Stand Up Paddle Board Buyer's Guide

Stand Up Paddle Board Buyer's Guide


How to Choose The Right SUP Board For Me?

One of the best tools in your search for the right paddle board for YOU is a team of experts ready to answer your questions. That's exactly what we have at Stand on Liquid. That said, it's always good to arm yourself with good information whether you are looking for an all-around board or a specialized addition to your Standup paddleboarding quiver. The more you know, the better the questions you will ask as we hone in on the best board for you. Touring through this article by topic is a great way to refine your decision-making process. Let's start with the beginner or entry-level SUP athlete.

SUP Hull Design:

As an entry-level SUP paddler, you will probably be most concerned about stability. Getting to know a little bit about hull design can help. A planing hull is wider and flatter than a displacement hull. The planing hull is good for stability and is versatile enough for some surfing fun. If speed on the water is key to your SUP enjoyment you will want to investigate the more pointy, boat-hull shaped displacement hull design. You will gain speed but will need to practice balance and technique to make up for having less stability. As stability goes, the wider the board the more stable it can be. A needle-thin race board will zoom through the water with top speed, but if you're constantly wobbling - or wiping out - there is no advantage. Trying out a variety of width and volume options can set you up to choose the standup paddleboard that is just challenging enough for improvement without being overwhelming. Your technique and balance will improve with a little time on the water.

Key Point:

Stability vs speed has many degrees and variables. Consider where you will be paddleboarding. Even a flat lake will have some waves, a river will have currents - and your skill level will improve. A planing hull may be your best bet, but consider that an all-purpose flatwater touring board can have a displacement bow and still provide good overall stability. Hybrid or crossover designs will be covered below.

Standup Paddleboard Construction - The Overview:

You can dive into more detail on each of these construction options. This short overview can help you focus on the construction that best suits your budget, where you'll paddle and if you travel with your board. EPS Foam Core Layered with Fiberglass and Epoxy: This is the most common type of SUP construction. You’ll see many high-quality boards in the mid-price range using this technology. There are also differences in layering techniques, foam quality and performance enhancements (i.e. carbon fiber and wood stringers). Advanced construction will affect price, but will also make for a lighter, more durable board. Many of the top brands offer boards with EPS/Epoxy construction. Generally, this includes a styrofoam core, fiberglass cloth, and epoxy lay-up. EPS + Plastic This hybrid construction consists of a foam core, fiberglass layering, and styrene polymer outer layer. This makes for a lighter version of straight plastic boards. It’s also a very durable construction technique delivering a great all-around, economical option for entry to advanced level paddling. Check out this video for more insights into material/construction comparisons:

All-Around Paddle Board:

Like its name implies, an All-Around SUP can do a little bit of everything. It will allow you to ride waves - but if that is your prime interest you will want to explore SUP surfboards. If racing will be your favorite on-water activity, get to know the SUP Raceboard options. The All-round board is usually considered a beginner board but can be versatile enough if you are on a tight budget and want to go in the surf, on flatwater or explore SUP Yoga. For kids or smaller sized men and women, a shorter all-around board will be fin. If you will add a child to your board - or your happy water dog - you will want to inquire about the volume of the board. More volume can carry more weight in a stable manner. Most all-around boards have a rounded nose. Tails can come in a square, round, or pintail shape. Square shapes offer the most stability, while pintails offer the most maneuverability and a little bit more speed while sacrificing a little bit of stability.

All-Around SUP Suggestion:

The Stand on Liquid Beachwood LT Paddle Board will provide a great experience whether you're gliding on flat water or getting your stoke on the surf. The Beachwood LT has a sweet amount of rocker as well as a slightly rounded tail that will track well in small and medium-sized surf. The Beachwood LT at just 23 lbs is constructed with Stand on Liquid’s lightweight EPS foam core, layers of fiberglass and wood with an Epoxy finish resulting in lightweight and durability. Check out our All Around Inflatable option below.

