sup kayak conversion

SUP Kayak Paddle Board Guide

Paddleboarding and kayaking are both ideal ways to explore some lakes, rivers, and nearby islands.

Although kayaking is more widespread by the larger number of users, it’s paddleboarding that has taken over the booming markets during the past ten years. In this post, we’ll be overlooking the awesome creation, the paddle board / kayak – a.k.a Stand-up kayak. A popular side-piece produced by many popular SUP brands.

Stand-up Kayak = SUP with seat and extra paddle blade

  • The main purpose of paddleboarding – Exploration, cruising, yoga, race, whitewater, fitness.
  • The main purpose of kayaking – Exploration, touring, fishing.

How does it work?

In essence, a paddleboard is designed to be paddled while standing up on the board (SUP = Stand-up paddleboarding) while the kayak is designed to be paddled while seated.

A SUP kayak is a paddle board with a seat and an extra paddle which makes it faster and more stable on the water by sitting down and paddling

an inflatable sup kayak fully geared
A priceless feature – an iSUP with kayak seat and footrest


The PROs

  • Better stability.
  • Many 2-person boards are available.
  • Switch between sitting & standing.
  • Much lighter and more compact than the solid kayak.
  • Better paddling performance by using both paddle blades.

The CONs

  • Not too many models available.
  • Some water can get on the deck.
  • Not as efficient and fast as a kayak.


sit-down kayak paddleboard
A “kayoga” with a Yoga-mat traction pad for increased paddle performance




Main Types

70% paddle board / 30% kayak features

  • Solo

A single-person kayak SUP is the most popular model around there. Preferred by fishermen and by basically anyone who likes to mix up the discipline of stand-up paddleboarding.

Popular single-person Kayak-SUP disciplines

– All-around paddling
– Cruising

– Yoga
– Fishing

Calypso All Around Stand Up Kayak with a window
An Inflatable Paddle Board Kayak with a see-through window


  • Tandem

Two-person paddle kayak

The 2-person iSUP kayak must be one of the most popular products out there as one in every two popular brands produces a larger board for two. Paddleboarding for two is much more fun, and you can cover longer distances.

– Tandem SUP Guide

tandem kayak paddle board
What’s there not to like about tandem paddleboarding, especially when there’s a seat on the deck?
  • Fishing Rig

Angling – another reason why so many paddlers consider buying a paddle board with some of the features borrowed from the kayak. While there are many fishing-specific paddle boards available, not all of them feature a paddle board chair and a kayak paddle.

kinds of paddle boards

Fishing SUP vs Kayak

The difference of the fishing SUP is that the paddle board fishing chair is designed to be seated slightly higher by offering a better view over the deck. That being said, it may lack the paddling performance like on a specific SUP kayak seat that’s closer to the waterline.

Fishing SUPs are usually much wider as well for increased stability on slower waters, while the tandem iSUP kayaks are much more versatile all-rounders.

fishing paddle board accessories
Fishing SUP extras




Main features

kayak sup features
Must-have features of an inflatable sit down paddle board


(1/3) Hybrid SUP/Kayak Paddle

All kayak SUPs come with a full-size paddleboarding paddle, and an extra paddle blade with extension. That’s the number one feature to tell apart if the SUP is designed for a seat or not.


(2/3) Paddle board seat

The main feature of the Kayak/SUP is the paddle board seat attachment.

Compared to a fishing SUP – a paddle board with a kayak seat is much more convenient to paddle on as they are basically placed on the ground level. The lower the seat – the easier it is to paddle and use the footrests for increased power conversion.

A sit-on-top kayak/paddle board with a seat benefits from the accessibility to switch up from a slightly relaxed stand-up paddling to a faster sit-down kayak-style paddling. Both ways have their good sides, and

(3/3) Footrests

For improved power conversion.

Often overlooked by its real necessity, a footrest helps a ton towards a more optimized paddling performance.

A footrest is there to convert some of that paddling motion from the shoulders into something solid. Without the footrest, you are going to lose out on so much body power conversion and miss out on a much better paddling performance.

Although not all models have the accessibility to add footrest, that means these boards are designed for a more relaxed riding – for example the model above with an inflatable backrest.

Types of footrest

  • A specific set of footrest
  • Yoga mat
  • Paddings
Do you really need a footrest?

