Guide: Stand Up Paddle Boarding is getting more and more popular all around the world and also is one of the most popular outdoor activities.
We have decided to prepare this guide primarily because we often hear about bad experiences with SUP boards and paddle boarding that is connected. “Nobody told me that” – These words are from many who have been involved in one of them of our courses and allowed us to offer them information. As experienced instructors of SUP, we devoted ourselves to a deeper understanding of details that certain boards make top-notch and distinguish them from others, apparently the same boards. These details will be shared with you in this guide.
1. Which are essential features when purchasing the SUP board
If it was still a few years ago tendency of comparison of boards on inflatable and hardboards and critiques on the instability of inflatable boards, today is no longer the case. Because of technological progress of making, the quality of making and itself design, inflatable boards are today in full float capabilities at the level of hardboards, and because of the use-values of inflatable boards, hardboards we rarely see on the water (if we neglect competitions).
The harder the board is more stable and provides better SUP experience.
We are interested in what any board can handle and how quickly it will be damaged.
Since we carry it all around the world, we are interested in how difficult it is to transport.
We wonder if the board will keep itself shape or will flex under external influences.
We are interested how long the board can stand inflated without losing a bigger amount of air.
These features are most affected by the:
2. Technology of making
-SUP board construction
2.1. Single layer SUP boards
The basis of each SUP board is so-called “Drop stitch”, ie the core in which thread connects the upper and lower layers of the material and create the inner structure core. When in the production process the core is glued and on it add a layer of PVC material, a single-layer SUP board is formed.
2.2. Single layer SUP board features
Single-layer board has poor construction and will be underweight more than 110 lbs quickly start to bend.
ENDURANCE: The advantage of a single layer board is its small weight, but because of a single layer of material the board will be damaged very quickly.
TRANSFERABILITY: Since the board does not have a lot of material, it’s not tough so we can easily transfer it.
SHAPE: Because of the poor construction, the board does not retain its shape and faster bending will occur (for example, if we expose unused board on sunshine, manufacturers often do not acknowledge the guarantee).
PERMEABILITY: Poor construction is also the cause of the larger air permeability, which means the board should be inflated even after a few days. That’s why we do not recommend you buy such aboard.
Single-layer boards can be recognized at very low prices (350-500$), and often it is about Chinese copies.
Single layer board can be recognized by a rather soft and thin material (material thickness is often less than 0.02in) which quickly leads to curvature of the board. Due to the bad construction, the SUPer will be placed literary in the water on such aboard.
2.3. Single layer SUP boards with additional fibers
Thanks to the addition of fibers, these boards are indeed more solid than classic single layer boards, but this is still significantly less than double layered. At the same time, these fibers do not affect the durability and permeability of the boards. Such boards have a lower weight and are in the middle price range (from 1000$ to more). We still put them in the category of single layer boards, which means they will be damaged faster.
Some retailers will try to present such boards as a new fusion technology. That’s absolutely not true, as it’s not about fusion technology, but a single layer of the fiber-glued board. MSL fusion on non-glue boards and this innovative technology was used exclusively by Red Paddle Co.
2.4. Double layer SUP boards
At hand-glued double layer, boards are “drop stitch” and the first layer of material is reinforced with additional glue and another layer of PVC material. Some of the manufacturers have discovered that their edges are most vulnerable to damage and have decided to reinforce the side panels of the board by the tape.
Features of double layer SUP boards
Double layer boards are firmer and more stable, but because of the higher amount of glue they are also much harder to carry.
Two layers of material also affect the endurance of the board. Because of the material and the adhesives they are significantly harder.
Double layer SUP boards keep the shape better and therefore leave less air (rarely need to inflate again).
Lack of double layer boards is often the sagging between the first and second layers of PVC material. This is because they are hand-glued in China. Applying the right amount (thickness) of glue is a difficult task, and it is even harder to carry out control of such work. These problems lead to poor endurance that is unacceptable for the boards of the higher middle price range.
Double layer boards are most commonly recognized by too thick (6 inches instead of 5 inch in shorter boards), which makes the board clumsy and less stable in wind and wavy seas.
