Paddle Board Vs Kayak: Which is Best? Which Should You Buy?

Paddle Board Vs Kayak: Which is Best? Which Should You Buy?

Ready to ride the waves but torn between a paddle board and kayak? Fear not! In this action-packed guide, we'll tackle the epic battle of paddle boards vs. kayaks, comparing stability, toughness, agility, storage, and costs. Get ready to discover the ultimate adventurer within you and choose the perfect vessel for your next outdoor escapade. Let’s dive in!

Paddle Boarding Vs Kayak: A Comparison

Hold on to your paddles! It's time to compare the benefits and drawbacks of paddle boarding and kayaking, taking several factors into consideration.

1. How Stable Is It?

Stand up paddle boards boast a wider, more stable platform, making them a beginner's best friend. But be warned, conquering the art of balance and core strength is a must. Kayaks, with their low center of gravity and cozy seats, offer a steadier ride for those who prefer a more grounded approach.

2. Which is More Durable?

Both paddle boards and kayaks come in a variety of durable materials. Inflatable options use tough PVC, but hard-shell kayaks crafted from plastic, fiberglass, or carbon fiber may claim the durability crown. However, inflatable SUPs have evolved to offer extreme stiffness and rigidity while boasting lightweight portability, proving they can endure the wild waters too.

3. Which Provides More Maneuverability and Speed?

In the race for agility and speed, kayaks reign supreme. Their sleek design slices through the water effortlessly, leaving paddle boards trailing behind. While SUPs can turn on a dime, their wider shape holds them back in speed. Plus, kayaks harness the power of double-sided paddles for maximum waterway efficiency.

Which Provides More Maneuverability and Speed?

Check out our collection of Nautical Paddles BB now!

4. What about Storage?

Inflatable paddle boards steal the show when it comes to storage. Deflate, pack, and go – perfect for adventurers short on space or globetrotters itching to explore. Heavier and larger, hard-shell kayaks and non-inflatable paddle boards demand more storage creativity, like racks or storage straps.

5. Learning Curve

Paddle boarding has a shorter learning curve, thus, beginners can learn balance and paddle faster. Meanwhile, kayaking has a steeper curve, requiring more practice to acquire skills like navigating and precise strokes.

6. Portaging

SUPs are usually lighter than kayaks. Thus, it’s easier to carry the former than the latter.

7. Re-entry

It’s simpler for stand-up paddle boards to re-entry water, while kayaks need special skills, such as paddle float rescue or aided re-entry, for more difficult circumstances.

8. Passengers

SUPs can accommodate kids, friends and pets, depending on the weight capacity of the board. Kayaks often can carry two people, thus, ideal for paddling with companions.

9. Long Distance

With kayaks, you can go for longer distances, thanks to their seating position and streamlined design, making them obtain faster speed and efficiency.

10. Sightseeing

Both offer unique ways to enjoy sightseeing. You can stand up while paddle boarding to view the surroundings, while with kayak, you are closer to the water surface to experience the wildlife view.

11. Fitness

Kayaking emphasizes upper body muscles, including arms, shoulders, and back, boosting strength and endurance, while stand-up paddle boarding works the arms, legs, core, and stabilizer muscles for balance.

12. Cool Factor

Paddle boarding offers cool factors such as popularity, stylish designs and cool trick performance. On the other hand, kayaking brings a unique sense of adventure and a closer connection to nature.

13. Average Cost?

Paddle board or kayak costs vary based on type, material, and brand. Entry-level paddle boards range from $300 to $800, while kayaks can cost anywhere from $200 to over $1000 for top-tier models. Keep your budget and adventure wish list in mind when making your choice. Here's a table breaking down of the key considerations:

Overall Fitness Engagement High Moderate Paddle boarding often requires more balance and engages more muscle groups.
Stability on Water Moderate High Kayaks are typically more stable than paddle boards, especially for beginners.
Ease of Re-entry Easier Harder Paddle boards are generally easier to get back onto from the water.
Storage Capacity Limited Ample Kayaks usually offer more space for gear.
Transport & Portability Easy Moderate Paddle boards are often lighter and easier to transport.
Viewing Experience Superior Good The elevated position on a paddle board offers better views.
Suitability for Cold Weather Less Suitable More Suitable Kayaks offer more protection from cold water and weather.
Suitability for Warm Weather Ideal Good Paddle boards allow for more sun exposure and cooling.
Durability Good Better Kayaks are often more durable due to their construction.
Maneuverability Agile Less Agile Paddle boards can be easier to maneuver due to their lightweight.
Speed on Water Slower Faster Kayaks are typically faster, especially over distances.
Comfort During Paddling Less More Kayaks provide a more comfortable seated position for longer durations.
Freedom of Movement More Freedom Less Freedom Paddle boarding allows for more varied movements and activities.
Fishing Adaptability Good Better Kayaks are often preferred for fishing due to their stability and storage.
Yoga Compatibility Ideal Possible Paddle boards provide a unique platform for yoga on water.
Protection from Sun Less More Kayaks can offer more options for shade and protection.

