It can get daunting when there are hundreds of paddle boards to choose. With the Internet, a greater selection of SUP boards are available, differing in designs and purposes. So how do you decide what paddle board to buy for you? In this guide, we look at 7 criteria to help you decide what paddle board is best for you.
How to Decide On Which SUP Board to Choose
What Are You Using Your Paddle Board for?
One of the first things you should decide on when you pick a paddle board is what you might be using it for. This will help you determine what type of paddle board should you buy.
Different purpose paddle boards are designed and shaped in different ways. The way you use your paddle board can also determine what material is suitable for you.
For example, hydrodynamic touring paddle boards are best for long distance touring paddlers who want to explore the shoreline or ocean. They are designed to glide across the water in an efficient manner. This means less paddling and covering more distance. A touring board is also more stable than other types of boards, making them better for balance in choppier water. They can also support a greater weight capacity for carry-ons.
On the other hand, those interested in leisure fun doing yoga on the open water would want a yoga paddle board that have more deck space with traction for poses, and have greater stability.
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Frequency and Material
When we look at frequency of use, we want to know whether you need a board that is durable or convenient to use. Are you looking for a board to enjoy your summers on? Or are you an enthusiast that wants to use their paddle board every possible chance?
Knowing how frequent you might use your board can help us decide on whether you are buying a board for life (using as long as possible) or for convenience. In other words, should you invest more in a solid board (wood-based, soft top foam, or resin-based) or can you get away with an inflatable choice?
Tidbit: Wood paddle boards are great if you want to buy for life. Although they are heavy, they float better, are super stable, and durable for surviving dings and scratches.
Related reading: What are paddle boards made of?
What Size Should You Get?
The average paddle board is 10′ to 11′ in length, and 30″ to 32″ wide. Unless you are 6′ or taller, a 10′ board is perfect with lots of space to maneuver. The reason a taller individual should consider a longer board is so they have extra leg and head space when they lie down on it.
If you struggle or have concerns for balancing on your board, then a wider, longer, and thicker board will give you a greater balance. Heavier boards are also better at stability when on choppier water. Wood-based boards, for example, float and balance well against waves.
typical paddle board thickness goes between 4″ to 6″. thicker will be better for supporting heavier individuals with greater buoyancy.
Related reading: What size SUP board is right for me?
Buying for Convenience
This point ties into how frequent you intend to use your board. For those who want performance and quality over convenience, a solid board is a great choiec. They have weight to them for stability and are designed for long-term use and performance. However, they do take up a lot of space and will require a roof rack for transporting on a vehicle.
On the other hand, inflatable paddle boards are lightweight, takes up little space (they can be deflated), and can be easily carried in a shoulder strap travel backpack.
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Maintenance and Repairs
Solid boards like soft top foams and resin-based boards perform well in water. They can track in a straight line better, maneuver well (edging, turning sideways), and are much more stable than inflatable boards.. However, they do chip and wear over time, and will need repairs. This means finding cracks and dings, using repair kits and putty, and sanding and repainting your board.
Inflatables don’t need a lot of maintenance. But when they are damaged, it might be irreparable. Punctures and air leaks are inevitable, which is why most inflatable stand up paddle boards come with a repair kit or two. One of the worst ways for an inflatable board to go is when their seams burst, either because of excessive use, too much air pressure, or poor quality manufacturing.
Picking Color and Design
This point boils down to preference and taste. You might choose a board of a particular color or style. Are you looking for a bright, solid color paddle board or one that have cool flames on the side so it looks like you’re going fast? Will you pay extra for a particular appearance?
Paddle boards range between $300 to $1,500. Inflatables are cheaper while wood-based boards can be the most expensive because of the craftsmanship. We won’t dive into detail here, but we did write a guide on how much paddle boards cost, and why they cost so much.
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Our Closing Thoughts
Deciding on what paddle board to buy can be tough. There is a growing market for boards, and each board is different from the next. We hope this guide serves you well, and makes it easier for you on deciding how to pick the right paddle board. Happy paddling!