All The Different Types Of SUP Boards (& Which One Is Right For You)

Stand Up Paddleboarding is the fastest growing sport in the world for a good reason. It is not only a great workout and easy to learn, but it is also fun, refreshing, and gives you a chance to connect with nature. While you have several options, selecting your first paddleboard does not need to be any more challenging than learning the craft. How to choose a stand-up paddleboard comes down to your lifestyle, what you plan to use it for, and the price of the paddleboard. If you are still not sure, this article, All The Different Types Of SUP Boards And Which One Is Right For

Which SUP board Is Right For You? For instance, the race boards offer more speed, but may not be the best for beginners. Flatwater boards provide greater stability, easily slice through the water, and provide a decent glide. Generally, your decision will be based on your lifestyle, skill level, and what you plan to use it for.

What Is Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

SUP, stand up paddleboarding, is one of the fastest-growing water sports there are. It involves a combination of surfing and kayaking by fundamentally standing on the surfboard and propelling yourself by use of a paddle. SUP boards are much more expansive, longer, and more buoyant than the standard surfboards. This makes them most suitable as you can comfortably balance on them.

All The Different Types Of SUP Boards And Which One Is Right For You

What Are The Different Types Of Stand Up Paddleboards?

Stand Up Paddleboards come in a wide range of designs and specifications. However, the most common ones are three; allround, surf, and race/flatwater.

Here is a preview of these types.


Surfboard is specifically shorter with a narrower tail and nose. Also, compared to the allround and flatwater/race, these have a more curve or rocker. Surf paddle boards are ideal for those who intend to spend more time on the surf.

Surfboards are much more maneuverable in the wave, thanks to the narrower shape. However, the downgrade is relatively slow and cannot track in a straight line on flat water. Moreover, these surfboards are often less stable. Professionals and experts mostly use them.

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All Round Paddle Boards

All round boards are typically wider, thicker, and longer than other surf-specific models. They are versatile and conveniently multi-purpose making them a good value. All round boards are also highly recommended as the best first-time boards as they allow you to explore every aspect of this thrilling sport with just one board. All round paddleboards are sufficiently stable to offer a decent tracking and glide for flatwater paddling or even open ocean touring.

Furthermore, they offer enough sidecut and rocker for a decent surf performance. Some all round paddle boards give the users a windsurf option. This includes the allocation of a mast foot fitting on the board’s deck so that you can mount a windsurf sailing rig, making the board even more versatile.

Flatwater Paddle Boards

Flatwater paddle boards are optimized for open ocean paddling, flatwater, and downwinders. Typically, they are longer than all round paddleboards. The nose area is often pointed to enable the board to slice through the water smoothly effortlessly.

The function increases the glide while helping the board to go straight. The sides of flatwater paddle board are usually rounded for enhanced speed and glide. Most of the flatwater paddle boards are wide enough to offer stability to beginners.

However, in the same family as the flatwater paddle boards, race boards are narrower to increase the speed of the board. This narrowness characteristic to race boards makes them unsuitable for beginner paddlers and is therefore not recommended.

The other less common types of SUP paddleboards are;

Touring SUPs: mostly these SUPs are designed to offer enough support to allow the user to transverse the water when voyaging. Their design is much like a normal paddleboard, but you have more support.

Fishing SUPs: used mostly in fishing with their design, allowing them to rest on the water comfortably. However, you have to understand how to paddle a SUP before using it.

Yoga SUPs: maybe not everyone’s favorite, but it’s more of a yoga mat, but you’ll be using it on water. The yoga SUP allows you to enjoy yoga in the water while exercising balance.

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What Components Does a Paddle Have?

A good paddle will have the following three features; handle, shaft, and blade.


The SUP paddle hands have an ergonomic design that can fit into the palm of your hand, or some try to achieve a straighter T-bar feel. The ergonomic design for SUP handles most popular, but some people still go for the traditional T-bar grp.


The shaft is theoretically the most critical component of a SUP paddle. It can be made from various materials, including Kevlar, glass fiber, carbon, and aluminum. The material used will highly influence the performance of the paddle.

Carbon is the most common material and provides stiffness and memory. Glass fiber is more of a budget mater and can bend more to make the paddle softer in a stroke. Aluminum is a rigid material and can be relatively heavy. The Kevlar material offers high impact resistance and is similar to carbon in terms of performance.

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The blade sizes of SUP paddles range widely from large to small. A large blade can displace more water in a single paddle stroke while offering more power on demand. However, for beginner’s hands, these paddles may eventually disable them due to shoulder pain. Therefore, the smaller blade sizes are more preferred, especially in the surf, and are also gentler on any user. Larger blades are common for downwind or distant paddling.

Which SUP Is Right For You?

Based on each paddleboard’s individual outstanding features outlined above, you can determine which one will best suit your needs. For instance, the race boards offer more speed, but may not be the best for beginners. Flatwater boards provide greater stability, easily slice through the water, and provide a decent glide. Generally, your decision will be based on your lifestyle, skill level, and what you plan to use it for. The paddle price will also affect your decision, depending on your budget.

