2022 red paddle co racing paddle boards - 2022 range of inflatable race SUP paddle board

Should You Buy An All Round, Fast Cruising Or Touring SUP For Your First Board?

In this video from Beau at SUPBoarder, we’ll be helping you to decide whether to buy an all-round SUP for your paddling fun, a longer faster cruising board, or even a touring SUP. It’s common to not realize how many different shaped boards are on the market, so we hope this video helps you to decide what paddle board is going to be best suited for you. Let’s firstly compare the different boards and their intended uses.

All Round Inflatable SUP

An all round inflatable SUP is generally around 10 feet 6 inches in length. These all-round boards are wider in their overall outline shape which offers beginner paddlers great stability when paddling on the water. The larger the platform under your feet, the more stable a board will be. This type of board is best for short distance paddles where stability and ease of use is important to the rider. It’s a great choice for the whole family too, if you’re enjoying a day down at the beach or the river and want to play around on a SUP not too far from land. Of course you can paddle further afield with these boards, but they lack speed and additions compared to the other boards which we’ll explain now.

Inflatable Cruising Paddle Board

A faster cruising inflatable paddle board is slightly longer than all-round SUPs and offer greater speeds when paddling. They can be between 11 and 12 feet long with a width of up to 32 inches as well, but they do have a pointed nose shape which differs from the rounded nose of the all-round SUP. The pointed nose shape decreases drag as there is less board to push through the water, which is why these certain shapes are often called fast cruising boards. They can often have additional features which improve the speed performance on the water. This type of board is best suited to paddlers who want to paddle further and faster with some extra performance in their board.

Inflatable Touring Paddle Board

A touring paddle board is a little longer in its length, which promotes a faster glide and speed on the water. These boards will generally be between 12 feet 6 inches long and 14 feet in length with widths up to 32 inches as well, but they’re designed to really carry lots of gear. When you’re paddling, riders will opt for this design if they plan on paddling with gear, overnight adventures or even just a day tour further afield.

Which board is going to be right for you?

You may have already answered that question from understanding the different options on the market, but if you need some extra tips here they are.

Firstly, it’s best to understand what type of paddling you want to do on your new board. Answering this question will immediately point you in the right direction but, there are some crossovers between the categories of boards and also some things to consider before diving headfirst into a decision. Whilst faster cruising boards may sound more advanced, they often come in wider widths to help with stability and offer a better experience on the flat water, depending on your type of paddling. The same goes for all-round SUPs too, as they work better in surf conditions compared to other shapes. Thinking not only about the immediate paddling you’ll be doing, but looking further into the future at your progression and how you’ll be using the board, is a great place to start when choosing a new SUP.

One example may be that you’re getting into SUP and want to paddle on a lake near you for fun. Now think about six months or even a year ahead. Will you be wanting to paddle faster or even further at that point? Opting maybe for that fast cruising board might be the better option if that is what you’re after. Alternatively, maybe you’re starting out on a river estuary close to the beach and have some desires to begin catching waves in the surf later along your progression, then choosing an all-round shape will give you that ability to do both.

We touched on it earlier but widths can vary for each board and in general, as the boards get longer and faster through the water, they decrease in width. Width is one of the biggest factors when assessing the stability of a board. The wider the board is, the more likely and more stable it will be. Here’s a great tip, fast cruising boards can be just as stable as all-round SUPS if you know exactly what to look for. Check out the boards width and anything over 30 or 32 inches is going to be stable for most average paddlers in that 70 to 90 kilogram weight range. However, remember design features like the nose width and bottom shapes of boards can influence their speed and stability as well. We have other videos based around these topics which we’ll link to in the description below. We will mention that going for a longer board does have its compromises too. Although you’re gaining glide and speed, it will become more affected by the wind and chop on the water making the board harder to turn and manoeuvre. If you’re a lighter rider or wanting the board to turn a little bit quicker, then the board length needs to be considered.

Another point to note when you are choosing between an all-round or a fast cruising board, is the price of all-round boards can be found at a slightly cheaper price point when compared to fast cruising or touring models. This is because these boards are more specific and have those extra design and performance elements. An all-round SUP can be very basic for your needs and therefore very affordable to get you on the water, whilst paying that little bit extra for a fast cruising board will aid in speed. Of course, prices vary across different brands and different constructions, as well with those premium brands or premium priced products using better materials.

In summary, make sure you understand what type of paddling you want to be doing into the future. If you don’t really know what you’re after, and many first-time paddlers don’t, which is okay, then consider how you will first use your board and then make the decision from there.

If you have set goals or an idea of your SUP progression, use this to help choose the right board. All-round SUPs are best for people who want to have fun and cruise around their local area, without worrying about stability or how fast you are paddling. Families with kids or dogs will love these types of boards as they can fit an extra person up the front. When they’re paddling, they can also be taken out into the surf to ride your first waves on, which is a great starting point for many of you out there.

Fast cruising boards will suit those paddlers who want a little extra speed and performance from their board. Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice stability for speed either, if you find a wide enough board. If you’re getting into paddling for fitness, then using these boards for training or longer paddling sessions would be perfect. If you want to carry some gear with you on touring adventures, opting for that touring shape can be a great choice. These boards are generally wide enough for balance as they need that width to carry lots of gear, so you’d make the right choice if adventure paddling is your thing for later down the line.

We hope this helps you to decide which board is best going to suit and which board you might consider purchasing. If you have any questions or need some advice we’re happy to help via email or via 1-888-252-4983.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.