A good Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) is serious investment. It requires a great deal of knowledge and research to buy the right one. It should be suited to the type of paddling intended and to the skill level of its rider. In this article, we will explore the best practices for choosing the right board for you.

1. Consider Your Paddling Style

When choosing a SUP board, the first thing to consider is the kind of paddling you are looking to do. Do you want to cruise down rivers, ride waves in the ocean, or race to the finish line? Different styles of boards are best suited for different types of paddling activities.

Flatwater Cruising

If you’re looking to cruise on calm waters like a lake or river, you should look for a board that is longer and wider for superior stability. Most flatwater cruising boards are between 10 to 12 feet in length and around 30 inches wide. These boards are designed to be able to cover large distances efficiently and comfortably. They tend to have flat hulls and minimal rocker to help with tracking, which keeps the board on course.


Surf-style SUPs are built for catching waves in the shorebreak. If you’re an experienced surfer, these boards will provide great stability and maneuverability. Thinner, more streamlined boards are better for high-performance surfing. These boards will be able to be paddled quickly and make tight turns. Beginner surfers should look for a slightly wider and thicker board, which will provide extra stability.


If you plan on participating in a SUP race, you will want to buy a race-specific board. Racing boards are usually slim and lightweight in design. They are generally between 12 and 14 feet long and between 23 to 25 inches wide. The bottom of the board is usually flat with a single concave or a double concave shape on the nose of the board to help with tracking and speed.

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2. Balance Your Weight and Size

The right board should always be chosen based on the rider’s weight and skill level. If you choose a board that is too small for you, it will be less stable and potentially dangerous. If the board is too big, it will be more difficult to control and maneuver. It’s important to take both your weight and size into consideration when making your purchase.


The heavier the rider, the longer and thicker the board needs to be. This will help provide better stability and increased speeds. Most SUPs come with a weight limit, so it’s important to know what the maximum weight is before you buy.


Riders need to consider their height when buying a SUP. Taller riders will benefit from a longer, wider board as this will provide greater stability. Shorter riders should seek out boards with smaller widths and lengths.

3. Choose the Right Construction

The construction of the board is also an important factor to consider when choosing a SUP board. The three main types of designs are inflatable, foam, and hard boards.


Inflatable boards are becoming increasingly popular, as they are easy to transport, and more affordable than hard boards. These boards are constructed with a rugged PVC shell, making them extremely durable and stable. Inflatables also come in a wide range of sizes, making them a great choice for smaller riders who are just getting started.


Foam boards are great for beginners. They are the lightest option and are very buoyant. These boards are suitable for both flatwater cruising and surfing. The main drawback of these boards is that they require frequent repairs due to their soft construction.

Hard Boards

Hard boards are the most versatile and durable option. These boards can be used for a variety of activities, from cruising to surfing and racing. They are also the most responsive in terms of maneuverability and speed. However, they can be difficult to transport and are more expensive.

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4. Features to Look For

When choosing a SUP board, there are several features to consider. Here are some of the most important features to look for:

Fin Setup

Most boards come with a fin setup. The number of fins and their placement will determine the board’s tracking ability. The more fins a board has, the faster and more responsive it will be in the water.


The deckpad offers comfort and grip when paddling. A thick, soft pad will make for a more comfortable ride, whereas a thin hard pad will provide better board control.


The material of the board can affect its performance, stiffness, and durability. Inflatables are usually made of PVC, foam boards are made of low-density foam, and hard boards are usually made of epoxy or foam.

5. Consider Your Budget

Price should also be a factor when choosing a SUP board. Generally, inflatable boards will be the least expensive, followed by foam boards, and then hard boards. When budgeting for a board, keep in mind that there are other costs such as a paddle, leash and safety equipment.

People Also Ask

What is the best paddling style for a beginner?

For a beginner, the best paddling style is a Flatwater Cruising SUP. These boards are longer and wider for stability and are great for covering distances.

How much does a SUP board cost?

The cost of a SUP board will depend on the style, construction, and features. Generally, inflatable boards are the least expensive followed by foam and hard boards.

What safety equipment do I need?

All participants should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and carry a whistle when paddling. If possible, it’s also a good idea to bring a waterproof flashlight and spare paddle.

What type of board is best for cruising?

For flatwater cruising, a board that is longer and wider is best for stability and efficiency. These boards are usually between 10 and 12 feet in length and around 30 inches wide, with a flat hull and minimal rocker.

What type of board is best for surfing?

For experienced surfers, a thinner, sleeker board is best for maneuverability. Beginner surfers should look for something wider and thicker for extra stability.

Final Words

The SUP board you choose should be based on your paddling style, weight and size, and budget. There are many different types of boards available, so it’s important to research and consider all the factors before making a decision. Always wear proper safety equipment when paddling and make sure to have fun!