How to Choose a Paddle Board

Finding the right stand-up paddleboard for you is about three things: knowing how you want to use it, how it matches your body, and how you want to handle it onboard.

When all these three things are considered, you’re out to decide for these points: the shape of the board and their length, thickness, and width. You also need to find one with the correct capacity and volume.

From here, you can decide on other board specifications. Find out how to choose a paddle board by reading on:

SUP Hull Types (Body)

Since the body of the board plays a big role in your SUP rides, you have to decide whether you’d get:

  • Displacement hull
  • Planing hull

What is a Planing Hull?

Similar to a surfboard, a planing hull is wide and flat. It’s built to ride on top of the water surface. It’s beginner-friendly with its maneuverable dimensions.

You should consider getting a planning hull if you want to do:

  • SUP yoga
  • Whitewater
  • Leisure paddling

What is a Displacement Hull?

Similar to a canoe or kayak, displacement hull has a pointed bow or noise. They are designed to slice through the water and exhibit efficiency.

You should consider getting a SUP with displacement hull if you want to do:

  • Fitness paddling
  • Touring
  • Racing

Solid vs. Inflatable SUPs

Solid SUPs

Solid SUPs are made with plastic or fiberglass and epoxy. Others are made with lightweight wood for aesthetic purposes.

You should get a solid SUP if:

  • You want to paddle fast and far
  • Have less effort in paddling

Before you opt for a solid SUP, make sure that you have a place to store it. You also need to be ready with challenging stability on board.

Inflatable SUPs

Featuring PVC exteriors, inflatable SUPS are famous for their lightweight build. They usually weigh around 12-15 lbs per square inch when inflated.

You can consider getting an inflatable SUP if:

  • You’re traveling
  • You have limited storage space
  • You’re frequent in hiking to lakes
  • You love whitewater paddling
  • You do SUP yoga

SUP Volume and Weight Capacity

There’s no sense finding the right nose shape or material for your SUP if it doesn’t work for your size.

That said, you have to get a board that displaces the right amount of water for your weight. If you miss it, you won’t have enough support on board, rendering the SUP unstable.

So how do you know the right volume and weight capacity for you?

Simple. Consider the length, thickness, and width of your tentative SUP.

A SUP’s volume is expressed in liters. If you see that a board has a higher volume, that means it can carry more weight on the water.

Meanwhile, the weight capacity is simply listed in pounds in the board’s list of specs. When considering it, make sure to note the total amount of your weight on board.

That means calculating not just your body weight, but also the weight of your drinks, food, gear, and other essentials.

SUP Length

In general, the longer the board, the faster they move on the water. But when it comes to maneuverability, shorter boards win.

Consider these aspects when deciding on the right length of your SUP:

1) Short boards (under 10’)

  • Best for kids
  • Ideal for surfing
  • Extremely manoeuvrable
  • Usually come with a planing hull

2) Medium boards (10’ to 12’)

  • Ideal for SUP yoga
  • Great for all-around use
  • Usually comes with planing hulls

3) Long boards (12’6” and above)

  • Best for long-distance touring
  • Ideal for fast paddling
  • Usually comes with displacement hulls

SUP Width

Another deal-breaker in finding the right SUP is the width. The wider ones offer better stability. Meanwhile, the skinny ones can be shaky and challenging to beginners.

Also, wider boards tend to be more difficult to paddle. They’re also slower; hence, you can’t bring them to your next fast paddling escapades.

Before settling for a particular SUP width, here are things to consider:

1) Type of paddling

If you’re off to long tours that demand you to bring extras like food cooler, tend, and other extra gear, opt for a wider board. The same rings true if you love SUP yoga.

31-inch wide boards can give you enough stability and space. Go narrower than this width and you’re getting a faster SUP. It’s ideal for racers and surfers out there.

2) Body type

If you’re a small person, a narrower boar can work for you. For bigger people, wider boards await.

It can be challenging for small people to reach out to the side when paddling. Bigger people can paddle more efficiently when they’re on bigger boards.

3) Ability level

For those who aren’t new to paddling, a narrow board might work for you. But if you’re new here, affording that extra width might be optimum.

SUP Thickness

With the right thickness, the overall weight capacity and volume of your SUP will be optimized.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided that you want a skinny and long displacement board for your flatwater rides. If you’re small, then a thin board is ideal for you. It can help keep the overall volume of the SUP, offering more efficient paddling.

SUP Fins

Fins add stability and tracking to SUPs.

Generally, smaller fins have less stability than larger ones. Also, larger fins built with wider bases and longer front edges can help the rider track straighter.

You can find various fin configurations in the market today. The prominent types include:

Single fin offers good tracking and minimal drag. It’s a great choice for flatwater paddling.

3-fin setup aka thruster delivers straight tracking on flatwater. It also provides good control in surf.

2+1 setup includes a larger center fin. Attached are smaller fins on each side of it.

Fins for inflatable SUPs can have any of the fin configurations listed above. The difference is that they feature detachable semi-rigid fins or flexible rubber fins attached to the board.


Whether you’re river running or fitness paddling, settling for a SUP that works for your height and weight is optimal.

So when you’re confronted with many kinds of SUPs, make sure to inspect the specifications carefully. Remember, your physique and level of mastery is key in leading the way on how to choose a paddle board.

Ready to find your next paddle board? Quest got your back! Check out our assorted SUPs available today!

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