Guide To Picking A Stand-Up Paddleboard

Deciding between an inflatable SUP and a hard SUP can be determined by five key factors: Performance, Portability, Cost, Durability and Storage Space.


This might not seem too important when you’re learning how to stand-up paddle board for the first time, but the truth is, it does. Performance is all about having the ability to ‘perform’ a certain task at a level you feel comfortable and confident. Therefore, a hard SUP will provide optimal performance for any standard of rider. It’s more stable on the water and will ensure you’re balanced – depending on the certain water conditions you’re paddleboarding in. Inflatable SUPs still provide stability, but only when the board is inflated to the maximum level required. If there’s not enough air, the middle section of the board will cave in on itself and you will lose the ability to remain comfortably balanced.


It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at getting into paddleboarding, but it certainly is one of the most important, particularly if you’re going to be hitting the water frequently and at times by yourself. Therefore, an inflatable SUP is the easiest of boards to transport. You won’t need a truck or van, because when the SUP is deflated it will roll into the size of a large sleeping bag and fit tightly in its carry bag, which is almost guaranteed to fit in the boot of your car. Another great aspect of an inflatable SUP is it’s easy to take on holiday – and you won’t need to pay those annoying ‘surfboard’ fees airlines sting you for. On the other end of the spectrum, and if you do happen to have a large vehicle with roof racks, then having a hard SUP won’t be an issue. Plus, it cancels out all the inflating and deflating that comes with an inflatable SUP. Although be mindful that a hard SUP is heavier – which may be a hindrance when entering and vacating the water.


Inflatable SUPs are more affordable than hard SUPs. Therefore, if you’re on a budget, or getting into stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, an inflatable SUP is recommended. However, if you’re experienced and looking to take your paddleboarding to a whole new level, a hard SUP is the right choice.


Long story short, inflatable SUPs are more durable than hard SUPs. Dropping your inflatable paddle board won’t affect the external structure. Whereas if you drop your hard SUP it would ding / scratch the exterior and will need to be repaired. So if you’re looking for something more carefree when it comes to looking after your paddle board, inflatable is often the best option.

Storage space:

This is an important factor in deciding whether to go an inflatable or hard paddle board. You will need to consider how much storage space you have at your home and how big your car is. If you live in an inner-city apartment with no garage space, then an inflatable SUP makes more sense, as it can be stored basically anywhere. However, if you live in a house which has plenty of space, then a hard SUP will be fine. Just keep in mind that paddle boards are large in length – so allow for a decent amount of space for manoeuvring.

Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Boards 

The most popular of stand-up paddle boards. They tend to be better for those who are just starting out. If you’re looking for a more casual experience, an inflatable SUP will provide the perfect platform and they are safe/strong enough for you to manoeuvre around. The main feature showcased by an inflatable SUP is their compactness. Having the ability to deflate and roll up into a large rucksack allows for stress-free mobility. Furthermore, an inflatable SUP is more durable than its hard counterpart – thus allowing for a longer ‘life’ expectancy. Additionally, inflatable SUPs are more affordable, which at the end-of-the-day is a big factor when is comes to a purchasing decision.


- Compactness
- Lightweight
- Storage
- Affordability


- Continuous inflating and deflating
- Stability

Hard (sometimes referred to as ‘solid’) Stand-Up Paddle Boards

For the more experienced of SUP riders and those looking to better their paddle boarding ability, by implementing complicated manoeuvres, you’re going to want a hard SUP. They offer far better support for water conditions where stand-up paddleboarding experience is often a pre-requisite. Speed, change of direction and balance are three key features implanted into a hard SUP. Another convenient factor (bearing in mind you will need an appropriately sized vehicle) is that you don’t need to constantly inflate and deflate a hard SUP – it’s ready to be used straight away. Additionally, if you’re coming from a surfing background, you’ll find that a hard SUP feels better under your feet and will often allow for similar moves whilst on a wave – compared to an inflatable SUP, which may lag and not cut through (dig the rail) the water as sharply.


- Stability
- Speed
- Ready-to-go


- Transportation
- Affordability

How thick should your stand-up paddle board be?

Now that you've had a chance to look at the pros and cons for both board type it's important to assess the volume of each board. This is a key factor as it will determine how stable you are. Essentially, the more volume the stand-up paddle board has, the easier and more comfortable it's going to be to stand on. A great estimation when trying to figure out how much volume you should have in your board is the following:

  • Beginner - Your total weight in kilograms x 2 (ie. 80kg x 2 = 160 litres)
  • Intermediate - Your total weight in kilograms x 1.7
  • Advanced - Your total weight in kilograms x 1.3

Below is a table which shows the typical litres for all-round, touring, wave and racing stand-up paddle boards depending on their rough size.

8' 87L +
9' 104L +
10' 142L +
11' 192L +
12' 246L +
13' 300L +
14' 340L +
15' 400L +

What type of stand-up paddle board is best equipped for you?

All round

The most versatile of SUP designs, the all-round board is made for those who want to try a little bit of everything – from cruising on flat water, to attempting to ride a wave. If you're a beginner, this is a great board to start with and develop your skills further. From here you can think about moving up to a touring board if you feel comfortable.

Length: 9’4 – 11’6

Width: 31” – 34”

Steadiness: High

Glide: Medium

Manoeuvrability: Extra High


Although similar to an all-round SUP, the touring board generally has more speed – due to the fact it’s longer and slimmer. This particular SUP is for those looking to cover longer distances. Ideally for lakes, rivers and ocean bays, it’s all about endurance and disciplined paddling. So if you’re feeling fit and wanting to spend some quality time outdoors, a touring SUP is the perfect shaped board for you.

Length: 11’0 – 15’0

Width: 30” – 32”

Steadiness: Extra High

Glide: High

Manoeuvrability: Medium

Wave (Surfing)

It’s no secret a stand-up paddle board is essentially a longer and thicker version of a surfboard. They were originally created for surfers who wanted to catch more waves, whilst at the same time allowing them to be easily caught. Thus, the wave SUP is designed purely for those looking to ride a wave. The length of the board will often be anywhere between 8 to 10 feet. Anything more than that and it will be extremely difficult to manoeuvre on a wave. So if you’re looking to SUP in the surf, you’re going to want to have a wave stand-up paddle board.

Length: 8’10 – 10’6

Width: 29” – 32”

Steadiness: Low

Glide: Medium

Manoeuvrability: High


If you’re competitive, then this is the SUP for you. These boards are long, thin in width and will generally have a displacement hull from the nose, allowing the board to slice through flat or rough water – like how a boat operates. If you’re going to be competing against other people, you’re going to need something which can cut through the water. These SUPs are the fastest on the market.

Length: 10’6 – 14’0

Width: 24” – 32”

Steadiness: Low

Glide: Extra High

Manoeuvrability: Medium Low


If you have questions regarding particular stand-up paddle boards or just fancy a chat about watersports in general then give us a call on 01702 295678. We're always happy to help!



Published on 19th June 2018 in SUP

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