Paddle Boarding VS Kayaking – Which Is Right for You? 

Feb 22, 2023 | Education

While both activities involve paddling to some degree, there are some key differences between paddle boarding and kayaking that make them unique. In this article, we’ll dive into the differences and help you decide which one is right for you.

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Paddle boarding and kayaking are two popular water activities that can be enjoyed in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.

While both activities involve paddling to some degree, there are some key differences between paddle boarding and kayaking that make them unique. In this article, we’ll dive into the differences and help you decide which one is right for you.

Is Kayaking or Paddle Boarding Easier?

Whether kayaking or paddle boarding is easier for you depends on your personal preferences, physical abilities, and the type of water activity you’re interested in. Both activities can be enjoyable and provide a great workout, so it’s a great idea to try both and decide which one you prefer.



Both kayaking and paddle boarding require safety measures such as wearing a life jacket and being aware of your surroundings. However, paddle boarding may be considered safer in calm water conditions, as falling off the board is less dangerous than capsizing a kayak.



Some people find paddle boarding easier to learn, as it involves a simpler technique and can be more forgiving of mistakes. Kayaking, on the other hand, requires more training and practice to master proper technique, especially in challenging conditions such as whitewater or sea kayaking.



Kayaking requires more upper body strength and endurance than paddle boarding, as you need to paddle with a double-bladed paddle to propel the kayak forward. This can quickly become tiring if you are not used to it.

Paddle boarding, on the other hand, involves a more full-body workout, with a focus on core and leg strength that is much lower impact on the muscles, allowing you to enjoy a longer time on the water.


Paddle Boarding vs Kayaking FAQs

Paddle boarding and kayaking are both popular water activities that offer a great way to explore the outdoors and get a workout in.

If you’re new to these activities, you may have some questions about which one is right for you, how to get started, and what to expect.

In the section below, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about paddle boarding and kayaking to help you make an informed decision and enjoy your time on the water:

Can a SUP Keep Up with a Kayak?

Yes, it is possible for a SUP to keep up with a kayak. Several factors play into this, however, such as the skill of the paddlers, the water conditions, and the type of kayak and SUP you are using.

In general, kayaks are designed for speed and efficiency, with a more streamlined shape and a double-bladed paddle that allows for faster propulsion. However, experienced paddle boarders with efficient paddling technique can often keep up with kayaks, especially in calm or flat-water conditions.

On the other hand, if the water is choppy, windy, or there are strong currents, a kayak is likely to be faster and more stable than a SUP.

Additionally, certain types of kayaks, such as touring or racing kayaks, are specifically designed for speed and may be more difficult to keep up with on your everyday all-purpose SUP.

Not all kayaks and SUPs are made equal, which means you will have an easier time keeping up with a racing kayak if you have a racing paddle board to match.

What Burns More Calories Kayaking or Paddle Boarding?

On average, kayaking can burn between 400 and 500 calories per hour for a person who weighs around 150 pounds. Paddle boarding can burn between 300 and 500 calories per hour for a person who weighs the same. However, the exact number of calories burned can vary based on factors such as the speed of paddling, wind and water conditions, and the type of kayak or paddle board being used.

Both activities engage the muscles of the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs, making them effective total-body workouts.

Paddle boarding may provide a more intense core workout due to the need for balance, while kayaking may place more emphasis on upper body strength due to the use of a double-bladed paddle.

Ultimately, the number of calories burned during kayaking or paddle boarding depends on the individual and their effort level. Regardless of which activity you choose, both kayaking and paddle boarding can provide a fun and effective way to burn calories and stay active.

Is It Easier to Kayak or Paddleboard With a Dog?

Typically, it is easier to kayak with a dog than to paddle board with a dog, as kayaks tend to provide more stability and space for both the paddler and the dog.

It’s important to choose the right type of kayak or paddle board that can accommodate both you and your furry friend comfortably. Some kayaks and paddle boards are designed specifically for pet owners, with features such as a larger cockpit or a non-slip surface to help keep your dog stable and comfortable.

Paddle boarding with a dog can be more challenging as the board is less stable and provides less space. However, some paddle boards have a larger surface area and more stability, making it easier to balance with a dog.

Keep in mind that it is recommended to train your dog to balance on the board before hitting the water and to use a dog life jacket (like this one) for safety, no matter which activity you choose.

Can You Use a Paddle Board as a Kayak?

Yes, you can use a stand-up paddle board (SUP) as a kayak with the right equipment. To convert a SUP to a kayak, you’ll need to purchase a seat and footrests designed for SUPs. These are usually adjustable and can be attached to the board with straps.

You’ll also need a double-bladed kayak paddle (or paddle converter), which provides more efficient propulsion than a single-bladed SUP paddle.

How to Convert Your SUP Into a Kayak

Converting your stand-up paddle board (SUP) into a kayak can be a relatively easy and affordable process. Here are the basic steps you can follow to convert your SUP into a kayak:

  1. Choose a kayak seat: The first step is to choose a kayak seat that is compatible with your SUP. You can purchase a specific kayak seat that is designed to attach to an SUP. These are inexpensive accessories that are designed to attach to the D-rings on the side of your board.
  2. Attach your paddle: To use your SUP as a kayak, you will need to attach a second paddle. Most SUP paddles come in two pieces that can be removed to add a new paddle head.

