How Much Weight Can a Canoe Hold? (With 15 Examples of Different Canoes)

Many people love taking long trips with their canoes, which usually involves taking a lot of things along with them. The key is trying to take everything you need, while also making sure your canoe won’t sink. Learning how much weight your canoe can hold is essential for those long family canoe/camping trips.

The average canoe can usually hold about 500 pounds. This figures to be 150 pounds per person. Some canoes and companies may have a larger or smaller weight capacity, based on its design and purpose.

Knowing how much your canoe can hold is essential information, especially if you plan on long expeditions. There are many different factors that can determine the weight capacity of a canoe, so as long as you know what makes your canoe so heavy, the better off you and your vacation will be.

Weight Capacity

A canoe’s weight capacity is determined by the manufacturers. The weight capacity they give is the maximum limit of weight the canoe can hold. Don’t try to push that limit, even if you think it will be okay. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Exceeding the limit can mean that you sink your canoe, with you and all your gear. If you need something bigger than it’s better to invest in what you need instead of risking it.

Additionally, it’s better to give the weight capacity some leeway instead of trying to fill your canoe up to the suggested limit. Limits are estimated by the company and may be a little more optimistic than reality.

On average, canoes have a weight capacity of 400 – 600 lbs.

Larger canoes or canoes meant for more than three passengers will often have a larger weight capacity.

Remember that short canoes often have a very low weight capacity because they are unable to hold a lot of gear, people, or supplies. Long canoes can hold more gear, more people, and more supplies and are often the chosen canoes for expedition and camping.

Maybe you don’t need a canoe with a high weight capacity! There are options out there for you two. Plus, sometimes it’s cheaper!

Calculating Weight Capacity

If perhaps you have bought a used canoe, or have had one in your family for years and are unaware of the weight capacity of your canoe, there is a way to find out!

There are two things you need to know when calculating the weight capacity of your canoe is the length and the width. Once aware of the length and width of the canoe you follow a formula to find the carrying capacity. If you already have the carrying capacity you can skip this step.

Length X Width/ 15

This gives you the carrying capacity of the canoe. Once you have the capacity you can multiply that number by 150, which is the average weight of one person for that canoe. This will roughly give the weight capacity for that canoe.

  1. Find and determine the length and width of the canoe
  2. Multiply the length and width and then divide the sum by 15
  3. Take the carrying capacity and multiply that by 150

For example, let’s say we have a 17.4-foot canoe that is 3.5 feet wide. 17.4 X 3.5 = 60.9 / 15 = 4. This canoe can hold up to 4 people. 4 X 150 = 600 pounds. This is close to the weight capacity that your canoe can hold. Of course, there are other factors that apply.

This is What Determines Canoe Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of a canoe is determined by a lot of different things. Some of the factors are: the material the canoe is made from, the design, and the shape, and the accessories that are added onto the canoe.

If a canoe is smaller and narrower than the average, it will not be able to hold as much as a wider and longer canoe.

If a canoe has a square stern, they tend to be able to hold more weight because the different style changes the volume of the canoe. The square stern allows for more room, which allows for more weight to be carried.

You will also want to keep in mind how much weight you need your canoe to hold. So, if you are in the market for a canoe with higher weight capacity, you’ll be looking for something larger than average. For a canoe that holds a lot of people and a great deal of gear, you want to get a wider, longer canoe because they are designed differently than small narrow canoes.


Canoes can be made from a wide variety of different materials and this also determines how much weight a canoe can hold.

Usually fiberglass, aluminum, and wood can hold the most weight whereas the different plastics like Royalex, and Tuff Stuff, as well as Kevlar, cannot hold as much.

Fiberglass, aluminum, and wooden canoes can hold the most weight

Fiberglass, as long as it has been made with different composites to make it a stronger material, holds a lot of weight.

This is because fiberglass composites are fiberglass mixed with fibers that are strengthened with resins. This creates a strong bottom that can withstand a lot of weight. Also, fiberglass can be molded and shaped into many different shapes and designs which helps strengthen the weight capacity.

Aluminum, although not the most popular canoe material anymore, can hold a lot of weight because it is a metal. The material itself can hold a large amount of weight because it is mixed with other metals like nickel and magnesium to create a stronger boat.

Silicon is also sometimes added to give it an extra bout of strength to withstand heavy weight and rough waters.

