Home > Kayak Theory > Paddleboard vs Kayak: Is One Better Than The Other?

Paddleboard vs Kayak: Is One Better Than The Other?

Nicola Burridge
Updated on:
- If you buy via a link on this page, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Learn more
- Read our review guidelines

So you want to take to the water but you can’t decide whether to try a stand up paddle board or a kayak? Which one is better? SUP vs kayak?

While both paddle boarding and kayaking water sports can be so much fun, you may prefer one over the other, depending on what type of experience you’re looking for.

And that’s why we have put together some information on both kayaks and SUPs to help you choose which one will be best for you: paddleboard vs kayak.

Reasons Why Paddleboarding Is Good

Woman SUP Stand Up Paddling At SunrisePin

1: Awesome Full Body Workout – Core Exercise

It’s no surprise that being out on a SUP board can be a great workout for your body including your lower body. But the best part about paddle boarding is that because you’re standing up, you are using your entire body to propel yourself across the water, giving all your muscles a workout vs kayak paddling which is a lot of upper body movements.

Standing up on a paddle board will also allow you to improve your balance, strengthening your leg muscles, while at the same time, strengthening your core strength and improving your fitness level. It can also help to relieve stress, as you are fully immersed in nature and surrounded by water for long periods.

Another benefit of paddle boarding is that it is a low impact sport, meaning it won’t damage your body (like jogging can, for example), so you will be gaining all the benefits of a cardiovascular workout without having to suffer the negative effects on your joints and ligaments.

Because of its low impact nature, it can be a good choice of activity if you’re suffering from other sports injuries and want to stay fit and build your strength and endurance. Paddle boarding can also be an effective and easy way of burning calories while you’re having fun.

2: Versatility – Plenty Of Options

Paddleboarding has its advantages over kayaking in that you can get involved in a lot of activities using your paddle board that you wouldn’t be able to do while kayak paddling. This can include yoga (that would be so weird!), as well as activities that you would often do in a kayak, such as paddle board fishing, racing or long distance touring, with boards designed for each purpose, such as with included rod holders and other accessories or D-rings to add your own storage system.

With the stability of paddle board, you essentially have more options for when it comes to actually paddling it. You can even catch some waves, if surfing is your thing. Or add a kayak seat if you want extreme versatility.

Many stand up paddleboards are also inflatable so you can easily carry them. An inflatable SUP tends to come in a convenient carrying bag. However, there are also many inflatable kayaks available, even ones that can allow a stable standing position. But a SUP will usually have more stability and more space to move around.

> Surf Kayaks 101

Video: How To Surf On A Paddleboard

Being on top of a stand up paddle board, you may find it’s quite a bit easier to jump on and off, with easy access, and it may be simpler to change your position whenever you like, compared to if you were in a kayak and stuck in the same position.

Standing up on the water may offer you a different view of the landscape, as you will find you can often see beneath the surface of the water, which can add another element to your paddling experience that you might not get from a kayak. You might also find that you can see further into the distance from a paddle board. Both of these can be useful advantages for SUP fishing vs kayak fishing.

3: Yoga SUP – Great For Flexibility

Paddle board yoga has become a popular form of exercise, and if you’ve ever been anywhere near an ocean or lake you will probably have seen people out there trying SUP yoga. Because you’re out on the water, you’re essentially closer to nature, in a peaceful environment that can enhance your yoga experience for a more isolated workout for most people.

In addition to that, doing yoga on the water can help you free your mind even more, as the sound of water can help you to relax. You will also be able to gain a unique vantage point from the paddle board, with sightlines over the water towards the horizon.

4: It’s Pretty Easy To Learn

Learning to paddle board is relatively easy and almost anyone can do it, which is probably why the sport has seen such a rise in popularity over the last few years. Balancing just takes a little practice.

Because of the stability of stand up paddleboards, they are difficult to tip over and since they are essentially a floating platform. It is also easier for you to climb back on if and when you fall or jump off vs kayak re-entering. Inflatable SUPs are especially stable.

Paddleboarding doesn’t require you to practice any of the special skills that you would need to know prior to going kayaking, such as the Eskimo roll and the wet exit. You may also find you have more freedom of movement while paddling vs kayak cockpits, which can be more confined. This can be more comfortable and roomy for yourself and even a dog.

Reasons Why Kayaking Is Good

Kayak fishing - Man Paddling Waves- Kayak GuruPin

1: On-Board Storage Is Awesome

One obvious advantage of a kayak over a paddle board is the availability of more storage options and particularly dry storage options. While some paddle boards may have bungee cords to store gear, they are basically just boards with tie downs and D-rings, without the covered areas that you might find on most kayaks, especially on a sit-inside.

This means you can load up your kayak with camping gear and head out on a multi-day adventure over longer distances. But with both activities, you may need waterproof dry bags to keep more gear dry.

2: Shelter From Cold Weather

Paddleboarding may be a great option in the summer on flat water but in the winter paddling conditions can be a little chilly, especially if you fall in – even with certain wetsuits or drysuits. Sit-inside kayaks, on the other hand, can be a great cold weather vessel, as you will be able to stay warm and dry in your cockpit with your spray skirt attached, even when it’s icy. Kayaks offer protection from the elements inside a cockpit.

Man on kayak on ice cold waterPin

Paddling any vessel will likely result in splashes from your paddle but on a paddleboard you may find that being splashed is more refreshing in the summer months or warmer climates than in the height of winter.

Sit-on-top kayaks will also be subjected to splashes but you might be less likely to fall into the water from a sit-on-top recreational kayak than a paddle board, especially if you’re still getting used to balancing on a board for recreational paddling.

