kayaking vs rafting

Sea Kayaking Vs Rafting – What’s the Difference (2023 Guide)

Kayaking vs Rafting what improves paddling? What should a newbie choose kayaking or rafting? We guarantee that this practical guide will assist you in clearing up all the questions. Watersports beginners frequently wish to know the distinctions between kayaking & rafting in order to make the best decision for their big experience on the water.

Although rafting & kayaking appear to be identical, they are very different. Each of these things to do has its joys and loves. If you thoroughly examine both sports, it is clear how they vary from one another. everything, from the boat utilized to the kind of water body selected.

To help you grasp what’s different between sea kayaking Vs rafting from each other, I’ll break down the important plus-minus distinctions between both two activities in this post.

Buying Guide: Kayaking Vs Rafting

Photo by Rune Haugseng


A kayak typically accommodates one person and may be used to explore various natural settings. Kayaks are increasingly often employed in a wider range of environments, including lakes and seas, because of their adaptability. These raft-like boats, which are smaller, are propelled by a double-bladed oar.

The top cover that may be used to block water and splashes is available within the kayak, although movement is restricted inside. With the correct model, you can use a kayak in both calm & riskier waters because of how low they sit in the water. Kayaks are praised for their adaptability and maneuverability.


The most basic definition of a raft is an inflatable floating boat. Rafts may be observed and used in many places, but “whitewater river rafting,” which focuses on exploring rivers of varying speeds & intensities, is the activity that is most generally associated with them.

Rafts can sustain more people than kayaks can, which makes them more practical. Some rafts can carry up to 10 passengers on a single trip. As they have no cover, these vessels are exposed to the elements. A raft may be used by groups of various sizes to tackle a variety of problems, depending on the craft’s size and the water’s severity.

You’ll be given a single side to use while rafting, and you’ll only be instructed to paddle on that side. One person is usually situated in the front of the raft to assist steer it through the water. Rafts are typically balanced across both boat sides. Most people like to go rafting with a group of close friends or family, but it may also be utilized for team-building exercises with colleagues or enjoyed with total strangers. The most typical way for individuals to go rafting is in a group with a business.

Placement of Riders

Photo by Brett Sayles

In contrast to rafts, which may accommodate up to ten people at once, kayaks are only intended for one or two riders. Although most individuals feel confident paddling their kayaks on their own, newbies can ride with a guide. When you kayak in Las Vegas as a group, you may still experience the sense of camaraderie & self‐esteem that comes from paddling along the river by yourself.

Overall Experience And Speed

The majority of users like having more control over their speed across the water that kayaks provide. In addition to cutting through the water with ease, kayaks’ streamlined shape makes them more comfortable to ride than rafts. Additionally, you’ll discover that kayaks give greater adaptability because of how simple it is to draw them up on the sand while unwinding and taking in sights like the Nevada sunset.

Schedule your trip with Blazin’ Paddles now for a paddling adventure down the Colorado River that is quite different from whitewater rafting.

Styles of Paddling

Because most rafts are too big for any rider to reach all the way around, the group rows the rafts collectively using single-bladed paddles. Smaller than canoes, kayaks are propelled along rivers using a double-bladed paddle that is moved from side to side. It takes time for a group to learn to paddle a raft together, but with only a few pointers from your instructor, you can rapidly learn how to paddle a kayak.

Boat Type

There are certain boats needed for kayaking and rafting. The best kind of watercraft to utilize is a kayak for kayaking. These are frequently long and slender, making it simple for them to squeeze into and meander through small areas.

There is room for you to spread your legs out front of you as the seats in boats are on the kayak’s base. On top of certain sit-on-top kayaks, you may recline the whole length of the body thanks to their open hull design.

The majority of kayaks, on the other hand, are made to be sat in, which makes that your legs will slip beneath the deck when you’re sitting within the kayak’s hull. A double-bladed oar or paddle is necessary for paddling a kayak, which is a smaller boat than a raft.

In contrast to rafts, which have restricted interior movement, kayaks feature a top cover and deck that prevents water from entering the cockpit and shields users and their paddling gear from becoming wet.

