The Ultimate Guide to Buying a SUP in 2024!

27 Mar 2024




With so many variables, choosing the right paddle board can be daunting.

So we have made a really easy to follow guide that will help you choose the perfect board for you. It includes shapes, materials, and even a quality guide that breaks down what you can expect at the various price-points. 

And this isn't a fluffy sales document. It includes shapes and materials that we don't offer. This is an honest beginners guide to buying a SUP in 2024.


Here is just some of what you will learn. 


Discovering Your Perfect Paddle Board

Surf? All-rounder? Flat water/Touring and Racing? The first step in your SUP journey is determining your intended use. Our comprehensive guide will walk you through the process, ensuring you land on the perfect sup board for your adventures.

Exploring the Types of Paddle Boards

When it comes to selecting the perfect paddle board, understanding the different types of SUPs available is essential. Each type is designed with specific characteristics and features to cater to different styles of paddling and water conditions. Let's explore the four main types of paddle boards:

  1. Surf Paddle Boards

Surf paddle boards are specifically designed for riding waves in the ocean or other bodies of water. These boards typically have a shorter length, narrower width, and a pointed nose, allowing them to maneuver easily in the surf. They often feature a rocker shape, which helps them glide over waves and carve turns with precision. Surf paddle boards prioritize agility and responsiveness, making them ideal for riders looking to catch waves and perform tricks in the surf zone.

  1. Hybrid-Surf Paddle Boards

Hybrid-surf paddle boards bridge the gap between traditional surf boards and all-around paddle boards. These boards combine the agility and maneuverability of surf paddle boards with the stability and versatility of all-around boards. They often feature a wider width and increased volume compared to surf boards, providing greater stability for paddlers in varying water conditions. Hybrid-surf paddle boards are well-suited for riders who enjoy both surfing and recreational paddling, offering a balanced blend of performance and versatility.

  1. All-Rounder Paddle Boards

All-rounder paddle boards are the jack-of-all-trades in the paddle board world, offering versatility and adaptability across a wide range of water conditions and activities. These boards typically feature a balanced combination of stability, maneuverability, and speed, making them suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. All-rounder paddle boards are ideal for recreational paddling, fitness workouts, yoga sessions, and exploring various waterways. With their versatile design, they're the go-to choice for riders looking for a paddle board that can do it all.

  1. Flat Water/Touring Paddle Boards

Flat water/touring paddle boards are designed for cruising on calm waters, such as lakes, rivers, and bays. These boards feature a streamlined shape with a pointed nose and elongated hull, allowing them to glide smoothly through the water with minimal resistance. Flat water/touring paddle boards prioritize efficiency and speed, making them perfect for covering long distances and exploring scenic routes. They often come equipped with storage options, such as bungee cords and cargo nets, for carrying gear and supplies on extended paddling adventures.

  1. Race Paddle Boards

Race paddle boards are engineered for competitive paddling events, where speed and performance are paramount. These boards feature a sleek, streamlined design with a narrow width and tapered nose, reducing drag and maximizing efficiency. Race paddle boards are typically longer than other types of paddle boards, providing greater hull speed and stability for paddlers during races. They're constructed from lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber and fiberglass, to enhance performance and agility on the water. Race paddle boards are designed for experienced paddlers who are looking to push their limits and compete at the highest level.

By understanding the characteristics and features of each type of paddle board, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect board for your paddling adventures. In our guide we provide insights into each category's strengths and environments where they excel.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Perfect Paddle Board

Choosing the right paddle board involves considering various factors, each of which can significantly impact your paddling experience. Here are key points to guide you through the decision-making process:

1. Water Environment

The type of water environment you intend to paddle in plays a crucial role in determining the most suitable paddle board for your needs. Consider factors such as:

Ocean Surf

If you plan to ride waves in the ocean, opt for a surf paddle board designed to navigate the dynamic and challenging conditions of the surf zone.

Flatwater Lakes and Rivers

For tranquil paddling on flatwater bodies such as lakes and rivers, a flat water/touring paddle board provides the stability and efficiency needed for leisurely exploration.

Racing Competitions

If you're an experienced paddler looking to compete in racing events, a specialized racing paddleboard optimized for speed and performance is essential for achieving your competitive goals.

2. Stability and Speed

Finding the right balance between stability and speed is crucial when selecting a paddle board. Consider the following factors:

Stability: Beginners and casual paddlers often prioritize stability to feel confident and comfortable on the water. Opt for a board with a wider profile and ample volume to provide a stable platform, especially if you're still mastering your paddling technique.

Speed: Experienced paddlers and enthusiasts seeking to cover long distances may prioritize speed and efficiency. Look for paddle boards with sleek, streamlined designs and tapered noses to minimize drag and maximize glide, allowing you to maintain a brisk pace with minimal effort.

