Does It Make Sense to Own Both a Rowboat and Kayak?

Rowing and kayaking are two similar watersport types that have gained tremendous popularity among water enthusiasts.

However, most people are often confused between these two sports, with some mistakenly saying they will row their kayak.

It’s not a surprise that many people wonder if it is worth it to own both a rowboat and kayak.

So, Does It Make Sense to Own Both a Rowboat and Kayak?

Yes, it does make sense to own both a kayak and rowboat. While there is a similarity in that, you enjoy your time on the water, and it involves a workforce compared to powered boats, there are significant differences between rowing and kayaking. The gear of a kayak and rowboat, the method of driving each of the boats through the water, and how you make out for each of these two sports differ significantly. While most of the boaters get to prefer one of these sports over the other, having both a rowboat and kayak allows you to enjoy the fun that comes with both holding a pair of oars or a paddle.

Rowing Vs Kayaking: What Are Differences?

The variances between rowing and kayaking are more than the resemblances.

Once you understand the differences, you will no longer confuse rowing with kayaking ever again.

1. The Direction Of Boaters

You can tell if one is kayaking or rowing depending on the direction the boaters are facing in the boat.

For a kayak, the boater always faces the direction they are going.

For rowing, the boater is required to sit with the back facing the direction the boat is traveling.

When row boating for just adventure, you don’t have to have concerns about seeing your direction while on the go.

However, professional rowers rely on a helmsman or coxswain to help in circumnavigating their path.

2. Different Gears

One of the key differences between kayaking and row boating is clear by looking at how boaters thrust their watercraft.

A rowboat features oars with a long handle and a flat blade at its end. On the other hand, kayaks use paddles and can have two blades.

A boater grips each oar in distinct hands while the oarlock offers support to the oars when rowing.

This means the oars will stay in place even if you lift your hands off the handles.

However, if you let go of the paddles of a kayak, they will fall.

3. Seats

Another difference in equipment is that the kayak’s seats are fixed while the rowboat’s seats have been designed to slide back and forth to boost the momentum of your body movements.

4. Capsizing probability

At first sight, you might see that rowing boats are the ones likely to capsize because of their long and narrower appearance.

However, this is not the case. Kayaks are easier to capsize than rowboats when you shift your weight inappropriately. Strong waves from another boat can also capsize kayaks.

This is why kayakers learn wet exits and maneuvers to ensure they recover quickly from a capsize.

Rowboats have more stability from the long oars and low center of gravity because of rudders sitting below the boat.

5. Portability

One of the advantages of kayaks over rowboats is more portability.

Kayaks are available in lightweight and inflatable styles that make them more convenient to transport.

You can even carry an inflatable kayak in your backpack, allowing you to hike into remote destinations easily.

On the other hand, rowboats are less portable because of their large size and inadequate inflatable options.

And even the inflatable rowboats options are more massive than kayaks of the same size.

6. Carrying capacity

Depending on how many of you are going out into the waters, kayaks and rowboats come with varying carrying capacities.

Most kayaks are limited to a single person or two, while rowboats can carry up to eight people.

Depending on how many you are, you can consider sweep rowing in which each person powers one or sculling where each person has an oar in each hand.

Which Is Quicker; Kayaking vs. Rowing?

The answer differs based on different situations.

If you place two athletes with similar stamina and strength in a competition, the result is also influenced by factors such as water conditions and the boat.

Both row boaters and kayakers utilize speed records reliant on the time it takes to reach a certain distance in a particular water body.

An average individual can expect to kayak at 3.5 mph or 2.5 knots.

You can expect to go as fast in a single-person rowboat. Remember that these speeds are established for a tranquil pace that the boater can endure for several hours.

Either a rowboat or a kayak can attain faster speeds as long as your stamina allows.

However, rowboats have a few benefits for a faster speed.

A strong athlete can produce more power from using their lower and upper body together, which might help them attain faster speeds.

Rowing teams also benefit from additional manpower that boosts the speed. During a competition, a row boating team comprising eight men can go as fast as 14 mph.

Is A Rowboat or Kayak More Expensive?

Before deciding to own both a rowboat and kayak, you need to know how much it will cost you and ensure you can afford them comfortably.

Most people wonder which one is expensive, between a rowboat and a kayak.

Generally, kayaks are less costly compared to rowboats, with lower-end kayaks going for less than $200.

However, keep in mind that you will get what you pay for with high-end kayaks costing more than $1500.

Rowboats are a bit more expensive, tending to begin out closer to $1000.

Those with better materials and designs will continue having a higher price as you go for those with better materials and designs.

You should also factor in the cost of oars or paddles and any other equipment types you require to buy, such as PFDs.

Can You Row and Kayak at The Same Places?

Rowing is best done on calm waters that permit for the most effective use of every paddling stroke made.

Large rivers, lakes, and similar waterways with calm waters are perfect for row boating.

On the other hand, kayaking also does well in calm water bodies but is perfect for better maneuvering around obstacles.

This is probably why you find kayaks running in clear rocky waters as well as running over waterfalls.

Rowers and kayakers should ensure they are well-skilled to handle rough waters.

Which Is Easier Between Rowing or Kayaking?

This goes to personal preferences.

Some people find using their limbs and arms simultaneously to row as a more strenuous exercise than kayaking.

On the contrary, others claim that kayaking has a higher learning curve because kayaks are less steady and need special paddling methods in certain situations.

Rowers normally find it easy to propel their recreational boat after mastering the sequence of movements needed to make a stroke.

Bottom Line

Generally, it makes sense to own both a rowboat and a kayak.

As you have seen, while the two sports are similar in terms of using the workforce, they have lots of differences in terms of equipment, carrying capacity, price, and paddling and oaring technique.

Therefore, if you can afford both, why not get them?

After all, you can use the kayak with your partner while you get the rowboat for family adventures with kids.


What is the difference between kayaking and row boating? – IronSet

Kayak or rowboat? – Chesapeake Light Craft