HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
The question “how do I choose a SUP size” is typical of first time SUP buyers. Paddle boards come in many different shapes and sizes. From as short as seven feet, they can range as long as 21 feet and everything in between. For a first-time buyer, the plethora of options can be confusing. Make the wrong choice and you can end up with a board you hate. Make the right choice, and you will be loving your SUP for years.
To best answer the subject question, it is important to first understand how paddle boards are sized.
HOW ARE SUPS SIZED?
Almost every company will advertise the dimensions of a paddle board. A SUP’s length, width and thickness are measured in inches or centimeters. An example is 10’6” (L) x 32”(W) x 4.5” (T).
Typically, longer paddle boards have more volume and can carry heavier riders while maintaining stability. However, like most things, there are exceptions to this rule. As a result, a paddle board’s dimensions are not the best way to choose a SUP.
Volume is the best variable in determining SUP size. Volume is measured in liters. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can support before it will submerge.
Higher volume paddle boards offer greater stability then lower volume ones. First time buyers may be tempted to purchase a paddle board with more volume than they need because of the initial stability provided. While the extra size is appreciated in the first few months, after the rider gains experience, the extra volume which was initially loved becomes a hindrance, as it’s needlessly pushed through the water.
SIZE VARIES ON ACTIVITY
Manufacturers create different paddle board sizes to do more than match rider weights. Paddle boards have different sizes depending on the activity they are designed to do. Surf style boards are much shorter then touring and racing SUPs. The need to be short and agile, while a touring board is several feet longer, making it easier to travel in a straight line. A racing board will be even longer so it can easily slice through the water.
If you plan on doing any particular type of activity, get a board to match your goals. Once you choose a style category, you then just have to match a board’s volume to your weight and you will have a good fit.
YOUR BODYWEIGHT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR
Your weight will be a primary factor for the size of paddle board you need.
The ratio of bodyweight to board volume largely determines a paddle board’s stability. As a rider’s body weight approaches the board’s maximum rider weight, the less stable the SUP will be. The less a person weighs, the smaller the volume required to maintain an equal level of stability.
Your skill level also needs to be considered when choosing a SUP size. If you have several hours of experience paddling under your belt, you may feel very comfortable on a paddle board with less volume and less stability. As paddlers gain experience, their balance improves, and their need to maximize the volume/weight ratio is not as important.
Select a board’s volume with the idea that your skill set will rapidly improve. What offers prefect stability today, might feel like an overly cumbersome yacht in a year or two.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
Now that the thinking behind SUP sizes have been explained, lets get to the steps to make a great selection.
By gathering the suggested information, you’ll have a better idea as to the style of boards that will work best for your goals. A good quality paddle board will last for years. Making the right size decision will help to keep you loving it for just as long.
WHAT IS THE MOST STABLE TYPE OF PADDLE BOARD?
What is the most stable type of paddle board? This is a common question for many first-time paddle board shoppers. Rather then supplying a simple answer, lets first looks at the issues that factor into the answer.
A paddle board’s stability is based upon three aspects of its basic shape; Length, Width and Volume. The longer and wider the paddle board, the more stable it will be.
A paddle board’s volume is directly connected to the size of the board. Volume is measured in Liters and it signifies how much water is displaced by the board when it enters the water. Generally, the bigger the paddle board, the more volume it will have.
There are four main types or styles of paddle board: All Around, Wave/Surf, Touring and Race.
All Around paddle boards are aptly named. They are shaped to be good at all types of SUP activities but don’t excel at any one style. By their nature, they are designed with stability in mind.
Wave paddle boards are stable as well, but become less stable as they get smaller and narrower. However, larger wave boards are quite stable and should be considered if there is a possibility to catch some waves in your future.
A specialized design. Touring boards may be 2-4 inches narrower then than an All-Around type of SUP, making the board feel less stable to beginner riders. There is simply less room for your feet to get comfortable. On the plus side of the equation, Touring boards are longer than All Around styles. The additional length adds volume which greatly increases board stability.
Racing paddle boards are very narrow and are a specialized board. If board stability is a factor in your purchase decision, don’t think about a racing board.
INFLATABLE VS. HARD
Another major factor that affects a paddle board’s stability is rigidity. Rigidity can be described as stiffness. A concrete sidewalk is very stiff and rigid. A mattress isn’t.
Hard paddle boards are more rigid than inflatables and offer better stability.
As a first-time buyer, paddle board stability is an important aspect of the decision-making process. However, it shouldn’t be the primary factory. The level of stability you need as a new rider is not the same level of stability you’ll need two years, or even two months down the road. As you gain experience, your balance will improve and your need for extra stability will decrease.
Some first-time paddle board buyers will purchase a board larger than they need just because it feels more stable during the test drive at the shop. As they gain experience and balance, these boards often start to feel too large. What was once a nice big stable board becomes a tug boat. Having to needlessly push extra weight and volume through the water gets tiring after a while.
Rather than purchasing a SUP that is too large for you just for better stability, select a board that is the proper size. Paddle board manufacturers create boards of different volumes to enable a better match between rider weight and the board’s function. A properly sized paddle board will not only provide you with the stability you need now, it won’t feel too big in the future as your skills improve.
Now that the issues have been examined, what is the most stable type of paddle board?
Assuming the questioner is a first-time paddle board buyer with limited experience, the answer is an ALL-AROUND HARD paddle board.
All Around boards have the most stable board shape and are designed to do everything pretty good. Combine this stable shape with the rigidity that a hard board provides and you have a winner!
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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