Stand up paddle boards are basically the chill version of surf boards. These boards are slightly larger, more accommodating and they require some paddling skills.
Most stand up paddle boards on the market are considered to be relatively large as they can range from 9 to 15 feet long, depending on the physical variables of the user. Also, they are slightly thicker than surf boards in order to keep the board over the surface at all times which will keep you and your cargo dry when you don’t feel like getting soaked.
Moreover, SUP boards are equipped with quite a few practical features that are missing in most boards out there. This, however, can change from one board to the other depending on the brand and the core material.
Not to be alarmed, stand up paddle boards are quite easy to man as they are far more stable and rigid than you would think. Actually, these boards are engineered to help the surfer maintain maximal balance even while standing which is why they are called ‘stand’ up paddle boards.
If you’re not convinced that you should get your hands on one of these as quickly as possible then consider what you’ll be missing.
Stand up paddle boards are great for outgoing people who are interested in discovering new places, meeting new people and diving into some of the most exciting experiences you can ever have.
Another great thing about SUP boards is that they are very easy to use, making them perfect for people who have never tried anything similar and would like to give it a go. So, pick yours up and let the adventure begin.
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SUP board volume and weight capacity :
It’s not rocket science, a larger board volume = higher weight capacity. Not all SUP boards are designed for you and that makes it very important that you pay attention to two essential aspects of any stand up paddle board: Volume and weight capacity.
- Volume : The volume of a stand up paddle board is mainly expressed in liters and it gives you a more or less exact idea of how much weight it can handle.Don’t get things mixed up, just because a board is longer doesn’t mean it has a larger volume. Actually, the volume of a board depends a lot more on the width and thickness of the hull or body. So, when you’re making your purchase, make sure to aim for at least 4 inches thick or higher boards because anything under that is at risk of sinking under your weight.
- Weight capacity : Every stand up paddle board has a specific weight capacity which is often listed on the board’s description in pounds. Being aware of the weight capacity of an interesting board is crucial because if it can’t support you then what good is it?
SUP board length :
The length of your board is also very important as it determines what type of riders it can support and most important what kind of activities it can perform.
Also, you might want to consider the length of the board in parallel to your car’s capacity, the free space in your garage and how long do you need to carry it (If you get an inflatable board then you don’t need to worry about any of that).
- Boards under 9 ft long : Short boards are easier to man and great for surfing but what they’re not great for is adults. These boards are more suitable for kids and young adults and teenagers. Keep that in mind.
- Boards under 12 ft long : Depending on the body type of the board, these SUP boards are great for calm water cruising, meditation, yoga and even kayaking. Also, these are more suitable for teenagers and young adults.
- Boards under 14 ft long : Large stand up paddle boards can gain a lot more speed than smaller ones and they can track a lot better too. In case you’re into racing or touring for long distances, you’ll probably appreciate a long board far more than a smaller one.
How does SUP”ing compare to other water sports?
Compared to other water sports such as Kayaking, surfing or water skiing, stand up paddle boarding is considered to be more easy-going and also a lot safer but not necessarily less exciting.
In fact, a stand up paddle board is not only good for paddling while standing, it can also be used as a diving base, a surf board on waves, a yoga pad and even as a kayak with the appropriate attachments.
Think about it this way, a SUP board is the older wiser sibling of a surf board. If you want to take the wild ride then sure you can get a surf board but if you want something far more stable and resourceful then you’re looking for a SUP board.
Let me explain, there are only a few things that you can do on a surf board for example but a stand up paddle board is designed specifically so that you’re able to work out on top of it, do Yoga, fishing, meditate, race and everything else that can be done with a surfboard.
SUP Boards Types
Surf Specific SUP boards are basically the most common type of SUP boards because they are simply cool. These boards are very attractive and excellent at keeping you amused and excited.
They are usually shorter and also thinner than other types which will enable the surfer to be more agile and flexible on the board. On the other hand, these boards are also known for being slower and messier at tracking in a straight line. If this sounds like your thing, make sure to check it out.
All-round SUP boards are relatively chunkier than the surf SUP boards in all dimensions. However, these boards can serve various purposes which will allow you to experience a wider perspective than that of a surf SUP board. Hence, these boards are versatile which means they are more stable and a lot better at tracking on water. Nevertheless, these boards can still perform significantly well on small to medium size waves and strong currents.
PS: Some all-around boards are often equipped with mast feet fitting in order to make it possible to install a sailing rig which is another awesome reason to get one of these.
Last but not least is the Flat-water stand up paddle boards which are technically giants. These boards are known for being longer than most boards in the market because they are specifically optimized for flat water and open ocean paddling.
Accordingly, these boards are very effective at getting you from point A to point B with the wind on your side. However, when it’s not then sailing them becomes quite a difficult task, considering their size.
A Flat-water SUP board is known for its pointed nose and slender edges which help it slice through the water smoothly, glide and help the board go straight.
Race SUP boards are known to be more slimmer than Flat-water SUP boards, making them considerably faster as you might imagine. Nonetheless, if you’re a beginner then I strongly advise you to commit to the standard Flat-water board as it is far more friendly and reliable.
SUP Hull Types
The shape, or body type, of your stand up paddle board will determine to a great extent its overall performance. But don’t worry, there are only two types out there and if you read this guide carefully, it should be easy to make up your mind on which body type you’re into.
Displacement Hull/Body: Long distance + Racing
These boards are known for their pointy noses and sharp edges, giving them the shape of a kayak and perhaps even the performance of one. That is to say, this type of boards is designed to slice through water easily and effectively in order to gain a maximum of speed in relatively no time. Also, displacement hulls are often longer and narrower which reduces water resistance to a great extent, making them even easier to navigate regardless of their size.
