Whether you have had the opportunity to hop on a stand up paddle board while on vacation or are just interested in giving it a try, you might be ready to buy yourself a new SUP. And when you start to do a little shopping, you might be overwhelmed by all the different brands, models and types of SUPs on the market.
Instead of buying the first board that meets your budget or catches you eye, take a little time to familiarize yourself with the different types of stand up paddle boards. You will also want to take some time to determine what features you are interested in, such as the SUP’s length capacity, volume and weight. Let’s start your shopping for a SUP for beginners by getting to know the types of boards.
Different Types of Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs)
As you shop, two main types of stand up paddle boards will emerge as the most common. They are:
- racing/touring SUPs
- all-arounder SUPs
Though these are the most common types of boards, they are by no means all that is available. Let me explain what your options are so that you have a better idea of what type of board you need to buy for yourself.
Race, touring and downwind SUPs: For this type, you’ll notice that the design is similar to that of a kayak as the hull is rounded and the front end is pointed. It is generally longer than the other types if SUPs with a length of either 12’6″ or 14′ for it. This is also a more narrow board. Overall, the design of this board makes it fly through the water without requiring as much paddling effort. This type of SUP is best suited for:
- competitive paddleboarders
All arounders: This type of SUP generally ranges between 10′ and 12′ in length, with a width between 29″ and 36″ on average. The design is great for everything from recreational paddling to surfing, which is why this type of SUP is best for beginners. Water sports enthusiasts who will get the most use from this type of board include:
- paddleboard beginners
- fishing from the paddleboard
- paddleboarding on a calm lake
- paddleboarding near the shore
Hybrid SUPs: SUP hybrids are great for people who want versatility from their board. With this type of board, you can attach a seat for use as a sit-on-top kayak or you can use it like a traditional SUP. Some of these models even have a place for you to store your gear if you’re on a long trip, which is pretty cool. You will be the most use out of this type of stand up paddle boarding if you want to use it for:
- fishing (with a seat)
- light surfing
- easy paddleboarding
Surfing SUPs: For a little surfing without the need for a surfboard, this is your best bet. If you want to just do a little paddling in small waves, then opt for a wider surfing SUP. If you are more experienced, then choose a narrower surfing SUP for better wave riding. Of course, you can also surf with a stable all-arounder model. Just note that it is usually easier to maneuver the ones that are smaller and narrower.
SUPs for kids: If you have kids who are interested in doing a bit of SUPing, there are a few models designed with them in mind. Of course, you could also just buy a 8′ all-arounder model because the short board should be just the right size for kids to use on their own. And definitely go with an inflatable SUP for the kids since they are more lightweight and will be a softer surface for them to fall on.
SUPs for women: Some of the stand up paddle boards can be very heavy and awkward for women to carry, which is why a few manufacturers make boards specifically designed for women. These boards generally have a mid-section that is narrower so that it is easier for a woman to reach around the board. These boards are also ultra lightweight. Teens will also benefit from using this type of SUP.
The people over at StandUpPaddlingTV give a great summary of this section in the video below. Give it a watch before continuing reading to learn more about how to choose the best SUP.
How To Maintain Your Balance On A Stand Up Paddle Board
Being able to keep your balance while out on the water is the most important part of using a stand up paddle board. And the width of the board is probably the best indicator of a board’s stability.
Generally speaking, the wider the board, then the easier it is for you to balance because wide and thick boards are the best at displacing your weight in the water. However, you should not just automatically get yourself the widest SUP that you can find as the more narrow options usually maneuver better in the water.
When it comes to width, 36″ is probably about the widest stand up paddle board that you will find. But it is not just new paddle boarders learning to get their footing who best benefit from wide boards. In fact, this type of SUP is best for those who:
- have poor flexibility
- are larger in body size
- experienced a recent hip or leg injury
For beginners, you should start with a wider board and then move up to a thinner one after you get the hang of balancing on one. In fact, you might want to start out renting a larger board first so that you do not have to end up buying two boards for the superior maneuverability and lightweight body that you get from the thinner board.
What The Best Stand Up Paddle Board Length To Choose?
When it comes to the length of your stand up paddle board, it is important that you get one that best serves your body weight. Why? Because your board needs to displace the proper amount of water for your weight or you will not be supported enough out there. Fortunately, all the manufacturers put weight information out there for their boards.
An important thing to remember about the board length is that longer ones are not only heavier but also hard to carry. They can be especially challenging to carry in the wind when you’re walking to the water or your car.
Here are a few scenarios that might help you to determine which length of SUP will best meet your paddle boarding needs.
- A 10′ to 12′ long board is a good option for paddleboarders who are just looking for a relaxing time out in the water or beginners to paddleboarding.
- A 12.6′ or 14′ long is good for people interested in racing or touring, or people who plan to travel for several miles on the SUP. A board of this length is faster than short boards.
- Get more maneuverability with shorter boards if you are an experienced surfer who knows how to handle a board out on the water.
When shopping, you will have the choice between solid SUPs and inflatable SUPs. The solid boards are generally the higher priced of the two and the heavier. They also require a lot of space for storage and transport.
On the other hand, the inflatables have a low price and roll up to fit in a carry pack that you can take with you anywhere and store in a closet or car trunk.
The price for a stand up paddle board can range anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. And the cheapest solid SUPs are made of very heavy plastic.
Boards can be used by more than one family member, whether at the same time if not over the weight limit or at different times. Just remember to get an adjustable paddle so that it works for everyone when sharing a board.
If you are ready to start shopping, then I suggest you take a look at my top picks for the best iSUPs.