Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has, over the last few years, emerged as one of the most popular water sports in the world. The reason for this popularity is that SUP has something to offer everyone, regardless of age, fitness, or level of expertise.
With a paddleboard, you can ride the magnificent waves of the ocean or take a few relaxing turns in the calm waters of your local lake. You can also use your paddleboard to get your daily dose of exercise, either through some fast-paced paddling or the ever-popular practice of SUP yoga.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Paddleboard
To get the most out of your stand-up paddleboarding experience, you need to first choose the right equipment. And the most important piece of equipment you’ll use during an SUP session is the paddleboard itself.
There are many factors that will help determine the type of paddleboard you need. Among them, the most important are location, price, type, and skill level. In other words, to choose the perfect paddleboard, you need to know what type of locations you will be using it in. The kind of board you’ll need to do SUP yoga in your local lake is different from the type you’ll be using when riding the gigantic swells of Uluwatu, Indonesia.
Moreover, you need to know your budget when you go shopping for the perfect paddleboard, so as not to end up with an overpriced product you can’t afford. Your skill-level will also play a role in the decision-making process, as the right paddleboard for a beginner might not be the same as the one preferred by experienced SUP enthusiasts.
Whether you choose an inflatable or solid paddleboard will depend entirely on the amount of storage space you have and the kind of portability you require. The weight, shape, size, capacity, and volume of the paddleboard are some of the other factors you’ll need to consider, before making a purchase.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Paddleboard
Stand-up paddleboarding is an extremely diverse activity, which means that you can try it in various types of water bodies. For instance, you can go paddleboarding in your local lake or reservoir, or you can try it among the tumultuous waves of foreign shores. Rivers and streams can also be used for SUP practice.
Flatwater environments such as lakes and ponds usually require paddleboards that are wider, reasonably maneuverable, and feature large deck pads. On the other hand, the paddleboards meant to be used in ocean waters are optimized for speed and feature a minor displacement hull, allowing them to glide over rough waters. Surfing SUP boards – featuring a prominent planing hull – are designed for expert paddleboarders focused on riding the waves.
For paddleboarding on a river, you will need a stable and durable board – preferably made from military-grade PVC – that can handle the speedy whitewater rapids and protruding rocks commonly found in rivers. Ideally, you should use an inflatable paddleboard, as it would be less likely to break when crashing into a rock than a solid, fiberglass board.
Skill and Experience
Your level of skill and experience in the sport of stand-up paddleboarding will determine the type of equipment you need. If you’re a beginner, then it would be safest to start off your SUP journey with an inflatable paddleboard that is both wide and stable. Inflatable paddleboards are also preferred by beginners because they have a soft and spongy surface. Hence, if you happen to lose your balance or fall into the water, you’re less likely to injure yourself with an inflatable board, than with a solid one made from fiberglass.
Experienced stand-up paddleboarders usually choose their board based on factors such as speed, efficiency, glide, and maneuverability. They also take into consideration the activities for which they want to use their board. A paddleboard designed for SUP yoga would be wider and thicker than one designed for racing or surfing, for which lighter and sleeker models are preferred.
Size and Shape
Some of the most important factors you have to consider when buying a stand-up paddleboard are size, shape, volume, capacity, and thickness. For instance, if you are planning to use the paddleboard for fishing or exploration, then you need to buy a board that is larger, heavier, and has more volume.
This is because you’ll need to pack more gear when you go fishing or exploring on your paddleboard. In addition to your own weight, the weight of the fishing gear might serve to weigh the paddleboard down. This would create more drag in the water and make it harder to pick up speed.
The volume and weight capacity of the paddleboard will also determine how stable you feel in the water. If the paddleboard doesn’t displace a sufficient amount of water to support the weight of your gear and your body, you’ll feel a lack of balance and stability in the water. The thickness, length, and breadth of the paddleboard together determine its volume and weight capacity.
The board might be the most important piece of equipment for any stand-up paddleboarder, but it is not the only SUP gear you need to worry about. An adjustable paddle, a personal floatation device (PFD), an ankle leash, and a snap-in removable fin are some of the other items you will need, before you’re ready to set off on your next paddleboarding adventure. Lastly, you must only purchase high-quality paddleboarding gear from a reputed manufacturer that you can fully trust.