What To Look For In A Paddle Board

by Kyle
What to look for in a Paddle Board

Perhaps you would like to get your workout in by going for a swift and quick paddle. Or perhaps you are planning to catch waves? Whatever you may wish to do, you need to have the best board. This is where we come in. In this article, we will discuss the main points you need to look at when you are choosing a paddle board. To choose the best paddle board for you, we will discuss the types of paddle boards, the materials to go for, the correct volume and capacity to go for, the perfect length, width, thickness, and the board’s fins. 

Types of Paddle Boards

Before purchasing a board, you should know the different types of paddle boards and the right fit for you. These paddle boards are Soft Top Boards, Epoxy Boards, and Inflatable boards. 

Soft Top Paddle Boards

soft top paddle boards

The front deck of a soft-top paddle board has a soft and spongy foam material. The core of the board is created out of sturdy materials that make this paddle board rigid. It is made of a down blank that is EPS high-density. It has a stringer at the center of the board. This board is perfect for people that live close to a beach, lake, or bay. It is also for people that are on a tight budget as the board is affordable. Note that you will need a lot of storage space for a soft-top board. This board is perfect for beginners and children. 

Epoxy Paddle Boards

Epoxy boards are the traditional hard paddle boards. To prevent dings these boards are usually constructed of EPS foam and multiple layers of epoxy resin and fiberglass. Its construction makes for a more durable and lightweight board that offers flexibility to the riders. Epoxy paddle boards are very agile in the water. They are perfect for long-distance paddling adventures because of their shape, which allows them additional glide. This board has one of the best tracking and control, and it is the best choice for stand-up surfing and racing. Compared to other types of a paddle board, Epoxy boards provide optimal performance. The con of the board is that it is difficult to transport. You will need a truck to transport it. It is also the most expensive type of paddle board. Buy this board if you are into stand-up surfing, long-distance expeditions, and racing.

Inflatable Paddle Boards

Inflatable stand-up paddle boards are the easiest boards to transport to and fro the water and store at home. You just have to pump up your board to the suggested pounds per square inch (PSI), and you are good to go. These boards are made with high-density PVC layers that create solid stand-up paddles and drop stitch technology. This makes it as rigid as epoxy boards. Modern inflatable stand-up boards are very stable, which makes them perfect for beginners. When they are deflated, you can roll them up to the size of a sleeping bag and carry them anywhere you want to. These boards are also very durable and hard to scratch or ding. They are also more affordable than epoxy boards. However, inflating and deflating your board before and after you go paddling may be a hassle for you. If you travel a lot and want to bring your board with you, this board is perfect for you. It is also good for people that live in small houses, condos, or apartments that may not have enough room for a big solid board. Inflatable boards are compact and can easily be packed up. This paddle board is also for people that hike to a lake. Carrying a solid board when you are going to an alpine lake will only inconvenience you. If you want to paddle whitewater then buy this paddle board. These boards can easily handle bumps against logs and rocks than other more solid boards. If you are into yoga, get this board. Inflatable boards are soft, which makes them perfect for yoga poses.

Materials and Construction

Each type of paddle board has its own material and construction method. You need to know the kind of material the board you want to purchase has. Boards made with a single layer of material are lighter and affordable. They are usually made thicker to make up for the low rigidity of the material. To add additional reinforcement to the material some lightweight boards are made with a fusion construction. This keeps the weight low but ensures that the board has good stiffness and durability in most environments. You have to be careful when buying any paddle board that you are told is “fusion construction” This is because some brands throw around those words and claim materials that are not fusion to be fusion. Instead, they are single-layer construction. 

A dual-layer is the most rugged build of paddle boards. They have an extra layer of reinforced PVC fabric bonded to the main layer and this second layer makes the board more durable. Dual-layer boards are more expensive. People prefer lighter boards, so these boards are less durable. However, the extra weight added by the second layer can help you improve your performance.

Volume and Weight Capacity

You should not purchase a paddle board before knowing whether it would work for your size. Your board may feel unstable, and you will not be supported well if the board does not displace the right amount of water for your weight. Board volume and weight capacity are two elements that determine how well the paddle board will travel through the water and how stable you will feel.

The length, width, and thickness of the paddle board are what determined its volume and weight capacity. Most stand-up paddle board manufacturers combine these three measurements in distinct ways to obtain different performance elements. 


A volume of a paddle board is usually expressed in liters. This gives an idea of the paddle board’s capability to float with weight on it. The higher the volume of the paddle board, the more weight it can support. Your board will drag if it does not have enough volume to float you. 

Weight capacity: The volume, shape, and dimensions of your paddle board determined its weight capacity. You must know your board’s weight capacity because it will be inefficient to paddle if you are too heavy for the board. You have to consider the total weight you will put on the board, your weight, and the weight of any gear or food you decide to take with you.

Volume and weight capacity and their relation to hull type: 

Volume and weight capacity are significant with displacement-hull paddle boards. paddle board manufacturers spend a lot of time figuring out the best position for displacement paddle boards to be in the water. Displacement boards will drag and feel slow if you overweight them. The paddle board will not sink enough and will be hard to control if you are too light. However, most planing-hull boards are more forgiving. All you have to do is to make sure you are below weight capacity. The paddle board will perform well for you then. 

