Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) offers something active for everyone. You can navigate a peaceful flat water lake or capture choppy water and waves in the ocean with touring boards. Or perhaps you want to do SUP flat water yoga or fast-paced paddle surfing to get a workout. Whatever your aspirations, having the best panel is crucial to your performance and enjoyment. This buying guide will review the bottom lines you need to think of to find a board size.
Uses of Stand-Up Paddleboards
To discover the ideal stand-up paddleboard for you, consider how you’ll use it, how it will fit your body and how you desire to manage it in the water. Key decision points will be the shape of the board, the right volume and capability, and the correct length, width, and thickness.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding Extras
Whether you select a solid or inflatable board depends on how you transfer it and how much storage area you want. From there, you’ll consider a board’s fins and find any extra accessories you need.
SUP Hull Types
A paddleboard’s hull, or body, plays a major function in how the board performs in the water. Many SUP hulls are either planning or displacement. There is a handful with a hybrid design that integrates the best attributes of each design.
Either hull shape is enjoyable to beginner paddlers at first, but there are differences that make them better for some activities than others. You’ll want to select the hull type based on how you plan to use your board.
A planing hull is flat and large, comparable to a surfboard. It is designed to ride on top of the water, easily maneuverable. Boards with planing hulls are a great choice for leisure paddling, surf sports, SUP yoga, and whitewater.
SUPs with displacement hulls have a pointed nose or bow (front end) comparable to a kayak or canoe. The hull cuts through the water, pressing the water around the nose to the sides of the SUP to improve performance and produce a quick, smooth ride. The effectiveness of a displacement hull needs less effort than a planing hull to paddle, allowing you to go longer distances at faster speeds. They also track straight but are usually a bit less maneuverable than planing hulls.
Paddlers pick displacement hulls for various applications with excellent paddling efficiency and speed in mind. Some applications include physical fitness paddling, SUP touring/camping, and racing.
Solid vs. Inflatable SUPs
Planning and displacement hulls are offered in two construction designs: solid or inflatable.
The majority of solid boards have an EPS foam core that’s covered with fiberglass and epoxy. This is a relatively lightweight, durable, and inexpensive material. Carbon fiber is a lighter and stiffer alternative. However, it’s also more pricey than foam core and epoxy. Plastic SUPs are more budget-friendly, however, they are very heavy and lack the performance of other products. Some SUPs incorporate lightweight wood for a beautiful appearance.
Efficiency is your priority: Solid boards provide the best performance on the water. They travel quicker, smoother, and with less effort than an inflatable. If paddling fast and far are your concerns, a solid epoxy SUP is for you.
For a perfect board size fit: Solid epoxy SUPs are usually offered in a larger variety of sizes and finely tuned shapes than inflatable SUPs, so you’re likely to find one that fits you best.
Choosing the right SUP stability is necessary: A solid board is slightly more rigid than an inflatable board, providing a more stable feel, specifically when riding waves. Solid epoxy boards also tend to ride lower in the water, producing a more steady feel.
You have a place to store it: Solid epoxy SUPs can take up space. If you have sufficient space in your garage and an automobile that can transfer it, then a solid SUP is a great choice.
Inflatable SUPs include PVC surfaces with drop-stitch material that produces an air core. They come with a pump for pumping up the board and a storage bag for when it’s not in use. A quality inflatable SUP is designed to be inflated to 12-15 pounds per square inch and should feel stiff when inflated.
Why get an inflatable SUP
You have limited storage space: If you live in a small house, condo, or apartment, you may not have room for a large strong board. Inflatable SUPs are compact when deflated and can quickly be stowed in little spaces, like a closet or vehicle trunk.
You’re touring by stand-up paddleboarding: If you’re taking a road trip or getting on an aircraft, you can bring along your SUP and do some paddling when you reach your location. Packed away in its storage bag, a SUP can be checked on an aircraft or stowed in a train, bus or car. A lot of storage bags have backpack straps for easy carrying.
You’re taking a stand-up paddleboard to a lake: If you’re headed to an alpine lake and wish to paddle, you won’t want a solid board. Deflated boards stowed in storage bags are heavy, but they are your best choice. Touring boards are also good for this kind of flat water performance.
