Nov 25, 2020 | By Mike Galvin

Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a SUP

To the casual observer, all SUP boards look pretty much the same.  But in actual fact, there’s much more to paddle boards than meets the eye and they can differ considerably in terms of their shape, size, weight, fins and construction materials.

It’s really important to choose the right board for size and shape as well as your ability and fitness level – plus it’s important to choose a board that’s right for the type of paddling you’ll be doing (eg Cruising, SUP surfing, touring, SUP yoga, SUP racing etc).  The type of board you choose also depends on where you’ll be paddling (calm water, open waves etc) and of course, there are budget considerations too.

With so many variables, choosing a SUP board may seem a bit daunting.  But it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve compiled this beginner’s guide to choosing a SUP which will give you a quick overview of the different board types and what to look for.

The most important thing is to get good advice from someone who really understands the sport and who can guide you in the right direction.  Our staff at Stand Up Surf Shop are handpicked for their experience, knowledge and of course, their infectious enthusiasm for this awesome sport and they’d love to help you choose a board – plus you’re welcome to do a trial run on the water with one of our boards to make sure it is just right for you!

Board width and thickness  

The most important thing to consider when you’re shopping for a SUP board is the size of the board in relation to your body’s dimensions.

Essentially, the board has to displace the right amount of water for your weight and height.  For example, a 30 inch wide board is usually a good entry level option for a lighter weight paddler whilst a 36 inch wide board would be better for someone weighing upwards of 120kgs.  SUP boards are always measured in inches – even our home-grown brands manufactured in Australia – but that’s just the way it is!

The thicker the board, the more stable it will be.  Boards are made up to 33 inches wide and for beginners or those with impaired flexibility or injuries, we generally recommend a board that’s at least 30 inches wide.  Race and touring boards tend to be narrower.

 Board length

The length of the board impacts on many different things including speed, manoeuvrability, control and stability.  The longer the board, the greater the glide and the faster you’ll go.

The versatile all-around shape is ideal for beginners and intermediate paddle boarders but if you’re into something a little more challenging and strenuous, then you may want to consider an elongated touring paddleboard which has a pointed nose.

Remember though, when you’re choosing a board, you also need to think of practical aspects like transport (will it fit in or on your car?), storage, ease of access to the water etc.

Board construction

SUP boards have come a long way in recent years and the manufacturing techniques and materials vary widely.  Boards can be solid or inflatable and are constructed from different types of materials including epoxy fibreglass, carbon fibre, PVC and most have an EPS foam core.  The surface texture of a board will also vary depending on the materials used, boards have a deck pad fitted for comfort and grip.

You can also get ultra light paddleboards which are really easy to carry as well as durable, soft-top designs which are perfect for first-timers and worry-free family fun.

Try before you buy

We want you to have the best experience possible out on the water – and making the right choice of board is absolutely crucial.

Before making a decision, you should ask the following questions:

  • Where will I be using the SUP?
  • Who will be using the board? (their height, weight, age etc)
  • What will the board be used for? (family fun, specialised activities eg yoga, touring, surfing etc)
  • What’s their level of experience/skill?

Why not check out our online Board Finder tool to review what boards best suit you, or else pop in at our North Fremantle SUP shop where you’ll find over 200 SUP boards from the world’s leading brands.  Our friendly and experienced team members are always happy for a chat – plus you’re welcome to try one of our boards out on the water before you buy to make sure that it’s perfect for you.

Get in touch via the website, book a demo online or give us a call on 08 9335 5636.  We’re here to help you choose the right board for your size, shape, ability and personality!