How to Buy a Paddle Board
Stand up paddle boarding is the fastest growing sport in the world for good reason. Not only is it a great workout and easy to learn, paddle boarding is also fun, invigorating and enables you to connect with nature. While you have a number of options, selecting your first paddle board doesn’t need to be any more challenging than learning the craft.
How to choose a stand up paddle board—or SUP board—comes down to your lifestyle, what you plan to use it for, and of course, the paddle board’s price. If you’re not 100% sure which SUP is the best fit for your goals, you’ve come to the right place.
1. THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PADDLE BOARDS
In order to find the best stand up paddle board, it’s important to know the difference between each type.
Be advised that there can be some crossover, as most people will use their paddle boards for multiple types of activities, such as SUP surfing, recreational use, touring, and even racing. Below, you’ll find the four most common types of SUP boards on the market.
- Perfect choice for first-time and beginner paddle boarders
- Versatile and can work in all conditions (flat or choppy water) and all skill levels
- The most common standup paddle board shape
- 2-in-1 hybrid paddle board
- For those who don't want to choose between a SUP or a kayak
- Perfect choice for beginner to advanced paddlers
- Paddles further, faster, and with less effort
- Perfect choice for intermediate to advanced paddlers
- For those who want more action out of their paddle board experience—surf SUP!
- Less stable on water = easier to fall off
- Very maneuverable on waves, highly shreddable
- Essentially oversized surfboards with a paddle
- Perfect choice for serious paddlers with an interest in high intensity workouts
- Designed for long distances in flat-water, open ocean, bays, and lakes
- Constructed for maximum glide and efficiency
- Usually wide and stable enough for beginner paddle boarders who are looking for the perfect race board
- Designed for flat water races, downwinders, or open ocean competitions
- Extra length and extra width generates fast sprint speed and long glide efficiency
- Sometimes challenging for beginners but perfect for elite and recreational racers alike
- Perfect choice for those who love to go fishing, but don’t want to invest in a boat or kayak
- Fishing SUPs have the most volume, so you and your gear can stay high and dry out of the water
- Be sure to get a board with ample length and enough room for gear, fish finders, and anything you need for your expedition. Our boards like the Explorer have a dual bungee system to make sure you are ready to cast!
- The paddle board shape is designed for SUP yoga, flat-water paddling, and any fitness related exercise
- Constructed for stability on calm water
- An expansive deck pad gives ample room for SUP yoga
2. WHAT SIZE PADDLE BOARD DO YOU NEED?
Determine your stand up paddle board size based on your weight and paddle boarding experience. Think of your ideal board size in terms of volume. The wider, longer, and thicker the board, the more volume and weight capacity it will have. The more volume the board has, the more stable it will be on the water.
Beginner paddlers will usually want a wider board with more volume as well as thickness because of the additional stability this offers. As your skill, balance, and strength improve, you can downsize to a board with less volume. By then, your older board will be great for friends and family to use!
Check out our SUP SIZE & WEIGHT CHART to find out what size paddle board is best for you.
SUP HULL TYPES
Another aspect to consider as part of the SUP size is the design of your board’s hull, also called the “bottom” of the board. The hull determines the characteristics of how your board performs in the water. The two most common types of paddle board hulls are:
Planing Hull – A planing hull is essentially a flat bottom board. This makes them very stable, and also ideal for surfing because as the name implies they will “plane” quickly when they reach higher speeds when surfing. Most paddle boards in the ISLE range are planing hull as they are ideal for stability while still offering excellent glide and a smooth ride.
Displacement Hull – A displacement hull has a sharply pointed nose that displaces the water to either side, making it the perfect choice for paddlers who want to cover long distances. The sharper nose allows the hull to slice through the water and gives the rider a fast and smooth ride. Most touring boards are designed with a displacement hull, allowing the rider to travel longer distances with ease.
3. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INFLATABLE AND EPOXY SUPS
Once you’ve figured out the type and size of SUP you want, it’s time to decide if you want an inflatable SUP or a hard paddle board, also known as epoxy boards. There are many differences between inflatable and epoxy paddle boards.
When determining whether an inflatable or epoxy SUP is right for you, it really depends on your budget and paddle board storage/transportation options.
Inflatable Paddle Board
- For a first-time paddler, an inflatable board is ideal and works great in all conditions.
- If you plan to travel a lot with your SUP, an inflatable will be the best choice as it’s easy to take wherever your adventure takes you, and they are surprisingly durable. Wondering how to assemble an inflatable board? Check it out here.
