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How to Choose the Best Kind of Paddleboard for You

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So you’ve borrowed or rented your fair share of paddleboards and you’ve decided that you would like your own. Congratulations! Owning a paddleboard is a great experience. You will get to explore your surroundings like never before while exercising and being outdoors.

There are a few things you’ll have to consider before you buy a paddle board, like the issue of storage. The type of board you buy will depend on where you are planning on using it and storing it for the majority of the time. If you live in a small condo in the city, and you don’t own a car, your best option may be an inflatable paddleboard.

Inflatable Paddleboards:

iSUP, inflatable, paddleboard, SUPiSups, as they’re also known, are great for moving around. They fit in a backpack and can be checked in as regular luggage. You can throw the board into the back of a car trunk, roll it out where you decide to paddle, inflate it and go! These boards are also great for beginners as they can be banged up with little to no consequence. If you are planning on lending out your board a lot, especially to young ones, this board will give you peace of mind.

Inflatable paddleboards vary in the amount of pressure they can sustain, like a car tire. A good quality iSUP should be able to hold 20 psi or above. This ensures that the board is sturdy for the rider. As a note, river paddling should always be done on inflatable boards for the safety of the rider.

Cons: inflating and deflating your board can get a little bothersome. Our suggestion is to invest in an electronic pump so that you don’t have to do the manual inflating yourself. Unless you don’t mind!

Rigid Paddleboards:

Paddleboard, paddle board, SUP

Rigid board with a planing hull

If space is no issue for you and you are willing to take good care of your board, this SUP is for you. Although good iSUPs are rigid, they do feel slightly different and to some, it’s just a matter of preference. These boards feel more stable specifically to those who like practicing SUP yoga.

There are two major categories of rigid paddleboards and these are:

  • Flat-water boards or planing hulls: as the name suggests, these are better for glassy conditions. They are incredibly stable but slower than the displacement boards.
  • Displacement hulls: the nose of these boards is shaped precisely to cut through water. They are better gliders and will take the rider faster. They are generally less stable than flat-water boards.

Cons: they are hard to travel with on planes and are easier to damage than inflatable paddleboards. Knick one of these boards on a dock or another hard surface and you will need to repair it to ensure that water does not enter the inner part of the board. 

Board Length:

Standard paddleboards measure anywhere between 9’6” and 12’6”. Any longer than that and we’re talking about a race board. They are thin and unstable, as they are meant to fly. Shorter than 9’6″ are meant for surfing or for juniors. The length of the board will be directly related to its volume.

Volume:

Volume refers to the amount of space that the board displaces from the water. It is one of the key attributes to look at when selecting your board. As a beginner, a good rule of thumb is to get a board that has a litre of volume per pound of weight of the prospective paddler. If the paddler weighs approximately 160 lbs then look for a board that is 160 L. As you become more experienced, you will be able to paddle boards that have less volume.




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  • […] probably trying to figure out two things: what type of board is right for you (more on that here) and where you would go out to paddle. There’s got to be more to it than going out in […]

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