Choosing the Right SUP for You – Part 1

In 2005, we saw quite an explosion in stand-up paddle boards. And their popularity has shown no signs of slowing down since. Their mainstream success can be attributed, in part, to them being easy to learn but also because they have a number of uses suitable for a variety of purposes, such as surfing, recreation, or simply for exercise. Of course, for anyone, it’s just a great excuse to have some fun on the water.

One challenge that people have in the beginning is choosing the right paddle board. When choosing a SUP, it’s based on the user, their interests, and their reason for wanting an SUP. It’s easy to be confused when researching which board to buy as there’s a lot of information available. So here we offer a simplified guide, with all the necessary information in a single place, in order to help you choose the right SUP for you.

Categories of SUP

SUPs can typically be divided into six categories, based on activity. You’ll need to know how each differs from the rest to ensure that you choose the appropriate one. There are certain elements that each has in common but we will try and point out the differences as best we can.

All Round

This is the most popular SUP category and could be regarded as a combination of all six types. They are sufficiently wide to be considered stable, are longer than surf SUPs, making it easier to glide and track (hold your course), and feature a gentle rocker (curve) to enable you to perform in the surf. As you may have guessed from the name, an all-round SUP can be effective in all weather types, as well as be an ideal board for beginners


Surfing SUPs are similar, shape-wise, to traditional surfboards. The differences are, however, that they have extra thickness and weight for additional buoyancy. Surf SUPs, however, are more ideal for more advanced paddlers, due to having less stability than other categories. The shorter length makes them harder to paddle and maintain a straight line then when using longer boards. The increased rocker and shorter design, however, makes them easier to manoeuvre when wave riding.


Racing SUPs are specially built for speed and tracking over open ocean or flat water. Typically, they’re longer than other SUPs and are far narrower in terms of their outline, which makes them perfectly suited for racers and experienced riders. For those who have never been on any board at all, learning on a racing board can be tricky due to the shorter width. Once you’ve gotten used to it, however, you’ll be able to go where you want to, and fast.


Also built for flat water, these SUPs are not dissimilar to race boards when it comes to length. Touring boards are wider, however, which means they’re better options for new paddlers. If you’re looking for a board for a day’s paddle or for long-distance, a touring board is the one to get.