There are four general categories of Stand Up Paddleboards. These categories are based on the type of activities the board will be used for; All-Around, Touring, Surfing and Windsurfing.
1) All-Around: All-Around boards are designed to perform well in all conditions. These versatile, multi-purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all facets of the sport with only one board. All-around boards are wide enough to be very stable, have decent glide and tracking for flatwater paddling or open ocean touring, but also enough rocker and sidecut for decent surf performance.
2) Touring: Touring boards are optimized for flatwater, open ocean paddling and ‘downwinders’ (going from point A to B with the wind at your back). They are typically longer than all-around boards for more speed, and often have a nose area that is pointed and shaped like a “vee” on the bottom to help the board slice through the water smoothly, increase glide and help the board go straight. The rails are usually rounded, at least in the front section, for more glide and speed. Most touring boards are wide enough to be stable for beginners, however “race” boards are like touring boards but narrower for more speed. The narrowness makes race boards challenging for beginner paddlers and are not recommended.
3) Surfing: Surf-Specific boards are generally shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (curve). These features make the board much more maneuverable on a wave, but the trade-off is that they are slower and don’t track in a straight line on flatwater and are also often less stable.
4) Inflatable SUP Boards: If you have space issues or would like to pack your board away (in a bag the size of a rucksack) for example on a boat or over winter then inflatables can be the way to go. All board styles are available as Inflatables. There is a performance trade off with inflatables that can be over come by going for a longer 12’6 touring style board. These longer boards still cut through the water nicely and will catch waves.
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