We receive a lot of phone calls from customers who are doing their homework and are comparing boards from across the internet and local box stores. Each retailer, distributor, and manufacture claim they have or make the best boards out there. Some offer no real explanation on how and why their boards are better than the next. We hope to help you make the right choice for you and your needs. Oh, please make sure your board has a handle for carrying. It's no fun wrestling with a SUP on the way to the beach. With anything, you get what you pay for. Don't make the mistake and purchase a cheap board from a big box store, buy from knowledgeable dedicated shops that specialize in paddle boarding.
Q: What size board is best for me?
A: To determine the correct size board you need to look at a couple of factors. Your height and weight are the most important things to look at. You'll need a board that will float you and not one that you'll sink. The boards volume is made up from it's length, width, and thickness. Here's some general guidelines in picking the correct size board based off of weight. This is just the first step. You'll next look at what you intend on doing with the board. Will you primarily use it in the Surf, rivers, or lakes?
Rider weight: 100lbs-140lbs should look for a board from 8'5" to 11'
Rider weight: 140lbs-200lbs- Board length: 11' to 12'
Rider weight: 200lbs-300lbs- Board length: 11'6"-12'
These are guidelines. Each manufacture designs their boards differently so we highly recommend that you demo a few boards before you decide to buy. Please don't just go off of someones website suggestion.
Where will you use the board?
Lakes: For paddling flat water lakes we recommend boards that are longer in length. The reason we suggest this is because a longer board will have a better glide and track straighter. A shorter board will steer side to side as you paddle and is quite annoying for paddling flat water. Some manufactures try to sell a shorter board to flat water paddlers by putting tracking concave on the bottom saying this help track straight, but believe us when we say nothing is like a longer board for an efficient glide. The minimum length we recommend for flat water paddling is 10'6"
Surf: Here's where a shorter board can shine. A shorter SUP will allow you quicker tighter turning. A shorter board is going to be harder to balance on and won't offer the stability of a longer more stable board but once you become familiar with it, you'll have more fun surfing it. SUP boards for surfing can be in the 8'5" length to 12'. Just make sure you get one that floats you.
Rivers: Rivers can be rough on equipment so choose your board wisely. If you are running deeper slower rivers, you can get away with almost any SUP. If you are using your board on shallow fast moving water, we recommend inflatables.
Construction types explained.
There are a few options out there, so being informed now will help you avoid the wrong purchase. There are a few key points to think of when deciding what type of board construction will be best for you. Will this board be used by yourself and other responsible people? Will it be well taken care of? Will it be used by the entire family, including kids? You want a board that will last.
Starting with the Core center: All Padlde boards use either EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam or EXTRUDED EPS FOAM. Expanded EPS foam doesn't absorb water and Extruded can absorb water. Make sure your board uses Expanded Polystyrene foam. Most boards use this type.
Cheaper type construction like you'll find with boards from Supaxt, Costco, and Tower Paddleboards: This method of board building is similar to the old school surfboard construction. A lot of the cheaper SUP's "Stand Up Paddle Boards" on the market are made from this method. They basically take a shaped block of foam and either add a wooded strip or stringer down the middle for support or they leave this out, most leave out. Cheaper boards leave this out. Then lay a couple of sheets of fiberglass cloth across the top and bottom. Next they pour either a polyester or epoxy resin to seal it all together. Boards like this will have 2-3 layers of fiberglass on top and a couple on the bottom. The problems with this construction is they are much heavier and less durable than an epoxy sandwhich construction. Upon time the top layer or deck of the board will dent from your feet. These dents will eventually cause the fiberglass to separate from the foam causing delaminating and a ruined board. These boards also chip easier and are much more fragile. Like anything in life, quality comes with a price. Don't sacrifice quality!
Cheap SUP Construction
Epoxy Sandwich with veneer laminate reinforcements- This type of construction is the most durable and recommended by us for many reasons. Sure these boards cost more but for very good reason. They are built to withstand daily use and abuse from the surf to the lakes. This type of construction uses a high density waterproof EPS foam core. This type of foam will not absorb water. There's multiple fiberglass layers placed around the foam blank and the foam will then have different forms of decking materials placed on top. Some companies use a wood veneer or strong plastic PVC sheet. These extra decking materials make the boards deck very stiff and strong. This will not dent from your feet like some of the surfboard type construction above. Building a paddle board with this type of construction makes for a lighter and more durable board that will last a lifetime. This method takes the EPS foam core and vacumm bags a thin sheet of either PVC (light weight composite) or Wood around the EPS core thus creating a super hard layer or shell around the core. This will greatly increase the durability of the board and also increase the cost. The sandwich tends to make the board stiffer under your feet and since its sandwiched around the core they typically paint them on the outside or if they are a wood sandwich will show the wood layer. The sandwich is great for durability and if done correctly it can squeeze out all the excess resin making for a lightweight board. The key is expect to pay more for this.
Sandwhich Type Construction=Quality
Soft Tops- These boards are great for beginners, families, and kids. They are built with beginners and kids in mind. They are light and soft on top, which helps for kids falling on them. They aren't built for performance but FUN. These are constructed with a waterproof EPS foam core, layers of fiberglass, and wrapped in a thick EVA Foam for padding.
Here's a very nice article on board construction. Check it out and ask questions when you are ready to purchase a board.