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The Ultimate Stand-Up Paddleboard Guide



Stand-up paddleboarding is all about bringing the right board for the job – know which board fits which wave and get the most out of your adventure.

Stand-up paddleboards are versatile watercraft capable of everything from big wave surfing to island hopping to fishing. As much as you want to hit the water and get paddling, you should put some thought into what sort of vessel is right for you. Some stand-up paddleboards are good for surfing while others are better suited for covering large distances. Whether you’re looking to pick up your first SUP or picking from your collection, this guide will help you grab the perfect board for that day’s adventure.

Here’s a breakdown of the various types of paddleboards for every SUP rider and every activity.

Surfing SUP

Surfing stand-up paddleboards look and surf like typical longboards, only they give the surfer a few advantages over traditional surfing. For starters, the paddle allows you to build up speed and maintain it, something that is essential in wave-catching. Secondly, the surfer can use the paddle to change direction without having to step around on the board, which can throw off balance or abruptly curtail the board. Some of these even come with mounts for a sail, so you can convert the board to a wind- or wave-powered vessel.

All Arounder

If you want to surf when the swell is good, but paddle up the coast with ease when it’s not, you’ll want to invest in an all-purpose SUP, referred to as an All Arounder. This type of paddleboard is for when you want a single, multi-use board at your disposal. Plenty of companies make All Arounders that can handle decent surf and carry you fair distances with comfort. These are a good choice if you value versatility, but don’t expect these boards to handle impeccably in harsher types of surf. They won’t be able to cut through the water with the utmost of ease or provide the utility of a specialized all-day touring rig.

Touring SUP

Touring rigs are made to offer stability for long paddles over open waters, but speed and waves are not their strength. This larger, more stable variety sometimes comes equipped with bungee cords to tie down gear and clothes, and are built for comfort. This is the right choice for laid back cruising, exploring the seacoast or island hopping over short distances. The sportier versions, which are not as wide and don’t include features like gear tie-downs, are built for speed. This would be your craft of choice if you plan on putting on serious miles or making an open-ocean crossing.

Racing SUP

If you want to paddle fast, a racing paddleboard should be your rig of choice. More sleek and narrow than many other stand-up paddleboards, racing boards slice through the water, but get very unstable during turns. These boards are known for tracking – holding a straight line and gliding far and fast. One well-placed paddle stroke can send you far off toward the horizon. For anyone with a competitive bug, or an itch for high-performance paddling, this is the kind of craft you need.

Fishing SUP

You can combine your love for fishing and your love for water sports with the increasingly popular fishing SUP. This ingenious creation comes complete with numerous storage spots for bait, lures and whatever else you need to reel in a big catch. With a fishing SUP, you’ll be able to get a good workout and stay engaged while casting lures in your favorite lake, stream or river. This approach comes without some of the comforts of coolers and cushions, but it provides a streamlined method of navigating into the perfect position to fish the precise eddy you want.

Inflatable SUP

This type of rig is a hybrid between a paddleboard and a sit-on-top kayak. They can be paddled while sitting or standing and offer superior stability. Additionally, due to their inflatable nature, they are easy to bring on adventures that require you to take a plane trip. Inflatables can be deflated, packed up and shipped with ease.

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