Different Types of Paddle Boards and Buying Guide

types of paddle boards

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What Is This “Paddle boarding”?

What Is This “Paddleboarding”?I’m not really surprised if you haven’t heard of it yet. It has only risen to popularity at around 2013 as reported by Outdoor Foundation. This has been a sought-after sport for first-time participants.

Paddle boarding’s fan has the median age of 25-44. And it’s most popular among 28-year olds. Well, considering what it asks you to do, I’m not surprised.

I can’t really imagine someone who’s way past 50 paddle boarding with the youngsters. Except if that someone is Arnold Schwarzenegger, then that would be AMAZING! While people use this for fitness, this is also an epic getaway from stress. Being one with nature and all that adventure drama where teens these days post on social media.

Paddling yourself on lakes, rivers, and other waterbodies can also be called paddle boarding. For sightseeing purposes, this is perfect. But this isn’t all it can do. If you really want an adventure of your life, you should go for surfing on ocean waves (where you need the best paddle boards). Paddling on river rapids is also one way of getting in touch with your adventurous side. On the other hand, if you want to be lazy like me – not always, but most of the time – use it for fishing!

You can look at this as a longer surfboard with awesome paddles. It’s different from surfing. Well, kind of. The difference is the length and size, and the most obvious one, it comes with paddles.

Instead of sitting down, waiting for the wave to come, you use your paddle to propel yourself into the ocean body.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that it’s much of a stretch from your regular surfboards, but they do have a difference. It doesn’t change the fact though that this is often called as “stand up paddle surfing.”

I’m Confused: What’s The Difference Between Paddle Boarding and Surfing?

I’m Confused: What’s The Difference Between Paddleboarding and Surfing?I gave a bit of explanation back there, but I don’t think it’s enough. Maybe it’s because I was having a hard time deciphering the two as well. Honestly, I think both of them are its best design.

Looking at it in a newbie’s point of view, they look the same. I wouldn’t be able to recognize that it’s actually a paddle board since it isn’t as popular as surfing.

The only major key that distinguishes one from the other is its paddle. Mainly because it’s the most obvious characteristic. But here are other key factors that differentiate the two.

Volume Differences

I’m going to tell it straight – paddle boards have more volume than its other counterpart. Primarily because of how the whole thing works. That’s what makes them the best in their field.

As what I’ve stated before, you paddle yourself in order to catch a big wave. Thus it requires a more solid base. Because you know, you don’t want to lose balance while you’re in the middle of the sea.

For a better description, although this isn’t always the case, it applies to most of the paddle boards. These are longer, wider, and thicker than surfboards.

It makes riding the waves a more convenient task as it gives you an edge in catching them. While it does require skill, it only needs basic knowledge and skillfulness to do the job.

On the contrary, with surfing, you need to be god-like to get the perfect timing. You don’t have to be at Mick Fanning’s level – if you could, no one’s stopping you – but lying on your board doesn’t offer speed much speed at all.

Checking The Shapes

Obviously, you can’t expect their shapes to be the same. I’ve mentioned earlier that it’s evidently bigger than your regular surfboard.

There’s a huge gap of difference in building a 9-inch paddle board and a 7-inch surfboard. Doing the same process to the other is like riding on a 200 ft. wave – it’s impossible. (At least for now.)

The latter is usually narrower and quicker, while the former is bulkier and heavier. But it’s also considered to be more stable (really perfect for beginners). However, there’s a downside.

While I told you that catching waves with paddle boards are easier, they’re pretty hard to slash. It’s a give and take for both of them.

Learning The Basics: Types of Stand Up Paddle Boards

Learning The Basics Types of Stand Up PaddleboardsYou can’t immediately jump right off the bat and say you want to get one. There are different types of paddleboards intended for specific reasons.

Don’t worry if you’re new to this selection process, I’ll help you get what you want in no time. And maybe give you new ideas on hobbies as well.

All Around Paddle Boards

All Around Paddle BoardsIf you’re looking after the daring side, this might be the one you’re looking for. Personally, I love paddleboards, but it doesn’t mean I’m particularly good at it. If anything, I’m a big klutz.

Most of the population would go for flat water paddle boards as it does entail doing some really cracked stunts. I’m talking about mastering downward dog and flying around like crazy.

Although they look really cool, mastering it takes a lot of dramatic falling off the board. So much more if you’re trying to catch some big ass waves with the help of your paddle. For the most part, this is ideal for beginners who want to get a hang of paddleboards on their first try. I find this as a recreational activity which I have taken to love.

