Finding the best stand up paddle board can be a difficult experience. For beginners and advanced paddlers alike, many are unsure of how to pick out the right board, or even what’s out there. It doesn’t need to be this tough.
The goal of this mini-guide is to provide you with the essential information you need before choosing a new board and some of our top board picks for 2019.
You may be someone looking for a good paddle board to practice your yoga at your nearby lake, or someone that’s looking to catch some serious surf beachside. The kind of paddle surfing people enjoy definitely varies. It’s a sport that has something for everyone. The key is to have the right board for the type of experience you’re seeking. You typically want to consider factors like your body type, desired use, and the environment you’ll be in.
Boards are typically broken down with four types of criteria.
- Volume: It’s best to select a paddle board with enough volume and weight to support your weight and height. This helps with stability and your balance while paddle surfing.
- Board Dimensions: The length, width, and depth of the board significantly factor into the board’s ability to handle certain kinds of water.
- Hull: There are two general options when it comes to hulls. You can either pick up a planing hull or a displacement hull. Different hulls are designed to fit specific needs.
- Board Material: Boards usually come as solid or inflatable. Each offers various advantages and disadvantages when it comes to performance, convenience, and storage.
Apart from the board, there are numerous accessories that you can purchase to enhance the paddle boarding experience.
The board type is important. What’s also crucial is your paddle surfing skill level and size. Don’t forget, the water conditions also play a vital role.
As a beginner, it’s best to select a board that has more volume. These boards don’t offer the same maneuverability as others, but they excel in providing stability. This is the best kind of board to exercise your core muscles. As your skills progress, you can then begin paddle surfing on boards that are less voluminous and smaller in size. A lot of this depends on the conditions you’ll be surfing in as well.
The size of your board should often be relative to your own size as a person. Larger individuals should opt for longer and wider SUP boards. Most surf shops will be able to offer you a size guide or a sales representative that can help you make the best decision regarding your size. When choosing to share a board between multiple people, we recommend you select a board that fits the largest person in the group.
If you’re too small for your board, you’ll find that you can still paddle to a sufficient degree. However, as a larger person on a smaller board, it can be quite difficult to maintain your balance.
Are you going to be surfing? Doing yoga? Traversing calm lakes? The type of board can also depend on where you’ll be using it. Some boards are designed to be multi-use and can handle different environments. Pick a board that best suits the environment you’ll be SUP surfing in the most.
Performance boards are designed to withstand waves and choppy seas. They are typically shorter and narrower. Wave surfers need to be able to make quick turns with little effort. These boards offer the best maneuverability. They just lack the stability and balance offered in other types.
All-around boards are great for people who are both looking to catch waves and paddle through calm waters. They’re also a good choice for people just starting out.
However, they’re not for passionate surfers or flatwater paddlers. All-around boards can be too bulky if you’re looking to make sharp cuts into waves. You also won’t reach the same velocity when flatwater paddling as when on a flatwater board.
Boards for flat water are the longest of them all. If you’re buying a board for yoga practice, your board will probably be the longest and widest. These longer boards are also a good option for beginners.
Touring and performance boards are narrower, which can make it more difficult for novices. Flatwater boards are great for paddling on calm waters as long as you don’t try and get too creative with your turns. These offer premium speed on the calm seas.
Fins typically come either one in the center, three fins, or a single center fin with two smaller ones along its side. The latter is called a hybrid thruster.
The fin’s function is to create drag and help you stay balanced in a straight line. The more fins your board has, the more grip it offers. Flatwater SUPs will generally come with one fin while surfing boards can offer up to four.
Fortunately, most SUP boards come with adjustable fins that allow you to change them depending on the water conditions.
Next, we’ll tackle some of our top SUP board picks for 2019.
This is the top pick for those looking for a versatile board at an affordable price. It’s 11 and a half feet in length and weighs 28 pounds. It’s equally capable to handle the surf and flatwater conditions. This is probably the most popular board for beginners. You can even get some real speed going when on the flatwater.
Additionally, the All Rounder’s versatility is advantageous for those looking to share. This makes it a great family pick! Even for more experienced surfers, the All Rounder offers enough maneuverability and performance to satisfy. It is also very durable due to its material and design.
The Endurance is made of fiberglass with an eps foam core and is designed to last for your multi-day paddling trips. It is 12 feet in length and comes in at 31 pounds. It can fit up to 90 pounds of equipment. The Endurance is not for beginners. Its narrow design makes it difficult for inexperienced paddlers to maneuver.
The Kraken is a solid choice for individuals seeking a board that offers stability and also some maneuverability in the surf. It comes in at 11 feet and weighs 26 pounds. Its weight capacity goes up to 290 pounds. It’s good for both beginners and more advanced surfers. The only drawback to the Kraken is that it is a little wide which slows it down while paddling and turning. It is made of a mixture of bamboo, epoxy, and fiberglass.
The BIC Sport Tough-Tec Cross is our stability pick for 2019. It’s an amazing value for those seeking a board to do yoga on. It’s also excellent for fishing. It comes in at 10 feet and 36 pounds. At 220 pounds, its capacity is not as high as the Kraken. It’s also a good board pick for those sharing with multiple people, like a family.
The Tough-Tec Cross takes a bit of extra effort to really get it going. It’s also heavier to carry than some of the other options listed here.
This board is for the fisherman in your heart. It’s lightweight, portable, and offers excellent buoyancy. Fishing from a standup board can be a great time. The Sportsman weighs 27 pounds and comes in at 11 and a half feet in length. It can support up to 320 pounds! Enough to fit you and your day’s catch.
It already comes preinstalled with Scotty Mounts to secure your rods and gear. The deck is also designed to support you with enough grip to keep from slipping when battling with your catch. This is an inflatable board.
Since it’s inflatable, it can be a tough board to maneuver through windy conditions. It’s also such a popular pick that it can be hard to find sometimes on Amazon or REI.
The Surftech is great for flatwater paddlers. It also offers enough stability to support tandem paddling. It weighs 28 pounds and is 11 feet 6 inches in length. It is also aesthetically pleasing as its design carries some style. It’s a good board to practice your down dog on!
The Surftech’s weight capacity comes in at 210 pounds, and the board weighs 28 pounds. This board can just be slow at times, which can be a good thing for more novice riders.
We hope this guide serves you well in your SUP surfing experience. Whether you’re aiming to be an ocean yogi or to catch some nice surf, paddle surfing is an enjoyable time. You can’t go wrong with the board picks we’ve detailed above. These are some of the best in the industry.
It’s important to do your own research beforehand to pick the board that’s best for you. It’s also a good idea to consult a friend or someone you know that has paddling experience. They’ll definitely be able to point you in the direction. Happy paddling!