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Why Paddleboarding is Better Than Kayaking

Race Paddle Board

Race Paddle Board

Updated on 7/10/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott


Don't have time, here is the summary; 

Choosing between a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and a kayak depends on your preferences and needs. SUPs are gaining popularity due to their ease of use and versatility, offering a full-body workout and suitability for activities like fishing. Kayaks are known for their speed but primarily engage the upper body and can be challenging to get in and out of.

SUPs are accessible, beginner-friendly, and great for group activities. They also offer simpler storage options and can be converted into kayaks with accessories. Ultimately, your choice should align with your fitness goals and the level of convenience you desire, as both options provide enjoyable experiences on the water.

Trying to decide between a SUP and a kayak? It's good to have you here, friend. In spite of their relatively new status among outdoor enthusiasts, SUPs are growing rapidly in popularity. At lakes and waterfronts around the world, kayaking remains a perennial favorite.

We should clarify what these two hobbies are - and what they are not.

There is a common misconception that kayaking is the same as canoeing. With their legs stretched forward, kayakers sit in a low seat with double-bladed paddles. Canoers sit on elevated seats or kneel on the boat while using single-bladed paddles. Standup Paddle Boards (SUPs) are paddleboards that are used to move while standing up on a board.


It is possible to learn SUP and kayaking in a short amount of time. It is possible to learn the basics of each within a day. Kayaking effectively requires lots of practice to improve your upper body stamina. The constant position inside a kayak can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Likewise, if you fall into the water while kayaking, you must learn how to get back in.

In contrast, SUPs are highly intuitive and variable. Balancing on the board is usually the most challenging part, which requires some coordination and core strength. Paddle boarding is relatively easy once you have your balance under control. Due to the freedom of movement on the SUP, you are far less likely to pick up RSIs. 


When it comes to straight-line speed, kayaks are usually faster than SUPs. The shapes of kayaks and SUPs vary according to their intended purpose. Generally, kayaks are faster in the water than SUPs, but not always. In contrast to recreational or whitewater kayaks, downwind or race SUPs (pictured below) are much faster.

Kayaks are also available in a variety of styles. Various types of kayaks allow you to sit on top of the boat (sit-on-top), while others allow you to sit inside (sit-in). Kayaks designed for open water voyages are faster than their sit-in counterparts designed for more casual days. It is hard to tell which kayak or SUP is faster due to their wide variety of shapes and functions.

The convenience of their storage and handling make SUPs hands-down faster for getting in and out of the water. A SUP that is inflatable is especially beneficial in this regard! In spite of the fact that you can't keep up with your friend in the kayak, if you arrive at the beach simultaneously, you'll have a big head start on paddling.


SUP is better than kayaking, no matter what you think. The two activities are both enjoyable and refreshing, but SUP beats the latter by a wide margin. The benefits of SUP include its accessibility, adaptability, and portability. Having trouble deciding? Here's what we mean.


Taking part in SUP is a great way to work out your whole body. Because it's such an excellent exercise, surfers used it as cross-training when it first gained popularity. SUPs require you to engage your core in order to balance, so every moment on the board will strengthen your core. When you paddle, you are engaging a whole host of muscles, including your arms and legs. The muscles in your abs, triceps, biceps, quads, and back (among others) will be exercised during SUP sessions. Conversely, kayaking completely ignores your leg muscles. While you will be working your arms and shoulders and utilizing your core, this isn't a full-body workout.


It just takes a few hours and some patience to become comfortable on a SUP. Almost anyone interested in paddling can pick up the basics of SUP quickly thanks to their simplicity and adaptability. When you gain more experience on a paddleboard, your skills evolve, and you only need basic standing and balancing skills to have fun.

First-time kayakers often lack the strength and stamina necessary for kayaking. Within a day, you'll learn the basics, but your arms and shoulders will feel the strain. The shoulder strength required by your body will take some time to adapt to. It is common for beginners to become exhausted after their first few sessions. Everyone wants to avoid RSIs or bad technique after a great workout, but it's fine to feel a little tired after!


Kayak fishing versus paddle board fishing isn't very competitive. With a SUP, you have a wider range of sight and movement, which means you can cast your line further. When you fish from a SUP rather than sitting down, you create a dynamic alternative to all that sitting. Fishing from a SUP isn't exactly the epitome of high intensity fitness, so when you fish from one, you can get a great workout. Paddling to your fishing spot on your SUP will work those muscles.



