This Canoe Brands List resource follows in the footsteps of our insanely popular Kayak Brands List. Here’s the history of them both:
To get our daily research done at Paddle Camp, we created a list of lists of canoe brands we could use to centrally keep track of all the canoes and canoeing gear we research, review, and recommend. We built these lists with links to name brand canoe websites, their canoes and their canoeing gear.
When we opened up our “mother-of-all”, “good”, “top”, “best”, “insanely-awesome” kayak brands list of lists, our paddling fans loved it. So we opened up our canoe brands list as well. It’s raw right now, but it will give you a great place to start.
This list resource is a great place to help you to find your first, next, or that “last canoe you’ll ever buy”. Both lists are works in progress, so all the names may not link to sites yet, but we’re working on it.
10 Best Canoe Brands List
Who makes the best canoe? Arguably, Old Town Canoes is the most popular and the most brand recognizable canoe maker in the United States and probably the world. They’ve been around since 1898 and have been building canoes for literally over 100 years.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to limit your options to just a single brand. So here, we compiled the 10 best canoe brands in terms of popularity, material, efficiency, overall quality and their reputation in the canoeing industry.
At the end of the day, the best canoe for you depends on your needs and preferences as a paddler. But we hope that this list would at least make the search a little less of a hassle.
- Hemlock Canoes – No one knows better about a paddler’s needs than a fellow paddler. That is why Hemlock’s canoes are manufactured by paddlers themselves. All of their canoes are meticulously hand built in their shop using the finest materials and almost every person who bought a Hemlock canoe can attest to this.
- Old Town Canoes – When you ask paddling friends for canoe recommendations, Old Town will always be one of the brands that comes up. It’s easy to see why, as Old Town has been manufacturing best-selling canoes for more than a century. They are the largest and best known American canoe manufacturer after all.
- Mad River Canoes – Mad River was founded by a 1971 National Whitewater Open Canoe champion. Since then, Jim Henry, who won the competition through a canoe he built himself, has continually explored new designs and experimented with new materials over the years.
- Merrimack Canoes – Merrimack Canoe Company has been receiving a lot of positive reviews on a lot of paddling forums. Merrimack canoes are built one at a time, each one made by hand using simple tools, and they are individually numbered and signed by the craftsmen.
- Sun Dolphin Canoes – Sun Dolphin canoes are known for being durable, light and easy to paddle. Each of their products are innovated on a regular basis to introduce improvements on their canoes, kayaks and other recreational products.
- Esquif Canoes – Building boats for friends was simply a hobby of Jacques Chasse at first but eventually, it grew to a company that is now Esquif. The company is known for the material, T-Formex which they use for all of their models. T-Formex is a high tech ABS plastic laminate, specially designed for resistance to abrasion and impacts.
- Wenonah Canoes – All Wenonah Canoes are handcrafted on the banks of the Mississippi River in Southeast Minnesota. Wenonah is known for the maneuverability and efficiency of its canoes over the past 50 years.
- Marathon Boat Group Canoes – also known as Grumman canoes, these boats are popular because they are built to last for the long run. Grumman canoes are made with a special sealant that ensures long-lasting water-tightness.
- Pelican Canoes – Pelican has been a world leader in the nautical sports industry since 1968. The first plastic pedal boats, canoes and motor boats were designed by the company’s pioneering designers, and a lot of them are still in place today.
- Navarro Canoe Company – Navarro Canoe Company is one of the brands that come to mind when we say “beautiful canoes”. Navarro canoes are functional works of art that can be passed on through generations. Each made to order canoe is crafted with a kevlar, fiberglass or a combination of fiberglass and kevlar hull.
Buying from known and trusted brands is the way to go when it comes to buying your first canoe. It’s always better to buy from the manufacturer itself since you’re more assured of the quality, warranty and customer service assistance if ever you’ll need one.
But even if you separate those that manufacture and sell from those that sell alone, you will still be left with a wide range of choices. In fact, there are hundreds of canoe makers worldwide and each one has their own assortment of models. That’s why we decided to the work for you and narrow down your choices a little. Though they did not make it on our top 10 list, the following canoe makers are worth checking out too.
- American Eagle Canoes
- Novacraft Canoes
- SOAR Inflatable Canoes
- Placid Boatworks Canoes
- Swift Canoes
- Pelican Canoes
- Meyers Boat (Sportspal Canoes)
- Buffalo Canoes
If you still haven’t found the canoe for you at this point, no worries, you still have plenty of choices available. Canoes are best grouped through the material a canoe is made of. This is because their specifications, purpose and features are determined by how they’re made.