Fitness and Touring Paddle Board:

Fitness and touring boards are a cross between the all-around SUP and a race SUP. The volume of fitness and touring boards will be a little higher than the flatter, all-around styles making these boards good options for people who plan to paddle with kids or pets on board. The major benefit of going with a fitness/touring shape is the nose. Nose shape is often a displacement hull similar to a race board shape. This aids in tracking straight while paddling and cutting through brisk tides or wind chop. The hull design difference of the touring boards makes them better for distance and endurance training. The Touring SUP tail shape will often be a square tail for enhancing any stability lost from having a more pulled-in nose. The rails are thicker and can come in round or square. Square rails are more stable, while round rails are faster. A combination of both is ideal.

Racing Paddle Board:

Stand up paddle boards for racing have a very distinct pointy shape when compared to all-around boards These boards are most commonly 12’6”, 14’, or “unlimited”. Traditionally, women are on 12’6”, men are on 14.’ Regardless of size, the bow shape and displacement hull are what enables a race board to go fast and glide well. These boards are able to cut through choppy water and track straighter. Being much narrower than the all-around and fitness/touring models race boards provide more distance per stroke; but with that comes a sacrifice in stability. The tail of a race board will influence speed and stability. Wider tails will be more stable while a pulled-in tail contributes to speed. Wider, more stable tails are also beneficial in buoy turns during races. The rails will influence stability the most. Rounder rails are considered faster but less stable, while sharp, square rails are more stable and can shed water quickly. The volume of these boards is greatly dependent on the rider. Heavier riders will require boards with more volume to float them high enough in the water to decrease drag and gain speed. Smaller riders will also not want a board that is too large because it will be too difficult to move or gains momentum. Check out the race board section of the Stand on Liquid website for a wide variety of choices - and some bargains on sale. From the Starboard Allstar Carbon 12'6" to the Naish ONE Inflatable 12'6" there is a model and price point that will fit you perfectly. Order online or call for a consultation with our expert team.

Stand-Up Surf Paddle Board:

Surf shape SUPs have a similar shape to the all-around boards, with the exception of some of the smaller boards which come to a point at the nose. Surf shapes all have planing style hulls, and the amount of rocker, or how curved up the tip is, varies. The rails, tail, rocker, and even fins all work in concert to create the performance desired by paddlers. If surfing is your primary SUP activity you will want to have an expert guide your decision. Give us a call - your ability, surf spot, and budget will all combine to guide your best decision. Here's a mid-price surf option - The 23 lb Stand on Liquid Del Mar 11'0" longboard style SUP constructed with Stand on Liquid’s lightweight EPS foam core will provide memorable rides in the surf and transfer the fun and glides to flat water cruising. The Del Mar has an adequate rocker for surf performance in the small to medium sized surf. The Del Mar also features a 2+1 fin system with Future fin boxes and a GoPro mount on the nose to capture your adventures.  

Inflatable Paddle Board:

Whether your storage space is small or your travel plans are vast - an Inflatable SUP could be the answer. One of the major differences between fiberglass SUP boards and inflatable SUP boards is the overall performance. Recent technology allows inflatable SUPs to be more rigid and similar to fiberglass boards. The performance differences really depend on the style of riding you are doing. For ruggedness in rocky lakes, portability for travel and All Around performance, there is an inflatable right for you. Maximum PSI is an important consideration and as with most equipment, the lighter the weight (while gaining maximum durability) will bring you to the higher end cost. We offer many great choices of inflatable SUP boards at Stand on Liquid. Looking for a great value? The Good Vibes Air 10'6" fills the bill! For flat water paddling, surfing the ocean waves, SUP yoga and fitness, or simply paddling with family and friends, you're getting a shape and rocker that provide amazing stability. Utilizing Stand on Liquid's Multi-Layer Fusion technology, the Good Vibes Air weighs just 20 pounds and is more durable and stiffer than your traditional double layer PVC constructions. Give us a call for more info.

whitewater Paddle Board

Hala Gear Inflatable Paddle Boards have been designed and made from listening to the needs of experienced whitewater paddlers and putting that knowledge into the design of this board. Attention to quality and detail provide performance and safety features - it will help you ride up and over bumps in the water, giving you maximum performance and stability. The quad fin setup is made to be low-profile to avoid getting hung-up on obstacles and help to minimize the number of rocks you may hit, always helpful for staying on the board in the gnarly spots. We look forward to answering your questions and guiding your buying decision. Call us at 541-639-4596.