Paddle Board Buying Guide: How To Choose A Paddle Board


Stand up paddle boarding is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors as you refresh and revitalize your mind. It offers something for everyone. Whether you want to enjoy the waves or take a relaxing glide over a river or lake, stand up paddle boards come with different features to accommodate your goals.

This paddle board buying guide will help you on how to choose a paddle board that is ideal for you.

Type of hull

The first thing that you are going to take a look at is the hull or the body of the standup paddle board. It plays a critical role in determining the performance of the board on the water. There are two types of hulls. These are the displacement hull and the planning hull.

While beginner paddlers can use any type of hull, they come with certain differences that make them better suited for certain activities than others.

A planning hull is wide and flat. It is very much similar to the surfboard. The design allows the SUP to glide over the water and also makes it very maneuverable. These types of paddle boards are great for leisure paddling, SUP yoga, or surfing. Keep this in mind when deciding on how to choose a paddle board. Check out the 6 amazing benefits of paddle boarding.

SUPs that feature the displacement hull on the other hand have a long, pointed nose or bow. The bow is the front end of the SUP and is similar to that of a canoe or a kayak. This design allows these types pf SUPs to cut through the water sending it to the sides and resulting in a fast and smooth glide.

Because of this very design, the paddler will use less effort on a displacement hull SUP than on a planning hull SUP. The paddler can thus go longer distances all while using less energy and at faster speeds. These SUPs also track great. However, if you are looking for a maneuverable SUP, then you may want to stick with the planning type.

Solid SUPs or Inflatable SUPs

Whether they feature the planning hull or the displacement hull, all SUPs can either come with a solid construction or the inflatable variety.

Solid SUPs

These types of SUPs generally feature a core made from EPS foam and this is then wrapped with epoxy or fiberglass. This type of construction is lightweight, results in cheap paddle boards and is also highly durable. You may want to opt for a plastic construction, but these are stiffer, heavier and more expensive.

Carbon fiber is much more lightweight. Some SUPs will even feature wood making them lightweight and more affordable.

One of the main benefits of a Solid SUP is that their performance is much better compared to inflatable SUPs. They are much faster on the water and require less effort to paddle. So, if you intend to paddle long distances at a faster pace, then the solid SUP is your best bet.

There is also more diversity in the design and construction of Solid SUPs compared to inflatable SUPs. This means you can get one that best suits your needs.

Thanks, to the rigidity of the solid construction, it offers more stability compared to the inflatable SUP. It will also sink a bit lower on the water surface which further adds to its stability.

Inflatable SUPs

The inflatable paddle boards are mainly constructed out of PVC. They also have a drop stitch design that allows for an air core. You will also get a pump for inflating the SUP as well as a bag which you will use to store the paddle board.

Even with the PVC construction, always ensure that you inflate the SUP until it feels completely rigid.

One of the main benefits of inflatable SUP is that they are very easy to store and require very little space. All you will need to do is to deflate the SUP, fold it up and place it anywhere.

Second, it is much easier to travel with your inflatable SUP. You will simply fold it up, place it in its bag and include it as part of your luggage. At the airport, it will be easy for it to get checked and you can then head off to your final destination. This is more than can be said about solid SUPs.

Some destinations are hard to reach and they get even harder when carrying the SUP such as an alpine lake. However, you can carry your inflatable SUP much the same way you can carry a backpack making it much easier to reach the alpine lakes.

If the waters you are paddling on are rough and full of obstacles, then your best bet is the inflatable SUP. It is far less likely to get damaged if it hit a tree or log compared to the solid SUP.

While you can perform SUP yoga on both solid and inflatable SUPs, the latter tends to be more softer making it the better choice of the two.  You can even opt for a soft top paddle board if you plan on doing yoga.

The weight capacity and volume of the SUP

In order to get the most out of your SUP, to paddle with ease and to enjoy your time on the water, you need to get the right SUP for you. Among the factors that you will need to consider are the volume and the weight capacity of the SUP.

Simply put the SUP should displace the right amount of volume when you get on the water and handle your weight in the most optimum way. Due to this reason, manufacturers will develop SUPs with different lengths, weights and thicknesses to suit different individuals.

Make sure you understand all the parts of a stand up paddle board.

The volume

The volume of a paddle board is expressed in liters. The higher the volume of the SUP, the greater the weight that it can handle when on the water.

The weight capacity

When you set out to buy the ideal paddle board for you always keep in mind that each paddle board is designed to handle a specific weight. This paddle board buying guide teaches you mote about finding the ideal weight capacity. If for example you were too heavy for a SUP, it would sink deeper which would create drag and make it difficult for you to paddle.

Keep in mind all the weight that you intend to place on the SUP which will include your own body weight plus the weight of any other paddle boarding gear and equipment that you intend to bring along.

Relationship between volume, weight capacity and hull type

For most SUPs with a planning hull, you can get optimum performance provided you do not exceed the weight capacity. However, weight capacity and volume are very important considerations with SUPs with displacement hulls.

