How do I select the right stand up paddleboard for me?
If you are a newcomer to the world of stand up paddling, you are probably asking yourself this question. A few things to think about before buying: Where do you plan on paddling? How long do you plan on paddling for? What are you looking to get out of paddling? Who is going to be using your equipment? After reading about hull shapes, important terms, and construction, you will have a better idea at which paddleboard is right for you.
There are two main types of sup shapes. Displacement boards and planning boards. Displacement boards are distinguished by their pointed nose, thicker decks, and often have a slight “v” shaped bottom. These features result in better tracking, efficiency, and speed. These types of boards appeal to people looking to paddle more then an hour at a time in flat calmer water conditions, to cover more ground, and create a strong paddling cadence where tracking, speed, and glide are priorities.
Planning hull boards are flat bottomed and have surf inspired shapes. Most all-around planning hull boards are longer and wider then a traditional surf sup. The extra length and width gives them better stability and glide for flat water paddling compared to a surf specific stand up board. These boards are versatile and multi purpose. Great for first time buyers as they allow you to explore all facets of the sport with only one board. These SUPs also make great family/cottage boards, and they work well for people looking to have a small child as a passenger. The longer the board the faster it will paddle and glide, and the wider the board the more stable it will be.
Rocker refers to the upward "curve" of the nose and tail when lying the board flat. Boards have varying degrees of rocker depending on the board type. A flatter rocker will increase glide on calm water while an increased rocker is better for choppy and wavy conditions. In general, boards with a lot of nose and tail rocker are used for wave riding rather than cruising.
Choosing a board with enough volume can be the difference between a board that glides smoothly on the surface versus one that sinks. Shorter and narrower boards are for smaller riders, while longer and wider board are for larger riders. The thickness of the board also affects the volume. Riders at a more advanced skill level may be capable of paddling lower volume boards below their weight tier. There is no exact formula but be sure to double check suggested rider weight limits to ensure you don’t get a board that is to small.
Our Board Volumes:
We have 3 different types of SUP construction. Epoxy, HDPE, and Inflatable.
Our Epoxy Boards are constructed of multiple layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin around an expanded polystyrene foam core (EPS). Wood stringers are added to provide maximum strength and stiffness. These boards provide the paddler with the stiffest and lightest option, for optimum paddling performance.
See Epoxy Boards: Click Here
Our HDPE Boards are constructed using durable blow-molded a high-density polyethylene (HDPE Plastic) with a foam core. This allows the outer shell to be extremely tough and impact resistant. These boards while heavier, offer the most durability out of all the construction methods, and are great for families, cottages, and those who don’t want to worry about it getting damaged easily.
See HDPE Boards: Click Here
Our Inflatable boards are offered in two different construction methods HD and Ultralight. All the boards are made with the highest quality drop stitch which is a layer of durable PVC on the top and bottom with millions of nylon threads connecting the 2 PVC Layers. When inflated with air these threads become straight and stiff which gives the inflatable sup its shape and stiffness. Our HD Boards have 2 layers of PVC throughout for durability and stiffness. In our Ultralight boards the 2 layers of PVC are fused together during the manufacturing process to provide increased stiffness while decreasing the weight by 30% compare to the HD construction. These boards are perfect for paddles who live in an urban environment or have limited storage, transportation options and/or would like to travel with their board. Durable, compact and convenient.
See Inflatable Boards: Click Here
What are the differences between paddles?
There are some fundamental things to consider when choosing a paddle.
All our paddles are adjustable from 67.5” to 85” so no need to pick a size. The average length needed is 4-6 inches above your head depending on paddling style.
- Aluminum Shaft Paddles: Known for their durability and affordability, aluminum paddles offer a good paddle at good price.
Fiberglass Shaft Paddles Fiberglass paddles are better for longer paddle sessions and for reducing paddling fatigue as they are lighter then aluminum paddles.
- Carbon Shaft Paddles: Are the preferred paddle for experienced riders. Ultra light weight reduces fatigue, and a stiffer shaft means better power transmission throughout the stroke
- Travel Paddles: Travel paddles can be broken down into 3 separate pieces for easier transport. Ideal for inflatable SUP’s and fitting them inside the transportation bag with the board.
Blade Construction & Shape
- Plastic Blades: Our Plastic blades are fiber reinforced so they are stiff and extremely durable.
