What is the shortest canoe ?

Most standard canoes measure between 16 to 17 feet in length. But, the longer the canoe, the heavier you’d expect it to be. A long canoe is problematic to portage from one navigable water body to the other.

Therefore, as you go out to buy a canoe, you’d probably be looking for the shortest canoe, which is also likely the lightest. So which is the shortest canoe in the market today?

Sairy Gamp ranks as the shortest canoe in history at 9 feet long and 105lbs. It was crafted in 1882, and you can find this canoe at the Adirondack Experience museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. Today, the Wee Lassie, at 10’2”, is one of the shortest canoes.

Since the manufacturing of Sairy Gamp, there have been numerous other short canoes that are undoubtedly better than it, thanks to technological improvements. Therefore, join us as we explore the shortest canoes in the market and their respective features.

What is a short canoe?

Any canoe measuring 14′ or less is considered a short canoe. Often, short canoes are specifically meant for one paddler and thus are commonly referred to as solo canoes. But, some canoe manufacturers create short canoes that accommodate more than one occupant by widening the trunk size.

For most short canoes, you’ll find a seat at the vessel’s center from which the solo canoer paddles. Besides, a short canoe is a handy option, especially for an individual looking to have a solitary water exploration experience.

Advantages of short canoes

Easy to carry and portage

Given their relatively small size, they are also lightweight, especially if they are made of composite materials, making them easy to carry.

But, you can also find a small canoe that is relatively heavy as compared to a long canoe, especially if the former is made up of heavy materials such as aluminum.


Easy to store

Canoe storage is also easy when the vessel is small-sized compared to one that is long and heavy.


Cheap acquisition cost

As a general principle, a short canoe made of a particular material will be relatively cheaper than a long canoe made of the same material. However, overall, canoe costs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Easy to Paddle

Also, compared to a long canoe, a short solo canoe is easier to paddle.

Disadvantages of short canoes


  1. Although they are helpful, especially for solo users, they become a problem when you need to have more than one person on board.
  2. Also, given the less trunk space, you are limited in regard to the amount of gear you can fit into the canoe.
  3. Lastly, a short canoe is less smooth in the waters than a long canoe, especially when carrying substantial gear.

How to measure canoe length

A canoe’s length equals the distance from its stern to the bow. But, again, the canoe lengths’ definitions vary from manufacturer to the next.

The following are the typical canoe lengths as per the standards of Old Town Canoes:

  1. A canoe measuring less than 13’6″ in length is considered a short canoe.
  2. Secondly, one that measures between 13’6″ to 16′ in length is a standard canoe.
  3. Lastly, any canoe longer than 16’ is a long canoe.

7 Best small canoes that are easy to portage and carry up

Earlier, we asserted that the primary reason we consider a canoe’s length is that it’s a key determinant of its ease of carrying. Thus, we have picked some of the best short canoes out in the market that are also easy to carry.

Golden Hawk 10’ Traditional

It is arguably one of the shortest boats available in the market at 10 feet, although it is relatively heavy (45lbs) compared to other short boards. The boat is made from fiberglass composites and is best suited to professional users.

Also, due to its small size, the canoe is easy to maneuver on water and carry during portage. However, the canoe is not popular primarily because other brands, such as Old Town, have flooded the markets.

Grumman 129 Solo- Length 12.9’

The canoe has the following characteristics:

  1. It measures 12.9’ in length, weighs 50lbs, and has a carrying capacity of two.
  2. The canoe is made of aluminum and features a main beam that is handy in minimizing wind resistance and boosting its stability.
  3. Thirdly, the canoe is easy to use and thus can be readily valuable for canoeing newbies as well as professionals.
  4. Besides, it avails the option of choosing between standard keels and shallow keels for the user. This feature is handy in determining the canoe’s performance in whitewater and shallow water.
  5. It’s also easy to transport thanks to its small size, and the vessel easily maneuvers in water.
  6. Lastly, it’s quite pricey, primarily because it’s aluminum-made and also rare.

