Kayak VS Raft- The Top Differences

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 30, 2022
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The main difference between a kayak and a raft is that a kayak is for up to two people while a raft can be enough for up to ten people.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a significant difference between the weight-carrying capacity of a kayak and a raft; a raft has more weight caring capacity
  • The small size of the kayak enables easier transportation to and from the water and even when putting it on your SUV
  • A raft is large and can hold up to ten people where paddlers sit on each side of it and the paddle can only reach one side
  • You can kayak alone but you can’t raft alone
  • Rafts move at a slower rate, and because of their size compared to a kayak



Kayaking involves the use of paddles to move your kayak in the water, in the direction that you want. A kayak is made for one or two people, and the number of seats is what determines it. It also has a weight-carrying capacity that varies with the number of people. A kayaker sits on the kayak with legs straightened in front of them. If you love solo adventures then you’ll probably prefer a kayak to a raft

Advantages Of Kayaks

1. You can have a fun adventure all alone without waiting for a whole group of people to make time for the trip. The world is a busy place and it is difficult for a whole group of ten people to have time at the same time. But organizing yourself or you and just one other partner is easy.

2. The small size of the kayak enables easier transportation to and from the water and even when putting it on your SUV.

3. You are in control of your kayak. You can go kayaking anywhere, anytime without necessarily listening to other people’s opinions.

4. It reduces the probability of quarreling with each other. When you are two or more people on a trip, the chances of having disagreements are high because everyone wants what they want.

5. A kayak is faster and maneuvers easily in water, unlike a slow raft. If you want to cover a long distance, then a kayak should be the choice for you.

6. For a beginner, learning how to paddle is much easier when kayaking, than when rafting.

Disadvantages Of A Kayak

1. You may lose an opportunity to bond with loved ones if you go solo kayaking or if you go with a partner who uses a different kayak.

2. When kayaking, you’ll be alone during emergencies. When an emergency happens, for example, capsizing, you will not be safe. There won’t be anyone to help you go back into the kayak, or call for emergency help.

3. You will be entirely responsible for the kayak. if you don’t paddle, no one will. Sometimes a kayaker may get tired and need to rest or need to turn quickly. If not well prepared, these actions may not go too well, leading to sometimes overturning, or waves controlling the boat.

4. A kayak has its share of loneliness. If you are a people person, solo kayaking may be too quiet and lonely, so you should opt for rafting.



A raft is large and can hold up to ten people. It is large enough so that paddlers sit on each side of it and the paddle can only reach one side. For this reason, one-sided paddles are used. When 10 people are paddling, four sit on either side of the raft, one at the back and one at the front to ensure that they maintain balance. With a raft, paddlers sit on benches and bend their knees, unlike a kayak where people sit on the kayak and put their legs straight forward. If you love a large company then you should probably try water rafting. Water rafting is sometimes done in whitewater, so it is quite challenging, but that’s the beauty of it, conquering rough waters together.

Advantages Of A Raft

1. Rafting encourages team building especially since it mostly includes rafting in rough water. It encourages people to work together to conquer the rough water, which can also encourage working together in other activities.

2. It encourages bonding with each other so that you can know each other better. 

3. Rafting is safe in that you are not alone even in case of anything. For instance, if one person was to fall into the water, there will be more people to help in the rescue process. There will also be someone to call for help.

4. Being with a group of friends increases the amount of fun that you may have. It will also be part of the good memories shared.

5. It allows you to rest in case you get tired of paddling. Since you are not the only one who will be paddling, you can confidently rest your arms for a bit before you continue paddling.

Disadvantages Of A Raft

1. You cannot go rafting alone. You have to have at least a partner, so the moment you invest in a water raft, be prepared to always go with someone.

2. It does not offer you the freedom that a kayak offers. You are tied to what the group wants. You have to go where the group wants, at their time of preference.

3. Rafts move at a slower rate, and because of their size, they are difficult to maneuver. Covering a large distance with rafts is not easy.

4. Rafting can be a source of fights because disagreements always occur when a group of people with different beliefs come together. You may lose close friends in the process.

Features Of A Raft And A Kayak

Both a kayak and a raft are water vessels that are used for water recreation. They need to be paddled to move in water and they need to be maneuvered. Because they are both water activities, the precautions to be taken when undertaking them are the same.

1. Inflatable 

All rafts are inflatable, making them lightweight, and easy to transport. They can also easily float in shallow water. They are made of rubber PVC that is strong enough so that it cannot get deformed when it comes into contact with rough surfaces. Even though some kayaks are inflatable, we also have others that are not.

2. Number Of People 

A kayak carries one person, or for a tandem kayak, two people. This is a good choice if you love enjoying the beauty of nature by yourself or for a couple who loves kayaking together. If you love a big group then you should opt for a raft it can carry up to 10 people. This increases your bonding time and can also be used for team building as you conquer the challenges that whitewater brings with it, together.

3. Safety Factor

When you go out into the water, your safety is what matters most. Rafting ensures your safety because of the number of people. The more people in the raft the more you are safe. For one, they can remind you what you need to carry when going out. They will be there in case of an emergency  Unlike going alone in a kayak, you’ll only be alone. In case of an emergency, you won’t be in a position to call for help quickly.

4. Seating Position

There are two types of kayaks, that is, sit-in kayaks and sit-on kayaks. For both these kayaks, you sit with your legs straight in front of you. Some have seats and for added comfort, they are passed, with backrests. For a raft, however, you sit on a bench and bend your legs. You can sit on either side of the raft, the foremost part or even the hind. This will depend on the experience you want and the agreement of the group.

5. Maneuverability

A kayak is highly maneuverable due to its small size. It also moves at a higher speed. However, there are some obstacles that it may have trouble conquering. A raft, on the other hand, is slow and does not maneuver easily. It can easily conquer obstacles in whitewater due to the momentum that it has. More people paddling means that it has more ability to conquer rough waters. This makes challenges exciting to conquer and you will be looking forward to another rafting activity.

Which One Is More Exciting?

Both rafting and kayaking are exciting to take part in, it depends on your preference. If you love having some alone time in the water, or you love conquering whitewater all by yourself, then you will find kayaking exciting and fun. If you love going out in a group, and conquering challenges with other people, if you enjoy working with other people then you should consider rafting.

Wrap Up

We are hopeful that you have understood the major differences, advantages, and disadvantages of both rafting and kayaking. You are now in a position to decide which one you want to take part in. You can make an informed decision, but always keep in mind the experience factor. Kayaking needs more experience than rafting.


  • https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-kayaking-and-white-water-rafting
  • https://www.lazydayraftrentals.com/2022/02/01/what-is-the-difference-between-kayaking-and-rafting/
  • https://monksonwheels.com/difference-between-kayaking-and-rafting/


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