You want a SUP board that is stable and buoyant enough to support your body weight, but fast enough to offer a fun experience. It is also suitable for the type of paddling you will be doing.
A SUP board that is suitable for general use is between 10 and 11, with a width of between 32 to 34 inches. A board between 33 and 34 inches wide is best if stability is your priority. You can go bigger, but it is possible to get a board that’s slower and less fun to paddle.
You can choose an 8’6″ width range if you value portability and maneuverability more than your weight. A 9’6″ board can be very fun and can hold their shape well. The width should be equal to the length. This is usually around 30 to 32 inches. Paddle slower if your 9’6″ board is longer than 32 inches.
If speed and straight track are your top priorities, you might consider 12’6″ racing. A sturdy touring board is 32 inches. The race boards are usually narrower and can be as small as 28 inches or 26 inches. This makes them more agile, but less stable. A 12’6″ board can be raced or used for touring at a width of 30″. Due to the increasing popularity of SUP-touring, 12’6″ should be a preferred length. However, many buyers don’t like this length due to storage concerns. You can expect high-quality performance from your inflatable SUP tour.
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You can also find special designs that are made for certain purposes. These boards have a 36 inch width and are used for rapids. However, they are too large to be used for general paddling. Boards less than 9ft are usually intended for ocean or river surfing. However, the lack of volume makes it difficult for general paddling to keep your balance.
Inflatable paddles offer safety advantages over hardboards. Inflatables are uniformly thick from side to side, nose to tail and between nose and tail. This makes them much more stable than similar hardboards. Although hardboards can be shaped to improve surf and race performance, they are less buoyant and stable for recreational paddlers.
As important as the length, width, and outline of the board are the thicknesses. For all-around paddling, inflatable SUP boards should be at least 5 inches thick, particularly for advanced paddlers. This exception could be made for paddlers with larger paddles (225 pounds or more), who might benefit from a 6-inch thickness. The additional weight and potential negatives of a 6-inch board is an acceptable trade-off.
The first step in your research is to decide on the right size board for you. You shouldn’t buy an inflatable SUP board until you are familiar with the many shapes, constructions, and fin designs available. Spending time learning about the many technologically advanced inflatable SUP products is the best way to acquire this knowledge.
There are many variables that affect the optimal length, width and thickness of a board. This table will help you find the right range for an aspiring paddler looking for an all-purpose board.
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