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How to choose the right SUP Standup Paddleboard

Top Tips for choosing the right SUP Paddleboard

(updated April 2018)


Chart gives an example of different shapes for different purposes. (courtesy of Red Paddle Co.)

How to Select a SUP - Stand Up PaddleBoard that Fits Your Needs

Are you going to paddle it, surf it, or do yoga on it? That determines what class of board you buy. If you're really into surfing, you'll typically want a smaller, more responsive board - but that also means it's harder to balance on, especially for beginners or in rough water. Shape (thinner rails) and rocker (the amount of banana curve) affect stability and 'surfability'. 

How much does the heaviest user weigh? Every board has a weight limit based mostly on volume - length, width and thickness. Get a board that's big enough to be comfortable for your largest SUP buddy. Lighter people don't usually have a problem with a bigger board (small children may be the exception), but putting a heavier person on a small board can be torture.

Skill Level and Water Conditions. With smooth water on tiny, protected cottage lakes you can ride just about anything. But if you do most of your paddling on the ocean or even the Great Lakes, there's usually a foot or two of chop and even three foot waves are pretty normal. In these conditions you may want a 32" width board while you're getting your 'sea-legs' and then go down to a 30" board when you have more experience. (RACE boards can be as narrow as 24") Width has more influence on stability than length or thickness. 

Inflatable vs Rigid SUP Paddleboards
Until 2008 you couldn't find an inflatable that didn't flex or bow in the middle. But Red Paddle Co. changed all that. They make really, really stiff inflatables. They're built differently, inflate to a higher pressure and are extremely durable. In fact they're used in white water (rapids) as well as paddling and surfing. Since Red Paddle Co. only makes inflatable SUPs, they've created what many believe is the best inflatable SUP in the world. And they are the best selling inflatable in the world as well. I've tried them and have become a huge fan. Shop for high-quality Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP Standup Paddleboards. (2018 update - a few other brands now make higher pressure inflatables as well) 

The big advantage with an inflatable is transportation and storage. But they're also far more durable than fiberglass boards. As far as touring - and even racing, inflatable SUPboards are quickly closing the gap with fiberglass. Traditional rigid fiberglass SUPboards are still more popular with surfers. That's partly because the rigid boards have even less flex, and perform better in high speed turns. 

Pick the right Paddleboard for YOU
Understand that what makes a board especially good for one thing - say racing, may make it a poor choice for another use, like recreational paddling. Race boards tend to be long and narrow, which makes them faster but also 'tippier'. All-round recreation boards tend to be a bit wider, consequently more stable, so you can paddle with your dog or child, or do yoga as well as paddle around the lake. 
The Manta Race Board - by Lahui Kai                     
Longer narrower boards are built for speed              Wider boards offer more stability
but are harder to balance.                                          better for passengers, yoga, etc. 

Still not sure which SUP is right for you? Send us an email with your particulars and one of our experts will get back in touch to answer your questions.

Visit the online store to buy or compare board 'specs. 

Shop for Stand Up Paddleboard Accessories

Blog post: Buyers Guide to USED INFLATABLE PADDLEBOARDS

Shop our 'SALES' page for the best deals on last years NEW, UNSOLD models and overstock items.  

BEWARE of stores will pitch a particular board at end of season because it didn't sell well this year and they don't want to be stuck with it. Other places may sell a pricier board to a beginner arguing that you'll 'grow into it', when in fact it may slow down the learning process. And of course some recommendations are based purely on profit margin.


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