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How To Choose A Stand Up Paddle Board

How To Choose A Stand Up Paddle Board

Whether you live in the Kawarthas or have a cottage here, you probably spend a good part of your summer on, or near the region’s many lakes and rivers. A stand up paddle board is a great way to explore the water, giving you a full body workout and a new view of what’s below the surface. If it’s time to add to your collection of toys to #GoOutAndPlay on the water, this guide will help you choose the right stand up paddle board for you.

There are 3 important factors to consider when choosing a stand-up paddle board:

  • Paddle board size and hull shape
  • Whether you want a hard or inflatable board
  • The type of board and how you’ll use it

Sizes and Hulls

Not unlike bikes, paddle boards come in a range of standardized sizes. But your height isn’t the only factor in selecting a size. When we’re talking about paddle board sizing, we often talk about volume. Volume (expressed in litres) is an indication of how much weight a board can hold. The wider, longer and thicker a board is, the more stable it is and the more it can carry.

We also consider the length of a paddle board, as this factor is related to speed in the water, responsiveness to turning, and of course as you add length you increase the surface area, allowing you to handle more weight. Think of it this way - shorter boards are easier to maneuver, but longer boards offer more speed. Boards typically come in three lengths:

  • Short (under 10’) - great for surfing (ie. quick turns) or kids
  • Medium (10-12’) - your all-around and SUP yoga boards
  • Long (12’6” and above) - these are your race and touring boards. They go fast and in a straight line!

So what’s a hull? Basically, it is the body of your paddle board, and it is a big part of how it performs in the water. The standard types are a planing hull and a displacement hull:

Planing hull

The shape of this hull is flat and wide, which allows it to glide on top of the water. It’s steady and easy to turn, which makes it great for general paddling, SUP yoga and whitewater paddling.

Displacement hull

This hull has a tapered nose, which allows it to cut through the water (like a kayak or canoe). It moves the water away from the front end of the board for a faster ride. It is more efficient so you can travel farther and faster, but also harder to maneuver. This type of hull is best for those looking for a hard workout, or touring and racing.

Inflatable vs. Hard Boards

When it comes to stand-up paddle board construction, you have two options: an inflatable, or one made of a hard material (foam wrapped with epoxy, carbon fibre, or plastic). Each has their benefits, and as with every other gear decision in this world, which you should choose depends on how you’ll use it.

Inflatable Boards

  • Don’t take up a lot of space - these boards deflate and store in a backpack, which is perfect if you don’t have a garage or other storage area at home to keep a full sized board.
  • Are surprisingly stable, while also being slightly softer, making them particularly appealing for SUP yoga enthusiasts.
  • Are lightweight and pack up small, which means they are ideal for travel, whether you’re hopping on an airplane or planning to hike into a remote lake.

Hard Boards

  • Offer high performance. Hard boards allow you to paddle faster, smoother and more efficiently.
  • Are available in a wider range of sizes and shapes, so you can fine tune your fit.
  • Are more stable, rigid and durable than inflatable boards - making them more able to stand up to wild adventures.

Types of Stand Up Paddle Boards

All-Around SUPs

This is your all-purpose, good for most situations board. They’re made for paddling on calm, flat water (think protected lakes and bays), and perfect for beginners. Their wide and long shape, plus rounded nose mean they are stable on the water and offer your feet lots of room to find a steady stance. 

Some of our Favourite All-Around Boards:

Yoga SUPs

SUP yoga is a trend that isn’t going anywhere, especially in the Kawarthas where we have so many spectacularly peaceful lakes to centre yourself. SUP yoga adds a certain element of challenge to your balance due to the waves lapping your board, and who doesn’t love yoga under the broad expanse of an open sky? These boards are flat, wide and typically have blunt ends. They also work well as an all around recreational board, so it might be a good choice if yoga’s your jam, but you think you’ll also want to enjoy casual paddles around the cottage.

Some of our Favourite Yoga Boards:

Touring and Racing SUPs

Would you be surprised to know that SUPs have played a role in some major expeditions in North America? These boards are usually longer and a little narrower than usual, making it easier to paddle longer and farther. They’re usually thicker so that you can carry more weight, and feature bungies so you can keep your gear secure on the deck.

Racing boards are also longer and narrower, since the whole objective is to travel fast in a straight line to the finish line.

Some of our Favourite Touring and Racing SUPs:

Whether you’re looking for a board that will allow you to enjoy the water with family and friends, a way to deepen your yoga practice, a hard workout or a purpose driven board to take you to races or longer expeditions, Wild Rock is here to help you find the best stand up paddle board for you. We’ll even deliver for free within Peterborough city limits.

Want to complete your SUP purchase? Check out our selection of paddles and accessories.