Reasons why SUP is more enjoyable than kayaking

Paddle boarding vs kayaking. People usually compare these two sports and the former is voted to be more enjoyable. Here are the reasons why:

1. Paddle Boarding Can Burn More Calories

Leisure paddle boarding burns about 330 - 460 calories per hour, while this number in kayaking is 500 calories. However, it’s not the same with intense paddle boarding. SUP surfing, yoga, touring, fishing, and racing burn more calories since they involve many muscle groups and maintaining balance. Practice can be intensified by making an attempt to maintain stability while standing, paddling, and doing other activities. For example, you can burn more than 1100 calories with SUP racing.

2. Suitable for Beginners

Kayaking vs paddle boarding in terms of suitability. In general, learning to SUP is less difficult for novices than learning to kayak. The fundamental skills of balance and paddling on the board are rather simple, so even those without prior experience or training may enjoy the sport, and your experience will increase time by time.

On the other hand, it’s a struggle for beginners to have the muscle and endurance needed for kayaking on their first attempt. You can pick up the fundamentals in a day, but arm and shoulder pain is to be expected. After the first sessions, you may feel tired and need a long time to get used to the techniques. It’s also crucial to avoid injuries from improper movements or repetitive strain injuries.

3. Easier Fishing From a SUP

Compared to kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding can offer more convenient and fun fishing. You can have a better sea due to the higher location and simple mobility. Plus, access to fishing gear is made possible by the roomy deck. Moreover, fishing from a SUP creates a dynamic alternative to sitting since fishing when seated isn't exactly what high-intensity training offers. By paddling to your fishing location and standing up to fish on your SUP, you may strengthen your muscles as well.

4. Can Play With Friends & Pet

One more important aspect of the paddle board vs kayak comparison is the accommodating ability so many friends and even pets can join. Stand-up paddle boards frequently provide greater room, which makes them perfect for carrying extra people or furry friends. SUPs offer enough areas for friends and pets to accompany you on your excursion or for many riders.

Meanwhile, in a kayak, things are more set in stone. You can choose to have a two-person kayak with two seats or not. If you’re a solo kayaker and now want one more person to join you, you need to purchase a second boat with two seats.

5. More Challenging

SUP might be simpler to learn at first, but as you gain experience, it can also present more of a challenge and adventure. Learning various paddling methods and maintaining balance on the board can be an enjoyable physical and mental exercise.

With a stand up paddle board, you have countless options. It can be a simple way to get around, but it's also great for trying various activities. If you're into unique fitness classes or want to focus on your mental well-being, you can do yoga or pilates on your board. For those who love thrilling experiences, you can try paddle boarding on rapids or enter paddle boarding races. Plus, paddle board touring is a fantastic group activity to see new places.

6. Standing Up looks So Cool!

Finally, the last point in our paddle board vs kayak competition is the way they make you look. The ability to stand up on the board and glide across the water is one of the most attractive features of stand-up paddle boarding. There are many factors that create a stylish look with SUP, such as your sunglasses or your flying hair. A shot with your paddle board can bring more reactions to your social media than a kayak one.

Paddle Board vs Kayak: Factors to Consider

To find the perfect fit between kayak vs. SUP, consider these factors:

Paddle Board vs Kayak: Factors to Consider

1. Personal Interests and Goals

What excites you on the water? Are you chasing serene, soothing workouts or adrenaline-infused escapades? Both paddle boarding and kayaking offer a total body workout, with your speed determining just how hard you can go at either. You can paddle leisurely or go hard with both a paddle board and a kayak. Keep in mind that paddle boarding is ideal for serene yoga sessions, and it also caters to fishing enthusiasts by granting them access to hard-to-reach spots.

Consider Your Activities:

  • Recreational Use: Either option is great for casual outings, photography, or simple enjoyment of calm waters.
  • Exercise and Fitness: If your primary goal is fitness, a paddle board might be more engaging.
  • Fishing or Camping: A kayak is generally better suited due to stability and storage space.
  • Water Conditions: For rough waters or ocean use, a kayak typically offers better handling and safety.

2. Physical Ability and Health

Your physical prowess and well-being matter in this quest. Are you struggling with balance or joint pain? Kayaking provides support and stability. If you want to enhance balance and core strength, paddle boarding is your ally.

Personal Comfort and Skill Level:

  • Beginners: While both have a learning curve, kayaking may be initially easier for maintaining balance.
  • Physical Ability: Paddle boarding requires good balance and core strength.

