Although paddleboards might look similar in their outlook, each of their type is designed for a specific purpose. In this overview – we are going to explain some of the downsides of each SUP type out there.
Main SUP types
All-around / Touring & Adventure / Yoga & Cruising / Fishing & Expedition / Race & Performance
Multi-person / Tandem / Youth & Kids’ / Whitewater & River / Surfing / Kayak SUP / Electric
We are also going to overlook some of the main differences in materials: epoxy, fiberglass, inflatable PVC and modular SUPs – so let’s dive in!
The thing with all-rounders or hybrids is their somewhat limited use. Although the most versatile of the bunch for recreational paddlers – the allrounder lacks stability in messy conditions. All-rounders don’t have many special features that could make the board more versatile to each spectrum – features like wider deck or some outline designs to better improve the outcome on the overall paddling performance. All-around boards are bland in terms of features – take it or leave it.
- Average inflatable all-around board size: 10’6″ x 32″ x 6″
Touring paddleboards are large in volume so they could carry heavy loads through rough waters. Its only downside is the lower speed and due to its larger volume, it requires more paddling power compared to most other board types out there.
- Average inflatable touring SUP size: 11’6″ x 34″ x 6″
Yoga boards are short and wide which means they are slow. Due to a lack of general features, they aren’t the best selection for rougher waters. Usually equipped with a single fin – they excel best in calm waters only.
- Average inflatable Yoga SUP size: 10′ x 34″ x 6″
Fishing SUPs are similar to touring SUPs which means they are large, wide, and built to carry heavy loads. For a regular recreational paddler – there isn’t too much use of its full potential which could make it a slight overkill.
- Average inflatable fishing SUP size: 10’10” x 36″ x 6″
Racing SUPs are only great in the hands of a physically fit athlete. Their bullet-shaped outline makes it hard to turn and an unstable platform for rougher waters on slower speeds.
- Average inflatable race SUP size: 12’6″ x 30″ x 6″
Although the majority of multi-person boards are designed for fun – in almost all cases its not so much fun when you have to paddle by yourself.
Similar to multi-person boards, the tandem SUP requires above-average strength to steer and paddle through messy conditions. Owning a tandem board means you’ll have to always have a partner with you (who’s preferably a better paddler than you are). Otherwise, you are going to lose a lot of speed and energy by paddling all by yourself.
The problem with the majority of youth SUPs is that there isn’t too much of a selection for the different types out there. Most youth’s boards are rather basic, lacking some great upgrades that would come handy in tougher conditions.
The whitewater SUP needs a constant flow beneath the board to excel best at its purposed field of use. Without the extra push – they are slow and sluggish at the majority of time.
Surf SUPs are designed to handle larger waves which means they should be great on moving down the wave and handle somewhat sharp turns on moving water. Surfing paddleboards are easy to through around the wave, but not as great for long-distsance touring. Also, surf SUPs aren’t as stable for a laid-back session on calm waters. They are performance boards for a purpose.
11. Kayak SUP
The kayak SUP is much like the all-rounder but with one extra quirk – with a seat. Sure most recreational paddlers find it great to have a more stable alternative for paddling – it nothing like kayaking. In terms of steering, speed, comfort and the level of waterproofing – the Kayak SUP is best suited for ideal flat water conditions.
Quite self-explanatory to anything that’s powered by electricity. Without the assistance – you’ll be wasting a lot of energy to transport an extra battery/motor and not to forget the drag coming from the large propeller. Depending on which type of motor the electric paddleboard is equipped with – you are most likely going to need to learn some more balance to steer the board safely.
I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.