- Carbon Composite Blades: Foam filled carbon epoxy blades offer the lightest weight and stiffness for optimal performance.
- Teardrop Shape: The traditional SUP paddle shape. (Same as the plastic blade shape) Wider at the base with rounded edges that allow for a smooth transition through the water.
- Powerblade Shape: Compared to the teardrop shape and powerblade is wider and squarer at the edges to give the blade a stronger purchase in the water upon the catch phase of the stroke when it enters the water. This makes for a more powerful stroke. Great for those looking to get the most speed out of there stroke and board.
See SUP Paddle Collection: Click Here
How do I properly hold my paddle?
We see people using their SUP paddles backwards quite often.
The angle of the blade should be facing forward.
This allows the water to be pushed in a straight direction rather then pushing the water up during the stroke. You want to propel yourself forward, not down!
Do your Paddles Float?
All our paddles have added stoppers in the shaft that will allow them to float for a limited time, but it is still best to be sure and test it before each use. Adjustable paddles do not have a complete seal and could take on water over time. Ensure the paddle shaft is free from water and that the adjustable connection points are completely secure before going out on the water. In almost all cases paddles won’t sink if they are not floating all day.
How do I store my epoxy board?
Always store your board in a cool/dry place when not in use. Do not store your epoxy board in direct sunlight as it increases the risk of overheating which will expand the EPS foam core and can cause the board to delaminate.
Epoxy boards are more delicate than inflatables and HDPE boards and should never be stored in a location where someone could potentially stand on it or hit it forcefully, this could increase the likelihood that the board will crack.
Rinse sand and saltwater deposits off your board with fresh water after each use. Sun, sand and saltwater will degrade any man-made material over time. Rinse off sand and saltwater deposits from your paddle board with fresh water. It is very important to make sure your board is completely dry before storing. Inspect your board for any damage and repair as necessary before storing for the season. (Especially if you live in cold climates) Any water that entered the board through cracks or open vents during the paddling season has the possibility of freezing and expanding during cold temperatures. Remove the Vent Cap for the winter, and store in a safe place.
We recommend the use of a SUP Sock to help protect your board from dings and UV damage while being stored and transportation.
How do I transport my board?
When securing your paddleboard to the roof of a vehicle, always place the board bottom side up. Placing the board topside up will create wind drag and instability while driving. Placing the nose forward or tail forward are both acceptable means of transport. The board should be padded between itself and the vehicle. Be careful not to over tighten with straps and use padded straps and buckles if possible.
What’s the best way to store your Inflatable SUP?
It’s always a good idea to rinse your board with fresh water after use, especially if storing for long periods of time. Rinsing it with water will prevent sand abrasion on the board and sand clogging up the valve. Storing it clean and dry will help it last for years to come. This is even more important if you are using it in saltwater. After rinsed and dried, it can be rolled up and stored in a cool dry place. We do not recommend Storing your board in the board bag for a extended period of time. Board bags are intended for transportation protection, not full-time storage. Prolonged storage of a wet board in a wet board bag will have adverse effects on the finish of your board, leading to the possibility of mold, and osmotic blisters. Storing your board in a board bag is not the same as placing it in the shade. Board bags will collect heat and potentially overheat your board.
Can I leave my board inflated?
Yes. Just remember if it is fully inflated to max PSI and you are leaving it out in the sun for a few hours, or it is being stored in hot temperatures, the pressure could expand past it’s maximum recommended level. Let a little air out so it does not over inflate. This could lead to a seam blowing. As the temperature either warmer or colder changes the PSI inside the board may change as well.
Can my board be repaired?
Dings and cracks can happen, and they inevitably occur because of normal wear and tear. The good news is that they can be repaired yourself or professionally quite easily.
If your board does get dinged and it penetrates through and into the foam core, you need to get it repaired before taking it back in the water. The EPS Core of your board could absorb water when the protective watertight epoxy skin is compromised. Regularly inspect the exterior for dings and cracks. For a quick fix, we recommend carrying some Surf Co Putty Epoxy with your paddling gear. Surfco carries a number for SUP epoxy repair products that are good for quick temporary repairs, and permanent repairs. They can be found online or at your local SUP / Surf shop. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself take it to a professional.
If your board does get a puncture in the PVC drop-stitch material, you can make repairs using the included repair kit. Each Level Six inflatable board comes with a repair kit that includes colored PVC patches and PVC glue.