3. Experience Level

Your experience level as a paddler influences the type of paddle board that best suits your needs and abilities. Consider the following guidelines:

Beginners: Novice paddlers should prioritize stability and ease of use when selecting a paddle board. Opt for an all-rounder or beginner-friendly model with a wide, stable platform to build confidence and develop fundamental paddling skills.

Intermediate Paddlers: As your skills and confidence grow, you may seek a paddle board that offers a balance of stability and performance. Consider transitioning to a more specialized board tailored to your preferred paddling environment and goals, whether it's surfing waves, exploring scenic waterways, or participating in recreational racing.

Advanced Paddlers: Experienced paddlers with a refined technique and specific performance objectives can explore high-performance paddle boards designed for their chosen discipline, whether it's competitive racing, wave riding, or expedition touring. Prioritize features such as lightweight construction, responsive handling, and advanced design elements to elevate your paddling experience to the next level.

By considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing the perfect paddle board to suit your needs, preferences, and paddling aspirations. In our SUP Buyer’s Guide we break down paddle boards' performance in different environments, offering a clear overview of each category to guide your decision-making process.

Hardboard vs. Inflatable: Making the Right Choice

When it comes to choosing between a hardboard and an inflatable paddle board, there are several factors to consider. Both options have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice ultimately depends on your individual preferences, lifestyle, and paddling needs. Let's explore the differences between hardboards and inflatables to help you make an informed decision:

Hardboard Paddle Boards

Hardboard paddle boards, also known as rigid boards, are typically constructed from fiberglass, carbon fiber, epoxy resin, or other durable materials. These boards feature a solid, rigid structure that provides excellent performance and responsiveness on the water. 

Advantages of Hardboard Paddle Boards:

  1. Performance: Hardboards offer superior performance and responsiveness compared to inflatables. Their rigid structure allows for precise control and maneuvering, making them ideal for experienced paddlers and competitive athletes.
  2. Speed: Hardboards typically have a sleek, streamlined design that allows them to glide effortlessly through the water. Their rigid hulls minimize drag and resistance, maximizing speed and efficiency on the water.

Disadvantages of Hardboard Paddle Boards:

  1. Transportation: Hardboards can be challenging to transport, especially for those without a roof rack or large vehicle. They require careful handling and secure tying-down during transportation to prevent damage.
  2. Storage Space: Hardboards require more storage space than inflatables, which can be a limitation for those with limited storage options or living in small apartments or condos.
  3. Durability: Hardboards are more prone to damage and wear-and-tear than inflatables. Their solid construction and outer layer is easily damaged from impacts, scratches, and dings. 
  4. Cost: Hardboards tend to be more expensive than inflatables due to their size, materials and construction. They represent a significant investment for paddlers looking for top-tier performance and durability.

Inflatable Paddle Boards

Inflatable paddle boards, or iSUPs, are made from PVC plastic with woven fibers connecting to the top and bottom inside the board and are quite rigid once inflated. These boards offer excellent portability, convenience, and versatility, making them popular among recreational paddlers, travelers, and families.

Advantages of Inflatable Paddle Boards:

  1. Portability: Inflatable paddle boards are lightweight and compact when deflated, making them easy to transport and store. They can be rolled up and packed into a backpack or carrying bag, allowing paddlers to take them anywhere, from lakes and rivers to oceans and remote destinations.
  2. Storage: Inflatable paddle boards require minimal storage space when deflated, making them ideal for those with limited storage options or living in small spaces. They can be stored in closets, car trunks, or even aboard boats and RVs.
  3. Durability: Despite their inflatable construction, iSUPs are surprisingly durable and resistant to damage. Their PVC materials and drop-stitch construction can withstand impacts, abrasions, and punctures, ensuring long-lasting performance and reliability.
  4. Versatility: Inflatable paddle boards are versatile and can be used for various paddling activities, including recreational paddling, yoga, fishing, and touring. They offer stable, buoyant platforms that are suitable for paddlers of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced riders.

Disadvantages of Inflatable Paddle Boards:

  1. Performance: While inflatable paddle boards offer excellent stability and versatility. Their inflatable construction can result in slightly slower speeds, especially in high performance activities like surfing or racing. 
  2. Maintenance: Inflatable paddle boards require regular maintenance to ensure proper inflation, prevent damage, and extend their lifespan. 
  3. Inflation/Deflation: Inflatable paddle boards require inflation and deflation before and after each use, which can be time-consuming and tedious. However, there are convenient solutions available, such as utilizing electric pumps, to streamline this task and make it more efficient.

