How to Choose a Paddle Board
You’re not going anywhere without a board. A lot has happened since Hamilton first started looking into stand-up paddleboards. In general paddle boards are usually around 11 feet in length and come in a variety of widths and types. Sure the longboard is still around, it is after all a perennial favorite of surfers along with SUP-ers. With a solid core, these boards are the heaviest.
But their bulk and heft make them extremely well-balanced and durable. Traditional longboards can be used on flat, glassy waters but more importantly they can also be used on waves to stand-up paddle board surf. Their solid foam cores can take the pressures imparted on them by crashing waves and it also means that they can withstand rocks.
Stand Up Paddle boards with keels are built for the smoother rides. Much like a boat, these paddle boards sport a keel that is meant to “cut” through the water. For obvious reasons, these paddle boards excel at speed, especially on flat water, like a clam lake for example. Having the keel means that the paddle board experiences less resistance from the water, and is the reason why it is the favoured type of paddle board for racers and long distance or touring paddlers. However, their lighter and more delicate bodies often mean that they can’t take as much beating as the solid core long boards. The last seven years has seen a rise in the inflatable paddle board market.
These paddle boards were built to be compact. When deflated you can easily stuff one or two SUPs complete (with pump and fins) in your trunk. Often costing less than other types of paddle boards, inflatables allow paddlers a bunch of options and versatility. Their size often means that you can carry them on your back to get at those hard to reach bodies of water. Going backcountry fishing? Good luck hauling a solid core long board through the woods and over boulders.
The downside with anything labeled as an inflatable is, of course, they can be punctured. Even though they are made of the same durable rubber as whitewater rafts, they can still be punctured or a hole may develop through prolonged abrasion. As such, inflatables often shine in lakes and slow moving rivers. Due to the lower cost, inflatables are great entry level boards for paddlers who are just starting out.