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Kayak Versus SUP Board: Which One Should I Buy?


Paddling is a great hobby to start at any time in life. Not only is paddling on the water an incredible way to connect with nature, but it’s a great workout, and it’s also loads of fun. Once you catch the paddling bug you are bound to start looking for a board or boat of your own. But when you prepare to buy your first paddling vessel, should you get a kayak or a SUP board?

Kayaks and SUP boards both have their benefits and downsides. Kayaks are ideal for long-distance paddling, and cold weather journeys, and tend to be more stable. SUP boards offer a better full-body workout, are ideal for yoga and surf enthusiasts, and are more portable and easier to store. You can also consider buying an inflatable SUP board with a kayak seat attachment to enjoy the best of both worlds.

When it comes to choosing between a SUP board or a kayak there is no obvious winner. Both paddling options are fantastic and versatile, and both have their pros and cons. To get a better grasp of which paddling vessel is ideal for you, there are some factors you need to consider.

Five Factors When Deciding Between A Kayak And SUP Board

1. The Type Of Paddling You Enjoy And Excel At

First, and perhaps most importantly, you need to think about the type of paddling you enjoy and are most comfortable with. Even though kayaking and SUP boarding involve stroking a paddle on the water, the two experiences are vastly different. Some people love the freedom and workout of a SUP board, while others struggle with the balance it requires. If you are more fond of one paddling type, it’s best to stick with your passion, especially when first starting.

2. What Mode Of Transportation You Use

Portability is a major factor when it comes to buying a paddling vessel. If you are going to store the board or boat at your home, you need a reliable way to bring it to and from the water. If you have an SUV with a roof rack, you can go with most paddling vessels. If you drive a two-wheeled vehicle or a compact car, your options are more limited.

3. Your Storage Capacity

You also need to think about where you will store the board. Hard SUP boards and most kayaks require significant storage space. It is important you store your board or kayak properly to avoid damage. So before purchasing a paddling vessel, make sure you secure a suitable storage location.

4. The Weather And Water Conditions Where You Live

Make sure you consider the weather and water bodies where you plan to paddle. SUP boards are more fun in flat warm climates, whereas kayaking is an activity you can enjoy even with some chop and cold weather.

5. Your Budget

Lastly, you have to think about the money. You can get a cheap kayak and a cheap SUP board for just a few hundred dollars, or a very expensive board or kayak for thousands. But make sure you price out what you are looking for, and see which paddling vessel fits more comfortably in your price range.

Seven Reasons To Buy A Kayak Over A SUP

1. Perfect For Those Who Paddle Long Distances

Kayaks are the better choice for those who like embarking on long-distance paddles. You can go further faster in a kayak, and it requires less energy to move. Kayaks also tend to have better storage capacity, making it possible to easily pack for a long-distance paddling journey.

2. Kayaks Tend To be More Stable

Kayaks and SUP boards can be both stable and tippy, depending on the design, but kayaks tend to have more stability. If you have difficulty balancing or have a tricky center of gravity, SUP boarding can be challenging. In other words, if you are always falling in the water when you paddle on a SUP board, it is better to purchase a kayak.

3. Kayaks Are Better For Beginners

If you are new to paddling, kayaks tend to be the way to start. Regardless of age, a simple pleasure kayak is a vessel that is easy to get in, steer, and paddle on your own. It requires less coordination and strength than a SUP board generally as well.

4. A Superior Vessel For Couples

While you can purchase a tandem SUP board, it is much more comfortable to paddle with a partner on board in a 2-person kayak. If you plan to paddle with a partner frequently then you should seriously consider a two-person kayak.

5. Kayaks Tend To Be More Durable

Kayaks tend to be made of thick, strong, and durable materials. They need to stand up to the wear and tear that is inflicted on them. SUP boards are durable, but kayaks are often a better choice for those purchasing a paddling vessel for fun and are worried about wear and tear.

