What Is a SUP Paddle Board | Size, weight, length, shape and other details

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: April 17, 2020
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Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a water sport activity in which surfing is done while standing. The paddler stands on the board and uses the paddle to cruise through the water. 

The sport originated in Hawaii in the 1900s and has spread to other parts of regions across the globe. The invention of the game caused manufacturers to come up surfboard model suitable for various situations.

The popularity of the sport rose following the invention of inflatable SUP paddle boards that are portable and affordable. But, how exactly do you choose the ideal SUP paddleboard? Here are the features that will guide you:

What to consider when buying a SUP paddleboard

There is something for everyone when it comes to SUP paddleboarding. You can relax in the calm water or enjoy the running waves in the ocean. Besides, you can do some work out through a fast-paced paddle or enjoy SUP yoga right in the middle of the lake. However, you need to choose the right board based on your needs. Here we explain the basics that make it easy to select the ideal board. 

  • SUP size and a weight capacity 

When it comes to the size of the board, you need to look at its volume and weight capacity. The SUP board must support your size without toppling over.  It should displace the right amount of water to support you well and offer the needed stability. The right size is determined by the length, width, and thickness of the SUP board, which will also be discussed in detail.

The volume of the board is usually indicated under specs. More weight needs a SUP board that has a high volume. The volume and weight capacity are directly related. But no worry as the weight capacity is also indicated. You need to calculate the total weight i.e., your body weight plus that of any other gear or drinks put on the board. You need the right board that supports the load for smooth and easy paddling.

  • SUP length

In regards to length, there are small, medium, and long SUP boards. The small ones measure less than 10 feet and are good surfing and kids. They are easy to maneuver around, and those specifically designed for kids measures eight feet. The medium boards measure between 10 to 12 feet, which is an ideal multipurpose board and can work well for SUP yoga.   The longboards measures from 12 feet 6 inches and above.  They are great for long-distance cruising and fast paddling.

The length of the board affects the volume and capacity. Long ones increase weight capacity and volume and are more stable. You will need a board that can fit in your car for transport and does not take much of storage space at home. Shorter ones are for kids or those that do not intend to carry additional items on board.

  • SUP shape

There are two main shapes of the SUP boards; planning hull and displacement hull.  However, some combine the two designs to produce a hybrid of the two for better performance. Both shapes work well for the beginners, but the one chosen depends on the activities you intend to do.

A planing hull is more similar to the surfboard featuring flat and comprehensive design. It rides smoothly on top of the water and is easy to maneuver. If you plan to use on whitewater, surfing, SUP yoga, or leisure padding, then planning hull shaped SUP boards are the best option.

The displacement hull shape has a pointed bow or nose similar to that of canoe or kayaks. The sharp nose pushes through the water allowing for smooth and fast padding. Due to its efficiency, you can ride for longer distances at a higher speed. Though a little bit challenging to maneuver, the displacement hull rides on straight tracks, which are thus suitable for expert paddlers. If you plan to go for SUP racing, SUP touring, or fitness padding, the displacement hulls are the ideal option. 

  • SUP width

The width of the SUP board affects its speed and the ease to addle. Wider boards are slower and can be difficult to paddle. The different widths which range between 25 and 36 inches are made to serve various needs. The ideal width depends on the paddling you intend to do, your body type, and the ability level.

For long tours that demand extra gear, drinks, food, and tent, the wider boards are ideal since they provide ample storage space. If you are doing SUP yoga, then also wider boards of 31 inches or more are the perfect option. It gives enough space for doing poses and the stability needed. Racers and surfers should go for narrower boards due to their speed.

When it comes to body type, small persons should go for narrower boards while big persons should pick broader types. If you are a big person, then it may be challenging to balance a thinner board compared to how a small person can and vice versa. The beginners should go for the broader board since they are more stable and easy to control. Experts, on the other hand, are better off with narrower and faster boards depending on their needs.

  • Solid vs. inflatable SUP boards

The SUP can either be solid or inflatable. Robust designs are made of EPS foam core wrapped with epoxy and fiberglass, making them lightweight, long-lasting, and affordable. Others are made of carbon fiber, which is lighter but costlier. There are also some which feature affordable plastic construction though heavier with low performance.

Inflatable SUPS has PVC exteriors with air core created through drop-stitch construction. The air can be pumped in and out, thus suitable for the traveler with limited storage space. When deflated, it can fit in a pack back and make it easy to transport and store. The performance is a bit low in inflatable boards compared to solid ones.

 Final Take

Now, you know what a SUP paddling board is and how to choose one based on the features highlighted above. Choose the best SUP board and get the other necessary gears for an enjoyable experience in the water! 

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