Not that long ago, it would have been rare to see a stand up paddle board (SUP) in the water. I know personally that when friends of mine started getting into SUPs, we used to give them a bit of stick over it. Funnily enough, a few years later I tend to hit the water more on my SUP than my surfboard!
Although it still takes time to master, the learning curve on using a SUP is a lot less steep than learning to surf. Admittedly, you would be best to learn to ride a SUP on flat water initially; it won’t take long to get in the ocean waves, if that is what you are looking to do.
But where do you start when it comes to choosing a stand up paddle board? Well, it really comes down to what type of paddling you want to do. You need to think about where you are most likely to be using your stand up paddle board. If you live close to a lake, it would make sense to buy a flat water SUP. Likewise, if you live near the ocean, a surfing SUP would be more suitable for you.
This SUP buyers guide will give you an insight into the different types of boards, which will allow you to make a better decision on what SUP would be best for you.
SUP buyers guide – Types of stand up paddle boards
These type of boards are great for those that are just starting out on a SUP, or who need a board that can surf both small waves and paddle across flat water (such as lakes). They tend to come in lengths of 10 foot 6 inches (10’6”) to twelve foot (12’). Widths range from thirty inches (30”) to thirty six inches (36”). If you are looking mainly to paddle across lakes, then go as wide and long as possible, as this will give you the best stability. If you are looking to hit the surf, you want a shorter board that is not as wide.
Remember, these types of boards are not designed for extreme flat water racing, or large waves – they are designed so you can get the best of both worlds.
SUP buyers guide recommendation: BIC Sport Dura-Tec Stand Up Paddleboard
If you are looking to purely surf waves with your SUP, then you want to go shorter in length (anything less than 10 foot – 10’ – is a good starting point). If you are coming off a surfboard, then choosing a narrow board should be perfectly fine, but for those just starting out, you want a decent width to help with stability. Thirty—thirty two inch (30”-32”) would be an ideal starting point.
These boards tend to be based off their surfboard cousins in terms of design – lots of rocker (the curvature of the board toward the nose), narrow tails, and different fin configurations.
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For those looking to get into stand up paddle board yoga (SUP Yoga), you are looking for a wide board for lots of stability. Ideally you want a fairly flat board with minimal rocker, and also a comfortable deck pad. Some Yoga SUPs have quite a square look – this makes them very stable in the water, but be aware it is not designed to paddle much more than out to suitable spot just offshore to practice your yoga.
Another good option for SUP Yoga is to use an inflatable paddle stand up paddle board.
SUP buyers guide recommendation: Tower Xplorer 14′ Inflatable Paddle Board
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These type of boards tend to be much longer than regular SUPs, and are also a lot less wide. They can range from 12 foot (12’) through to eighteen foot (18’) in length. Widths tend to range from twenty five inches (25”) through to thirty two inches (32”).
These boards need to plane through the water at high speed, and use many design techniques taken from sailing. They tend to use displacement hulls (indicated by their pointed nose), which allow the board to “slice” through the water.
These boards tend to be much more expensive, and are not really intended for beginner use.
SUP buyers guide recommendation: Surftech Lahui Kai Pro Elite
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Touring/flat water sups
These types of boards are designed for use on open flat water. Once you have got up to speed, it is a lot easier to keep going with little effort. These boards tend to be over ten foot six inches (10’6”) and most come with tie downs and storage areas, which can also make these a great choice for those that want to try their hand at fishing from a SUP.
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A relatively recent addition to the stand up paddle board family, the inflatable SUP is a great choice for those that do not have much storage space, or trouble transporting a regular size SUP to and from the water. Inflatable SUPs can fold away to a small size of approx. thirty two inches (32”) in some cases, and most come with a storage bag of some sort.
When inflated to their recommended PSI, these boards are as stable as their fibreglass/epoxy counterparts. In fact, some inflatable SUPs can be hard to distinguish from regular paddle boards.
These boards also make good SUP yoga boards.
SUP buyers guide recommendation: Tower Adventurer 9’10” Inflatable SUPback to menu ↑
Most SUPs come with paddles, but the majority of these paddles are made of aluminium. These are perfectly fine for the most part, but tend to be have, don’t float and are prone to corrosion if not washed after use in salt water. A good alternative is a carbon fiber paddle. These stand up paddle board paddles are lightweight, float and do not get affected by salt water. They do cost more, but if you are looking to get the best out of your paddling, it might be worth considering one of these as an investment.
SUP buyers guide recommendation: Greco Adjustable Carbon Fiber paddle
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Hopefully this SUP buyers guide has been helpful to you. Just remember to be honest with yourself regarding your skill level, and what it is you want to get out of stand up paddle boarding, and you are sure to make the right decision!