2.5. MSL FUSION (new technology – “double layer fusion”)
MSL fusion technology is the latest technology of SUP board that brings a completely new standard of inflatable boards. In the manufacturing process, the core is machine-coupled with the first and second layers of material. This process is already in the production phase. Thus, the SUP board gets a completely new dimension of strength – bending strength, resulting in greater strength at lower pressure.
Features of MSL FUSION
MSL fusion board is comparable to double layer dome up to 8% stronger under the same air pressure
Also, the new technology has made a step forward in the field of endurance by introducing two layers of materials that prevent rapid damage and at the same time, MSL fusion eliminates the possibility of sagging (commonly occurring in classic two-sided pads). There is no manual bonding in the MSL process, which ultimately makes the SUP board 3 kilograms lighter and simpler for bending and tilting. Because of all these advantages, today’s buying of boards made using MSL technology is the only rational decision. Since the process is entirely carried out under controlled conditions, there are no structural defects, the board will not bend and without fear, we can leave them in the sun. The permeability of the boards is almost non-existent, meaning that there is no need for adoption (we recommend it, only if you have left the pad for a couple of months).
3. SUP board core quality
Have you ever wondered why some of the boards can be inflated only up to 15 psi, while others can as much as 25 psi?
The quality of the core or the “drop stitch”, along with the way, that is, the technology of making determines how much it is possible to inflate the board. The more we can inflate board, the firmer it is. And what is the firmer, board is more stable and provides us better SUP experience (of course, we can only compare boards of the same shape, as the construction also affects stability – more on below).
Single layer boards 12-15 psi
Double layer boards 15-18 psi
Red Paddle Co MSL boards 18-25 psi
A new standard of strength
Due to the bending strength of MSL fusion technology, Red Paddle SUP boards are 8% harder at lower pressure. This means that the MSL fusion board at 18 psi will be 8% stronger than a double layer SUP board or, alternatively, MSL fusion board should be inflated up to 16.5 psi to be solid as double layer board at 18 psi.
Inflate board as best as possible
Let’s repeat once more – the better board is inflated, we’ll easier stand up paddle. That’s why it’s important to take enough time and try to inflate the board as best as possible. If we have a good board with low permeability, once we inflate it, it will last 2-3 weeks.
The core quality affects the firmness of the board
Maximum strength is the most important feature we want from our SUP board. But the strength does not only depend on the technology of making a SUP board (which we have already discussed), but also on the quality of the core and the construction of the board that we will write below.
Before purchasing, check how much the board can be inflated because it is a core quality indicator. A key role in this is the quality of the pump.
4. SUP board construction
4.1. How the dimensions of the SUP board affect floating abilities?
In order to achieve the optimum floating capabilities of the SUP boards, manufacturers are trying to stick to the rules of length, width, and thickness, and create a maximum rigid board for different needs (playing with stability and speed).
Wider and rounded boards are generally more stable. Longer, narrower and shrunken boards are faster. Shorter boards should not be too thick because then they become clumsy; longer boards should not be too thin, because they will bend due to the weight of SUPer. The boards are generally 4, 5 or 6 inches thick.
Length up to 10 ’10-12′ 12 ‘and longer
Thickness 4′ 5′ 6’
Avoid too much volume. Let’s try to find the optimum!
Red Paddle Co. has decided to change the most common mistake of the manufacturer – increasing the thickness
and thus the volume of the board to improve its floating abilities. That’s why they developed RSS slats.
4.2. How to recognize the bad design characteristics of the SUP board
Have you ever on the lake noticed a board that looks curved like a banana, where the water constantly pours the SUPer feet? In this way due to the weak construction of the board folds. This is most commonly seen in a single layer and double layer boards of inferior quality.
There is not much to say about a single-layer board – the core (good or bad) in combination with a single layer of the material fails to provide a good enough support and due to weight of SUPer board starts to bend.
The length of the board is also important for double-layer boards. Shorter boards, length up to 11 ‘, have an increased thickness (instead of a recommended thickness of 5 inches, 6 inches thick). Shorter and thicker boards are more clumsy and unstable and light waves and wind will slow rotate board. Longer boards, over 11’ lengths are 6 inches thick, but not so solid.
The recommended weight is not the same as the weight capacity!
The first parameter expresses the recommended weight of the person under which the SUP board will provide the best SUP experience and the second upper limit of weight that the board will withstand. When choosing aboard, we need to be familiar with both parameters. It is important that our weight is within the recommended weight.
