I’m sure you’ll agree that a stand up paddle board must be well constructed, be the right weight capacity, and have a good paddle to use. That was our top criteria for selecting the best stand up paddle board. If you want to get paddling right away, the Keeper Sports Stand Up Paddle Board scored high marks in every category and is our top pick for enjoying your time on the water.
Stand Up Paddle Board Comparison
|10.60 x 31.00 x 5.50||10.00 x 31.00 x 6.00||10.00 x 31.50 x 6.00||12.00 x 17.50 x 34.80||5.91 x 31.89 x 118.11||18.00 x 12.00 x 34.50||10.00 x 30.00 x 6.00||10.00 x 30.00 x 4.00||122.00 x 27.00 x 4.00||11.00 x 31.00 x 6.00|
|White / Blue|
/ Sea foam
Stand Up Paddle Board Buying Guide
What is a Stand Up Paddle Board?
Stand up paddling, or SUP as it is also called has been around in some form since surfing started in Hawaii years ago. Surfing Instructors would stand on their boards when watching their students because of the better vantage point it provides them. A very famous surfer, Laird Hamilton, played a part in bringing SUP into a whole separate category when he used the stand up paddle boards to access the waves that were out of reach of the surfers that were paddling prone.
Types of Stand up Paddle Boards
There are five basic types of stand up paddle boards on the market. Each one has different characteristics that make it suitable for specific kinds of paddle boarding.
- Surf style – These boards are narrower, lighter, and shorter with a nose and tail that is narrower than other types. The surf style paddleboard is perfect for high performance paddle boarding and makes quick turns very well also. They are used primarily in the surf zone. The user will have to put a lot of effort into long distance paddling so they are not ideal for this type of use. They are not as stable as the larger boards.
- All around/touring – These all purpose boards are much wider and longer than the surf style paddle board. The nose on the all purpose stand up paddle board is pointed and they have greater volume than other styles. They are a very stable type of board, well-suited for flat-water paddling on lakes or cruising in the ocean outside the surf zone. This board is also very suited for beginners.
- Inflatable – There were a few different problems that were solved with the creation of the inflatable stand up paddle board. The first was storage and the second was transportation. If you live in an apartment or have a small car trying to transport a large stand up paddle board can be a real challenge if not just completely impossible. The inflatable stand up paddle board fixed both these problems. With the lighter, easy to transport and store features, there is a loss of stiffness that the non inflatable boards have which means that wave riding could be a lot more challenging, but under light wave conditions, it is still possible. Inflatable stand up paddle boards are terrific for navigating rivers which have become a popular place for stand up paddle boarders.
- Racing – There are stand up paddle board competitions cropping up all over the place, making the racing paddle board in more demand than ever. A race board is much longer and narrower than other types and has a very pointed nose and long fin. They are designed for speed and the ability to stay on one track and cut through the water quickly. The racing board is a much more advanced board and not recommended for beginners due to their instability that they display unless the board is moving forward quickly.
- Yoga – These boards are much wider and longer than wave boards. They feature soft tops and places that the user can attach resistance bands and safety equipment. The yoga stand up paddling board enthusiasts tend to anchor their boards so drifting doesn’t become a problem.
What Size Board is the Right Size?
You’ve decided on the type of stand up paddle board you want to purchase so now it is time to decide what size board you need. Another way to measure or think about the size of the board is in volume. The wider and thicker the board the more volume it has. A board with a lot of volume is going to be much more stable on the water.
If you are just starting out, plan on getting a board with more volume and then as you get more adept and skilled you can start downsizing in volume. Paddle boards with more volume will not turn as quickly as a smaller volume board will.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Board
There are several factors to be considered when it comes to choosing your stand up paddle board. These factors will help you decide on the board that is going to be perfect for your height, weight, and preferred type of paddle boarding. Take the following points and use them to narrow the field of choices so you can more easily make the right decision for your needs and preferences.
- Height and Weight of the Rider – When it comes to the paddling dynamics, height plays a big part in the size board you need. If you are very short, for example, a board that is too wide for your height will cause you to have to reach farther to the side to reach the water with the paddle. This will not only throw your balance off, it is awkward and also very tiring to try and paddle this way. Weight is also a consideration. Most boards have weight ranges or limits. If you’re just starting out, get the board that comfortably fits your weight.
- Width of the Board – The width of you stand up paddle board is very important. The wider the board the more stable it is. Stability is a great trait to have when you are just starting out. Many people will get their paddle boards an inch or two wider for that stability factor and there is usually no noticeable change in the forward speed of the paddle board.
