Paddle Board Vs Kayak: What To Buy

In this paddle board vs kayak comparison post, we shall see the main differences between the two pieces of equipment.

When you are choosing a new surface water sport to learn, you will have to consider kayaking and paddle boarding.

Here, we are everything about stand up paddle boarding. However, we would also recommend buying a kayak if you can spare the money, so you have both the SUP and kayak.

If you only have a budget for just one of these two, we would recommend going with the SUP board. Keep reading, you will see why.

Paddle board vs kayak: Main differences

Paddle board vs kayak

Kayaks were more comparable to canoes, since there is no resemblance between them and stand up paddle boards. Here are the main differences that can help you make up your mind about which to buy:

Shape, design and style

Kayaks have a different shape from the stand up paddle boards. Right from the design, these two pieces of equipment are different.

Paddle board design

The paddle board is, well, a board. It can come in inflatable or solid design. It looks more like a surfboard than a kayak.

You will notice that the deck of the board is flat. That’s right, because you are meant to use it while standing up. That’s why the name of this water sport is stand up paddle boarding.

Paddle boards can have one, or more fins for easier tracking in the water, or to help with turning. Some also come with detachable fins and some come with permanent ones.

Some paddle boards are inflatable. When traveling, just deflate it, roll it up and stuff it in the traveling bag it came with.

There are also three-piece detachable paddle boards which pack very easily for storage and transport.

Solid paddle boards are rigid, so you would have to know how to transport a SUP board on a car.

Kayak design and style

Like the stand up paddle boards, kayaks also come in solid or inflatable style. The inflatable ones are more popular because they are easy to travel with.

You will notice that kayaks have a cockpit, where you sit down comfortably to row your vessel. Unlike the stand up paddle board that you can only propel through water when standing, you can sit in a kayak.

The main difference when it comes to the design and style is … you sit down in a kayak and you stand up on a paddle board.

Both equipment are propelled on the water by rowing. The SUP comes with one paddle (oar). Kayaks come with a double-bladed paddle so that you can row from both sides in quick succession. The blades are attached to the shaft.

Usability – sitting and standing

As we have aforementioned, you use the kayak while sitting down on a seat in the cockpit. The real power comes from your arms, so you will get a good workout of the shoulders, biceps and core muscles since you must rotate your body to row from both sides.

When using a stand up paddle board, you have to learn how to stand up on a SUP. It is designed with enough width to enable you to stand properly. You will row the board from a standing up position.

For usability, the paddle board offers more benefits than the kayak. It can help you to work out all of the muscle groups in your body.

Since you are standing up, to counter the buoyancy of the water, you have to maintain a proper stance. This requires some legwork.

To paddle the board, you have to rotate your body without moving. This works out the core muscles very well.

Storage space

On the board, there is not storage space. So, you have to pack your items in a waterproof bag and then tie them to one end of the deck using a cord.

You can only carry so much stuff because if there is too much weight near the nose, the board will tip into the water. The same is bound to happen if you add weight on the tail side of the board.

A kayak has a lot more storage space. You can pack some things inside you in the cockpit and you can tie the others on the deck and secure them with a rope.

If you buy a kayak of the right size, you can even pack in more people. Your children will be secure aboard since they will be inside the vessel rather than atop it. However, do make sure they wear life jackets.

Versatility: SUP vs kayak

You can put the paddle board to many more uses than you can the kayak. The kayak is just good for kayaking. Here are some of the things you can use the paddle board for:

You can use a SUP as a kayak

Imagine being able to add a seat to the paddle board and using it as a kayak! If you don’t want to spend the entire time standing up, you can have a seat. You can then paddle comfortably from a seated position and enjoy your cruise on the water.

If you like, you can also order a paddle conversion kit from Amazon and change your regular SUP paddle to a kayak double-blade paddle.

Use it for transport

If you want to move from one point to another, you can use the paddle board as a means of transport.

Don’t just paddle board on the river. You can as well use the SUP for transporting yourself and a few things down the river.

Once you have gotten on the paddle board and you start paddling, you can go anywhere. However, don’t stray too far if you are paddle boarding in the ocean.

Use your SUP for yoga

Paddle boarding yoga is a thing right now and many people have taken it up. It is relaxing, and it can help you get your thoughts together. With time, you will find it possible to perform incredible yoga poses on the board, in the water.

If you intend to do SUP yoga, please ensure you order a board specifically designed for yoga. You can get back to using it regularly when you are not doing yoga.

Speed and stability differences

If you are a speed junkie, well, even the fastest racing SUP board is not going to come close to the kayak. The kayak is designed for speed.

The fastest Kayak speed ever recorded was 39MPH while the fastest SUP clocked 9MPH. You can see the huge gap between the two top speeds!

Another important consideration is stability. A kayak has a bigger surface area, so it sits perfectly on the water.

It is more stable at high speed. You will fall off a SUP board many times. You can read our article on how to get back on the board after falling into the water.

Ease of maintenance

Kayaks are larger and they take much more abuse in the white waters. Paddle boards on the other hand are simpler in design, they have a smaller profile and maintaining them is ever so easy.

Whether you make your board inflatable or solid, you have less surface area to clean. Because of the simple design, you can also spot damaged spots easily.

A kayak will take longer to clean and repair. Repairs will also be harder, and costlier. Definitely, the SUP board wins in this regard.

Durability of kayak vs paddle board

Here, the kayak and the SUP board score evenly, mostly because durability depends on the care and maintenance that you give them.

