Coming to a Waterway Nearby: You on Tour (on a Stand up Paddle Board)

For the vast majority of new-to-the-sport paddle boarders, the experience may have been somewhat stark; you, the water and your board, often acting in contradictory fashion but nonetheless fun. But as time went by and you became more accustomed to how to stand in different conditions, you realized the possibilities. With the right stand up paddle board, anything is possible. Yet you were left with a nagging question: what about all my stuff? A stand up touring paddle board will improve that experience in ways you hadn’t imagined.

We are a nation who packs it up and heads to the water. And for the most part, that “stuff” stays locked in the car or protected by the member of your group who doesn’t stand on liquid. On those days, you move in one direction directly equal to the time it takes to get back to your camp. You begin to wonder: why can’t I take it with me, head out to someplace remote, set up camp on a distant, private beach? You can.

Stand up paddle boards designed for carrying you, your pet and equipment are generally among the longest boards available. Referred to as touring boards, the design of these craft is focused on stability across numerous water conditions. Here’s a list of the things your paddle board should have.

The Length

These boards are generally longer (from between 12 and 14 feet) with wider hulls (30. Some a beautifully inlaid with bamboo, an added feature that increases the overall durability of the board.


When looking to a paddle board to give you the ability to move through flatwater or mild ocean conditions, you’ll want a board that gives you an even forward motion with as little effort as possible. Displacement is a physics term, that for those of you who may not be aware of these laws, that suggests your board with you and your stuff on it will displace the water you are standing on. Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 8.26.38 AMEach time you paddle, the nose will lift slightly and the displaced weight will shift to the aft of the board. So which is better, a board that is advertised as a planed board (like surfboards) or displacement board?

A good displacement board will offer more than just a kayak shaped nose that leads into a flat planed hull. A planed hull gives the paddle boarder a better experience on swell-like conditions creating a sort of on/off acceleration. A board with a displaced nose will allow the boarder to remain in a more stable position on the board, allowing longer distances with less effort. Some boards offer the nose design but turn the board over and look for a concave construction through to the tail. If it doesn’t have this slight continuation of the nose, you will be planing more, working harder and going slower. That’ll make for a shorter tour!

The Cushion

Unlike many other types of boards, a good touring board will be cushioned and allow you to remain stationary. Once again, this is a paddling energy saver. Because you are looking for as much forward motion on each stroke, a good cushion allows you to find your stand up sweet spot and direct as much energy into each stroke without raising the nose too dramatically. This is usually where the suitcase style handle is built into the board.

Tie Downs

These boards should have at least six tie downs for various conditions. You still will need to calculate the total weight on the board. When the board suggests a rating of 200 lbs for instance, it is your weight plus your stuff. The board manufacturer has taken that weight, the weight of the board and the board’s design to give you a maximum stability rating. Go over the weight range and the board will become less stable and a bit more likely to tip.

Additional considerations

The fin will help with tracking. It should be at least 10 inches long. The bottom of the board should be light in color to help deflect the sun (I say help but the sun is one of the worst enemies of your board, so keep it bagged when not in use). A self venting mechanism will add to the life of your board as well and in better boards. Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 8.27.43 AMThis little mechanism shifts from open to close keeping the core of the board safe. If you’ve ever forgot to close this vent, you’ll appreciate this little mechanism. You might also consider a GoPro mount near the nose to record your tour.

These boards increase the chances that the you will have a smoother, longer distance experience. Touring boards can also be used as racing boards, although those boards have a slightly different design. But for the vast majority of us, this board will give an awesome stand up experience.

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