How To Determine The Weight Capacity Of A Canoe

How To Determine The Weight Capacity Of A Canoe

How To Determine The Weight Capacity Of A Canoe

Are you planning a canoe trip this weekend? Going on a canoe trip involves taking plenty of materials. Before you sail away in your canoe, you must evaluate its weight capacity. The key to a successful canoe trip is packing only the necessities while ensuring the canoe takes the weight well. 

Typically, a canoe can hold around 500 pounds. This figure estimates to 150 pounds per rider. Some canoes and brands are also offering smaller or larger weight capacity based on the purpose and structure. 

If you are planning on long expeditions, knowing the weight capacity of your canoe is essential. In this article, we’ve rounded up all the facts you need to know about the weight capacity of a canoe. You can also consider the canoe examples that follow the weight guide. 

The Weight Capacity of a Canoe 

The manufacturer determines the weight-bearing capacity of the canoe model. Note that the weight details they give are the maximum weight limit of the canoe. You must take care and try not to exceed that weight limit.  

Why is weight capacity so important? Well, if you overload your canoe with gears, equipment, and the number of riders, it can sink. If you want a canoe with higher capacity, it’s better to spend a little extra than risking it all. 

We also suggest giving some leeway to weight capacity rather than filling it to the last pound. The limits are an estimation by the manufacturer. However, these numbers tend to be more optimistic than reality. 

On average, most canoes available in the marketplace can hold around 400-600 pounds. 

The big canoes that can accommodate more than three riders will often have a higher weight limit. On the flip side, the shorter canoes are not adept at handling the weight of supplies, people, and gear. Due to this reason, the large canoes have more capacity than the small ones.  

Not all of you require a canoe with high capacity. There is an array of canoe available in the low-weight range. Besides, smaller canoes are more inexpensive and affordable. 

How to Calculate the Weight Capacity? 

Many riders will feel perplexed while calculating the ideal weight capacity for their new canoe. Don’t fret as we have done that homework for you. Finding the weight range of your canoe is quite simple. 

You need to know the width and length of your ride to calculate the total capacity. Once you get hold of these measurements, you have to put them in a basic formula. 

Width x Length / 15 

This formula will give you the weight-bearing capacity of your canoe. Once you have the numbers, you can multiple that capacity by 150. This formula will provide you with the average weight for each rider for the canoe. You can check out the steps for calculating the canoe weight below. 

  • Find out the length and the width of the ride. 
  • Multiply both the width with the length and divide the results by 15. 
  • For calculating the average weight for each rider, multiply the sum by 150. 

For instance, you have a 17.6-foot long canoe that has a width of 3.7 feet. Now, we put the measurements into the formula, 17.6 x 3.7 = 65.12 /15 =4. This canoe can accommodate around four people and some extra supplies. Next, we calculate 4 x 150, which is equal to 600 pounds. 

Your canoe can hold four people and has a maximum capacity of 600 pounds. However, other factors will impact the weight capacity. 

Factors That Affect the Weight Capacity

Calculating the weight capacity is just one side of the coin. Multiple other factors affect the balance of your canoe. Factors such as shape, size, material, and design will significantly impact the canoe’s overall capacity. Also, the luggage that you will carry on the rider matters a lot. 

If the canoe’s design is small and narrow than the average size, it will not bear much weight. On the other hand, a long and wide canoe has a better capacity. 

Moreover, a canoe with a square stern tends to hold more weight. The difference in style of the canoe influences the total volume. A square stern canoe is more spacious and allows more room. This canoe is a fabulous choice if you like taking fishing and camping gear with you. 

Don’t forget to consider how much weight you want your canoe to hold. If you are hunting for a canoe with more weight capacity, then you’ll require something bigger than typical canoes. Many people also look for a canoe that can hold more riders and luggage space. In that case, a broader and longer canoe is a better fit.  


A canoe can be made using a wide range of materials. The material plays a significant role in determining the weight-bearing capacity of the canoe. 

The most reliable materials for high-capacity canoe are wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. However, many models use Kevlar composites and other plastic for their structure. 


Aluminum is not a very popular choice for making a canoe, but being metal, it can hold a fair amount of weight. Since aluminum has a blend of magnesium and nickel, it is durable and robust. Apart from having an excellent weight capacity,  the material is also preferable for making more robust boats. 

Many a time, the manufacturers also use silicon to enhance the strength of the structure. This construction helps the canoe perform well on rough waters and handle the bulky weight. 


Fiberglass can hold plenty of weight when it is constructed with different composites. Perhaps you are unaware that the fiberglass composites are made with a combination of fiber and resins. This type of structure makes a sturdy bottom that can hold a lot of loads. 

