We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Log Boat?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 02, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A log boat is a boat which is made from a single log which has been hollowed to reduce the weight of the log so that it will maintain buoyancy. The hollow also creates room for passengers and cargo. Log boats are among the oldest boats known to have been used by human societies, with a number of extant examples which are thousands of years old; log boats probably survive to be found by archaeologists because of their relatively solid and dense design, and it is entirely possible that other boat designs are almost as old, and simply haven't endured to be found.

Also known as a dugout or monoxylon, the log boat has been independently invented by a number of human societies, some of which continue to use log boats to this day. Log boats can be constructed by creating a controlled fire inside a large log to hollow it out, or by carving out the log with the use of metal tools. For stability and additional room for cargo, the boat may be fitted with outriggers, and the boat can be controlled with paddles, poles, or sails, depending on the preference of the person building it.

In order for societies to build log boats, they need access to trees which are suitable for building. In addition to simply being big, the tree used for a log boat also needs to have relatively lightweight wood for maximum buoyancy, and some cultures have had specific taboos about particular tree species which limit their construction options. Log boats may be made from trees which are felled specifically for the purpose, or from trees which have fallen naturally, as long as fallen wood is recovered before it begins to rot.

The crudest log boat may be a simple hollowed log with a coarse interior, while more complex versions may be elaborately carved and painted. The craftsmanship of some traditional log boats is legendary, especially those of the Polynesians, which were used to successfully explore much of the South Pacific in journeys which crossed vast expanses of open water. Several modern expeditions in the 1970s attempted to repeat the sailing accomplishments of the Polynesians using similar craft, and illustrating how remarkable these journeys were in an era before sophisticated navigation instruments, high-tech boats, and the support of aircraft and search vessels in the event of an accident.

In addition to being used for navigation and cargo transport, a log boat can also have ceremonial uses. Some seagoing societies have traditionally buried high-ranking members of society with log boats packed with useful grave goods, or conducted burials at sea by launching their dead in log boats. Boats for ceremonial use tend to be much more ornamental, and they may be less structurally sound, and in some cases actually intended to sink.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By sarge1985 — On Apr 14, 2011

I just finished a unit on early American history with my class, and we learned a little about this too! I was especially fascinated by the log boats used in Lewis and Clark's journey. They actually used dugout canoes in their trip into the American Northwest. The carved them from cottonwoods and pine trees that could carry four or five men each, plus baggage. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a single tree could carry five grown men plus baggage!

By ex1ex2noex3 — On Apr 11, 2011

Call me a history nerd, but I actually my thesis on sea and river trade in medieval Northern Europe, and learned a ton -- probably more than anybody should ever know -- about log boats in the process. For instance, did you know that Northern Europeans were using log boats well into medieval times? When German merchants first began sailing the Livonian Dvina river system in the 10th century they encountered natives that used these dugouts. The chronicler Henry of Livonian describes how the high sides of the klinker built German boats protected the merchants from the hostile Livonians and Estonians who had only log boats.

By yubbert — On Apr 09, 2011

The cedar canoes made by the peoples of the northern pacific American coast are gorgeous. Tribes still dispatch crews to travel hundreds of miles in these boats to join in potlatches. Canoes have been launched from the central BC coast and paddled clear to the bottom of Puget Sound in Washington.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.