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January 11, 2022 12 min read

Best SUP Kayak Hybrids

Woman kayaking on a yellow GILI adventure inflatable paddle board

Paddle boarding isn’t just about standing, you can enjoy your time sitting as well! Some days you may just want to take in the scenery, or perhaps the weather calls for you to get down low. Either way, converting your SUP to a kayak is a good option to have. 

Paddle board and kayak combos provide comfort on a new level and allow you to enjoy the water in a different way. However, remember you’re not getting a specialized kayak; a combo setup is a compromise for the best of both worlds!

So why should you add a SUP kayak hybrid or conversion kit to your outdoor gear? What do you need to achieve the combo? And what are the best paddle board and kayak combos out there? Keep reading to find out! 

Why Use A SUP Kayak Hybrid? 

Besides expanding your horizons on the water (metaphorically speaking), SUP kayak hybrids offer a multitude of benefits to your favorite water sport activity:

  • Two in one – versatile equipment that offers more variety of fun
  • Comfortable – sometimes we all just need to take a seat to kick back and enjoy the view
  • Safe setup – a kayak hybrid or conversion kit is the safest way to install a chair on board your SUP
  • Longer adventures – a seat can help save your stamina and keep your paddling going for longer
  • Stability – a lower position is good for choppy conditions, especially if you’re fishing

What Do I Need To Make My SUP Into A Kayak Hybrid?

GILI inflatable paddle board with kayak conversion kit

Converting your stand up paddle board into a kayak hybrid doesn’t need to be complicated. As long as your SUP is fitted with reliable D-rings and you have the right kit, you can turn just about any SUP into a kayak.

D-Rings

D-rings are the ultimate must-have for any paddle boarder who wants to level up their SUP with add-on accessories. They allow you to safely and securely attach equipment.

Ideally, you want to make sure the D-rings are made from stainless steel so you get the best possible quality. All of the stand up paddle boards from GILI Sports are fitted with several D-rings across the board to accommodate the attachment of your GILI Kayak Seat.

GILI SUP to Kayak Conversion Kit

Get your hands on the GILI SUP to Kayak Conversion Kit for the quickest and easiest way to turn your paddle board into a kayak. This conversion kit comes with everything you need:

  • Clip in kayak seat with included rear storage bag
  • Kayak blade so you can turn your SUP paddle into a dual paddle for kayaking

The seat is made from a thick, cushioned neoprene material; it’s ideal for long expeditions and won’t rub if you get wet. 

Installation is quick and easy. Simply attach the front clips to the uppermost d-rings on the board, and then the rear d-rings at the tail of the board. You then can adjust the straps on the kayak seat to get the best support for your back.

GILI’S Top 3 Picks

Best Overall
GILI air inflatable stand up paddle board

GILI Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Plus Kayak Conversion Kit

Why we like it:

  • Super easy to inflate and deflate
  • Lightweight to transport and manoeuver on the water
  • Good performing all-around board
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Best Budget
Bestway oceana inflatable stand up paddle board
Hydro-Force Oceana Paddle board Kayak Combo

Why we like it:

  • Extremely affordable package deal that includes everything you need to convert the SUP to a kayak
  • Folds down compactly and fits into a neat bag with all SUP gear
  • Kayak seat is simple to clip in place 
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Best Style
Dark grey south bay board Co. inflatable SUP board
South Bay Board Co. Hippocamp Inflatable Paddle Board and Kayak Kit

Why we like it:

  • Super stylish and sleek design
  • Wide deck for extra stability
  • Pulled in rounded squash tail for faster paddle glide
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Best Paddle Board Kayak Hybrid And Kit Options

So, are you wanting to find out what is the best paddle board for converting into a kayak? Here are the top 8!

GILI Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

The GILI Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is perfect for clipping in a kayak seat and enjoying the water from a different angle. The dimensions make this SUP stable without compromising speed and performance. It’s a great blend of balance, weight and size.

GILI air inflatable stand up paddle board

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10’6 x 31” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 280 lbs
  • Compatible with the GILI Kayak Seat add-on

What we love:

  • Super easy to inflate and deflate
  • Lightweight to transport and manoeuver on the water
  • Good performing all-around board

What we don't love:

  • Nothing! 

With a weight capacity of 280 lbs, you can definitely pack all your gear onto this SUP including a coolbox to pair perfectly with your kayak seat. 

GILI Mako Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Our GILI Mako Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a fantastic smaller SUP option for anyone under 5’10. The reduced length makes this a super lightweight paddle board option, but the width is still the same giving you the best stable deck space. 

GILI Mako inflatable stand up paddle board package

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 260 lbs
  • Compatible with the GILI Kayak Seat add-on

What we love:

  • Designed for riders under 5’10
  • 18 d-rings across the board
  • Good performing all-around board

What we don't love:

  • Nothing! 

The Mako SUP is a great option for kids to get involved with the SUP to kayak scene without overwhelming them with an oversized paddle board. 

GILI Adventure Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

The GILI Adventure Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is built for touring and long expeditions. The bungee storage system on the nose is big enough to securely stow away dry bags with food and water, along with a kayak seat ready to use when wanted. 

