your Siblings



How many people can the canoe fit? You will often find this information in the description of each vessel. This information is there for planning purposes, and so you can consider the size of your family as well before making the purchase. Most canoes will max out at three adults, and this is also influenced by the gear you carry. If you carry heavy equipment, you might have to reduce the number of people as the weight limit will easily be reached. The highest weight limit of 1250 pounds is provided by the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks 160 Recreational Canoe on our list. Nevertheless, most canoes of its caliber will range between 800 pounds and 1000 pounds capacity.

Canoe body material

As much as canoeing is fun, it can also be quite dangerous. As such, you want to ensure you have the best equipment on your side. Remember that there are bound to be a few bumps and bruises along the journey and your hull should be able to withstand them. Polyethylene is one of those hard construction materials that is preferred for the construction of canoes.  As such you will find it as the primary construction material in most of the Old Town Canoes as well as other options such as the Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6-Foot Canoe.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find inflatable canoes like the BRIS 4-person Canoe. However, the same rules apply. The fabric should be able to take some impact without tearing or breaking.

Price and Warranty

You have probably surmised that buying a canoe will cost you a considerable amount of money. As such you need to make sure that you are getting value for cash and that there are no similar specifications vessels out there that you can get at a lower cost. While a higher price is likely an indicator of quality that is not always the case. Make sure you go through each of the specifications of a canoe and if you feel you would be getting value for money, go ahead and buy it. The warranty also comes into play here, and the best warranties offer long term coverage as well as cover most of the components of the boat.

5 Best Family Canoes for an Unforgettable Vacation with Your Siblings


Canoes are generally built for stability. However, there are rules of conduct while you are on a canoe that help to maintain this status quo. With most options, you should either sit or kneel any time you are on the vessel. The best large family canoes will have seats positioned in the middle, and this enhances stability. You are advised to stick to these designated slots. If you move to the edges, you may destabilize the boat. Standing may also have the same effect.

Also, while it is not easy to flip a canoe over it is possible. If you try to stand on the edge, you will find yourself in the water. This is also more likely to happen if you are the  only person on the boat. In addition to retaining a low central position wearing a life jacket as a precautionary measure. This way even if a freak accident happens and you find yourself in the water body, you will not drown.

If you search the web on the same you are likely to find sunken boats, some with people still in them. This is one of the reasons you should always have a life jacket. Where this happens to you swimming to the shore would be a good idea. Your boat should also have a rope that can help you pull it along if this happens. When you get to the shore, you can then investigate the cause of the problem.

As a first, do not overload the canoe. Most options mentioned above have a weight rating, and hence the individuals and gear on the boat should not exceed that limit. If you do, you may find yourself sunk. In addition to that, you should always wear a life jacket. A third rule would be to stick to the middle part of the boat. This way, you don’t imbalance the boat as that would make it easier to tip the canoe over.

Both of these options have downsides and upsides. Aluminum vessels are heavier than their fiberglass counterparts and are better where you are going to stay on the water longer. Also, they can be repaired easily by welding. If you opt for a fiberglass option, they may not be as durable, but they are light. You can, therefore, transport them much more easily.

Our Verdict

The BRIS 4-person Inflatable Canoe is a quality purchase due to some of its outstanding qualities. Despite being inflatable, it performs well above most of the other options in weight ratings. As such, it can handle more gear despite having a three-person limit. Given its inflatable nature, the boat is practically dent resistant but more than that it is tear-resistant. Also, most canoes have a similar oval design. From the image provided, you can see this boat is triangular in shape hence providing a more stable option. Overall one of the best inflatable canoes available.

Next up we have the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Saranac 160 which has carved out a niche by providing comfort features. Two of the three seats provided have an adjustable backrest. The middle one opens to provide a compartment that you can store drinks while on the canoe. Also, despite the large capacity, the vessel is reasonably lightweight as you will no doubt have to carry it from time to time.

Another product you can get and all without spending much money is the Sun Dolphin Scout SS. If you add to your initial investment and add an electric motor, this could be the family canoe for small children. The molded seats positioned deep into the boat will ensure they don’t fall over the edge. However, if you are going to have children around add a few extra safety features.

If you’ve wanted to try out canoeing, you are just a few steps away from realizing that goal. Choose your favorite from the options above, make the purchase, and take it out on the water. After that, you can tell us about your experiences in the comments section.

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