SUP is a great group activity, which is one of our favorite things about it. When you start feeling lonely, bringing a friend along is a no-brainer. Any one of your best friends, boyfriends, daughters, or puppies can hop on your board at any time. You don't need an extra board or planning! Don't worry about the weight capacity of your SUP...just make sure it can handle both of you! Based on your weight and intended use, determine the right paddle board size.

In the case of a kayak, the situation is more rigid. Kayaks with two seats are either two-person kayaks or they aren't. Buying a second boat with two seats is required if you want to bring friends along as a solo kayaker. This isn't something you can wing.

With SUPs, you can easily add extra friends (or subtract them if you're feeling ruthless) as you please.


The cool factor of SUP is unmatched by any kayak. You want to know more about someone who glides up to you on a SUP with sunglasses on and hair blowing in the wind. It's your dream to be that person. Unmistakable vibes prevail.

Take a moment to consider it. In your social media feed, have you ever seen a kayak picture draw as much awe, aspiration, and wonder as a SUP photo?

Nowadays, the cool kids paddle a SUP instead of joining a club.

It's so much fun to SUP!

SUP lives up to its hype when it comes to its cool factor. Despite how cool you look on your board, you'll feel even better. In fact, SUP is just as fun as it appears, and it's fun and adaptable for anyone. You can enjoy a memorable afternoon on a stand up paddle board regardless of your age, fitness level, or experience. The whole family can enjoy this - your kids, grandkids, college friends, or just yourself.


Kayaks are used to go from Point A to Point B. Yes, some people race kayaks, but for the most part, kayaks are used to travel back and forth. In contrast, you have an endless number of possibilities when you use a stand up paddle board. It gives you a chance to explore all kinds of activities with your board, in addition to using it for basic transportation. Yoga or Pilates on a SUP can be a great exercise for those who are interested in boutique fitness or mindfulness. There are SUP races and whitewater SUP if you're an adrenaline junkie. You can also explore your surroundings with a group while SUP touring.


That's right, you can! If you feel like it, you can combine the best of both worlds by adding a kayak seat to your paddleboard. With the help of a blade kit, you can convert your SUP paddle into a kayak paddle. You now have kayak experience! Whenever you feel like it, you can switch back to your trusty SUP. It's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SUP kayak hybrids.


The hybrid SUP kayak concept is becoming increasingly popular - but there are some options that are more ideal than others. In terms of SUP kayak hybrids, there are two main types. A SUPYak is basically a SUP that can be paddled like a boat, and is sometimes sold as a 2-in-1 product. Their shortcomings include weak attachments, limited storage, and inadequate water protection. (In essence, you miss out on some of the perks of each type of watercraft instead of getting the best of both worlds.)

Adding one of those aforementioned chairs to your paddleboard is the best option. Both for SUPs and kayaks, this method is much more functional and enjoyable.


  • An all-in-one product
  • Installation is not required
  • Each craft has its own perks, but some are missing
  • Quality may not always be the best
  • Kayaks that are more portable than regular kayaks

Chairs for SUP kayaks

  • A regular SUP can be upgraded with this add-on
  • Clips easily into your SUP's D-Rings
  • Enhanced functionality
  • A higher level of quality
  • Unlike kayaks and SUPyaks, it is more portable
  • Check out some of the benefits of paddling a SUPyak.
  • Kayaks and SUPs have some similarities
  • It is better to buy one vessel rather than two
  • It is good for sharing with friends and family


  • Paddling a SUPyak has some cons as well.
  • Core strength and balance are required for certain activities, while upper body strength is required for others.
  • Stand-up space on SUPs is limited by kayak seats
  • There is less storage space onboard


In just a few minutes, you can convert your paddleboard into a kayak. You'll need a paddle conversion kit and a kayak seat. (And here you thought magic didn't exist!)


How to Set Up Your Kayak Paddle

Your SUP paddle needs to be transformed into a kayak paddle before you can get started. A blade kit makes switching between kayak paddles just as easy as purchasing a separate paddle. SUP paddle T-handles can be swapped with kayak blades using this kit.

SUP Kayak Seat Installation

Kayak seats for paddleboards come in two types. Lower back bands are sparser options. There isn't much to this - it only provides some basic back support.

Full kayak seats are more comfortable. The back will be supported more completely and there will be more padding. Set up the seat by clipping its attachments to the board's D-rings. You won't have to install extra D-rings to make the seat fit GILI boards because they come with extras!

