Stand-up paddle boarding is a rapidly growing activity that's quickly becoming more popular at local lakes, rivers, and beaches. Stand-up paddle boarding is an easy sport to take up and great fun for the entire family. People of all ages and abilities can be up and riding in no time. It also provides an excellent core workout, and most importantly, it's one of the most affordable watercrafts on the market!
The roots of paddle boarding go back thousands of years to ancient cultures that used various forms of paddles and boards to efficiently navigate rivers and oceans. Hawaiians are credited with being the first culture to use a paddle while surfing for sport. In more recent years, surfing legend Laird Hamilton helped bring the sport into its modern manifestation. While looking for a way to cross train for surfing events in the 90s, he grabbed a canoe paddle and surfboard and discovered that paddling while standing upright offered a fantastic workout. Over the last decade paddle boarding has continued to develop into a fantastic water sport that's accessible to everyone.
There are a wide variety of paddleboards available, from entry-level to intermediate to performance designs with enhanced features for speed. Paddleboards are also made of different materials and come in various lengths and widths, all designed to match your intended usage. So let us break down a few basics to help you select the right board and get your adventure started.
When choosing the right paddleboard it's important to consider the range of paddlers that will be using the paddle board. Will it be used by a variety of family and friends or only experienced riders? If the users are more experienced and have good balance, then a more advanced paddleboard might be best. Will you be unloading and carrying the board by yourself? If so, you might consider an inflatable SUP or at least a paddleboard that's lighter and more maneuverable.
Another consideration is the rider's height and weight. If the paddle boarder is too short for the board width, it might cause for undue reach, which can make paddling difficult and more tiring. Also be aware of the recommended weight ranges given for specific paddleboards.
Paddleboards come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials, designed to offer various levels of performance in different types of water, such as flat water or surf. It's good when choosing a paddleboard to have an idea of the type of paddling you want to do and the water you want to paddle.
These paddle boards are great if your main goal in paddleboarding is getting some exercise while enjoying a day on the water or maybe just taking a leisurely excursion looking for new adventure. This will include most beginners. When looking for these paddleboards, it's good to consider their stability and maneuverability. At Overton's these recreational paddleboards fall into our All-Around Paddleboard Category.
All-Around SUPs – These stand-up paddleboards are designed for a variety of environments and can be enjoyed by anyone interested in having fun on the water. All-around paddle boards are designed to be more durable. They also carry a wider base with minimal arc along the rail to provide better stability and a better paddle and glide across the water.
Surf SUPs – Made to handle the surf, these boards are shorter so they are easier to turn and maneuver around the waves.
Hybrid SUPs – These crossover paddle boards are at home in both flat water and surf. The typical hull design for a hybrid SUP is flatter and wider, so it rides on top of the water and performs similar to a surf board on ocean waves.
Yoga SUPs – The use of paddleboards for exercise is becoming popular among those who practice yoga. Since balance is very important when doing yoga, these boards tend to be wide and stable. They may also include full deck pads for a sure grip when practicing yoga poses.
Fishing SUPs – The size and portability of a stand-up paddleboard make it great for accessing places that you could not get to in a boat. This makes it an excellent choice for fishing new locations and catching fish others may miss. Fishing paddleboards include a lot of extra features to make it easier on the fisherman. They may include rings or brackets for use with bungees to tie down equipment or coolers. They often include rod holders, removable seats, or other gear designed to make the fishing a little easier.
Inflatable SUPs or iSUPs – Inflatable stand-up paddleboards are very soft and forgiving, which makes them great for kids. Boat owners love the inflatable SUP because it's easily transported and can be strapped to their deck or tied off to the stern without damaging the boat or the paddleboard. Inflatable SUPs are a more economical option that makes them an excellent choice for getting started paddleboarding. They are also easily deflated for storage, so it's much easier carrying them to and from the lake. Most of the inflatable paddleboards offered by Overton's come with a variety of accessories, such as pumps for inflation, carrying straps, and storage bags.
Great for touring and racing, these SUPs are designed for more advanced paddlers who are looking to cover longer distances and reach higher speeds. Performance SUPs come in a variety of hull designs that help maximize their efficiency.
Touring SUPs – These paddleboards are long boards with hulls designed to easily displace water delivering more effective paddling for long cruises. Touring stand-up paddle boards often provide extra room for carrying cargo.
Racing SUPs – These long, narrow boards are built for speed in any water condition. These paddleboards are designed to pierce the water to minimize drag and maximize glide.
The body or hull of a stand-up paddleboard determines how it performs in the water. There are two types of SUP hulls – planing and displacement.