All around paddle boards have the most stability, this means you’re going to be spending most of your dry standing on top of it rather than being in the water. If you’re planning to get one though, you need your cards in check. They’re clearly more expensive, thus it needs more time to get the aspects right.

I’m really after the design since I don’t want to be seen with an ugly model – it reduces my awesome rating – but the last thing you would want to check is its aesthetics. The key points which affect the board altogether are its width, length, weight, and construction. These four must be complementary to each other.

For instance, if you have a bigger weight, getting a model which is longer and wider would be able to carry you perfectly. Also, choosing a solid board over the inflatable paddle board has differences in its weight capacity.

Assuming you’re new to this hubbub, your best bet would be getting an all-around model which has the width of 30-34″. I started with the same structure as well, and it helped me learn on balancing a SUP faster. This gives you enough space of the base and your feet is planted perfectly on the board with minimal risk of falling.

Let’s talk about the ideal length. I would go for 10ft. to 11.ft for an all-around paddleboard. Don’t get confused with the lengths. If you bought a 14 ft model, then you’re looking at a different type. Most likely, what you’re holding is intended for racing. This type is narrower than the flat-water.

Let’s talk about another thing you should consider – its weight. I’m not really heavy, but my colleague is. It’s rather easy to find a sturdy model that has the capacity to carry someone who’s about 200 pounds. And since I weigh less than 200, finding one for me is a breeze. However, my friend is having a hard time. He weighs more than 200 pounds (a real giant).

Purchasing inflatable SUPs isn’t recommended. There are numerous of materials that are being used to make paddleboards. But the most common is solid and inflatable. In my case, I like to travel solo. So I need something which is easy to transport from island to island. My inflatable is handy for cruising, and it doesn’t get away with my load since I’m only using my backpack.

Also, it fits my budget perfectly. Because of what they are – you just have to literally blow them up – they aren’t made with expensive materials. Usually, solid ones are made out of an internal foam covered in a fiberglass casing. They do get creative though, often using bamboo as their base or some other rigid construction that does the job.

Race Paddleboards

Race Paddle BoardsPeople often say that race paddleboards aren’t stable. That’s actually pretty accurate comparing it to the previous type of paddleboard. However, they’re not as hard to manage as people assume that it is.

These are being constructed in a way that they’re longer and slimmer. But that doesn’t really set much a bar, the only thing that it does is its price. Race Paddleboards have only but one goal in mind – reducing the drag so that speed would increase. That’s why these boards are made out of materials which are lighter.

Also, these require a bit of modification. For instance, a displaced hull will be utilized as it helps in slicing through the water seamlessly. Tour or race boards sacrifice their width for thickness. When they do this, it reduces the drag without having to deal with volume fallbacks.

If you want to be seen as awesome, try this on for size. Once you get the hang of it, they are fun to use. And your speed on water increases dramatically. But this isn’t ideal for beginners as it needs time to practice, if you’re not interested in spending a couple of weeks catching waves, this isn’t for you.

Not to mention, you have to spend an extra three to four hundred dollars for this. On the other hand, if you want speed and awesomeness, this is definitely a green signal for you.

Yoga Paddleboards

Yoga Paddle BoardsYou may also refer to them as fitness boards. Because going to the gym is too mainstream. They don’t really have much of a difference as an all-around model, to be honest.

But I’d still recommend buying a yoga paddle for your fitness needs, nothing beats a specifically designed board. I own a relatively wide fitness board, it’s about 32 inches wide. I love the extra space, it gives some sort of “mat” area for doing yoga.

Since you’ll be doing freaky yoga positions, it would best for you get your hands on an inflatable yoga board. A solid one would mean discomfort. That’s what I’ve experienced (Although I’m no yoga expert.)

These have a built-in full-length traction pad for all of your yoga needs. And the price it offers is great! I’ve bought a couple of models (two to be exact) and it doesn’t shake my budget at all.

Surf Paddleboards

Surf Paddle BoardsLast and certainly not the least, we have these badass surf paddle boards on our list. Okay, I might suck at surfing. But I can’t help but admire people who can surf.

Their tanned skin and mad skills almost break the chart of Chuck Norris kind of cool. And their corresponding model is as cool as well –I’d recommend Starboard Pocket Rocket for professionals and enthusiasts alike. This is the smallest type of paddleboard on the list, it’s only about 8’5 ft. Maneuvering the board at will is super easy, especially so if you’re an expert.

It’s an out-of-this-world sight when someone who’s a seasoned veteran is rocking the paddleboard to its core. While there are many great surfers out there, I’m not one of them.

