How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)


Choosing the right stand up paddle board may at first glance not appear to be an easy task. It doesn’t help that there are many SUP (means “Stand-up”) paddle boards available in the market, with the number increasing almost daily. And interestingly, many models can seem identical. That said, when it comes to choosing the right SUP board, there are several factors and even nuances that matter. All should be considered. So yes, deciding on the perfect paddle board may appear to be a rather confusing and overwhelming task. If you need more information on how to stand up paddle board, you check out our guide.

Paddle Board Gear

Paddle Board

When looking for the right SUP, some of the more important factors to consider should be the dimensions. These include the length, the thickness and width (beam) of the board. Paddlers in search of the right paddle board should always keep their mode of use, workout goals, water conditions, as well as their physical attributes in consideration. A paddler’s height, skill level, and weight score heavily when trying to determine the right paddle board.

Keep in mind that longer boards have a lot more stability. Especially when paddling a straight course. Turning and maneuvering, however, increases in difficulty with the board’s length. Smaller paddle boards that have a lower volume, and a smaller footprint. For this reason, they are typically chosen by experienced paddlers. Particularly for paddle boarding in ocean/surf conditions. Longer boards with more volume/displacement and a larger footprint are better for beginners in moderate surf conditions. They are also good for those who only plan to use the boards in flat-water conditions, such as lakes or smooth current rivers. Check out our review of the best stand up paddle boards for every SUP activity.

Types of Paddle Boards


There are five basic types of stand up paddle boards, surf, touring, yoga, racing, and inflatable. Below we go more in depth on each of these types:

Surf Stand Up Paddle Board

Surf paddle boards tend to be smaller than traditional SUPs because they need to be lighter, more maneuverable, and easier to handle out on the water and waves. Surf SUPs are traditionally 8”-10”8’ long depending on the paddler’s weight and experience. They have a pointed nose and are shaped like normal surfboards.

Touring Stand Up Paddle Board

Touring or All-Around paddle boards are a recreational type of board that is used on flat water on lakes or ponds. They are generally 10’12’ long and 30”-36” wide. These boards are used with the mindset of spending a relaxing day out on the water. If you are a beginner in paddling then this is the type of SUP that would be best to use.

Yoga Stand Up Paddle Board

Yoga SUPing has become extremely popular among Yoga enthusiasts over the past couple of years. These SUPs are built with comfort and stability in mind so you can perform poses and stay dry. They are 31” wide or wider, 10’-12’ long, and have soft tips to allow you to hook up exercise equipment such as resistance bands. These dimensions allow Yogis to have the room to perform their poses while staying perfectly balanced on the paddle board. Nothing is worse than performing downward dog and tipping over into the water.

Racing Stand Up Paddle Board

When you want speed then a racing SUP is what you want. These are typically 12’6”-15’ long and are around 25” wide. This allows paddlers to cut through the water at high speeds. Though they are much less stable than normal flat water SUPs they are extremely maneuverable. These types of boards are ideal for more experienced that are looking for competing in races.

Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Inflatable paddle boards are used by people that have storage space issues. These can be easily deflated to allow to be stowed away in a closet or trunk of a car. They are also much lighter and easier to transport than a regular board. They are best used on flat water conditions like lakes, rivers and/or ponds.


Paddles differ in their use; you can choose from one that fits your requirement. There are ones for the waves, for racing, and ones that can be used for waves and flat water. If choosing a paddle for the waves, you can use a small blade paddle that drags less when paddling. And if choosing one for racing, make sure to choose from a long and narrow blade to drag more and get more energy.

PDF (Personal Floatation Device)

A PDF or Personal Floatation Device is normally a requirement when out on the water, here is a guide to determine your exact PDF requirements. You must make sure that your PFD is the right fit for you! To test, wear the clothes you would normally wear while paddling, then put the PFD on. Tighten all the straps, beginning from the waist, and ending with the shoulders. Try moving around – it should be a tight fit, but it shouldn’t chafe around your arms when you move. It would also be helpful for your PFD to have a whistle attached so that you can call for help in case of emergencies.

Paddle Boarding Clothing

You do not want to navigate cold water and suffer from hypothermia without wearing wet/dry suits. But if you are paddle boarding in warm waters, shorts and some sun protection lotion is enough.

Paddle Boarding Fins

SUP fins are used to provide tracking and stability for your paddle board. Larger fins that have wider bases and longer front edges allow you to track straighter plus gives the board more stability than smaller fins. Although, smaller fins provide the board with better maneuverability. Fins are easily detachable and can be swapped out for other fins or detached for better storing. Here are a few popular SUP configurations:


Choosing a SUP is not as easy as going to the store and buying one. There are a few things you must know to know how to choose a stand up paddle board the perfect for you. First, you have to decide how you are going to use your board. Are you wanting to race, do yoga, fish, or just go for a paddle? Second, you need to determine want gear you want to take out onto the water with you. Most SUPs have attachment areas for you to attach your gear, but some of more areas than others. These are the two main decisions you have to have decided before you choose your SUP This guide will help you narrow down your options. 

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