Why are Canoes so Expensive?

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08/04/2009 at 21:05

There not new technologhy?

Kayaks, cheap as chips, i buy new ones with paddle and spray deck £155.

But want a canoe and you are looking at £400+++


I used to have a 18ft Coleman RamX thing but too big for garage so looking for a 14ft one, they are just so expensive when all they are are a lump of plastic.

Any ideas?

08/04/2009 at 21:06
I've wondered this myself quite often! I think a lot of it is that they sell so relatively few these days compared to cheaper mass produced kayaks!
09/04/2009 at 10:22
I was curious about this when I was handing over £550 for a second hand Old Town Charles River. I thought it was because they were bigger and more robustly made than Kayaks which are just moulded plastic.


Get outdoors in Northern Ireland

09/04/2009 at 10:27

I'm guessing, but my guess is the size of moulds and subsequent fitting out will make for a rather more expensive process than a basic plastic kayak.

For me the question is more why are half-decent wooden paddles so expensive here?  I got both of mine in Canada for a fraction of what they cost here.  But I imagine the answer is the cost is what the market will bear...


09/04/2009 at 11:06
A shame, would like to take my daughter out over the summer but loathed to pay out £400 of a Pelican Explorer.  had a look at inflateables, but they are just as expensive!?  Where are trekmates when you need them in the canoe market?  No not a good idea would like to stay afloat.
Edited: 09/04/2009 at 11:07
09/04/2009 at 11:16
Why don't you build one yourself?
I've just finished my sea kayak and the wood only cost £163.


Edited: 09/04/2009 at 11:19
09/04/2009 at 11:17
What about building a stich and glue? I had one a few years ago, bought 2nd hand and then repaired/refitted. Worked perfectly well. http://www.selway-fisher.com/Opcan15.htm
Edited: 09/04/2009 at 11:20
09/04/2009 at 11:22

Wow, thats a beauty

Look at the lines!! excellent job.

09/04/2009 at 14:22

I had a mate from a climbing club and a kayak club who started making his own wooden paddles. Ended up liking it so he made a canoe, then a sea kayak and it wasn't long before he was taking on commisions. I have seen his passles and his canoe. I tell you it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen made by man. He picks his wood so carefully. Not just for the best type of wood for the job, but also the best of that type and also the best colouring. He splits the wood himself and lays it up so that the differences in colouring and grain, etc. are symmetrical across the boat or paddle and also he pickes the best arrangement to make for the most easthetically pleasing boat or paddle he can. If I was to say he was an artist You would not disagree once you saw the finished product.

I don't know what he is doing now as he had only just started to do this. At the time I moved away he had only sold a few boats and several paddles. I wish I knew what he called his business and if it is still going as a proper business or a hobby which earns a little money. If I knew that I would post it on here as I am sure some of you would appreciate quanlity and be prepared to pay a little more for such a product.

BTW I'm a river rat so I like to sit in a little plastic pointy barrel and drop off waterfalls. Or at least used to before a broken hand got me out of the habit and out of a tight nit group of paddlers who liked to do the same grade of rivers as me who I could completely trust.

09/04/2009 at 15:13
The Doctor wrote (see)
Why don't you build one yourself? I've just finished my sea kayak and the wood only cost £163.

Because I am so far from having that kind of skill that you might as well ask me to make a Fabergé egg...

Truly lovely to look at... and just as the saying goes for planes (that good looking aircraft tend to fly well) so it is for boats. I've not done a lot of canoe or kayak but have covered thousands of miles rowing. And I always loved to use the wooden boats even if they were at a disadvantage for racing. The best of them were close in performance to the modern carbon / kevlar boats and would last twice or three times as long and be much easier to repair. Sadly, there's hardly any market for top quality wooden eights. I had to admit to being a bit disgusted with the Oxbridge boat burning ceremonies... it might have been OK when wooden boats were the only kind and you could sacrifice the oldest and most beaten-up but now each one is a a piece of craftmanship lost forever.

One of my favourite boats I ever used was a double scull made in Switzerland in the 60s that was still in fantastic condition by the time I got to play with it in the 90s. The hull was wafer thin but stiff & responsive; instead of the modern synthetic covering it had something like waxed paper over the top and all the fixtures & fittings were in brass. It also had the best mechanism for adjusting the foot position I have ever seen - far swifter & more reliable than the modern designs. Doubt anyone wants to use it now...

