Kayaking and paddleboarding are two of the most popular water sports today. Both have pros and cons, so beginners will need some help figuring out which activity is better. There are several different activities you can do with each instrument, such as fishing, SUP yoga, and pilates.
However, budget constraints, location, skill level, and other factors all affect whether you should get a paddleboard or kayak. This article will cover everything from comparisons between both equipment, individual advantages and disadvantages, and why you should purchase one over the other.
Here is a quick summary of paddle board vs kayak.
|Affordability||Uses more expensive materials||Cheaper and made of mostly plastic|
|Durability||Less durable||More durable structure|
|Maneuverability||Easier to maneuver in tight spaces||Easier to maneuver for beginners|
|Easy to Use||Easier to board and disembark||More difficult to flip after capsizing|
|Under Windy Conditions||Harder to maneuver in windy weather||Less drag and air resistance; more stable|
|For Fishing||Higher vantage point by standing||More space and more comfortable fishing|
|Stability||Less stable in rough waters||Easier to balance and maneuver in rough waters|
|Versatility||You can do more activities like SUP yoga and pilates||Less versatile|
|Expeditions on the River||Easier to maneuver in tight spaces and slow currents||Safer and more stable in rough waters|
|Comfortability||You can only stand or kneel while paddling||More comfortable because you are sitting down|
|Speed||Less speed and more air resistance||Much faster speeds|
Budget is one of the biggest factors for getting a kayak or paddleboard. Realistically speaking, the rest of the comparisons won’t matter as much if budget constraints limit you. This should be the first thing you consider when looking up which watersport equipment you want to purchase.
Given their durability, paddleboards are more expensive than kayaks. As usual, this varies according to the brand and quality of the materials used. But kayaks are mostly made with durable plastic, while paddleboards use a combination of fiberglass, epoxy resin layers, and foam or wood cores, which adds to the cost.
Manufacturers typically use PVC plastic outer layers for inflatable paddleboards, which are generally cheaper than regular paddleboards.
In terms of durability, it is safe to assume that kayaks are more durable based on appearance and structure alone. Of course, this depends on the general quality of the brand or model that you purchase. If you buy an entry-level or a knockoff kayak, it will most likely be less durable than a top-of-the-line paddleboard in most cases.
For users on the heavier side, kayaks are probably the better choice as they can carry more weight and typically have more space. Paddleboards are used standing up while kayaks allow you to sit down, making them more comfortable to use in general.
For beginners, kayaks are easier to maneuver than paddleboards for several reasons. The seated position on a kayak puts less strain on your body as you try to maneuver it. You can put more force on rowing since you are more stable, allowing you to focus on putting more weight on each movement. So, if you are unskilled in either equipment, it will be easier to turn using a kayak.
For experts, however, the difference between maneuverability for both pieces of equipment won’t matter as much. Any expert paddler or kayaker should be able to easily get in and out of tight spaces regardless of their chosen instrument.
Easy to use
Several factors make paddleboards easier to use than kayaks. Although there is quite a short learning curve in paddleboarding, getting on a paddleboard is much easier because of its flat surface. You have to hoist yourself up into the board and move to get on your knees or feet.
It is more difficult getting on a kayak because of its higher sides. You have to get all your weight inside without flipping it over, and it takes more arm and core strength to lift yourself up than you would on a paddleboard.
It is also a lot easier on a paddleboard than a kayak when disembarking. The flat surface allows more space to move around and get off easier. You can comfortably step off to shore or even jump off the board if you want to take a dip in the water. Just remember to remove the safety harness from your ankles to avoid accidents.
In terms of climbing back in after falling into the water, it’s also much easier on paddleboards. When a kayak capsizes, you will need to flip it back, climb in, and squeeze yourself in the cockpit all over again. Paddleboards are much easier to flip back into place, and you can just jump right back on it.
Under Windy Conditions
Kayaks are safer and easier to use during windy weather since paddleboards require you to balance on your feet and leave your body more exposed. If stronger winds hit you, you are more likely to get off balance.
When kayaking, you are seated and, therefore, a lower and more grounded center of gravity. You will be able to maneuver better and focus on rowing more to get where you want to go. The higher sides of a kayak may absorb more wind, but your seated position makes up for it.