A lot of effort is made by SUP manufacturers trying to decide which position is best for placing your weight. If for example you were to add too much weight on a displacement SUP, then this would cause it to sink low resulting in drag and making it harder to paddle.

On the other hand, if you are too light for the board, then it will not sink enough. This will make the board feel heavy when you are on the water which also makes it difficult to paddle.

The length of the SUP


The length of the paddle board is important as it affects its performance on the water. Simply put, the longer the paddle board, the faster it is. However, it is much easier to maneuver and change direction with a shorter board than with a longer board. What do you intend to use the SUP for?

Keep this in mind when buying a paddle board.

If for example you want to go surfing, you want a board that is easy to maneuver. A short board with a length of at least 10 feet is ideal. If you want to get a paddle board for kids then you may want one that is 8 feet long.

The next type of paddle boards based on length alone are the medium boards. These can be anywhere between 10 feet and 12 feet. While the more common design on the medium SUPs is the planning hull, you can still find displacement hulls in the medium category.

And lastly there are the long SUPs that are over 12 feet in length. These often feature the displacement design and are great for long distance paddling. They are fast and track straight. However, they do not have the best maneuverability.

Whenever you are choosing the best length for you, also keep in mind the relationship between weight capacity and volume.

For example, getting a longer board may increase the weight capacity and the volume which increases stability and enables you to carry more gear and tools.

Don’t forget to consider the length of your car as you decide on how to choose a paddle board as well as how long you will need to walk to the shore of the lake or to the beach. Also keep in mind the storage situation at home as longer SUPs can also be more challenging to store.

Width of the SUP

Another factor that will affect the performance of the SUP is the width. Wider SUPs offer more stability than skinnier SUPs. However, wide boards may also be slower. Also, if the SUP is too wide, then it’s also going to be more difficult to paddle.

Most SUPs will be between 25 inches and 36 inches wide. As you go through this paddle board buying guide, always keep in mind the type of paddling that you plan on doing.

If for example you plan on making long tours, then you might need to carry extra gear. For this you will need a SUP with plenty of space to carry that gear. It is the same when doing SUP yoga as you want plenty of space to perform your poses. For this you will need a yoga paddle board.

However, if you are in a competition, then you will need a narrower SUP that is able to track better and move faster.

Also compare your body type with the width of the paddle board. Smaller people will do better with a narrower board while bigger people will perform better with a wider board. If say you had a small frame and used a wide board, you may find it difficult to paddle as it is harder to maintain stability and bend to the side of the board for paddling.

Your experience level is also something that you will need to consider. People who have plenty of experience with paddle boards will find it easier to paddle a narrower SUP compared to beginners.

Thickness of the SUP

Once you are happy with the length and the width of your chosen paddle board, there is also another factor to consider, the thickness. This will also affect the weight capacity and the volume of the paddle board.

Look at it this way, even with two paddle boards of similar widths and lengths but different thicknesses, it is the thicker paddle board that has more volume which means that it can support more weight.

This is the case even with the bamboo paddleboards.

If you prefer using a longer and skinnier SUP to help you glide faster across the water, and you have a smaller frame, then you should pick a thin board. This will keep the volume low and allow you to easily paddle your SUP.

SUP fins

The function of the SUP is to add more tracking to the paddle board. If the fins are large and have wide bases and thin edges, the better they will be at tracking and offering stability.

However, if you are looking for more maneuverability, smaller fins are ideal. The great thing is that in most cases you can change your fins. Fins come with different designs and options.

Single fins for example are excellent when paddling on flat water. They are good for tracking in such calm conditions.

For even better tracking in flatwater, you may opt for triple fins. This 3-fin set up is also known as a thruster. Normally the three fins will be of the same size.

A third type of fin configuration is the 2+1. This is where the paddle board features a larger fin at the center and two smaller fins on each side. You will often see this in surfing SUPs.

These set ups will also be available on the inflatable SUPs.

SUP extras

The standup paddle boards will also come with other extras which include;

A paddle. The SUP paddle features a blade in the shape of a tear drop. It also angles forward to increase efficiency.

Whenever you get on your SUP, you will also require a personal floatation device. This is a must as the US coast guard considers paddle boards as just another vessel. This is something to think about when deciding how to choose a paddleboard.

Coupled with the personal flotation device, you will require the right type of clothing. If you are paddling in cool waters which puts you at a risk of hypothermia, always ensure that you wear a wetsuit or a dry suit. In warm weather you can wear a t-shirt or even a bathing suit.

The leash is sold separately and will tether your SUP to your leg. In case you fall into the water, you will not have to worry about losing your SUP or it drifting too far away from you.

Another important piece of gear to have is a paddle board car roof rack. This will be attached to the roof of your vehicle to help you better transport your paddle board.

Globo surf overview

There are a lot of considerations to make when buying the best stand up paddle board for you. From volume, to thickness, to weight. It often comes down to finding one that suits your type of paddling.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!