Below you’ll find a couple of images and graphs that will help you with the complex process of finding the right board(s) for you. As a surfer of many years (bodysurf, bodyboard, shortboard, longboard, and Stand Up Paddleboarding), I personally consider over 100 different variables when I’m choosing my own boards. For a first time SUP buyer, it would be excessive to consider so many variables, so we wanted to simplify the process for our customers. The boys at the shop and I were able to narrow a potential paddler’s focus down to 12 basic points which we use at our shop in Hawaii every day to help our customers find the perfect stand up paddle board for them.
Keep in mind that surfing and paddling needs are very specific to the rider and their locale, so our images and graphs may not depict info that is 100% accurate for you and where you plan to use the board.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to the finer details of the images and graphs depicted below.
First and foremost, the paddler must consider what type of paddling they intend to do. By determining if an individual will be surfing, racing, cruising or doing a hybrid of those, they will have already narrowed their board selection down. In general, the shorter and smaller the board is, the more surfable and maneuverable it will be, while the longer and more streamlined the design is, the more efficiently the board will cover distance and the better the board will be for racing. For cruising, one should consider boards that are in between those two spectrums, and skew their choice either shorter or longer depending on how they want their board to perform.
Height and weight, along with skill level, are the next big factors an individual should pay close attention to. Because paddle boarding requires the board to be on top of the water at all times (different from shortboards where the board may be fully submerged when not planing on a wave), height and weight dictate the amount of floatation the board will need to offer. In tandem with height and weight, one must also consider the skill level of the rider as that will impact their ability to manage different levels of volume at a consistent weight. Here’s an example I like to mention to customers to reiterate the fact that on top of height and weight, athleticism and skill level can impact the board selection even for a first time SUP buyer:
If there were twin brothers who grew up in the state of Hawaii and all variables for them are constant other than the fact that one spent the majority of his time in the library while the other spent the majority of his time on the soccer field, we can rationally conclude that the brother with an athletic background would probably do a little better the first time on an SUP than the brother who enjoyed the library.
With that info, determine what type of paddler (6 choices) you could be most readily characterized as, determine your current weight and match up the recommended volume via the chart.