SUP Paddleboarding

SUP Paddleboards Buying Guide 1

Choosing a Stand up Paddleboard

Adventure. Exploration. Exercise. Balance. Escaping the digital world to enjoy your surroundings. Having fun. That’s what stand up paddleboarding is all about. Every time you hop on a board it’s a new journey with new sights, sounds, and challenges to appreciate.

Before you choose a SUP, there are points you will need to consider.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STAND UP PADDLE BOARDS?

There are four basic types of stand up paddle boards: surf/wave, all-round, and flat-water/touring/race, Yoga

Surf specific stand-up paddle boards are typically shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (curve) than all-round, and flat-water/race boards. Surf paddle boards are perfect if you are always going to spend your time in the surf. The narrow shape makes the board much more maneuverable on a wave, but the trade off is that is that they are slower and don’t track in a straight line on flat water and are also often less stable.

All-round boards are typically thicker, wider, and longer than surf specific models. These versatile, multi-purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all aspects of the sport with only one board. All-round boards are wide enough to be very stable, have decent glide and tracking for flat water paddling or open ocean touring, but also enough rocker and side-cut for decent surf performance. 

Flat-water boards are optimized for flat water, open ocean paddling. They are typically longer than all-round boards, and often have a nose area that is pointed to help the board slice through the water smoothly, increase glide and help the board go straight. The sides are usually rounded for more glide and speed. Most flat-water boards are wide enough to be stable for beginners, however race boards, which are in the same family, are narrower to increase the boards speed. The narrowness makes race boards challenging for beginner paddlers and are not recommended. If you are a paddler looking for more speed and efficiency, the touring models are a magnificent choice.

Yoga - Normally, a SUP yoga board is around 3.20 meters (10.6 feet) and 80 centimeters wide (32 inches). The boards are specially designed so that you can move easily.

DO I BUY A SOLID OR INFLATABLE SUP?

SOLID SUP BOARDS

Solid stand up paddle boards are built of many different materials from foam, fiberglass, Kevlar, plastics, and wood. Epoxy boards are made from a foam core laminated with layers of fiberglass for strength and rigidity.

Most solid stand up paddle boards have an air vent installed on the deck. Air vents are used as a way to help prevent delamination of the epoxy resin from the EPS foam blank.

Advantages:

  • No inflation time required. You can get straight out on the water.
  • Super stable with stronger wind or choppy water.
  • Ultimate performance regarding speed and agility or for tricks while surfing.

INFLATABLE SUP BOARDS

Inflatable stand up paddle boards (iSUPs) are manufactured from layers of PVC plastic with woven fibres connecting to the top and bottom inside the board and are surprisingly rigid once inflated. Inflatable SUPs tend to be a little lighter than many Solid boards because they are composed mostly of air.

Advantages:

  • Minimal storage space required as iSUPs pack-down into a backpack.
  • Easily fit into an airlines hold allowance for travelling abroad.
  • Perfect if you want to paddle in locations that are not easily reachable by car.
  • More affordable than solid SUPs.

WHAT SIZE BOARD DO I NEED?

Board volume and length are key factors when selecting the right size stand up paddle board.

SUP VOLUME

Use the formula below to estimate how much Volume you should be looking at in your board.

Beginners -  your weight in (kg) x 2 (e.g. 90kg x 2 = 180 litres)

Intermediates - your weight in (kg) x 1.7

Advanced - your weight in (kg) x 1.3

SUP LENGTH

  • Short boards (under 10’):Great for surfing and/or kids. These boards almost always have a planing hull. Short boards are more maneuverable than long boards, making them great for surfing waves. Boards designed specifically for kids are typically around 8’ long.
  • Medium boards (10’ to 12’): Ideal for all-around use and for SUP yoga. Most of these boards have planing hulls, but sometime you’ll find a displacement-hull SUP at this length.
  • Long boards (12’6” and above): Great for fast paddling and long-distance touring. The majority of boards in this size range are displacement-hull SUPs. They’re faster than short and medium boards and they tend to track straighter. If you’re interested in paddling fast or touring long distances, you’ll want a long board.

After purchasing a SUP, you need just a few more key pieces of equipment to enjoy paddle boarding. These include:

Paddle: A SUP paddle looks a bit like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a tear-drop-shaped blade that angles forward for maximum paddling efficiency. The correct length paddle will reach up to your wrist when you stand the paddle up in front of you and raise your arm above your head.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device): The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels (when used outside the narrow limits of swimming or surfing areas), so it is required that you wear a PFD. 

Proper clothing: For cool conditions where hypothermia is a concern, wear a wetsuit. In milder conditions, wear shorts and a T-shirt or bathing suit—something that moves with you and can get wet and dries quickly.

Leash: Typically sold separately, a leash tethers your SUP to you, keeping it close by if you fall off. Your SUP is a large flotation device, so being attached to it can be important for your safety. There are leashes designed specifically for surf, flat water and rivers; be sure to purchase the correct one for your intended use.