Technology Recommended weight Capacity
Single-layer board 4 in 90 lbs 210 lbs
MSL board 4 in 200 lbs 550 lbs
The traps of the manufacturer
When the board has a weaker construction, instead of the recommended weight, manufacturers often indicate its weight capacity.
4.3. The construction of the board through examples
Why can’t we have too little board?
The board must smoothly glide on the water. If the board is too small or has a skirting structure, under our weight it will easily sink. Rowing will look like we push the board through the water and we will move very slowly.
Therefore, we never advise buying a board with too much width or volume. Large boards are
awkward and static. With wide boards, it is easier to turn. It is again proven that the relationship between the board dimension is very important. We advise you to choose the right model for your purpose and weight.
Why don’t we want to have a too heavy board?
If we SUP often or together with children, the answer to that question will be of great importance. MSL fusion boards are 2 kg average lighter than a double layer. Believe it, in practice, you will feel the difference.
Why don’t we want to have a too thick board?
The shorter and sloping board is more difficult to manage, clumsy and therefore less stable (which is very sensitive to the wavy sea), it is more difficult to paddle against the wind.
5. 5 important details on SUP board
For beginners and family boarders, it is very practical to have fins attached to the board, because we can not forget
them in grass or sand, as it often happens with removable fins.”IFin System” is made of such durable material that
it is impossible to break it. If there is a dry flush (eg due to improper cleaning), we can polish it with hot water and simply straighten. The SUP board Voyager, Sport and Whip booths have been added with the “FSA fins” which is very easy to attach and keeps the course better thanks to its larger surface. FSC is the world leader in manufacturing fins.
For faster SUP bolts, the most commonly used “US box fin” is typically used to fasten the bolt with the screw after the board is already inflated. The pearls are shaped in such a way that the more beautiful they “cut” the water, for example, because of its shape, the race fin makes it easier to twist the grass.
For faster SUP boards, the “US box fin” is most commonly used, which is typically used to fasten the board with the screw after the board is already inflated.
The fins are shaped in such a way that the more beautiful they “cut” the water. For example, because of its shape, the race fin makes it easier to twist the grass.
2. Is it important where the valve is located?
Of course, primarily because of the board storage. The board always starts bending at the nose and therefore, in case the valve is located at the end of the board, we can not blow all the air well.
Then it would be necessary to bend first from the bottom end and blow out the air, retract it and repeat bending from the front end. You do the same twice.
Also, it is very important to know whether the valve allows for full air leakage. In many double layer boards, we will encounter valves that do not allow it, so we have to blow out the board with the pump, which is very impractical and long-lasting.
3. It is important that the base (“deck pad”) is not slippery
Anti-slippery bases can be smooth or with a pattern (conical). The first ones are a little more comfortable, and second ones offer a better footing.
If it is a basic model designed for beginners, we do not recommend choosing a rougher substrate, as beginners in the process of looking at the balance with their fingers are pushed harder into the podium, which can cause tingling in the legs.
If you choose a more advanced and faster board for which, due to its smaller width, it is a very important base, we recommend a conical base. Experienced SUPers are easier to carry weight on board, which is why they do not have problems with thighs in their legs.
4. It happens that bad inflatable is the fault of the pump!
It may sound impossible, but some manufacturers really attach the pumps to the board they can not inflate the board.
Generally, SUP boards are supplied with 3 different pumps:
An ordinary pump with a large cylinder – we can inflate board fast but hard to the end because the cylinder is too large.
High performance pump with a small cylinder – we can inflate the board to the end but the inflammation takes longer.
Double titanium pump (a combination of both pumps) – initially we are inflated using both, and when the pressure on the board is high enough, we end up with a “high performance” pump.
5. Let’s see how comfortable is a transfer of the SUP board!
The portability is definitely the advantage of the SUP inflatable boards. That’s why the bag in which the board is packed is very important.
Will, we put the board in a thin bag or in a special bag with underwired straps.
Shoulder pads are designed to meet the needs of the SUP, which is why they have a dedicated paddle space and are very spacious, making it really practical for any trip.
6. How to choose the best SUP board at the best price
It is understandable that price plays a big part when selecting the SUP board. It’s always good to ask which board will bring us the biggest satisfaction for the spent amount.
