All About Kayak and Paddleboard Hybrids

All About Kayak/Paddleboard Hybrids

Paddling a cross between a paddleboard and a kayak.
George E. Sayour

As paddleboarding is derived from both surfing and paddling, it can technically be considered a hybrid of both sports. There is a surf board and you extend a canoe paddle. When you put the two together you have paddle surfing or what is now known as SUP (standup paddleboarding). But, even as the sport of SUP is itself a hybrid of two sports, there is also a growing segment of the market that is actually seeking a way to further integrate the concepts kayaking and paddleboarding. This is the reason for the advent of paddleboards that also double as sit-on-top kayaks.

Hybrids in Other Sports and Activities

In this day and age of technology, easy of manufacturability, and emerging materials usage, whenever a new sport emerges athletes look for ways to push the boundaries of what the equipment can be used for. Corporations take notice and try to solve the problem. This trend most notably came to light in the late 1980s and into the 1990s in the biking world, sneakers, and even in the automobile market.

As more and more people living in cities wanted “mountain bikes” for their durability and stability they soon found out they were actually slower around town. Enter the hybrid which is a mountain bike style frame and handlebars, with thinner tires that still often had treads on them. The cross-trainer sneaker also came about in this era, which allowed people to run, lift weights, and even play basketball or tennis if they so desired. SUVs were the auto manufacturers solution to the weekend warrior syndrome and have now become a staple of American life.

The Cross-Between the SUP and the Kayak

So we come to the world of paddleing. While kayaking has always been around, it rose to prominence in the 1990s and has since hit the mainstream. As paddleboarding is rising in popularity in similar ways, many kayakers have seen it as a natural progression to transition some of their paddling over to paddleboarding. Yet, it is these same paddlers that are finding that it would be so convenient and even cool if they could paddle their paddleboards sitting rather than standing if it only had a seat.

While it is difficult to add too many accessories to the surfboard style paddleboard, the plastics market has been dabbling in this arena trying to come up with a true hybrid of the sports of kayaking and paddleboarding. So kayaking shops started by attaching some cleats to their plastic paddleboard fleet and then securing a sit-on-top kayak seat to the deck of the board. This was a quick way to solve the problem, but one major thing was missing. There was nothing to put your feet against. Again, as the manufacturers have realized this minor trend developing they began making plastic boards with seats and foot supports molded right into the deck of the board.

The SUP and Kayak Paddle

The next obstacle was the paddle. Paddleboards use a paddle containing one blade and one handle. Kayaks require 2 blades. Also, paddleboard paddles are often designed with the blade being at an angle to the to the shaft. This orientation of the paddle blade increases paddle efficiency on a SUP but decreases it on a kayak. To solve this problem some paddlers took two paddles with them. One was a SUP paddle and the other a break-down kayak paddle that could be attached to the deck of the kayak.

Then, some manufactures smartly began to produce all-in-one paddles that could be used for both kayaking and standup paddleboarding. At one end of the paddle is a paddle blade that is oriented straight or inline with the shaft. At the other end of the shaft is a removable portion of the paddle. When paddleboarding, a handle is inserted at the top of the paddle. When kayaking the handle is removed and another blade is added. This solution means the paddler only needs to carry a blade or handle with them on their board/kayak to switch over as needed.

The Uses of a hybrid Paddleboard/Kayak

At this point some people might be asking themselves when they would ever uses suck a device. Well, there are times when you can only bring one boat with you on a a trip. Or sometimes when the wind kicks up it might be better to be sitting to create less wind drag. At times in current or wind, 2 blades in the water is better than one. All of these are reasons why paddlers might want to have such a device. In the end though, there is always a tradeoff when using a multi-purpose piece of equipment. Its up to the athlete to determine if a paddleboard/kayak is right for them. While we don’t anticipate a hybrid of this sort to take over the paddling world, we do expect that as the kinks are worked out that this segment of the market will grow.