​Stand-Up Paddleboard Buying Guide | Pacific Boarder

Posted on April 24, 2018 at 11:32 PM

The Official Pacific Boarder Stand-Up Paddleboard Buying Guide


Well, this buying guide will cover much of the basic principles behind SUPs and their design. It's intention is to inform you of a few things to consider when purchasing a SUP. The great thing about SUP’s is that generally speaking, one size fits all. SUP doesn’t require a great deal of skill, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages to the varying designs.

Hull type

Planing Hull

Planing hulls are flat and wide. It’s a great all around hull shape that will perform in most conditions and situations. These hulls tend to be more maneuverable and stable than their counterparts.

  • Leisure paddling
  • Surfing
  • Yoga
  • Rough waters

Displacement Hull

Displacement hulls are V shaped, similar to the shape of a boat. This design is fast, efficient, and smooth, especially when travelling in straight lines. Its streamlined nature makes it great for flatwater paddling, racing, and touring.

  • Fitness paddling
  • Touring/camping
  • Racing
Naish Alana Air 11' 6
Naish Alana Air 11'6"

Solid vs. Inflatable


Most solid SUP’s are built from an EPS foam core wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy. This design is lightweight and durable. Some high end solid SUPs are built from carbon fiber to make them extra light. Solid SUP’s tend to be more performance oriented than inflatables. On the other hand, they are more difficult to store and transport.


Inflatable SUP’s have grown in popularity since their inception because of their convenience, portability and limited performance compromise. The biggest draw to Inflatables is their portability and packability (comes with a backpack style carrying case. These qualities make them excellent for those who want to travel with their SUP, those with limited storage space, or those with limited transportation abilities.

* We recommend inflatable SUPs with max PSI between 15 and 25.

Naish Glide Air 12'
Naish Glide Air 12'


SUP length is a major determining factor when it comes to the board’s handling and maneuverability. Keep in mind that the length of the board will affect the board volume. It’s also good to consider what you intend to use the board for when determining what length to buy. SUP length is generally broken down into three categories:

Short – Less than 10’: These boards are the most maneuverable of the bunch. They’re great for those who want to take their SUP into the surf and try and hang 10.

Medium – 10’ to 12’: The all-around SUP butter zone. Boards within this length are going to be more versatile than their outlying relatives.

Long: 12’ or more: Boards this length are typically accompanied by a displacement hull. The coupling of these design features make for a straight-tracking, fast board. Boards of this length are great for racing and touring (covering long distances).


Sup width is fairly simple. The wider the board, the more stable but slower and more difficult to paddle it’ll be. Most SUP’s range from 25” to 36”. Things to take into account when considering board width are: Intended use, body type, and ability.

Reasons to go wider: You want to pack things with you. You want to do SUP yoga. You’re a larger build. You’re newer to SUP. You want a short board and want to offset the volume by going wider.

Reasons to go narrower: You want to race or surf. You’re looking for a speedy SUP. You’re a smaller build. You want a longer board and want to offset the volume by going narrower.

Starboard 12'6
Starboard 12'6" Astro Touring SUP

Volume and Weight Capacity

It’s important to pay attention to the max weight and volume of a SUP.  If you’re not sure what volume of SUP is right for you, a general rule of thumb is body weight (kg) X 2.75 = Approximate recommended volume. The higher the volume of a SUP, the more float it will have, so beginners should lean towards a higher volume. Volume can be reduced for more experienced SUPers or those who hope to surf their SUP.

If you want to add volume to your ideal SUP length and width, look for a thicker board. Conversely, if you want to decrease the volume of your ideal length and width, look for a thinner SUP.


Fins help the SUP track through water and also add stability. When it comes to fins, there are a few options. Larger fins will guide the board straighter and help with stability, while smaller fins are more maneuverable.

Then there are configurations:

Single fin: Best for flat water. Singe fin setups are great for all around flatwater paddling as they provide great tracking and stability.

3 fin or “thruster”: Straight tracking and surfable.

2+1 fin: A larger center fin with two smaller fins on either side. Most common for SUP surfing.

Future Fins Thermotech SUP Keel Fin



SUP paddles are similar in shape to canoe paddles, but longer. To find the correct paddle length, stand flat-footed with your arm raised straight upwards above your head. The paddle should reach up to your wrist so that you can hang your hand over the handle of the paddle.


The material of your paddle MATTERS! Especially if you're planning on paddling for longer periods of time or over long distances. A heavy paddle will cause the arms to tire much faster than a lighter one, obviously. Stiffness also plays a role in the way the paddle behaves. Stiffer paddles are more efficient but can also be harder on your muscles and joints.

At Pacific Boarder we tend to stock two types of paddle materials:

Carbon Fiber: The lightest paddles on the market and therefore, the most expensive. Carbon Fiber paddles are stiff so that the power transfer from your body to the water is maximized.

Fiberglass: Provides a lightweight experience with less stiffness than Carbon Fiber. Generally, fiberglass paddles are less expensive than Carbon Fiber


Your ideal blade depends on your strength, so a good reference to go off is your body type. Larger blades displace more water and are therefore more difficult to paddle with. At the same time though, larger paddles will more forcefully propel the board forward.

These are the approximate ideal blade sizes for each body type:

Small/medium body types (less than 150 lbs.): 80–90 sq. in.

Medium/large body types (150 – 200 lbs.): 90–100 sq. in.

Large/X large body type (200+ lbs.): 100–120 sq. in.

Accessories & Extras

Other things that are great to have: A Leash! Paddle covers! Racks and Pads!

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