How to Choose a Paddle Board (SUP)?

There are a couple of things to consider when choosing the right paddleboard. Generally, the three main factors are:

  1. Construction Type
  2. Shape
  3. Size.

To help you understand better, we’ve discussed each factor in detail below.

Construction Type

First, you should check to see how the board is made. Paddle boards typically come in either inflatables or solids, with each having its own set of pros and cons.

Inflatable paddle boards are perfect for recreational paddle board user. These boards usually come with a pump for inflating the board and a storage bag for safekeeping and transportation.

Bumps against rocks or logs when paddle boarding on a lake would be better suited for inflatables. This is because modern inflatables are actually more durable than standard solid boards.

While it takes around 10 minutes to inflate a regular size inflatable, it’s still a great exchange considering the convenience it provides when transporting and storing. This type of board is a great choice for paddle boarders who travel a lot, whether it’s a hike to a lake or river.

Solid boards are the key if you want to travel smoother, faster, and with less effort. These boards offer the best performance in water, especially when riding waves as they tend to be more stable than inflatables.

However, note that having a solid board would take up a lot of space and that transportation won’t be as convenient as opposed to having an inflatable one. Solid boards are usually recommended for professional and competition class SUP racing, where big waves are apparent.

Board Hull/Shape

Paddle boards come mainly in two forms or classes: planning and displacement. Both offer key characteristics that affect the performance of a board.

The more common type of design is the planing hull, typically flat and wide, similar to the surfboards you see in movies or TV. These types of boards offer the best maneuverability and are great choices for surfing, whitewater, recreational paddling, and SUP yoga.

If speed and efficiency is what you’re after, paddle boards can also come in with a displacement hull. This hull has a sharp, pointy end that basically cuts through water as you’re propelled forward, allowing you to gain more speed. 

Watch any professional paddle boarding tournament or competition, and you’ll see that most, if not all the participants are using boards with pointy tips.

What a displacement hull provides for speed, it lacks in maneuverability. You’ll see that it’ll be harder to do turns and rotations on this type of hull in comparison to boards with a planing design.

Weight Capacity

It’s important to understand your board’s weight capacity, and each paddle board typically has this provided in their specifications. Being too heavy for a board would cause the board to dip lower than normal, making paddling a lot harder. 

First, consider your total weight, including the board’s, then compare that with the board’s max weight. 

Most planing boards tend to be more forgiving, so as long as you’re under the max weight limit, performance usually won’t be affected. 

On the other hand, displacement boards tend to be more delicate. If the board is weighted too much, it’ll tip in the water, drag more, and feel slower. If you’re too light, then the board would feel heavy and quite difficult to control.


Paddle boards generally have three lengths: short, medium, and long. It’s vital to know this to choose the right board.

Short boards (under 10ft)

These are recommended for surfing and/or kids. Being shorter means having better maneuverability and overall control of your board. A kid-sized board is typically around 8ft long.

Medium boards (10 to 12 ft)

Medium boards are meant for recreational and all-around paddling use. Most SUP yoga fans typically get this length as it provides the perfect balance between stability and maneuverability. 

Long boards (12’6 ft above)

If not all, most SUP boards are designed with a displacement hull to provide long-distance sightseeing and faster paddling. All the other board lengths prior to this one are usually made with a planing hull for better stability.