Paddleboard vs Kayak: Which is the Best Choice and Why

Jason Loomis
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Paddleboard vs Kayak: What Are They

Paddleboards are much more commonly called Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) and they are used like surfboards. The rider stands on the board and paddles themselves through the water. However, since they have a flat bottom, they work quite differently to the surfboard. You can use a surfboard on the water, but you won’t be able to use it if you want to stand up. The flat bottom works by water being pushed underneath it, lifting the board upwards.

In the case of both the paddleboard and the kayak, the paddle is utilized to steer. However, this is difficult in the SUP because as you paddle forward, the board moves in that direction. So you’ll need to be careful.

You also need to be aware of the fact that although the paddleboard and the kayak are similar, they go through the water differently, so you’ll experience them differently. Depending on your needs and what you want from your experience, this might be an important point.

What is a Paddleboard?

A paddleboard is basically a water resistant board that you stand on to paddle and control the motion. If you are looking to learn how to use a paddleboard in your area, it is best to look into a rafting or kayaking center. These places will normally rent paddleboards to people who know how to swim and who are aware of safety precautions. If you know how to swim, a paddleboard is a very exciting water activity for you. It allows you to see a gorgeous view of the nature. It is ideal for people who love marine creatures but cannot swim well.

Paddleboards are a great way to stay healthy and stay active. You can start from the shore and end up at a beautiful beach. Paddleboards are very different from kayaks as they do not have a rudder. They are also a lot heavier in weight and therefore are not very suitable to be carried on your head by hands if you are walking. They have straps which can be adjusted to the feet to control its movements while the rider is standing on the board.

What is a Kayak?

While you might be thinking that a kayak is a paddleboard, it is a totally different and separate entity. Now, we’re not going to get into the specifics of Paddleboard vs Kayak because the listing can include elements from both. But to keep the matter simple, we’ll compare the two on the basis of the core purpose behind their development … boats or ships.

Kayaks are designed as watercrafts, with a long, narrow hull and pointed front and back ends. They are used for fishing, hunting, and water sports. Kayaks are also designed for recreational use, including wilderness travel like wilderness trekking, touring, and sea kayaking. These water crafts are generally made of durable molded plastic or fibreglass.

There are primarily two types of kayaks: Sit-on-tops and Sit-in-sits. In the first type, you sit on top of the craft. In the second one, you sit inside it.

Kayaking: It's not just about sitting inside the vessel. Kayaks require you to use your upper body muscles to move the paddle. And there's a whole lot of fun involved in it.

Paddleboard vs Kayak: The Key Differences

You've probably seen paddleboarders and kayakers on the water. If you have been curious about these sports, here is a breakdown of the key differences between paddleboarding and kayaking.

Paddleboarding vs Kayak for Beginners

Paddleboarding and kayaking can be slightly different for beginners. To get started, platform paddleboarding is more forgiving than kayaking. The paddle in paddleboarding does not rotate like the paddles in kayaking, which means you have a wider margin of error.

While kayakers need to keep their body centered over the center of the boat, a paddleboarder can use the paddle to provide a much wider base of support. If you consistently paddle low in the strokes, you'll be on top of the paddle to stay stable.

Kayaking is slightly more difficult for beginners. Overall you have to find your center and be very mindful about how you use the paddle. If you're off center, you can easily tip over.

Paddleboarding vs Kayak for Fitness

Paddleboarding is also more forgiving for fitness. You can go out for a paddle at your own pace without having to worry about balance. You have a wider platform to provide stability and maintain a more effective core position.

Portability: SUPs Are Easier to Transport

SUPs are made to be durable so they can survive being transported long distances from what is called a "center of paddling". This means that the SUP is made to be light weight so you are able to move it and carry it with less effort.

The secret is all in the materials. Most of them are made of tough epoxy and fiberglass to keep them stable. They also use a high quality airtight pump to inflate them. Added to this is a light weight, tough, and easy to clean, material deck.

