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Types of Paddle Boards: The Complete Beginners Guide

So, you’re interested in the world of paddleboarding and thinking of buying yourself a paddle board. But the problem is, there are a few different types of it. And determining which is more beginner-friendly is a crucial step for learning paddle boarding.

The types of paddleboards include Flat Water Paddle Boards, Fishing Paddle Boards, Surfing Paddle Boards, All-Rounder Paddle Boards, and so on. Each has its purpose and additional attachments, making them highly reliable for their intended uses. The sizes and shapes of these boards are also designed specifically to meet their respective purposes.

Solid boards and SUPs are the two main categories of paddleboards that people confuse. Learn what makes the two boards different and which one best suits your needs if you are one of them.

This beginner’s guide to paddleboards will be your absolute go-to resource for every piece of information you may need! So, without further ado, let’s get right to it.

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Different Types of Paddle Boards

As mentioned, in terms of paddleboards, there are a variety of options. Hence, the following list will help you decide which is best.

You can check out their specific qualities and learn about their uses. Using this guide, you’ll be able to develop a better understanding of which board to buy as a beginner.

This section mainly contains categories of boards grouped by their functions or activities. Hence, if you are unfamiliar with what each board does, you may also gain new ideas from here.

Flat Water Paddle Board

As the name suggests, a flatwater paddleboard is meant for flat waters. Rivers, lakes, and other water bodies, where there is little or no current, are the perfect places to ride this board.

The long and narrow building of these boards makes them suitable for riding long distances. Aside from being a great board, its planning nose or hull provides excellent paddling performance.

Flatwater boards are beginner-friendly and quite easy to use for their straightforward design.

Some of them also have storage boxes at the back, so people can pack tents, food, and other necessary items when they go traveling with these flatwater boards.

In other words, if you are thinking of doing something like this, you can give these boards a chance!

Surf Paddle Board

For those who love to surf the ocean, a board like this will be your best choice. These boards are designed specifically for strong waves. As a result, they are very easy to maneuver and fast in speed.

Avid surfers must stay on top of the waves to control their bodies in harmony with the water.

Nevertheless, you can still ride these boards in calm water too. These boards are shorter than most of the boards you may find. Plus, these boards have a planing hull too.

As a result, the nose floats above the water when in motion. In other words, less water is displaced while using them.

This way, surfers can keep afloat even when the waves are difficult to control.

All-Rounder Paddle Board

The all-rounder board is ideal for beginners still unsure of what activity they will engage in with boards. With these boards, you can paddle on flat water and small waves or even use them in the ocean.

These are very stable, so beginners would not have to struggle too much with them while training. So, you can’t go wrong with an all-rounder paddle board.

In addition, these boards are the perfect size for any activity such as yoga, fishing, cruising, etc. They have a rounded nose, which means they have a wider body.

So, you will have plenty of space to move around and paddle if necessary. The only drawback is that these boards will be slower than surfboards or cruising boards.

Fishing Paddle Boards

As the name says, these boards are specifically designed for fishing on the water. Since users need space on the board to keep their fishing accessories, these boards are significantly wider than any other SUPs.

These are extremely stable since fishing requires a platform that won’t move while people are on it.

Fishing boards can be very slow to paddle due to their size and added tackle gear, including rod holders, built-in storage areas, and side extensions. But this can be used perfectly for clumsy beginners who need extra stable boards.

So, fishing boards can be your choice if you are one of them. They are also perfect for kayaking with friends and family.

Yoga Paddle Boards

Yoga practitioners are increasingly choosing paddleboards as a meditative tool. It has several benefits, such as requiring an extra amount of focus while holding a yoga pose.

Which may enhance the quality of the practice. Moreover, they need to be aware of their surroundings, which adds further complexity to their approach.

For all the reasons mentioned, yoga boards must be stable and wide. However, there are not many boards available for yoga in the market. So, users have a limited number of options to choose from.

Yoga and paddleboard exercise enthusiasts can pick out all-rounders or fishing boards for their activities since those boards offer great stability and grip.

Racing Paddle Boards

Race boards are very narrow because they need to glide quickly through the water. They are speedy and may not be the board a beginner should choose. However, those interested in paddleboard racing can train in one of these with supervision.

