How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board
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If you want to get out and go stand up paddle boarding this summer, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you! You can go for a relaxing paddle, go down a river, do some yoga, and so much more! It’s a great workout and a fun way to spend the day. There are even paddle boards light enough to hike into some beautiful alpine lakes! Below we’re going to go over how to choose the best stand up paddle board for you.
The first things you need to consider when buying a stand up paddle board is how you’re going to store it. This will determine if you need an inflatable paddle board, or a solid one that’s plastic, foam, or carbon fiber.
If you don’t have storage space for a full-sized paddle board, or a vehicle to transport it, you’ll likely want an inflatable one. They’re great to hike them to an alpine lake, for traveling, or if you want something a little softer for yoga. They’re less stable though and since they ride higher, more likely to be pushed around by the wind.
Solid paddle boards have better stability, have better performance all around, and come in more shapes and sizes than inflatable. You do need storage space for them though plus a vehicle that can move them.
Next up is what you want to use it for and how it’s going to handle in the water. SUPs have different hull types depending on intended usage. There are planing hulls, displacement hulls, and hybrid hulls.
Shaped similar to surfboards, planing hulls ride on top of the water. These are best for when you need more maneuverability and are great for just casual paddles and yoga.
Displacement hulls are faster and smoother as they cut through the water. They’re best for racing, fitness, and touring as it’s easier to go faster for a further distance.
You’ll want to make sure that the paddle board you pick holds your weight, plus the weight of any gear, food, kids, or four-legged friends you bring with you. Weight capacity varies from board to board, so be sure to check when you’re shopping!
Boards come in differing lengths, from under 9 feet to over 12 feet.
Short boards, under 9 feet, are best for surfing, kids, and activities that need a lot of maneuverability.
Medium boards, from 9 to 12 feet, are great for most activities. They’re easier for kids to paddle than longer ones, and easier to store.
Long boards, over 12 feet, are great for speed and can be more buoyant because of their increased surface area.
Fins add stability and allow for tracking. Most paddle boards have either one or three fins. If it’s just one, it’s usually in the middle of the board. These are usually best for flat water.
Smaller ones allow for better maneuverability while larger ones are better for stability and tracking. These are better for whitewater activities or for surfing. Most paddle boards have removable fins so you can replace them when damaged or if you want a different style. Inflatable boards are less likely to have removable fins though.
The last few things that you may need or want to consider for your board are a paddle, tie-down straps, leash, personal floatation device, handles, in-deck storage, and traction pads. These extra amenities can be useful, so be sure to check out what your board has and what you think could be necessary or useful!
Where to take your new paddle board
Now that you know how to choose a paddle board, do you know where you’re going to take it? Keep on reading for some of our favorite spots to paddle board. You’ll need a lightweight inflatable one for most of these! And be sure to be prepared with the right gear.
Lake 22 (WA)
Annette Lake (WA)
Orcas Island (WA)
Lake Wenatchee (WA)
Diablo Lake (WA)
La Jolla (CA)
Lake Tahoe (CA)
Emerald Lake (CO)
Finally, we’ve got a short list of the ten best stand up paddle boards below. There are tons of great ones out there, and these are just a few of the many! We hope you have a ton of fun with your new sport!
The 10 Best Stand Up Paddle Boards in 2021
(all prices accurate at publishing)
For its price and weight:
Weight: 17.5 lbs
For its speed and stability:
Weight: 27 lbs
For its stability:
For its glide and stability:
Weight: 27 lbs
For its value and weight:
Weight: 19 pounds
For its stability and capacity:
Weight: 32 pounds
For its stability:
Weight: 24 pounds
For its performance:
For its quality and stability:
Weight: 21 pounds
For its quality and capacity:
Weight: 27 pounds