Stand-up paddleboarding has a bit of something for everyone. Whether it’s going out onto a calm lake for a relaxing paddle or catching a few waves out on the ocean. Whatever you plan on doing out there, having the right board for your requirements is key to a pleasant experience.
To find the right board, consider how you plan on using it, how it will fit your body, and how you want it to perform in the water. A big factor in the decision-making process is how you will transport your board. Whether you choose a solid or inflatable board is largely dependent on what your personal needs are.
Here are a few things that you need to consider to help you choose a good paddleboard.
The body, or hull, of a paddleboard, determines how the board will perform on the water. Most SUPs have one of two types of bodies, but it is important to remember that the best paddleboards are the ones best suited to you and what you need. The main types are a planing hull or a displacement hull. There are also a few hybrid designs that combine the best attributes of each design, but will only be going into detail regarding the first two.
Either body shape can be enjoyed by a beginner paddler, but, it’s wise to choose the type of board you use based on what you plan to do with it.
A planing hull is flat and wide, somewhat resembling a surfboard. It is designed to be very maneuverable and for one to ride on top of the water. Planing hull boards are good for those who want a leisurely paddle, want to surf, want to do SUP yoga, and for whitewater.
SUPs with displacement hulls are reminiscent of a kayak or a canoe as they have a pointed nose or bow at the front. This hull can slice through the water with ease, pushing the water aside making for a super-smooth, efficient ride. A displacement hull allows you to go longer distances at faster speeds and requires less effort for you to paddle. The downside is that these boards are less maneuverable than a planing hull, but they track very straight.
Solid vs. inflatable SUPs
SUPs are available in two different options, solid, or inflatable. Both planing hulls and displacement hulls are available in both of these options. Here’s a little bit of information on solid vs inflatable SUPs.
● Solid SUPs
Most solid boards have a solid foam core that is wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy to make them both durable, lightweight, and fairly affordable but are not the only option out there. Carbon fiber is an even lighter and stiffer option but is less cost-effective. Plastic SUPs are the most affordable, but they are very heavy and do not boast the same performance as other materials. Some solid SUPs even incorporate lightweight wood for a beautiful aesthetic finish.
When to get a solid SUP:
If performance is your priority - Solid boards offer the best performance on the water, as they travel faster and with less effort making for a smoother ride than an inflatable board.
For a perfect fit – Solid SUPs more customizable than inflatable SUPs. You are more likely to find the right size for you with a solid SUP than an inflatable one.
If stability is important - A solid board is slightly more rigid than an inflatable one.
If you have a place to store it - Solid SUPs take up a lot of space. Only get this if you have the space to store it and equipment to transport it.
● Inflatable SUPs
Inflatable SUPs are typically made out of a PVC exterior. They come with a pump to inflate the board and a storage bag for when you’ve defeated it, or wish to transport it with ease from point A to B. A SUP should feel very rigid when fully inflated.
When to get an inflatable SUP:
If you have limited storage space - If you live in a small space, you probably don’t have space for a huge SUP. These fold down to neat compact bags that can be easily stored in a cupboard.
If you’re traveling - Most storage bags have backpack straps for easy carrying onto planes, trains, busses, and hikes.
Those were the best things to consider to choose a good paddleboard for you, related to your needs. Happy paddling!