How to Choose a Paddle Board

When you live on the water, sometimes taking your boat out can become a little stale. When this happens, paddle boards offer a fun new way to engage in waterplay on the lake, river, or even the ocean. Paddle boards also offer a great way to exercise and stay fit while also having fun. Paddling itself can give you a great workout, but you can also do Yoga and other exercises on your paddle board. Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, we have to start from scratch: choosing your paddle boat. How do you choose a paddle boat? It all depends on what you want and what you need out of your paddle board. Those who want a paddle board that’s strictly for fun will have different needs for those who want one for exercise purposes. Below we offers some tips and steps on how to choose a paddle board. We hope that with the the right information, you will get the paddle board that is totally perfect for you.

Choosing the Right Paddle Board

Your paddle board can offer you fun, relaxation, and exercise all in one. Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) can be done many ways, but it all starts with the right paddle board. Whether you want a calm ride, a rigorous workout, or a relaxing float across the water, it all begins with the choices you make. To find the right stand up paddle board, use the following criteria:


SUP construction depends upon the difference between a solid paddle board and an inflatable one. How your board is constructed will affect performance, price, weight, storage options, and of course, portability. Both construction types come with their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Inflatable SUPs: Most inflatable SUPs have PVC exteriors. They also have drop-stitch construction that helps create an air core for breathability on the water. These inflatable SUPs come with pumps for inflating the board as well as a storage bag for when they are not in use. Inflatables are especially popular because they’re easier to store and have much better portability than solid boards. However, inflatables also tend to ride higher in the water as well as move around more, which can cause some paddlers to feel less stable. If you aren’t sure whether you want an inflatable board or not, consider the following:
      • Storage Space: Do you have a small home? If so, a solid board might not be the best idea. Since inflatable SUPs can be deflated, they can be stored in more spaces than solid ones.
      • Flexibility: Do you travel a lot? If you’re intending to use your paddle board on lakes and rivers besides the one(s) closest to you, you’ll want to pack up your inflatable SUP. Their storability in suitcases, on planes, in the car, or wherever else you need definitely makes them the better choice.
      • Traveling On Foot: If you’re going camping or hiking and intend to paddle board once you reach a lake or river, you know you can’t easily carry a solid board through the wilderness. Inflatable board portability comes in handy in many ways.
      • WhiteWater: White water is unpredictable, bumpy, and full of surprises. Inflatable SUPs do a better job of rolling with the bumps, rocks, logs, and swirls whitewater offers. Solid boards are less yielding, making them a poorer option if you frequent this type of water.
      • SUP Yoga: While you can do SUP yoga on both inflatable and solid boards, inflatable boards are better suited to this type of exercise. They’re much softer and more yielding, making them more comfortable for this type of exercise.
  • Solid SUPs: SUPs have traditionally always been solid. They are most often made with foam cores and covered with layers of fiberglass to make them light and easy to carry. They tend to be more rigid than inflatable SUPs, which give them increased stability in choppy water. If you’re considering a solid SUP, these factors might help you make your decision:
      • You Need Stability: Solid SUPs are more rigid, which makes them feel more stable in rocky, choppy waters. If you are riding rigid waves, a rigid board can keep you safe and upright better than an inflatable one can.
      • You Have Need for Speed: Solid boards have less drag in the water, which makes them go much faster than inflatables. This is ideal for those paddling long distances, like across a lake or down a river.
      • Storage: If you have the storage space, why not get a solid SUP? Ample storage would be like room in your garage and a working car or other vehicle that can easily transport the SUP without issue.

    Hull Type

    The Hull is important because it determines how your paddle board will perform in the water. There are two main hull types to choose from: planing and displacement.

      • Planing Hull: Planing hulls are flat and wide and closely resemble a surfboard. They are made to ride on top of the water and to be easily maneuvered through it. Planing hulls are also rather versatile making them perfect for surfing, fishing, recreational paddling, SUP yoga, and downwinding.
      • Displacement Hull: Displacement hulls are built differently than planing hulls in that they have a pointed nose or bow (front or end) and closely resemble a canoe and kayak. Due to their design, displacement hulls can slice through the water by pushing it around the nose and to the sides. This makes for a faster, sleeker, and all around smoother ride. What’s more, displacement hulls are perfect for long paddle rides and are more adept at traveling straight due to their lower maneuverability. Choose a displacement hull if you like fishing, racing, recreational paddling, fitness paddling, and camping.


