Maybe you’ve rented a few times or borrowed a friend’s stand up paddle board. Or maybe you know you’ll love the sport and are ready to dive right in to new gear. Regardless, it’s always a wise idea to do a little research to pin point the board that’s best for you. With a properly sized board constructed for your ability, you will be more likely to enjoy the sport and to get outside to paddle more often. Our suggestions below will give you the confidence you need to select a board that’s right for you.
Before getting into the logistics of board lengths and widths, stew on these thoughts…
- Can you get the board to and from the water by yourself? If you haven’t noticed, stand up paddle boards are MASSIVE! You might be a five foot tall bundle of athletic energy, but if you are physically unable to carry the board to and from the water by yourself, you’re bound to get quite frustrated. If it’s too heavy for you to carry, it’s going to be even more difficult to lift a water-logged board out of the water after your session.
- Can you stand up on your board in a variety of conditions? Sitting on your board when you’re first learning is fun and somewhat thrilling. That’ll get old real quick, however! If you’ll mainly be paddling in open ocean water as opposed to smooth inland lake water, keep in mind that a wider and longer board will allow you to balance better.
Next, ask yourself these next few questions…
- Where will you be doing most of you paddling (i.e. ocean, lake, river, etc.)?
- How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
- Have you ever paddle boarded before?
- Do you tend to pick up sports and physical activities quickly?
- Are you athletic?
Stand up paddle boards can be broken down into three simple categories. Like snowboards and bikes, different paddle boards will perform best in specific conditions. Check it out…
- Surf Specific – These boards are shorter and have a narrower nose and tail. They are less stable than other boards, but great for surf performance. However, surf specific paddle boards sacrifice stability to gain that performance.
- All-Round – Just like the name says, all-round boards are great for flat water as well as surfing. They are longer, wider, thicker and typically longer. They are perfect for just getting into sport because you can do everything with one board.
- Touring Board – Designed for flat water, touring boards are longer than other boards because giving them more glide. You can get more distance and cover more distance with a touring board with less effort. Some touring boards are narrower and are considered race boards. They are much faster due to their skinny width, but they are less stable.
Above all, your size in relation to the board is one of the most important aspects to consider. Volume is a great way to think about board size. The volume is what floats you, so it’s important to have the correct amount of volume for stability. Be sure to review the manufacture’s size recommendation before making a purchase.
Still confused? Chances are that you’ll be best matched up with a all-round board. You can’t go wrong with a board that will perform in all conditions and types of water. Whether it’s the beach or the lake house, you’ll be psyched with an all-round board. If you’re strictly looking to perfect your paddle surfing skills, then a surf specific board will keep you happy for years to come. And if racing and long distance paddling is your thing, go for a touring paddle board. For SUP beginners, more resources can be found in our Paddle Boarding for Beginners article.