Epoxy (AKA Hard Boards)
- When it comes down to performance, epoxy boards surpass inflatables.
- If you’re a serious paddler and looking for increased maneuverability, speed, and glide, then an epoxy board might be right for you.
- Epoxy paddle boards are by far the most durable. Made of epoxy resin, with an EPS foam core, these rigid boards can withstand any adventure you take them on.
Inflatable Paddle Boards
- In terms of transportation, inflatables are effortless compared to epoxy and hard boards.
- iSUPs can be easily inflated with the use of a hand pump or electric SUP pump.
- Inflatable paddle boards deflate and roll up to the size of a sleeping bag which can be placed in an easily transportable carry backpack.
Epoxy Paddle Boards
- Epoxy SUPs are a little more cumbersome and usually require a large vehicle or rack and straps for your car.
PADDLE BOARD STORAGE
- Inflatables are perfect for people short on space because regardless of the size board you have, you’ll be able to deflate and store it practically anywhere.
- Epoxy boards aren’t difficult to store. You just need to have enough space for a 9+ foot SUP.
- It’s recommended to stow an epoxy SUP in a paddle board bag to aid in preventing scratches and dings.
- Store epoxy and inflatable paddle boards out of direct sunlight because it can cause epoxy SUPs to de-laminate and could potentially bust the seams of your inflatable.
To learn more, use our guide breaking down the difference between inflatables and epoxy paddle boards.
4. WHERE WILL YOU STORE YOUR PADDLE BOARD?
A big concern a lot of people have before buying a SUP is where they will store it at their house. To keep your board in great condition and increase its lifespan, you’ll want to minimize its exposure to the elements when not in use.
Regardless of the type of climate where you live, it is highly recommended that you keep your stand up paddle board indoors when not in use. For all boards, the key is to keep your SUP in a cool dark location where it is safe and protected. Here are some tips for storing your paddle board.
5. ON AVERAGE, HOW MUCH DO PADDLE BOARDS COST?
Often a large part of the deciding factor is the price of a stand up paddle board. You don’t want a super expensive board, but you also don’t want to buy a cheap board (read: not long lasting) just to save money. It’s important to do your research to compare boards and companies when it comes to paddle board cost and quality. The paddle board price breakdown is as follows:
BASIC LEVEL BOARDS – <$800
Often cheaper boards sacrifice quality, materials, and design to achieve their lower price. Be wary, the board may not last as long as one constructed with higher quality materials.
PREMIUM PRICED BOARDS – $800 TO $1500
High quality, great performance, artistically designed and moderately priced. There’s not much more you can want from a paddle board. This is what we like to consider the sweet spot when it comes to paddle boards. Most of ISLE’s SUPs fall within this price range. Additionally, we have many high performance boards, without the high performance cost.
6. WHERE CAN YOU GET THE BEST SUP VALUE?
With plenty of stand up paddle board companies to choose from, it can seem overwhelming to find the perfect one. The key is to look beyond the marketing and pull back the layers to see exactly what each company offers. The major things to consider when choosing a company are the makeup of the board, the price of the board(s), the guarantee, and the customer service.
7. WHY GET YOUR SUP FROM ISLE?
At ISLE, we offer many great incentives along with top-quality stand up paddle boards:
Manufacturer Direct: We only sell direct to our customers. In other words, we do not sell to retailers where the boards are marked up even more – we cut out the middleman so you can save money and get better service.
Board Purchase Guarantee: Purchasing a stand up paddle board is an investment, and the last thing you want is to be stuck with a board that you don’t absolutely love. For that reason, you should have the reassurance that you are getting the right board specifically for you. At ISLE, we understand that this is a big decision, and that’s why we extend a board purchase guarantee.
60 Day Ride It & Love It Guarantee: We want to make sure you are happy with your board choice. Try it for 60 days and if you don’t 100% love your board, you can always send it back and get your money refunded with a 20% restocking fee per item.
Customer Service: Customer service should come first for every company because it reflects your entire business and how you value your past and potential customers. At ISLE, customer service is our number #1 priority and we’ve built our brand around it.
- 5,000+ five-star reviews. With 5,000+ perfect reviews, no one has a better service record than we do.
- 98% referrals. Practically every past customer has had such an amazing experience they’ve referred us to family and friends.
At ISLE, our only job is to make sure you find that perfect stand up paddle board and our outstanding track record since 2004 demonstrates just how committed we are! Please feel free to call or email us regarding any questions or guidance you need.