Stand up paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports on the market. It has become one of my favorite summer activities because of the versatility. It can be everything from a full body workout, to general recreation or a lake toy. Although most people believe you need balance to stand up paddle board, the truth is, depending on the board you select, it requires less balance than you think.
Why Stand Up Paddle Board?
- Allows you to jump in the water to cool off and get back on the board
- Full body workout
- You can stand up, kneel, sit or lay down
- Kids can jump off and use it as a swim platform
- Dog accessible
- Boards are lighter weight than most water sports equipment
- No tan lines from cockpits
- Practice yoga
Boards are generally 10-14 feet in length, depending on classification. Boards come in different widths to provide stability and make for smoother paddling for those wanting to paddle further distances or even race. The longer the board is, the better the tracking (stays straight when you paddle). Wider boards give better stability and usually have a larger weight capacity.
The thicker the board is, the more volume it has and the more weight it can handle. The more weight it can handle, the more stable that board will feel on the water.
Stand up paddle boards (SUPs) are made from polyethylene (plastic), foam or fiberglass. This primarily affects the weight and quality of the board. Polyethylene boards are generally much heavier. Foam boards are light and much more durable. Fiberglass boards are lighter and easier to paddle but easier to damage.
Deck Padding: This is important when it comes to your feet. Smoother deck padding is great for bare feet. Having some texture will allow grip, but be cautious about thicker gripping because it can be painful under feet. Some boards have deck padding that goes the entire length of the board, which is great if you paddle with your dog. This is also better if you use your board for a swim platform.
Types of Stand Up Paddle Boards
Regardless of brand, by looking at the tip of the paddle board you will have a good indication of what the board will do on the water. Usually the three categories of boards are surf, recreational and touring/race.
Surf boards are designed to be round in the front to surf the waves. They are usually shorter boards (less than 8 feet in length).
Recreational is the most popular style of stand up paddle boards. They are inflatable, soft top or fiberglass. They are designed with a round top or with a small keel to stay on top of the water. If a keel is present, it helps to cut through the water chop that most inland lakes experience. Most boards will be 10-11.5 feet in length. The wider the board is, the more stable the board will be.
Inflatable’s are great for traveling or if you have limited space for storage. They come in a storage bag with a pump. The disadvantage of inflatables is they are not as stable as solid boards and it takes time to blow them up.
Soft top boards are constructed of foam, which makes them more durable and usually lighter weight than other boards. They are great if you want to use the board as a swim platform, yoga board or have your furry friend join you.
Touring/Race is a favorite category, even for people new to this sport. These boards have very good stability and allow for two people to be on the board, depending on the length. They are designed with a large keel in the front. This helps the board slice through water chop that most inland lakes have. Usually these boards are 11-14 feet long. They usually have a thicker body which helps give these boards stability.