5 Crucial Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Stand-Up Paddle Board

Race Paddle Board

Race Paddle Board

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 12/6/2022

A stand-up paddleboard is not an easy purchase to make, and the number of factors to consider can become overwhelming knowing where to start. We've broken it down into five questions everyone should ask when looking to purchase a stand-up paddleboard in this article.

Why SUP?

Your first step should be to ask yourself why you want to buy a paddle board. A SUP is just one recreational water toy you can buy, so why would you choose it? The following reasons may be helpful if you haven't thought it through.

First of all, it's trendy. There have only been a few years since it started getting popular, so why not give it a shot?

Compared to some other water activities, there are relatively few barriers to entry. For instance, SUPs are typically lighter than kayaks, and a kayak's weight ranges from 40-100 pounds, whereas paddle boards usually weigh 25-35 pounds.

In addition, paddle boarding requires less gear than kiteboarding or windsurfing. There is no complicated rigging to deal with, just put the board in the water and go. Most people can do it without prior experience or talent, and you can almost learn Paddleboarding on the first try. Windsurfing and kiteboarding are somewhat complicated sports that require lessons and gear knowledge to get started.

Combining these elements has allowed a sport to be attractive to beginners who are looking for a fun way to exercise and enjoy the water with little time, money, and hassle.

Where Will You Be Paddle Boarding?

When you decide that paddleboarding is for you, the first question you must ask yourself when choosing a paddleboard is where it will be used. It will be essential to determine what kind of board you need by answering this question.

An all-around or touring SUP is ideal if you plan on using it on a lake or other slow-moving body of water.

All-around Paddle Boards

You can use a paddle board all-around in pretty much any body of water, just as the name suggests. In addition to being longer and wider, these boards provide a stable platform for beginners to paddle from.

A paddleboard that can do it is like a "jack of all trades but a master of none." You might give up some speed or maneuverability for more stability, and the trade-off is always there.

Accordingly, the ISLE 10' 5" Versa stand-up paddleboard is their newest model, and it is designed to be the best overall shape for fishing, paddling, or even yoga. The ISLE Versa is hard to beat whether you're looking for an all-around board for all waters or all activities.

ISLE Versa Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board & SUP Bundle
Light weight9.8
Light weight
Value for money9.2
Value for money

Touring Paddle Boards

A touring paddle board is an excellent option if you want to cover a lot of distance. These boards are narrower than all-around boards, so they are more aerodynamic in the water.

Compared to all-around boards, touring boards glide across the water much more manageable. When you're taking a camping trip down the river, these will get you to your destination much faster than an all-around SUP.

You should use a touring board if you live near a large body of water and want to explore more than 100 yards from where you put in. Because you might be on the water for hours and might not be near a shoreline, you'll need deck space for safety gear.

The BIC Sport ACE-TEC Wing stand-up paddle board was named Outside Magazine's Gear of the Year Winner for Best SUP. These stand-up paddleboards are available in two sizes and are among the best in their class.

Surf Paddle Boards

Surf SUPs make an excellent choice for people who live near the coast and want a board that can ride the waves.

Surf Paddle Boards

Surf Paddle Boards

In comparison with an all-around or touring SUP, these will be shorter and slimmer. There are exceptions, but in general, they aren't suitable for beginners or versatile.

SUPs have a different shape to turn into powerful waves, so they have more rocker, the curvature between the nose and tail of the board.

Additionally, you'll need to set up your fins more intricately. Paddleboards designed for touring and all-around use usually have only a single, large fin at the tail end. SUPs used for surfing are equipped with three or even four fins on the back and sides to allow tight maneuvers and sharp turns.

Why not try paddle surfing if you're already an experienced surfer?

A 9'6" Whitewater/Surf Inflatable SUP from Aztron is the perfect setup for paddling in the surf or navigating some waves.

Its unique 5-fin setup and tail kick pad offer quick turns. Check out the Aztron Sirius if you're looking for a durable and responsive board for your next surf adventure!

Who Is Will Be Paddling?

Once we understand why and where this board is needed, we need to consider the 'who' of those this board intends to serve.

Can a full-grown adult male use this board? How about an average-sized woman? What about children? What about you and Cujo? It would help if you had a giant board the bigger you are, and it's a general rule of thumb.

Furthermore, a bigger board will provide better stability, as some small boards are only rated up to 200 lbs, so they won't be able to support a tall, muscular male figure or a small male who wants to drag his 60-pound dog along with him.

Who Will Be Paddling

Who Will Be Paddling

In comparison, an athletic, 150-pound woman might find a board too small for a man of average or above-average size. Also, kids don't need as large aboard as an adult man. The kids may find it difficult to paddle if the board is too large, especially in strong winds or currents.

Thankfully, paddle board manufacturers are catching on to the fact that not only men but women and children are also interested in paddle boarding. The Newport Vessels Women's Umami Stand Up Paddleboard is an example of a board designed for this target demographic.

Designed specifically for women, the Umami is an easy-to-transport 9'2" inch SUP. A kayak seat can be attached to it to convert it into a sit-down kayak, making it a highly versatile piece of equipment that women can use in various ways.

How Will You Transport And Store Your Paddle Board?

It would help if you also considered where you will store your paddle board and how you will transport it to where you will paddle.

SUPs are one of the biggest deterrents for many people. They don't want to deal with the hassle of carrying or loading a SUP on top of a car, or maybe even not having a big enough vehicle to transport it, because of their size and wide, awkward proportions.

Board manufacturers have been able to overcome this obstacle by producing innovative solutions. Today, there are all kinds of rooftop carrying racks, wall racks, and SUP shoulder slings that make storing and transporting your SUP easier than ever.

You can always go the inflatable route, even if you cringe at all that gear taking up precious real estate in your small space. When it comes to gear storage and transport, inflatables are an excellent choice for those who don't want to worry about them.

Most inflatable stand-up paddleboards deflate down to the size of a sleeping bag, are easily transported via backpacks or other carrying bags provided by the manufacturer, and can fit inside your trunk, apartment, or garage. They are also more durable than most paddle board s while maintaining a high level of performance.

I reviewed two of the best inflatable paddle board s on the market HERE, so you can check them out if you're in the market.

What's Your Price Range?

The price is a significant factor when choosing a paddleboard. There is a wide range of paddle board s, ranging from a few hundred dollars to almost two thousand dollars!

Why are prices so different? Material prices, primarily. Your cheapest option will most likely be inflatable boards. Paddleboards are typically made with drop-stitch construction, not to mention their diminutive size, making them easier to ship and store.

The traditional boards are often constructed from an epoxy resin and foam core combination. Using this method, a lightweight yet solid and stiff board can withstand use in various weather conditions. A board of this type can cost up to twice as much as $650.

Finally, there are carbon boards. In most cases, carbon boards will be used for touring or racing. For those who want high performance and speed, carbon SUPs are a great choice. However, this superior performance comes at a premium price of between $1500-$2000, making them prohibitively expensive for beginners. Furthermore, most carbon boards are made with experienced professionals in mind due to their use in tournaments and racing events.

Here's an excellent write-up that I've done on the best cheap paddle boards available right now that you can view HERE if you're an absolute beginner looking to get into the sport for as little money as possible.

Wrap Up

There you go! We know who, what, where, why, and how to buy a paddle board.