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How to Choose A Stand Up Paddle board

Seriously, is there a better place to Stand Up Paddle than Lake Superior? We think not! Our quick easy access, crystal clear water, and interesting land formations including caves and arches makes our shoreline some of the best paddling in the world.

As SUP becomes more popular more and more shapes are being developed for specific paddling needs. There are now boards being produced for touring, fishing, surfing, and even yoga! The first question you should ask yourself is how and where you intend to use your new board. The following is a break down to help you choose the perfect board for your next adventure.

INFLATABLE vs RIGID

Inflatable

For all-around SUP paddling, inflatable SUPs are a great option due to advantages in durability, portability, weight, and versatility. Basically, these boards will do everything! Worried about durability? These boards are made from the same materials as white-water rafts and are bomb proof! Worried about storage? Inflatable boards come in a bag that you can store in a closet, throw in the trunk of your car, pull out at the beach to inflate, and then hit the water! The disadvantage of inflatables are they are a bit more susceptible to wind and you do have to inflate them.

Rigid

When it comes to performance the rigid boards will out preform inflatables hands down. The rigid materials of the board a far stiffer than the inflatables and stiffness equates to performance. So depending on how you will be using your board, say you are interested in paddling the length of Pictured Rocks or circumnavigating Isle Royale, you will be much happier with a rigid design. The disadvantage of a rigid board is that they tend to be less durable.

Young woman carries her inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board across a Lake Superior Beach Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard

Rigid Stand Up Paddleboard resting on the rocky shore of Lake Superior Rigid Stand Up Paddleboard

SHAPE

Child sits while paddling an All ROunder shaped Stand Up Paddleboard
All-Rounder
Woman paddles a displacement hull stand up paddleboard above huge rocks on Lake Superior
Displacement Hull
Young woman paddles a hybrid shaped stand up paddleboard near the rocks in Marquette Michigan
Hybrid

All Rounder

The all rounder shape has a round “nose” and is designed for the paddler looking to cruise flat water and surfing small waves of the Great Lakes. The “nose” has a little rocker, meaning it is slightly raised which helps in paddling in wavy conditions and also makes the board easier to turn on small waves. This shape is usually a wider hull shape which makes the board more stable and a great option for those just starting to SUP.

Displacement Hull

Boards that have a displacement hull (touring shape), are designed to paddle straight and fast making them a great option for fitness or touring paddlers. The “nose looks similar to the bow of a kayak! The displacement hull shapes tend to be narrower boards which will initially feel less stable but will allow for quick boards designed for flatwater paddling.

Hybrid

A Hybrid shape has some of the qualities of an all rounder and displacement hulls. A displacement shape that flattens out which assists in pushing water aside enabling the paddler to gain speed similar to a touring board, but at the same time the paddler can enjoy the ease of turning the board on smaller waves!

Stand Up Paddling at sunrise on Lake Superior

Be sure to think about where you will be paddling and what you like to do out on the water and let that guide you in making the decision on what shape board to choose. It’s critical to know the differences between the SUP shapes and the pros and cons so that you can choose the best board for your adventures. Our staff are all stand up paddlers and we would love to help you pick out the perfect board for you as well as sharing our favorite paddling destinations!