GILI adventure inflatable stand up paddle board package

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 32” x 6” / 12’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 290 lbs / 330 lbs
  • Compatible with the GILI Kayak Seat add-on

What we love:

  • The ultimate expedition iSUP 
  • Designed with utility, touring, and performance in mind
  • A pointed nose and increased rocker to enhance performance in all water conditions

What we don't love:

  • Nothing! 

Like all of the stand up paddle boards from GILI, adding on a kayak seat could not be any easier! Just clip the seat in and adjust the straps to suit you. Simple!

Hydro-Force Oceana Paddle board Kayak Combo

The Hydro-Force Oceana Paddleboard Kayak Combo is a great budget paddle board and kayak hybrid. As a bundle package deal, you get everything you need included when purchasing the SUP. The kayak convertor kit also includes a footrest as well as an additional paddle blade.

Bestway oceana inflatable stand up paddle board

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10' x 33" x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 243 lbs
  • Includes a basic removable seat, foot rest, and 2-in-1 adjustable paddle

What we love:

  • Extremely affordable package deal that includes everything you need to convert the SUP to a kayak
  • Folds down compactly and fits into a neat bag with all SUP gear
  • Kayak seat is simple to clip in place 

What we don't love:

  • The adjustable straps on the kayak seat are not accommodating for the taller paddler

The kayak seat setup on this SUP combo is basic, but it gets the job done. This is our top pick for a budget SUP and kayak combo!

Bluefin SUP Kayak Package

Bluefin’s SUP Kayak Package includes everything you need to get paddling both standing and sitting. Some reviews mention a slight leak in the air valve when removing the pump hose, so just be aware in case you need some extra air. 

Bluefin iSUP board with kayak conversion kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions:10’8 x 32” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 290 lbs
  • Heavy duty clip in kayak seat and specialist kayak paddle end

What we love:

  • Comfortable kayak seat with fully adjustable straps
  • Good to manoeuver through narrow waterways
  • Fixed GoPro mount on the nose included

What we don't love:

  • Not the most stable shape with a pointed nose and tapered tail

Even though the shaping of this SUP from Bluefin isn’t the most stable, when you’re sitting down in the kayak seat you will feel secure and comfortable. The seat has fully adjustable straps so you can customise to achieve the maximum comfort.

South Bay Board Co. Hippocamp Inflatable Paddle Board and Kayak Kit

The South Bay Board Co.’s Hippocamp Inflatable Paddle Board and Kayak Kit is our top pick for most stylish combo available. This SUP has an enormous weight capacity that is perfect for fishing days out on the lake. In fact, this combo kit not only comes with a kayak seat and paddle, but also a cooler bag and fishing rod holders to secure onto the deck.

Dark grey south bay board Co. inflatable SUP board

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11’6 x 34” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 450 lbs
  • Comes with included kayak seat, cooler, & fishing rod holders

What we love:

  • Super stylish and sleek design
  • Wide deck for extra stability
  • Pulled in rounded squash tail for faster paddle glide

What we don't love:

  • Screw fin, not a snap-in center fin

Stylish and eye-catching, this board from South Bay Board Co. is sure to turn some heads while on the water. If you’re wanting to spend a whole day SUP fishing and look good while doing it, then get your hands on this combo.

Bluewater Toys 10’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Bluewater Toys’ 10’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a lightweight SUP with a specially designed kayak converter kit. Unlike other kayak seat converters, this one from Bluewater Toys attaches to the side of the board so you maintain your full deck space.  

Bluewater Toys inflatable stand up paddle board

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • New kayak seat design for a wider seat and more supportive back

What we love:

  • Sturdy SUP and versatile with included kayak seat add-on
  • Kayak seat is super comfortable and has an included storage bag on the back
  • Affordable/low budget price

What we don't love:

  • Included foot rest is placed too close to the kayak seat and cannot be adjusted

This retro styled board is a good kayak and SUP combo option to consider. The kayak seat attaches to the rail of the SUP which makes it wider and more comfortable than most. 

BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak and Stand Up Paddle board

The BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard is a completely unique design of paddle board and kayak hybrid. It’s shaped more like a sit-on kayak boat rather than a SUP. When you remove the seat you then have a paddle board with high sides.

BOTE aero inflatable kayak and SUP board with accessories

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 33” x 10.5”
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Uniquely designed sit-on-top style seat

What we love:

  • Removable foot bar
  • Self draining cockpit
  • Seat top and back that is removable to convert into a SUP deck

What we don't love:

  • Expensive price tag

If you want something one of a kind, that no one else will have out on the water, then the BOTE kayak/SUP hybrid is your best bet! 

Health Benefits Of Using A Kayak Seat On Your Stand Up Paddle Board

Woman kayaking on a converted GILI SUP board

We all know how great paddle boarding workouts are. As long as you’ve nailed the technique, you can burn up to 745 calories per hour while SUP surfing (the most energetic branch of paddle boarding). That’s more than running for an hour!

So what about taking a seat on your SUP? 