I’m sticking with my NAISH Hokua 9’10”, thank you very much. I’m not really as interested in harnessing my skill in paddle surfing. At the very least, it helps in balancing on it well. It really makes it the best for starting out.

Proceed with Caution: Safety Measures

Proceed with Caution: Safety MeasuresThere’s no sport in the world which doesn’t come with potential danger. Hey, even eSport gamers have it hard, what more if you’re out in the open sea where there are sharks and mermaids?

Even if you’re an experienced paddler, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some points where you need to be aware of.

  • Life Jacket Is a Life Saver – If you aren’t too sure about your skills on water, it’s better to wear a life jacket to prevent drowning. Or even if you’re at the intermediate level, being prepared doesn’t hurt. Here some statistics for you: 85% of the people involved in accidents died of drowning in the last 10 years were not wearing lifejackets. This took place in the State of Massachusetts. Just to be on the safer side, it would be best to wear a Coast Guard Approved life jacket.
  • You’re going to get wet – You shouldn’t be dressed to kill when you’re stand-up paddleboarding. Don’t get cocky just because the air temperature of your place is warm. It’s recommended to avoid wearing cotton-based clothes, instead invest in a wetsuit.  This is especially so when the temperature is under 60 degrees as there are consequences.
  • Wear a Leash – No, I’m not talking about the type that dog wears. Although that would be cool, I guess. I’m talking about making sure you’ll be back on board in no time. Only if it’s only a light wind you’re experiencing, there’s already a big possibility that it can carry a board away. And swimming doesn’t help as it travels faster – unless you’re Michael Phelps or something. Take into consideration that you’re not the only one in the “surf zone” it could pose a potential threat to other paddlers and swimmers within the zone. Keep it on the leash.
  • Practice makes perfect – As easy as it seems, but getting your ass back on is pretty difficult. Trust me, I’ve struggled and failed way too many times to count. Before you start your first day as on official paddler, practice on getting on and off the board. It’s going to be a problem when you’re already in the water, especially if you’re cold and tired.
  • Learn about your environment – An assassin never goes out in battle without knowing his enemy. Just like how you should never go out paddleboarding without knowing the weather conditions and threats. How strong is the wind current? Will there be boat traffic today? Are waves going to show up today? By asking questions like these you’ll be able to prepare accordingly before you head out on your adventure.
  • Keep communication lines open – Open yourself to possibilities. Even though you’re well-prepared and ready, accidents happen from time to time. Especially when you’re in water. You could carry a whistle with you when you’re paddling. It’s already a universal rule that three long blows of the whistle are a sign of help. Also, if you happen to own a waterproof phone, you could use that to call for help as well. Or even by putting in a waterproof case. Whichever is available is sufficient.
  • Protect yourself from the sun – If you plan on spending hours paddling, you’re bound to get dehydrated. Keep a bottle of water attached via water bladder. Even though you’re surrounded by water, you can’t particularly drink it. Unless you don’t mind tasting urine from strangers. Kidding. Seriously, don’t do it. Also, wearing sunscreen to prevent your skin from burning, helps a lot.
  • Be open to where you’re going – Before setting out on your escapade, tell someone close to you on where you’re going. So when the worst comes to shove, they’ll be able to pinpoint on where your location is. After you’re done paddling, don’t forget to tell them as well. It’s better to inform them right away so they don’t start to worry. And lastly,
  • Don’t paddle alone – If possible, always have a companion with you. Besides, the experience is more fulfilling when you have other people to share the experience with. And in times of emergency, you can depend on your companion to help you out. Being alone increases risk altogether.

I’m Traveling With A Paddle Board: What Should I Do?

I’m Traveling With A Paddle Board What Should I DoBeing a digital nomad and a fitness fanatic, traveling can be a hassle.

As you can see, even if you have the smallest paddleboard by your side, it’s still noticeably bigger than biggest surfboards on the market. The average size of a paddleboard is about 10ft to 12ft in measurement. Not only that, but being a fan of SUP yoga, it’s not only longer, but it’s wider as well.

To avoid a few bumps along the road of your travels, there are precautions you can take for a smoother time of transportation.

Well-packed boards go a long way

Surprisingly, you can get your board all set for transportation within 5 minutes tops. It doesn’t really require rocket science to figure this out, but it is a neat trick to try out.

There is a high-end standup paddleboard case available in the market where you can use for securing it easily. When I do travel, I use a different method. Although this is already a popular procedure as it is.

I would go for a board bag above anything else. Since I want to go beyond measures, I’d nicely wrap it with bubble wrap.

