All these Paddle Board Shapes - What's the difference?
Water You Waiting For? Finding the perfect inflatable stand up paddleboard (iSUP) can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. The first thing any aspiring boarder needs to decide is what purpose their board should fulfill. There are four main types of paddleboard shapes on the market for you to choose from, and each functions, looks, and rides a little different from the rest. Here is a quick, in-depth guide to what you need to know about the four main types of paddleboard shapes out there: allround, flat water, surf, and race boards.
Typically thick and wide, allround boards are designed for stability and to get people of all levels out on lakes, rivers, and the open ocean. The stability of these boards makes them great for beginners looking to find their feet and also for pros who seek to practice new skills. By and large, allround paddleboards hover between 9’6” – 11’6” long and 30”-38” wide. They feature a thicker nose and tail to enhance your balance in calmer and mildly choppy bodies of water. Some allround iSUP models come with an optional attachable windsurfing rig to really maximize your potential for fun!
- Ideal for beginners
- Suitable for calm and mildly choppy waters
- 9’6” – 11’6” long and 30”-38” wide
- Built for balance and all-round usability
- Great for recreational paddleboarding, surfing, fishing, yoga
Flatwater boards, also known as touring boards, make the ideal companion for calmer conditions out on the open ocean. They are usually longer than allround boards with pointed ends, like a kayak, so that they can slice through the water with minimal drag and resistance. This unique paddleboard shape ensures you can pick up plenty of speed, especially if you have the wind behind you. Though flatwater boards are more geared for intermediate users, they are usually also stable and forgiving enough to be a good starting point for adventurous beginners. Their longer shape and aerodynamic design does sacrifice a bit of stability, though. The average flatwater paddleboard ranges from 11’ – 14’ in length and 30” – 32” in width.
- Ideal for intermediates and gutsy beginners
- Best used in calm, open sea
- 11’ – 14’ long and 30” – 32” wide
- Built for long, fast flatwater paddling
- Great for longer rides, coastal cruising, recreational paddleboarding
Built with high speed and strong performance in mind, race paddleboard are somewhat similar to flatwater boards, though they are narrower and longer. The profile of race iSUPs, while ideal for going fast, will usually sacrifice stability and comfort in the process. Not ideal for beginners, race boards, the fastest of all iSUPs, are all about competition and the thrill of victory! The typical length of a race iSUP is between 12’6” – 14’ and the width usually falls in the range of 24” – 28”. Surprisingly, race iSUPs have the ability to track well in calm waters and can be stable if you acquire one with more girth.
- Ideal for intermediate to advanced boarders
- Best used in calm, flat waters
- 12’6” – 14’ long and 24” – 28” wide
- Built for speed and racing. Can be used as a flatwater board, though lacks comfort
- Great for racing, passable for touring
Surf iSUPS, as their name suggests, are ideal for carving up the waves with precision and style. The typical surf paddleboard is shorter in length, with a narrower nose and tail, and also possesses more rocker (curve) to its shape. Typically, surf paddleboards range in length from 8’10” – 10’ and have a width around 28” – 35”. With its narrower shape, surf paddleboards are perfectly-suited for maneuverability on the waves. However, to achieve this, they sacrifice stability, speed, and straight line tracking on flatter waters. Due to the specific, purpose-built nature of these boards, they are usually not geared towards beginners.
- Ideal for intermediate to advanced boarders
- Best used in ocean surf
- 8’10” – 10’ long and 28” – 35” wide
- Built to be extremely agile and maneuverable on waves
- Great for surfing
Wave Goodbye to Indecision
With so many amazing paddleboard shapes to choose from, you should now have a more comprehensive understanding of which board will best suit your needs. Make sure to take into consideration which board falls within your abilities. The last thing you want is to take on a board that is too difficult to handle and ruins your foray into the wonderful world of iSUPs. Also, make sure the board you select is built for the activities you are most interested in partaking in. A surf iSUP, for example, will not be suitable for long, coastal adventures and easy paddling. Finally, ensure that your board fits the conditions you plan on using it in. With travel not yet open to everyone, why not find adventure right in your own backyard? There’s no better time than now to grab your new board, hit the waves, and have fun!