How to Choose the Right Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) for the Water

There’s a big difference between stand-up paddleboards designed for surf and those meant for flat water. Our boards are mainly designed for lakes like our local waters – Lake Tahoe, the Sparks Marina, Boca and Stampede, Lahontan, etc.  But they are also great for ocean harbors, inlets, bays, and beyond the surf zone.  So if you’re paddling in any of these places, here’s why a flatwater SUP is going to be your best bet.


• Displacement Hull

In the simplest terms, a displacement hull is similar to the bow of a ship – it comes to a point, making it cut through the water like a kayak or canoe. Water is pushed around the nose and along the sides of the board very efficiently, adding up to more distance for the same energy output compared to a board with a planing hull.


A stand-up paddleboard with a planing hull is like a big ol’ surfboard – wide, lots of volume to float a lot of weight and fun for the waves. But trying to paddle quickly with a planing hull in flat water will seriously limit speed, performance and tracking. A lot of SUP boards with planing hulls are billed as “beginner boards” – we debunked the benefits of that a few posts ago – and it’s the kind of thing you rapidly outgrow.



• Lower Rocker Profiles

A SUP rocker is the curve in the bottom of the board from nose to tail. Variations here will affect how a board skips over the water when speeding down the curve of a wave. If you don’t have a curve because you’re on a lake, a board designed with a low rocker profile means it has more board on the water (the nose and tail are not sticking up out of the water like planing hulls). And more waterline means your board will have better speed and glide.


• Thicker Rails

This is straightforward – in fresh water, thicker rails translate directly to increased buoyancy and stability. It’s a misconception that a board has to be super wide to be stable. You can enjoy increased stability with thicker rails so you don’t sacrifice clean tracking.


• The Right Length

Stand-up paddleboards shorter than 11’6″ are tons of fun in the chop. But slogging through flat water gets old quick. Boards designed for flat water will be at least 11’6” for better performance and efficiency for the average size adult.


One of the biggest misconceptions about stand-up paddleboards is that they’re just oversized longboards. A bit of research quickly reveals the truth – stand-up paddleboards are in a class of their own, and they’re engineered to perform in specific water conditions. Buying a board is an investment – choose wisely.


If you’re interested in learning more, just give us a call at 775-852-9100 or visit us at 892 Maestro Dr. #100 – Reno, NV 89511.

2 responses to “How to Choose the Right Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) for the Water

  1. So I definitely chose wisely! Love me Betty board – been out every weekend since I got her. Kathryn got to try her out when she visited, I guess I have to be a good mom and share when she moves back to.

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