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Why Are Canoes So Expensive?

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Canoeing was once a main source of transportation on rivers and today is one of the most intriguing water sports a person can experience. The only problem is that the canoe itself can be a little costly.

Canoes are so expensive because the time, material, and manufacturing cost a significant amount of money to begin with.

Canoes have to be crafted so that they are both safe and durable for canoers. The production cost combined with the necessary profits means an expensive price for customers.

Two native canoes

Canoes are expensive, there is no argument with that fact, but there is a reason for that and it is not just because companies are trying to fill their pockets. The more you know about why canoes are so expensive, the better you will understand and appreciate their innate value.

What Makes Canoes So Expensive?

Canoes are so expensive because of several factors including materials, design, and durability. The cost of all these, along with the profits businesses need to stay in business, are passed on to the customer.


Canoes must be constructed with the best materials to make them safe for canoers. These materials, however, come at an understandable cost.

The materials most often used to craft canoes are plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, Kevlar, and wood. Some canoes are constructed with a combination of these materials.

The cost of canoes can vary greatly depending on the type of materials used to construct them. Wooden and Kevlar canoes tend to cost a significant amount more than plastic, aluminum, or fiberglass canoes.

Unique Design

The unique design of canoes makes them more expensive as well since it is difficult to replicate the process with only machinery. While some canoes can be mass produced, their design still makes the process costly.

Canoes must be constructed in a specific and unique way that makes them actual canoes and not just small boats or kayak copies. Canoes come to points on each end, have open hulls, allow the canoers to sit more closely to the water, and are often designed to be as light as possible.

Their completely open design allows for notably more storage area than kayaks and they make it possible for canoers to sit or kneel whenever necessary. If they are lightweight in construction, it makes them easier to carry as well.


Another aspect that makes canoes so expensive is that they have to be durable. Canoers depend on canoe companies to make the canoe extremely durable and able to withstand the water.

Bumps and scratches from rocks and other obstacles in the water are unavoidable in canoes, so they have to be designed with durability at the forefront. Canoers must be able to trust the integrity of their canoe and the manufacturer or crafter that designed it.

red tandem canoe with a paddle on a shallow rocky river

How Much Do Canoes Cost And Why?

A basic canoe can cost several hundred dollars and that is without any extra accessories. More advanced canoes, especially those used for competitive canoeing, can cost into the thousands.


Beginner plastic recreational canoes that you can find at local sports stores begin at a little over $400 and can go up to about $2000 depending on the built-in components.

Plastic canoes made for fishing cost closer to $1200-$2000 because they have added components like fishing rod holders.

Plastic canoes are able to be produced in bulk and are made with comparably inexpensive plastic materials. This makes them most often the least expensive of all the solid-built canoes available on the market.


Aluminum canoes usually cost a little more than plastic ones because the aluminum needed to make them costs more than most plastic. It is also much more difficult to shape the aluminum material, so more time and money are required during production.

Aluminum canoes can range in price from $1,000 to a little over $2,000, depending on their intended use. Their popularity is waning, although their price sometimes still remains on the higher side.

Aluminum canoes are made to be durable, but they are extremely difficult to repair. They do not fade in the sunlight, however, they can get very hot and burn people when touched.


Fiberglass canoes are extremely durable and tend to hold up better in the long run than plastic or aluminum, especially around sand and rough areas. They can cost anywhere from $850 to $4,000 and are one of the most common canoes available today.

Fiberglass canoes are very popular and sometimes the fiberglass is combined with other materials like Kevlar and wood to make the canoe more desirable and versatile. These fiberglass combination canoes often cost more money, however, it is often worth the markup.


Kevlar canoes are made out of none other than the strong Kevlar material that is used in tires and most notably, bulletproof vests. Canoes made with Kevlar cost around $3,000 or more due to the cost of the expensive Kevlar material that is needed to make them.

Kevlar canoes are lightweight, exceptionally durable, and touted as being extremely fast. They can definitely withstand the rough terrain of lakes and rivers, but they are not indestructible.


Wooden canoes can cost an astounding amount of money because they must be handcrafted by professionals. The wood has to be expertly fashioned to make the unique shape of a canoe and that takes a long time and a lot of real skill.

They usually cost between $1500 and $16,000 because the craftsmanship that goes into them requires substantial amounts of time, work, knowledge, and material. Well-made wooden canoes can last for the long haul, can be easily repaired, and are magnificent to behold on the water.

What Are The Most Expensive Canoes?

Wooden canoes are often the most expensive canoes available. While most wooden canoes do not cost more than about $16,000, there are some that cost more than some houses do.

The most expensive canoe that can be commissioned right now appears to be one on Etsy that costs a whopping $155,000, but it is made of ancient cypress wood.

most expensive canoe
(C) woodsongcanoes via Etsy

Wooden canoes that are hand-constructed out of hard-to-find woods, especially ancient ones, cost so much because they take a seemingly inordinate amount of time and skill to construct. The result is an absolutely breathtaking canoe that is very expensive. 

How Can You Find A Less Expensive Canoe?

There are several ways that you can find a quality canoe for a price less than it is regularly sold for including searching for deals, finding used ones for sale, and doing your homework.

Canoes at local sports stores may go on sale during holidays and the winter months when canoeing is not as popular. You are unlikely to find a canoe priced significantly cheaper during these sales, but any amount off can be helpful.

Another option is to do your homework and research the different canoes that are available for purchase. Decide what aspects are important to you and figure out which one of those is the least expensive.

Used canoes are another route if you are looking for a real deal on a canoe. Used canoes can be significantly cheaper than a brand new one, and if you are lucky, they are sometimes barely used at all.

If you really want to find the least expensive canoe for its value, definitely check local classifieds online and on social media to find a used canoe near you.

Father and child and the family dog canoeing on a lake on a beautiful day

How Much Do Used Canoes Cost?

Used canoes can be discounted up to half the price they did when they were new, however, some canoes hold their value better than others. Regardless, used canoes should be at least several hundred dollars cheaper than a brand new one of the same make and model.  

There are some things you need to do before purchasing a used canoe. Although you never want to assume anything, you have to make sure that any used canoe you purchase has not been cracked or damaged.

Check over any used canoe every carefully before purchasing. Look for breaks, cracks, or dents that could have impacted the structural integrity of the canoe.

Things to Keep In Mind

  1. Canoes are so expensive for a reason and are often well worth their cost.
  2. Be careful purchasing used canoes and watch for dents and other damage.
  3. Do your homework before buying so you do not overpay for components you do not even need.
  4. Wooden and Kevlar canoes tend to cost the most, however, they are long-lasting and reliable.
  5. Aluminum canoes are less expensive than some other materials, but harder to repair and may cost more in the long run.
Canoes on The Shore

Final Thoughts

Now we know exactly why canoes are so expensive and honestly, it makes a lot of sense. Canoes are so expensive because there is so much detail and knowledge that goes into crafting them. They are made to withstand the water and keep canoers as safe as humanly possible.


Researching the reason that canoes are so expensive was an eye-opening experience and really taught me how to appreciate their real value. Here are the sources that I used to write this article.