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Solid Or Inflatable SUP?

Once you have found the right type for you, the battle does not end there. You have to choose between inflatable or solid stand up paddles. Here is the difference between the two.

Solid Stand Up Paddleboards

These types are built with a wide range of materials such as wood, plastics, Kevlar, fiberglass, and foam. What’s more, the common high-performing solid SUP boards are made of epoxy-fiberglass. These epoxy boards are constructed with a foam core laminated with fiberglass layers for enhanced rigidity and strength. Moreover, another distinguishing feature is that most solid SUP boards feature an air vent usually installed on the deck. These air vents are handy as they are an excellent way to prevent delamination of the epoxy resin from the EPS foam blank.

Advantages of solid Stand Up Paddle Boards

No inflation is required, meaning you can go straight with them on the water.

These boards are super stable with stronger choppy water or wind.

They offer the ultimate performance for agility and speed or those who love to perform tricks while surfing.

Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards

These are constructed from several layers of PVC plastic with woven fabrics that connect to the top and bottom inside the board. Also, no need to worry about rigidity as they are surprisingly rigid once they are inflated. Inflatable SUP boards are lightweight as they are mostly composed of air.

Advantages of inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards

They do not take up much space during storage as they can pack down into a backpack.

They can easily fit into an airline’s hold allowance for those who wish to travel abroad with them.

These boards are ideal if you intend to paddle in locations that are not easily reachable by car.

They are more affordable than the solid SUP boards.

Board Size

The board length and volume and key factors to be considered when selecting the right size of SUP board.

SUP Volume

Below is an easy way to determine which SUP volume will be ideal for you. The formula involves simple calculations.

For beginners, take your weight and multiply by 2, i.e., 90kg x 2, which gives you 180 liters. For intermediates, the latter value changes to 1.7, i.e., weight x 1.7, and for advanced users, multiply by 1.3. The surf length is also dependent on the weight of the user.

Paddle Height

To maximize your enjoyment and performance on the water, you should consider having the right paddle height for the type of paddling you intend to do. The ideal heights vary with the type of SUP paddleboard you have.

Surf SUP paddles: These should be between 6 to 8 inches above the user’s height given by the lower stance taken in surfing.

Flatwater SUP paddles: These are between 8 to 10 inches above user height to offer an improved reach and power for each paddle stroke.

Racing SUP paddles: These are between 10 to 12 inches above the user’s height to offer maximum reach and power in each paddle stroke for speed.

You can also go for an adjustable paddle if you wish to use the same in both flatwater and surf.

Paddle Blade Size

The sizes and shapes of the blades also vary and made a huge difference in the paddle’s performance. Those with higher aspects and narrower blades are well suited for racing, offer more power with less effort, and have a higher speed over distance. A lower aspect and narrower blade is best for lighter paddlers and offers endurance. The blade with a higher aspect and wider blade is best for power, strong paddlers, and strong waves.

SUP Brand

Ensure you always go for the highest quality of SUP boards in the industry. You can choose the brand based on experience with their products or even decide to try out a new one.

Besides The Paddle And Board, Which Other Accessories Do You Need?

Below are some of the accessories that go well with your SUP board and paddle.

SUP Leashes

You can do away with them, but it is a good idea to have one. These work to keep you attached to the board in case you fall off. These leashes come in handy when catching waves or in choppy situations. They are available in two styles; coil and standard.

Coil leashes: they are designed to stretch out when under any tension, ensuring your board is at a safe distance when you fall off. They compactly coil up when paddling. This keeps the leash from dragging in the water.

Standard leashes: they are the regular cord leashes resembling surfboard leashes. They are less likely to tangle when you move around in the board. These usually drag in the water but are lighter than the coil leashes.

Leash lengths: The general rule is that the leash is as long as your board. However, depending on the paddle style and your skill level, this can change. Therefore, a leash within a couple of feet of the board length will do the trick. Longer leashes allow the board to float further away to reduce the risk of it hitting you. These are good in surf or choppy conditions. Shorter leashes keep boards closer to the user if you fall off. They are preferred in flatwater since there is a lower risk of a wave pushing the board into you.

Buoyancy Aids

Buoyancy aids are essential even for advanced paddlers. The conditions can rapidly change, and it is always advisable to be prepared. Buoyancy aids are even legally required in some areas, and a fine can be imposed on you if you lack one. These aids should meet all safety standards to ensure they are coast guard approved.


The right wetsuit will allow you to extend the paddle season past the warm summer days and into the cold winter. You can add a hood, gloves, and booties and still use the SUP in winter. The wetsuit warmth is determined by its thickness measured in mm. Ensure that you find out the air and water temperature you will be in to purchase the right one.


And that is everything you need to know about all the different types of SUP boards and which one is right for you. The post is to help you decide the ideal SUP for your surfing needs. As you can see, there are multiple types, but all of them have some similarities. If you pick it well, then you’ll have the best time paddleboarding.


Hi, I’m John who owns multiple different boats and i love all kinds of water activities. From boating to fishing, from scuba diving to windsurfing, from water tubing to snow tubing.

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