Is Paddle boarding Harder Than Kayaking?

Are you a water sports enthusiast looking to graduate from paddleboarding to kayaking or vice-versa? Well, I hope my experiences here will help you give all the information that you need.

I enjoy doing both paddle boarding and kayaking. That is why many people ask me, “Is Paddle Boarding Harder Than Kayaking?”. The simple answer is that I enjoy both, and you should try both and make your own opinion!

Paddleboarding and kayaking are very similar to the untrained observer. Both require you to get on a small boat and control it in water. But the similarities end there. Let us see why.

Is Paddle boarding Harder Than Kayaking

So, Is Paddle Boarding Harder Than Kayaking?

For beginners, paddle boarding may look harder than kayaking as you have to stand and control your ride rather than sit and steer, but this is not true. Kayaks are a lot stable, plus you get to sit rather than stand, which makes it a lot easier.

However, when you start riding them, you will realize that it is a lot easier to board, maneuver, and disembark from a paddleboard, especially when in water. Also, Paddleboards are easier to carry from one place to another as they are lighter than kayaks. Similarly, storing your paddleboard is also simple as it requires less space and effort to keep.

That said, Kayaking is a more established water sport, whereas paddle boarding is quickly building a base of loyal followers. Statistics show that about 1.2 million people tried SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) in 2011 (at a 20% CAGR, that could translate to about 7.5mn enthusiasts today), whereas 16.2mn people were into Kayaking in 2019.

Similarities Between Paddle Boarding And Kayaking

Similarities Between Paddle Boarding And Kayaking


Both rides, whether it is a paddleboard or a kayak, have high stability. Tipping both these water rides is not at all easy. A paddleboard has a very wide base and platform. This broader base distributes your entire body weight equally in all directions.

Similarly, a kayak has a sitting cockpit. Sitting in the cockpit reduces your center of gravity, making it very stable. Due to this reason, you will find it pretty difficult to tip over a kayak.

Fun And Sightseeing

Kayaking and paddleboarding are both water sports or activities that provide fun and excitement as their main objective. You can have a really good time with your friends and family members and have a lot of enjoyment while participating in any of these water sport activities.

You can ride a paddleboard with your pet; many people ride on a paddleboard along with their dogs. You can jump-off the paddleboards into the sea or ocean to swim with your friends.

Rowing a kayak and riding on waves is an exhilarating experience in itself. You can enjoy your beautiful surroundings or even go sightseeing while riding your paddleboard or kayak. You have a better range of view while you are on a paddleboard as you are in a standing position, due to which you get a higher vantage point.

But while riding a kayak, you are closer to the water than in a sitting position. Due to this fact, you are closer to the water to enjoy the aquatic wildlife in a better way.


Both a kayak and a paddleboard are highly maneuverable water rides. Although, the degree of maneuverability is also dependent on the length of your kayak or board. Paddleboards and kayaks that are shorter in length are easily controllable, and if you have to make sharp turns while riding, you must choose a smaller water ride.

Larger kayaks and paddleboards are highly useful as well, and these water rides are ideal for moving at a much faster speed. If you like to cruise at high speed along a straight path, you must go for longer water rides. Kayaks can attain a greater speed than a paddleboard as they have a low center of gravity and a narrow base.

Generally, the base of a paddleboard is broad. Due to this, these boards are unable to attain a very high speed. At the same time, the narrow base of a kayak makes it more streamlined.

Due to this unique streamlined shape, the kayak is easily able to cut through the water and move at a faster pace. The narrow profile of the kayak and the dual-edge rowing paddle also significantly enhance your water ride’s speed.

Paddleboarding Vs Kayaking

Differences Between Paddle Boarding and Kayaking


Both are riding a paddleboard, and riding a kayak is an effective way of working out. However, both of these activities have different outcomes and effects on your body. Paddleboarding is a water sport that works out your entire body. While paddleboarding, your whole body will experience a low-impact workout.

You can burn an excessive amount of calories, improve your muscle density, and improve your strength and attain a desirable body shape with regular paddle boarding. In many ways, paddleboarding is a more entertaining and beneficial way of working out instead of hitting the gym. You and your body won’t even realize the quality of workout your body goes through until later.

