Buying a Paddleboard is one of the best and most fun life decisions you can make. Not only will you have a blast out on the water, but you will also get into great shape and paddling is a great way to make new friends.
Choosing the right board for you can be easy and doesn’t have to be an overwhelming decision
Types of Stand up paddle Boards:
The first thing to understand is that there are 5 basic types of boards.
- Surf specific boards
- All-around/Touring boards
- Inflatable stand up paddleboards
- Racing Boards
- Yoga Boards
Surf Stand Up Paddleboards
Surfing paddleboards are usually narrower, shorter, lighter, and have a narrower nose and tail. They are designed for quick turns, high performance, and are used primarily in the surf zone.
They are not great for long distance paddles, as you will have to do a lot of work to keep them on a specific track, and they are also a lot less stable than larger boards.
All-Around/Touring Stand up Paddleboards
These multipurpose boards are typically much wider, longer, have a greater volume, and typically a pointed nose. Their size and volume make them more much more stable than wave boards.
These boards are perfect if you are spending your time flat-water paddling on lakes or cruising outside of the surf zone on a beautiful day.
Touring boards are great for beginners, so if this is your first time looking into sup and you will mostly be on flat water, then I recommend you go with one of these.
Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards
Inflatable boards came on to the scene to solve a couple specific problems. That mainly being storage and transportation. Many paddlers live in apartments, or have cars that are just a pain to transport large boards, so an inflatable makes perfect sense for them.
They are much lighter and easier to transport. However, you will sacrifice the stiffness of a regular board, making wave riding a challenge but doable under light conditions.
Another interesting note is that river sup has become a big part of the sport and inflatable sups are the only way to go. The added give in the board acts just like an inflatable raft and you can avoid any dings or holes while bumping into and going over rocks.
Racing boards have become a huge market for stand up paddling. There seem to be competitions popping up in every city and country around the world.
If you are into competition, or just want to rip out your core with some intense training, then I would recommend a race board. Race boards are much longer, narrower and have an extremely pointy nose and a very long fin.
They are designed so you can stay on one track and cut through the water as fast as possible. Once thing to consider is that these boards are very unstable unless you are moving forward at a relatively fast speed. These are more advanced boards which take some getting used to.
Sup Yoga Boards:
Sup Yoga boards are wider and longer the wave boards. They usually have a soft top and places to hook up various exercise tools like resistance bands and safety equipment like PFD’s. Yogis also like to anchor there boards so they don’t drift away from their group while in the middle of a sun salutation.
What size board do I need?
Once you know what type of board you want to go with, the next step is figuring out what size is best for you.
One way to think about board size is in terms of volume. The wider, longer, and thicker the board, the more volume it will have. The more volume a board has the more stable it will be out on the water. New paddlers should first choose a board with more volume until they get used to the sport and then downsize from there.
One thing to note is that bigger boards are typically less responsive in the water. Meaning it will not turn as quickly as a lesser smaller wave board.
Your job will be to pick a board that is the correct volume for you height, weight, and paddling style.
Where to find the right stand up board for me
The only way to choose the board that is best for you is to do your research, and the best place for that is your local sup shop. They will have experts on staff that can size you up for a board, go over all points needed including materials and price so you can make an educated decision that you will be happy with for years to come.
Most shops also have demo days where you can test multiple boards under the same water conditions and ask lots of questions. I highly recommend you take advantage of one of these demo days at your local shop to you aid you in your buying decision.