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SUP Kayak: How to Convert a Stand Up Paddle Board into a Kayak

Stand up paddling is currently the latest trend. This can be seen in the creativity of the numerous paddlers, which has led to numerous new uses for stand up paddling boards. A number of sub-disciplines of SUP have been established in the meantime. SUP Yoga and SUP Fishing are probably the best known.

For fishing, but also for other uses, the manufacturers of stand up paddling boards have now come up with something completely new. Hybrids of SUP board and kayaks should combine the best of both worlds. A long trip on the paddle board is a cool experience, but after a while standing on the board becomes quite exhausting. The SUP kayak hybrids are fast on the move and allow you a short breather.

Many people know about the mixtures of kayak and SUP. Sets containing a kayak seat are often offered. The corresponding board can then be turned into a kayak in a few simple steps. The set also includes a multi-part paddle, where the handle can be exchanged for another paddle blade and thus becomes a kayak paddle.

Most of the Stand Up paddlers with whom we have talked about this topic are not aware, however, that basically every paddle board can be converted into a kayak. All it takes is a few small modifications to the SUP.

For these small modifications you don’t need any craftsmanship and the substance of the stand up paddling boards is tackled. Serious damage is therefore virtually impossible.

In our practical step-by-step guide we will guide you through the process. Here you will learn how to convert your SUP into a kayak.

Converting SUP into kayak: Step-by-step instructions

A kayak basically distinguishes three essential points from a SUP board. For a kayak you need a kayak seat, a kayak paddle and a paddle holder. In the following you will find (short) instructions on how to mount the individual parts on an existing stand up paddling board.

The kayak seat

When selecting a suitable lime seat, make sure that it supports the back accordingly. There are basically two types of kayak seats. One is a loop around the body so that you can lean back and relax. The others are normal seats with a fixed backrest as you know it from driving a car.

Preferences are here a personal thing. For SUP fishing, however, we would only recommend models with a fixed backrest because they allow for an upright seat. Especially for SUP Fishing the trend is towards the freezer with integrated seat. The construction is a solid and raised seat and offers storage space for the equipment, provisions and the catch.

The assembly of the different types of kayak seats is similar. Typically, a fixed seat that provides better back support requires four free D-rings for the months. These D-rings tension the lines to the seat and fix them to it. On both sides of the seat there are two lines each (always one leading forward and one backward).

Positioning the seat on the board is very important to ensure the best possible balance. A good starting point for determining the ideal location is the central carrying handle. This is not exactly in the middle of the board but exactly at the center of gravity.

Starting from this point, you should perfect your positioning a little. Put the board in the water and get a helper. Now sit on the board and let your assistant check whether the board is out of the water at the front or at the back. The best position for the kayak seat is the one where the tip of the board is slightly out of the water.

Mounting a SUP kayak seat usually requires four free D-rings. But what if the SUP board doesn’t have any free D-rings anymore?

In this case it is necessary to put some D-rings on the board afterwards. Don’t worry, the installation requires neither craftsmanship nor major investment.

Attaching D-rings

All you need is a D-ring, gloves, a pencil, a PVC adhesive (we recommend the fishingglue* adhesive), a metal spoon and adhesive tape.

First, thoroughly clean the area to be covered on the inflated SUP Board and the D-Ring Patch with acetone or alcohol. Then place the D-ring on the board at the desired position and outline it with a pencil. Now apply a thin layer of the PVC adhesive to the bordered area. Now also apply a thin layer of the adhesive to the D-Ring Patch.

Allow both adhesive layers to harden for a few minutes (about 2 to 3 minutes). Now place the D-ring in the desired position. Then carefully squeeze out the air bubbles with the metal spoon.

Once this is done, all you have to do is remove the adhesive residue and seal the edges of the D-ring with adhesive strips. Now you have to wait one day until the board can go into the water again.

Another possibility is to get professional help for this assembly of the D-rings. Numerous SUP online shops offer instructions or services for retrofitting certain accessories (e.g. also for D-rings).

Kayak paddle

The right equipment is essential for kayaking. The right kayak paddle is the most important thing. A kayak paddle is basically a double paddle that paddles alternately on both sides of the board in one movement.

Kayak paddles are available in many different variations. Multi-part paddles are practical for transport as they can be dismantled into their individual parts and stowed in a backpack, for example.

Some manufacturers have brought special SUP kayak sets onto the market due to the increasingly popular dual use of SUP boards as kayaks. These kayak sets typically contain a multi-part SUP paddle, where the T-handle can be removed and replaced with another paddle blade. In this way, a typical three-part SUP paddle can be converted into a double paddle for kayaking in no time at all.

The problem with the double paddles, however, is that they do not play in the same league as the paddles made purely for kayaking. When it comes to performance, the converted SUP paddles perform far worse than normal kayak paddles.

This is due to the loss of power at the joints and the suboptimal alignment, tilt and size of the paddles. For inexperienced kayakers or stand up paddlers who just want to have fun, this is no obstacle. It is also easy to paddle with such a converted double paddle.

In case of doubt or if you want to do more sport, you can also buy a real kayak paddle.

Paddle holder

The best way to relax on the board is to buy a paddle holder. When the paddle is not in use, it can easily be attached to the board with a paddle holder. Then you can go for a swim or a nap without worries.

Alternatively, multi-piece paddles can also be dismantled into their individual parts and firmly clamped under a luggage net.

An extra assembly instruction for paddle holders is usually not necessary. The procedure is often similar to that for D-rings. Our instructions at the top of this page should answer all your questions.

Conclusion

We are a big fan of paddle boarding as well as kayaking. Both are really great fun, but in certain cases kayaking on the SUP board can be the better choice.

In our opinion the sitting position is a really good idea for longer tours. The double-sided paddle allows you to build up a high speed. Even if you don’t reach the speed of a real kayak, the experience with the converted SUP is still comparable.

Considering that converting a SUP board to a kayak doesn’t cost much money or effort, it’s really a great idea to get more out of the SUP board.

For certain purposes, such as SUP fishing, the mountable seats and other kayak elements (such as the paddle holders) are a great addition. After all, you don’t want to have to stand for hours when fishing and the paddle has to be stowed safely somewhere anyway. A kayak seat and a paddle holder come in handy.

We are convinced that someone who converts a paddle board into a kayak really combines the best of stand up paddling and kayaking. The conversion is super easy, costs little money and is quick.


Sources

[1] https://www.zeit.de/2015/29/stand-up-paddling-litauen-memeldelta-reisen

[2] https://www.stand-up-paddling.org/d-ringe-fuer-sup-board/anbringen/

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