Paddle Board Length

The length of a board is one of the measurements that play a significant role in discerning how the board handles. You can maneuver shorter boards more than you can do so to longer boards, but longer boards are faster. When deciding the length to buy, you have to know the purpose you want to use the board for. But if you want to have a good estimate of the paddle board size you should be looking at, try using our paddle board size calculator.


These are boards under 10′. They are ideal for surfing waves because you can maneuver them more than you can do so to longboards. Shorter boards usually have a planning hull. Kids can use this board though boards designed for kids are around 8′ long.

Medium boards

These boards are usually 10′ to 12′. are great for all-around use and stand-up paddle board yoga. You can find both planing hulls and displacement-hull paddle board at this length. Though you will find more planing hulls than displacement-hulls at this length. 


These boards are usually 12’6″ and above. They are ideal for long-distance touring and fast paddling. Most boards in this size range are displacement-hull SUPs. They track straighter than short and medium boards, and they are also faster. Get a longboard if you are interested in paddling fast or touring long distances. 

Understanding how a length relates to volume and the weight capacity is the first part of choosing your board length. Longer boards increase the volume and weight capacity, which makes it feel more stable. You can also carry more weight on the board.

Longer boards are more difficult to carry and store, so you should consider your car type, length of walk to the beach, and home storage situation. 

Width is another major factor that affects how the board handles. Skinny boards are naturally less stable than wider boards. Wide boards are usually slower and more difficult to paddle. Most paddle boards have widths that range from about 25 inches up to 36 inches. 

When choosing the width of your paddle board, you should think about your body type, the type of paddling you do, and, your ability level.


Board thickness is the next thing you have to consider after finding your paddling style and a board with the length & width which makes the most sense for you.

The thickness of your board also affects the overall volume as well as weight capacity. Thicker boards have more volume than thinner boards. The higher the volume, the more weight the paddle board can support.

To summarize, a shorter board will have less glide than a longer one. A narrow board will be faster than a wider board. paddle boards with a narrow tail will turn quick while surfing. paddle boards with a wide tail will be more stable than boards with a narrower tail. Thinner paddle boards feel more stable, and thicker boards support more weight.

Body type 

Matching the width of your paddle board to your body type is ideal. If you are bigger then you should get a wider board. If you are smaller then go together with a narrower board. A bigger person may struggle to find their balance on a narrow board, but a smaller person could find their balance. Also, a smaller person may find it inefficient to paddle on a board that is too big for them since they will have to awkwardly reach out to the side to get their paddle in the water.

Type of Paddle Boarding Activity

Choose a wider board if you are going on a long excursion where you will need to carry a tent, a cooler of food, or any other extra gear. With a wider board, you will have bigger storage space. You also need a wider board if you are doing stand-up paddle board yoga. A 31 inches wide board will give you enough space for your poses. It will also create stability. On the other hand, narrower boards are faster and more maneuverable. This makes them the choice among surfers and racers.

Paddle Boarding Skill Level

The size of your board does not matter as long as you are experienced. You may be comfortable on a narrower, faster paddle board if you have paddled a lot. However, beginners may prefer wider boards to help them feel more secure.

Width also affects the overall volume and weight capacity. Based on the type of padding you want, you can determine the length of your board. You can then choose a width that will give you the correct volume and weight capacity.

Fin System Choice

Paddle Board Fins

Fins have an impact on the versatility and performance of a paddle board. It added stability and tracking to a paddle board. Generally, boards that have bases that are wide and fins that are large and very long edges in the front are more stable than boards whose fins are actually small. They will also track straighter. However, a board whose fins are small will have better maneuverability. Since most fins are removable, you can take off your fins to store or swap them out. 

You can configure your fin in these ways: 

  • Single fin: Single fin provides minimal drag and good tracking. This makes it a good choice for flatwater paddling. 
  • 3-fin setup: Another name for this is thrusters. It offers control while surfing, and comes with three fins which are the same size. 
  • 2+1 setup: This includes a larger center fin with one smaller fin on each side of it. 
  • Fins for inflatable paddle boards: Inflatable paddle boards can have any of the fin configurations already listed. However, they can either have flexible rubber fins or detachable semi-rigid fins attached to the board.

Paddle Board Accessories You Will Need

When you finally decide to make the leap of purchasing a paddle board you will still need to purchase a few other items before trying the board out. Here are a few items that you will need depending on the type of paddle board you purchased.

Paddle Board Pump or Inflators:

Inflatable paddle board usually comes with a manual pump which varies in their quality and ease of inflation. Using an electric pump will get your board inflated faster. It will also let you save your warm-up for when you are paddling. 

Paddle Board Paddle

The paddle is an accessory that will impact your comfort and effectiveness while paddling. When purchasing a paddle, you should consider the shaft construction, design of the handle, blade design, convenience and reliability of the length adjusting systems, and the overall weight of the paddle.

Personal Floating Device

You should get a personal Floating device both for your safety and because the law requires it. 

Paddle Board Leash

Get a leash to prevent being separated from your board when you fall over. Leashes have different cords. They can be straight, coiled, or both. Most surfers prefer straight leashes for surfing because they don’t spring-back effect that may cause your board to head towards you after you fall off.

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