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Buying Your First Paddleboard

Buying Your First Paddleboard

Posted by Matt Walsh - Pro at everything! on 11th Jan 2015

So you’re looking to get into Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and you’re thinking to yourself "what the heck is the difference between all of the shapes, brands, and styles?" Well you’re in luck, because I'm going to tell you everything you will need to know!

After describing the various factors that must be considered when picking your first SUP, I will then offer suggestions on which board will work best for you. Below are the most important questions you must ask yourself when picking out a board.

First, what Kind of conditions are you paddling in?

All Around:

Yes, I know that 8 foot surf design is sexy as hell, but is it practical for where you are going to be paddling? Most likely not is my guess. If you’re like the most of the paddling community, sticking to lakes, intercostals, and ocean waters, with the desire to cruise, sight see, and dabble into surfing, then you will need a board that caters to all of those conditions.


If what interests you most about paddling, is the exercise, long distance paddles, and exploration then you will want to get a SUP specifically designed for these conditions.


If you’re a surfer at heart and you are just looking for a new way to glide on a wave, then there are boards designed strictly for surfing


Crossover boards are what I consider the multi tool of SUP’s. With these boards you can do it all. You can go for a paddle on a calm day, surf when there are waves, and windsurf when the wind kicks up.

Second, what kind of body type do you have?

When I say body type, I’m not talking about your after 5 beers image of you! Picking the right board requires you being completely honest with yourself. Weight is the determining factor when picking your SUP. How to tell if a board is the right fit for you, you must look at its volume, length, width, and thickness.

Volume: The size of the board is determined by its volume. This is the weight which can be floated on a board. A 120 litre board will support roughly 120 kilos of weight (including the weight of the board itself and the rig it is carrying). So if you weigh 80kg and the weight of your board and rig is 20kg, you will need 100 litres to float. A 120 litre board will give you 20 litres of positive volume. Volume determines the stability, maneuverability, and versatility of the board. Surf designs will have low volume and race/distance boards will have high volume, and all around boards fall in the middle.

Length: The length of a SUP is another factor that will determine what kind of characteristics the board will have.


Pros: Longer boards will track better (go in a straight line) and also get more glide out of each paddle. They are also going to be a faster shape. Race and distance boards will be longer in length because of these characteristics.

Cons: Longer boards will be less maneuverable and not surf as well.


Pros: Short boards will be very maneuverable, turning and carving on waves with greater ease. Make transport less of a hassle.

Cons: Shorts boards do not track well; they tend to travel through the water much like a snake, moving from side to side. This is poor for covering large distances.

Width: Important factor for speed and stability.


Pros: A wider board will be a more stable design. The added surface area gives you more to work with when you are trying to keep your balance. Going wide with your board allows you to also go shorter and thinner, great for maneuverability and surfing.

Cons: Wider boards tend to be slower shapes; the wider surface area creates more friction on the water trying to pass under your board, slowing it down.


Pros: A sleeker design will be much faster and cut through the water more efficiently.

Cons: Less stability.

Thickness: is a major determinant of the volume of the board. Also affects the stability and paddling characteristics of the board. 

So armed with this new information give us a call and we will help guide you to your new ride!