One of the many draws to stand up paddle boarding is that it is such a diverse and adaptable sport. Wherever you live in the world, whatever conditions you have on hand, whatever your age or level, you can paddle board. With so much variety and choice, it can be difficult to narrow down the choices to what type of board is best suited for you. To keep it simple, we’ve broken down the main 4 types of inflatable paddleboard below.
All Round Paddle Boards
All round inflatable paddle boards are the most popular option as they suit all levels of paddlers in all conditions. They are normally between 9′ and 11′ long and are wide all the way through into the rounded nose. The combination of the length, width and thickness of the all rounder, means they are incredibly stable and easy to use whilst being long enough to paddle fast, but still easily manoeuvrable. These are the best option for most paddlers who are exploring the various aspects and conditions of the sport.
Touring Paddle Boards
Touring on a standup paddleboard allows you to view the world from an entirely different view point. Standing tall while paddling, you are able to see things you could not fully appreciate from sitting in a kayak or canoe for example. The most common length for a touring SUP is 12’6”. This length became a standard for racing SUPs and has been carried over to inflatable touring boards, which can also double as amateur racing boards.
Surf Specific Paddle Boards
For those who want to progress their skills in the waves, a surf specific SUP is the way to go. They are shorter than the all rounder and draws in to a narrower tail so they are more manoeuvrable and can perform sharper and quicker turns in the waves. Similar to regular surfboards, the smaller the board, the less stable and harder to paddle, so it’s important to bear that in mind when your deciding on size, your surf and fitness level and how often you will be using it.
Racing Paddle Boards
Racing has become increasingly popular in the paddle boarding world with many annual race series taking place all over the globe. For more speed and to reduce drag and resistance, race boards are much narrower and longer than the all rounder and touring boards, making them much less stable. In the racing world, there are two main categories, 12’6″ and 14′ class, but you will need to check the exact lengths first of the particular race as they may vary. Due to the high volume of racing inflatable SUPs and rounded rails, they glide on the water rather than through it.
With the industry pushing the performance side of inflatable paddle boards, many athletes have made the switch. There are countless benefits and the performance side is catching up to that of hard paddleboards with new technologies to increase rigidity, more durable materials, and smaller more convenient pack downs. With their impressive durability, it’s important to find the perfect board and highlight who will be using it, what type of conditions it will mainly be used in and the frequency of use, so it will last and assist your progress.