You’re paddling whitewater: Like a raft or inflatable kayak, a SUP is a right board suited to manage bumps in choppy water, rocks, and logs than a solid paddleboard, which would be less stable.
You like flatwater SUP paddleboard yoga: You don’t have to get an inflatable for SUP yoga, however, they tend to be a bit softer, making them comfier for yoga poses. You’ll want a larger deck pad, as a narrow board will be less stable. Make sure you find the right board with a deck pad wide enough for you to use.
SUP Volume and Weight Capacity
SUP boards need to work for your size. If the board does not displace the appropriate quantity of water for your body weight, you won’t be supported well and the board might feel unstable. Board volume and weight capacity are elements that impact how steady you feel and how well the board will travel through the water.
The length, width, and thickness of the board identifies volume and weight capacity. Manufacturers combine these 3 dimensions in various ways to achieve various performance qualities (find the length, width, and thickness sections of this short article).
A paddleboard’s volume, shown in liters, shows its capability to float with weight. The greater the volume, the more the board can support. You can discover the volume for a board size listed in the specifications on REI.com.
Paddle boards have rider weight capacities listed in pounds on REI.com. Knowing weight capacity is important because if you’re too heavy for a commission, it will usually ride lower in the water and be inefficient to paddle. When thinking of weight capacity, consider the total weight you will place on the board, including your body weight and the mass of any equipment, food, and drinking water you’ll take with you.
Volume and weight capacity relative to hull type: Most planing-hull boards are flexible, so as long as you’re listed below the weight capacity, the board will yield great performance. Nevertheless, with displacement hulls, volume and weight capacity are more significant. SUP makers spend a great deal of time determining the most efficient position for boards to be in the water. If you are too heavy for a displacement board and it sinks too low, it will drag and feel slow. If you’re too light for a board, you will not sink it enough and the board will feel heavy and difficult to control.
The length of SUP boards plays a major role in figuring out how the board handles. In general, longer boards are much faster than shorter boards, however, much shorter boards are more maneuverable. Here’s a guide for deciding what SUP to purchase:
Brief boards (under 10′) are great for surfing and/or kids. These boards usually have a planning hull. Brief boards are more maneuverable than long boards, making them fantastic for surfing waves and sports. Boards created particularly for kids are usually around 8′ long.
Medium boards (10′ to 12′) are perfect for all-around use and for SUP yoga. Most of these boards have planing hulls, but at some point, you’ll discover a displacement-hull SUP at this length.
Longboards (12′ 6″ and above) are excellent for quick paddling and long-distance touring. The majority of boards in this size variety are displacement-hull SUPs. They’re faster than short and medium boards and tend to track straighter. If you’re interested in paddling fast or exploring longer distances, you’ll desire a longboard.
When selecting a length, it’s helpful to know how it relates to volume and weight capacity. Longer SUP boards can increase the capacity, making it feel more steady and allowing you to carry more on the board (thickness and width are also factors).
Consider your kind of car, home storage situation, and distance of the walk to the beach or coast (longer boards are more difficult to carry around, specifically in windy places).
Width is another important element that affects how the board performs. Broader paddleboards will constantly be more steady than a skinny SUP board, however, keep in mind that broad paddleboards can be slower and, if the board is too large for you, challenging to paddle. SUPs are made in widths varying from about 25 inches as much as 36 inches to accommodate a variety of needs.
When picking how broad your SUP should be, think of the paddling you do, your physique, and your ability level.
Kind of paddling: If you’re going on long tours that need you to carry additional gear, like a cooler, a camping tent, and your dog, choose a larger SUP board in order to have more storage space. The same holds true if you’re doing SUP yoga; wide paddleboards will give you the area and stability for postures. On the other hand, narrower boards are quicker and more maneuverable, making them right for racing and surfing.
Physique: Try to match the width of the SUP to your body type. In general, if you’re a little person, opt for narrower paddleboards; if you’re a big person, choose a larger board. This is because a smaller individual can typically discover their balance on a narrow board, whereas a larger person might struggle. Likewise, if you put a smaller-sized individual on a board that is too big for them, they need to awkwardly reach out to the side to get their paddle in the water, resulting in an ineffective stroke.
