To get the right craft, bone up on how boat design affects performance.
Flotation chamber Air-filled bladders in the bow and stern increase general buoyancy. A definite plus for whitewater paddling.
Freeboard The amount of hull above water when the boat is loaded. Too little, and you’re prone to swamping.
Gunwale The solid rim–usually wood, vinyl, or aluminum–that caps the top edge of the hull and adds structural support.
Rockered hull A slight "banana-shaped" curve from bow to stern. The more radical the curve, the more easily a canoe will pivot–but it also decreases stability.
Shallow vee hull This hull shape has a pronounced mid line down the center. Much like a traditional keel, it improves a boat’s ability to track straight and resist getting blown off course.
Tumblehome An inward bend in the upper section of the hull. This increases comfort by minimizing the distance you have to reach to plant a paddle vertically in the water.