How to Choose the Right SUP Paddle Board

I’m going to begin this piece with a caveat. Your first board is not likely to be your last. Also, even though most paddle boards will allow you to experience all sorts of water, the right board will make the experience better.

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Laird Hamilton 12 foot SUP

So let’s start with the different types. There are SUP boards for surfing, for flatwater and for racing. For people focused on having the best experience with each outing, the right board is key.

The surf SUP will be the focus of this post and over the next couple of weeks we’ll discuss some of the nuances of the other two types. While more experienced surf paddle boarders will prefer a shorter board with a rounded nose and rounded tail, the beginner is likely to find their first board to be longer, somewhere between 11 and 12 feet, generally wider at around 32 inches and at least 4 to 5 inches thick.

The Laird Hamilton 12 foot SUP Surfer is a good example of an entry to intermediate level board that most of you will have a lot of fun with for a long time. If you plan on splitting your time between different water types, heading to the surf at least half the time, this is a good all-around board. Will you get the same performance from this board as compared to a shorter one with a multiple fin package? The answer would be not quite. It’ll be fun and you’ll get most of the experience.  Think of this way, you can race a mountain bike and complete the course but you would have done better with the right bike.

The good news is that the Laird Hamilton, with its four side fin package and one center fin might give as close to the performance of a smaller board as you are likely to get. The solid color with a bamboo EPS construction actually makes this board a lot quicker than you’d expect on a board rated for the new-to-the-sport enthusiast. That speed doesn’t mean the board doesn’t handle well, it does. And just because this board is good for the surf doesn’t mean you can’t use it for flatwater touring, you can and should. Stable, quick and just the right size for a variety of SUP experiences.

Next up, we’ll take a look at the next level of SUP board for surfing.

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