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Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) involves a lot of patience, but it’s comforting to know you don’t need to be extremely strong or super fit, but that just simply ensuring you choose the right type of paddle board for you will instantly put you ahead of the game!
Once you have either tried paddle boarding yourself or watched somebody else there’s no doubt you’ll be hooked and is now probably itching to go and buy your own board and get out there more regularly. Buying your own paddle board is a great decision to make. Not only will you be having an amazing time on the water, but you’ll also get in great shape and relax your mind at the same time. To find the right board it’s important to decide what type of paddle boarding most suits you and your individual preferences.
Choosing the right board can be easier than you think and it doesn’t have to be a confusing process. Just take a look at the following guide and the tips we have put together to help you each step of the way.
First, you need to decide what you are looking to get out of paddle boarding, to improve your fitness and have some fun? Or are you looking to take things a bit more seriously and maybe try racing? This can make a vast difference to the board you choose. Let’s take a look at different types of boards and the benefits of each.
Here are the main types of SUPs to choose from:
All rounder paddle boards
Tourers paddle boards
Racing paddle boards
Surfing Paddle Boards
Yoga Paddle Boards
1. Let’s start with surf specific, these boards are usually shorter, and also have a more narrow nose and tail. Surf paddle boards are what to go for if you are planning on spending some time in the surf and waves. The narrower shape makes it easier to get about on the board through the waves, that being said the negative is that they are much slower and harder to direct in a straight line on flatter water conditions. They can also be harder to keep stable.
2. Racing boards have become a more popular choice in recent years as competitions, and even just paddle boarding in general, are growing ever more popular all over the world. You don’t need to be interested in competing to invest in a race paddle board, they are also great for really intense core training. Race boards are recognisable because they are a lot longer and also more narrow. They also have a very pointy nose and an extra long fin. They are designed this way to cut through the water at higher speeds, however, because of this, race boards are extremely unstable and are a better choice for more experienced or advanced paddle boarders.
3. Touring boards, these multi-purpose boards are typically a lot longer and wider and have a pointed nose. Due to the fact they are a bigger size they are a lot more stable than some of the other types of paddle boards. Touring boards are great for a more relaxing time and also suit paddle boarding in lakes or flatter water conditions. We would definitely recommend touring boards to beginners and intermediate paddle boarders, they are a great starting point.
4. Next, we can take a look at yoga boards, these are always wider and longer. They can have a soft top and places to hang exercise tools such as resistance bands. Yoga boards can also be anchored so that the board won’t drift during exercise. Yoga boards are obviously very specific and would suit only those who enjoy partaking in this type of yoga exercise.
5. Last but not least we have inflatable paddle boards, so who do these boards suit most? They are pretty self-explanatory, just a paddle board with added convenience. They are great for those without the capability of storing or transporting other types of paddle boards. Inflatable boards are not going to be much good for wavy water conditions, however, for paddle boarding on rivers, inflatable boards are essential.
Choosing your Paddle for your SUP
So now you know what type of board you would like to choose, what about the paddle? Let’s go from the handle, it should either have an ergonomic design which will comfortably fit your own hand or it may have a more straight and simple feel. The ergonomic handle design is inevitably a more popular choice, but may be slightly pricier than a ‘T-Bar’ shaped handle.
Next the shaft of the paddle. The shaft is thought to be the single most important part of the paddle. The shaft of the paddle can be made from several different materials, such as; Aluminium, Glass fibre, Carbon, or even Kevlar. Some think the material of the shaft is not an important factor, however, it makes a big difference to the performance of the paddle and in turn your paddle boarding experience.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of the various materials. Carbon is the most common material you will find a shaft made from, this is due to the memory and stiffness of the material. Glass fibre is the cheapest of all materials, so great if you are on a budget however it can bend and create a softer stroke. Aluminium is great as it is the most rigid however, it can be pretty heavy. Kevlar works in a similar manner as carbon because it is rigid and keeps its shape well.
The blade of the paddle can also vary- from small to large. A large blade will move around more water in the stroke and so will give more power to your movement. Although this may seem appealing, if you are a beginner, a larger size blade is not advisable and can cause strain to your shoulder. Smaller blades are a good all rounder and they are gentle for all users.
The height of your paddle depends on what type of paddle boarding you will be doing. Surf paddle boarding paddles should be between six to eight inches higher than yourself. With race paddle boarding it should be a 10 – 12-inch difference. Lastly, with flat water paddle boarding, go for a height difference of around eight to ten inches.
If you are not sure what type of paddle boarding you want to go for, or you want to try different types of paddle boarding, your best option would be to choose an adjustable paddle. We hope this guide has been helpful, it’s packed full of any information you may need to get yourself the perfect paddle board for you and your needs.