Canoe vs. Raft, What Is Best For Me?

Canoe trip vs. Rafting trip. Which to choose? Is one more edgy and dangerous than the other?

Recently I was fortunate enough to do a Whanganui River canoeing trip through Whanganui National Park. It was a great trip and a good deal of fun. One thing did surprise me and that was the number of people, especially people 40 years+ who were also on the river.

These people were predominantly in open Canadian style canoes with the occasional kayak thrown into the mix.

I wondered to myself, why in New Zealand (because I know this is not necessarily the case overseas), these people were so much in evidence on a multi-day canoe trip, but seldom in evidence on a multi-day rafting trip.

To get the answer to this I asked a non river running group of people I know.

Their response surprised me.

In their minds a canoe trip was less dangerous, less risky and generally nowhere as full on as a rafting trip.

Is This Really The Case - Are Rafts Riskier than Canoes?

Lets set the record straight.

All rivers have rapids that can be Graded from 1 -6. Generally canoe trips are seldom on rivers with rapids above Grade 2. Grade 2 can in fact be quite full on in a canoe. Canoes are also not suitable for rockier rivers.

Rafts on the other hand can be on rapids from Grade 1 to 5. However in saying that, many rafting trips are run on rivers that are only Grade 2 or 3. Rafts are suitable for rockier rivers.

What to Take From All This?

What to take from all this is that it is the Grade of rapid that you will encounter on your trip, and the style of river -rocky or not - that should determine whether you will be comfortable doing it.

Not all rafting trips are edgy and for the young. Not all canoeing trips are for the opposite.

Our advice is look at the Grade of river first, then look at the craft second. Either way, river trips, especially multi-day, are one of the great joys of life. Try one yourself.

Brian Megaw

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