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Kayak vs SUP: The Ultimate Comparison

Paddling is one of the most popular water sports. Every year more and more athletes discover canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddling for themselves. Some interested people may choose canoeing as their new hobby. However, if you look at the numbers, many athletes choose one of the latter two water sports. For all these newcomers, this ultimately leads to one question: SUP or kayaking?

The differences between SUP and kayaking are by no means superficial or a question of personal preferences. In fact, there are similarities, but there are also many differences that we will discuss in this article. At the end of this article you will know whether kayaking or SUP is right for you.


Kayaks offer a lower centre of gravity. Paddlers sit in the boats and accordingly the weight is closer to the water. A high degree of stability is the result. In rough waters there is also a chance that the boat will capsize when kayaking. When touring over lakes or canals, however, an unplanned watercourse is less likely than with stand up paddling.

SUP boards are ridden standing up. Because your centre of gravity is further away from the water, Stand Up Paddling Boards offer less stability than kayaks. Especially in waves or turbulent water you will fall quickly into the water. Furthermore, most boards are less wide and therefore offer less tipping stability. Only special Yoga SUP boards offer enough space and a lot of stability thanks to their enormous width, so that yogis can even do their exercises on this board.

Conclusion: When it comes to stability, kayaks are ahead. However, wide yoga SUP boards or special SUP boards for fishing are an exception.


Kayaks are often longer and wider than stand up paddling boards. In addition, heavier materials are used to build solid kayaks. All this makes carrying the kayaks more strenuous. You will even need a kayak trolley to transport your kayak from the car to the water. However, the transport of inflatable kayaks is much easier.

Stand Up Paddle Boards are available in a wide range of sizes. There is now a board for almost any length, width and thickness. The boards are also quite light. Most models can be carried relaxed under one arm. Some stand up paddlers also use SUP trolleys, but in most cases this is not really necessary. Even hoisting a SUP board onto the appropriate roof rack is not too difficult due to the low weight of the boards.

Conclusion: If you compare fixed kayaks with fixed SUP boards, the SUP boards are convincing. In terms of inflatable kayaks and inflatable SUPs there is no winner. Both types of inflatables are similarly heavy and very comfortable to transport. The empty cases each fit into a single backpack that can be conveniently stowed in the boot.


Kayaks are quite bulky. Storage can be a problem if you don’t have a lot of space. Some clever options allow space-saving storage. With different belt systems the kayak can be mounted on a wall or ceiling.

SUP boards take up less storage space. Wall brackets can be used to fix the boards to a wall or ceiling. Alternatively, a SUP can simply be leaned against a wall. Just make sure to place something under the board so that the floor is not scratched.

Conclusion: The storage of inflatable kayaks as well as inflatable Stand Up Paddling is uncomplicated. The airless covers can simply be rolled up and stored in a rucksack. In this way they hardly take up any space. In a direct comparison between fixed SUP boards and fixed kayaks, SUP boards are the clear winner.


Kayaks are either made of material mixtures with carbon and glass fibre or of plastics. Both types of kayaks are very robust and can withstand a series of powerful collisions before any damage occurs. Special whitewater kayaks are even more stable. These can withstand even regular collisions with rocks. Inflatables, on the other hand, are often made of PVC. In terms of robustness, however, they do not come close to fixed kayaks.

SUP boards are either made of epoxy or they are inflatable boards made of PVC. Epoxy SUP boards are made of epoxy resin reinforced with glass fibre and are very robust. As with kayaks, however, more and more inflatable models are being sold nowadays. Inflatable SUP boards are less robust than the fixed SUPs.

Conclusion: Kayaks and Stand Up Paddling Boards don’t take much in terms of durability. Fixed kayaks or fixed SUP boards are more stable than the inflatable versions, but they are more expensive and not so easy to transport. Instead of making a general distinction between kayaks and SUP boards, the choice of a high quality model from an established brand is more important.


Kayaks offer a number of ways to transport equipment or other luggage. Numerous small niches offer space for a first aid kit, camping equipment or a dry bag with changing clothes. Kayak anglers use the free space to store their fishing equipment and prey.

SUP Boards do not have built-in storage space. However, most models have a baggage net in the front of the paddling board. Under this tensioned bungee rope, for example, a dry bag can be attached. SUP anglers often attach a special freezer to several eyelets on the top of the board. The chest freezer provides storage space and also serves as a seat. However, the additional weight of the crate also influences the handling characteristics of the Stand Up Paddling Board.

Conclusion: The kayaks definitely win in terms of storage space. They offer more space for additional luggage.


On the basis of some selected criteria we have worked out the differences between kayaks and Stand Up Paddling Boards. Independent of these advantages and disadvantages, fun is of course the most important thing.

With kayaks as well as with SUP boards you can have fun and have great experiences. If you are still undecided, this rule of thumb will help you: Stand Up Paddling Boards are the better choice for shorter tours in warm water, while kayaks are also suitable for winter use, cold water and longer tours.

The reason for this is that you are completely exposed to the elements on SUP boards. A kayak protects you better from the wind and cold temperatures.

We are also very curious about your opinions on this question. Be it from kayakers with years of experience or real SUP freaks. Feel free to write us!




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