Wenonah Argosy- Length 14.6’

The fiberglass composite boat by Wenonah is renowned for the following features:

  1. It measures 14.6’ in length, but because it is made from composite materials, the boat is relatively lightweight at 46lbs.
  2. Secondly, the canoe is designed to carry one person, but it has added volume and depth, making it fit for use in turbulent waters.
  3. In addition, the boat’s shell is relatively rigid, and it can take sharp turns without the risk of capsizing, thanks to its excellent design.
  4. The boat is designed to canary a weight of up to 370lbs.
  5. However, the boat is quite pricey and ferries only one person. Thus, this should not be among your primary options if you’re looking for a family canoe.

Old Town Discovery 119- Length 11.9’

The three-layer polyethylene canoe by Old Town Discovery weighs 49lbs and can carry up to 500lbs of weight thanks to its 2.7’ width. The canoe is also renowned for the following properties:

  1. First, it features a shallow arch in addition to straight sides, making it a nimble boat that is also easy to carry around because it’s lightweight.
  2. Also, it is easy to paddle using either a double-ended oar or the conventional regular canoe oar. Thus, you can opt for the double-ended oar whenever you’re looking for speed.
  3. In addition, the canoe is not as pricey as the options we’ve explored above. Nonetheless, it is not the ideal boat for a novice rider.
  4. Lastly, it accommodates only one person, but it measures 2.7 feet, enough to carry sufficient gear for the solo user.

Old Town Next- Length 13’

The 13feet long canoe has a carrying capacity of two, but it is somewhat heavy at 59lbs. Its outstanding features are as follows:

  1. Like its Discovery 119 counterpart covered above, this boat is also made from three-layer polyethylene, and many consider it to be a hybrid of a canoe and a kayak.
  2. It features a limited rocker, a flat bottom surface, and tumblehome sides. These features are imperative in enabling smooth paddling and straight tracking.
  3. Thirdly, it suits both canoeing newbies and professionals, and it can easily row in turbulent waters and strong winds.
  4. Also, you can paddle it using a regular canoe paddle or the double-ended oar, and it’s also a good fishing canoe.
  5. However, this may not be the best option if you’re looking for the ultimate canoeing experience because, as we earlier mentioned, it’s a hybrid between a canoe and a kayak.

Old Town Discovery 133- Length 13.3’

If you are looking for a lightweight solo/tandem canoe, the Discovery 133 may not be the best option as it’s quite heavier than the other models we’ve featured above at 79lbs. But, before you write it off, it is one of the most versatile and spacious solo short canoes on the market.

Its other remarkable key properties include the following:

  1. It features straight sides and a shallow arc; thus, it can smoothly glide in rough waters.
  2. Unlike other short boats, the Discovery 33 is relatively wide at 3.4 feet which ensures that it can accommodate gear weighing up to 80lbs. This makes it the widest short boat so far among the models that we’ve already covered.
  3. Also, the boat can hold a trolling motor, and this, coupled with its broad hull, makes it useful in fishing, recreation, and hunting expeditions.
  4. Fourthly, it can fit two passengers, but this large size means it is relatively heavier than other small boats and thus quite complicated to carry.

Nova Craft Trapper 12- Length 12’

The 12 feet canoe is one of the lightest short boats as it weighs 29lbs, although it is designed to carry up to 2 passengers. Noteworthy, the canoe is made of Kevlar composites, and it’s small enough to navigate through portage trails in addition to small creeks.

Besides, the boat is a handy option for fishing in groups of twos or solo. Also, because of its relatively small weight, the canoe is easy to carry around. It is also quite wide at 2.9 feet and can hold up to 490lbs weight.


A short canoe gives you value in ease of use, carrying, and portage. It is also a handful option for the solo user. However, it cannot carry as much gear as a large canoe and is relatively less stable than long canoes in turbulent waters.

We’ve listed some of the top available short canoes you’ll probably find in the market. Their prices vary from one model and brand to another, but with our guide, we hope you’ll easily settle on the one that best suits your applications.

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