Ability level: If you’ve paddled a lot, you might be comfortable on a narrower, faster SUP. However, somebody brand new to stand-up paddleboarding might prefer additional space to help them feel more secure.
Just like length, width affects the total volume and weight capability, so pick one with this in mind. For example, if you’ve figured out the length you want based on the paddling you want to do, you can pick a width (and/or thickness; see the SUP Thickness section of this article) that gives you the suitable board size.
After finding a board with the right length and width for your paddling method, consider a 3rd aspect: board density.
The main factor to consider in the density of an inflatable stand-up paddleboard is because of how it affects the overall volume and weight capacity. If you’re comparing boards of the same length and width but different thicknesses, the thicker board has more mass than the thinner one and the higher the volume, the more it can support.
Here’s how you may use thickness: You’ve determined to find a long, skinny board for cruising fast on flat water. If you’re a small individual, choosing a thin board will keep the overall volume of the board lower so that you’re effectively weighing the SUP for the most efficiency.
SUP stand-up paddleboard fins
Fins add tracking and stability to stand-up paddleboards. In general, larger fins with broader bases and longer leading edges will track straighter and provide more stability than smaller-sized fins. On the other hand, a smaller fin provides much better maneuverability. Many fins are removable, so you can switch them out and take them off for storage.
There are many different choices for how fins are configured on the bottom of your SUP. Some popular configurations include:
Many boards consist of a single fin put in a finbox and secured with a nut and screw. The finbox has a channel for the fin. The single fin provides great tracking and very little drag, making it a good choice for flatwater paddling.
Also called a trustee, this setup promotes straight tracking on flatwater and uses good control in surf. All 3 are usually about the same size and are a good option if you plan to do surf sports.
2+1 fin setup
This configuration consists of a bigger center fin with a smaller one on each side. This is a typical setup on touring boards.
Fins for inflatable SUPs
Inflatable SUPs can have any of the fins and setups currently noted. What sets them apart is that they include either versatile rubber fins attached to the boards or removable semi-rigid ones.
Depending on how you plan to use your SUP, you may wish to choose a stand-up paddleboard with additional features.
Sometimes situated on the front and rear of the stand-up paddleboard, these stretchy straps or tie-down spots are great for securing dry bags, clothes and coolers.
Some boards have specific attachment points for fishing-rod holders, seats, video cameras, and more. These devices are normally offered separately.
After buying a SUP, you require just a few more crucial pieces of equipment to enjoy your first-time stand-up paddleboarding.
A SUP paddle looks like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a tear-drop-shaped blade that angles forward for optimum paddling efficiency. The right-length paddle will rise to your wrist when you stand the paddle up in front of you and raise your arm above your head. Read about sizing paddles in our short guide, SUP Paddles: How to Choose.
PFD (Personal Flotation Device)
The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand-up paddleboards as vessels (when used outside the narrow limitations of swimming or browsing locations), and you must use a PFD. Learn how to choose the ideal PFD in our guide, PFDs: How to Choose. Remember that the regulations also require you to bring a safety whistle and have a light if you’re paddling the surf after sunset.
For cool conditions where hypothermia is an issue, wear a wetsuit or dry fit. Wear shorts and a T-shirt or bathing suit in milder conditions – something that moves with you and can get wet but dries rapidly.
Typically offered individually, a leash tethers your SUP to you, keeping it nearby if you fall off. Your SUP is a large flotation device, so being attached to it can be essential for your safety. There are leashes designed particularly for surf, flatwater, and rivers. Be sure to purchase the appropriate one for your intended use.
Cars and truck rack
Unless you have an inflatable SUP, you need a way to transport your stand-up paddleboard to your automobile. There are SUP racks created to go on the crossbars of your roofing system rack, or you can utilize padding such as foam and straps to secure stand-up paddleboards to your vehicle.
Now you’re ready for your first trip around the lake or surf with your new stand-up paddleboard! Whether you’re pregnant, you work a Mon-Fri job and want SUP boarding as a hobby to relieve stress, or you intend to compete in paddleboarding sports, you can find the perfect SUP board on our site, which offers excellent customer service and the best brands.
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