Why Every Kayaker Should Try SUP | Standing Up for a New Perspective
If you're a frequent kayaker, you have likely been seeing people on stand up paddle boards in the usual spots where you play and explore. Every season, more and more kayakers are following their curiosity and giving stand up paddle boarding a try. Many of them are adding SUP to their repertoire of outdoor activities, giving them another fun and satisfying way of enjoying their time on the water.
This article will not attempt to convince you to give up kayaking for SUP. Both activities have a lot to offer you as a paddler, and there is no need to choose one over another. What we’re talking about is opening yourself to experience the water in a new way and add some variety to your outdoor life. We speak with a lot of kayakers who have also taken up stand up paddle boarding, and here are some of the reasons they were glad to have given SUP a try:
Read the Flow From Above
A huge benefit of a stand up paddleboard over a kayak is the much better view that is offered by standing.The view while seated could be described as panoramic, offering a wide slice of the picture, but when you stand, suddenly your view gains incredible depth.
Not only is the view different, but this raised position allows you to better interact with your surroundings. You can now get a clearer view of the contours of the water as it moves beneath your feet. You can track its movements and make better use of the flows and streams to navigate your way downstream. Whether avoiding shallow riffles or facing a large cross-current, the elevated position is key to giving you enhanced perspective.
For a kayaker, using paddle boarding as a tool is an ideal scenario because understanding what you are seeing from above and how it feels and reacts with the board will allow you to carry over that feeling and feedback back into your kayaking. Whether it’s improving trim or edge control, it will drastically help your balance and give you a much better understanding of how the water moves and how you can use it most effectively.
You Have Already Mastered Many of the Skills
It has been said that in 10,000 hours you can become an expert in anything. Luckily, a huge proportion of those hours directly correlate between different paddle sports. For many people, paddling a stand up paddleboard can seem like a daunting prospect, having to both master the balance required to stand on a floating object and control of the board with the paddle. The skills required for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are actually surprisingly similar, aside from the obvious difference that one is done in the seated position and one is done while standing. You will find many kayakers naturally taking to SUP because of the understanding and fluidity they have between the paddle and the water.
As a kayaker, you will already have the understanding of how to use the paddle to propel and maneuver the board, so you will just need a few tweaks to your paddling form to get you paddling efficiently and with greater control. This leaves you to just master the balance of the board. But again, you will already have a good understanding of trim and edge control, so with just a little practice, you’ll be paddling your SUP with ease and confidence.
A Welcome Break from Lugging a Heavy Boat
As kayakers know, one of the hardest parts of any day out is actually getting the boat to the water. With some kayaks easily weighing in excess of 50 pounds, it's easy to see the draw of lightweight, portable equipment. Even diehard kayakers sometimes enjoy a day off from the heavy lifting. Inflatable stand up paddleboards have been designed with portability in mind, with many weighing in around between 20-25 lbs and fitting neatly inside a backpack. These bags can easily be transported in the trunk of a car or carried on a bus or train. Once you arrive at the water’s edge, you can easily pump them up to create the perfect platform to get out on the water.
For many, the struggle of getting a kayak to the water, either with a small trolley or with a friend’s assistance, is one of the biggest barriers to paddling more frequently. This makes an inflatable stand up paddleboard a great way to get out on the water more often. Inflatable SUPs with market-leading technology are so rigid that you wouldn’t suspect they were inflatable if you didn’t already know. With the right choice of inflatable paddle board, you can benefit from extreme portability without compromising on performance.
The portability of an inflatable SUP can also let you get to areas that would be hard to reach with a kayak, or to portage around sections that you might think twice about with a heavy kayak to carry.
Variety Keeps Your Mind Active and Your Body Challenged
More and more kayakers are using stand up paddleboarding as a way of cross-training, as it engages a different array of muscles not usually used from a seated position in a kayak. You will also find that it works muscle groups that are specific to both crafts in a slightly different way to give you enhanced movement patterns when you get back to your kayak. The experience will also be very different mentally. From the higher vantage point from standing, you can see into the water and spot wildlife that would not be visible from a kayak. The landscape will also look different, as you are experiencing it from a completely different angle.
Paddling on a SUP gives you more freedom of movement, as your legs are not constrained. You are on an essentially flat platform, so you can sprawl out on the board to stretch, rest, or snack. You can move around the board in ways not possible on a kayak to interact with your surroundings. Taking part in both kayak and SUP is an excellent way to get on the water as often as possible and experience something new each and every day.
Expanding Your Friendships on the Water
Taking up stand up paddle boarding will give you an opportunity to take lessons with other paddlers and will give you a new sense of camaraderie with stand up paddlers on the water. You’ll make new friends sharing a new experience, while still being out on the water with your old kayaking buddies.
The Next Challenge?
Stand up paddle boarding can offer you a new challenge, giving you the option of being out on the water in another type of craft with a set of new skills to add to your toolbox.
You will be virtually guaranteed to enjoy a first-time SUP outing as a unique experience, so there is nothing to lose by trying it. You might even be drawn to develop your skills further and make paddle boarding a permanent part of your paddling life. Most of all, the fun and enjoyment you can gain through trying a new sport, whether you spend more time paddling or falling in, will definitely leave you appreciative of a new perspective.