On the other hand, kayaking mainly focuses on upper body workouts, and this includes good exercise for your arms, shoulders, neck muscles, chest, back, and so on. There is minimal activity or workout for your lower body while kayaking. Choosing between the two entirely depends on your physical goals, whether you want an upper body workout regime or a full-body workout.


Storing necessary items such as essential gear, food items, or other equipment on a paddleboard is difficult due to its flat design. Most of the paddleboards don’t have any storage space on their deck.

You can tie down the items that you require onto the platform. There is a high chance that the things you tie down will get wet, so it is always in your interest to store them in waterproof bags and then tie them to your paddleboards.

Kayaks have specific storage compartments in their cockpits; you can use these storage spaces for carrying food items and essential safety gear that you may require. A significant benefit of using a kayak for storing your items instead of a paddleboard is that the things you store remain dry and fresh.

Weather Preferences

Kayaking and paddleboarding are suited to different weather conditions. If you are out in the cold weather, you should prefer kayaking. Kayaking will most probably keep you dry.

cockpit in a kayak will also protect you from the cold wind blowing around you. In winters, the water temperature can fall low, and it is not healthy to remain wet for a long time as you are vulnerable to hypothermia. Paddleboards will make you wet, however hard you may try to protect yourself.

In the summers, kayaking is not a great option as you can get really hot as the sun rays hit you in your cockpit. It always feels nice to splash around in the water a bit in the scorching heat.

People prefer to use a paddleboard over a kayak in the summers. You will enjoy riding a paddleboard as the water will keep you cool.

Differences Between Paddle Boarding and Kayaking

Is It Harder To Get Back On A Paddle Board Or Kayak After Falling Off?

Whether you are a novice or an expert, be very sure that you will fall into the water once in a while. You should be ready to get back on the boat again, and here paddle boarding scores significantly over kayaking.

You can get back on your paddleboard with the help of the built-in handlebar, grab hold of this handlebar, and then allow your legs to float up. Then proceed by grabbing to the center of the paddleboard. You can now start pulling the board towards yourself, slide back onto the board with ease.

To get back on the kayak, you will have to perform some complex moves. Firstly, you would have to flip the kayak in the correct position if it has tipped over. The best way to tip over a kayak is to get under the cockpit, grab the rims on either side with both hands, and flip it over like turning a driving wheel.

You will then have to get into the kayak while maintaining your balance such that the kayak does not tip over again. To do this:

  1. Grab hold of one side of the cockpit with one hand, then reach over to the other side with the other hand.
  2. Push yourself up until your belly button reaches the center of the cockpit.
  3. Slowly pull out your legs while keeping your upper body firmly in the center of the kayak.

If there is water inside your kayak, then either you can manually remove it or use a water-extracting pump.

What Is Easier For Beginners?

Paddleboarding is easier than kayaking for beginners. Let us see why:

Boarding On A Paddleboard

A simple task such as boarding your ride or boat can also be either easy or difficult depending upon the person riding the boat’s skill-set. People find boarding a stand-up paddleboard much simpler than a kayak because of the easy process.

To board a paddleboard, you must be in water deep up to your knee-length. The next step requires you to sit at the center of the paddleboard. Next, you have to get in a kneeling position on your paddleboard.

You can do this process in a stepwise manner by keeping one knee first and then the second. Similarly, you can go to a standing posture or position so that you are ready to ride your paddleboard.

Sometimes the beginners can ride the paddleboard from a kneeling position if they are not comfortable while standing. Kneeling on a paddleboard reduces your center of gravity, due to which you are less likely to fall. Kneeling is also a good option if the water tides are too rough or your body starts experiencing fatigue.

Boarding On A Kayak

Boarding on a kayak can be a little bit complex or tricky, especially for beginners, as most of the kayaks have a sitting design with a cockpit big enough to fit the lower half of a person’s body. Lowering the body slowly so that the kayak does not lose its balance is a difficult procedure at the start.

Kayak riders can board onto a kayak from a beach, sandy shore, dock, and so on. Due to this feature, kayak riders must be aware of all the proper docking or boarding procedures. You can directly board their kayak if it’s on the beach, but if the kayak is in shallow water, then you must remain aware of all the rocks in the water.

Getting into the kayak from a dock is the most difficult part as you have to lower your body into the cockpit from a very substantial height. Due to the high height, riders often stumble and fall back inside the water.