Another reason why fiberglass is ideal for canoes is that they are versatile. This material is easy to shape and mold into any desirable structure. 


Wood is one of the oldest and most popular materials for making a canoe. The wooden canoes have an undoubted strength that can handle heaviness well. Earlier, canoes were used for transporting goods and for other trade activities. Due to this reason, the canoes had a wooden design that could support the heavy loads. 

If you are looking for a high weight-bearing canoe, it’s best to buy wooden ones. Before you rush to grab a wooden canoe, you must know that the wooden models are very bulky and exceptionally heavy. 

Occasionally, Polyethylene plastic is also preferred to hold heavy weights.  The reason that this type of plastic is infrequent is that it weighs a lot. Their bulkiness makes it challenging to maneuver the canoe around when on trips. 

Gears and equipment 

You possibly can’t take a canoe trip without your essential equipment. While planning a canoe trip, you must pay heed to everything that will go inside the canoe. What kind of gears will you be needing? 

Many people take along paddles with them, which can add around 10 pounds per piece. Many people forget to account for the weight of these extra gears, which can cause a problem later.

Planning a camp on a canoe comes with its own set of challenges. The total weight on the canoe is of paramount importance for the sake of your safety. Below, you can go through all the gears that you will require on a canoe trip. 

Fishing equipment

Are you planning to fish on your canoe trip? Calculate the weight of these fishing supplies before you start your journey. 

Camping weight 

If you want o go camping on a canoe, here is a list of gears that can add weight to the ride. This list also contains all essentials that you can not avoid on a canoe camping trip

  • Cookwares
  • Spare clothes
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Coolers
  • Food and water supply
  • Tents

A camper will require cookware and other utensils for preparing the meals. Since cookware can be bulky at times, it is essential to take only the important ones. The canoe riders also need a few sets of spare clothes and shoes. 

Sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows are a no-brainer when it comes to cold camping nights. If weight permits, you may also carry sleeping mattresses. The food items and coolers will easily occupy around 10-40 pounds. The canoe camper also needs a small stove or equipment to cook, which can significantly add to the total weight. 

The last yet the most important thing, the tent will take up around 10 to 50 pounds. The number of tents will depend upon how many riders are going on the camping trip. The tent material may be light-weight, but the fixtures and other add-ons can occupy a chunk of weight. 

These are some of the essential items that the campers will need, and everything that can add load to the canoe. For the safest experience, you must be aware of the things you want to carry and the canoe’s weight capacity. 


There can be many add-ons for your canoe. From trolling motors to bungee cords, the range of add-ons is quite extensive. The campers will generally need an anchor weight along with their canoe. An anchor is a smart choice because nobody wants to lose their boats while camping. 

The anchor will take another 15 pounds on your canoe. If you are planning to attach a trolling motor, you should know that they are very bulky. The weight of the trolling motor ranges from 15 to 115 pounds, depending on the type. 

It’s best if you consider your boat’s weighing capacity before you go ahead and purchase a trolling motor. 

Opt For Light-Weight Packing 

We understand that it is difficult to cut down weight with gears and equipment. Regardless, there are a few means by which you can slash down a few pounds from your canoe. You can check out these tips below. 

  • Refrain from heavy-weighting tents. 
  • Don’t carry too many canoe accessories. 
  • Carry only the necessary items. 

The chances of an accident are significantly lesser if you know the canoe and how much weight it can handle. By keeping in mind these few weighing facts and tips, you’ll be safe while boating. 

15 Canoe Example with a Weight Capacity

To help you pick the ideal canoe based on your requirements, we’ve laid out 15 canoe examples with their capacity. Whether you are looking for a small canoe or a big one, you will be able to find it on this list. 

Chesapeake – Sassafrass 16 

The Sassafrass 16 canoe has a history and is one of the best models from Chesapeake. This brand is one of the oldest canoe manufacturers in the world—the journey of Chesapeake begun hundreds of years back when the Jamestown colony was established. 

This model has a stern and asymmetrical bow, which doesn’t require much force and power to maneuver the boat. The slightly rockered skull will also keep the inside of the canoe dry. The Chesapeake Sassafrass 16 can bear 425 pounds. 

The canoe mainly has a wood construction. It measures 2.4 feet in width and 15.7 feet in length. This boat weighs only 64 pounds, which makes it easy to move. The canoers have rated this Chesapeake canoe to be 4.3 stars out of 5. 