3. Type of Water Environment

Your aquatic playground also impacts your choice. SUPs thrive in calm, glassy waters, while kayaks conquer turbulent waves and currents with ease.

4. Group Size and Socializing

Planning an expedition with friends? Paddle boarding encourages easy banter as you stand, face, and engage with your fellow adventurers. Kayaking, though still social, makes chit-chat trickier as you sit and focus on the horizon ahead. With these factors in mind, gear up, grab your paddle, and embark on your next unforgettable water-bound adventure!

Paddle Board vs Kayak: What to Choose?

Deciding whether it's easier to kayak or paddle board depends on several factors. Each activity has its unique aspects that can make it easier or more challenging depending on the individual. Here's a comparison:

  • Learning Curve: Studies indicate most people can learn basic kayaking faster than paddle boarding due to the balance required for the latter.
  • Calories Burned: Paddle boarding can burn more calories due to full-body engagement. A Harvard Health publication states that stand-up paddle boarding can burn between 300-400 calories per hour, compared to moderate kayaking which burns about 205-350 calories per hour.
  • Popularity: According to the Outdoor Foundation's 2018 report, around 16 million Americans participated in kayaking, while about 3.2 million participated in stand-up paddle boarding, suggesting greater accessibility or preference for kayaking.

Choosing between a paddle board and a kayak can be a bit perplexing. It's really about your personal preference, how you plan to use it, and what kind of water conditions you'll be facing. However, if we were to lean towards one, going with a paddle board could be an excellent choice. Moreover, with recent advancements, you can now convert your SUP (stand up paddle board) into a kayak with just a kayak seat attachment.

Convert Your Paddle board into a Kayak to Have The Best of Both Worlds

Torn between a paddle board and kayak? Embrace the thrill of a versatile, convertible paddle board! With a few swift adjustments, this hybrid marvel lets you revel in both aquatic adventures without missing out on any fun. Unleash your inner water wanderer and ride the waves with this versatile, all-in-one solution!

  • Set Up Kayak Paddle

You can make use of a kayak paddle that is simple to adapt to your favorite paddling technique. With the adjustable shafts available on many kayak paddles, you may vary the length of the paddle to suit your sitting or standing position.

Sit down on your paddle board and lengthen the kayak paddle to a comfortable length. One paddle blade should be pointing forward and the other backward, and both should be in the proper orientation.

  • Install a SUP Kayak Seat

A dedicated SUP kayak seat that offers back support and comfortable sitting while you kayak on a paddle board is a worth-investing kayak attachment. Use straps or clips to connect the SUP kayak seat to your paddle board, making sure it is positioned for maximum comfort and stability. Position it for optimal comfort and stability, ensure it supports your lumbar area properly and permits you to paddle effectively. Once the seat is in the ideal position, a new level of support as you navigate through the waves.

The full-range kayak attachments of iROCKER are designed to seamlessly convert your paddle board into a kayak. From adjustable paddles to supportive seats, find everything you need to enjoy the best of both worlds. Visit iROCKER’s collection and upgrade your watercraft today.

⇒ Link to Kayak Attachments of iROCKER -

Convert Your Paddle board into a Kayak to Have The Best of Both Worlds

Choose Your Ultimate Watercraft with iROCKER!

In the paddle board vs kayak duel, victory depends on your preferences, fitness, and watery playground. Weigh the pros and cons to make your adventurous choice. Gear up and dive into your next thrilling escapade with iROCKER, be it SUP or kayak.


Outdoor Foundation. (2018). 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2023, Sep 1). Try this: All aboard for paddle boarding. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved


Finally, there are some common questions that people usually consider when choosing between a paddle board vs kayak:

1. What Makes Quality Paddle Board Vs Kayak Pricey?

High-end kayaks and paddle boards come at a high cost because of their superior materials, advanced production methods, and creative design elements. These materials are strong, resilient, and lightweight, and they call for specific equipment and experienced labor. Prices for established brands are usually greater.

2. Is a paddle board's length important?

Yes, the length of a paddle board greatly influences its stability, performance, and suitability for various activities. Longer boards are ideal for beginners, open water, and choppy conditions but may sacrifice maneuverability. They also have higher weight capacity, creating more challenges to store and transport.

3. Does height matter when buying a paddle board?

Yes, height is a key factor in choosing a paddle board since it influences stability, comfort, and performance. For taller individuals, a board with higher volume and width is essential for better stability. Comfort and ergonomics are also crucial, as well as ample deck space and a comfortable standing area.

4. How much air does a paddle board need?

PSI level inflated into paddle boards should be from 10 to 15 for best handling and stability. Before shutting the valve, you need to ensure that it is firm by using a high-quality pump and adhering to the manufacturer's recommendations. Consult the owner's handbook or the manufacturer for advice on avoiding overinflation.

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