We already explained how to choose the right stand-up paddleboard for the water – trust us, it matters – and now we’re back with a few tips for choosing the right SUP period. Read and learn.
1. Start with your personal stats
Board manufacturers routinely publish the length, width, thickness, weight and volume of a board. Here’s what you need to know about these specs.
• The length of a paddleboard will affect its speed and maneuverability. The longer the board is (increased waterline), the faster it will go. But the bigger you are, the longer of a board you’ll need. Bottom line – it has to work for your size by displacing enough water for your weight. Anything under 11’6 for an average adult will fall into the surfboard-style category, so keep that in mind if you’re paddling local (Tahoe, Lahontan, Boca, Sparks Marina, etc.) or other types of flat-water like ocean harbors, inlets, bays, and beyond the surf zone.
• The width of a board is somewhat directly related to stability – the wider the board, the more stable it will be on the water. On the flipside, the wider you go, the less maneuverable the board and the heavier it gets when you’re hauling it around off the water.
• The volume of a board gets tricky. This spec is directly related to buoyancy (i.e. weight capacity). You want a paddleboard that has enough volume for your own weight, and any extra gear loaded on to it. Every manufacturer lists weight capacity for each board, which usually looks like enough to hold two or three people at once. But keep in mind this stat isn’t necessarily ideal because it takes into account the volume of the whole board. When in fact, only the volume of the board under water (when loaded) is related to the weight being displaced. You should also understand that most surf-style SUP’s are designed with less volume because they are primarily used in salt water, which becomes inefficient in fresh water when it comes to buoyancy.
Your height and weight are a good place to start when it comes to choosing the perfect SUP. Make sure to take into account the combination of the above three board specifications and not just one. Most manufacturers indicate which boards are intended for paddlers of varying sizes, so don’t be afraid to ask.
2. What’s your plan?
Are you going to be racing on this paddleboard? Cruising the lake? Playing in the chop? Is it just for you, or will the kids be hopping on too? An elite race board may work in one scenario, or be an expensive disaster in another. Be sure to consider how you’ll be using your board before you buy. We recommend choosing the “best fit” category for what you will be using it for, then pick a specific board from there.
3. Consider the water
We discussed water conditions at length in our previous post, but in a nutshell, different boards excel in different water conditions. If you’ll be paddling on flat-water, a flat-water design is your best bet. If you’ll be surfing, go with a surf-style SUP. Again, manufacturer descriptions should detail where each board excels.
4. Bonus tip – don’t buy a board based on your ability today
The learning curve on a stand-up paddleboard is exceedingly gentle. Don’t drop all that cash on aboard you’re going to outgrow before your very first session. Personal stats and how and where you’ll be paddling are a much sounder platform for scoring that perfect SUP.
Ready to take the plunge on a board of your own? We’re psyched to answer your questions and get you set up with the perfect SUP. Call, click or come on in today.