3: You Can Paddle Faster, Baby!

If you’re looking to get to a place quickly, then a kayak will probably be your best option. First of all, with the double bladed paddle you will be able to paddle faster, as you won’t have to move each blade from one side to the other, like you would on a paddle board, since it only has a blade at one side.

Another factor that can affect the speed of a paddle board is the wind, as standing up can slow you down. Being in a kayak, however, you are closer to the water and therefore more wind resistant and aerodynamic.

Video: Very, VERY Fast Kayaking Video (Extreme)

4: More Comfortable Over Long Distances

If you’re paddling over long distances, you might find that sitting in a kayak seat is more comfortable than standing on top of a paddle board. The best touring kayaks have comfort in mind.

Paddling in rougher or choppy conditions or windy conditions may also be more comfortable in a kayak than on a paddle board. Kayaks offer better stability in choppy waters because of the shapes of their hulls, generally speaking.

They may also be easier to control and paddle in a straight line because of their more hydrodynamic shape compared to the wider, flatter paddle board.

> Looking at 2-Person Kayaks

Kayaks vs. Paddleboards: Which Is Better?

Now that you’ve read about the advantages of both kayaking and paddleboarding you will be able to see which sport might suit you and your lifestyle the best. With each sport having its own benefits you will see why choosing the best one out of the two might be a difficult choice. So who’s the clear winner of the paddle board vs kayak battle?

Getting out on a paddle board can be an easy option for anyone who’s looking to have some fun on the water in a warmer climate where the shallow waters aren’t too rough, and it can be a good choice if you’re new to watersports.

Kayaking can be a better choice if you’re looking to spend several hours at a time on the water or head out on camping trips with a lot of gear in a fishing kayak.

You might find that kayaks are better suited to colder climates, especially if you go for a sit-inside, compared to a more exposed paddle board. SUP vs kayak could be personal choice for most paddlers as both kayaks and stand up paddle boards have their own advantages.

Paddleboard vs Kayak - Which Is BetterPin

Whichever vessel you go for, we know you’re bound to have fun on the water. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

18 thoughts on “Paddleboard vs Kayak: Is One Better Than The Other?”

  1. The only way is to do both i like a kayak in rougher water or for longer distances.I paddle board for quick sessions or for the fun aspect.Alan

  2. To not forget storage and traveling is a lot easier with a SUP even though inflatable Kayaks becomes more popular.

  3. Addition Security : a SUP is a lot easier to get back on. You need to be experienced and practice to be able to recover in a kayak and even then a risk of exhaustion och hypothermia. With SUP (and a little bit of practice) your up again barely getting wet 😉

    I disagree that SUP is worse in the cold. Thicker inflatable and you don’t get your feet wet and you don’t get wet hands from a dripping paddle. Bare hands is no problem o

    All other aspects I agree.

  4. Try SUPing 310 miles on St. Johns River (FL) or 175 miles in Everglades. You quickly learn that SUPing is for short distance not far away from your launch site. SUPing is short distance only which is basically a mix of showing off, light workout, while having a better view of your surroundings due to standing up. Kayaking is a serious sport that is speed, endurance (30 mile paddles in a day will train it), long distance, serious exploration, multiple overnight camping in the wild. That is what kayaking is about once you get to this sport. There is no reason to place these two activities on the same level.

  5. I own a larger boat that you can sleep on on the St. Croix river (border between Wisconsin and Minnesota) and I have 2 14-year-old twins and a wife that go to boat with me regularly we are thinking of a getting 2 kayaks or 2 paddleboards and even after reading this we are still unsure about which to get. If you have any suggestions plz help! Also Note that we are only have the boat in the water from the end of May until end of September.

    • It sounds like you could use two canoes! They can carry lots of gear and your whole family. But you might be asking which sort of boats to carry with you on your larger, motorized boat. If so, SUPs, especially the inflatable type, might take up less room on your boat than kayaks.

      Kayaks and SUPs are fun and great exercise, each in their own way. Kayaks are great for exploring the surfaces of lakes and rivers, their shorelines, and seeing the sky. I find SUPs are better than kayaks for exploring what is underwater. I tend not to look directly up very much when on a SUP nor directly down when in a kayak.

      When considering a purchase, I recommend getting something sufficiently light that you enjoy moving the boats/boards in and out of the water. If you are using the boats/boards off a larger boat, an important decision might be how easy it is to board the smaller vessel from your larger boat. Whatever you decide, I suggest buying used gear. You save a lot of money that way and, thereby, reduce your decision angst. Happy paddling.

  6. SUPing in my opinion is a lot more fun. In a kayak, a feel confined, and i often grow bored. On a SUP, when i get tired,i simply kneel or sit, and continue on my way. I don’t doubt a kayaks capabilities but I’m definitely a stand up paddle board person all the way.

    • Hi Julia. Thanks for dropping by!

      Fair points…If you start getting bored on a kayak, you could consider paddling rapids (6 different classes).

  7. If we use a paddleboard of 11 feet and 6” as a kayak (seated) and on the other hand we use an inflatable kayak not very expensive 350-450$ max which one goes faster and with less effort on streight line? Wich one ”rolls” better? (conditions : calm water but sea waters, high temprature (summer). I like kayaking but good performance inflatables like for example Sea Eagle 473RL RazorLite or Advanced Elements Airvolution 2 are very expensive for me. I would prefer good preformance for 2 hours kayaking parallel with coast. What is your opinion? I know I have to change back fin. Would it be a problem not having fin in the middle? Only 1 back and 2 smaller back. Thank you


Leave a Comment