Golden Hawk – 10’ Traditional

The Golden Hawk canoes have been in the market since 1968. Their canoes have even features on magazines and TV. Also, BassPro Shops highly recommend canoes from Golden Hawk. You may be thinking, what makes Golden Hawk so extraordinary? 

The 10′ Traditional is one of their most delicate pieces, which follows a conventional design. Following the traditional route, this canoe delivers an overwhelming performance on waters. The canoe can bear up to 450 pounds. 

Apart from the excellent weight capacity, the full contour offers stunning stability. The fact that this canoe has a fiberglass construction, we are assuming that it will be durable and useful. This boat measures 10 x 3.2 feet long and weighs as little as 45 pounds. 

The Golden Hawk 10’ Traditional usually receive a full score. 

Grumman – 129 Solo 

Aluminum canoes are a specialty of Grumman, and it is the only manufacturer today that offers aluminum boats. Grumman has 70 years of experience, which has helped them master the craft of making aluminum boats. 

Like the rest of its models, the 129 Solo has a pretty broad beam that offers better wind resistance and stability. You have the option to choose a shallow or a standard keel for your canoe. This feature can help in white water challenges and flat water. 

The Grumman 129 Solo can take a load of 545 pounds. This canoe has a width of 2.5 feet and a length of 12.9 feet. Weighing just 50 pounds, this is one of the most light-weight options on this list. This model has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5.  

Grumman – 1350c 

Grumman was established in the year 1944, just when World War II was beginning to calm down. Gruman is one of the most trustable and reliable brands for buying canoes. The 1350c model may be small, but it is very sturdy. The small size is perfect for beginners. 

Like the 129 Solo, this model has a wide beam to enhance wind resistance and stability. The wide beam allows the canoe to hold approximately 585 pounds. This model from Grumman has mainly used aluminum for durability. 

It measures around 2.9 feet in width and 13 feet in length. Despite being a small-sized model, it weighs almost 58 pounds. What’s more, this canoe has a stunning 4.9 rating and can put many premium canoes to shame. 

Hemlock – Kestrel 

The unique thing about this brand is that it does not operate through a company. When you raise a request to buy a canoe, it is manufactured and sold in the name of Hemlock. This Kestrel model will impress you with its tracking and agility features, making it a good company for lakes. 

This canoe has a small hull and excellent stability to glide in all kinds of waters. The Kestrel has a weigh-holding capacity of up to 300 pounds. Made from Kevlar composites, this boat’s overall weight is only 32 pounds. 

The boat is quite long, at 14.9 feet, and the width is around 2.3 feet. This Hemlock model is very popular among canoeing enthusiasts and has a complete 5-star rating. 

Hemlock – Nessmuk 

Hemlock’s handcrafted canoes have stood the test of time and are among the most durable options in the market. The best part about Hemlock is that it adapts its canoes to all the new technology and materials. 

Many of you may not be familiar, but the Nessmuck is a historical replica. The design of this canoe was inspired by George Washington Sears canoe, which he made in 1880. This canoe is also popularly known as the Adirondack canoe. The Nessmuck has a capacity of 225 pounds. 

The Hemlock Nessmuck unit has a Kevlar composite construction. This fabulous ride measures 10.6 feet in length and 2.25 feet in width and weighs as low as 16 pounds. Out of 5, this canoe has a rating of 4.6.  

Merrimack – Prospector 8 

What makes the Merrimack special? You’ll always find the signature of the craftsman that made the canoe. All canoe units also have a unique numbering. The Prospector holds Merrimack’s classic design. Despite carrying a conventional design, this canoe is beautiful and is easy to maneuver. 

Since the Prospector 8 has a 900-pound capacity, it’s a perfect option for 4-6 people riders.  This model has a wooden make, which allows the canoe to weigh only 57 pounds. This long-lasting canoe is exceptionally long at 16 feet, and the width is 2.8 feet. 

Merrimack prospector 8 scores a whopping 4.4 ratings out of 5.  

Merrimack – Souhegan 

Merrimack has been making canoes since 1954. This brand boasts itself as being the only company offering handcrafted rides. The design of the Souhegan canoe dates back to 25 years ago. The exciting thing is that even after 25 years, Souhegan still uses the same style, material, and tools. 

This canoe supports 750 pounds, which is sufficient for family trips. Merrimack has chosen a carbon composite material for the Sougean model. This canoe’s dimension is 16 L x 5 W feet, and the overall weight is 58 pounds. 

This lovely canoe scores a full rating due to its stunning capacity and design.  