    Board width is important because it also plays a role in board stability. Most SUPs have width of up to 36 inches wide, making them accessible to a number of body types. Wide boards are 31” wide or wider and tend to be the most stable board type. While they are more stable, they also tend to be a little slower. Narrow boards range from 29” to 30” and tend to be faster than wider boards, though they are typically less stable.


    Like most things in life, paddle board lengths come in threes: short, medium, and long. The wave you’re riding determines the length of board you should use, as calmer waters and choppier waters require different performances. Here’s how the three lengths shape up:

    • Short: Short paddle boards are nine feet and under and are perfectly suited for surfing for both adults and kids. They tend to be more maneuverable than long boards and can cut through waves effortlessly. For kids, a board that is eight feet or shorter is suitable. 

    • Medium: Medium length boards are anywhere between nine and twelve feet long and are great for both calm lakes and surfing across spirited seas.
    • Long: Long boards range from 12.6 feet to 14 feet long and are ideal for fast paddling and long distance touring. They track straighter and give you a better workout than the other board lengths. In addition, you can bring more supplies and gear along when touring if you use a long paddle board.

    Volume and Weight Capacity

    Volume and weight capacity are important because they help determine if a paddle board is right for your own personal size. For example, if your paddle board does not move the right amount of water for your weight, you will find yourself feeling poorly supported and totally unstable, which can make your paddling experience unsafe. So, how do you know what volume and weight capacity are right for you personally?

    The volume of a paddle board is expressed in liters and shows the board’s ability to float with weight on it. The higher the volume of a paddle paddle board, the more weight it can support. Most SUPs have volumed listed, so you can find your right match.

    The weight capacity of a paddle board is expressed and listed in pounds and helps you determine the amount of weight you can put on your paddle board. For example, if you are too heavy for your board, it will ride lower in the water, making it difficult to paddle. In most cases, you can’t be too light for a paddle board. To pinpoint the right weight capacity, make sure you weight less than the paddle boards listed weight capacity.


    SUP thickness is another factor that affects the stability of your board. Thicker boards tend to be more stable but less maneuverable than thinner boards. The choice between a thick or thin paddle typically rests on your skill level. Beginning paddlers should stick with thicker boards as these are more stable. More experienced paddlers will likely enjoy the thinner boards as they are more responsive and easier to command.


    Fins are an important part of your paddle board because they add both tracking and stability to your ride. Larger fins have wider bases and longer front edges, which allow them to track straighter and provide greater stability. Smaller fins, however, are easier to maneuver. Check out the different types of fins to choose from:

  • Single Fin: Most SUPs have a single fin in a finbox fixed to the board with a nut and screw. The finbox itself has a channel for the fin to slide back and forth in, giving it prime maneuverability. A single fin allows for great tracking and little to no drag, which makes it perfect for flatwater (that is lake or other calm water) paddling.
  • 3-Fin Setup: the 3-Fin setup is also known as a thruster and helps promote straight tracking in flatwater while also offering stable control in surf. Each of the three fins are roughly the same size.

  • 2+1 Setup: The 2+1 Setup has a large center fin with a small fin on either side of it. This is perfect for SUPs made for surfing.

  • Fins for Inflatables: Inflatable SUPs can have fin configurations as well. They can have each of the ones lifted here, as well as flexible rubber fins attachments, or detachable semi-rigid fins that can be removed for storage purposes.

  • Race Fins: Race fins are all about making your paddle board faster. They are straighter, stiffer fins that help with downwind runs on longer boards. They also track better in large wind waves, rolling swells, and surf.

  • Each of these factors plays a major role in knowing how to choose a paddle board. By tweaking each factor, you can find the right board for your own personal needs and wants. Paddle boarding is a great past time that comes with many advantages depending upon what you choose, so run through this list, do your research, and build your best board.