Overview

The variety of Stand Up Paddle Board options can become confusing for 1st time buyers.

1st consider your intended usage (cruising, fitness, racing, surfing, fishing) and consider the types of water you will be navigating (flat water, choppy). Next, determine the appropriate board size based on your weight & intended use. You also should consider storage & transportation – inflatables are growing in popularity because of their portability & ease of storage. Now you can select the best board for you.

Recreational “All Around” SUPs

Applications: Fitness, cruising, fishing
Shape: Wide nose & tail to increase stability
Sizes: L = 8′ – 12′ W = 30″ – 35″
*These are great for beginners, those interested in a variety of applications and/or boards purchased for multiple different users.

Recreational Cruisers “Rec Cruiser Hybrids” are the Most Common Type of SUP

Touring “Cruising” SUPs

Applications: Great for fitness & endurance training. Faster & straighter than All Around style boards.
Shape: Slightly narrower in the nose & tail compared to All Arrounders. Typically the hull (bottom) is designed like a kayak (displacement hull) to improve gliding speed & directional stability.
Sizes: L = 10′ – 14′ W 28″ – 32″
*These boards are a little less stable & won’t turn as sharp as the All Around boards, but provide good speed & directional stability.
*Great for beginners or novices looking to go on long journeys or train for racing.
*Most common type of SUP

Race SUPs

Application: Racing (recreational & competitive) – not recommended for beginners
Shape: Very long, narrow body with a pointed nose & displacement hull
Sizes: L = 12′ 6″ – 19′ W = 24″ – 29″
*Often made from lightweight carbon-fiber + a hollow core, reducing weight by 30-50%.
*Ultimate speed, glide & directional stability.
*Very Difficult to turn & unstable. 

 Fishing SUPs

Application: Fishing, Tandem, Heavy Cargo Trips
Shape: Wide, long body similar to All Around SUPs
Sizes: L = 10′ – 17′ W = 30″ – 44″
*Often designed with pilot holes & other accessories for installing a cooler, fishing pole, etc.
*These are also growing in popularity among fisherman. Paddleboards are able to go a lot of places boats cannot.

 PaddleSurf SUPs

Application: Surfing, Surf Training
Shape: Shorter than most other paddleboards with pointed noses & various types of surfboard style tails
Sizes: L = 7′ – 11′ W = 28″ – 33″
*Recommended for surfers or paddlers looking to learn how to surf.

Inflatable SUPs (Recreation, River/Rapids)

Applications: All Around usage – great for river / rapids paddling
Shape: Typically similar to that of an All Around style board
Sizes: Variable – similar to All Around
*Great for traveling & easily transportable (come in backpacks usually)
*Don’t let the term “inflatable” scare you – quality inflatable SUPs rival the rigidity & performance of fiberglass boards.
*Growing in popularity due to ease of transportation & surprising performance that rivals fiberglass boards.

Size Factors

Length

Paddleboards range from 7′ – 20′ in length. Longer boards offer better glide & increased speed, while reducing maneuverability. Paddlesurf SUPs are typically the shortest, while Racing SUPs the longest. Most All Around & Cruising boards are between 9′ – 13′.

 Thickness

Boards will range from around 4″ – 5″ in thickness in the center. Typically boards will thin out near the nose & tail areas to around 2″. Thicker boards will support more weight, but stability may be reduced if the rider is too light for the board. If to thin, then the board may sink a little. Most boards are 4.5″ – 5″ thick in the center and 1.5″ – 2.5″ in the nose & tail areas.

 Width

SUPs range from 24″ – 44″ wide. Wider boards offer more stability, while reducing glide & speed. Fishing SUPs are the widest, while racing SUPs are narrow. Most All Around & Cruising boards are between 29″ – 33″ wide.

Weight

Construction & size primarily determine board weight. Construction includes the type of core (i.e. hollow, foam) & outer material (i.e. fiberglass, carbon, plastic) used to make the board. In general, most boards are light – unless they are made out of wood (very heavy. Carbon & inflatable boards are lighter than fiberglass boards, but not by a lot. More durable fiberglass boards will weight a little more due to the added layer(s) of fiberglass. Typically boards between 10′ – 12′ range from 25lbs – 35lbs.

Hull

Primarily effects speed & glide, stability & manuverability.

PLANING HULLS

Flat and stable, but slower than V-Shape & Rounded hulls with moderate maneuverability.

V-SHAPE HULLS

Fast with great glide & descent maneuverability, less stable than planing hulls, but more stable than discplacement hulls.
* Hybrid models have V-Shaped + Planing Hull (Blending Tip-to-Tail)

DISPLACEMENT HULLS

(rounded) Fastest with the most glide, but the least stable of the 3 & difficult to turn.

**Most hulls are hybrids – using a combination of the above hull designs.

 Rails

Effect Stability & Maneuverability Moderately

Downturned Rail

Downturned rails come to a sharp edge at the hull and turn well, but are a little less stable.

Rounded, Rolled & Egg Shaped Rails

Stable, but don’t turn quite as well in certain conditions.

Tail

SQUARE

Most common tail on SUPs. Very stable due to more surface area & turn well

FISH / SWALLOW

Fish shaped tail used on surf style SUPs. Turns well & good for stability.

PIN

Often used on racing boards. It won’t improve stability or help manueverability, but does improve glide.

WING / ROUNDED

Wing tails actually start on the rail & making a sharp edge, reducing surface area & making it easier to turn. It is then rounded similar to a square tail.



Construction

 Most SUPs are made from an EPS foam core wrapped in fiberglass. Boards are also made from carbon (with or without a hollow core), plastic (rotomolded), Soft top, Inflatable & wood.