In contrast to rafts, which have restricted interior movement, kayaks feature a top cover and deck that prevents water from entering the cockpit and shields users and their paddling gear from becoming wet.

An inflatable raft is the best boat to use for rafting. Compared to kayaks, they are frequently flattering & wider and can carry more people. Rafting paddles are single-bladed, unlike kayaking, and there is no deck or other type of covering on the raft, which makes it fully exposed.

In rafting, the number of kayakers is often distributed equally among the two sides of the raft to keep the balance, or one paddler is typically positioned at the front or rear to assist in guiding the raft through the water. There are three major kinds of rafts you may use: motor rafts, which are propelled by a motor; paddle rafts, which need manual propulsion; and hybrid rafts.


Rafts are significantly larger than kayaks and can commonly carry 6–8 people at once, although kayaks are plainly on the smaller side as they are made to hold just one or two people. If you choose to explore the rafting route, you’ll probably have to do it at a predetermined location and will thus need to lease a raft for the crew rather than be allowed to bring your own.


Due to their size and weight, rafts seem to be more stable than kayaks, but this has drawbacks of its own, which we’ll discuss in the following section. Kayaks are prone to tipping over if you’re not careful, but that’s just part of the fun and shouldn’t dissuade you from trying it.

Skill Levels

The type of kayaking or rafting you’re doing and the body of water you’ll be exploring will determine the amount of experience necessary for the trip. Both white water rafting & white water kayaking demand that you have a strong paddle and be able to navigate challenging rapids.

However, because you normally have to propel a kayak alone, kayaking requires more expertise and experience. Especially if you’re kayaking alone, you run the danger of getting into severe issues if you don’t know how to manage the paddle, what speeds to use, how to cope with the wind, and how to navigate properly.

But while whitewater rafting, you may compensate for your lack of skills by using a stronger raft or the knowledge and skills of other participants.


Rafts are often not purchased as a personal item since they are more bulky and challenging to move than kayaks. Kayaks are perfect if you have to get one and transport it to whatever paddling location you like because they are quite light and easy to carry.


Due to their weight and size, rafts are less maneuverable than kayaks, which means you’ll have considerably less control. In contrast hand, kayaks are ideal if you need to be able to do smooth movement since they are simpler to turn or paddle into small places.

Proper Paddling Techniques

Photo by Taryn Elliott

Kayaks are far more maneuverable than rafts because they are thinner and smaller. To help the kayak travel through the river, lake, or ocean, you may use double-bladed paddles to float throughout the water from left to right while you’re moving ahead.

Every kayaker can only reach one side of a raft because of its size and remoteness. Because of this, rafting calls for a single-bladed oar & demands that the raft is divided among the riders so that everyone may paddle a certain side to row the boat in the way you want it to travel.

You can rapidly learn how to propel a kayak with the help of some advice and directions from the guide. It takes some time to learn how to paddle as a group on a raft since there are more individuals engaged therefore cooperation is required.


The cost of renting a raft as opposed to purchasing one altogether makes it more costly than kayaking. Because you can get a kayak at a reasonable price, either secondhand or even brand-new, without having to invest much money (usually, aim for something between £200–500 range), kayaking is usually more affordable.

Overall Experience & Speed

The best alternative for you is kayaking if you want more control over your watercraft’s movement and speed. To maintain the target speed while gliding down the water, kayaking provides greater control over the boat.

You should be aware that paddling the kayak more quickly will put more strain on the muscles & take up more energy, so be sure you’ll enjoy the added tension. Being stuck on the lake as a result of being exhausted to paddle back is the last thing you want to do.

In comparison to kayaks, rafts travel more slowly due to their bulk and capacity to hold passengers. In light of this, it’s possible that you will achieve the speed that you’re looking for while on the journey, and you can’t opt by yourself to row faster than the other riders. If you’re the only one kayaking that quickly, rowing faster won’t make a difference.

You’ll just exhaust yourself earlier than the group as a whole thanks to it. But you may make up for the slower pace that rafting provides by experiencing the rougher, more intense rapids for a greater rush.

