Kayaking vs Bellyaking

Bellyak vs Kayak

They may look alike from a distance and share the same habitat, but how does a Bellyak compare to a kayak?

Kayaks vs. Bellyaks

The Basics

A kayak and a bellyak have a similar hull, similar rocker profile, and are both made of polyethylene. Both are able to occupy the same habitat, moving water or still,  and both have a similar hull speed for their length. Both are made on the same machine, cooked in the same oven out of the same plastic and by the same people. From twenty feet away, they pass as siblings.

Upon Closer Inspection

  • Kayaking is sitting in or on a boat, propelling yourself with a paddle, sometimes wearing a sprayskirt.
  • Bellyaking is lying prone, and propelling yourself with your hands or webbed gloves.
  • Kayaks evolved from Eskimos.
  • A bellyak evolved from a cut up kayak. See how we make the bellyak here!

Bellyaking on the French Broad

Cost of Entry/Gear Required:

Kayaking: Kayak: $1199, Sprayskirt: $200, Paddle: $300, Helmet: $85, Apparel + other gear etc. = $2,000.00

Bellyaking: Bellyak: $749-$799, Gloves: $40, Helmet: $85, Apparel + other gear etc. = $1000.00.

Of course, if you are just paddling flatwater recreationally, then the cost of entry is much lower, as there are plenty of excellent, well made kayaks out there for under $400. For flatwater bellyaking, you have prone paddleboards, which are substantially more expensive. The best part about Bellyak? One boat can do it all. For those of you on a budget, one day there will be low cost recreational bellyaks available to spread the sport of prone paddling to the masses!

Half the kayak, half the price, double the fun. 

What Happens if I flip over?

In a kayak

If you flip over in a decked kayak you can do three things: roll up, wet exit, or drown. The best option is rolling up. Rolling is easier to learn than uni-cycling and a little harder than riding a bike. If you flip over on a sit on top, you can flip the boat over and climb back in.

The fear of being upside down underwater is the primary reason more people don’t get into kayaking. Call it evolution…humans aren’t meant to be upside down underwater.


In a bellyak

If you flip on a bellyak, three things can happen: You roll up, you fall off and get back on, or you swim. There is no situation in which you will be trapped upside down – ever. Because of this, most people learn to navigate whitewater much more quickly on a bellyak and the sport is more accessible for a wider range of people. For recreational use, you are highly unlikely to flip over, as your low center of gravity will keep you upright. If you do decide to get off and swim, remounting is super easy. The bellyak combines the best elements of swimming and boating.

And What happens if I Don’t Roll up?

When you swim in a kayak your boat fills with water and you have to get you and your gear to the shore. Your 90 gallon creek boat now weighs 700 pounds and now your friends mock you and you have to chug a beer out of your dirty river shoe.

If you swim off your bellyak you flip it back upright and are back on and paddling before your buddies will ever have a chance to laugh. You can drink your beer like a normal person, from the can. >>> See how to roll up on a bellyak here!


Upper Limit of Sport:

Kayaks are pushing the limits of what can be done. The talent out there right now is unprecedented in the history of the sport. Bellyaks undoubtedly reduce the barrier to entry and get more people on the water, of all abilities. It’s all about the experience…gliding, under your own power, inches off the water, experiencing the freedom and joy of prone paddling.


The Verdict?

Both. Bellyaks and Kayaks are for water lovers like multiple bikes are for bike lovers. If you have to own only one? A bellyak. It is easy to carry, easy to use, fun in all types of water (even frozen), requires no paddle or sprayskirt, can be used with or without webbed gloves, sized to fit the whole family, and built to last a lifetime.

 Thanks for visiting and we hope to see you on the water!