Paddleboard vs kayak, which one should you opt for this weekend?

Paddleboarding and kayaking are both two epic sports and dare we say two of the most popular watersports for the majority of people, especially here in the UK. Both allow you to get out and enjoy the freedom of the vast open water, whilst getting in your daily exercise and getting the opportunity to see new areas of beauty from a whole different perspective. Plus, both watersports can be enjoyed not only on the sea but also on lakes, rivers and other waterways all year round. But, what sets these two watersports apart? And if you’re thinking about taking one up, which watersport should you opt for? Read on to discover which is best for you in the debate of Paddleboard vs Kayak.

What is a SUP?

Wondering why these two sports are making a real splash in the watersport community (and outside of it)? Well, there are a lot of reasons why. But, before we delve into it, let’s start with the basics first. What is a SUP?

Paddleboarding or commonly known as SUPing is quickly becoming the most popular water sport in the world. It has been growing in popularity over the years and has only been propelled forward through Covid-19. Stand-up paddleboards, or SUPs, are surf-style boards that are powered with a paddle and sheer manpower and users generally stand up while doing so.

With a whole variety of different paddleboards on the market, separated by their shape, function and structure. Depending on your preferences, you can purchase a SUP for yoga, surfing, racing, recreational use or so many other things. Even to turn it into a kayak if that’s what you’re looking for.

What is a kayak?

A kayak has been around for much longer than a SUP has and is classed as a much more traditional sport. Kayaking involves a small boat-like raft and double-sided paddle (some are inflatable for easier transport). Instead of standing on a kayak, a kayak has seats and a sunken area to keep the user semi-dry.

At their core, both paddleboards and kayaks offer many similarities. They’re both propelled using a paddle, and they’re both incredibly versatile. 

Kayaking at sunset

How stable are they both?

Both offer stable paddling platforms for pro watersports enthusiasts looking to take a few more adventurous turns or for beginners feeling a bit wobbly on their feet or in their seats. However, it’s worth noting that kayaks have a far lower centre of gravity, meaning more stability. This is due to the fact that you are sitting down in a kayak and are not on a SUP so it is much easier to get your balance. Something worth noting if you can’t decide between the two.

Getting back on 

No matter if you are opting for kayaking or paddleboarding it is inevitable that you fall off. However, the experience of getting back on is completely different for each sport. Which sport is easier to hop back onto, paddleboard vs kayak?

Naturally, as mentioned you are standing on a SUP and sitting on a kayak so the process of getting back onto both will naturally be quite different. With your SUP, it doesn’t flip as easily as a kayak. You have no lip to climb over, just a flat, wide, and accessible platform you can hop back onto with ease. You shouldn’t have too much trouble pulling yourself back up. Then the next thing you know you’re kneeling, standing up, then paddling away again. Plus, you have the bonus of a leash keeping your board attached to you. Meaning your SUP (thankfully) won’t float away 

With kayaks, you need a little more practice to master the technique. Due to its narrow body, a kayak is, unfortunately (if you’re a kayaker), more prone to capsizing. In order to get back in you will need to flip the kayak back over and then crawl back into it. It’s not quite as easy as getting back onto a SUP but as they say, practice makes perfect. Plus, we have found that we fall off a SUP a lot more than out of a kayak, especially when learning.

Carrying your new equipment


Worried about transport and portability? This can be a huge factor in deciding which watersport equipment to opt for or which sport to take up. SUPs are far more convenient to carry as they are much lighter and easier to handle. Plus, if you don’t want to have to carry a hard board each time you want to use it, you can always opt for an inflatable board instead which deflates down into an easy carry bag. With that, you can deflate it into a small size and squeeze it into a handy carrying bag. Neat, right?

If you think kayaking might be more your thing then the good news is that kayaks also have inflatable options, or you can always opt to transform your SUP into a kayak instead with a handy SUP seat. However, an inflatable kayak isn’t known to be as sturdy or as rigid as a hard one, so if you plan on using it regularly you might not want to opt for an inflatable one.

paddleboard vs kayak Saltie SUP bag

Which sport is better for exercise paddleboard vs kayak?

When you paddle on a SUP, you get a killer workout for your core, arms, and legs. You can read more about the health and fitness benefits of a paddleboard here. Paddleboarding can be a great way to get a full body workout without feeling like you’ve done a hardcore gym session. If you want something to give you a more comprehensive workout, paddleboards are ideal.

Kayaks on the other hand are a great arm workout and can sometimes your legs. Most people go kayaking for the enjoyment and sense of discovering new places, not for an intense workout.

Which can cover the distance?

When it comes to paddling for long distances, kayaking definitely has the advantage. You can spend all day kayaking around different waterways. However, with a SUP, you’ll be standing for long periods of time and it’s not so easy to cover large distances. 

With kayaking, the seated paddling position is a lot more comfortable than the prolonged standing SUP requires plus, if needed it’s easier to sit back and relax for a short while (just be aware of the tides if you’re out on the ocean, and don’t get taken out too far)

Ultimately, in the paddleboard vs kayak debate, both epic sports and in our humble opinion, should both be tried at least once in your lifetime. Paddleboarding can offer more in terms of health and fitness benefits whereas kayaking can be sustained for a far longer period of time making it better to visit different places.

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