To determine where your seat should be positioned on the board, experiment a bit. Be careful not to place the seat directly in the middle of the board. Instead, sit on the board and ask a buddy to watch it move while it's in the water. To start with, try sitting close to the center and asking your friend if it's flat in the water or if it's tilting. Set your SUP up so that the nose is slightly raised and the board is level. You should sit there!

Then poof. Your SUP can be transformed into a kayak in just a few minutes! Adventure awaits! Add SUP accessories to your toolkit to ensure you have everything you need for your journey.


As much as 500 calories can be burned by kayaking per hour. Weather conditions, pace, and water currents affect the number of calories burned during any water activity.

During recreational paddle boarding, you will burn 330 to 460 calories per hour. For a leisurely paddle, that's just the beginning! Surfing, yoga, fishing, touring, and racing are just some of the activities you can do on your SUP and burn even more calories. You can burn up to 1130 calories per hour while SUP racing! If you're wondering how many calories paddle boarding burns, check out our article.


There are many perks to SUP fishing that you won't find on a sit-down vessel. A SUP will give you a more effective vantage point than hunkering down in a kayak seat. Because you've got a 360-degree range of motion when you're standing, you can choose the perfect spot to cast your line with that view. When you're fishing from a boat, try craning your neck to reach a spot behind you.

The fact that SUP fishing improves your workout is also undeniable. The best way to burn calories is not to sit still all day, but to stand on a paddleboard while fishing will still activate your muscles. While paddling to your fishing spot, you get a great full body workout.

For storing your tackle box, drinks, snacks, and fishing gear, SUPs come equipped with bungees, D-rings, and add-on storage options.

What kayaking has to offer and what it lacks

For centuries, kayaking has been a popular pastime. Get outside and enjoy this fun, refreshing activity! However, there are ups and downs to the activity.

Professional kayakers

There is a lot of speed in kayaks

For some people, sitting down is more comfortable

Pros and Cons of Kayaking

The water makes it hard to get in and out of them

When carried on land, it is heavy

Storage requirements at home and in your vehicle are high


It's smart to buy a well-built, reliable watercraft when buying a watercraft. You'll stay safe and dry when you're hiking! What is the reason behind the high cost of SUPs and kayaks?

The design and production of both of these watercraft are highly researched and developed (R&D). SUPs are newer than kayaks, but they have also been around for much longer. Kayaks have more complex designs and shapes. As a result, the R&D costs have been spread over a much longer period of time.

Compared to their rigid predecessors, SUPs and iSUPs are relatively new. The latest innovations in design and materials are necessary to make an iSUP that is durable and high-performing. Several factors influence the price of a good paddle board, including construction, materials, and technology.


SUPs and kayaks both offer great experiences, but in certain categories, one simply beats the other. When it comes to paddleboards vs kayaks, here are some pros and cons.

SUPs are more stable than kayaks at first, but after some practice, there is little difference between the two

SUPs are better at maneuvering in tight spaces because they are more maneuverable

Both are easy to learn, but kayaking requires specific muscle endurance that takes time to achieve

It is much easier to carry SUPs, especially iSUPs

A good deal of durability can be found in both, especially inflatables

SUPs win - no contest

SUPs are the only watercraft that allow you to add passengers quickly, including kids and pets

Kayaks have options for onboard storage, but SUPs have quick, modular options

Paddling long distances - kayaks have an advantage

In terms of sightseeing, both are good, but a SUP provides a wider view

SUPs are great for working out the whole body, but kayaks are great for working out the arms

SUP - Cool Factor


It may seem that kayaks are more stable than SUPs at first glance, but SUPs require little training to be stable. The center of gravity of a SUP is farther away from the water than that of a kayak. You won't have much trouble balancing on your SUP if you know how.


SUPs are more user-friendly compared to both watercrafts, despite both being relatively easy to maneuver. Because they're so lightweight and agile, you can use them in any situation on the water, and they're easier to maneuver around corners and tight spaces.


Both activities involve a rapid learning process. Using your core, bending your knees, and extending your arms to paddle are some of the basic movements you will need as a beginner. It takes a bit of time to build up the strength needed to perform those movements at maximum capacity while kayaking requires arm strength and arm movements that are easy to learn. You may experience impossibly sore arms after your first few kayak trips when you're just learning how to kayak.


In portaging, your vessel is carried across land. Taking your watercraft across a beach to the water, for example, or from one river to another. SUPs are extraordinarily easy to transport - especially inflatable ones - since they are relatively easy to lift. Even heavier SUPs can be lifted easily without using a cart or other tool because they have grab handles. SUP carry straps can sometimes be attached to the D-rings of your SUP to facilitate transportation.