Depending on the type, shapes, and use, the board can be up to 25' long and weigh up to 50 lbs. A second person is almost always required to help you carry a SUP. But you probably won’t mind this, since it is so much fun just to carry it down to the water with you.

On the other hand, a kayak can be very light and because of this, some can be stored in very small spaces. Still, even a fiberglass boat can be fairly hefty at over 100 lbs.

By the time you have carried it on top of your car, you'll probably have exerted some energy.

A kayak may require several trips to get from the house to the water, but it is fairly easy to transport and store.

Durability: Kayaks Can Take More of a Beating

Kayaks are more durable than paddleboards in general. While some paddleboards can be practically unbreakable (such as Softboards and hard-shells), standard inflatables or PVC paddleboards can crack on impact or even tear if you’re not careful. Unlike kayaks, paddleboards also don’t have the advantage of being made out of a material that’s designed to be seaworthy (like the hull or water-ready deck of a kayak).

Some kinds of board material are more forgiving than others. More expensive foams, such as Closed-Cell, give you a little more leeway as they are less likely to see wear and tear from impacts and abrasion. Basic, cheaper PVC, PVC/foam hybrid, and PVC/inflatable paddleboards are more prone to cracking and can take more wear and tear than other board materials.

While a crack might send an inflatable paddleboard to the trash, it’s less likely to happen to an above-water, polyurethane foam board like a board from Sector 9 or a hard-shell SUP. While underwater wear and tear can be a serious concern, it’s worth keeping in mind that board materials, fin shapes, and accessories can have a lot to do with your paddleboard’s durability and longevity as well.

Gear Storage: Kayaks Store More of Your Stuff

Most kayaks come with the capacity to store more gear than a paddle board. The storage space on a kayak can be used in many ways. You can fit bait boxes, scuba tanks, fishing rods, and even coolers on kayaks.

Since there are different types of storage spaces on a kayak, you can gear storage needs as per your requirements. Kayaks can be modified too, and you can add dry storage space and things like fishing rod holders depending on the paddling conditions.

The storage space available depends on the size of the kayak you purchase. Smaller kayaks don’t really have storage, but the larger ones have enough space to keep your smaller belongings safe. Sea kayaks have the largest storage space out of all kayaks. But in all types of kayaks, the easy storage space is the best when it comes to storing stuff.

Fitness: Paddleboards Are Better for Your Core

You may be wondering why you should even consider paddleboarding when there are already several other popular board sports out there. After all, paddle boarding is a relatively new sport, and people are always on the lookout for something new and exciting.

The first reason you should consider paddleboarding is because of the amazing health benefits. When you do paddleboarding, you are effectively working out all of your core muscles and much of the rest of your body as well.

Your core is your center, and paddleboarding, more than most other sports, requires a significant amount of balance and control. It makes you work all of the core muscles and many other muscles in your legs and arms. It is a surprisingly effective and rigorous workout, and it is a great way to stay in shape.

The next reason you should consider paddleboarding is because of the rush you get when you are doing it. Some people get a rush from the physical aspect of paddleboarding. Your body is literally working against the water to make the paddleboard move. Other people get a rush out of the physical aspect of paddleboarding simply because it is a stress reliever. You are out on the water enjoying the scenery, and after a few minutes of paddleboarding, you feel stress just slip away from you.

Price: Paddleboards Are Easier on Your Wallet

Both paddleboards and kayaks are great ways to explore the water, and most experts agree that both can be equally enjoyable. However, did you know that the price difference between the two can be so great? This is always going to be a deciding factor for some people.

Paddleboards are cheaper than kayaks, and they are also lighter in weight. You can carry it around easily and you won’t have to worry about tipping over.

In fact, you can even get by without buying a paddle in some cases as there are fit-in-the-paddleboards that you can add to the paddleboard before using. These are useful if you want to do a bit of paddling away from home but need to transport your board as well.