Choosing a SUP can be a bit of a headache, even for the most seasoned of paddler. Inflatable or hardboard? All rounder or tourer? Surf or white water?
If you’re new to the sport, the amount of information out there is quite frankly mind-blowing. So below, we’ve tried to simplify the process as much as possible, by cutting it up into two questions.
Hard or inflatable?
The first choice to make is whether you buy a hard board or inflatable. Inflatable boards have come a long, long way over the last few years, making them a top contender alongside hard boards now. Consider the following when choosing between hard or inflatable:
Inflatables (iSUPs) are good for: durability, forgiveness, beginners, people with storage problems (or not a lot of storage space), tight budgets. It’s also worth remembering inflatables are super light to carry and portage, and if you’re thinking of paddling on places like canals, a little bash to the side won’t do too much damage on an inflatable!
Hard boards are good for: surfing, paddling in swell, all round performance and maneuverability, fast paced environments.
What will you be using the board for?
- A bit of everything – get an allrounder. If you want your SUP to mess about on, paddle shorter distances, explore, do a bit of yoga, and just generally enjoy recreational paddling, then the allrounder board is the one for you.
- Exploring – get a tourer. If you want to paddle distances over 10km on a regular basis, or want high speed cruising, or multi-day adventures with camping gear and everything, then a touring SUP is the board for the job.
- Surfing – get a surf SUP.
Just want to learn to surf or carry on surfing those waves but with a paddle in hand? Get a surf specific SUP.
- Racing – get a racer. If your sole aim is to go as fast as you can in a straight line, you will need a racing SUP.
- Yoga or pilates – get a specialist yoga board. If you’re looking to perfect your down dog or do a few sun salutations, as well as do some short paddles (under 5km), then you’d be best off getting a yoga SUP.
- Running rapids – get a white water SUP. Love the white water and just want to run river rapids on your board? Get a white water specific SUP. They’re usually shorter than most SUPs, wide a wide deck and tough skin!
- For SUP and windsurfing – get a windsurfer.If you’re a windsurfer and a stand up paddleboarder, get a windsurfer SUP. They have a mast track for your UJ so you can attach a rig and voila, you’ve got the perfect watersports hybrid… not to mention the ease of having an inflatable windsurf board. No more roof racks, rejoice!
- Multi people adventures – get a mutli-person board. Do you want to get all the family and the dog all on one board? Well, you can! You can buy boards for 3, 4 or up to 8 people… make it a family affair!
Choosing a SUP top tip
Head to your local retailer for some specialist advice. Retailers also often have, or know about, demo days, where you can try out the board before you buy!
In conclusion, if you’re thinking about buying your own SUP and you’re struggling to choose, ask yourself these questions:
- Based on your lifestyle and storage space, is an inflatable or hard board better for you?
- What do you predominantly want to do on the board?
Those two questions should give you the answers you need. And if all else fails and you just so happen to win the lottery too, just buy one of each! Problem solved.