You will also need to adjust your paddle accordingly. Kayak paddles are shorter than SUP paddles, so you want to adjust the paddle length while sitting to ensure that you have the proper technique and posture for kayaking.

  1. Add a paddle holder: While not strictly necessary, adding a paddle holder makes your converted SUP more kayak-like, and helps you keep your paddle nearby when you want to relax. You can purchase a paddle holder that is designed to attach to an SUP.

Just like that, you’re ready to start kayaking on your stand-up paddle board!

Differences Between a Kayak and a Paddle Board

Paddle boarding involves standing on a large, stable board while using a long paddle to propel yourself forward. The board can vary in length and width and can be made of materials such as foam, fiberglass, or inflatable materials depending on what you purchase. Depending on the paddle board, you can fit as many as 15 people on one board, or as few as one.

TIP: Take this quiz to find out which paddle board is right for you!

Paddle boarding can be done in calm waters, and as you become more experienced, you can venture into rougher waters. It is a great way to enjoy the scenery while also getting a full-body workout.

Paddle boarding also provides a unique perspective of the water as you are standing higher up than in a kayak, allowing for a better view of your surroundings, and more interactive experience.

Now, what about kayaking? Kayaking involves sitting in a small vessel similar in shape to a canoe while using a double-bladed paddle to move through the water.

Kayaks are designed to be fast and maneuverable and are great for exploring narrow waterways or navigating through rapids. Like paddle boards, kayaks come in various shapes and sizes, and some can even accommodate two or more people.

Overall, both paddle boarding and kayaking have their unique advantages and disadvantages but are great ways to enjoy the water and stay active. Paddle boarding is also great for full-body workouts, while kayaking can be more focused on upper body strength.

Choosing between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference, the type of water you’ll be paddling in, and what kind of experience you want to have on the water.

Pros of Using Your SUP for Kayaking: Portability & Cost

A converted SUP is lightweight and versatile, making it a portable alternative to traditional kayaks, which can be heavy and bulky for a single-use activity.

Converting your SUP into a kayak can be a great investment for anyone who wants to enjoy kayaking without the high cost or inconvenience of a traditional kayak.

This versatility makes it a great investment, as you can get multiple uses out of a single piece of equipment. Best of all, everything can fit into the trunk of your car without any trouble, whereas a kayak requires a roof rack and plenty of storage space between uses.  

SUPs are typically lightweight and easy to transport, particularly if you invest in an inexpensive inflatable board. Converting a SUP into a kayak typically involves attaching a seat and footrests, which can be easily removed if you want to use the board for stand-up paddling.

Inflatable standup paddle boards tend to be more affordable as well, adding to the benefit. Converting a SUP into a kayak can be done using inexpensive accessories, such as a kayak seat (like this one) and paddle converter (here), which means you can save money while still enjoying the benefits of kayaking.

Cons of Using Your SUP for Kayaking: Durability & Storage

While there is plenty to love about stand-up paddle boarding, there are drawbacks to using it as a converted kayak, particularly in terms of storage and durability.

Unlike traditional kayaks that typically have built-in compartments for gear storage, an SUP has limited space for storing equipment, food, and water. This can be especially challenging for longer trips where you need to bring more with you.

What many people do is purchase a SUP cooler or dry bag that you can attach to the deck of your board. This provides you with ample storage space without worrying about your gear floating away.

Furthermore, since you’ll be sitting down for much of the journey, you won’t have to worry about falling off the board or tipping over.

Another drawback of using an SUP for kayaking is its durability. While SUPs can be made of durable materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, they are not as rugged and impact-resistant as kayaks. This means that they can be more prone to scratches and dings, which can compromise the board’s performance and lifespan, particularly in rougher waters.

Finally, SUPs that have been converted into kayaks typically have only one seating option, which may not be ideal for every user. Traditional kayaks offer more seating options, including tandem kayaks that can accommodate multiple people.

If your paddle board is large enough and has enough D-rings to support two seats on one board, then you can easily get away with this solution. It’s important to understand the weight capacity for your SUP, however, and ensure you stay within that range.

Which Is Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision will depend on your personal preferences, fitness goals, and the type of water activity you’re looking to pursue. It’s always a good idea to try both options to determine which one you enjoy the most and which best fits your lifestyle and needs.

Fortunately, kayak-conversion accessories are not terribly expensive or cumbersome, and it provides you with more options for getting out on the water even if you don’t use it often.

Converting your SUP into a kayak is an excellent way to get the best of both worlds for everyday recreational activities. It offers a full-body workout and allows you to take in the scenery and enjoy the water while standing up or sitting down.

On the other hand, if you want a more challenging and adventurous experience, kayaking may be the better option as it can withstand more damage in difficult conditions like whitewater adventures.


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