Planing Hull – The planing hull is found on all-around boards and is best for the paddler who wants just one board that can do it all. A planing hull is flat like a surfboard. It's designed to ride on top of the water and performs great in the ocean as well as flat water. A planing hull tends to be more stable, so it's best for beginners as well as recreational and surf paddling.
Displacement Hull – Found on most performance paddle boards, the displacement hull is best for long distances and racing. A displacement hull has a pointed nose that looks like a canoe or kayak. This V-nose shape pierces through the water, moving or "displacing" the water to the sides of the SUP for more efficiency. Stand-up paddleboards with displacement hulls are usually long and narrow, making them fast, but also less stable.
Advances in technology and materials have greatly improved the construction of stand-up paddleboards. The methods and materials used will determine the weight of the SUP as well as its durability
EPS Foam Core – Most SUPs start with a simple expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam core. EPS is very lightweight, but because there is air within the foam cells, water can seep in and deteriorate the core. Better than EPS is a fused-cell EPS core which is watertight and more durable.
Composite Foam Core – Some boards have the foam core wrapped with several layers of fiberglass. This not only adds layers of protection, but it also results in an incredibly lightweight SUP. Layers of wood are then added for extra strength and looks.
Soft Boards – Great for beginners and families, soft boards are made with an EPS foam core, then stiffened with wood or fiberglass stringers. The board is then sealed to prevent water entry and finished with bumpers and pads. Soft SUPs are great for use in shallow water, and they're a little more forgiving when the rider takes a spill.
Inflatable SUPs – These paddle boards are manufactured using a high-quality drop-stitch material that provides strength and allows some boards to hold up to 12 psi of pressure. Additional reinforcement layers are added that give the board stability and the same rigidity as a hard top SUP.
Two very important factors to consider when choosing a stand-up paddleboard are the board volume and weight capacity. If a SUP is unable to displace the amount of water corresponding to your weight, it will be unable to support you.
The volume of the paddle board is measured in liters and indicates the board's ability to float when carrying weight. The higher the volume, the more weight the board can support. Volume is determined by the paddleboard's dimensions and shape. A short board can still have a high volume if it's wide and thick, while a long board might have less volume if it's thin and narrow.
Each SUP also has a rider weight capacity listed in its specs. It's important to stay within your weight range when choosing or riding a paddleboard because if there is too much weight on the paddle board it will ride lower in the water and make it difficult to paddle.
The length of the paddle board will affect its speed and turning ability. Longer boards usually travel faster and straighter, while shorter boards are able to turn more quickly, which is great if you want to catch some waves. In general, short boards under 9' are best for surfing; medium length boards between 9' and 12' are excellent all-around boards for both flat water and surf; and long boards over 12' are great for racing and paddling long distances.
You also might want to think about where you'll be storing the paddleboard and how far you'll have to carry it to the water. Long boards are more difficult to carry, especially in windy conditions.
The width of the paddleboard helps determine how stable the board will be. A wide board over 31" is easier to stand on, while a narrow board under 31" is less stable even though it may offer more speed. When choosing a stand-up paddleboard, remember that a little more width and stability can go a long way in giving everyone a fun day of paddling. A less stable board might keep some people off the water. An extra inch of width may make a small change in your speed, but the extra stability may provide confidence and lead to more efficiency when paddling.
|120-150 lbs.||Length: 10'6" - 11' / Width: 28" - 30"||Length: 9' - 10'6" / Width: 26" - 26.5"|
|160-190 lbs.||Length: 11' / Width: 29" - 32"||Length: 9'6" - 10'6" / Width: 27" - 28"|
|200-230 lbs.||Length: 11' - 11'6" / Width: 29" - 32"||Length: 10' - 11' / Width: 28" - 28.5"|
|240-270 lbs.||Length: 11'6" - 12' / Width: 32" - 33"||Length: 11' - 11'6" / Width: 29.5" - 31.5"|
|280+ lbs.||Length: 12' / Width: 33"||Length: 12' / Width: 32"|
Stand-up paddleboards come with a variety of fin setups designed to help with tracking and performance. A single fin works well for SUPs used on flat water in lakes and bays. A tri-fin setup offers the versatility of using the large center fin in calm water or the two side fins in the surf. Racing fins are straighter and stiffer and best used on long boards to help them track better in waves and swells.
Fins are usually made of either fiberglass or nylon. Fiberglass fins deliver the best performance, but they can be sharp and dangerous if you're not careful. They are also more easily broken in shallow or rocky water. The more flexible nylon fin is probably best for families that paddle in shallower ponds.
Most SUP fins can also be removed if you're planning to travel or store the paddleboard. Just remember to put them back on before getting your board back in the water.