Still, you kayak folk should consider yourself lucky if you can get a reasonable boat for £400...

The top-end single scull that my mate Si so proudly owns would set you back nearer $12 000 !!!

09/04/2009 at 15:30

Should take up whitewater paddling, though not in that single scull!

Having said that some rowers took a row boat (not sure of technical term) down Skerton weir once by mistake. Very lucky as another time they had serious problems.

09/04/2009 at 16:25

 Down the weir! Nasty. 

Generally speaking, beginners boats are pretty tough and would cope with a bit of abuse - I'm sure they wouldn't come to much harm going over a small weir. But the racing hulls are as light as they can be while providing enough stiffness to reduce the flexion of the boat under force. Sculling boats are even flimsier because - as each person has a pair of sculls instead of one sweep oar - the forces are locally balanced and less force is applied to each scull. A racing single scull is frighteningly easy to break. If you put your foot in the wrong place climbing in, you could easily go straight through the boat.

I think it was Bristol Uni who had a trailer full of boats including a several of their racing eights (at around £20k a pop) & oars (around £200 each) jack-knife off the road breaking almost everything. Legend has it that the club secretary had forgotten to renew the insurance... to the tune of £100k of damage...

One day I'd like to own a single scull... but by the time I am likely to be able to afford it, I won't be up to racing it much! I really like the Filippi F1 but even a one-year-old second hand one will go for about 6k.

09/04/2009 at 17:52
HI Doc,  where did you get the plans, cannot see that you accept PM's.  happy to reimburse you for a copy and some advice.
Edited: 09/04/2009 at 17:52
09/04/2009 at 18:12

Very nice, is it based on a Guillemot plan?,


09/04/2009 at 18:18
Nope, I designed it myself using a program called Kayak Foundry, available as a free download from


It's got more of the lines of a British form boat, SKUK/ Rockpool/TideRace etc..

I don't really wish to share my boat's plans, there are quite a lot to choose from on the Blue Heron boat building forum, but the ones I think are really good are available from Redfishkayaks.com.

However I am happy to build a boat for anyone but it will cost a tad more than just the cost of the wood!
Edited: 09/04/2009 at 18:23
09/04/2009 at 18:26

Nice, Thanks for the link.

Hmmmm.......One day I'll build one........

09/04/2009 at 18:34
Doc,  be honest, i am pretty good at DIY, fitted my own bathroom, including plumbing etc.  How hard is it, if i wanted to build a canadian one?
09/04/2009 at 19:38
A lot easier than a sea kayak I would think!
You don't have to join 2 halves for a start, and you can paint it to hide any blemishes too.
Essentially all you have to do is make the forms up and glue and staple the strips to them; then fibre glass and resin. It's time consuming though.

Have a gander at


They seem to have some decent designs, and CLC supply full kits too, however you may be able to source the cedar strip in the UK yourself, however I made my own from Decking boards
10/04/2009 at 10:54
Gotwhatiwant wrote (see)
Doc,  be honest, i am pretty good at DIY, fitted my own bathroom, including plumbing etc.  How hard is it, if i wanted to build a canadian one?

I have a canoe build feature that was in PBO a few years ago spread over 3 or 4 issues. I could scan/photocopy it and send it to you if you like. I can't remember off hand but I think it was one of the Selway Fisher plan sets that they worked from.
13/04/2009 at 05:17

I always get the two kayak and canoe the wrong way around. I thought that I always used to go canoeing on Lake Basenthwaite in the Lakes but I think it was Kayak that we were in. I believe Kayaks are enclosed and Canoe are open? I'd love to know the answer to this question as well though. I was looking at these last summer and even the prices used are still quite high but I'd imagine its the best bet for where to start other than the hassle and time of building your own. I need a really small boat that will fit in my car which is only a 3dr hatchback. Needs to fit in it or on the roof as I can't be bothered with trailers. So I have been looking at all options the last year. There was one pretty good thing I found called Porte-a-boat a small boat that folds away after use. Unfortunately that was also too expensive. I'm beginning to think that an inflatable really is the best option for me but if I'm using it for fishing, I'm not so sure that sharp hooks and fishing go together.


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