A Guide to Finding the Perfect SUP

How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board: A Guide to Finding the Perfect SUP

Finding the perfect SUP isn’t too difficult, you just need to know what to look for and how to compare products. That’s why we wanted to create this guide on how to choose a stand up paddle board.

We want to make life easy on you. Our goal is to help you find the perfect board for your wants and needs. Maybe you want to paddle surf? You’ll find how to buy the ideal surf SUP below.

Or you might be looking to take your dog on the SUP. That’s easy, too. We’ll show you exactly how to choose a stand up paddle board that’s good for pups.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what to expect when shopping for SUPs.

Your Guide to Finding the Perfect SUP

To choose the perfect paddle board, you need to think about a few things:

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    Type of Board
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    Solid Vs. Inflatable
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    Fins Setup
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    SUP Length
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    SUP Width
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    Thickness
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    Accessories and Extras

While it might seem like a lot, that’s what we’re here for. To help you understand SUP sizes, how to buy a paddle board, and so much more.

Type of Board

First and foremost, you need to find out what type of activities you want to do on the water. This will make picking a paddle board so much easier. For the majority of new SUP fanatics, this information will simply be semantics.

New users will typically want an all-around paddle board. An all-around SUP will allow new users to test and try out many activities on their paddle board. These boards are typically designed to be used on every body of water. From lakes to oceans and rivers.

These SUPs will also allow you to enjoy a number of SUP activities. You can just paddle around, go on a tour, try some yoga, SUP with your pup, and so much more while on an all-around paddle board.

If you know exactly how you’ll use it, then choosing the right SUP board becomes a little easier. Here’s a few other SUP types:

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    Yoga: There are specific yoga SUPs that make it incredibly easy to enjoy a little downward dog out on the water. These boards are usually a little bigger, which ensures you have more space and stability to stretch out.
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    Racing: Racing SUPs are thinner and sometimes fairly long. These boards are meant to help you become the Ricky Bobby of the local lakes and river. You’ll go faster on a racing board than anything else.
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    Surf: If you’re looking to catch a wave, then you might want a surfing SUP.  These boards make catching waves and surfing simple. Plus, you’ll find SUPs for surfing come in a variety of sizes - depending on your surfing skill level.

Solid Vs. Inflatable

The great SUP debate continues. What type of board material and construction is better? Some swear by solid SUPs, while others will only use an inflatable paddle board. It all depends on what you’re using it for and you paddle board goals.

Solid paddle boards are generally made of an EPS solid core. This core is then covered in fiberglass and/or epoxy. Certain boards are made of carbon fiber, but these tend to be more expensive.

Inflatable SUPs generally are made of military-grade PVC and drop-stitch construction. The boards come with pumps and carrying cases. You pump the SUP up to use it, then deflate it when the session is done for the day.

But, how do you decide if you need a solid SUP or an inflatable one? Well, it’s pretty simple…

Solid paddle boards are ideal in two situations. If performance is the most important factor, then a solid board is ideal. If you want to catch monster waves, teach a yoga class, or when a SUP race - then you’ll want a solid board.

As well, solid boards are ideal if you have property on a body of water and won’t be traveling with the board much. For example, a solid SUP at your lake house is a great idea, as you’ll never have to transfer or move it around.

Inflatable boards are ideal in other situations. If you’re new to paddle boarding, then an inflatable board will often be what you want and need. These boards tend to be a little cheaper and offer a ton of flexibility.

As well, it’s super easy to travel with an inflatable SUP. You simply deflate the board and put it in the carrying case. Many of these cases are like backpacks and make transporting the SUP simple as can be.

Fins Setup

Some people want to get super complex when discussing SUP board fins setup. That’s just completely unnecessary until you’ve become an expert. Overall, finding the perfect fins configuration is fairly simple.

Larger fins with a wider configuration make the paddle board more stable. If balance is an issue and stability is of concern, large fins are your friend.

Smaller fins with tight configurations make it easier to maneuver and make sharp turns. If you want to have more control of the way your SUP moves, this could be the ideal setup.

However, it shouldn’t be a huge factor in how to choose a stand up paddle board, as most fins are removable. You can switch them in and out.

Here’s a few common configurations:

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    Single Fin
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    2 + 1 Setup
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    Three-Fin Configuration

SUP Length

Whole articles have been dedicated to finding the perfect SUP length, but we wanted to keep things simple for you. So, we created the guidelines below.

If you’re wondering how long of a SUP you need to succeed, everything you’ll want to know can be found below:

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    Longer Boards: Any SUP that’s longer than 12’ is considered a longer paddle board. Generally, these boards are used for a few specific activities. Mainly, longer SUPs are ideal for racing and going fast. These boards are also ideal for touring, i.e. going long distances on your paddle board and needing space to pack gear.
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    Mid-Length SUPs: Most consumers will find mid-length paddle boards fit their needs. These boards tend to be 10-12’ long. SUPs from 10-12’ are generally used for all-around purposes and for yoga.
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    Short SUPs: A shorter paddle board, i.e. any board 10’ or less, is generally only used for surfing or by children. Unless you have kids or want to SUP surf, you’ll want a board that’s at least 10’ or longer.

SUP Width

The width of your paddle board will be determined by what you want to do on the board and your body type. It’s more of a personal decision than anything else. A wider board will be more stable, but it’ll also be a little slower. And vice versa.

Here’s a few things to think about when talking paddle board width:

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    What You’ll Use the Board For: If you need to pack gear, you’ll want a wider paddle board. As such, certain touring SUPs and fishing paddle boards all tend to be pretty wide. For racing, the boards are often thinner - as this helps them move across the water faster.
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    Your Skill Level: If you know your way around a paddleboard, then a thinner board could be a lot of fun. Everybody likes to go fast. Yet, newer paddlers may find a wider board easy to stay out of the water on.
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    Your Body Type: Wider boards tend to be able to hold more weight. Thinner boards may not hold as much body weight. It’s not only about weight limits, either. A larger individual may find it quite difficult to find balance on a thinner board.

Overall, most SUP boards are 25-36” wide. Many all-around SUPs are 30-32” in width. Consider the factors above when finding the ideal paddle board width for your needs.

Thickness

The thickness of a board isn’t as important of a factor as the length or width. Generally, a paddle board will be 4-6” thick. Some of the specialized boards created for flat water racing may be a little thinner, but the vast majority of boards tend to be of similar thickness.

Accessories and Extras

Many all-around and beginner SUPs come with a full accessories package. This means the company includes everything you’d need to hit the water with the board. This is especially important when buying an inflatable board.

Most accessories package include:

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    Pump
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    Carrying Case
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    Fins
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    ...And More!

How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board

If you’re curious how to select a stand up paddle board, then the guide above should feature everything you’d need to know. For beginners, an all-around paddle board should be all you need.

If you’re looking for a great recommendation, click here to check out our top all-around SUP for beginners!

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