A canoe is a great option for fishing, using as transportation to a campsite, or taking a multi-day journey alone or with a group. In any of these situations, you’re going to have additional weight in the canoe. Adding to the fact that most canoes are made to hold at least two people, you’ll be carrying additional gear and equipment that can add weight to the canoe. There could be nothing worse than exceeding the canoe weight limit or loading it down so much it’s hardly useable in the water. A canoe weight limit is more important than you think, and factoring in how you’ll be using a canoe before buying one can certainly help to avoid this potential problem.
Is there a canoe weight limit? Canoe maximum weight capacity varies by length of the canoe. The average weight limit of a 14 ft. canoe is 700 pounds, a 16 ft. canoe can hold an average of 940 pounds, and a canoe 17 feet long can hold 1160 pounds of total weight.
Do Canoes Have a Weight Limit?
Not surprisingly, different types and styles of canoes will have different weight limits and working capacities. Depending on the type of paddling you plan to do, the canoe weight limit will vary. Below are the four basic types of canoes with their general max weight capacity.
What is the Usable Weight Capacity of a Canoe?
The usable or “performance” capacity of a canoe is the most weight that the canoe can hold while still maintaining its performance.
In some ways, the usable weight capacity might be the most important factor to consider, rather than the total weight capacity. Here’s why.
Adding your own body weight, gear for fishing, camping, coolers, extra paddles and other gear all add to the total weight. If you’re too close to the max, or even at the canoe weight limit, things can get very tricky.
Trying to maneuver the canoe is much harder when the canoe sits far too low in the water. The slight rocking of the canoe can invite water into the canoe, and chances of capsizing are increased.
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This is where the canoe usable capacity comes in. It gives a little buffer before the canoe starts to become unusable in the water.
Real Life Example of Usable Weight Capacity
Let’s look at a real-life example of this. Let’s say the maximum capacity rating of your particular canoe is 800 pounds, with room for three people inside. At 85% of the maximum capacity, you’d be best to not exceed 680 pounds.
So, counting body weight at 185 pounds for each person, you have a maximum of 125 pounds extra for gear and anything else you want to bring onboard.
125 pounds seems like a lot, but add a tackle box, fishing pole, life jacket, paddles, camping gear, a cooler, and a bag of ice. Now you’re probably getting close to that 85% threshold before performance becomes an issue.
Most of the time, however, if you’re just out for a paddle, you won’t have to worry about exceeding the usable weight capacity. But, this is important to keep in mind.
Also, own a kayak? There are kayak weight limits that will need to be taken into consideration. Weight limits for kayaks and how they are calculated aren’t the same as canoes. See this post here to find out why.
Factors That Can Determine Capacity of Canoe
Canoe Material: A canoe can be built from wood, aluminum, fiberglass, composites, or plastic. Plastic canoes are the cheapest, however, they hold the least amount of weight because these canoes are very heavy in the water. An aluminum, fiberglass, or composite canoe material is lighter and can hold more weight.
Depth and Fullness: A canoe the is neither long nor wide can still hold more weight if they are deeper or have more fullness. What this means is that the canoe cockpit opening becomes wider at the centerline of the canoe. The wider, the better.
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Length and Width: The length and width of the canoe can determine the weight limit. The longer the canoe, the more weight it can hold. The same goes for the width. A bigger canoe will displace more water and be more buoyant in the water, increasing the amount of weight it can hold.
How to Calculate Canoe Weight Capacity
You may own a canoe and have no idea what the current weight capacity is. Unless you’re buying a brand new canoe, this information might not be known. Luckily there is a way to figure out what a canoe weight limit using a simple formula.
The only two pieces of information needed for this calculation are the length of the canoe and the width.
Here is the formula:
(Length x Width /15) * 150
For example, you have a recreational canoe that is 13.3 feet in length and 3.375 feet in width. Let’s plug that into the formula:
13.3 x 3.375 = 43.9/15 = 3
What it means is that this particular canoe can hold up to 3 people. Now, the final step is to multiply this number by 150, which signifies the average weight of a person in the canoe.
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3 x 150 = 450 lbs.
While this formula is a good rule of thumb to use, it’s not completely accurate in every case. Other factors can affect the canoe weight limit.
Additional Weight to Consider for Canoe Weight Limit
Size and Number of Paddlers
Using the above formula, it’s easy to determine the max number of people that a canoe should be able to hold. If you exceed this limit then it will affect the capacity of the canoe. The other factor to consider is the size of the people in the canoe.
The formula assumes an average weight of 150 lbs. per paddler. If you have 3 football linemen in a single canoe, the average weight per paddler would be considerably higher than this.
Additional Gear for Activities
In addition to adding the weight of each person in the canoe, you’re going to also have to account for the gear and equipment packed into the canoe. If you’re out for a couple of hours of paddling this might not be of concern. However, if you’re planning a longer trip, camping or fishing there could be extra gear that needs to factor in the weight calculation.
Canoe Trolling Motors
If you’ve added a canoe trolling motor, then this can also add extra weight to the canoe. A trolling motor can weigh up to just over 100 pounds. When choosing a trolling motor, be sure to double-check the weight capacity of your canoe and the weight of the trolling motor to be sure that you won’t be getting too close to the usable capacity level.
14 ft. Canoe Weight Limit
16 ft. Canoe Weight Limit
Canoe Weight Limit | Final Thoughts
No one wants to be in a position where their canoe is weighted down into the water, or worse, unusable because there is too much weight packed in for your fishing, camping, or any other trip. The canoe weight limit will come down to what specifically you want to use the canoe for.
It can be an overlooked factor when choosing what canoe is right for you. However, if you choose a canoe with plenty of weight capacity you won’t ever have to worry about your canoe not performing at the worst possible time.