Whether you paddle solo or tandem – a footrest is a truly convenient accessory one starts to regret of not having when you are really out there on the water. Without the footrest, the deck might get slippery and those longer paddling routes can get a little uncomfortable. With the help of a footrest you actually convert some tension away from the upper body and back as well.

sup kayak
Footpads for increased stability and pull-power




Average Kayak Paddle Board Sizes

Solo Inflatable

  • 9’6″ x 31″
  • 10’6″ x 31 x 5.4″ – Weight 27lb / Capacity 300lb
  • 10’6″ x 34″ x 5.4″
  • 10’6 x 34″ x 6″ – Volume 325L / Capacity 300lbs
  • 10’10” x 30″ x 6″ – Volume 240L / Capacity 215lbs
  • 13’1″ x 36″ x 6″ – Volume 438L

Tandem Inflatable

  • 11’6″ x 36″ x 6″ – Capacity 440lbs
  • 12’6” x 40” x 8”
  • 15′ x 34″ x 5.4″ – Weight 28lbs Capacity 650lbs




Best Kayak SUP Brands

best kayak sup brands
Read more7 Best Kayak-SUP Brands




Are kayak SUPs reliable?

Being a hybrid that’s designed for multiple things – are they really that good?

Although there’s a large following that states those 2in1 solutions are no good for either occasion – but we are here to prove you wrong.

A stand-up kayak benefits from the freedom of movement on the deck and the availability to switch between riding styles. Paddling by a single paddle blade while standing, plus having the availability to sit down and use both ends of the paddle is a priceless feature.

The main purpose of Kayak SUP is for leisurely rides on calm waters, and there’s no other type like that.

rolled up paddle board
As compact as they get


Are inflatable SUP Kayaks worth the money?

Since almost all SUP/kayaks are inflatable – they are definitely worth the money.

Whoever is not familiar with the performance and durability of inflatable paddleboards is going to get a positive surprise as most can’t tell the difference between a solid and an inflatable paddleboard. Best suited for leisurely rides or team up with a partner on a double SUP – there is no other board like this.

  • Superb portability
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

The inflatable paddle board with kayak seat is like no other type out there – a perfect option to enjoy those calm waters with mixed styles of riding. Sit down and rest your back for a relaxed session, or stand up for a better view of the surroundings and improved balance.


Kayak SUP vs Kayak

The main difference is that almost all Kayak SUPs are inflatable while the majority of kayaks are made in a solid form. A solid kayak is better on the open ocean – it tracks better and you can haul quite a bit of gear tucked away in waterproof compartments.

  • Kayak has a higher weight capacity for more gear.
  • Kayak is more stable in choppy waters.

The inflatable SUP with kayak seat on the other hand is mainly designed for calmer waters, and due to its blow-up form, they make a great option for recreational paddlers who value portability over anything else.

  • ISUP kayak is much more portable.


Kayak SUP vs Canoe

Unlike a kayak, a canoe doesn’t have a backrest. Canoes are almost always used in still waters while kayaks can be taken out on the open ocean as well.

  • Canoe is wide and stable for multiple riders.
  • There’s more open storage for easy access.
  • Canoes are best suited for slow-running rivers, or still waters.
  • Canoes don’t have a backrest.

The key benefit of the SUP kayak conversion is that the paddle board with a backrest can be folded in when not in use, or completely removed. Also, the bottom of the SUP is much wider for increased stability.


Kayak SUP vs Touring Paddle Board

A sit-on paddle board has the benefit of having a rest by sitting down and switching between different paddling styles. Touring boards are more of a technical piece of equipment compared to the SUP/Kayak which means that the touring SUP is much more capable in demanding waters with loaded gear.


Kayak SUP vs Fishing Paddle Board

Kayaking is often used for touring and fishing, but that’s not the primary purpose of a kayak paddle board. While both of these boards can be converted into inflatable SUP with seat, fishing paddle boards are much wider and with many fishing-specific features built into them.


Can you add the iSUP kayak seat to any other board type?

No, you can’t add the seat to all board types. What makes this type of SUP different from others are the mounts for the seat specifically. Some fishing boards are one of the few types to have that feature as well.


Read next

13 Types of Paddle Boards

kinds of paddle boards


Paddleboarding FAQ

stand up paddleboarding faq


Paddle board vs Kayak

kayak and paddleboard

Published by:

I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top