Choosing the right SUP board

At Nootica, we constantly try to expand our product range to meet the needs of all paddlers. Because they’re easy to carry and store, inflatable SUP boards are all the rage and every year more and more people get into stand up paddling. Choosing the paddle board that best meets your needs is crucial, that’s why we are going to give you some tips on how to do that.

Every SUP board has specific features and it’s important to pinpoint what you need before shopping. The following tips will definitely help you narrow down your selection and choose the right paddle!

What should I consider when choosing my SUP board?

Here is what you need to take into account:

  • • Length: the length will have an impact on the type of paddling you’ll be doing and also on the manoeuvrability. (contrary to popular belief, the length of a paddle board doesn’t have an impact on its stability). To sum up, the longer the board, the better it glides on the water. A shorter SUP board will be a bit slower but easier to manoeuvre.
  • • Width: this is what determines stability. Basically the wider the SUP, the more stable it is. (Note that a wider board will be slower as it pushes more water). Also, the biger you are the wider the board should be. Most inflatable paddle boards have 30″ in width (76cm)
  • • Thickness: this is CRUCIAL because it’s what gives stiffness to a SUP board. The thicker the board, the stiffer it is.  Today most paddle boards come in two different thicknesses:
    • -> 12 cm (5 inches): often entry-range SUP boards
    • -> 15 cm (6 inches): often higher-end SUP boards
    • (It is now very rare to come across SUP boards with 10 cm in thickness)
  • • Shape: paddle boards vary in outline, deck, nose and tail shape. Some boards have an all-round shape whereas others are designed for paddling faster or on longer distances.
  • • Fins: entry-range models often feature slide-in fins. Sometimes the fins are built-in and cannot be changed. SUP boards fitted with a single fin will track better but SUPs with three fins are easier to manoeuver. Three-fin setups also prevent the tail of the board from slipping sideways.
    Key West SUP boards feature three fins and are great for beginners and families who want to get into the sport.
  • • Quality: quality paddle boards often feature several PVC layers which offer increased stiffness and durability, like the Zray Premium range. 
  • • Price: from a couple hundred pounds to over £1000.
  • • Type of paddling: if you’re going to paddle in whitewaters then it is recommended to go for a short SUP (9 to 10 ft). If you want to paddle on long distances then you’ll need a long board with good glide, 12 ft 6 for example. The average length of a paddle board is 10 ft 6.
  • • Your weight: the heavier the user the longer and wider the SUP. The longer and wider the SUP board the more weight it can support. If you weigh more than the recommended user weight it is likely the SUP will bend and will be very slow in the water.
    Note!  “Max payload” and “Recommended user weight” are two different things.

Shapes of stand up paddle boards

Here are the main shapes of inflatable paddle boards:

Touring SUP

Inflatable SUP boards for touring will allow you to paddle on longer distances.Touring boards are longer than all-round models and their pointed nose cuts through the water instead of pushing it, which makes them faster. Touring SUPs are ideal for flat water paddling. Touring paddle boards are less manoeuvrable than all-round boards but they’re definitely faster and will allow you to cover longer distances more easily.

Example: Aztron Terra 10.6 paddle board

Aztron paddle Terra

Surf SUP

Surf SUP boards provide amazing performance in the waves. The latest dropstitch materials and construction processes make inflatable paddle boards stiffer than ever before. The performance are almost similar to hard SUPs and now you can also fin quality surf SUPs. Surf SUP boards are shorter than traditional boards and more manoeuvrable in the waves. The downside is that they’re also less stable and slower than an all-round model. If you love ripping it in the waves, then a surf SUP board is what you need.

Example: ZRay Snapper 9.6 SUP board

Zray paddle surf snapper

All-round SUP

All-round paddle boards are the most popular SUPs. They’re available in many dimensions so that any user can find the SUP board that best suits them. All-round SUP boards are ideal for newcomers because they’re stable and easy to manoeuvre. They will also allow you to explore the various aspects of stand up paddling and can be used in all environments: flatwater or waves, river, lake or sea…

Example: Key West Pride 10.4 SUP board

family paddle board

Race SUP

Racing paddle boards are the fastest boards. They provide a great speed/effort ration, meaning that they glide faster on the water and will require less effort from the rider. Racing SUPs are longer and narrower than versatile paddle boards, ansd also feature a pointed nose to slice through the water and gain more speed. However, race boards are recommended for experienced riders as they can be a bit challenging to stay up on due to their narrowness. Inflatable race paddle boards are almost as fast as rigid race boards.

Example: Red Paddle 14.0 x 25 Elite paddle board

race sup board

Trusted SUP brands

There are hundreds of SUP brands on the market, which doesn’t make the selection process any easier. However, the following brands are generally widely acclaimed for the quality of their products:: Aztron, Key West, Zray, Red Paddle, Starboard, Fanatic, Anomy and Hydro Force.

Key West sup board
Anomy SUP board

You can now make an informed decision when choosing your inflatable paddle board. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our website if you need more info, our knowledgeable staff will be more happy to help you. One more thing, when you have your SUP, dont forget to read our tips on how to care for your SUP board to keep it in perfect condition.

Little extra: it’s possible to attach a kayak seat to your paddle board and use in it kayak mode. This is perfect if you want to paddle with a kid!

paddle gonflable avec siege

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