HOW TO CHOOSE A STAND-UP PADDLE BOARD

In recent days, stand-up paddleboarding has gained wide popularity as an adventure sport. You can grab a paddleboard and go for a leisurely ride amidst the backwaters, or have a good sup yoga and workout session or use it for speed paddling. But have you ever wondered which paddleboard will be the right choice for you? 

In this article, we aim to brief about the contexts to refer before choosing your perfect paddling partner. And, I brief about the how to choose a stand up paddle board.

SUP hull types

The Hull of the SUP board refers to its body structure. Generally, the hull is of two types: the planing hull and the displacement hull. 

SUP HULL TYPES

Planing Hull

The boards with planing hull have a flat, wide surface, making it suitable for leisure paddling and SUP yoga. This structure allows very good manoeuvrability to your boards.

Displacement Hull

This hull structure resembles kayak or canoes and has a pointed nose, making it fit for SUP racing, fitness and touring. The nose helps cut through the water easily, allowing effortless paddling. Though a bit less manoeuvrable, the displacement hull structure helps cover a larger distance in lesser time. Such boards have high tracking efficiency and move straight easily.

SUP Volume

Paddle boards without the proper size, will not be able to provide you with the required stability. Hence, it’s important to monitor certain features before buying a board properly. 

The volume of the board plays a great role in conferring stability to your ride. Generally measured in liters, this parameter contributes buoyancy to your ride and keeps you afloat. The higher the volume of a board, the more weight it can support. The volume of a paddle board is the function of the board’s length, width and thickness.

SUP Weight Capacity

Just like volume, a board’s weight capacity also contributes to stability. Every SUP board can support a certain weight over it, exceeding which, will result in the board getting lower in the water, causing difficulty in paddling. So while riding the board, pay attention to the summed weight of you along with your gears and other loads that you wish to carry.

Planning hull performs well when you don’t exceed the weight capacity. But when it comes to displacement hull, it needs a certain optimum weight, which, on exceeding, will sink the board low in the water. Also, not meeting the level will prevent it from firmly gripping the water surface. So, you can neither be too light nor too heavy.

SUP length

The length of a board determines how the board is handled. The length can be categorized into three groups:

Short Boards

These are boards under 10′ and almost always have planing hull. These boards are suitable for kids as well as for surfing. Shorter boards are more manoeuvrable than the longer ones.

Medium Boards

The size ranges from 10′-12′, and the hull is generally of planing type. These boards are suitable for SUP yoga and all-around use.

Long Boards

These boards are generally longer than 12′-6” and are fit for long-distance touring and fast paddling. Majority boards in this size range have displacement hull.

With increased length, the volume is also increased, thus adding to stability and increased weight capacity.

SUP Thickness

Thickness contributes to the volume of a board and hence must be considered before choosing a board. If the length and breadth are constant, a thicker board will have more volume and thus support more weight.

SUP width

A paddle board’s width has its contribution to stability as well. A wider board confers more stability. But, just like excess of nothing is good, too wide a board can be difficult to paddle and thus slower. 

If you desire to perform SUP yoga or go for long tours and need to carry extra gears, a board wider than 31″ must be your choice. For racers or fast paddlers, narrower boards can work wonders. 

Even your body type has a role to play. For a smaller person, a narrow board will work fine, but a big person would find it difficult to balance on, and hence must go for a wider board. For smaller people, paddling a wider board would need more efforts.

Paddleboard Fins

Fins in a paddle board confer stability and improve tracking efficiency. Smaller fins provide more manoeuvrability whereas larger fins with wide bases offer more stability and straighter tracking. Most SUPs possess removable fins. Let’s see some popular fin configuration.

3 Fins 

This configuration is known as a thruster and promotes straight tracking and good surf control. Generally, all the fins have the same size.

2+1 Fins

This configuration involves a larger central fin and smaller fins on sides and is commonly found in surfing SUPs.

Single Fin: 

A lot of boards are known to possess single fin placed in a finbox, attached with nut and screw. This provides minimal drag accompanied by good tracking efficiency and is suitable for flatwater paddling.

Inflatable vs solid SUPs

SUP boards can of widely categorised into two types, each having its own benefits.

The Solid Board

These boards can be made of EPS foam, plastic or carbon fibre. The weight and affordability depend on the material. Also, solid boards are faster, smoother and effortless compared to inflatable ones. Its rigidity makes it way more stable. These are available in a number of shapes and sizes. The only problem with solid boards is that they require a large space when it comes to storage.

The Inflatable Board

These boards generally have PVC exterior with drop-stitch construction to create an air core. Pumps for inflating and deflating accompany them. These boards are for the ones who don’t have enough storage space or are travelling. These are highly portable boards. Inflatable boards can survive bumps against rocks and logs more efficiently than solid boards.

SUP accessories

With SUP boards come to the accessories that will ease your expedition. There can be a number of such accessories.

Paddle

These are tear-drop shaped blades supported by long sticks to allow efficient water paddling. 

Leash

This accessory with keep you attached with your board by clasping around your ankle, so that if you fall, you do not have to swim to your board, rather it will float to you. 

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

Wearing a PFD is a must since paddle boards are considered as vessels by US Coast Guards.

Car Rack

For solid SUPs, specials racks are designed so that you can carry them on the roof of your car. You can also use foam padding for the same purpose.

CHOOSing A STAND-UP PADDLE BOARD Verdict

There are a number of criteria that help determine the correct SUP board for one. But first, you need to know your need, and then you can definitely refer here and find out your perfect fit.

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