The Complete Buying Guide – SUP

In this article, we will look at some critical areas of paddle boarding to assist you in buying your first stand-up paddleboard. We include everything you need to know and answer any questions you may have when purchasing your first Stand Up Paddleboard. 

Whenever you're finished reading, you will actually be confident and knowledgeable enough to purchase a board that is perfect for you. So, let's dive in! 

What Is Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)? 

Stand Up Paddleboarding is a kind of watersport where you stand on a specific surfboard while using a paddle to move above the water. It’s an interesting way to explore nature from a distinct angle while exercising (low-impact full-body workout). 

Some forms of Stand Up Paddleboarding take more practice, considering you got the right equipment. 

Choosing Your Stand-Up Paddleboard

In general, your paddleboard should be approximately 9 inches taller than you in order for your strokes to be more effective and efficient. 

If you want to share your SUP with family or friends, an adjustable paddle is worth looking for; some beginner SUPs come with it. There are actually many options when it comes to paddle materials. Let’s, look at these different types and materials. 

Different Kinds Of SUP Paddles 

Different Kinds Of SUP Paddles image

Nylon Blade & Aluminum Paddle

These paddles are frequently the best price and work excellent lyfor a range of SUPs. They are also the heaviest types of paddles, but they still perform very well. Most beginners use them often due to their price and accessibility. 

Nylon Blade & Fiberglass Paddle 

Fiberglass paddles are an ideal middle-ground between the more affordable and the more expensive paddles available.  

They are thinner than the aluminum alternative but often rigid. Fiberglass options work better than aluminum and give a great compromise if you're not ready to go for a carbon fiber paddle. 

Carbon Blade & Carbon Fibre 

This has the best performance and the most expensive paddle you can purchase. Just like the Nylon & Carbon paddle, these paddles shine over long distances and are also suitable for any type of paddling adventure. They are not as portable as the others, so they are not recommended by enthusiasts when travelling. 

Nylon Blade & Carbon Fiber 

If you have a better budget, using carbon fiber paddles is your best option. They have optimal performance and are light and rigid. No matter the distance, these paddles are always good choices, but their main advantages are most evident in long-distance paddling.

Paddles for Inflatable SUPs 

If you are looking at Inflatable SUP, getting a paddle that breaks down into a few pieces is a great idea to keep it easy to transport.  

I would recommend leaning to one of the affordable paddles; you can constantly get a carbon fiber paddle when you are more skilled and established. 

Stand Up Paddleboard Construction
Stand Up Paddleboard Construction image

SUPs are available in various materials. Let's cover the most common ones below:

Inflatable Paddleboard 

iSUPs have become famous in recent years due to their ease of transportation and storage. Despite its name, Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard is durable and really stable, making it a favorite for beginners and advanced users alike. 

Soft Top Paddleboard 

A type of paddleboard that has become popular lately is the soft top, which actually has a soft foam deck for your comfort. The core of these boards remains rigid and strong. It is generally made of high-density EPS foam and other materials. 

Epoxy Paddleboard

This is the standard material of a rigid board. Typically epoxy resin, fiberglass layers, and EPS foam keep the board looking good. This is a lightweight and durable design that allows for versatility and flexibility.  

SUP Fins 

Fins affect your agility, turning, and speed, and keep your board straight. How you set up your fins is down to you and how you plan on using your Stand-Up Paddleboard.   

If your board doesn't have fins, it would be hard to turn and stay firm. Most of the fins are actually removable, so you can adapt your board to different environments and types of water. 

Take Note:Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards usually have small side fins that are non-removable; they are called side bites, do not try to force these off. Fins attach to your paddleboard in two ways, Standard/US Fin Boxes, and Snap-In Fin Boxes.  

Standard/US Fin Boxes 

These fins are universal and work with different boards. So, there is a broader option, but you need a tool to attach it. 

Both Fin Box types will work perfectly fine, so it is more a personal preference; snap-in ones are simple, standards ones are more varied and widely used.

Snap-In Fin Boxes 

These are simple to install and do not require some tools to attach to your board. 

Quad Fins 

One other set-up that people use is the quad-fins, with no center fin and four fins at the back, two on each side. Quad fins are more based on surf SUPs and less common on recreational boards. 

2+1 Fins 

A set-up most Stand Up Paddleboarders use is one with big center fin and other two smaller fins on both sides. These side fins assist you in turning and moving better in the water and are usually between 2-4 long. 

What Size Paddle Board Do I Need? 

Paddle Board size special image

The style and size of the paddleboard you need will depend on your height and your plans with your board. There are many variations from one paddleboard to the next, and there are many types of uses for the paddleboard. 