Check out each list of brands for each type of material and see which one best fits your paddling preferences. For the canoe brands that are repeatedly mentioned in this article, you should find their description on the part where they are first mentioned.
Aluminum Canoe Brands / Manufacturers
If durability is what you’re after, an aluminum canoe is the one for you. It’s highly resistant to rust and can be left out in the sun or snow. They are also very much suited for recreation and need less maintenance than canoes made with non-aluminum materials. Here are some of the best manufacturers of aluminum canoes:
- Grumman Canoes (Marathon Boat Group) – Grumman is always on top of the list when it comes to aluminum canoes. For the Marathon Boat Group, better parts mean better canoes. That is why Grumman Canoes are hand-crafted from a special age-hardened, stretch formed aluminum alloy. The stretch forming process permanently shapes the curves designed into the bow, stern and sides for maximum strength.
- Linder Canoes (Sweden) – Linder canoe models are known as Inkas. They are a favorite of rental operators because of their ability to withstand the perils of flowing waters. Inkas are known for their low weight and a hull shape that make navigation easy in the narrow channels in Sweden.
- Osagian (Denmark) Originally an American canoe, OSAGIAN CANOES is a four-decade-old canoe brand founded in the 70’s. In 2019, ownership changed to SYMTEK, located in Denmark. Osagian canoes are a good choice if you’re looking for stability. Paddlers who have used this canoe can attest to it being stable even as its occupants lean to the side.
- Alumacraft Canoes – Alumacraft’s aluminum canoes won the United States Canoe Association (USCA) Aluminum National races for 4 years. And winning an award for consecutive years says a lot about the brand. That may be the reason why, when looking for used aluminum canoes to buy, Alumacraft is usually a top suggestion.
- Swift Canoes – The Swift Team started building canoes in 1984. Their canoes undergo a series of trials before it is released for sale to the public. Aluminum, carbon and kevlar are the primary materials they use for their canoes.
- Sportspal Canoes – Meyers Boat Company, owner of Sportspal Canoes, is a boat manufacturer in Adrian, Michigan. Sportspal Canoes are manufactured from Aircraft Grade Aluminum, which is then stretch-formed, heat treated and hardened.
Fiberglass Canoe Brands / Manufacturers
Fiberglass canoes take scratches and damages from impacts out of worries. Canoes made of fiberglass are known to be abrasion-resistant. They are also easy to repair and are less expensive. They are used by a lot of manufacturers for the hull part of the canoe because it is easy to mold. If you think a fiberglass canoe is the one for you, these brands are worth checking out:
- Clipper Canoes (Canada) – Clipper canoes are your go-to manufacturer when you’re looking for variety. That’s the reason why you’ll repeatedly see this brand in almost every list we made. They are manufacturers of almost every type of canoes including fiberglass. In fact, they even have a 6-person and a 14-person canoe which is rarely made by other brands. (You’ll read more about it in the latter part of this article). You won’t often see a bad review on Clipper canoes because of its ability to handle almost all types of water extremely well.
- Novacraft Canoes – Novacraft is known for their Prospector model fiberglass canoes. These canoes are proven to provide a very dry ride in big waves and whitewater. They are one of the best wilderness tripping canoes available in the market.
- Centro Nautico Adriatico – CNA has been around for 40 years and is providing canoes and watersporting products to 4 continents. Their canoe models have fiberglass hulls with double reinforced shells.
- Seda Canoes – Although Seda is focused on sea kayaks as stated on their website, they still have their Seda Scout 16 available for orders. The Scout fiberglass canoe has a high carrying capacity and is ideal for a trip to the lake or the bay.
- Wenonah – The 17 Wenonah is what this company is known for. It’s the first canoe ever designed by owner and founder Mike Cichanowski in 1965 which is made of wood strip and fiberglass. Aside from the 17, Wenonah has also manufactured other canoes that have parts made of fiberglass and have lasted for decades.
- Navarro Canoe Company – Navarro Canoe Company currently has six models that are made with fiberglass, kevlar, or a combination of the two materials. They also customize canoes using the same materials.
- Class Five Canoes – Class Five have fiberglass canoes that can be used for touring, fishing, fitness paddling or wildlife trips. The company has been building composite canoes since 1988.
