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10 reasons (SUP) Stand Up Paddleboarding is better than Kayaking


a man standing next to a body of water

I talked to a person recently who was reluctant to try stand up paddleboarding (SUP). He said, “It looks fun but I already have two kayaks in the garage that I don’t use. It seems basically the same as kayaking.”

A lot of people seem to compare the stand-up paddleboard to a kayak–and granted there are some similarities. But, I think that if you really look at it, the stand-up board has so many more benefits and greatly outweighs a kayak.

a group of people riding on the back of a boat

Here are the 10 Reasons a Stand Up Paddleboard is better than a kayak:

1) Perspective: On a kayak, you sit. On a stand-up board–you stand. From standing you can just see so much more. Wildlife in the water around you, waves coming in on the horizon—standing just gives you a better perspective. And, if you are tired you can just SIT down, or even lay down. You can do yoga poses on a SUP. Can you do a downward-facing dog on your kayak? I don’t think so.

2) Overall Workout: With a stand-up board, you have to balance. Just the simple act of balancing engages all of your core muscles (think: abs, butt, legs). Once you add in the paddling aspect, you are then working out your upper body–arms, waist, and obliques. The standing and the paddling combined to give a workout of your complete musculature system. Any type of SUPing you chose, flat water, racing, or surfing will be fun and a great all-around workout.

3) We already sit too much. Research shows that sitting is very bad for our health. We sit in our offices, our cars, in our homes—do we really want to sit while exercising too? Like I mentioned, in points, #1 and #2, stand up paddling gives our muscles a workout but gives us the flexibility to take a break when we need it.

4) Surfing! Yes, you can surf a kayak but it is nothing like traditional surfing. With a SUP, you can catch smaller waves quicker–giving you time to make the first section, allowing for longer rides. And, for places like the Gulf of Mexico, where bigger waves are few and far between, the SUP can be used to hone your surfing skills for when the waves arrive or your annual surfing trip to Hawaii. From standing, you can also see the sets rolling in much better (and farther out) than from sitting. Surfing on the stand-up board is amazing!

5) You can do it anywhere! Just like kayaking, SUPing can be done anywhere there is water. There are people who do white water SUPing, SUP surfing, long-distance SUP, and more. Right now flatwater SUPing is popping up all over the place–lakes, rivers, swimming pools, bays–in Alaska, Patagonia, Hawaii, and Sarasota–everywhere.

6) It is much easier to get going. Most SUP boards are light enough to be carried by yourself. Grab your board, your paddle, and your leash and get in the water. By the time the kayak folks get in the water, you will be halfway done with your workout.

7) Gaining in Popularity It has been said that SUP is the fastest growing water sport in the world–and for good reason. And, because of the popularity, there has been lots of research into the technology behind it. The equipment is getting better and better and the sport is being tested in new and interesting places.

8) Racing SUP races have been popping up all over the place. And, why not jump on a SUP to do a paddling race? Not only will it be fun, but you will also likely meet some interesting and like-minded people.

9) If you fall off, its easier to get back on a SUP. First, a disclaimer–of all the people we have recently taken out SUPing in flatwater–NONE of them have fallen in. This includes kids, older athletes, and scared old ladies. However, if they had fallen off they would have been able to easily get themselves back up on the board. The same is not true of a kayak. Once you roll a kayak, it is very difficult to get back in–especially if you are by yourself.

10)Fun! We are big believers in the idea that your workout should be fun. You shouldn’t dread getting outside and moving around. You should be super excited about it. SUPing will give you that. I know that kayaking is also fun–but with all of the lugging the kayaks around, getting set up and organized–the fun factor gets watered down. A stand-up board is easy to handle (#6) and gets you out on the water for an amazing workout (#2) with excellent visuals (#1) in no time.

There is a reason that SUPing is considered the fastest growing water sport in the world. You have to try it!

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