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A stand-up paddle board (SUP) is a large board, similar to a surf board, that you stand atop and maneuver using a paddle. Paddle boarding has taken off in recent years as popular form of water-based recreation. They can be used for sitting and relaxing, or for fitness like SUP yoga, racing or even overnight touring.
Types of Paddle Boards
- Solid: These SUPs are made of a foam core commonly wrapped in epoxy and fiberglass, but also carbon fiber (more expensive) and plastic (less expensive). Solid SUPs offer the best performance and stability, but they take up a lot of space.
- Inflatable: Instead of featuring a foam core, these use air to provide buoyancy and stability. While softer than solid boards, they are still very sturdy when properly inflated. Inflatable paddle boards are better for casual paddlers or those with limited space to store their board.
Your weight and the type of SUPing you intend to do determine the right size SUP for you. You'll want to look at the board's length and width:
- Short (under 10'): More maneuverable for surfing and a great choice for kids.
- Medium (10'-12'): Great for casual use and yoga.
- Long (over 12'): These are faster and steer straighter, making them great for racing or touring.
SUP width generally ranges from 25" to 36". A wider board is great for bigger people or those that want to carry cargo. A narrower board is better for smaller people or more advanced paddlers looking for speed.
Look for other common features and accessories so your SUP meets your particular needs. Here are common features:
- Fins: A single fin is great for flatwater paddling while a 3-fin thruster helps in surf. A 2+1 setup is even better for surfing.
- Attachment points: Look for points made for attaching fishing rods, seats, cameras and more.
Getting Started Paddle Boarding
Before you head out on the water, you'll need a few accessories: a paddle and leash, a PFD (the US Coast Guard requires them) and the right clothes like a wetsuit. If you have a solid board you might need a car rack to transport it. We also have tips on how to paddleboard.