How to Choose a Standup Paddle Board: The Three SUP models

isle surf and sup board models One of the most frequently asked questions among new standup paddle boarders as well as seasoned riders is, which SUP shape is right for me? With so many different models and sizes it can be complex at times to find a paddle board specifically for your needs. There is a lot of crossover with boards and usage but we are going to explain the three core overall SUP shape.

The Best Paddle Boards for Cruising and Fun – All Around Shapes:

isle crew cruise the ocean on our glider flat water series paddle board

 “All around shapes offer the perfect balance for flat water fun and small surf for beginners to advanced paddles and everything in between, you just can’t go wrong with an All Around shape – our #1 Best Selling Shape at Isle!

Also known as the all-around SUP, these boards are designed much like traditional long board surfboards and work excellent for the beginner in all conditions. They are super wide and stable to accommodate riders of all weights and sizes. The design of these models have a higher volume with a low rocker and a wide stable tail giving it great performance for a flat-water cruise or having a blast in small surf. If you’re not worried about paddling lightning fast on flat water and you want a board for catching some waves and putting the kids/dog on the front then these are the boards for you.

The Best Paddle Boards for Wave Riding – Surfing Shapes: 

Marc burning some calories paddle boarding into heavy surf

 “Surfing Sups tend to be smaller  in size for wave maneuverability yet stable enough for flat water paddles”

When looking to surf on a standup paddle board you want a higher performance board that allows for some maneuverability in the water. The majority of Surf SUPs are typically around 10 ft and under with performance rails and medium to higher rocker for maneuverability in steeper surf. The boards tend to have a short wide versatile outline which lets them cruise in the flat water if needed. A longer surf paddle board will give you more flotation and get into waves easier while a shorter board will have more maneuverability especially in bigger hollow surf.

The Best Paddle Boards for Distance and Racing – Displacement Hulls: 

Marc feeling the burn on the last stretch of his 50 mile paddle board race with his open water race touring series board

“Touring & Race models both feature a slight displacement hull making them break the water and carry more speed over long distance.”

When looking for a race board you want to maximize speed and minimize drag; this means you want a board with lots of efficiency over flat water and in open ocean conditions. Race & Touring boards are classified typically by a displacement hull and very narrow much like the bow of a boat to cut the water in the most efficient manner. A  touring flatwater paddleboard is an offshoot of a race style combining the displacement hull with the width and extra volume of an all around shape make it super user friendly for casual distance paddling. The touring or displacement hull offers better glide, performance and tracking. If you are ready to start racing or just want to go faster then you could find yourself between a touring board and a race board.


Posted in Gear Guides
Austin Cox - I have a passion for surfing, paddling and the ocean. I grew up surfing the chilly waters of Northern California and recently made the move to beautiful San Diego. Reach out to me if you have any questions or ideas you want to talk about. -