SUP boards, like surf boards, come in all shapes, sizes and lengths. Before you get your sea legs paddling, these tips will guide you to choose the perfect SUP board for your height, weight and skill level.
Before you buy a SUP board, here is a list of additional gear you need to complete your paddling kit. SUP Board, Paddle, Flotation Device, Proper Clothing, and a Flotation Device (don’t forget the sunscreen) complete the gear package for SUPing. A gear expert at an outdoor store, or surf shop, can best guide what gear is best for you. Generally, floatation devices are required and are the law to have one attached to the board, especially when renting a SUP board.
Types of SUP Board
SUP Boards sizes are chosen based on the weight and experience of the paddler. Paddleboards usually come in several styles including: All Arounder, Race / Touring and Hybrid.
All Arounders: These are ideal for beginners as they wider than racers and approximately 10 to 12 inches in length. These boards are usually more rounded at the tips and are commonly found at SUP rental shop. These boards are perfect for SUP Yoga and those who fish atop of the board.
Racers: These boards are longer with 12.6 or 14 inches in length. The nose is more narrow, creating what looks like a “point.” These boards are perfect for those who take longer, faster or competitive expeditions.
Hybrids: Hybrids look similar to a kayak. This are created for people to be able to sit on top without being molded into a true kayak. These boards are versatile and can handle more gear, perfect for those who fish or journey for a longer time.
Balance and Board Width
Board width is important for stability and to maintain an upright, balanced position on the board. Wide boards are 31 inches in width or wider and supports larger people or individuals with poor balance, flexibility, or have a leg injury. This allows the body to remain balanced atop of the water. Narrow boards are 29 to 30 inches in width. This board works best for smaller paddlers (under 180 pounds or up to 5’7” in height). The board is lighter and easier to maneuver on the water.
There are two board lengths: short and long boards. Short boards are 10 to 12 inches in length and ideal for the novice or those looking to float around the water. Short boards are also ideal for advanced paddlers who want to maneuver more easily on the water. Long boards (12.6 or 14 inches) are best for competitors as these boards are faster. It is ideal for those who race or compete.
Fins add tracking and stability. A gear expert can best guide you to what board works best for the style of water you SUP. Single fins, race fins and a 3-fin setup are common to paddle various flat, wave and oceanic water routes.
Paddles contain what looks like a shaft or handle at the top of the paddle. Choose a paddle that is approximately six to eight inches taller than your height. Some experts’ say to raise an arm and the wrist should be at the height of the paddle’s handle.