6. Better Choice For Anglers

If you are buying a paddling vessel for fishing, kayaks are the better choice. You can fish on a SUP board, but fishing from a kayak is much easier. You can move faster and secure your belongings and gear much easier in a kayak and tends to be the safer method as well.

7. Perfect For Those In Colder Climates

If you live in a climate with 4 seasons, or somewhere with colder weather throughout the year, a kayak is a better idea than a SUP board. You can paddle on a SUP board in the winter, but it is not as enjoyable, and it is easier to safely paddle in a kayak in colder weather.

Seven Reasons To Buy A SUP Over A Kayak

1. Ideal For Full-Body Workouts

If your main reason for purchasing a paddling vessel is to get a great workout on the water, then a SUP board is the better option. Kayaking is great exercise as well, but SUP boarding offers an incredible full-body workout, making it great for those looking to exercise all their muscle groups.

2. Perfect For Avid Beachgoers

If you are looking into purchasing a paddling vessel to add to your fun at the beach, a SUP board is the better option. You can purchase an inflatable SUP board and easily take it with you to any beach destination. They are easy to launch from shore and tons of fun for short distances.

3. More Portable Option

SUP boards, especially inflatable SUP boards, are the clear winners when it comes to portability. It should be mentioned that there are also inflatable kayaks, but they don’t perform as well as hard kayaks. You can get a quality iSUP that fits into a carrying backpack. This is the ideal option for those who paddle in hard-to-reach places or don’t have a car.

4. Perfect For Those With Limited Storage

Just as SUP boards are the more portable option, they are also better for those with limited storage. An inflatable SUP board can fit in a closet easily. Even a hard SP board requires less space than a kayak. They are thin and can be mounted on a wall easier than a kayak.

5. Clear Winner For Yoga Lovers

If you are a big fan of yoga as well as paddling, then a SUP board might be the better choice for you. SUP yoga is an activity that continues to grow in popularity. It is a great workout and the perfect way to combine two of your favorite activities. It is also something you can’t do on a kayak.

6. Best Option For Those Who Love Surfing

You can surf waves on a kayak and a SUP board. But if you love surfing in the traditional sense, then SUP boarding is the better option. You can ride waves on a SUP board similar to the way you would ride them on a Surfboard.

7. Slightly Better Choice For Those On A Tight Budget

You can find cheap kayaks and cheap SUP boards. But if you are on a very tight budget, you are more likely to find a suitable quality iSUP for a low price than any kayak. So if you are looking for the lowest price, an inflatable SUP is your best bet.

Consider A Quality Inflatable SUP/Kayak Hybrid

If you are still torn between whether you should purchase a SUP board or a kayak there is another option you might want to consider. You can buy a SUP board that transforms into a sit-on-top kayak.

Many iSUPs come with kaak seat attachments, or the ability to attach a kayak seat. Some of these SUP boards are effective hybrids between a SUP and a kayak. This is ideal for those looking for both types of paddling vessel, but don’t want to choose.

Best of all, these are usually inflatable boards. This means they are portable, easy to store, and generally under $500. Remember that they won’t be nearly as stable or have great tracking compared to a standard kayak. Still, if you are looking for a fun pleasurecraft paddle vessel, this is a solid and versatile option.

Final Thoughts On Which to Buy: Kayak Or Sup Board

When you are deciding to purchase a kayak or SUP board, you have to ask yourself a few things. First, take the time to consider your paddling conditions. Think about the weather, as kayaking is a better choice in colder climates, and SUP boarding is ideal in flat conditions and warm weather. Also, think about your storage and transportation. Kayaks are harder to store and transport.

In the end, however, you should opt for the paddling vessel you enjoy most. If you love yoga, surfing, or the workouts SUP boards offer, then opt for a SUP board. If you love the stability of a kayak love paddling for long distances, or paddling tandem with a companion, then a kayak may be the best option.

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