Wood canoes obviously can hold a great deal of weight because they have been designed that way since canoes were first made. As the first canoes were mainly used for trade, they had to be designed and capable to travel with a lot of contents.

Wooden canoes are strong and durable which makes them ideal for carrying a lot of weight. However, wooden canoes are extremely heavy to carry around and are no longer very popular.

On occasion, Polyethylene Plastic can hold a lot of weight, but usually, this means that the canoe itself will weigh a lot more and they will be harder to maneuver around when on vacations and trips.

Equipment and Gear

It’s important to consider everything that will be inside the canoe when planning. What you want to travel with will add to the weight in your canoe.

Paddles, for example, can weigh up to 10 pounds apiece. A lot of people forget to take the equipment into account. Also, keep in mind that you also need to know the weight of yourself and everyone else in the boat as well.

When planning for a camping trip on a canoe there will be a number of things you need to take that will take up a lot of the weight capacity of the canoe.

Camping Weight

If you are going on a camping/canoe trip, here are some of the things to remember to add to the traveling weight:

  • Tents
  • Coolers
  • Food
  • Extra clothes
  • Water
  • Blankets, pillows
  • Cooking tools

First off, tents. Depending on how many people that are going camping depends on how many tents you will need. Packed tents can weigh anywhere from 15 pounds to 50 pounds. The tent itself may only weigh a few pounds but when the pegs and poles are added as well as other add ons that come with whatever tent has been purchased it adds more weight.

Coolers and food are usually packed as well usually weigh between 10 to 30 pounds, without being full of food. The food packed will take up weight inside the canoes as well. Most canoe campers will also bring a small stove for cooking or equipment to make a fire.

Canoers will also need a good change of clothes, good shoes, and lots of water. Of course, camping requires blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, and possibly sleeping mattresses. Campers will also need cooking utensils and cooking tools.

All these things, as well as whatever else, is needed for the campers and the canoers all add weight to the canoe. As long as you are aware of what your canoe weight capacity is and pack accordingly everything will go great!

Fishing Gear

If you are going to fish remember to calculate the weight of:

  • Tackle box
  • Fishing rods
  • Food
  • The weight of the fish you plan on keeping

Add Ons

Add ons to a canoe can be as simple as a few bungee cords to secure the canoe to a dock or as big as a trolling motor. Canoers who are going camping usually will take an anchor weight with them.

This is smart to do because you definitely don’t want to lose your canoe when you’re camping on a river. Anchors usually weigh upwards of 15 pounds.

If you plan on attaching a trolling motor to your canoe that also diminishes the weight capacity. Depending on the type of trolling motor, they can range from 10 pounds to 115 pounds. Again, keep in mind how much weight your canoe can hold before purchasing a trolling motor.

Pack Light Weight

There are several ways that you can pack lightly when it comes to canoe camping. Here are a few:

  • Don’t pack things you don’t need
  • Pack lightweight tents if possible
  • Don’t bring too many accessories for the canoe

As long as you are aware of what your canoe can handle, you will be safe on the water, and won’t need to fear the canoe sinking.

Examples of Canoes – Weight Capacity

NovaCraft Bob Special 1515 feet 3800 lbs
NovaCraftProspector 1615 feet 31000 lbs
Wenonah Aurora16 feet 2480 lbs
WenonahItasca19 feet 2645 lbs
Grumman1350c13 feet 2585 lbs
Grumman129 Solo12.9 feet 1545 lbs
MerrimackSouhegan 16 feet 2750 lbs
Merrimack Prospector 816 feet 2900 lbs
NavarroOtter 1616 feet 3675 lbs
NavarroPursuit 1717 feet 3800 lbs
Hemlock Nessmuk 10.6 feet 1225 lbs
Hemlock Kestrel 14.9 feet 2300 lbs
ChesapeakeSassafrass 16 15.7 feet 3425 lbs
Golden Hawk10′ Traditional 10 feet 2450 lbs
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6 15.6 feet 3800 lbs

1.Nova Craft – Bob Special 15

Nova Craft has been making canoes since 1970 and has been one of the top canoe brands for years. The Bob Special was a response to inquiries about a more light-weight canoe.

Despite the small size, this canoe is very stable and the hull design helps make the canoe faster in the water.

This canoe is well suited for weekend canoe trips and can hold a great deal of weight, 800 pounds, which makes it a great canoe for camping trips.