Single layer boards (350-500$)
We do not recommend you buy a one-sided SUP board, though it’s attractive because of its low price of $ 350 – $ 500. Also, we have to point out that single-layer boards are very close to the inflatable mattresses that will likely withstand the weight of the children, but they will be damaged very quickly and have high air permeability. That’s why our view is that these toys are overwhelmingly crowded.
Upgraded single layer boards (500-800$)
You also have to avoid them at all costs because they are not cheap either (from £ 6800 or more), nor are they really good.
The durability of the SUP boards should be one of the most important criteria when choosing!
Double layer boards (800-1500$)
For the beginner model of double-layer SUP boards, it is necessary to pay between 800-1500$. Such boards can be reasonably called the real SUP boards, as they are much more firm and more stable.
Compared to single-layer boards, they are more durable (they will not be damaged, for example, for the first time you hit a rock).
MLS fusion technology (1200-2000$)
MSL fusion technology is the most preferred choice for anyone looking for a high-quality level and board purchases for a longer period of time.
MSL Fusion is truly a revolutionary technology that you can find exclusively at Red Paddle Co., which has been successfully directing the development of inflatable pads for the past 10 years and is a leading brand in the field!
7. Benefits and Facts of SUP boarding
– It’s learning fast
– Does not require any previous experience
– You do not need to be fit or in good physical shape
– Years are not important
– Simpler than any other form of surfing
– Low rate of injuries
– Sport for the whole family, but also competitive if you want to become professionally
For the reasons mention before for this sport it also says that it is for all 9-99 years old.
Once you catch the balance, you get so many options. You will be able to explore untouched coasts and coves or you will cross over river and at the same time, you can practice in a way to catch the beat and train your target muscle group.
SUP boarding is a very simple way to bring yourself to the perfect condition without being forced to exercising, but at the same time enjoying nature. It’s an exercise you do not notice because you enjoy it.
As for exercise, all muscles will work on your paddle during paddling.
Hands, backs and chests will work while you paddling and the feet, legs and abdominal muscles will work on the stabilization of the board.
8. Stand up paddle board guide
We have prepared a short guide to help you become SUPer and when you get some more courage to go into an adventure called Stand Up Paddling.
Equipment is an important element in this sport and on this website you can search for information and reviews related to each SUP board while you choose the type of board that fits your needs.
The versatility, popularity and rapid growth of this beautiful sport have created several disciplines of it and several different shapes of boards shaped to the needs of paddlers and water type where you will paddle.
On the market, there are several categories of boards which we must mention sprint, race, touring, all-around,
surf up to fishing boards and yoga.
Also, the form and dimension of the SUP board determine the purpose/discipline.
So we have shorter and longer boards that are characterized by speed, while wide boards are characterized by stability. Large volume pads also contribute to greater stability and speed.
8.1. Touring / All-Around SUP boards
– boards that have something of every board kind
These are the most popular or the most wide-spread and lightest boards in the world of SUP. Their length ranges from 10′ to 14′ and an average width of 30″ to 32″.
All-Around boards are ideal for calm seas, lakes, rivers, coastal coves and so on and they are perfect for afternoon relaxation, excursions, holidays, but also serious paddling.
In short lines, these are boards that combine the best of this sport.
Also, they are suitable for families because there may be several people on the same board or for children or whole groups of children.
It’s just enough surface area for many paddlers without making the paddling unnecessarily stressful.
That also depends on a volume that is an average of 250-350 L.
Especially for people who paddle up with their dogs, the All-Around Sup Board is a must.
These boards usually have a straight nose and tail. People are mostly opting for inflatable all-round boards, but there are also board in a solid variant, depending on your desire for epoxy, wood or carbon and kevlar combinations.
Each subset of these boards differs in price.
TIP: All inflatable boards manufactured today are intended for use on saltwater.
All-Around boards are designed to be able to ride at all weather conditions and have enough capacity to
put different things and equipment on board when planning a longer trip.
They are perfect for beginners and advanced users.
