A few tips to help you choose the right stand-up paddleboard

November 3, 2015

Stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding falls into two categories: flatwater paddling and surfing. Here's a guide to choosing the right board for you:

A few tips to help you choose the right stand-up paddleboard

Choosing the right type of board

Flatwater paddling involves traversing great distances on relatively little surf, similar to kayaking, but while standing.

  • Surfing involves riding waves, which are sometimes accompanied by high turbulence.
  • The type of board you need will be based on the type of surfing you plan to do.
  • It's important to choose the right type of board for your needs and to always keep safety precautions in mind.

Surfing boards

These boards have a pointed nose and tail for ease in turning.

  • They are generally under 3 meters in length.
  • They're not suited for flatwater paddling, but they're great for surfing.

Downwind boards

When travelling downwind, the wind is at your back and is usually strong.

  • You ride the swells it creates, in a mostly straight line, for long distances.
  • Longer boards, of 3.3 meters or longer, are best for this type of surfing.

Touring boards

Touring boards, designed specifically for flatwater paddling, are longer and have a pointy nose.

  • Touring boards are great for lakes, rivers or the open ocean, but they're not the board you want to take out into the surf.


These are longer and wider than surf-specific boards and are therefore more stable.

  • Great for any condition, learning to SUP on these is a breeze.

Hybrid boards

Hybrid boards are rounded in shape and those longer than 3 meters can be used for both surfing and flatwater paddling.

  • For surfing, they'll serve you well for small-medium waves.
  • For larger waves, you'll want to get a board specifically for surfing.

Characteristics of boards

When choosing a board, you need to consider the following characteristics:


  • Longer and thicker boards have more volume; shorter, thinner and skinnier boards have less. Boards with more volume keep you afloat better, although they're less responsive than their more agile counterparts.
  • This is why boards meant for cruising along a lake at long distances contain more volume; the emphasis being on keeping you afloat, whereas while surfing volatile seas, responsiveness is key.

Your weight and width of the board

  • You also want to pick the board most suited for your weight. The board needs to be wide enough for comfort and stability.

Materials and construction

  • Durability, price, performance and weight are affected by the materials used and the construction of your board.


  • Surfing can be dangerous so it's always important to be properly equipped with safety devices.


  • Personal flotation devices, or PFDs, are essential for safety, though regulations vary. Regardless of regulations, it's best to wear a PFD.


  • Leashes are mandatory and tie you to your board in the event that you fall off. You don't want to lose your board, which is your means of getting back to shore.
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