If you are at the very beginning of your SUP experience, you may be wondering where to start and how to choose a stand up paddle board. The chances are that you have already tried it out and decided it’s something you’d like to do again. Buying your first paddle board is usually something you do after you’ve tried a friends or been for a taster session with a local paddle boarding company. You may just have seen or heard your friends raving about it and decided you want in on the action. With so many inflatable paddle boards to choose from online, where do you even begin? What should you be looking and how do you know which is the right for you. In our ‘how to choose a stand up paddle board’ guide, we take a look at the factors you need to consider:
Where Will You Use Your Paddle Board?
The type of board you choose will largely depend on where you will use it. Some buy a board for flat water river paddling while others want something that can handle the bigger surf – the thrill seekers that want to ride the surf. There are boards that are specifically designed to handle more serious surf conditions however, a hybrid or “all rounder” is a great choice for those that want something suitable for day trips, excursions to local lakes, rivers or the seaside for a relaxing paddle.
An all-round board is built to handle flat water conditions and small surf. If you are going to take your board out on the sea, you really need one with three fins on the hull. Usually the middle fin is removable and taken off when you deflate and store the board. There are many all round boards to choose from online and you can pick them up really cheap however, remember that you will get what you pay for and the really cheap boards could warp, tear and get damaged in sunny conditions or in rougher waters with rocks etc.
We recommend choosing a board from a reputable company like Aquaplanet or i-Rocker. The Aquaplanet All Round Ten Cruise and the Aquaplanet All Round Max Cruise are both excellent choices that we ourselves can happily recommend. The All Round Ten was our first board, the Max Cruise our next.
Who Will You Use the Board?
If the board is something that you will throw in the car and take to the beach for use by the whole family then you need to consider the size. A standard board tends to be around 10ft 4 to 10ft 6 in length but can start from as small as 7ft 8 and go up to as much as 22ft – trust us this is a really large board. You can also choose your width, a popular width is 32-34 inches.
How Much Use Will the Board Get?
A key consideration when it comes to how to choose a stand up paddle board will be how much use it gets. Are you likely to just use the board on sunny days when you have a few hours to spare or are you likely to use it at every given opportunity. Many people use it a few times then it ends up in the garage taking up space for the entire autumn/winter until they remember they have it and get it out the following year.
Perhaps you venture out on regular camping trips, or will use the board on local lakes and rivers at every chance you get. If you are lucky enough to be close the coast, perhaps a sunset paddle is what you fancy at the end of the day. Maybe, it’s just going to be something that is nice to have when you get the chance. Before you spend a lot of money on paddle board gear, be realistic about how much you will use it.
While we recommend buying something that from a reputable company that isn’t necessarily entry level, if you are new to SUP and just looking to dip your toe, you don’t want to spend an absolute fortune. Especially if it is something you will use once then put away until next year. A realistic entry level price for a paddle board you can expect to pay around £300. This will get you a decent all round board like the models we mention above.
By buying from a reputable company, you can expect the board to stand up to quite a lot of wear and tear (as long as the board is properly cared for) and that you will have somewhere to go if anything should go wrong, or you need a spare part.
When it comes to choosing a stand up paddle board, consider the size you need. While a ten foot board or 10ft 6 is popular choice, if you are buying specifically for a child, or a tall/larger person, you may want to look at getting something longer and wider. For beginners and all round paddlers there is a general sizing guide to follow:
|Paddler Weight||SUP Width||SUP Thickness||SUP Length|
|Under 125 lbs (56kg)||31-32”||5”||9’6″-10’9″|
|125-150 lbs (56-68 kg)||31-32”||5”||9’6″-10’9″|
|150-175 lbs (68-79 kg)||31-33”||5”||10’0″-12’6″|
|175-200 lbs (79 – 90 kg)||32-34”||5”||10’0″-12’6″|
|200-225 lbs (90-102 kg)||32-34”||5-6”||10’0″-12’6″|
|225+ lbs (102 kgs +)||32-34”||6”||10’0″-12’6″|
How Much Space do You Need?
With so many inflatable paddle boards out there to choose from, these tend to be the beginners choice. They are so neat and compact that you can easily store them in the boot of the car and take them away camping, pop them in the boot for a day out or even take them on your overseas holidays if you are taking the car. They are easy to pack and unpack and come with all the components needed to inflate and store the board efficiently.
Benefits of an Inflatable Paddle Board
Unless you have plenty of space to transport and store your board, the chances are you are going to choose an inflatable over a hard board. A hard board tends to be the choice of the more hardcore boarders that are serious about the sport. As well as being compact and easy to store, an inflatable board won’t chip and scratch like a hardboard when you ding it with the paddle or accidentally crash into something. You get a lot of board for your money with an inflatable.
What Else Do You Need?
When choosing a paddle board, it is wise to consider what else you will need. There are many products that you can add to your basket when choosing a new board. Most of the gear you need should come with it which will include:
- The board
- Leash for tethering yourself to the board
- A pump
- Removable fin
- Waterproof bag
- A strap to keep the board folded
- A puncture repair kit
What you may want to buy but that won’t come with it:
- A life buoyancy vest
- Water shoes
- A tow bag – these are great – store all your valuables and a dry change of clothes and then inflate – pop it on the back of the board.
- Electric pump (it’s a workout in itself using the manual pump