Table showing the relationship between the person’s optimum weight and the dimension of the SUP board:
Load capacity Width Length Thickness
up to 60 kg 74cm – 78cm 310cm – 340cm 10cm – 15cm
up to 70 kg 74cm – 80cm 310cm – 350cm 14cm – 15cm
up to 90 kg 76cm – 84cm 340cm – 365cm 15cm
over 90 kg 78cm – 86cm 350cm – 370cm 15cm
8.2. Race / Sprint
This category is currently the fastest growing in the world of paddle boarding. If you want to compete, this discipline is a combination of adrenaline and extreme strength.
The races are held in all parts of the world, both on the open sea and on the flat/white water locations.
These boards are designing shorter and longer to make their own elongated shape sliding on the water. Average dimensions: Width 24 “to 28” depending on the category, length 14 ‘for a race, or little more for sprint racing.
They got in common speed and lightweight construction (carbon, kevlar, composite materials used) which is reflected at a price that is slightly larger than other SUP boards.
This discipline tries to unite best from All-Around and Race boards. This category of SUP boards
is meant for anyone who wants faster driving and more comfort than it is with the Race / Sprint board.
These boards are intended for serious paddlers who do not want to enter the competitive Race segment yet.
Sport SUP boards are specific in that the boards are slightly shorter and wider than the Race SUP boards.
8.4. Wind SUP
Windsurfing and SUP in one. An excellent category for all those who do not want to outsource a large amount of money, but also can combine these two wonderful sports. Depending on the weather and mood, this boards offer you the option of paddling either put on a smaller rig and enjoy the wind.
The ideal board dimension has a volume of 200L solid design or 300L in the inflatable version.
The most common dimensions are 10′ x 35″/ 10′ x 35″, which is perfect for a person up to 232 lbs(105 kg).
WindSUP boards are available in solid polyester or inflatable version. On the underside of the board, there is a fin. They have similar characteristics in shape and dimensions as the All-Round board.
8.5. Yoga / Fishing / Explorer
On the market, there are a variety of unusual boards available. 405L boards, widths of up to 40 “meet the requirements users weighing more than 265 lbs(120 kg). What such board features is its original outstanding stability and weight capacity, and can be used for various purposes such as Yoga SUP training.
Fishing boards contain two hooks for fishing rods trolls. The Explorer’s only deck has a submarine search window, which is ideal if you’re planning to spend time with children on the board.
9. Paddle – lighter is better
The best paddle is chosen depending on the type of board but is a smaller choice than is the case with the boards. With boards, paddles are the next most important piece of equipment.
Shorter pads are used for Race and Sprint while slightly longer for Touring and All-Around paddleboards.
Paddles are mostly made of aluminum and ABS plastic, and of various wood and carbon combinations.
Tip: We recommend telescoping paddles everywhere, and this is why adjustable paddle lengths allow more people could use a SUP board. Prices range from $ 60 to $ 200 depending on the fabrication material.
Solid paddles – a special category of paddles
They are divided on Enduro and High Aspect respectively to paddles for Touring or Race.
These paddles are cutting to a certain length to suit the paddler better.
Depending on your height and way of paddling, you can cut your height +/- 10cm for
race or +/- 5cm if you use the paddle for All-Around / Touring paddling.
Please note that the handle is 8cm. These paddles are made according to your wishes
made of fiberglass, epoxy, carbon, wood or combinations of these materials.
On paddles, you can also choose the size of the shovel but in 90% of cases, it is 525-550cm2.
10. A short history of SUP boarding
This modern way of paddling started off from Waikiki Beach (Hawaii) where surfers started using the paddle to catch the wave more faster, but also during the period when there were no big waves – when the sea was calm.
With later development and production of the first SUP boards, paddleboarding became a popular sport, and the first SUP boards were large and stable, intended just for SUP boarding.
From that time till today Stand up paddleboarding has become accessible to wide masses, as well the lovers of this sport paddling from the sea, lakes to the river.
People all over the world realized that Stand up paddle boarding was exactly what they were looking for …. for some of them paddling on the board is ultimate fitness in nature and others have found a place for meditation on the go.
Sup boarding in a short time has got hundreds of thousands of fans that started paddling on seas, rivers and lakes.
Many people have replaced their past activities with SUP and it becomes core workout, ultimate training or meditation on the go for all of us well known as yoga.
For some of them, SUP boarding is enjoying in nature, traveling from island to island, long tours along the coast, fishing or simply exploring beaches and coves.
A full story about stands up paddleboarding history.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding Guide