The Bob Special is mainly made from fiberglass, is 15 feet long, 2.9 feet wide, and weighs only 58 pounds. The Bob Special has been rated by most users as a 4.3 out of 5.

2. Nova Craft – Prospector 16

The Prospector canoe is the most popular canoe Nova Craft sells. It is such a popular canoe that they have a wide variety of lengths for this specific canoe.

This canoe is best for river tripping but is so versatile that it works well for any kind of canoe trip. This is mainly because it can hold up to 1,000 pounds. The shallow arch hull makes it fast on the water and helps keep the inside of the canoe dry.

The Prospector 16 is mainly made from fiberglass and blue steel. Additionally, it is 16 feet long, 3 feet wide, and only weighs 66 pounds. For a canoe that can hold so much, this is amazing!

This canoe’s overall rating is 4.2 out of 5.

3. Wenonah – Aurora

Wenonah canoes first established itself in 1967 and started by the founder Mike Cichanowski the first canoe in high school! The Aurora is a smaller version of The Spirit II.

This canoe, although a foot shorter than The Spirit II, has the same strength and stamina as The Spirit. It has a contoured hull which helps stabilize the boat in rough winds and waters. This canoe is good for vacations and holds up to 480 pounds.

The Aurora is mainly made from Kevlar composites, it is 16 feet long, 3 feet wide, and weights 69 pounds. Overall the rating for this canoe is 3.8 out of 5.

4. Wenonah – Itasca

The Itasca is a fairly new canoe with a new and different design. The odd shape of this canoe has been tested and perfected over many years.

This canoe was built to be a touring canoe and its hull has been deemed seaworthy. The hull helps make the canoe faster in the water. This is a great canoe for long trips and can hold up to 645 pounds.

The Itasca is mainly made from Kevlar composites and is 19 feet long, 3.1 feet wide, and weighs only 35 pounds.

This canoe has been well-liked and rated a 4.6 out of 5.

5. Grumman – 1350c

Grumman canoes were first established in 1944 just as World War II started to wind down. They have been a trusted canoe company for many years. In fact, they are one of the most popular brands on the market.

The 1350c is a small but sturdy boat.

This canoe is great for first-timers, and its wide beam gives is high stability and greater wind resistance. The wide beam also helps it to hold up to 585 pounds. It is offered in different lengths but the 1350c is the most popular.

The 1350c is mainly made from aluminum, it’s 13 feet long, 2.9 feet wide, and weighs 58 pounds.

This canoe is very popular because it usually receives a 4.9 out of 5 rating.

6. Grumman – 129 Solo

Grumman specializes in aluminum canoes and is one of the only companies out there that does so. Since they have been around for over 70 years, they have perfected the aluminum design.

Like the 1350c, the 129 Solo has a wide beam that helps to strengthen stability and wind resistance. You can choose between a standard or shallow keel which helps canoers in flat water and white water challenges.

This Grumman has a weight capacity of 545 pounds.

The 129 Solo is mainly made from aluminum, it’s 12.9 feet long, 2.5 feet wide, and weighs 50 pounds.

The average rating for this canoe is a 4.6 out of 5.

7. Merrimack – Souhegan

Merrimack canoes have been around since 1954. This company prides itself on being one of the only canoe companies left that make their canoes by hand.

The Souhegan canoe was first made 25 years ago and is still made with the same materials, tools, and in the same style as was the original. This canoe is great for weekend trips and is very beautiful. It holds a great deal of weight, 750 pounds, which makes it great for vacationing.

The Souhegan is mainly made from carbon composites, it is 16 feet long, 3 feet wide, and weighs 58 pounds.

This is a long-loved canoe and usually gets a 5 out of 5 rating.

8. Merrimack – Prospector 8

Merrimack canoes are individually numbered and are always signed by the craftsman that built that canoe. The prospector is a canoe staple and Merrimack keeps their classic design on it.

The Prospector 8 is a classic but beautiful canoe. It is responsive and because of this it spins and tracks easy. It’s a long-lasting canoe and is great for long summer vacations, and it holds up to 900 pounds.

The Prospector is mainly made from wood, it’s 16 feet long, 2.8 feet wide, and weighs 57 pounds. Users generally rate this canoe at 4.4 out of 5.

