Your SUP Deck Pad

5 Things You Should Know about your Stand Up Paddle Board Deck Pad

Stand up paddle boarding continues to grow in popularity and with good reason. It’s fun. A simple one hour lesson can help you have more fun on your SUP board, and as you do, you’ll begin searching for the right paddle board to call your own. We had discussed a wide variety of paddle boards and how to buy them on this blog, the differences in paddles, the accessories for your SUP, and even the best places to go. But we’ve paid little attention to your SUP deck pad. Here are five things you should know about your Stand Up Paddle Board deck pad that you may not have considered.

EVA deck pads

The right deck pad makes a difference for your overall enjoyment of the SUP experience.

What is a stand up paddle board deck pad?

The deck is the surface of the board. The deck pad is the soft surface that makes contact with your feet. Deck pads are designed for a wide variety of water situations, from lake or flat water use, to whitewater and open ocean paddle boarding, to the surf SUP. They also come in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. Choosing the right deck pad is key to your enjoyment.

How do SUP deck pads differ?

Most deck pads are made with EVA or ethylene acetate vinyl, a product that might be more recognizable as fun foam. It’s lightweight, non-toxic and most importantly, waterproof. It is a widely used and easy to work with material that is often die cut. It’s non-memory rebound makes it perfect for paddle board applications.

Are all deck pads essentially the same?

The average stand up paddle boarder will often stick with one type of paddle boarding. If they are introduced to SUPing in a surf zone and have access to that type of water, they will often continue to surf with their SUP board rather than look for flatwater. People who are introduced to flatwater SUPing, often stick with lake and smooth flowing river outings. But the kind of deck used in these two types of paddle boarding is worth noting.

Because the deck provides traction, and in some instances, such as surfing, this is key to staying on the board, the design of the deck will lend itself to a paddle board moving around a great deal, forward and aft. Surfers prefer a deck with a distinct diamond pattern or a straight line design. This allows the water to channel away from the surface of the board is it cuts through the surf. You can see this on the Laird Hamilton Surfer 12’ Paddle Board.

But the traction needed for flatwater is much different. The SUPer is often stationary for long periods of time, with most of the motion achieved through the rest of body. The deck pads in this sort of application should be tighter in design, more like the sole of shoe, with only minimal concern to keeping water off the pad. These deck pads are designed for comfort. The pads tend to take up less of the board’s surface, as seen here in the Tahoe SUP Zephyr Sport, an excellent touring board.

Are the deck pads interchangeable?

Yes and no. If you find yourself with the wrong deck pad – you’ll know because your feet will start tingling and give you the same sensation you experience when your foot falls asleep – you can change your deck pad. Deck pads come in a wide variety of sizes (also can be cut to various shapes), designs (customizing an otherwise plain board with bright, more personalized patterns), and of course, traction options.

But they are not easy to change. You’ll find plenty of videos on line suggesting that a hair dryer, perhaps a little Goo-Gone, and a little patience is all you need to remove the wrong deck and replace it with a much cooler look. Be warned: this can take hours and more skill than the average person has.

How do I determine which deck pad is best?

When you are buying a paddle board, it is best to discuss your use of the board with a salesperson. Many people will find themselves lured by the online pricing of boards from major retailers. This can be a mistake that will cost you hundreds of dollars.

Because paddle boards have many components, the deck being just one of the considerations, it is best to have someone to talk to, someone who will ask you the right questions, someone who will tailor your board to your answers.

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