Choosing a stand up paddle board
So you have decided to get yourself a SUP? Great idea!
The market for paddle boards has grown huge and there is a great variety of boards in all sizes and shapes. Depending on what you want to do and where you want to paddel there are different choices. Of course it also depends on your experience and your balance. If you already know how to surf waves or stand on a wind surf board that’s going to impact your ability to ride a SUP positively. If you have never done anything like that don’t worry, there’s the right SUP for everybody.
The basic factors you should consider are listed below.
>>> Please see our Reviews for further information on specific boards.
Generally speaking, the longer the board the faster it will be on the water. Also, longer boards are easier to paddle and most of the time bring more volume. A long board is harder to turn. That can be an advantage because it is easier to go in a straight line. Or it can be a disadvantage when you want to make quick turns.
The width greatly impacts the stability. If you are still working on your balance or are new to stand up paddling you should definitely go for a wider board. For beginners I recommend choosing a board with a width of 30″+. When you are a bit more exerienced and want to go for speed a narrow board can give you a better performance.
A board with more volume floats better, is more stable and is harder to sink. It also floats higher in the water and has less resistance when paddling. So it is easier to paddle and way easier to catch small waves. You should also consider your body weight when choosing the right board. The lower your weight the smaller (or lower in volume) the board you can ride. Generally speaking for a beginner the board volume in liters should be at least twice his/her body weight in kilograms.
The increased stability of a board with high volume also means that it is going to be harder to maneuver. So it is always a matter of finding the right balance between stability and maneuverability.
If you look at a board from the side you will see how much rocker it has. Rocker is a term that comes from surfing and describes how much the board is bent. A very straight board has no rocker and is best for flat water paddling because the area that touches the water is maximized. If your plan is to go wave riding you will need some rocker so that the nose of the board does not dive into the water when you go down the face of a wave.
Another thing to consider is the nose and tail shape. How does the board look in the front and in the back? On race boards you will see a very pointy nose and tail, just like on a race kayak. These boards cut through the water like a knife with very little resistance. That’s why they are so fast. But that also makes them hard to turn and very unstable. With a wider tail you can turn more smoothly.
Looking at the fins of SUP boards there are mainly three different set-ups that are common. A single fin just has one big fin in the middle that is needed to keep the board going in a straight line. You will often find this on touring SUPs. If you are going for the surf it is better to have a three fin (thruster) or four fin (quad) setup. The reason for this is that in a sharp turn the center fin might be coming up out of the water and you are going to loose stability with the board sliding away under your feet. With the additional fins on the side there is always going to be one fin that is still in the water. The side fins also increase the forward stability so you do not have to use that big of a center fin which makes your turns a lot easier.
Inflatable or Hard SUP
This very much depends on what you want to do with your SUP and how you plan to transport and store it. An inflatable SUP (or ISUP) does not reach 100% of the stiffness that you get from a hard board. Although the current high-tech ISUPS reach incredible pressure, if you need maximum performance you might want ot get a hard board. What makes inflatables very attractive is the easy transport and storage. Most of the boards compact down to the size of a large backpack and fit in any car or storage closet. Another thing to consider is that inflatable SUPs are perfect for occasions where you are likely to bump against some rocks. The material is very durable and even a hard knock will not leave a dent like it would with traditional boards. So if you like paddling down shallow rivers (like we do) an inflatable will probably last you longer.
There are a few other factors and extras you might want to consider when looking for your perfect board. For example some boards have attached D-rings that enable you to tie down stuff or others have an extra large pad which is great for SUP yoga which seems to be all the buzz right now. We will always make sure to mention these features in our reviews.
I hope the above information helps you decide which board to choose. Check out our reviews for detailed information on specific boards.
If, after browsing around our site, you still have questions or need more help making a decision please do not hesitate to contact us here.