This prevents my SUP paddleboard from breaking or suffering from any serious damage. Once you have everything figured out, you’ll be able to take your paddleboard anywhere with you without being the cause of delays.

Road trips should be minimized

Or maybe I should rephrase the statement to taking it with caution. Unless you own a helicopter, road trips are one way of traveling far off waters.

And while it’s fun to do it with friends, your board might be suffering unnecessary damage along the way. I often secure my board on top of my car’s roof for a quick and easy access. Tying it to the roof of your SUV is actually a common occurrence for paddlers and surfers alike. However, as the vehicle press on forward, vibrations are present.

These shakings are able to cause damage to your paddleboard. The farther the destination is, the shorter the life of your paddleboard will be. In order to save it from damages, you may use soft carriers or restrainers to do the job. It helps in safely securing the board to your car’s roof.

It’s a great way to balance the weight and reduce vibrations completely.

Traveling on air is a bit tricky

Even without a paddleboard, airlines are charging extra fees for everything. And their airline food isn’t one bit tasty at all. You know how corporate sharks are. You’re probably finding low-cost airlines, but bringing your paddleboard along with your trip gives you an unknown price quotation.

Book your flight beforehand and inform the receptionist that you’ll be carrying an extra baggage with you. They’ll be able to give the exact cost of the transportation, allowing you budget wisely.

Buying Considerations: Don’t Buy Until You’ve Read This Carefully

Buying Considerations Don’t Buy Until You’ve Read This CarefullyRookies make the silliest mistakes, especially if it’s your first time in buying paddleboards. Because I’m impatient and my excitement level is always damn high, I once ended up buying the wrong paddleboard.

Wasting money on the wrong board made me rethink on how I do things. I made a brief outline of the things you should consider before spending a single dime for your new partner in crime – hey, that rhymes!

Talk To The Experts

They are an expert for a reason. They’ll be able to pinpoint on what you really need rather than letting you be with that you think you want.

The thing is, newbies often pick a product that they’re most likely to grow out o after a few months’ time. It makes it a dead investment as the board would be sitting in your garage for the rest of eternity.

…well not really. Sorry for being dramatic, but that’s what happened to my first paddleboard. But I eventually found a use of it after a couple of months.

If I asked advice from an expert before I got reckless, then it would have saved me money to buy a better one. Or buckets of chicken. If you know someone, talk to them. They’re more than happy to share their adventures and experiences with you.

Try The Boards First

It would be best for you to purchase paddleboards at a store which has demo units. Your chances of returning them after weeks of use decreases as you’re able to find the right fit for you.

Being able to use it first hand is definitely ideal. But not everyone has the luxury to try them, there are only a handful of cities which offers that system.

To save you from going through the trouble, I’ve made a paddleboard review at the later part of this article. Just stick around a bit longer and you’ll be given a head start on what you need.

Identifying Its Construction

Unsurprisingly, because of innovation and technology, there’s no stopping in the evolution of construction. As of the moment, companies are using EPS as their basis of construction.

To be precise, this is a molded Expanded Polystyrene foam core. There’s also an additional material being used which is an epoxy lay-up. This has given birth to other types as well.

As a matter of fact, we’re being faced with several variations as there are a number of ways where we can combine all of these things together.

Be particular of the foam that’s being induced in its core as this works to determine its strength. High-end paddleboards have high density cores made for durability and longevity.

You’ll Pay More By Purchasing Cheap Boards

There are some really attractive prices for paddleboards in the market, as tempting as they may seem, stay away from them.

No business is in its right mind if they’re selling a high-end product at a lower price because they want to help paddlers out. Like, that’s not going to happen.

These cheap items have their quality cut short in order to mass produce them. These boards have the higher tendency to snap into two while you’re out surfing.

What if a Great White Shark was chasing you and it suddenly broke in the middle of the chase? That’s going to be a problem. Because you know, you could probably lose your inflatable!

…and maybe your life as well.

Choosing a brand which costs more but has a reputable record would mean you don’t have to worry about de-laminations. And of course, if you’re hoping to upgrade anytime soon, selling it would be easy.

I once bought a model that I thought was cost-effective, but it sucked. I could feel dinging even from the slightest hit. Talk about lame – never go through the same road as I did.

Warranty Check

Since boards splitting into two is quite common, you should check its warranty first. If you find a good deal, it should be at least come with a warranty of 30 days or more.

This doesn’t apply only to paddleboards, but the longer the warranty is, the more confident the manufacturer is with their product.

If there are some inconveniences along the way, you wouldn’t be left out hanging like what most companies do.

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