A Beginners Guide to Touring Paddleboards

A Beginners Guide to Touring Paddleboards

So, you’ve been up and down your local stretch of water so much you could now paddle it with your eyes closed. You’re craving something new and exciting, a way to spread your paddleboarding wings and take your paddleboarding to the next level. One option is paddleboard touring. Touring paddleboards are the perfect natural progression from your first paddle boarding experience. They’re designed to travel longer distances in shorter times and have more room for kit and equipment, even your camping gear so you can start your longer haul paddle board adventures.

Best locations for touring paddle boards

You’re never far from great places to get your paddleboard wet wherever you are in the world. If you’re in the UK, then you are particularly lucky! We have miles of picturesque coastlines and glorious stretches of wild rivers to explore. From cruising along the Jurassic Coast to gliding down the River Derwent, the waterways around the UK carve their way through some of the most stunning scenery. 

Check out Gopaddling.info – an amazing service from Paddle UK for more in depth information on locations and routes.

What to look for in a touring paddle board

If you are looking to become a regular touring boarder then it is a good idea to invest in a tour specific paddle board. These boards vary quite significantly to your all-round SUP so it is important to know what to look for.

group of touring paddleboards

Size and shape

If you’ve never seen a touring board before, you will easily be able to distinguish them from an all-round SUP from the length and the shape of the nose. All-rounder paddle boards tend to have a rounded nose whereas paddle boards designed specifically for touring will generally have a more pointed nose. Some touring boards that are designed for more intense water conditions may even have a square nose, so be sure to look carefully at the overall shape of a board before purchasing.

For touring, it is a good idea to look for boards that are going to provide you with more space for your kit and more fittings to help you secure it all to the board. Bungee storage areas both at the front and the back of the board are essential.

Longer paddle boards are better for touring as they provide you with a smoother glide across the water. This means they require less effort from the paddler, therefore you won’t tire out as quickly as with a shorter board. Similarly, longer touring SUPs have better ‘directional stability’ – meaning they are easier to paddle in a straight line. This again saves you from fighting the direction of the board and puts more of your paddle power towards propelling you forwards!


Stability is another key thing to bear in mind when choosing a touring paddle board, this is usually down to the width and shape of the board. Being stable on your board is important for touring as you may need to cope with more active waters at times. A broader middle section where you stand, combined with a tapered nose and tail will give a good blend of speed, glide and stability. Super narrow racing designs mey tempt you. However, if you’re not an experienced paddle boarder – although fun and fast to paddle, a more stable wider board will allow you to relax and deal with a much wider range of conditions.

group of touring paddleboards on the water


Often an overlooked component, paddleboard fins actually have more impact on the performance and stability of a board than you may think. Generally speaking, larger fins with bigger bases will help you to track straighter and offer more stability, whereas smaller fins, although provide less stability, offer a bit more manoeuvrability and clearance in shallow waters.

For longer touring routes it’s often best to choose a larger one as it’s more likely you will be travelling in a straight line and be doing a lot less turning on route. Similarly, the improved tracking will help you glide in between each stroke, conserving energy and giving a smoother ride.

If you don’t know what conditions you’ll be facing or you want to explore a range of different waterways then a board with fin boxes for interchangeable fins will give you flexibility. Swap out your longer touring fin for flexible, shorter ‘river’ fins and removable side fins to tune your board setup for the day’s paddle ahead.