Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner. If you’ve thought about getting in to stand up paddleboarding (SUP) now is great time to buy a board so that you don’t miss any of those early warm days.
One of your first considerations when choosing a board is your primary activity. Stand up paddleboards are designed for a specific use and while you might be able to use a touring board in the surf, it’s not going to perform as well as a surf specific board. Board types include surf, touring, racing, recreational and angler.
A surf specific board is typically a shorter board, no longer than 10 feet, and it’s very narrow. It also has a narrow nose and tail (front and back). Narrow boards are easier to maneuver in the surf but they are also going to be more difficult to stand on. If you’re going to be spending most of your time in surf zones instead of flat water check out the Space Pickle from Slingshot Sports or the Blacktip from SurfTech. If you want something that will perform in the surf but will also be comfortable in flat water you might like the Surfer from Imagine Surf.
A touring board is much longer than a surf specific board. It usually has a pointy nose that is designed to glide through flat water. These boards are usually wider to give you more stability on long paddles and they’re great for beginners. If you’re going to be spending most of your time in flat water like rivers, lakes, bays, and open ocean you should consider the Zephyr from Tahoe SUP or the Speeder from Imagine Surf.
A racing board is a type of touring board. They are usually much narrower than the touring board and typically have a displacement hull. These boards do not offer much stability and are considered more of an advanced board. Check out the Competitor from SurfTech or the Thunderbird from Tahoe SUP.
Recreational boards are great all-around boards. They’re longer than surf boards but usually shorter than touring boards. They’re typically narrower than touring boards but still wide enough to provide some stability. They will be able to perform in small surf but will also do very well in flat water. These are the most versatile boards and great if you think you might be going in a variety of waters. If you think a recreational board is right for you, check out the Dura-Tec from BIC SUP and the Universal from Surftech.
An angler board usually has a storage hatch or at least bungee storage and many give you the option to sit down and paddle or stand up and paddle. These are great boards if you’re going to be out fishing and need more storage than a typical board would offer. These boards are also wider and thicker to provide plenty of stability. Check out the Versaboard Angler from Native Watercraft or the Wizard Angler from Imagine Surf.
Once you decide on a board, you’re going to want to pick the right size. Boards come in many different length and width combinations so the best way to determine the “size” of the board is to look at the volume. The more volume a board has, the higher it will float in the water. You don’t want water over the top of your board while you’re paddling, but the higher the top of the board is above the water, the less maneuverability you have. The best way to find out the right size board for you is to simply try out the board. If this isn’t possible, look at the capacity of the board. This figure will give you the total weight that the board can comfortably float. Remember, this number is not just the weight of paddler, but you will need to add in the weight of your clothes, life jacket, and any gear you may have with you.
Another consideration is the material of construction of the board. The materials determine price, weight, and durability. A plastic board is usually going to be cheaper and more durable than fiberglass or carbon fiber but it will also be heavier. Fiberglass boards will be lighter but less durable and more expensive. Manufacturers are starting to layer fiberglass with more durable materials to increase the strength and lifetime of their boards. Carbon fiber boards are the lightest and are usually racing SUPs and designed for more advanced paddlers.
Hopefully that helps you get started on finding which board is right for you. We’re excited to be a part of this still growing sport and look forward to Outfitting Your SUP Adventure! As always, if you have any questions, comments or just want to share your SUP experience, comment below.