 Fiberglass Boards use an EPS foam core (1.5-2.5lb density) & 2-3 layers of fiberglass on the deck & hull. Quality boards will have 2 6oz layers of fiberglass on the hull & 3 6oz layers on the deck. Cheaper boards will have 2 4oz layers for the hull & deck – these boards will crack & puncture much easier than the high quality boards.

Lightweight carbon with a hollow core is commonly used for race boards. It is very lightweight – but expensive.

Plastic boards are much cheaper & heavier than other options. These are best left for rentals or small children.

Inflatables are very durable, light & easy to transport. Made from PVC with a nylon drop-stitched core – they are nearly as rigid as fiberglass boards & comparable in performance.

Softtop SUPs are commonly used as rental boards. Basically the deck pad surrounds the board & protects it against damage. Great if taking your dog out!

Wood boards are beautiful, but heavy & expensive. We recommend fiberglass boards with bamboo veneers instead – same appearance – but much cheaper & lighter.

We construct our boards using the lightest materials & a commitment to durability. At 18oz of fiberglass on the deck, our boards are above the industry standard of 10-14oz, offering  a higher level of impact resistance / durability. Board rails typically take on the most impact, so we reinforce all of ours with 2 additional layers of fiberglass. In addition, our fin boxes, leash plugs & carrying handles are all reinforced with additional fiberglass & pvc. By utilizing super light, 1.5oz EPS foam in the core, these high strength boards remain extremely light.

Features

Fins

Essential for directional stability. If you ever go paddle without a large center fin, you will notice the board fishtails from side to side as you paddle…

LARGE CENTER FIN

Provide solid tracking & directional stability while still allowing sharp turns. Typically removable from a fin box / fin receiver.

TRI-FIN

Common on surfboards & surf SUPs offering excellent maneuverability during high wave conditions.

RACE FIN

Longer & more rigid than standard center fins with various modifications thought to improve tracking.

RUBBER TRI-FIN

Inflatable SUPs typically use 3 rigid, rubber fins attached to the board.

 Air-Vents

ex. GorTex 2-Way Air Vent
These act as a bodyguard for your SUP, protecting against damage due to extreme heat & pressure changes that cause the EPS core to expand & contract.

Low-quality paddleboards tend to use cheaper, 1-way vents that require manual regulation, if an air vent is installed at all.
Higher-quality SUPs use 2-way, self-regulating Air-Vents, alleviating the need manually open/close the vent periodically.

NinjaFit Gortex Air Vents flow over 40 ml/min & were 0riginally designed for sealed military electronics, meeting stringent Military Saltwater Specs.

 Carrying Handles

On-Board Handle vs In-Board Handle

These are located near the center of the boards & are installed in 1 of 2 ways: in-board or on-board.

 Deck Pads

Provide comfort & traction for paddlers.

Work great also for those looking to perform yoga or various other excursuses that require you to lay in various positions on the board.

Typically made from EVA foam.

Fins

Essential for directional stability. If you ever go paddle without a large center fin, you will notice the board fishtails from side to side as you paddle…

LARGE CENTER FIN

Provide solid tracking & directional stability while still allowing sharp turns. Typically removable from a fin box / fin receiver.

TRI-FIN

Common on surfboards & surf SUPs offering excellent maneuverability during high wave conditions.

RACE FIN

Longer & more rigid than standard center fins with various modifications thought to improve tracking.

RUBBER TRI-FIN

Inflatable SUPs typically use 3 rigid, rubber fins attached to the board.

 Leash Plugs

Installed in-board typically near the tail (back) of the board.

Obviously these are essential for attaching a leash but can also be used to tie on with other boards or watercraft.


Paddles

Material

CARBON-FIBER or KEVLAR

Generally the best option for shaft & blade. Very lightweight & durable.

FIBGERGLASS

A descent option for shaft &/or blade. Heavier though than carbon & not as impact resistant.

PLASTIC or ALUMINUM

Cheap options. Heavier & less durable than carbon or fiberglass. Not recommended.

BAMBOO

A very nice blade material. Lighter than carbon & very strong, combined with a carbon shaft makes for an extremely light paddle.

WOOD

Heavier & less durable than carbon or fiberglass. Aesthetically pleasing though. Ranges in price from cheap to expensive depending on the type of wood. Commonly combines with a carbon or fiberglass reinforcement on the blade.

Blade Design

Rounded Blades

Dihedral Blades

Dihedral blades offer a more efficient stroke by the way they channel the water passed the blade

Dehedrial Contour Blade

Size

Blade sizes are measured in surface area (in). Most blades are between 95-105 in^2.

More surface area means more bang for your buck – but requires more strength.

 Length

Paddles are typically 6-15″ taller than the rider & consist of a handle, shaft & blade.

Shorter paddles are used for surfing (6-8″) while racers will use longer paddles to increase reach (11-15″).

Most paddles for cruising are 9-10″ above the rider’s height. We recommend 9″ as a good height.

The shaft is typically bent forward at the blade to provide a more efficient stroke & more reach.

Paddles commonly weight between 20 – 25oz (600 – 700g).

Additional Info

Adjustable paddles are also available. They typically come in 2 or 3 piece models. Great for multiple users or applications.
SUP Paddle Handle | Ergonomic Palm Grip

Handles are primarily T-shaped or Palm Grip design – select whichever one you desire. We recommend palm grip handles but some people may prefer the T-grip.

3-piece adjustables are commonly purchased with inflatables since they come apart & travel well with the inflatable, usually fitting in the same backpack.
Carbon 3-Piece Adjustable Paddle | Carbon