Paddling kayak style works different muscles and offers similar benefits to traditional stand up paddle boarding:

  • Low impact workout
  • Core strength benefits
  • Weight loss
  • Stress relief 
  • Full body workout

SUP Kayak Buying Guide

When trying to find the best paddle board and kayak combos, there are some key things you should always keep in mind. Take on board our SUP kayak buying guide and you’ll be well on your way to cruising over the water.

Experience Level

Your experience level does have an impact on what paddle board you should choose. Beginner paddlers do better using a wider SUP, even when you’re putting a kayak seat on the deck. A wider board gives the rider better stability when on the water. 

As your skills improve and you’re more comfortable balancing on the SUP, you can then start considering narrower paddle board options. An increased length will help you cover the water quicker with each stroke. 

Beginners should also look for package bundle deals that include everything you need. This is better value for money in the long run, and you’ll get all the extra accessories needed. Make sure the add-on kayak seat is easy to install; a simple clip-in-place design means you can convert your SUP mid-paddle! 

Intended Use

Before you buy anything, you need to know what it is you want to be doing out on the water. Most people simply love being outdoors, soaking up the beauty of nature. But there is so much more than you can do with your SUP and kayak combo. 

The two most popular avenues for a SUP kayak hybrid are SUP fishing and SUP touring

For SUP fishing, you want to make sure the paddle board is wide. This additional deck space is valuable for taking all your tackle boxes, coolboxes, and fishing rods out with you. The extra width will also help stability, so you won’t run the risk of falling in with the fish!

SUP touring with a kayak seat can increase the duration of your expedition. To get the most out of your paddle strokes and cover more distance, you want to be looking for narrower and longer paddle boards (over 11’). This will increase your speed and preserve your energy. 

Paddle 

SUP kayak conversion kits also transform your standard paddle into a kayaking paddle with two blades. Most SUP paddles are adjustable, so you can remove the T-bar handle section, allowing you to insert the additional blade. 

Ensure the additional paddle blade is compatible with your paddle. Most converter kits can only be used with the matching brand’s paddle.

Versatility

A SUP kayak combo is designed to be versatile. For maximum versatility, you need to have the D-rings in place to add on accessories. All of the GILI Sports paddle boards are kitted out with 18 D-rings, located across the SUP. This is perfect for loading your paddle board up with gear in order to make your adventures more awesome!

You should also make sure the paddle board and kayak combo has a good quality grip pad across the full length of the board. This will help keep you on top of the SUP!

Construction

GILI adventure inflatable kayak with kayak conversion kit

Do you choose inflatable paddle boards or fiberglass paddle boards? We love iSUPs for several reasons, mainly because they are super durable and can keep up with life’s greatest adventures.

Inflatable paddle boards have the great added benefit of deflating and storing in a compact space. Make sure you get an iSUP constructed using drop-stitch technology. This will give you a more stable and solid surface when paddling. For the best quality and durability, make sure that the board is made out of military-grade PVC; this can handle rocky riverbeds and knocks into lakeshore banks without dinging.

You should also consider the kayak seat construction. Some designs fasten the seat to the side of the SUP. This offers a wider seat but could reduce the performance of the SUP kayak.

Weight Capacity

Every paddle board kayak hybrid manufacturer will provide specifications on the weight capacity of the vessel. Remember that this weight capacity includes you as the rider, any passengers you may be taking for a ride (friends, kids, or dogs!), and also any gear you may need. 

A typical weight capacity for an 11’ iSUP is around 300 lbs, depending on the construction quality. If you are a more advanced rider, then you can consider a lower weight capacity. Just keep in mind that this will affect your stability.

Price

Budget does have an important part to play when looking at purchasing a paddle board kayak hybrid. Often, you do get what you pay for when it comes to quality.

If you are after a recreational SUP kayak combo, just for easy paddling and a bit of fun, you should expect a price tag between $200 and $500. 

If you are wanting something more specialized, with a higher quality of materials, prepare to pay anything up to $1,000, maybe more!

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap on the SUP kayak combo showdown! From construction and versatility to your experience level and available budget, you can now make an informed decision as to which paddle board and kayak conversion kit to go for. 

So what are you waiting for? Get your seat today, set off on an adventure, and see where you end up! 

FAQ’S

🏆 What is a hybrid paddle board kayak?

A hybrid paddle board kayak is a versatile piece of equipment for watersports lovers to combine two super fun activities. Most hybrids take an SUP, as the main foundation, and then use add-on convertor kits to transform them into a sit-on-top kayak. These hybrids are often 10 feet or more in length and 32 inches wide, providing a stable surface for you to paddle from.


👍 How can you convert your SUP to a kayak?

You can convert a SUP to a kayak using a convertor kit. These kits include a kayak seat that attaches to the D-ring points on your paddle board, a foot rest (not in all), and a second blade for your paddle. Most kayak seats have adjustable straps so you can get the best angle on the seat for you.


🏝️ Is it easier to paddle sitting down?

Paddling sitting down is a slightly different technique and uses more of your shoulder muscles, rather than the core. Some people find this easier than standing, but it is a personal choice!

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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