- Langford Canoes – Langford started with designing and manufacturing canoes made of cedar canvas. As time progressed and as materials advanced, Langford began building Fiberglass, Kevlar and High Tech Carbon Fiber Canoes using marine spec materials. They have a total of 30 canoe models and are all manufactured in Canada.
- Abitibi Canoes (Canada) – Abitibi is an Algonquin word meaning where the waters part. This is also the region where the company manufactures their kayaks and canoes. Echo 16” is one of Abitibi’s fiberglass canoe models which is ideal for new paddlers and few-hour outings.
- Golden Hawk Canoes – Golden Hawk Canoes are made with a lay-up of fiberglass and resin. Each of their canoes are handcrafted and have unique foam filled floatation compartments.
- Merrimack Canoes
- Northwoods Canoe Company (Canada)
Plastic Canoe Manufacturers
The best thing about polyethylene or plastic canoes is their high impact resistance. Unlike aluminum they don’t stick to rocks. Instead, they glide over rocks smoothly. If cost is your main consideration, buying a plastic canoe is much recommended.
- Novacraft Canoes – Novacraft makes 3-layer polyethylene plastic canoes they call SP3. These models are ideal for owners who plan to subject their canoes to hard use but with little maintenance.
- Old Town Canoes – Old Town makes some of the best canoes made from polyethylene and thermoformed polyethylene. These include their Saranac and Discovery models. Old Town’s plastic canoes have high demands yet their product ratings remain at 5 stars.
- Esquif Canoes – Esquif has plastic canoes for all skill levels. Their L’Edge series has something for everyone whether you’re still learning the basics or wanting to paddle through tough whitewaters. These canoes are made of T-formex which Esquif is famous for. Their T-Formex are built in sheets and these sheets of material are baked in an oven.
- Tahe Outdoors – TAHE is also the owner of CORE Kiteboarding, SIC, and Zegul brands. Most of their plastic canoes have a wide beam and a classic symmetrical hull.
- SOAR Inflatable Canoes – SOAR is a pioneer when it comes to inflatable canoes. Their canoes are made of neoprene material which are made to be versatile and well-suited for beginners.
- PakCanoes – PakCanoe hulls are formed by a reinforced PVC skin held under tension by an interlocking framework of tubular aluminum. Since PVC is considered a plastic, we’re putting this brand under this category. The PVC in which PakCanoes are made helps the boat to run much drier than traditional canoes in storms and whitewater.
- Buffalo Canoes – Buffalo solo and tandem canoe models are made of T-formex. They are suitable for whitewater and comes in a variety of colors and designs.
- Clearwater Design Canoes
- Sun Dolphin Canoes
Kevlar Canoe Manufacturers
Many canoe brands and manufacturers choose kevlar as their primary material. Paddlers look for a canoe that’s strong, highly efficient and lightweight. And that’s exactly what you get when you use Kevlar. Kevlar is a fabric that has a high tensile strength-to-weight ratio and is five times stronger than steel.
You may not see a description for some of the brands below as they are already mentioned above. Nonetheless, here are the brands that use kevlar for their canoes:
- Northstar Canoes – Former champion flatwater and downriver open canoe racer, Ted Bell founded Bell Canoe Works in 1988. In 1993 he brought in canoe designer David Yost. With great success, Bell sold the company to ORC Industries in 2006, which moved manufacturing operations to La Crosse, Wis. Now his company, Northstar Canoes, Bell is back building and designing canoes.
- Souris River Canoes (Canada) – In making canoes, kevlar is used with a resin which can either be vinylester, polyester or epoxy. Souris River Canoes prefers the latter as it is proven to be stronger than the other resins mentioned. Other manufacturers shy away from epoxy because it is way more expensive and difficult to use.
- Savage River Canoes – Savage River has been designing ultra-light racing and tripping canoes for 35 years. Their Kevlar canoes are made with woven Kevlar fabric with a fiberglass skin. It’s a less stiff version of their original models made of carbon skin.
- Hellman Canoes – Hellman Canoes is named after its founder Bob Hellman who is teaching paddling courses. He is a master instructor who has been kayaking and canoeing most of his life. One of their Kevlar canoes is called Quetico which tracks so well, making a keel unnecessary.
