Perhaps you’ve taken a few rental SUPs out for a spin and you’re ready to invest in a board of your own. Maybe you’re not quite ready to commit to just one board, but want to know which type might best suit your needs in the future. Either way, if you’re getting into paddleboarding (or are already into it and ready to make the next move), it’s beneficial to understand the different types of stand-up paddleboards. In order to find your perfect match, you need to know what board suits you best. While there are many different styles of SUP out there, here are the five most common:
Size range: 9’-12’ long, 29”-32” wide
These boards are characterized by a planing hull, which means that the board’s front end rides on top of the water and is slightly rounded. All-around SUP boards look a lot like surfboards, though they are crafted to have much more stability and buoyancy than a traditional longboard. As the name suggests, these boards are for the paddler who wants a board that can do a bit of everything.
Size range: 12’6” ‑14’ long, 26”-30” wide
Designed to travel long distances quickly, tour and race boards have a displacement hull, which enables the board to slice through the water. As Tahoe SUP puts it, these hulls are “designed to efficiently part the water as you paddle,” much like a kayak does. Tour and race SUPs are typically lighter and a bit narrower than other boards. Many tour boards also have the capacity to carry gear for SUP camping or the space to bring your dog to rest on top of the board at the front or back end.
Surf or Open Ocean
Size range: 12’6” — 17” long, 27”-30” wide
The shape of these boards often mimics the shape of a surfboard, though the surf SUP is designed with less volume in order to have more maneuverability in the ocean. These SUPs can have planing or displacement hulls, but always have added stability in order to keep the paddler on the board in rough water or while catching small waves.
Size Range: Varies
These boards are designed with the traveling paddleboarder in mind, as they pack down for easy moving and storage. Most inflatable SUPs are made of durable, military grade PVC, which allows them to be extremely rigid when inflated while also enabling them the flexibility to fold down. These boards are extremely versatile, as they’re designed to be used on everything from whitewater to flatwater, and anything in between.
Many SUP companies have women’s specific boards, which are slimmer than a standard SUP in order to accommodate for less reach when paddling. Women’s specific boards also tend to be slightly lighter, thus easier to carry. The Tahoe SUP Bliss is a great example of a finely designed women’s specific board (it’s the one pictured in the post).
Consider Your Objective
Now that you know what kinds of boards are out there, the next step is to figure out what you’ll be using it for. Ask yourself these two questions: What kind of water will I be paddling in (flat, ocean or river)? And how will I store and transport my board? Answering them honestly will help you decide what kind of board you want, leading you to the board you need to hit the water happily!