Before you start we suggest Preparing the following items:
- Latex Gloves (Pair)
- Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol)
- Clean Cloth
- Cement Applicator (Brush, Popsicle® stick, etc.)
- Your Emergency Repair Kit Contents (Cement + Patches)
- Completely deflate paddle board.
- Thoroughly clean the surface around the leak and the matte side of the PVC/Polyester patch with rubbing alcohol. Both surfaces must be free of moisture, oil and debris.
- Open the cement tube by breaking the tube seal using the outside of the tube cap.
- Apply cement carefully and evenly to both paddle board surface and matte side patch surface. Avoid contact with skin & eyes. Avoid breathing cement vapors.
- Allow cement on both board and patch to dry to the touch. Once dry, reapply a very thin layer of cement around the perimeter of the patch.
- Once cement on both board and patch becomes tack-free, apply patch to board and firmly work out any trapped air bubbles.
- Allow 8 hours for cement to cure before inflating paddleboard
I think I got water inside my epoxy board. Should I drill a hole to drain it?
Before drilling any holes, you need to know where the water is getting in. If you think you have paddled your board while there was a crack in it and it has taken on water, take off the valve cap and leave the board in the sun to dry out. To locate the crack and where the water is possibly getting in you can sometimes see bubbling or foaming on the surface around a crack or ding. Fin boxes can also have leaks between them and the body if the fin takes a large impact, so we suggest checking there as well. Once located you need to make sure the inside of the board is dry before you do your repair. Stripping away and cleaning up that area so you can see the EPS foam is best, then lean the board so the water may drain out and leave it in the sun. You can also try using a shop vac to suck the water out. If the water still won’t come out we suggest you bring it to a specialty shop or call us before you drill any holes! Also, if you’re unable to find where the water may have gotten in, we suggest taking it to a specialty shop.
I need to replace the Bungee/Shock cord on my Board:
Exposure to the elements and regular use will take a toll on the bungee/shock cord as it likely to received maximum exposure to UV rays. We use the same standard bungee/shock cord found in most hardware stores. Our recommended option is to go with the black 4mm diameter cord.
Be sure to measure your old cord to match the original length.
Do I need to wear a life jacket when I paddleboard?
The Canadian and US Coast Guard do consider a standup paddleboard as a watercraft. It is required that you wear or have on your board a Coast guard approved life jacket or personal flotation device. As always check local waterway regulations and please paddle responsibly. We also highly suggest wearing a leash on the water with a PFD. Both could save your life.
Shop Leashes and PFD's: Click Here
Do sup boards come with a screw set for the fin?
Yes, all sup boards include a plate and screw for our boards that fit in a standard US Fin Box. A plate and screw are pre-threaded in the uninstalled fin, as well as an extra set is in the orange repair kit for inflatables and in a blister pack for epoxy’s. Failing to use these parts to attach the fin on the board to secure it properly, will result in the fin falling off.
If you lose both, extra sets are available to purchase here: Click Here
We carry three different types of fins:
Dolphin Cruising Fin: This is considered a "standard" traditional fin. You can use it for surfing and cruising. It offers tracking, stability, and ease of turning/pivoting.
Touring Flat Water Fin: Compared to the dolphin fin, this fin offers greater tracking which allows you to have more strokes per side when paddling. Great for someone looking for more speed and performance in non surf conditions.
Thruster Fins: These smaller fins are used in surfing and usually complement the center dolphin fin on a performance oriented surf sup. It offers surfers a combination of stability and drive while riding on a wave. Most sup feature either 2 or 4 thruster fin spots along with a center fin slot.
What are SUP Socks?
Rather then board bags, we decided to manufacture socks. They offer a great amount of protection against dings and sun exposure during transportation and storage at half of the cost of a board bag. We also include a tie down point on the nose so you can securely tie it down to your vehicle for long hauls. We make a sock for each board length we manufacture, and they can accommodate almost any width as they are extra stretchy. They also pack down much smaller when not in use compared to a board bag.
Check them out here: Click Here
Do you have User Manuals for your boards?
Epoxy SUP Manual: Click Here
Inflatable SUP Manual: Click Here
Hopefully this article helped answer your questions about SUP, If your still unsure about something send us a email or shoot us a message on social media!