Buying a Stand Up Paddle Board
Stand up paddle boarding is an excellent way to get fit, seek recreation, and spend quality time with family and friends. With its increasing popularity, there's a ton of people who are deciding to take the plunge and buy their first stand up paddle board (SUP), the question is however, just what type, size, and brand is the best fit?
There are quite a few different shapes and sizes of paddle boards out there on the market currently, so we are going to breakdown some of the main features to consider when buying yours. At the end of the day, there's no bad choice when it comes to buying a paddle board, just a series of feature options that will complement certain activities and potentially create a more enjoyable riding experience.
First Off - What are the Different Types of Paddle Boards?
There are quite a few different styles of stand up paddle boards out there, depending on activity. When deciding on which model to buy, you will have to consider your own size, the activities you intend to do, and what sort of features you would like your paddle board to have. Based on these factors, the key decision points will then be the shape of the board, its volume capacity, as well as it's length, width and thickness. Whether you choose a solid or inflatable board will likely come down to how you wish to transport it and how much storage space you have, and from there you can also consider any extras or accessories that you may need.
Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards
Inflatable paddle boards are ideal for anyone who is on the go and is looking for a board that is easily transportable. Most inflatable boards pack down into their case to a size of about a large backpack, making them easy to throw into any vehicle! To use these boards, you simply inflate them with the pump like you would an air mattress and you're ready to go!
Inflatable boards are great for beginners or those pursuing paddle boarding as leisure. They are generally easy to maneuver, have decent speed, and good stability. These models are often cheaper than their hard paddle board counter parts, making them the perfect first board.
All-Around Stand Up Paddle Boards
All-around paddle boards are great for beginners and those who are unsure of what type of board they would like and don't have specific activities in mind for their paddle boarding adventures. These boards are super stable and built to handle most water conditions. The main drawback of choosing an all-around paddle board is that they tend to be slower than touring paddle boards, and less agile than surf paddle boards.
All in all, the all-arounds are incredibly versatile, so as a beginner or someone in search of a board for leisure, they are a great fit!
Surfing Stand Up Paddle Boards
Made for the avid paddleboarders and surfers who spend a ton of time on the water! These paddle boards are typically more egg shaped, making them slightly slower to paddle, but very easy to maneuver. Surf paddle boards come in a variety of lengths, but as a rule, beginners should stick to longer boards, and size down as they gain more expertise. These boards are recommended for experts who are chasing waves and serious about their ride!
Yoga Stand Up Paddle Boards
Yoga paddle boards need to be wide to provide major stability when practicing yoga poses on the water. Some also come equipped with softer surfaces to provide maximize comfort when practicing. All in all—these boards will be wider than standard boards, meaning more balance but less speed and maneuverability. Stand up paddle board yoga is both challenging and relaxing, making it a great daily ritual when out at the lake!
Board Length & Width
Stand up paddleboards vary in size from 9 feet to over 12 feet long, and from roughly 30 to 35 inches wide. As a general rule, the wider the board, the more stable it is. That being said, the wider you go the harder it becomes to paddle, so a narrower paddle board will provide more maneuverability. For length, longer boards will be faster and reach higher speeds with less paddling effort. The main limitation on length is how big of a board you are willing to store and transport.
For beginners, we recommend an all around board that is around 10' 6" long and 31"-35" wide. A board with these dimensions will be well suited for the widest range of activities, heights, weights, and user needs!
Short boards that are less than 10 feet long are ideal for surfing and for kids, these typically fall in the 8 to 9 foot range. These boards have a weight threshold of about 220 pounds, varying slightly from board to board.
Medium boards, ranging from roughly 10 to 12 feet long, are great for all around use and stand up paddle board yoga. These boards hold up to about 265-300 pounds, depending on the model. Overall, medium length boards are the most versatile and would be our top recommendation to a beginner paddle boarder!
Long boards, from about 12.5 feet to 14 feet, are great for fast and long distance paddling. Keep in mind that with longer paddle boards you are sacrificing significant maneuverability in order to attain speed. The majority of these boards support up to 300 pounds, with some reaching up to 350 pounds.
Width at a Glance
As for width, as a general rule the wider you go, the more stability you have, which is a great feature for leisure paddling, SUP yoga, beginner surfing, and whitewater paddling. Remember that the wider you go, the harder your board will be to paddle and maneuver. For most every day riders this will not not be overly noticeable, and these users will still be able to do a wide range of activities without issue.
Volume & Capacity
Paddle boards also come in a wide range of volume capacities, which impact the boards ability to carry weight and float appropriately. When calculating your weight, be sure to include any gear you plan on taking with you on your board, or if you plan on bringing a pet, or extra person along on your journeys. When deciding whether or not a paddle board has the appropriate weight limit for you, we recommend factoring in an additional 15 pounds above and beyond previous calculations to give yourself some wiggle room with capacity.
Ideal Volume Calculation
We recommend the following formulas to find the perfect volume range for your stand up paddleboard! Specifications change slightly as your skill level increases, but these calculations should get you right in the sweet spot for volume capacity.
Beginner Paddle Board Volume Calculation
For beginners and those looking for a leisure board, simply multiply your body weight in pounds by 1.1-1.4 to find the perfect volume range (in liters) for your paddle board.
Intermediate Paddle Board Volume Calculation
At this stage, you probably already have a good idea of what type of board you're looking for based on your preferred activities and goals. That being said, volume capacity is still a very important factor, so intermediate riders should multiply their body weight in pounds by 0.9 to 1.1 to find their ideal paddle board volume.
For example: You are an intermediate rider, you weigh 185 pounds, and you plan on paddling with 15 pounds of gear, so your total weight is 200 pounds.
200 pounds multiplied by 0.9 equals 180 liters. (200 x 0.9 = 180)
200 multiplied by 1.1 equals 220 liters. (200 x 1.1 = 220)
This means your ideal volume capacity range is between 180 and 220 liters. Falling anywhere within this range will be perfect! You could also choose to use the ratio from the beginner calculation (1.1-1.4) if you expected to be carrying additional items at some point.
There are quite a few factors to consider when buying a stand up paddle board, with the main points being length, width, weight capacity, and volume. Making sure your paddle board meets your desired weight requirement should be your number one priority, and after that you can make the call on length and width depending on your activity needs!
Still have questions? Come visit our knowledgeable staff in store today to make sure you get the right stand up paddle board for you.