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

Paddle Juneau Alaska with snowcapped mountains


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.

Lido Mangrove Tunnel Paddle Sarasota Flaorida

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 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 gives a workout of your complete musculature system. Any type of SUPing you chose, flatwater, 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.

4) Surfing! Yes, you can surf with 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 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, you will 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!

20 Responses to (SUP) Stand Up Paddleboard v. Kayak

  • Andrea Ricci

    I agree with all points!
    The only pro point to canoeing vs sup is wind, namely lateral and front wind. And in open waters there is always wind …

  • Mat Dumoulin


    How much kayaking did you do to be able to compare?
    In what condition are you talking about?

    Be precise when you put a sport down to put your own up. Kayaking has a hundred years of experience behind it and you can’t come up after a couple of years exploring lakes with such big statements.

    Thanks for the respect.

    • aaronpollard

      It was just meant to be a light-hearted post about paddleboarding. We love SUP but we love kayaking too. Anything that gets us out on the water makes us happy!

  • Mathieu Dumoulin

    You should be specific about the places you paddle with your board when it gets to put you sport up and our sport down. Kayaking is there since centuries on rivers for a reason. Potential for SUP in white water is very limited and liking SUP better on lakes and class 1 doesn’t allow you to say that it’s a better sport.

    It makes me take it personally, and the way SUPers get on the rivers and try to reinvent the way to paddle and tell us (kayakers) what to do on the water sound very arrogant for the amount of time SUP boards have been out there. You can say as much as you want what you love in SUPing, but what you do with comparing is very bad.

    I can also write an article to say how lame SUP is above class 2.

    • Pig Doggin

      500mg of chill pill, twice a day.

  • Ned

    Kayaks are a proven expedition worthy water craft that can take you anywhere in the world that has water. An SUP is a toy. It’s like comparing good touring skis to saucer sled.

    Kayaking is a timeless mode of water transportation with 4000 years of history behind it. SUP is a fad for suby outback owners to show everybody how cool they are. OTOH, the paddleboard will take less space in the gararge after the next fad catches the attention of the “look at me (LAme)” crowd.

    Kayaks are much a more capable craft and can handle up to class VI whitewater, paddle across oceans and even through hurricanes. SUP’s are most suited for an irrigation canal.

    Kayaks can be rolled, so you won’t be splashing about like a spastic if tip over/fall off.

    Kayaking is an olympic sport, attracting some of the world’s most talented athletes. SUP “rodeos” are more of a circle jerk for the LAme crowd.

    Surfing is much more dynamic in a kayak where flips, spins, loops, enders and blunts can be performed. Surfing on an SUP s LAme.

    Multi-day/month/year expeditions are possible in kayaks. Where SUP’s are a decent way to kill and hour.

    • Davy

      Hmmm, yeah, gotta disagree with you there fella.

      Surfing in a kayak is an absolute joke compared with on a SUP. A SUP, after all, is basically a long surfboard – y’know, a surfboard being something that was invented to surf waves all those years ago… not like the LAme kayak kooks in the line up doing their pansy little flips and spins. Ever seen anybody rip through Pipe, Ulu or Chopes on a kayak – yeah, didn’t think so.

  • LaMa70

    I need agree with Mathieu D. with this. While the paddle board is fun, there are 10 reasons it is not better then kayak.

    1. Perspective – sit sit on the kayak, so you can actually relax and look around you. You stand on a SUP and constantly need to balance yourself so relaxing is not so much in a books. In a kayak you can take camera, video camera (go-pro) , phone, water, light food, supply, etc. as you have a small storage. Nothin’ on the SUP

    2. Overall workout. On a SUP you stand and therefore after a short time you feel tired and want to relax a bit. Can’t. On a kayak, you set your tone, you paddle and then relax, then paddle again, etc. You can do a longer more intensive workouts as you have time to relax and catch your breath. Most people get tired on a SUP and then sit on it. But that time you do not move. Then the whole unbalanced sitting makes for a bad posture, and back pain. It is harder to SUP and not more rewarding – not faster then kayak, not more exciting, etc.

    3. We already stand too much. Men and woman develop artery disease from standing too much. By their 40-45th birthday most has problems with the arteries from standing too much. Sitting down and exercise is what most people can easily do, besides it is to have FUN and a workout and not vice versa.

    4. Speed – yes, you can get speed with the SUP, but not like with a kayak. With a kayak using the flow of the river, you can get some serious speed. It is so fun to zoom down on a river or using some of the wind to get through a lake in a fast speed. Speed=fun.

    5. You can do kayak ANYWHERE. With the SUP you need avoid bigger waves, ocean rip currents, etc. Kayak will zoom through all this. More stable and easy to control the direction.

    6.It is much easier to get going with a kayak. You just put it on a water and go. No need to learn it, get your posture balanced, get your gear and go. With the SUP, you need somebody to hold your stuff, or try and get it into a backpack then learn to stand on the SUP with a backpack on your back etc. By the time you get to your location the kayak guy already had his meal and drink and heading back when you are about to get there.