It is important to know how to store your paddle board, and how to clean and repair it. Again, because of their smaller size, SUP boards are easy to store, to transport and to keep in prime condition.

Ease of getting back on

Both the stand up paddle board and the kayak are capable of capsizing, although the paddle board has a higher risk than the kayak.

If they capsize, you will find it easy to get back on the paddle board since it is easier to flip. The kayak can be a bit of a bother to flip and get back on since it has higher sides.

Paddle board vs Kayak Cost

No matter how good either of these two pieces of equipment is, if you do not have the money to buy it, it won’t help at all.

The best place to buy a SUP board is online, on the different online marketplaces. You can order the rift Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board from

Generally, compared to one-person kayaks, inflatable paddle board packages do seem to cost more. Some cost even more than $600.

Inflatable kayaks on the other hand cost less. However, there are pretty expensive series in the market, some going for over $800. If you check the features they come with though, you will agree the price is justifiable.

You may order the Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak from It is designed for two people.

What burns more calories kayaking or paddle boarding?

What burns more calories kayaking or paddle boarding

The good thing with both kayaking vs paddle boarding is that you can have crazy fun on the water. At the same time, you can lose a good number of pounds, especially if you are consistent with either sport.

How many calories are burned while paddle boarding?

60 minutes of leisurely paddle boarding will burn about 460 calories. If you work harder, meaning row faster, you can burn up to 600 calories in 60 minutes. On the lower end, you will burn at least 300 calories.

Kayaking requires more work, especially because the paddle is heavier and you have to keep alternating your rowing from side to side.

If you row at a regular pace for 60 minutes, you can burn up to 500 calories on your kayak. If you increase the pace and the distance, you can burn more calories.

You can see how possible it is to control your weight by using a SUP or a kayak regularly. However, there is a difference in how the two sports tone your muscles.

A paddle board will work out more muscle groups than a kayak. Also, a person with a higher body fat percentage will lose more weight than a person with a low body fat percentage.

As soon as they lose all the “loose” fat, they might feel as if they have hit a plateau stage because muscle is harder to burn.

For a proper workout and maximum calorie burning from kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, check your diet. Only take nutrient-packed foods and even then, minimize the quantity.

Is kayaking or paddle boarding a better workout?

Hats off to paddle boarding because it gives an overall better workout than kayaking.

Granted, you can burn more fat by kayaking, say, perhaps by 100 calories. However, working out means much more than that.

It means working out as many muscle groups as possible. When you are paddle boarding, all the muscle groups are involved.

The lower limbs will get a good workout and tone. Those quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes will look firm, and awesome!

As you maintain a steady stance and balance on the board, you keep working out these muscles, and more!

All the same, remember that paddle boarding is a low impact exercise, so it is possible to go paddle boarding with bad knees.

Kayaking will also help you burn a good number of calories. But it will mostly workout your upper body muscle groups.

You sit down in the kayak. Therefore, your butt, hams, quads and calves are not doing much work. While you will lose weight uniformly all over the body, the lower body muscles will not get a tone.

For a better, full body workout, stand up paddle boarding wins by far.

Is kayaking easier than paddle boarding?

Kayaking is definitely easier on you because you will be seated. There is less work to do.

When you are paddle boarding, you are doing a few things all at once. For instance, you are trying to balance on the board. At the same time, you are trying to counter the buoyancy of the water, and paddle!

Therefore, if you are going long distance, a kayak is a surer bet for you. Besides, a kayak is quite agile and it builds speed faster.

A SUP board on the other hand is slower even at top speed. Besides, all it takes is a small mistake and you find yourself falling off the board.

Paddle board vs kayak for fishing

Paddle board vs kayak for fishing

Ultimately, the kayak is much better for fishing. When you are fishing, it can be hard to keep in one position.

There will be a lot of movement. Therefore, you can fall off into the water easily if you are on a paddle board.

Fishing on a kayak has more stability and you can make body movements without toppling over.

Also, if you are a beginner, a kayak is easier to get the hang of than an inflatable or solid paddle board.

While a 4 inch or 6 inch SUP board gives you a better workout than a kayak, it does not beat a kayak when it comes to stability.

Paddle board vs kayak with dog

Paddle board vs kayak with dog

If you want to bring your four legged friend along on your water adventure, you need to ensure their kayak or SUP boarding safety.

So, what between a kayak and SUP board is better when you want to enjoy your fun with a dog?

Both can be great. However, there are a few pointers to bear in mind here:

A kayak offers more accommodation space. It is better for small dogs that fear the water. They feel more secure since there is better space.

A paddle board is better for a larger, more experienced, courageous dog. You will also need a wider board. Beginner SUP boards are wider to give more stability.

Racing boards are narrower for speed and less contact with the water. If you have a racing SUP board, you might not be able to bring a dog with you.

Whether you are using a kayak or a SUP board for paddle boarding with your dog, it needs a life jacket for paddle boarding, for dogs.

Also, make sure you bring your own Type III life jacket that adheres to the U.S.C.G regulations.

Verdict: What is better paddle board vs kayak?

After looking at both the kayak and the paddle board, we can make a reasonable verdict. The stand up paddle board is better!

It is more fun to explore the surroundings on the SUP board. Besides, it is more versatile since you can convert it into a kayak by adding a seat. Remove the seat later and you will have your board back.

If you are an all time water sports enthusiast, you will probably want to have both items. You will never regret your decision.

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