The kayak ride is smoother than one on a raft because of the kayaks’ sleek shape or the fact that they sit below in the water, which helps them to break it and push away quicker swiftly & precisely.

Additionally, kayaking offers a more adaptable and diverse paddling experience because of how tiny the kayaks are, which makes it simple to paddle in a variety of seas even going on unexpected paddling expeditions.

Which Is the Safer Option?

Compared to kayaking, rafting is often a safer activity for water body exploration. This is so because rafts are slower moving, larger, plus inflatable than kayaks. Rafting also includes a large group of people, so assistance is always available if you have any issues.

The kayaks, however, are smaller and more prone to tipping over. In particular, if you’re not paddling with a group, you will be alone to keep control of your craft, and if you encounter any difficulties, you will be by yourself.

By selecting calm waterways over rough ones, you can improve the safety of both paddling & rafting.

Clothing for Kayaking and Equipment List

For both rafting and kayaking, you can dress similarly. Simply be sure to consider the temperature of the water while choosing the apparel, not just the water temperature.

In the heat of the summer, a simple t-shirt & shorts could be appropriate, but on overcast and cooler days, you may prefer to wear a warm jacket or wear layers of clothing to be warm.

Another option is to wear a wet suit, dry suit, plus paddle pants if you want greater satisfaction or to prevent getting wet. Rafting and kayaking are comparable in many ways in terms of gear. Common kayaking equipment consists of:

  1. The kayak
  2. A paddle for a kayak
  3. The spraydeck
  4. Fast-drying or water-resistant clothing
  5. Waterproof footwear

River Rafting Equipment Essentials

There are many essentials you need when river rafting but here we are listing the top 6 river rafting equipment essentials that you will be needed to start your exciting journey!

  1. An inflatable raft
  2. Paddles with one blade
  3. Helmets
  4. life vests
  5. Neoprene clothing
  6. Save trash bags

You may usually rent all the gear you need for the paddling vacation from most kayaking & rafting businesses.


Q1. Can Novices Safely Participate in Rafting and Kayaking?

In addition to being exciting and interesting, adventure sports can have a small amount of danger, which may be reduced by using the right safety measures, being informed of the risks ahead of time and minimizing any potential negative effects, and employing a qualified guide and trainer.

Q2. Where Can You Go Rafting?

Both the Brahmaputra River in India as well as the Sun Kosi River in Nepal have risen to the top of the list of the greatest locations for rafting

Q3. What are the well-known locations for kayaking?

New Zealand’s Amazon and Fiordland are well-known locations that provide excellent kayaking opportunities.

Q4. Is Kayaking More Difficult Than Rafting?

In comparison to white water rafting, kayaking takes greater ability because kayakers must control the vessel on their own and go at quicker speeds. For novice kayakers, it’s always a smart option to enroll in lessons or clinics to master the fundamentals, or at least, get instruction from an expert.

Q5. Is a Kayak Better for Me Than a Raft?

The whole experience and speed. The majority of people like the increased control over their speed across the water that kayaks provide. In addition to cutting through the water with ease, kayaks’ streamlined shape makes them more comfortable to ride than rafts.

Q6. Does river rafting allow non-swimmers?

Sure! You could go whitewater rafting however if you can’t swim well.

Q7. Does Rafting Make You Wet?

Before going on a rafting trip for the first time, the most frequent question from visitors is about what to dress. Be sure to bring clothing you don’t bother having muddy and wet on the white water rafting excursion in Gatlinburg. In addition to becoming wet, you could also end up getting slightly filthy.

Q8. What Occurs If You Fall into the Sea During Whitewater Rafting?

Don’t panic if you exit the raft. Make contact with the instructor while wearing the personal flotation device to stay afloat while you try to swim back to the closest raft. Prevent standing up in the water, which is the most vital thing.


However, there are a few key distinctions between these two activities—moving fast or slowly down a river. You are sure to have a great time, make some fantastic memories, & come away with some useful information whether you decide to go sea kayaking vs rafting.

You can try out both sports and pick which you prefer thanks to the many rafting and kayaking businesses in the area.

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