    7. well popularity. Kayak has been with a humans for 2000 years or so. SUP – 5 years ? 10 years maybe ? so there is so much background support for kayaks.

    8. Racing – Kayak racing is fun and plenty of places to do it. You see water ? There is almost 100% chance that there is a kayak close by.

    9. If you fall… well you really won’t. Kayak’s are stable and unless you do crazy stuff, you won’t fall or tip over. SUP – this is when I call your point BS. Every time I see SUP I see a person falling in. If you go you will fall in. If you are a pro it will happen less but still happen.

    10. Fun – yes kayaks are a lot of fun. Easy to get going and easy to do, provides a great exercise and at the same time it is fast and efficient.

    so, I think it is like snowboarding versus skiing. One is age old and really fun the other one is popular with kids who likes to lay in a snow a lot.

    Bottom line – SUP can be fun and all but don’t try and make it look it is Better then kayak. It is there and its a possible way of moving but it is not what kayak is and never will. Its not an alternative to kayaks.

  • Neptunesmith

    Calm down Mat.
    A slight over reaction to an article/series of posts brimming with enthusiasm and not negativity for a new and exciting way of getting people interested in water sports and fitness. Can’t see anything wrong with that.

  • Franco

    The kayak vs SUP diatribe is a bit like two children ( or Donald Trump !) arguing that their respective mothers or fathers ( or wife!) are better than the other’s.
    When it comes to the issue of kayaking vs SUPping, it depends to a certain extent on our taste, temperament and physical abilities, even though the laws of physics and hydrodynamics define the performance of the two types of craft, in terms of speed, tracking and amount of energy required to paddle them.

    I know from experience that a kayak, with its displacement type of hull, as opposed to a flat hull like a SUP , has a very good tracking on the water, glides very well and over long distances, I imagine, it requires less energy to propel than a SUP, with its not-so-hydrodynamic, side-slipping flat bottom.
    All in all, I believe that because of the different type of hull a kayak is more suitable for long distances and open waters. as compared to a flat bottomed SUP.
    Which one is better?

    It is perhaps the wrong question: for leisurely paddling a couple of hours or so in flat waters or on a sleepy river, the SUP is indeed ideal,for some the best, also because it is very light and easy to carry on the car top.
    However, if you plan to paddle it the whole day, the standing position, I imagine, becomes a liability, without counting the winds, all of which can make paddling a bit tiring, even more so if you are contemplating “ SUP-camping” , the equivalent of the traditional canoe-camping, for a few days. Forget about going on a SUP!

    I just bought a brand new WindSUP , which I haven’t tried yet and I am eager to see how it compares with kayaking.

    As I said before, personally, I expect that paddling on it can be fun for short distances along shores, but when it comes to longer distances or open waters with winds, my old kayak a kayak would be better. I am sure!The sitting position is less tiring than standing for hours on end !
    I have been windsurfing for many years and I much prefer cruising around in light winds and enjoying the sceneries than the adrenalin of speed, hurricane-type of winds, wave surfing, acrobatics. No thanks !
    I have even moved away from the trendy shortboards of today to go back to the old fashioned longboards of yesteryear, on which I can sail without the accoutrements of today’s high-tech, expensive and often unnecessary( given one’s needs) gear..( and go just as fast and with as much pleasure as my adrenaline-bound planing friends)!)

    Moreover, on my oldish longboard and the WindSUP I just bought, I can do without expensive carbon masts, just old Flintstone’s aluminum or fiberglas masts, because there is no down-haul needed, given the prevailing light winds for which they are designed.

    More importantly, I can be out in the water in a few minutes, without wasting precious time on the beach in fine-tuning the sail or other esoteric things. And the sails can be a lot smaller than those needed with for planing shortboards in the same winds ( two sizes down!)

    So, to me this is the BEST windsurfing and the best equipment, but of course I won’t argue that it is the best, in absolute terms. It would be silly!
    In the end, we all have our tastes and our own different life-styles.

    So, let us leave the word “BS” out when disagreeing with those who don’t hold the same “ TRUTH” as us!


  • SUP wheelchair user

    This is just my thought on it ……physically I am in a wheelchair and I have done kayaking in the past. Personally its hard to get in and out for me because your are going into deeper in the kayak. Where with my SUP I just added a beach chair or a cooler if you can sit up on your own. Is a lot easier to get in and out. And I have to agreed when you fall of its a lot easier to get in. Also the SUP is way lighter then a kayak.

  • Mick

    what about the costs ?
    SUP is much cheaper ?

  • Curt

    Geez people. Why is it so important to like one form of paddling more than the other? It’s pretty obvious they both have advantages that make them fun. Both can get you in the water quickly, are eco friendly, and peacefully quiet. You can do a multi day trip on either, or just putz around for a while. I’d rather enjoy both forms of paddling than spend time quibbling.