Planning Hull/body: A board for everything
Planning boards are typically shaped like a surf board but a lot larger. That means, this type of boards is often denoted by their round noses and larger platforms.
Accordingly, these SUP boards are a lot easier to man as they are far more stable than displacement SUP boards which is why most beginners often opt of SUP boards with a planning hull design.
To sum it up, if you’re more or less a beginner then you’d be way happier with a planning stand up paddle board as it’ll enable you to surf, paddle, kayak and a lot more than you can achieve with a displacement hull.
Solid or Inflatable SUP board?
Now to the most important question of the day: Solid or inflatable?
Solid boards have been the norm for quite a long time in the industry and over the years, they have proven to be very ‘solid.’ However, there’s a new competitor now and it’s coming strong.
Inflatable boards are literally taking over the market of water sports at the moment and for many reasons too. One of which, these boards are a lot cheaper but a low price tag isn’t always a positive indicator. Indeed, it is of paramount importance to filter through brands and items as much as needed in order to make sure that you’re getting a reliable product. If you got that right then you cannot go wrong with a SUP board.
- Solid SUP boards : Cons
- Almost impossible to repair
- Hard to transport / store
- Solid SUP boards : Pros
- Aesthetic / authentic
- Inflatable SUP Board : Pros
- Beginner friendly
- Safe and easy to transport / store
- Sturdy but flexible
- Inflatable SUP Board : Cons
- Relatively slower than a solid board
- Not fully compatible with big waves
SUP Core Materials
Stand up paddle boards are just like any other product; they come in different shapes, price tags and most importantly different build materials and it is your duty to pick up the right one for you. Good luck with that.
EPS foam: SUP boards then can be made of EPS foam which is foam wrapped in fiberglass and epoxy which is a type of durable glue with exceptional bonding strength. Often, carbon fiber and plastic can also be used for stuffing. However, that can affect considerably the overall weight of the board.
Hollow core: Stand up paddle boards can also be Hollow and that is a type of boards made of strong plastic but a hollow core in order to decrease the weight of the board and increase its capacity to handle big users.
Polyurethane foam: Wood remains an excellent choice for SUP boards no matter how big. In the market, you might find boards that are made fully out of wood or partially; in both cases, they look very authentic and appealing to the eye. In general, wood is light, durable and repairable, making it a reliable choice as well. Add to that a wooden paddle and you have yourself a piece of art.
Inflatables: Last but definitely not least are inflatable boards which are commonly made of military or industrial grade PVC material that is then reinforced with a double edged drop stitch, making them virtually unbreakable.
These boards are resourceful, sturdy and more flexible than most boards in the industry. (Insider’s tip: If you’re a beginner then this type of boards will suit your best).
When it comes to stand up paddle boards, there isn’t much you can say about their shared features but that’s until you include Inflatable SUPs which takes you to a whole other level. But before we jump into that, let’s talk about the prevailing feature amongst all boards and that is fins.
A lot of people undermine the role of board fins but the truth is they are far more influential than you’d think. In fact, the performance of a board depends greatly on whether you’re using the appropriate set of fins or not.
- Large single fin : These fins are designed to make it easier for you to manoeuvre the board, they are secured with a nut and screw and they often have a channel where they can slide back and forth.
- 3 fin setup: These fins are also known as thrusters as they can promote better tracking especially on flat water and an even easier control. It’s advisable to remove the central larger fin in shallow water.
- Race fins: These fins are a lot tougher than most as they are designed to provide better control over bigger boards and especially for downwind runs. These fins also make it a lot easier to track straight on wavy water.
- Inflatable SUP fins: These fins are a lot more flexible as they are mainly made of flexible rubber. They are very fitting and most importantly, they are often removable ones in order to grant you more options to explore.
Now back to the inflatable Vs solid feud.
The fact that it is an inflatable board enables so many more features that can only be accessed on an inflatable. For example, most inflatable stand up paddle boards come with a set of stainless steel D-rings that serve as hooks to secure cargo or to install a kayak seat.
Also, most iSUPs are equipped with several carry handles to make it easier for you to transport it or move it around when inflated.
Last but definitely not least is the premise that these boards can be deflated as quickly as they were inflated, giving you a whole new area to explore.
There isn’t much more SUPing than there is to surfing. The premise is still very much the same and all you’ll need are the basics.
Wet suit: First and foremost, if you’re a chilly billy or if it’s generally cold wherever you are, you might want to consider getting a nice wetsuit to help you blend with the water slowly and maintain some body heat.
Ankle leash: Also, SUPs are big, so be sure that if you let it slip from beneath you, it will keep cruising which is why you need an ankle leash. Most boards include one of these in the pack but in case yours doesn’t, you can easily get one on amazon for a buck or two.
Maintenance box: Moreover, whatever material your board is made of, you want to get yourself a maintenance box including whatever you’ll need to polish that board and keep it on point.
Paddle: Very important as well, paddles are the engine of your board, so make sure that you get yourself a light aluminium, preferably collapsible, paddle if your board doesn’t come with one which is very unlikely.
Electric pump : In case you make the choice of going with an inflatable SUP, there’s something I feel like I must tell you. These boards will often include a hand pump within the pack but pumping the board manually can be a little bit more challenging than you’d expect. So, my advice to you is to get yourself a nice little electric pump which you probably needed even before you own an inflatable.
Note: For inflatable SUPs, you’ll find that they come with a few more gadgets such as a repair kit, removable fins, a hand pump and most often a carry back pack to help you transport and store the board easily. Therefore, if you choose carefully, you can get an iSUP that includes all of the above.
Thank you for such an informative article. Are inflatables as good as rigid SUPs for ocean use?