An offshoot of surfing, stand up paddle boarding requires the rider to stand on his or her board while using a paddle to move through the water.
This sport can be done in flat water, lakes, rivers and on ocean waves depending on the type of paddle boarding activity you want to experience.
Several Types Of Stand Up Paddle Board
Flat Water Race Board
This style of paddle board measures between 12-14 feet long, with a width of less than 28 inches. It also features a displacement hull to make the board glide fast on the water. This type is not recommended for beginners because the design makes the board move very fast but can be quite unstable.
Flat Water Touring Board
Considered as paddle boards that can be used for a variety of purposes. The board’s style is wide, stable and measures between 10-12 feet long. This type is recommended for choppy waters and although they are not designed to go really fast, they are still faster than a paddle board shaped as a surfing board.
Surfing Paddle Board
This paddle board mimics the shape of a short board or a long board. But, they are designed to be long, wide and thick. The rails of this paddle board are also narrowed to be able to cut into the waves.
Inflatable paddle boards
From the name itself, these types of paddle boards can be inflated. High-quality ones usually have the rigidity of hard boards. The advantage with inflatables is that you can easily transport it and they are available in a variety of styles.
When shopping for a stand up paddle board, you need to consider several factors that can affect a paddle board’s performance, stability and capacity. Not all paddle boards are made the same, there are some made specifically to be used for one person only, for racing, etc.
Most Common Factors You Need To Consider When Choosing A Stand Up Paddle Board
Who’s going to use the board?
Some boards are designed to be used by beginners as well as advanced paddlers, while some are for experienced paddlers only. Consider your level of experience in choosing a paddle board.
If you have experience in paddle sports, you may opt for a more advanced board. However, if you have family or friends that will also use the board, also consider their skills as well.
The board you choose must work on your size. In paddling dynamics, your height should be compatible with the width of your board to avoid forcing yourself just to reach the sides to be able to paddle properly.
Your weight will affect how the board will displace water around you. If your weight is not compatible with the board’s capacity, water will be displaced incorrectly and you will not be supported properly.
Knowing the weight capacity of the board as well as knowing your weight is important to ensure that you are not too heavy for the board. Because if you are, the board will ride lower into the surface of the water and will make it difficult for you to paddle.
The length of the board is usually based on where you are going to use the board. Water conditions differ and the length should be considered carefully if you want your board to perform at its best.
- Short boards (below 9 feet) – this board length is great for surfing because you can easily maneuver the board into different directions.
- Medium boards (9-12 feet) – this length is great for paddling on calm water and riding with waves.
- Long boards (12.6 or 14 feet) – recommended for touring or racing purposes since they go faster compared to short and medium boards. They also tend to move in a straighter direction.
The width will determine the stability of the board. Usually, stand up paddle boards can go as wide as 36 inches to accommodate a wide range of body types. Paddle boards that measure 31 inches or more are considered wide. They are easier to stand on and are great for beginners.
However, wide boards move slower than narrow boards which measure between 29” to 30” wide. With narrow boards, the movements are fast, but because of the width, they tend to be unstable.
Fins can add stability to your board as well as versatility with tracking. A single fin will work well on calm, flat water such as lakes and ponds. A tri-fin setup gives a straight tracking for the board on flat water while offering more control in surfing. Basically, the more fins you have, the more surf-oriented your board becomes.
Traditional boards have cores made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). This material is very lightweight but has the disadvantage of containing air between the cells. If damaged, water can seep into the cells and eventually damage the core.
A better alternative is fused-cell EPS, which are watertight and designed like a honeycomb. Composite sandwich boards have their foam core encased in layers of fiberglass, wood or carbon fiber. Although very light, they are also very fragile.
For beginners or family use, soft boards are recommended. These boards are made of EPS foam blank reinforced with wood or fiberglass.