Making the Right Choice

When choosing between a hardboard and an inflatable paddle board, it's essential to consider your specific needs, preferences, and paddling style. If performance is your most important consideration and have the means to transport and store a hardboard, then a rigid board may be the right choice for you. One thing to note that the difference in speed is now negligible with high-quality iSUPs. Check what sets inflatable SUP boards apart from hardboards in our journal. On the other hand, if you value portability, convenience, durability and versatility and need a paddle board that can be easily transported and stored, then an inflatable board may be more suitable. 

Ultimately, with our guide, there are more key points you will consider so have the right choice for your paddling needs! Download it now below, for you to make the best decision when buying your next SUP board.


Choosing the Right SUP Board Size

Selecting the correct size for your SUP board is crucial for ensuring optimal performance, stability, and comfort on the water. Factors such as board length and volume play significant roles in determining how a board will handle and feel under different conditions. In our comprehensive SUP Buyer's Guide, we provide detailed guidance and even offer a calculation tool to help you make the right choice.

SUP Length

The length of your SUP board directly impacts its performance and maneuverability in the water. Generally, longer boards offer better tracking and speed, while shorter boards provide increased maneuverability and agility. When choosing the length of your SUP board, consider factors such as your height, weight, paddling style, and intended use:

  1. Longer Boards: Longer SUP boards (typically 11 feet or longer) are ideal for cruising on flat water, touring, and racing. They offer excellent tracking and stability, making them suitable for covering long distances and maintaining a straight line in calm conditions.
  2. Shorter Boards: Shorter SUP boards (typically under 11 feet) are better suited for surfing, whitewater paddling, and maneuvering in tight spaces. They are more responsive and agile, allowing riders to make quick turns and navigate through crowded areas with ease.

SUP Volume

In addition to length, the volume of your SUP board plays a crucial role in determining its buoyancy, stability, and weight capacity. Board volume is measured in liters and represents the amount of space displaced by the board's hull when submerged in water. Choosing the right volume is essential for ensuring that your board floats properly and supports your weight:

  1. Higher Volume Boards: SUP boards with higher volumes are more buoyant and stable, making them suitable for larger riders or those carrying extra gear. These boards offer a higher weight capacity and provide a more stable platform for paddling in choppy or turbulent waters.
  2. Lower Volume Boards: SUP boards with lower volumes are less buoyant and stable, making them ideal for smaller riders or those looking for a more responsive and agile board. These boards offer increased maneuverability and are easier to control in waves or fast-moving water.

In our comprehensive SUP Buyer's Guide, we provide calculations tailored to your needs, including both volume and length recommendations. By providing personalized recommendations based on these variables, we empower you to make informed decisions and choose a board perfectly suited to your paddling adventures.

Finding Your Paddle Length

Selecting the correct paddle length is essential for maximizing your efficiency, comfort, and performance while paddling. A paddle that is too long or too short can lead to fatigue, discomfort, and inefficient strokes, ultimately impacting your enjoyment on the water. 

Factors to Consider when measuring your paddle length:

  • Height: Your height plays a significant role in determining the appropriate paddle length. Taller paddlers typically require longer paddles to reach the water comfortably, while shorter paddlers may opt for shorter paddles for better control and maneuverability.
  • Paddling Style: Your paddling style also influences the ideal paddle length. For casual paddling or recreational use, a slightly shorter paddle may provide better maneuverability and comfort. In contrast, longer paddles are preferred for racing or touring, where efficiency and speed are paramount.
  • Board Width: The width of your SUP board can impact the optimal paddle length. Wider boards may require longer paddles to reach the water effectively, while narrower boards may necessitate shorter paddles for better stroke efficiency.
recommended paddle length

Our SUP Buyer's Guide includes a calculation that simplifies the process of determining your ideal paddle length. This ensures that you select a paddle length that maximizes your comfort, efficiency, and enjoyment on the water.


Understanding Construction Materials: Between Hardboard and Inflatables

When choosing between a hardboard and an inflatable paddle board, understanding the construction materials is essential to make an informed decision. Each type of board utilizes different materials and construction methods, which directly impact factors such as durability, performance, and portability. In our comprehensive SUP Buyer's Guide, we delve into the intricacies of construction materials to help you choose the right paddle board for your needs.

In Conclusion

So, there you have it, from understanding the nuances of paddle board types and construction materials to selecting the right size, length, and volume for your needs, our SUP Buyer’s Guide is something you might consider to help you with your next SUP board.  

Download our Ultimate Guide to Buying a SUP in 2024 today using the form below and kick-start your paddle boarding adventure with confidence. With expert insights, practical tips, and personalized recommendations at your fingertips, you'll be ready to set sail towards unforgettable experiences on the water!