How To Buy Your First Paddle Board

If your Instagram #SUP feed is to be believed, stand up paddle boarding just might be the most relaxing, photogenic, fitness-friendly hobby in the world. For once in our lives, Instagram can be trusted: SUP really is that awesome. Whether you’re exploring new waters on vacation or paddling the lake in your backyard, SUP is a one-way ticket to bliss. You can burn calories, get outdoors, and spend quality time with your friends. What’s not to love? Learning how to paddle board is easier than you think. You can master the basics in less than a day - all you need is a board! Here’s how to buy your first board as a beginner. 

How To Buy Your First Paddle Board
(image source: gili sports)



Your board size makes all the difference in how much fun you have on the water, so choose carefully. The main measurements to pay attention to are weight capacity, volume, length, and width. 

Your board’s weight capacity tells you just how much weight your SUP can keep happily and safely afloat. When choosing weight capacity, remember that SUP is usually a group activity. Your best friend, boyfriend, daughter, or dog might want to join you, so account for their weight in your measurements. And don’t forget the weight of your gear! As far as volume goes, you can calculate this measurement based on your board’s length, width, and thickness. The more volume, the more weight it can hold.

Once you’ve got those two basics set, focus on your board’s length and width. Most beginners thrive on boards between 10’ and 12’ long, and 31” to 35” wide. This all around SUP size provides enough space to practice your balance and maneuver, but it’s versatile enough to grow with you as you develop your skills.

Choose Your Hull Type

Most SUPs have either a planing hull or a displacement hull. Planing hulls have a rounded nose, and are wide and flat. They’re ideal for all-around SUP and SUP yoga. Displacement hulls have a pointed nose. SUP surfers or paddlers who want extra speed favor them.

Do You Want An Inflatable Or Hard SUP?

There are two main types of SUPs. Inflatable boards, also called iSUPs, are inflated with a pump just before using them. When you’re done, you can deflate them, pack them up into a backpack, and be on your merry way. They’re about as convenient as it gets, and ideal for travelers.

Hard SUPs, on the other hand, are made of an EPS foam core wrapped in materials like fiberglass, plastic, or epoxy. Hard SUPs are difficult to transport, so they’re not a good choice for people who want to travel with their board. If you get one, you’ll need to make sure you have enough storage space in your house for the board as well.


Both board types have their merits, but for most beginners, iSUPs are a better choice. They’re portable, sturdy, and great for popular SUP activities like yoga. 

Hit The Water

Okay, you’ve got yourself a board - now where do you want it to take you? If you want to try new SUP activities as you grow your skills, your all-around board is a great size for SUP yoga, SUP fishing, and SUP pilates. Some SUP activities, like touring, are best on specialized board sizes, but you can still have just as much fun trying them on your all-around board. 

The water is calling. Grab your friends, your SUP, and your sense of adventure - then get out there and paddle!

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