Disembarking From A Paddleboard v/s A Kayak

Disembarking from a paddleboard is quite easy. You can either step-down or jump-down in shallow or deep water as you are in a standing posture while riding a paddleboard, so you can follow the steps for boarding the paddleboard in reverse order. Do remember to remove or open the safety leash before disembarking from the paddleboard.

You would have a more difficult time disembarking from a kayak as it is never easy to stand from a sitting position on a kayak as there is not much space available. To prevent the kayak from tipping, you will require to maintain your balance while getting off the kayak, similar to the process of boarding the kayak.

Launching A Paddleboard And Kayak

For launching a paddleboard, you should be at least in ankle-length water depth. The paddleboard should be in a floating position before you launch. The wider base of a paddleboard makes it very stable, which is why you can launch it easily.

You can even kneel for added stability while launching, and once you are into the paddleboard, you can push or paddle towards deep water.

For launching a kayak, you must at least be in knee-length water or water that is up to your waist height. Once you are comfortably sitting inside the cockpit, you can start to paddle towards deeper water.

Maneuvering or controlling your kayak depends entirely on your upper body strength. People that lack a certain level of upper body fitness will have a difficult time controlling their kayak.

Landing A Paddleboard And Kayak

Landing a paddleboard is an easy and simple task due to the lightweight design of the paddleboard. As soon as you are in a suitable depth of water in which you can stand comfortably. You can pick your paddleboard and move out of the water.

Kayaks are much heavier in comparison to a paddleboard. To perfectly land a kayak, you will have to pick a suitable spot for landing. You can exit the kayak once you can plant your feet firmly on the waterbed. After exiting the cockpit, you can drag or pull the kayak out of the water.

Which One Is Easier For Long Distance Paddling?

Kayaking is better than paddleboarding for covering large distances, as while riding a kayak, you are rowing or paddling the boat from a seated position. Whereas on a paddleboard, you are mostly in a standing posture and very rarely in a kneeling position.

Rowing a boat over difficult waves or high tide is much easier than a kayak rather than a paddleboard. You will build up more fatigue and strain over a shorter interval of time if you are riding a paddleboard.

Controlling a paddleboard on the rough waves can also be difficult from a standing position. If you know that you will cover a large distance on the water, it is ideal to choose a kayak to do so.

You Can Try Both With A SUP Paddle Board Kayak Hybrid

With the growing popularity of SUP paddle boarding, Kayakers are looking to try it in droves. But many prefer to have a board with which you can enjoy both water sports. Manufacturers took note of this demand and started making SUP-Kayak hybrids.

You get the best of both worlds – you can stand when the water is calm and sit down when it gets a bit choppy, or you want to enjoy the view. You can enjoy both warm and cold weather with a hybrid.

However, there are some disadvantages of making a compromise between the two worlds. Hybrids aren’t very quick, either as paddle boards or as Kayaks. Secondly, the seats may not be that comfortable for dyed in the wool Kayakers. The foot supports needed for Kayaking aren’t there; you either have your feet straight out or, worse, lying flat on the board. You might find it difficult to paddle from both these positions.

If you are looking to buy a hybrid, we recommend the Perception Hi Life 11. It is one of the few hybrids that has sorted out these issues well.

Transport And Portability: Paddleboards v/s Kayak

Transporting or carrying a kayak from one place to another is a much more difficult task to accomplish than transporting a stand-up paddleboard. Kayaks are generally heavier and bulkier than paddleboards.

A person with below-par fitness and athletic level would find it very tough to lift or drag a kayak independently. Especially if you have to drag a kayak in beach sand, the stand gets stuck underneath the kayak, making it difficult to move.

Paddleboards are lightweight due to which most of the riders can lift and carry them. You can even purchase an inflatable kayak or paddleboard to reduce this problem, but your entire experience would change.

Inflatable kayaks and paddleboards are incapable of delivering similar performance levels to an authentic paddleboard and kayak. Overall, paddleboards are much more user-friendly and convenient to transport and store while not in use.

Wrap Up

If you are still wondering whether you should get into either paddleboarding or kayaking, my final advice to you is the one that I give to all my friends: Go out there and do it!

Both are super fun activities, you get to enjoy a day in the water, and when you have mastered a bit of skill in handling them, you will love the little challenges in handling both of them equally, just like I do!

Joseph Gambino

Paddle Board Enthusiast, Athlete and Blogger. Learn more about me here:

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