Choosing the right paddle board:
Stand up paddle boarding has become popular in many areas and geographies because of the versatility of its application and the ease to which anyone can get out there and start enjoying it. Surfing, windsurfing, kite-boarding, and other water board sports can take some time to master before it becomes enjoyable, but just about anyone that can stand, can learn to paddle board in just a few minutes. You also don’t need waves, or wind, or a boat; so people are paddle boarding all over, in lakes, rivers, creeks and oceans! Some people use them to surf, practice yoga, explore local waterways, racing, and just getting out on the water and surrounding themselves with Mother Nature.
When choosing the right paddle board, there are 3 main things to consider.
Your intended use
Your size (height, weight, build)
Your experience level
So what do you plan to do with your paddle board? Here are a few general guidelines on types of boards for different purposes.
Surfing: generally a shorter, narrower paddle board with multiple fin set up configurations. Higher rocker (rocker is the upward curvature) on the nose and tail.
Yoga: wider, thicker, longer board. More volume and width ads to the stability of the board. It also makes it a bit slower.
Whitewater: similar to surfing, usually thicker and with durable outer coatings. Used in rivers with rapids and obstructions/rocks.
Flat water: General paddling in rivers, lakes, creeks and bays. Leisurely use – most common.
Open water/Racing: Longer, thicker, V shaped hulls. Usually 12+ feet in length.
Fishing: longer, wider, lots of extra tie down and accessory attachment points.
Many of our boards are designed for All-Around use, which is a hybrid between flat water and surfing, but can also be used in open water and for yoga.
The intended use of your paddle board will often determine the appropriate size. For this discussion, we will focus on the size for most of our hybrid boards which are designed to be used for open or flat water and also for surfing. These are great boards for all around use and can also be used for yoga, racing, and fishing/sport.
1kg of volume creates 1kg of ‘lift’ so a board with a volume of 173L has a max weight of 380 lbs. ideally you would want the max weight to be less so that the board is not completely submerged, and you need to include the weight of the board in that calculation as well.
1lb = 2.2kg
Below are some formulas that help determine appropriate Volume to Weight ratios and get you in the ball park, but remember, your intended use is probably the most important factor. If you are unsure, the best thing to do is just ask us! These are also just rules of thumb, so don’t let a calculation scare you off from a board that may be outside of the volume range based on the formulas below.
Balanced Challenged: body weight (kg) x 3 = Volume
Beginner: body weight (kg) x (2.2 to 3) = Volume
Intermediate: body weight (kg) x (1.8 to 2.2) = Volume
Advanced: body weight (kg) x (1.5 to 1.8) = Volume
Expert Surfing: body weight (kg) x (1.1 to 1.5) = Volume
In general a beginner will want a bigger board, the wider the better. This will provide more stability as the paddler learns the balance of the sport. Many beginners will get big wide boards and will quickly advance in their skill level and want something a little bit smaller and narrower so that it is not slow and difficult to maneuver in the water.
Here is a great video from Blue Plant Surf that give some details on board size, volume and how to best determine what would work for you.
Choosing the right paddle:
In general a paddle that is 8-10” taller than you are is about right. A longer paddle enables more powerful strokes and shorter paddle enables quick turning and maneuverability/handling of the paddle for surfing or whitewater navigation. The width and shape of the blade also play a big part. A smaller, narrower blade works well for surfing while a wide blade helps put more power into your stroke. Adjustable paddles are great to accommodate multiple users and various applications.
Aluminum: cheaper, lower performance, usually have plastic blades, heavier, has some give and flex which reduces your stroke effectiveness. Good for first timers on a budget
Fiberglass: Stronger, more durable and rugged. You will feel the difference in weight after a good paddle compared to an aluminum shaft paddle.
Carbon Fiber: Lighter, stiffer, more power in your stroke. Great for distance and open water. Best paddle for the money.