The traction pad is an area of foam on top of the board that provides grip for your feet. Surf paddleboards have a large traction pad so you can move around. Since the stance is more stationary on a racing board, its traction pad will be smaller.
Nose Shapes – The nose shapes of paddleboards generally are either wide or pointed and narrow. A wide nose floats higher so it's easier to catch waves. It also provides more room if you plan on carrying gear. The narrow, pointed nose cuts through the water and doesn't ride on top of it. This is especially important on racing and touring SUPs that need to cut through choppy conditions.
Tail Shapes – The design of the paddleboard tail will affect the way it handles the waves. Generally the more angular shaped tail provides sharper turns, while a rounded shape gives you smoother turns. A pin or round tail holds the water longer so it's stable in bigger surf. A square tail releases water quickly, making it looser and more skate-like.
Rocker – The rocker is the curve of the paddleboard. The more rocker a SUP has, the quicker it turns. Paddleboards designed for the surf will have the most rocker, while touring and racing boards will have less.
Rails – The edges of a paddleboard are called rails. These also affect the way a SUP handles. Most all-around boards have thick rails for better stability. Racing SUPs as well as surf SUPs are designed with many different shapes of rails that deliver specific riding characteristics.
It doesn't take a lot of equipment to get started paddleboarding. Thankfully, Overton's offers everything you need to begin your new adventure. Following are a few recommendations for you to consider when choosing the right gear.
Paddles for stand-up paddleboarding come in a few select materials and various sizes. They are usually bent at a slight angle to allow the paddler to make a longer forward reach when taking a stroke, thus providing greater efficiency. Consider the following when choosing the correct size and material of your SUP paddle.
Paddle Length – The ideal length of the proper paddle is typically 6"-10" taller than the rider. If your board is primarily used for surfing, you will want the paddle to be closer to 6" taller than the rider. For racing or touring, you may want to get it closer to 10" taller. If your board is a multi-purpose SUP, your best option is an adjustable paddle that lets you change lengths to find the best fit for you.
Blade Size – The larger you are, the more blade you can handle. Smaller blades are better on your joints and better for quick paddling motions. When running a canted blade through the water, make sure you use it with the blade canted forward for best performance.
Shaft Material– There are 3 common materials used in making SUP paddles. The most cost-effective is aluminum. It's heavier and used on entry-level paddles. At a mid-level price point, carbon-fiber is lighter and offers better performance and a better overall feel to most paddlers. For a more expensive option, carbon paddles are the lightest, best performing paddles. A carbon paddle is the best choice for long distance or competitive paddling.
The SUP leash attaches from the paddle board to your ankle or calf with a Velcro strap to keep the board close by if you should fall. Some leashes are designed specifically for use in surf, while others are better suited for flat water. Leashes come in different sizes, but generally it should be about the same length or a little shorter than your SUP. When you fall, currents and winds can quickly sweep your board away, so it's important to always use your leash.
Most of the dents and dings to your paddleboard will occur while traveling to and from the water or while it's in storage. Keeping your paddleboard in a SUP bag could add years to its life and also help when traveling.
Unless you have an inflatable SUP, storing your paddleboard will take up some space. Adding a paddleboard storage rack to your dock or garage will help you make efficient use of your space as well as protect your board and passersby that might trip or knock the SUP over. Overton's offers several convenient storage solutions for your paddleboard – from boat and pontoon mounts to dock racks that can handle everything from SUPs to kayaks and even towables.
The US Coast Guard requires you to have a USCG-approved life vest or PFD when using your stand-up paddleboard outside the limits of swimming or surfing areas. Overton's offers several options of USCG-approved PFDs that are designed to not interfere with your paddling. From automatic and manual inflatable vests and belts to more traditional life vests that are specially designed to allow for uninhibited strokes, there are plenty of options to choose from.
If you're paddling in a warmer climate, t-shirts, board shorts, swimsuits, and tank tops are examples of proper attire. You will always want to wear something that can get wet and allows you to move freely. If you are paddling in a colder climate, wear a wet or dry suit, especially in areas where hypothermia could become a problem.
Stand-up paddleboards are large and often cumbersome, so traveling to and from the water can sometimes be a difficult chore. Here are a few tips to help you with transporting your paddleboard.
Most stand-up paddleboards have a handle grip built into the middle of the board. Inflatable SUPs often have a carrying strap sewn into the board. These are simple to use and make it easy to carry your paddleboard to and from the water.
It's also possible to lift the board to your shoulder or head for carrying it. Stand the board on its tail with the deck facing you. Grasp the rails with both hands and walk yourself under the board until your head is about halfway between the nose and tail. Then stand upright with the board, supporting it with your head while still holding onto the rails.