Some even opt to add a kayak seat to their paddleboards, but this is both rare and more expensive. Beginners can adopt a kneeling position while paddleboarding in windy conditions, but this won’t be easy to pull off, especially if you are already in deep waters.
Paddleboard fishing has become a trend lately. The main advantage for this is that you can see fish better from a standing vantage point. However, you will need a bunch of accessories like a cooler, rod holders, and bait containers. To bring all these to deep waters on a paddleboard, you also need attachments on your board to make sure they do not fall off.
Kayak fishing is easily the better and more convenient option since kayaks have more storage space to keep your important items safe. You will probably be able to fit a cooler for your catch in between your feet. Sitting is also a more comfortable position when fishing for long hours.
If you need better visibility when fishing, go for a paddleboard. You will never go wrong with a kayak for those who just want a relaxing day in the water and just fishing for leisure. They even make fishing kayaks for this specific purpose. These come with all the attachments and equipment that you need.
Stability is very important for beginners. You do not want to start your journey in kayaking or paddleboarding by spending more time underwater than over it. For this purpose, you should begin with a kayak to learn the ropes.
Facing strong winds or waves, or even rowing at any speed in the open waters, kayaks should remain stable for the most part. Be careful, however, as bumping into rock formations or corals in shallow waters can quickly tip off your kayak. Sitting in a kayak also makes it much easier to maintain your balance as opposed to standing on a paddleboard.
Paddleboards are also generally stable in calm, open waters. As long as you are able to balance yourself despite the high center of gravity, you should be fine. It may be difficult for physically sedentary users or those with injuries to keep your balance while standing up.
Overall, a kayak is a much more stable instrument for non-experts.
The shape and structure of paddleboards make them a better option in terms of versatility. Because paddleboards are mostly just a relatively flat surface with enough space for the whole body, you can use it for several different activities.
Standup paddleboarding (SUP) yoga and pilates have been quite trendy in recent years. These fitness activities are already relaxing on their own, but doing them in the middle of the calm ocean also gives that extra challenge of keeping your balance, which enhances your experience tenfold. If you enjoy yoga, SUP yoga is definitely something that you should try at least once.
Paddleboards can also be a great tool for sunbathing. If you are tired of doing it on the beach, you can move to the water and just lie on your board. This also gives you a lot of privacy as some people are embarrassed to expose their bodies in crowded areas. So, getting on a paddleboard and moving far away is a great solution to that.
Paddleboard tours are also becoming more and more popular in tourist spots all over the world. It takes very little effort to get your paddleboard moving in calm waters, which makes it perfect for tours around secluded areas.
Expeditions on the River
River expeditions can vary from area to area. Some rivers have wide spaces and calm currents, which is ideal for beginners. For paddleboarding, you can have fun traversing the river with a better vantage point and more space for attaching equipment, bags, and supplies on your board. Paddleboards are also better for more narrow rivers that you may have to maneuver precisely.
You may want to go with a kayak for rougher rivers with strong currents and some rock formations. They are more durable, have better control in rough waters, and are less likely to let you fall off and potentially get injured.
Comfortability can be subjective from person to person, but the general idea is that kayaks are more comfortable because you can sit down. For some customized kayaks, you can even add a small backrest. You will be able to exert more strength in rowing without straining your legs and feet at all.
But for people who prefer doing physical activities (actually, paddling is a great workout!) while standing up, a paddleboard will be the more comfortable of the two. If you get tired, you can just stop paddling and sit or even lie down on your board to get some rest. This is something that you cannot normally do on a kayak.
Kayaks are superior in terms of speed. They are optimal for speed in terms of structure, you can also row much faster sitting down than standing up. Also, you don’t need to exert effort to balance your own body, so you can really put your back into rowing and achieve faster speeds than using a paddleboard.
There is much less drag in kayaking than paddleboarding. By standing on a paddleboard, your whole body will be slowed down by air resistance the faster you try to go. Half your body will already be inside the kayak on a kayak, and only your torso will be subjected to drag.
In summary, both of these instruments have their pros and cons that are subject to every individual’s preferences. A paddleboard will do well for those looking for a relaxing time in calm waters and give you more space to move around with.
On the other hand, kayaks are easier to maneuver, more stable, and can move faster than any paddleboard.