These boards have a displacement hull, which means they are slender and can slide through water for smooth rides. 

Even so, you should remember that racing boards are not very stable in the water. Their main target is to be quick. And hence, balancing them is in the hands of the paddler.

So, beginners should be careful if they end up choosing this one!

Touring Paddle Boards

Touring boards are the best choice for long-distance paddleboarding. If you want to go on tours for days or camp out in the woods by the river, these touring paddleboards are the ones for you.

They are narrow yet long, so you can have a bit of space at the back to keep your belongings. Little waves and Flatwater Rivers are ideal for these boards.

They are slower than racing boards but more stable than surfboards. In other words, this SUP falls somewhere in the middle.

Those just learning to surf can also try their luck with it, as its narrow nose will make it glide smoothly through the water.

However, these boards do require extra maneuvering to have control over them.

Solid vs. Inflatable SUP – Which Is Better?

You have been introduced to paddleboards based on their intended use so far. But now, you are going to take a look at boards based on their construction.

Mostly, there are two types of boards – solids and inflatables.

You can choose either one from here based on your requirements. Nevertheless, beginners must keep their safety in mind, so solid boards may not be a good choice.

Therefore, when choosing, pay attention to that aspect carefully.

Solid Paddle Boards

Solid boards are available in a variety of materials. For instance, epoxy, fiberglass, plastic, and even foam. As a beginner, your priorities are a board’s performance; solid paddleboards can fulfill that need.

A powerful board like this can travel long distances in the ocean with strong waves.

Epoxy solid boards are quite fast at moving through water. They are used mainly in racing, surfing, and travel boards because of their exceptional performance.

However, these boards are heavy, and beginners might not be able to handle them. It is possible to hit paddleboards in many places during the learning process, and epoxy can easily break.

On the other hand, foam and fiberglass boards are a bit lighter in weight. But this can also be problematic due to their tendency to crack more easily than epoxy-coated ones.

However, these solid boards are often constructed using carbon fibers and attaching wood veneer to the surface. It makes them firmer.

A plastic paddleboard is probably the cheapest board you can get on the market today. They don’t offer good performance, but they are durable.

These boards won’t glide smoothly, nor will they be fast enough to catch waves. So, you will need to judge here if you decide to purchase plastic SUPs.

Lastly, when you think about it, solid boards are not that great for traveling with unless you live near the ocean or lake. It’s a genuine inconvenience to take these boards with you, whether traveling by bus or car.

Plus, they occupy a considerable amount of space. So, people who have smaller houses should think twice before getting a solid SUP.

Inflatable SUP

Inflatable boards may seem like they are not strong, but they will prove you wrong every time. They are surprisingly rigid and long-lasting than any solid boards you can think of.

Inflatables are becoming the new favorite among the young generation and even professionals who surf daily. Let’s find out why!

Firstly, inflatable boards are very durable. You can spend days on them over high waves; they will not break like a solid SUP.

These boards are constructed using a military-grade PVC that has multiple layers.

As a result, if you expected inflatable boards to burst after being hit by sharp objects or stones in the water, you would be wrong.

Another great thing about inflatable boards is that they are easy to carry and travel with. Take these boards with you anywhere because they can be deflated after every use.

You can keep the additional items in your home’s closet or storage space with the boards’ travel kits and bags.

Furthermore, inflatables are beginner-friendly and can be used for any sort of sport. You can also try these boards at different waves, and you’d notice they are very good at floating above the water.

However, controlling inflatables can be a bit difficult if there are strong waves. They can get approximately 5-7% slower than solid SUPs.

One problem is that you would need other SUP accessories, like a pump to help inflate. For some people, it can be annoying because you need to carry this machine when you go to the beach or other water bodies.

If the pump, either hand or motorized, is not strong enough for the board, the process can also become time-consuming. Therefore, schedule and manage your time in advance. 

As inflatables are comparatively new on the market, there was a shortage of varieties. But now, the manufacturers make every version of a paddleboard you may need with inflatable boards.

Yoga, fishing, touring, and even racing boards are available now. So, you most likely would find the type of board you are looking for as a beginner.