Navarro – Otter 16 

Vernon Pew, the grandson of the Merrimack’s founder, started Navarro in 1970. Just like his grandfather, Pew is also famous for offering hand-made canoes. This Otter 16 equips tumble-home sides, which prevent the boat from capsizing or tipping over. The Otter 16 is an all-rounder with superb stability, lots of leg space, and easy paddling. 

This boat can carry around 675 pounds. Otter 16 opts for the classic and durable wood material. The size of the canoe is 16 feet by 3 feet, and it weighs around 65 pounds. With a 4.6 rating out of 5, the Otter 16 is a great buy. 

Navarro – Pursuit 17

The Navarro canoes look like a piece of art, thanks to their hardwood ribs and unique design. Along with its aesthetical appeal, the Pursuit 17 is also a long-lasting and durable piece. This model has effortless paddling which will allow you to travel long distances. 

Pursuit 17 supports up to 800 pounds, which means it’s perfect family gear. This 63-pound wooden canoe can make your boating experience more fun and relaxing. The dimensions of this canoe are 17 x 2.9 feet. The Navarro pursuit also scores a 4.5 rating out of 5. 

Nova Craft – Bob Special 15

Nova Craft is in the canoe-making business since 1970 and is one of the most preferred brands in the market. The Bob Special 15 was designed for people who prefer a lightweight canoe. Despite being small, this canoe has excellent stability, and the unique hull design enhances its speed on the water. 

This canoe is apt for weekend getaways at canoe trips. The Bob Special 15 supports 800 pounds on its durable fiberglass structure. It stands to be 15 feet in length and 2.9 feet in width. The weight of the canoe is only 58 pounds, which makes it easy to tackle and move. 

The Bob Special 15 has a 4.3 rating out of 5. 

Nova Craft – Prospector 16

The Prospector range is amongst the best selling pieces from Nova Craft. This specific canoe is also available in an array of lengths. Though this canoe is ideal for river tripping, it will not disappoint you in any kind of canoeing trip. This canoe is one of the most-sough models mainly because it offers a stunning 1,000 pounds capacity. 

The shallow arch allows this canoe to make easy twists and turns in the water. The Prospector 16 is made with blue steel and fiberglass. Moreover, this boat measures 16 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and the overall weight is 66 pounds. Lastly, this canoe rates 4.2 stars out of 5. 

Sun Dolphin – Mackinaw 15.6  

Sun Dolphin impresses adventurers with its outstanding models since the year 1982. It is a family-owned brand that is growing exponentially since its inception. However, their design still has a small-town vibe and design. 

Mackinaw 15.6 is an excellent choice for family canoeing trips. You can expect easy tracking, exceptional stability, and comfortable paddling from the hull design. 

This canoe can hold around 800 pounds. The utilization of Polyethylene plastic makes the Mackinaw 15.6 weigh about 95 pounds. The dimensions of this canoe stand at 15.6 L x 3.5 W feet. Mackinaw 15.6 bags a 4.3 rating out of 5. 

Wenonah – Aurora 

Wenonah was started by Mike Cichanowski in 1967 when he was just in high school. The Wenonah Aurora is a version of The Spirit II, but only smaller. Though this canoe has a smaller foot compared to The Spirit II, the stamina and strength are the same as The Spirit II. 

The hulls are contoured, which enables the canoe to maintain stability in challenging waters and rough winds. This canoe has a weight-bearing capacity of 480 pounds. This Aurora canoe uses Kevlar composites for its structure to enhance durability and performance. 

The canoe’s length is 16 feet, the width is 3 feet, and the weight is 69 pounds. The overall rating for this small canoe is 3.8 stars out of 5. 

Wenonah – Itasca 

The Itasca canoe is one of the recent additions in Wenonah’s range. The odd shape and the different designs are tested and enhanced over the years. The Itasca is a touring canoe that can hold up to 645 pounds. The hull of the canoe is quite remarkable and holds to be seaworthy. 

The unique design of the hull makes the canoe more efficient on waters. The Wenonah Itasca mainly has a Kevlar composite construction. This canoe is quite long and measures 19 feet in length and 3.1 feet in width. 

The canoe is perfect for people who prefer a lightweight boat because this one’s only 35 pounds. This well-liked canoe scores a 4.6 rating out of 5. 

The Bottom Line 

In the end, it all boils down to personal preferences and requirements. You have to pick a canoe which suits your water activities and your family. The weight-bearing capacity is an important consideration when you are buying a canoe. 

The weight affects the trip and also makes a difference between sailing and sinking.  If you are going on long exploration rides or vacations, evaluating the weight capacity is a must. 

As a canoer, you must have complete knowledge about your ride so that you can handle all challenging waters and enjoy your adventure. 

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