- Clipper Canoes – Canada
- Swift Canoes – Kevlar and Carbon
- Navarro Canoe Company
- Class Five Canoes
- Hemlock Canoes
- Langford Canoes
- Lincoln Canoes
Wood Canoe Manufacturers
- North Woods Canoe – Northwoods Canoe is located in Atkinson, Maine where the company has been making hand-crafted wooden canoes for almost 40 years. They use cedar for ribs and planking, white spruce for the rails, and ash for decks, thwarts and seats.
- Buckhorn Canoe Company (Canada) – Buckhorn does not only build, they restore old canoes too. The models they build include all-wood and cedar strip canoes. All canoe designs are from or inspired by the classic designs of the canoe’s golden era, the early 1900’s.
- Weston Canoes (UK) – Weston Canoes started with the struggle to find wooden canoes in the UK. The founders of Weston Canoes disliked the idea of exploring nature in a fibreglass or plastic canoe which made them start their own workshop in Norfolk.
- Chesapeake Light Craft – If you want to build your own wooden canoe, CLC is the company for you. They sell every design and material you’ll ever need to build your dream canoe. Their wooden canoes are designed to be ultralight with a traditional look and they describe them as “something you can build over the weekend.”
- Freeranger Canoe (Netherlands) – Freeranger Canoe builds wooden canoes, handcrafts wooden paddles and provides hands-on canoe building workshops. Their canoes combine traditional designs and materials with modern epoxy composite technology.
- American Traders (Canada) – Honored by Wooden Boat Magazine with the Citation for Excellence Award, American Traders produces fine wooden canoes in their multiple workshops in Canada. They also build several Kevlar and carbon fiber canoe models.
- Island Falls Canoe – Island Falls has been making custom-built wood and canvas canoes since 1975. They have 20 different canoe models which you can order in their shop at Atkinson, Maine.
- Headwaters Canoes (Canada) – Headwaters Canoes is owned by Hugh Stewart who has a long history of paddling. Throughout the 1970’s until 1985, Hugh hosted an estimated 100 paddlers each year at the Headwaters canoe trip camp in Temagami. Canoe building arose naturally out of the maintenance and repair of his fleet of wood canvas canoes.
- Red River Canoe (Canada)
- Laughing Loon Canoes
- Langford Canoes
- Fletcher Canoes
- West Country Canoes (Canada) – Handcrafted Cedar Canvas Canoes – West Country Canoes is dedicated to the crafting, restoration and repair of classic cedar canvas canoes. They also craft paddles and canoe boxes using West Coast materials.
- Carrying Place Canoes – Carrying Place Canoes is a manufacturer of traditional canoes that come in 29 classic models, hand-built in cedar/canvas or cedar-strip epoxy.
- Canvas Canoes (England) – Canvas Canoes specialises in building the hand-crafted wood and canvas canoes. They use traditional carpentry, to create aesthetic boats which are as robust and durable.
- Northwoods Canoes
- Ashes Canoes
- Island Falls Canoes
If you thought of canoeing with a group of friends using just one big canoe (which actually sounds fun), you may have wondered:
Luckily, a click on that link will take you to an article I wrote about this topic. You’d be surprised to know that you can actually fit up to 14 people on a certain canoe model.
Though canoes that fit 4 people or more used to be popular before the 90’s, it’s harder to find one these days. And when you do find a canoe that’ll fit 4, it will most likely be quite a bit more expensive. Since fewer people want to buy them, canoe builders get less economy of scale with longer canoes that seat more people, and thus they’re more expensive.
But if you’re still interested in 6-person canoes regardless of their price, Clipper is your best bet. Here are some of their canoes that fit six people or more:
- Clipper Canoes Mariner – The Mariner can accommodate up to 8 paddlers, or easily carry 3-5 paddlers with camping gear for a one or two week trip. It has a shallow hull and flared sides for stability.
- Clipper Canoes Langley – The Langley is a 29’ canoe that can easily handle 14 paddlers (in normal conditions, of course). It has contoured fiberglass seats and great floatation too.
- Clipper Voyageur – This 25′ canoe can easily handle up to 10 paddlers and is primarily used for racing. Clipper does not recommend this for kid’s camps or tours because it is not as stable or user-friendly as their other big canoes.
- Clipper Voyageur II – The Voyageur II easily holds 10 paddlers, and also comes with removable centre seats. If you’re looking for a canoe designed for kids camps, first time paddlers, and tour groups, Voyageur II is the one.
Canoe Brands List Wrap Up
That was quite a list, wasn’t it? We hope you were able to find the best canoe for you. Enjoy your next canoeing adventure!