I know more and more people are doing flat water kayaking. But I have a strong preference for canoes over kayaks for general flat water paddling. And I have been a whitewater kayaker for more than 20 years. Canoes are perfect for carrying children and gear. And it takes a little skill to use a one bladed paddle. Skill is good.
My favorite local Canoe/Kayak shop (SpringRiver – Rockville) closed a couple of years ago when Brad Reardon retired. But I found out today that the Annapolis store is still open with a new owner. Last summer, I traveled to Harrisburg, PA to get a new paddle, because I thought that was the closest store to get a good paddle with a good selection. For someone who really cares, you cannot buy a canoe paddle online. You have to feel the paddle, maybe even caress it. But you have to have it IN YOUR HANDS, so a local shop is essential.
So here is my list of “local” canoe shops. There are a couple Washington area kayak shops, but they don’t sell canoes, so I’m not listing them here.
- Annapolis Canoe and Kayak, Annapolis, MD – I can’t wait to go visit this store and talk with the owner about where to paddle flat water with children. Anything associated with Springriver Corp, must be a good store.
- Blue Mountain Outfitters, (outside of) Harrisburg, PA – This is where I bought my awesome canoe paddle last summer. They had a good selection. It is on the Susquehanna River.
- Appomattox River Company, Farmville, VA – I haven’t been here yet, and never have a reason to drop by on the way somewhere.
You can also buy canoes at REI, LL Bean, Hudson Trail Outfitters (maybe), Dick’s Sporting Goods, and probably other places. They may sell canoes at Walmart for all I know. But I’m plugging stores that specialize in canoes and kayaks. I was recently at the Hudson Trail Outfitters in Rockville (December 2013) and asked a specific question about the canoe they had hanging over the shoe department. I asked the questions and although I wasn’t exactly sure of the answer, I know the answer he gave me was totally wrong (it was about the composition of the canoe). Anyway, he admitted I probably knew more about the canoe than he did, and I had to agree with him, but I’m not there to sell canoes, he is.