Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk on water, or at least come very close to it? Well, you can now experience it for yourself with the help of a paddle board, or SUP (stand-up paddle).
Some may say that paddle-boarding is just another form of kayaking or canoeing. But there’s one major difference: In a kayak/canoe, you sit, on a paddle board, you stand! And by standing, a paddle board offers a better perspective and view of your surroundings as you can observe wildlife closer and watch the waves coming in off the horizon. It is a truly unique experience and all the more reason for you to try this increasingly popular activity.
This post will explain the basics of SUP and help you decide which model or style would work best for you.
Here is a quick run down of what you can expect with all boards:
- Feature removable skegs (or fins) underneath to aid in tracking
- Include some type of grippy pad for paddlers to keep their footing while on the board
- Offer some type of attachment point for an ankle or knee leash – necessary to keep the board from being blown or washed away from the paddler in a spill
- Can be constructed of a variety of materials from polyethylene to high end composites, depending on the performance desired; Inexpensive polyethylene boards tend to be rather inefficient on the water, while pricier composite boards are lightweight and efficient, and can be designed and constructed with sharper edges and smoother skin. The vast majority of SUP boards are constructed of composite and proprietary materials that allow the boards to perform well in most conditions while not breaking the bank.
- Usually are available in several sizes for each model, to accommodate both the size and the experience level of the paddler. The size of the board is not only measured in length and width, but also in overall volume. Obviously, shorter boards fit shorter paddlers, while larger boards work best for larger paddlers; however more experienced paddlers will tend to appreciate the performance of a smaller, lower volume board, since they are able to exert more control over the edges and other hydrodynamic features of the board. Conversely, more inexperienced paddlers feel more comfortable on a larger volume board that floats them higher out of the water, and feels more like a platform.
Basic types of SUP boards
All-purpose Stand Up Paddle Boards
- Generally shorter and somewhat wider, and feature rockered shapes with turned up noses for easier maneuvering and turning as well as ease of popping over waves.
- Wider profile creates more of a platform-like feel on the water
- Good for both moving and flat water – they offer a compromise between surf and lake conditions
- Some all-purpose boards feature a full deck pad and a more squared-off nose, allowing them to be used as a comfortable and stable platform for activities such as yoga
Displacement or Touring Boards
- Tend to be longer with squared-off ends to increase tracking and speed
- Narrower profile allows these SUP boards to “knife” through the water with less resistance
- Designed primarily for open water and covering larger distances more easily, they can also handle waves and chop
- Very long, narrow derivations constructed of lightweight composites are considered racing boards, not usually easy for beginners to manage
Additional things to consider about Stand Up Paddle Boards
- Outside of the surf zone, SUP board paddlers must have, by law, a US Coast Guard-approved PFD onboard. We recommend wearing it. Most life vests will do, however inflatable, belt-style vests are ideal since, worn around the waist until they are deployed, they interfere less with paddling.
- SUP paddles are sized according to the paddler’s height; a basic rule of thumb when sizing a paddle is to add 8-10 inches to your height. More experienced paddlers, using paddles for more high performance paddling, including racing and surf, tend to opt for shorter lengths.
- SUP boards are great for exercise since they provide not only a great cardio workout, but also anaerobic benefit, as paddling them engages all the muscles in your body. They also excel as fishing and bird-watching platforms, since they can access shallow, quiet spots while giving the paddler an ideal vantage point above the water.
Please see the instruction and demonstration video below: