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A Guide to When Paddleboarding is More Fun than Kayaking


A man stand up paddle boarding on a lake.
Jordan Siemens/Iconica/Getty Images

Standup paddleboarding has taken the outdoor world by storm. Almost anywhere you find water you’ll see people seemingly walking on it via their SUPs. As this watersport gains in popularity it leaves many wondering whether they should pick up kayaking or paddleboarding. Many kayakers are thinking of making the switch themselves or at least looking to try it out. While there are many reasons to kayak over paddleboarding, here are the main reasons when you’ll want to SUP instead of kayak.

  1. SUP instead of Kayak When you Have Back and Leg Pain

    Many kayakers experience lower back and leg pain. Even very roomy kayaks with good backrests, padded seats, and proper outfitting can still give some people that cramped feeling while paddling for any amount of time. Standup paddleboarding will help you avoid the cramped feeling and the pain you feel in your lower back and legs that is caused by sitting too long.
  2. SUP When You Want to See Down Into the Water and to see out onto Land

    The vantage point you get from standing up on the paddleboard down into the water or out a distance away just can’t be beat by a kayak. You’ll see fish and all kinds of sea life from the deck of your paddleboard when all you’ll get is glare from your kayak. You’ll also be able to see over waves, out onto land, and further out to see. So landmarks are more easily seen and the beauty of the landscape is more readily encountered from the deck of a paddleboard than from the seat of a kayak.
  3. Choose a SUP over Kayaks for Surfing Waves

    Of course kayaks can be used to surf waves but since paddleboards are a close relative to surf boards they obviously are well-suited for surfing. Also, falling off of a paddleboard is really no big deal. You just climb back on. However, flipping a kayak over requires rolling it back up which depending on ability and conditions can be difficult. And while kayakers should practice wet-exiting their kayak and getting back in it, this process is also not easy. So surfing waves, falling off your board and getting back on is a lot easier than doing the same in a kayak.
  4. SUPing is So Enjoyable in Low Wind, Low Current, and Low Chop

    In pleasant water and wind conditions there’s just something about standing up on the board and seemingly gliding across the top of the water while on your feet. Of course the same can be said of paddling a kayak under these circumstances. But the point of this article is to show when paddling a SUP would be appropriate and as such, it is a suitable alternative to paddling a kayak in this case.
  5. Paddleboard when Doing Quick Outings

    When you’re just trying to get out and paddle for a short time, standup paddleboards have a slight advantage. They load and unload from vehicles, and carry by one person a bit easier than kayaks. Furthermore, less gear is required to SUP than is for kayaking. While the same can be said of kayaking, that is rarely how it plays out. For some reason it just seems like all that is involved in paddling is a little bit less for SUPing than is for kayaking.

Learn More:

  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. Paddling
  4. 101 Paddling
  5. SUP instead of Kayak - When to Paddleboard Instead of Kayak

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