Stand Up Paddle Board Weight and Volume Capacity 

Stand Up Paddle Board volume is measured in liters and shows how buoyant the board will be.

Its weight capacity: the higher the volume, the more weight the Stand Up Paddle Board will support.  

This is a crucial detail and should not be overlooked, especially when acquiring a surf SUP.  

If you and your equipment exceed its weight capacity, the board will ride low into the water and will be inefficient for paddling. While volume is essential, you should also think about how that volume is divided on the SUP board (by width, thickness, or length) according to your paddling needs. 

SUP Length 

Stand-up paddleboards usually range from approximately 7 to 14 inches, depending on their style. The length of a SUP plays a significant role in defining the board's speed, maneuverability, and tracking ability.  

The volume added by the extra length of the SUP increases stability but primarily contributes to tracking and speed. When trying to decide, "What size of paddleboard do I really need?" It is a great idea to consider how you will transport your board and where you will store it. 

General Hard Board Size Guide 

  • Between 10 to 12 ft. is ideal for all-around use, fishing, and yoga. 
  • Over 12 ft. is a length designed for gliding, speed, and long-distance paddling. 
  • Under 10 ft. is perfect for kids, surfing, and lighter riders. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Width 

The width of the Stand-Up Paddleboardis another determining factor in the volume and handling of a board, and there are actually three factors to consider: 

What type of paddling you will be doing: Whether you are going to be doing yoga, surfing, or long-distance touring, you will need to consider the main activity in your buying decision.

Ability level 

More experienced paddlers are more comfortable on a narrower board than rookies. The extra width can make a beginner feel more confident on the board when starting out and help flatten the learning curve. 

Body Type 

The narrower SUP boards are suitable for small or shorter riders and vice versa. Finding your balance on a wide board may be easier if you are a beginner. However, if you are a smaller rider, you might have to stretch stiffly over the rails to complete a paddle stroke if the board you are using is too wide. 

Extra width 

Stand-up paddleboards range approximately 28 to 33 inches in width. Extra width can slow a Stand-Up Paddleboard down, which is not perfect for long distances but will give excellent stability if you are a SUP yoga fanatic. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Thickness 

SUPs' final factor is the volume thickness. Always remember that the more volume a board has, the more weight it can support you. So, if you plan to take a dog with you or ride a tandem, go for a slightly thicker board to accommodate this. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Performance

A rigid SUP board (fiberglass, carbon, or epoxy) will outperform an inflatable on the water in terms of maneuverability and speed, so if you're looking for a high-geared board, a solid board (carbon or fiberglass) will be your best choice. 

Inflatable SUPs are the most suitable paddleboards for beginners since hard boards are quickly damaged when knocked off rocks. For a first board, inflatables usually are cheaper to acquire.  

Stand-Up Paddleboard Transportation 

Hard SUPs can be difficult to transport depending on the vehicle, and they usually require straps and roof racks. On the other hand, inflatable paddleboards can be rolled up, deflated, and placed in the trunk of your vehicle or even checked in on a flight so you can take your board with you anywhere. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Storage

This can be another frustration with hardboards as they take so much space, whereas an inflatable SUP can just be rolled up and stored in a small space. It is not good to store SUPs outdoors, especially in direct sunlight, as this can lead to delamination. If you choose a board made of hardboard, store it in a board bag to avoid dents and scratches for the sake of preservation. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Pricing

A significant factor in many people's decision to buy a paddleboard is its price, especially for beginners who are unsure if a Stand-Up Paddleboard is for them. It's essential to do some research and compare both SUP companies and SUP boards.  

You don't need an expensive board for your first SUP, but you don't want to sacrifice cheap quality. Direct-to-consumer companies are an excellent option for getting a new board at a reasonable price, as there is no dealer or retail markup included. 

Reading a broad inflatable SUP buying guide and learning what works into a paddleboard cost is helpful before investing in a SUP. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard Companies 

If you choose to buy a stand-up paddleboard, do some research on the company and the board itself, and read the reviews before ordering. Referrals from previous clients will be far more credible than a company's marketing efforts. Also, find out what type of warranty they offer. 

Final Thoughts 

Buying Guide image

Buying a Stand-Up Paddleboard for the first time can be difficult. With so much information about the companies and products, figuring out which one is right for you can be hard; however, if you can narrow your decision first by activity and then by your onboard needs, you'll be on the right track. 

At, we're a bunch of surfers, water-lovers, and SUPers, and this is the reason why we've created this stand-up paddleboard buying guide: to help our clients and readers get the right board for their lifestyle.   

So, do not hesitate to reach out and ask questions you might have about how to buy a Stand-Up Paddleboard and which one to order. The more research you do about purchasing a paddleboard, the better equipped you will be to pick the right board for you! 


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