Standup paddleboarding is a sport with a Polynesian heritage where the traditions of canoeing and surfing came together. Unlike surfing, you don’t need an ocean or waves.
You can paddleboard on a flat lake or a river. And it’s not just for men. It’s a great couple’s sport too. What the heck, picture the whole family out there on the water together.
Board makers offer ultra-light models for women and smaller adults, and even inflatables for kids.
The only real requirement is that you know how to swim
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What’s so great about owning one?
The whole body workout you get from paddleboarding, from using your legs to balance, your arms to paddle, and your core to move the board forward is low impact but very effective. The best part is, instead of watching TV to relieve the boredom of a treadmill, you’re paddling through the actual scenery of your choice, and from your elevated position, you’ve got a great view.
Once you have a paddleboard, along with a paddle, your personal flotation device and a leash, all you need is water. You don’t even need waves unless you plan to use it for surfing. Before you buy, ask yourself how you’ll be using it. Will you be surfing, racing, touring, or some combination of disciplines? If you’re crossing-over, you need a board that can cross-over too.
With your own board, you’ll have the freedom to simply go boarding for an hour or two whenever you want. No more having to be at the gym at a certain time for a class or booking a court or a tee time.
Types of stand-up paddleboards
Surfing paddleboards have more manuvrability in them that racing and touring SUP boards, allowing more efficient surfing maneuvers like carving and top turns. When you drop into a wave, they help to stop nose diving. With a maximum length of around 10 feet, they’re shorter than racing and touring boards and are built for high performance. There are several combinations of tail and fins available for surfing paddleboards, but the three-fin thruster setup is the most popular.
Touring or cruising paddleboards
Touring or cruising paddleboards, because of their high volume, are ideal for cruising, but not great for speed. If you have a lunch or fishing destination in mind, you can fix storage systems to the board for your gear.
Racing boards are growing in popularity and manufacturers are developing narrower and longer boards that make it easy to paddle fast with less drag on the water. While you may pick up the advantage of speed, the design does sacrifice some stability.
White water paddleboards
White water paddleboards are specially designed to maneuver around rocks, low water depth and rapids. They’re usually hollow inside and have a lot of volume, which contributes to stability. Fins are optional, and because of the hollow construction, you have the added advantage of additional storage space inside.
Fitness is a natural by-product of stand-up paddleboarding, but if a planned workout is your goal, take your touring board to some calm water and get started. Because balance is essential to stand-up paddleboarding, you have to continuously adjust your weight from one foot to the other. Because of the foot to foot balancing and the paddle stroke, you get remarkable core strengthening. Be sure to choose wider SUPs for yoga and other fitness as they will be more stable.
Kids stand-up paddleboards
Kids stand-up paddleboards are becoming very popular, allowing the whole family to take part. Manufacturers are meeting the need by creating boards that are shaped and engineered for kids with their smaller frames and weights. There are also inflatable boards that are light-weight and ideal for younger paddleboarders.
There are four variations to consider.
A large single fin is secured in a channel so it can slide back and forth, allowing it to be positioned for either better tracking in racing, flat water paddling and touring, or repositioned for better surfing or whitewater.
A thruster, or three-fin arrangement, was originally designed for surfing, but if you remove the center fin, it works fine for tracking on either flat water or surfing.
There are a variety of race fins, from rigid to flexible. The rigid fins are performance-oriented but not as forgiving if you hit a rock or a log.
Inflatable SUP fins can be either detachable semi-rigid fins that can be removed or flexible rubber fins that are attached to the board.
There are three popular constructions on the market today, and they all include expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. They are:
EPS Foam Core, fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin is the most common construction method. Because most stock boards are built overseas, the quality of the material can’t be guaranteed, and the extra layers of fiberglass cloth to add strength makes the boards heavier and stiffer. They generally retail from $700-$900.
EPS Foam Core, wood stringer, fiberglass cloth and clear epoxy resin is a step up in quality and performance, making the boards lighter and not as stiff as others.
PVC sandwich construction includes the same core materials, but an additional layer of PVC is “sandwiched” in during the molding process, creating a very hard outer layer that provides the board with a durable shell. A lighter foam can be used because of the added strength, making the board very light.
Stand-up paddleboards weigh from 20 to 35 pounds, and much of that weight is determined by the density of the foam used in the construction. With a strong outer shell, lighter foam can be used in the core, resulting in a lighter overall board. It’s an engineering balancing act in the construction to combine strength and low-weight and is something you miss
The best SUP brands
There are many brands to choose from, and the type of SUP you’re looking for will help determine which brand suits your needs the best. Construction and shapes vary greatly between the best companies, but here are some of the best brands in the business for your consideration.
Read more about inflatable paddle board here