9. Navarro – Otter 16

Navarro was started in 1970 by Vernon Pew, whose grandfather was the founder of Merrimack Canoes. Pew, like his grandfather, hand-makes all of his canoes.

The Otter 16 has tumble-home sides which help stop it from tipping over or capsizing. It offers good stability, easy paddling, and lots of leg room. It also holds about 675 pounds.

The Otter 16 is mainly made from wood, it’s 16 feet long, 3 feet wide, and only weighs 65 pounds.

The Otter 16 is popular and has a 4.6 out of 5 rating.

10. Navarro – Pursuit 17

Navarro canoes have hardwood ribs which makes the canoes look more like works of art the canoes. Despite the artsy appearance, the Pursuit 17 proves to be very durable and long lasting.

The Pursuit 17 has exceptional performance and is good for long distance paddling with little effort. This canoe is great for a lot of gear and for families and holds up to 800 pounds.

The Pursuit 17 is mainly made from wood, it is 17 feet long, 2.9 feet wide, and weighs 63 pounds.

This is a popular canoe, with an average 4.5 out of 5 rating.

11. Hemlock – Nessmuk

Hemlock canoes are handcrafted and well-tested canoes. As new materials and technologies come out Hemlock revisits their designs and update them accordingly.

The Nessmuk is a historic replica of the canoe made by George Washington Sears in the summer of 1880. It is also known as an Adirondack canoe. In addition to those awesome features, this canoe is small, lightweight, and easy to handle while holding up to 225 pounds.

The Nessmuk is mainly made from Kevlar composites, it is 10.6 feet long, 2.25 feet wide, and weighs only 16 pounds.

The average rating for this canoe is 4.6 out of 5.

12. Hemlock – Kestrel

One unique thing about Hemlock canoes is that they don’t work through a company. When you request to buy a canoe it is made and sold by Hemlock.

The Kestrel is great for lake travel and has good agility and tracking. They paddle easily and have high stability and have a smaller hull for a better glide. This canoe can hold up to about 300 pounds.

The Kestrel is mainly made from Kevlar composites, it is 14.9 feet long, 2.3 feet wide, and weighs 32 pounds. This canoe is a very popular model and is rated with 5 out of 5 stars.

13. Chesapeake – Sassafrass 16

Chesapeake canoes have a lot of history and are one of the oldest canoes manufactures around. They trace their canoe history back to 1607 when the Jamestown colony was settled.

The Sassafrass 16 has a symmetrical bow and stern which makes it easier for the canoer to move around inside the canoe. The hull is also slightly rockered which helps maintain a dry inside. This canoe holds up to about 425 pounds.

The Sassafrass 16 is mainly made from wood, it is 15.7 feet long, 2.4 feet wide, and weighs 65 pounds. Usually, this canoe is rated among canoers as a 4.3 out of 5.

14. Golden Hawk – 10′ Traditional

Golden Hawk Canoes started in 1968 and have had canoes featured on TV, in magazines, and have received numerous recommendations from BassPro Shops.

The Traditional 10′ is has big variety when it comes to canoeing activities and was inspired by traditional canoes. It also has great stability offered by the full contour and holds up to 450 pounds.

The Traditional 10′ is usually made from fiberglass, it is 10 feet long, 3.2 feet wide, and weighs about 45 pounds.

This is one of Golden Hawks most popular canoes and usually give a 5 out of 5 rating.

15. Sun Dolphin – Mackinaw 15.6

Sun Dolphin is one of the top boating brands and has been opened since 1982. Their small family owned business has grown exponentially over the years but they still maintain the small town feel and design.

The Mackinaw 15.6 was built to be a family canoe, so it is great for long vacation and trips. The shallow arch hull design allows for great stability and easy tracking and paddling. This canoe can also hold up to about 800 pounds.

The Mackinaw 15.6 is mainly made for Polyethylene plastic, is 15.6 feet long, 3.5 feet wide, and weighs 95 pounds. This canoe is one of the most popular canoes on the market today and has a 4.3 out of 5 rating.

It all comes down to picking a canoe that best suits you, your family, and whatever activity you’re choosing. Canoe weight capacity is a very important thing to consider when you are buying because it can make the difference between sinking and sailing.

Considering the weight capacity is essential for vacations and long exploring trips in a canoe.

Make sure you’re prepared for whatever may come your way and whatever adventures you may have by knowing everything about the canoe you want to buy.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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