Should You Buy A Surfski Or A Kayak For Your Adventure?

  • Post category:Kayaking

Kayak and SurfSki are two of the most popular water sports. With a long history, these watercraft have been used for recreational and competitive purposes. Both involve paddling a boat with a single-bladed paddle in order to move through the water in either a forward or backward direction. 

At first glance, they may look quite similar, but there are several key differences that set them apart. But what are the differences between a kayak and a surfski?

The main difference between kayaks and surfskis is that kayaks are designed for more stability and touring activities, while surfskis are designed for more speed and agility.

In short, kayaks tend to be more rounded on the bottom, with pointed ends at either end. Surfskis are longer and narrower than kayaks, giving them greater speed in the water. The shape of a surfski also allows them to cut through waves more efficiently than a kayak.

Here we’ll take a closer look at all the key differences between kayaks and surfskis. So you can decide which one suits best for your purpose. 

Surfski And Kayak

Kayaks have been around since ancient times when they were used by hunter-gatherers to traverse waterways in search of food and resources. Today, they are still popular among beginners due to their low cost. But they can also be used by experienced paddlers who want to explore further distances or take on more challenging conditions

Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from small recreational boats to large ocean-going vessels. Most kayaks are constructed from fiberglass or plastic (although wooden models do exist). 

They generally feature an enclosed cockpit area which allows the paddler to sit inside the boat with their legs stretched out in front of them.

These days, modern kayaks are mostly made from fiberglass, plastic, or Kevlar. A traditional kayak is typically small enough for one person to maneuver and has an enclosed cockpit with a spray skirt to keep the dry paddler on the water. 

Some modern kayaks have open cockpits as well as other features such as extra storage compartments, foot pedals to help steer the boat, and adjustable seat backs.

In contrast, surfski boats have been designed specifically for speed and agility in open water conditions. Unlike kayaks which feature an enclosed cockpit area, surfskis have an open design that allows the paddler to sit just above the surface of the water. 

This low center of gravity gives these boats greater stability when navigating waves and other turbulent waters. The design also enables surfskiers to achieve higher speeds than those possible with traditional kayaks. This makes surfskis perfect for racing competitions!

Key Differences Between Kayaks And Surfskis

For those looking to explore the ocean, both a kayak and a surfski offer a great way to get out on the water and have some fun. While they may have similarities, there are several differences between these two watercraft. 

From design to performance, these differences are easily distinguishable. But before diving into the detailed differences, let’s take a look at a few common queries;

Shape and Design

The primary difference between a kayak and a surfski is in their construction. A kayak has an enclosed cockpit with a spray skirt or cover, which helps keep water out of the boat. 

Kayaks also typically have two sets of two paddles. One for each hand, and it can be propelled forward by the use of both arms in tandem. 

By contrast, a surfski has an open-top design, allowing for easier access in and out of the boat. 

They also have only one paddle, which is held in both hands and used to propel the boat forward by sweeping strokes.

Materials Used

Surfskis are usually made of a composite of carbon and fiberglass, making them light and maneuverable. The design allows them to move easily through the water, making them ideal for surfing and racing. They are also extremely durable, meaning they can handle a lot of wear and tear.

Kayaks, on the other hand, are usually made of a combination of plastic and fiberglass. This makes them more durable and more suited for activities such as fishing and whitewater rafting. While they may not be as fast as surfskis, they are definitely more stable and able to handle choppier water.


In terms of speed and agility, the surfski has some advantages over the kayak due to its lightweight construction and streamlined shape. 

While both crafts offer excellent tracking abilities when paddling straight ahead. The longer length and narrower beam of a surfski make it more adept at slicing through waves than its bulkier cousin. 

This makes them ideal for competitive racing or touring on open waters like lakes or oceans, where wave action can create choppy conditions.

However, both kayaks and surfskis require a good amount of skill and strength to control. And can be dangerous if not paddled correctly.

Therefore, it is important to get the right type of watercraft for the environment you are in. For example, if you are on a river or lake, a kayak is probably the best option. However, if you are out in the ocean or planning for racing adventures, surfskis may be the way to go!


Another area where kayaks differ from surfskies is in their stability in rough waters. Due to its shorter length and wider hull, a kayak will remain steadier in choppy waters than a surfski will. 

The extra width also allows for greater storage capacity if you plan to take your craft out camping or fishing overnight trips. However, some experienced paddlers might argue that this feature isn’t necessary as long as you’re prepared with proper packing skills!


When it comes to maneuverability, both boats have unique strengths and weaknesses. 

But surfskis offer superior maneuverability when compared to kayaks due to their longer length and thinner hulls. However, it really depends on what type of paddling you plan on. As each vessel has its own strengths and weaknesses. Generally, it depends on conditions, skill level, and type of environment they will be used in. 

For instance, if you plan to take part in downwind races or open water expeditions, then a surfski is likely your best bet due to its superior agility, whereas if you prefer calmer waters with lots of turns, then a kayak might be a better option due to its greater stability.

Weight Capacity  

Weight capacity is an important factor to consider when choosing a surfski or kayak. Not only does it determine the overall stability of your boat, but it also affects how much gear you can bring along with you on your paddling adventures.

Surfskis are generally very light vessels, reaching a maximum weight capacity of around 220-308 pounds (100-140kg). While this may seem like a low number, it is more than enough for most paddlers. 

Surfskis also offer excellent balance and stability since they have low centers of gravity, making them ideal for paddlers who want quick maneuverability in choppy waters. 

In comparison, kayaks tend to have higher maximum weight capacities, often ranging from 250-400 pounds (113-181kg). 

This makes them suitable for heavier paddlers. But also means that they require greater effort to paddle due to their larger size and added weight. 

Kayaks also offer more space than surfskis. It can be beneficial if you plan on bringing along camping gear or a cooler.


Kayaks track straight due to their wide design. Surfskis, on the other hand require more effort from the paddler in order to keep them straight.

This is because surfskis don’t have as much surface area in contact with the water as kayaks do. So they can easily drift off course if not properly managed by an experienced paddler.

Average Cost  

When it comes to price point comparison between surfskis and kayaks, there’s no clear winner or loser! 

Because both types of boats range widely in cost depending on their features, materials used and brand name recognition. 

However, surfskis tend to be more expensive due to their high-performance construction. Whiles basic kayaks can start around $300 or less, with prices increasing depending on features such as seat type or material used in its construction. 

So if you’re looking for a budget option with good performance capabilities, then you may want to consider purchasing a basic kayak instead of an expensive surfski model.

Final Words

To summarize, there are several differences between kayaks and surfskis, but perhaps the most significant is their size and shape. Whereas kayaks tend to be shorter and rounder with pointed ends, surfskis are usually longer and narrower with pointy noses allowing them to cut through waves faster than a kayak can. 

Additionally, different types of paddles are used when propelling each type of boat which further distinguishes them from each other.  

On the other hand, double-bladed paddles propel kayaks forward. And single-bladed ones provide power for surfing skis, making them better suited for high-speed activities like racing or surfing waves

Although both boats offer stability on calm waters, it’s much easier to stay upright on a kayak due to its wider base. Compared to that a surfing ski because they require greater balance from their operator when moving through rough waters like rapids or choppy seas.