Beginners Guide to Picking a Paddle Board

As a beginner, you must understand your target when purchasing a board. Only then will you be able to select the one that is right for you.

At first, you need to decide on what sport you want to get into with a paddleboard, so you can select an appropriate model.

Here are a few things that you should consider before buying a SUP for top-notch performance.

Solid or Inflatable

Choosing a material for the board now brings us to the decision of solid vs. inflatable SUP. There has been a burning discussion among users regarding which type is the best.

To be honest, each type has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

However, it is recommended that beginners use inflatables because they are more durable. Also, you can choose them for any event, whether traveling, hiking, or practicing yoga.

On the other hand, if your priorities are more focused on performance and speed, then a solid board can fulfill them. However, you must remember these boards break easily.

SUP Hull Types

Hulls need to be taken into account very carefully. The most common type of hull for beginners is a planing hull or a displacement hull. These two are viewed as the ideal type.

Planing hulls are round and are effective for moving at a more leisurely pace. Hence, it would be perfect for slow paddling, yoga, and flatwater surfing.

On the other hand, displacement hulls have a pointed nose, which makes them push water fast. They require less effort but ride smoothly on any kind of water surface.

If you want to travel long distances with your new SUP, then going for this kind would be the best choice.

Volume and Capacity

Next, you must consider the sup volume and weight capacity. As a beginner, you might think this step will not be necessary, but you would be wrong.

It is vital to check board capacities since not every board is designed to support the same weight. Therefore, you need to calculate effectively.

The easiest way to find the perfect board is to measure your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 1.4. So, for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, the board you must choose should be around (200x 1.4) 280lbs.

For professionals, they can go up to 0.5-0.7 to multiply their body weight to find the perfect SUP thickness.

SUP Length and Width

Calculating length and width is necessary as well. It plays a major role in understanding how a board handles water. For instance, if a board is under 10‘, it will be good for kids and perform excellently in surfing.

Short boards generally glide through the water more quickly than longboards. Hence, if you are into surfing, then choosing short boards would be ideal.

On the other hand, medium to longboards, which range from 12-16 feet or more, are better for yoga, fishing, and traveling. You can also choose them for kayaking and camping out in the woods.

Since they are wide in general, there would be lots of room at the back. However, you would also need to understand your home’s storage situation with these boards.

Fins for SUPs

The fins of a SUP are usually attached to the board on either side. These small attachments can help regulate water and maintain the board’s stability.

You should choose a small fin if you want more maneuverability on your board. On the other hand, a bigger fin would help keep the board in straight paths so it does not go in unwanted directions.

SUPs usually have a single fin attached to them, but you can change it if you prefer something else.

There are cases where a beginner can be advised to buy a 3-fin setup because it would allow them to surf in flat water with the most stability.

There is, however, no need for it. Even a single fin can accomplish what it would take three fins to achieve.

Other Accessories

After deciding which board you would buy, you need to purchase some other attachments or extras with that too. Paddles do not always come with the board, so you might have to get them separately.

Choose a long paddle so it can reach deeper waters is a good investment and additionally you can buy a special sort of leash that helps you stay attached to your board. 

US Coast Guard has also declared paddleboard users must have personal flotation devices when in the water.

Also, if you live far from where you are going to use the board, you have to think about how you are going to carry it there.

Investing in car racks or bags (for inflatables) is better as a safety measure.

So, a perfect board for a beginner would depend on you and what you intend to do with it. You should understand your requirements and factors to consider, so you can find the right board for you.

An all-rounder paddle board would be a perfect choice for those who want one board that can do it all.

Conclusion

For beginners, choosing the perfect paddleboard will depend on the activity they will be performing and the kind of water they will be paddling in.

It is also important to remember that solid boards are more for professionals than beginners. For that, inflatables would be the logical choice for safety and other related issues.

I sincerely hope that this guide to the different types of paddleboards has given you a better understanding of what each board is made of and how it is constructed.

If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding, we have a wide selection of guides to help assist you in finding the best option to suit your needs. Check them out here!

Stay safe on the water by maintaining all the measurements needed. I look forward to seeing you next time! Have a nice day, and thanks for reading! Until next time, farewell.

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Written by Water Diversions

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