From the shore, paddleboarding can look relatively straightforward. Individuals, and occasionally couples, stand atop a floating board and navigate the water. While this perception is fundamentally true, there are actually a number of factors at play, including varying designs that separate boards from others. These differing styles mean that there are a number of options for individuals to choose from.
Some designs are more appropriate for those who want the stability to practice yoga on the water, whereas others are made for the responsiveness and comfort required when catching waves. Even at a beginner’s level, certain designs can mean the difference between quickly finding your balance and repeatedly falling in.
Choose Your Hull
Before you make your paddleboard purchase, you must first consider what you want to achieve on the water. This is because certain designs will make accomplishing your goals easier. Those who want to take their paddleboard far, reaching higher speeds and cruising without resistance, will favour a pointed bow, also known as a displacement board. This design makes it easier to cut through the water without resistance, ensuring boarders have the stamina to go further.
The alternative is a wider, more curved board, also known as a planing hull design. This shape of the board is more stable and more manoeuvrable on the water, making it excellent for beginners and SUP surfers alike, including those who will more often find themselves on choppier water.
To Inflate Or Not
Individuals must then ask themselves how they will transport and store their paddleboards. While some are happy and able to accommodate a large paddleboard or perhaps need to travel only a short distance to reach the water, others must think more carefully about the potential hurdles the size of the equipment might create.
Inflatable paddleboards have similar performance on the water but offer the ability for users to deflate them after use, meaning they can be transported and stored easily. Solid boards, on the other hand, require carrying at full size, which might not be appropriate for those that need to navigate steep or unaccommodating distances to get to the water.
Inflating a board, however, will require a pump and a storage bag. These items will both ensure that a board is inflated to the correct PSI and that it is protected when stored.
Length And Width
Whether they are inflated or solid, paddleboards vary in size and design. Shorter boards are ideal for younger paddleboarders, especially children, and are adopted by the SUP surfing community as they are nimble and responsive on the water.
Mid-length boards are well-rounded and, depending on their hull, are generally used by casual boarders and those wanting stability on the water, such as photographers, yoga practitioners, and those wanted to explore with their pets on board.
Longer board designs are most often designed with displacement hulls and are effectively styled with touring in mind. This means not only minimising water resistance and maximising speed but also having the capacity to accommodate luggage and equipment for those wanted to travel and camp over greater distances.