  • Brett

    I’m a Class 4-5 Creeker and river runner. If I wanted to have the experience of being on a SUP… I could just stand in a parking lot. SUPs are only slightly better than a floating log.

    They are not cool. There is just no point to it. If you’re going to do a water sport, then do a water sport. If you’re thinking about being a supper, then you might as well just sit on the beach.

    • North

      Put you on a class 2 river, and you be bored out of your mind.
      Now do it on an sup. or a log of you would prefer, might get more out of it.

      As for your comment about standing in a parking lot, Pretty sure your ignorance is showing.

      Nothing like watching people fight over Apple vs android, especially people who have never bothered to learn the other OS.

      Watching people argue Chevi vs ford,
      God vs Buda.

      The people who can’t handle any Idea different than their own narrow mind.

      Between the sit on the beach, and the log, Pretty sure just trolling, Nobody is actually that ignorant.

  • Matt

    I’m a paddler and I’ve paddled everything there is to be paddled. What’s important isn’t the destination or the size of water you paddle on but that you get there out onto it. It’s easy to knock a water sport if you haven’t tried it (I am critical of the rowers for going fast without looking where they’re going but then I haven’t tried it). Kayaking is great and I have a professional guide certification for the treacherous west coast of BC. I used to own 3 kayaks and now own 3 paddle boards and here are some reasons:

    fastest garage to water speed. I can wake up, load my board on the car, drive to launch and launch and paddle 5km (3 miles) and be on the road again in under an hour which I can’t do with a sea kayak that weighs 50 lbs and needs to be loaded with at minimum pump, throw bag, extra paddle and then I have to fit the skirt on me then on the boat oh and thats after I put on my drysuit. Oh, and did I mention it weighs twice as much and is really, really long. Because it’s so easy to launch I do it every day. Kayaking became a chore to load and skirt up etc. I do wear a wetsuit on my paddle board if air and/or water is cold in case I fall in but I don’t fall in on flat water.

    After kayaking I often feel sore from lugging and car-topping a heavy cumbersome boat. After paddle boarding I feel like a superhero with the adrenaline rush.

    Lower cost: A good paddle board is less than half the price of a real sea kayak and doesn’t need all the accessories such as a bailer pump because it can’t hold water.

    Low bulk: Easy to store in the garage and I can carry 3 paddle boards on the standard, not specialty, roof racks very easily at once and easily load and unload them myself. That isn’t true of a proper sea kayak. You should know too that a proper sea kayak is one that has a watertight bulkhead ahead of your feet and another one right behind your seat. If that forward bulkhead isn’t there it’s a death trap boat that has no place on the ocean.

    Easier to advance: To be fair I’m safer crossing big water in a kayak than most kayakers and I’m safer in a kayak on big water than on a paddle board but only because I can self rescue. I can reliably roll a kayak. If you can’t roll reliably on both sides then you shouldn’t be out in the ocean alone in a kayak. For beginners in both a paddle board is way easier to reboard. You’re screwed if you capsize a kayak in the ocean if you don’t know how to self rescue or you aren’t with someone that is trained to rescue you and they aren’t capsized too. A paddle board is easy to rebound. One note: If it’s ridiculously windy and you don’t have a leash on it can blow away from you faster than you can swim as can a kayak so wear a leash if you can’t swim ashore and hang onto your kayak if you fall in so it doesn’t blow away. It takes people a long time to learn to roll and most can’t.

    Kayaks have great gear loading potential and are amazingly sea worthy in the right hands. If I want to go on an overnight or multi day trip on the water I’m taking the kayak. Safe and confident in big waves and lower windage so slow less against the wind, faster and easier to cover long miles.

    Really theres no point knocking either, especially if you haven’t given both a reasonably fair try. Whatever you paddle enjoy it. I’ll wave to you from my paddle board even if you don’t wave back. Whatever you paddle learn how to self rescue and always wear your PFD.

    • North

      Thank you for posting a constructive, functional, on topic post. It was well written, and appreciated. It hit pretty much every viable point.

      Thank you

  • Ethan William

    I totally agree with the balancing part. In paddleboarding, much more balance and effort are required. But I am personally a fan of both kayaking and paddling!

  • Magnus

    Those advantages listed are relevant. Kayak has other advantages of course, so in my opinion its only the headline that is a bit misdirected, saying SUP is best. What sport is best depends on what advantage you prefer.
    I completely hate getting down in a tight kayak, getting wet, sitting and get numb in legs and ass (Im tall). I can Standup paddle for 6 hours, maybe my soles get numb if I dont switch the stance now and then or use padded shoes like crocs:), otherwise no issues.
    I can paddle in man-high waves or wind chop. Strong winds is not fun though.

  • Ricardo Ribeiro

    Respect kayaks piece of shit

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