The first is size. People often choose too large of a canoe. Look for a canoe that is sized right for the majority of your usage. Don’t get a canoe for the long trip you dream of taking in the future. Search out the canoe that you’ll paddle all the time, not once in a lifetime. You may think having extra space might come in handy. However, when caught in the wind, larger and longer canoes act as sails. The more canoe out of the water, the more of a sail you’ll have to fight.

After size, consider seaworthiness. You want a canoe that handles rough conditions so you’re only wind bound when you choose to be. Look for a flared design. Flare in the bow and stern allows a canoe to ride up and over waves instead of knifing through them. Flare through the midsection means the canoe deflects the waves and you stay dry. A seaworthy canoe is a safe canoe.

Finally, consider maneuverability. You want a canoe that tracks well. However, you also want a canoe that turns. Whether you’re paddling a small, twisting stream or the backwaters of the Mississippi, a canoe that turns makes paddling more fun. And when you’re out in the middle of a huge lake and the wind comes up, you want a canoe that you can bring back on course — not one that tracks so well that it takes you where it wants to go, not where you do. In short, you want a canoe that tracks and has good maneuverability.

Keeping these factors in mind will help you select a canoe that allows you to spend more time on the water.