Both inflatable kayaks and paddle boards are increasing in popularity as water lovers seek out an easier to transport alternative to traditional boats. So, what’s the difference between the two and is one better than the other?
In this post we will look at an overview of the differences between kayaks and paddleboards and which is better for different uses.
Differences Between a Kayak and Paddle Board?
The primary difference between paddle boards and kayaks is that kayaks are intended to be paddled while sitting down whereas paddle boards are meant to be piloted while standing up.
However, you can also paddle a board while kneeling or even sitting. Though this position will still allow you to paddle, you will not have as much control or be able to go as fast. Typically, paddleboarders will use these alternate positions when waters are calm and they want a rest from standing.
Additionally, the other main difference of a kayak is that it has raised sides which enclose you as you paddle. A paddle board, as the name implies, is a flat board with no sides.
It is also important to note that a kayak can be a “sit-in” or a “sit-on” style. With a sit-in kayak, your lower body is fully enclosed and you are basically wearing the kayak. In contrast, a sit-on kayak is more similar to a boat where the sides come up to surround you but are not fitted around you.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus primarily on sit-on kayaks. These are closer in functionality to a paddle board while still having significant differences.
Both a paddle board and kayak have a way to transport items with you, however, kayaks definitely have the advantage here. While you can attach items to your board and use dry bags to keep things safe, this is not as secure or roomy as the enclosed cockpit of a kayak.
Best Uses of Kayaks and Paddle Boards
Though kayaks and paddle boards have similarities, their differences make them each better for certain situations.
Inflatable water crafts of all kinds require a bit of extra care when it comes to fishing since there is a considerable amount of gear and sharp hooks to contend with. That being said, a kayak is the better choice for fishing.
A kayak has more storage for gear and for your catch. It also provides more room to move around and more stability than a standard paddle board. Though, if you are determined to use a paddle board for fishing, you can opt for a specially adapted kind which has more room to maneuver. Keep in mind though that specially adapted paddle boards are more expensive than both regular paddle boards and kayaks.
If you are a novice in the world of paddle powered water vessels, a kayak will be a better choice. Though both may take some getting used to, kayak paddling tends to be a much more instinctual and easy to pick up skill.
Paddling Position/ Comfort
Would you prefer to sit or stand? Technically, a paddle board allows you to sit, stand, or kneel but you will not be able to move as quickly and the paddling may feel more awkward. Conversely, a kayak only allows for sitting but may be more comfortable for many people. This factor is subjective but is an important one.
Inflatable kayaks tend to be better for longer trips since they have more storage capacity and are generally easier to operate for longer periods of time since you can sit. Additionally, they do offer a bit more protection from the water thanks to the raised sides.
However, this does not rule out a paddle board. If you are able to fit necessary gear or supplies on a board, there is no real reason not to use it for longer trips. Just keep in mind that if you plan to paddle while sitting this will make your long trip take even longer.
Stand up paddle boards and kayaks are as fast as the person who is operating them. A highly experienced paddle board user can go faster than a novice kayaker. In the case that two people have similar experience, the kayak will have the advantage.
Both kayaks and paddleboards can be used on whitewater. Yes, even inflatable boards and kayaks. You simply need to make sure whichever model you choose is rated as appropriate for this type of use.
Though, all things being equal, kayaks are more commonly used as they provide more stability. It can also not be overstated that whitewater conditions should only be attempted by experienced persons with proper knowledge and gear.
How to Decide if a Kayak or Paddle Board is Right for You
When choosing between kayaks and paddle boards, there are several factors you should consider, including:
The most important consideration you should have when choosing your watercraft is where and how you plan to use it. Generally, kayaks are more versatile and can be used on both calm and more turbulent waters when you choose the right type. Look at the previous section for more considerations on usage.
If you plan to only go out on the water during perfectly calm days with little to no wind, either option will work. If you do not plan to be this careful or know for sure that you will be in an area with rougher waters or faster winds, a kayak is a better option.
Paddle boards are more affected by strong winds. This means more turbulence and, more importantly, means a standing up position will not be as stable.
Despite the closed in sides, kayaking usually leads to getting wet more so than paddle boarding. This is largely because you will be standing on a board and the water is less likely to splash up on you. However, this only remains true assuming you do not sit down on your paddle board or fall off it completely.
Shop for Inflatable Water Crafts Now
Inflatable water crafts of all kinds are a great way to get more out of your outdoor adventures. Whether you choose a kayak, paddleboard, or boat the most important factor is ensuring you get a quality product that will enhance the experience.
At Perun Outdoors, we know how critical it is to have outdoor gear that is safe, reliable, and suited to your needs. This is why we offer inflatable kayaks and boats made of the highest quality materials constructed with European craftsmanship.
Shop our complete collection of inflatable kayaks and paddleboards now.