- Length of the Board – The specification that affects both speed and handling is length. A longer board will be able to travel faster and straighter, kind of like a kayak would. On the other side, a shorter board is very good for catching waves. Choose your length according to what you plan on doing with the stand up paddle board.
- Thickness and Volume – The proper thickness and volume of the board determines how much weight it can safely hold. The higher the volume the more weight it can handle.
The Importance of the Fin Setup
Stand up paddle boards have fins on them and depending on the model can have as few as one fin to as many as five fins. If you are going to be using your paddle board on flat water such as in lakes and ponds, a single fin stand up paddle board will be just fine. As a general rule, the more fins a paddle board has the more specialized the board is and the more suited for the surf it is.
The fins on a stand up paddle board are usually made of fiberglass or nylon. You will get the best performance from fiberglass but if you’re not careful, the stiffness and sharpness can be dangerous if you’re not careful. It’s also not uncommon to snap the fiberglass fin off in water that is very shallow, especially if there are rocks present.
Repairing a broken fin is less costly than replacing the whole board, but if you are going to be using your stand up paddle board in smaller ponds and shallower water, you may find that the flexible nylon fins that will handle those conditions much better and with fewer breaks.
Other Important Aspects of Choosing a Stand up Paddle Board
There are many other factors to look for and consider when choosing your stand up paddle board. All of these things will help you zero in on the right board for you.
- Traction Pads – A traction pad is the area on top of the board that is very grippy. This aids in your personal stability and reduces the chances of your feet slipping off of a slick board. If your chosen stand up paddle board doesn’t have a traction pad, one can be purchased separately.
- Carrying Extra Gear – If your stand up paddle board excursions are long you’ll more than likely want and need to bring extra gear. If you make a lot of long paddle board trips, you may want to consider a touring SUP that most often come with bungee cords and insets that you can tie a dry bag down to or attach bungee cords to.
- Carrying Handles – Some SUPs have carrying handles that make it much easier to tote a full size stand up paddle board from the beach to your vehicle or down a long path to a lake or river.
SUP Construction Basics
Here is some basic information about some of the construction elements of an SUP. The construction of the paddle board plays a part in the type of paddling it handles well.
- The Traditional Board – Almost every SUP starts as a foam core. The most common foam core is the expanded polystyrene or EPS. It’s very light and has air between the cells which can cause problems if the board is every cracked as water can seep in between the cells and degrade the board from the inside out. You want to look for boards that have fused cell EPS which will look like a honeycomb and is airtight, preventing water seepage and damage.
- The Shape of the Nose – There are two basic nose types that are used in SUPs: wide and narrow. If the nose is wide, that will ultimately provide more flotation ability for the board which makes it easier to catch waves and carry extra gear if you need it. On the flip side, the narrow nose cuts through the water, increasing the speed that the board is capable of. Race boards usually have pointed narrow noses. This feature is especially helpful in choppy conditions.
- The Shape of the Tail – The shape of the tail of your SUP will affect the way it handles when you are catching waves. This SUP design is taken from traditional surfboard tails. The more angular your tail is the sharper turns you will be able to make with the board. A rounder tail will provide smoother and more progressive turns. If your board has a round or pin tail it will be much more stable in bigger surf due to the tail holding the water longer. Square or angular tails release water, which makes the board snappier and looser.
- Rocker – This is a term that describes the curve of an SUO as it is seen from the side. One that has more of a curve or “with more rocker” will turn quickly, making it good for wave activities. Race boards and cruising or touring boards have less curve.
- The Contour of the Bottom – Another factor that determines how a board handles is the bottom contour or shape. There are a few different types of bottom shape that you will see on different models.
- Flat plane – pushes water to the side
- Concave bottom – holds water through the length of the board – increases lift and decreases drag
- Custom – even channel and v bottom hulls which largely resemble the construction of regular surfboards
There are many different points that can be looked at when choosing the right stand up paddle board. All of the different factors and considerations can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. When the objective is to make a purchase that you will be happy with and that will last you for a good long time, knowledge is your key goal.
We’ve provided the points that you will need to examine and compare when looking for your own stand up paddle board. Armed with all of this valuable information, searching through the different choices that you have will not be scary at all because you will know exactly what elements to look at and what things to consider to make sure you get the SUP that will work perfectly for the activities and type of paddle boarding that you want to do.