How to Decide Between a SUP Or a Kayak

Are you trying to decide between a (stand up paddle board) SUP vs kayak? Then you’re in the right place. While SUPs are relatively new, they’re growing in popularity fast. Meanwhile, kayaks are staying popular amongst watersport enthusiasts around the world.

sup vs kayak

Before we dive in, let’s talk about what SUP and kayaking are.

Kayaking is often confused with canoeing. However, kayakers used doubled-bladed paddles and sit down low in their seat with their legs stretched in front of them. Meanwhile, kayakers will use a single-bladed paddle and sit on an elevated kayak seat or kneel in their boat.

An SUP involves standing up on a board and using a long, single-bladed paddle to propel yourself forward.

SUP vs Kayak: Which Is Easier?

Both kayaking and SUP can be learned rather quickly. You can pick up basic skills in both watersports in about a day. To learn how to kayak effectively, you need to practice a lot to get your upper body stamina up.

Because you’re stuck in the same position during your kayaking trip, you risk getting repetitive strain injuries (RSI). If you happen to fall into the water when kayaking, there are special instructions to follow when getting back up.

SUPs, on the other hand, are highly variable and intuitive. The biggest challenge with an SUP is balancing on the paddle board because it does require some core strength and coordination.

Once you’ve got the basic balancing down on paddle boards, you can learn how to paddle board easily. Also, you have a lower risk of RSIs because you can move around freely on your SUP.

Can SUPs Keep Up With Kayaks?

When talking about straight-line speed, kayaks are faster than SUPs in most cases. Both SUPs and kayaks come in various shapes designed for specific purposes. So, while kayaks typically are faster in the water than SUPs, it isn’t always the case.

But because of the variety of functions and shapes of SUPs and kayaks, it’s hard to definitively say which is faster.

SUP vs Kayak: Why SUP Is Better

Okay, we’ll stop beating around the bush and say it – SUP is often better than kayaking for several reasons. Both activities are refreshing and fun, but SUP can beat kayaking by leaps and bounds. This is because SUP is portable, adaptable and accessible.

sup vs kayak
Source: Unsplash

SUP: A Better Workout

SUP provides you with a full-body workout. It’s such a great exercise that it first became popular because surfers were doing it as a cross-fit workout.

Balancing on a paddle board requires you to engage your core, so you’re getting stronger the entire time you’re on the board. It also works your legs and arms, so you’re using a host of muscles when paddling.

When you paddle on an SUP, you’ll use your back muscles, quads, biceps, triceps and abs. Kayaking neglects the muscles in your legs completely, but you’ll get a great arm, shoulder and core workout when kayaking.

It’s Easy for Beginners

To feel comfortable on an SUP, you only need a few hours and a lot of patience. The basics of SUP are adaptable and simple, so anybody interested in picking up stand up paddle boarding can learn the skills fast.

You’ll find that your skills evolve quickly too, and you’re only required to know basic balancing and standing skills to enjoy a day out paddle boarding on the water.

On the other hand, kayaking requires stamina and strength that most people don’t have when they first get started. You can learn the basics in a single day but be prepared for some serious arm and shoulder pain.

Fishing Is Easier

There’s no competition when it comes to fishing. When SUP fishing, you have a more extensive range of movement and sight, which means you can cast your line further.

Additionally, when paddle board fishing, you’re using your muscles and getting a workout. However, a fishing kayak provides you with room to store your gear safely while keeping it out of the way.

girl on kayak
Source: Unsplash

You Can Paddle With Pets and Friends

SUP can be a great group activity. While solo SUP can be fun, it can get lonely after a while. You can have your friend, significant other, or dog join you on your SUP without needing to get an additional board.

All you need to do is ensure that your SUP board can handle the extra weight. When you’re in a kayak, your situation is much more rigid. You either have a kayak with two seats, or you don’t.

If you’re a kayaker who loves to venture out alone but suddenly want to bring a friend, then you have to purchase a two-seater kayak or find another kayak seat to accommodate your guest.

SUP Looks Cooler

Let’s be honest – a kayak can’t compete with an SUP on the cool factor. When someone comes up to you on a paddle board, hair flying in the breeze and sunglasses on, you automatically want to know more about that person. You want to become that person.

When was the last time you looked at a kayaking picture and had the same awe as you did for an SUP picture?

SUP Is More Fun

The best thing about SUP is that it’s as fun as it looks. It doesn’t matter what age you are, how fit you are or how experienced you are; you can jump onto a standup paddle board and have a great afternoon. Plus, you can bring along anybody and make a day of it.

Which Is Better? SUP vs Kayak

When it comes down to it, it’s up to you to decide which is better in terms of an SUP vs kayak. We think that SUP surfing is cool because it can provide you with a total body workout, while kayaking is a more isolated workout.

When it comes to choppy water or white water situations, you can use either one. However, make sure that it is built to perform well in these kinds of conditions.

The one you decide to purchase is ultimately up to you. Can’t decide? No harm in giving both a try. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with kayaking, but it might be time to accept that it’s second best.

Scroll to Top