If your paddleboard does not have a handle, Overton's offers a variety of paddleboard carriers and handles designed to make hauling your SUP much easier.
There are also paddleboard transport systems available at Overton's that use wheels that you secure to the paddleboard for rolling the board to and from the water. These are very handy, eliminating the stress and strain of carrying your SUP to the shore.
Stand-up paddleboards can be strapped on most vehicles with car roof racks. If your vehicle has existing roof racks, you can simple use tie-down straps to secure the board to your vehicle. Overton's offers several systems with padded straps to protect the SUP as well as your vehicle. Some roof rack systems even include locks for guarding the board against theft.
If you want your paddle board to accompany you through the air, you should consider investing in a SUP travel bag. These bags are usually padded, but it's also advised to add some extra padding to your board before packing it in the case. You should also check with your airline about size limits and additional charges for transporting a paddleboard on your flight.
If you're new to the sport of paddleboarding, it's best to start out with a very stable board in flat, calm water with no obstacles like boats or buoys in the way. If you try starting out on a board that's too narrow, it may be difficult to get your balance, and you may be tempted to quit. So for first timers, a wider and thicker paddleboard is best.
Grip the paddle with one hand on the handle at the top of the paddle and the other hand about halfway down near the center of the shaft. Hold the paddle in front of you with elbows bent allowing room for paddling. Make sure when paddling that the blade angle is facing away from you. Also remember that the paddle will float, so it's okay to let it go if you fall.
Place the paddleboard in shallow water, but deep enough to keep the fin from hitting the bottom. Lay the paddle across the deck of the board with the grip on the rail and the blade in the water. While holding the board by the rails, climb onto the center of the board in a kneeling position. Now you can get a feel for the balance point on the board. Keep the nose and tail fairly level. The nose should not pop up out of the water, and the tail shouldn't submerge into the water.
Once you have stabilized the board, you're ready to stand up one foot at a time. Keep your feet about where your knees were, shoulder width apart, centered between the rails, with toes pointed forward.
To maintain your balance, keep your knees slightly bent, your back straight, and your core centered over the board. Remember to balance with your hips, not your upper body. Keep your eyes looking at the horizon and avoid looking down at your feet. As you gain some momentum and start moving forward, your stability should also increase.
Remember when gripping the paddle to keep the angle of the paddle facing away from you. Keep your arms straight and twist your torso, using your abdominal muscles to paddle more than your arms. With your bottom arm fairly still, pull the paddle handle toward you with your top hand, extending the blade forward. Rotate your shoulders to extend your reach and insert the blade into the water as far forward as possible. Push the blade all the way under the water and pull back past your feet. While starting out, keep your paddle strokes short and closer to the board. As you progress, you can make a little more powerful stroke by pulling your board through the water past your paddle.
To keep your paddleboard moving straight, you'll want to take a few strokes on one side then switch and take a few strokes on the other side. When paddling on the right side of your paddleboard, keep your left hand on the grip and your right hand on the shaft. When you switch your paddle to the left side, put your left hand on the shaft and your right hand on the grip.
The easiest way to turn your paddle board is to just paddle on one side of the board until the nose turns in the direction you want to go. If you want to turn left, paddle on the right side. If you want to turn right, paddle on the left. This will cause a long sweeping turn in the direction you want to go. To make a quicker turn, drag the paddle in the water or paddle backwards on the side of the board you want to turn to. Paddle backward on the right side to turn right and backward on the left side to turn left.
Paddle boarding is a fun watersport that's fairly simple to learn. However, be prepared to take a few spills as you're getting used to riding your SUP. If you are falling, do your best to aim to the side so you hit the water and not the paddleboard. Falling on the board can be painful and may cause an injury. Make sure your leash is attached, so you can more easily retrieve your board.
Keep your feet parallel, about shoulder width apart, and pointed toward the nose. You may be tempted to take a sideways, surfboard-like stance, but this will make paddling on flat water very difficult and make you more likely to fall.
Grip the paddle with one hand on the top handle and the other about halfway down the shaft. If your hands are too close together on the paddle, your stroke will lack any power.
When paddling, let your back muscles do the work. Plant the blade fully in the water and take a long stroke, using your abs and torso. If you solely rely on your arms to make the stroke, you will tire very quickly.
Ride a paddleboard and open the door to a lifetime of new adventures. Once you've experienced paddle boarding, you'll be hooked on the fun you can have. Your stand-up paddleboard can take you places you never dreamed of seeing. Ride your SUP on the lake or river, surf your board on breaking waves, or glide along the coastline to new destinations. The world of water is waiting for your discovery. Grab your paddleboard and get started.