SUPs are made from lighter material, while kayaks are made of a heavier material. Lifting them yourself is difficult. Kayakers know what it's like to drag a boat through ragged, scratchy stones or heavy wet sand. A kayak cart or someone else to help you double team the lift will help you avoid that.



Kayaks are typically made of polyethylene, which makes them very durable and able to take a few dings and bumps. All SUPs are sturdy enough to handle just about anything, regardless of their construction. SUPs, or inflatable stand-up paddleboards, are often thought of as fragile by non-paddlers. The PVC used in iSUPs is military grade and can survive rough waters and bumpy transportation. Inflatable SUPs are usually made of foam and fiberglass, whereas hard SUPs are typically made of epoxy and fiberglass.


It is much easier to get back on a SUP than it is to get back on a kayak. Just hop back on your SUP after falling off (or jumping off for a dip in the water). Falling off a kayak requires you to partake in an oh-so-cringy dance of gripping the boat, pulling yourself up, regaining your seat, and lifting yourself back onboard without flipping the boat. You're in for a particularly frustrating experience if the boat flips. Before you can try again, you have to get the boat upright again! If you're in a sit-in kayak, you'll have to use a bilge pump to drain the water from the cockpit.


In a kayak, you cannot bring along a friend at the last minute because there isn't much extra room. Two-person boats are necessary for that, since a one-person kayak can't accommodate a buddy. SUPs, however, allow extra guests to hop right on - no need for extra seats.



When you buy a kayak, the amount of storage that it comes with is fixed. It is not possible to add or remove storage from a boat that has already been constructed! Unlike a SUP, however, you can have as much or as little storage as you like. Dry bags, coolers, and other storage options can be set up with bungees and other attachments. A blank slate and plenty of open space allows you to move around more freely on your SUP (or practice activities like SUP yoga). Depending on the amount of storage you need, your SUP can change shape.


It's no secret that kayaks are fun to use, but storing them can be a nightmare. If you have a large, bulky boat like this, prepare yourself for a lot of space in your home, backyard, or garage. When it comes to transporting your boat to the waterfront, you'll need to lift it on top of your car or find another way to do so.


It is much easier to store SUPs than kayaks, both hard and inflatable. You can tuck an inflatable SUP into your car trunk, stow it on a plane, or slide it tidily into a corner of your house by folding it neatly into a SUP backpack. A hard SUP does not deflate, but it has a more compact shape than a boat, which makes it easier to store in your home. In addition to using a SUP rack, you can also display it upright against a wall.


Compared to canoes, kayaks are more specifically designed for long-distance adventures. They can also move a bit faster. A touring SUP, however, is ideally suited for long-distance SUP trips. With these nimble boards, you can access small, gem-like spaces on the water that might not otherwise be accessible, and stay on the water for a full day before heading back to shore if you prefer.


In terms of sightseeing, SUPs provide a leg up over kayaks, since they provide a better view. You have a 360-degree view when SUPing because you stand up high. As you stand, your vantage point expands, and if you want a closer look at what's going on under the surface of the water, you can sit down. SUP travel tours are becoming increasingly popular for a good reason! Kayaks restrict you to sitting, regardless of whether you like it or not - and that view from your seat is all you'll see.

The fitness industry

You can exercise your arms and core while kayaking, but it's primarily an arm and core workout. In contrast, SUP involves the entire body. Your arms, core, legs, flexibility, and balance will all benefit from working out on your paddleboard. SUP is simply the best exercise for a full body workout.

WHO'S COOLER? What's better, a kayak or a SUP?

Do we even need to debate this? SUP would be the cool girl at the bar, or that cool guy at the bar if it were a person. You're the envy of the entire beach as you paddle aboard your chic SUP in stylish swimwear. That sounds awesome, doesn't it? A kayak where you can't move, stretch out, or show off your aesthetic is way, way cooler.



As far as kayaks vs SUPs are concerned, there's no doubt that paddle boarding is better than kayaking in nearly every respect. In addition to engaging the legs, glutes, core, arms, chest, and back, paddle boarding is a total body workout. Your shoulders, back, arms, chest, and core are all worked separately while kayak paddling.

The truth is what we're saying! Despite all its delights, kayaking has always been second best. It's about time we accepted that. We'd even venture to guess that some kayakers are suffering from SUP #FOMO at the moment. Now that you know what you've chosen, it's time to try out SUP.