Types Of Paddle Boards

All the Different Types of Paddle Boards Explained

SUP boarding is fun! It is interesting and entertaining because it provides a whole new level of diversity. You have different types of paddle boarding, then there are the many types of paddle boards that allow for a variety of activities, and then there’s all the additional gear and accessories that make your paddling even more enjoyable.

I know in the beginning when I was just starting out I didn’t have such great variety, but now you have so much to choose from, that you don’t know where to look first.

With that said, here I’ll be talking about the different types of paddle boards in terms of construction but also in terms of what you can do when on them. You see, you cannot have a super-fast narrow destructive hull paddle board that you paddle on, but you also want to surf and do Yoga and fish from time to time. Naah, sorry to break it to you, but all these activities require a certain change in boards.

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MOAI-SUP-Collection types of paddle board
Different shapes and size of boards for different activities and circumstances

The Types of Paddle Boards Explained

Firstly, we divide the types of paddle boards into two main categories: the inflatable ones and the solid ones. I’ll start with the main differences between these two, and then I’ll explain each one separately, so you truly know what you’re getting.

Inflatable vs. non-inflatable paddle boards

When looking for different types of paddle boards, you will see that the inflatable ones are referred to as iSUPs, while the non-inflatables ones are usually called solid or composite. Both have their pros and cons over the other, so depending on what you want to do on them, how you can store your board, and how you transport it, you might benefit from the one or the other.

Tom-How-To-Paddle-Board-Sweep-Stroke
One of my many adventures on an inflatable paddle board

Inflatable Boards

Inflatable boards come with hand pumps and board bags for easy and safe storage. Depending on the size of the board, it takes approx. 5-10 minutes to inflate. Once fully inflated, the board will be rigid but lightweight and durable. One thing you should pay utmost attention to is the amount of air pressure an inflatable board can hold. I would recommend a board of 15psi to 17psi and nothing lower than that because it will have excessive flex and poor performance.

A quick go-to summary of the inflatable boards:

  • Easy to store since they come with a storage bag and don’t take up too much space when deflated
  • Easy to travel with as it fits in any suitcase or bag if you don’t have a vehicle with roof racks to transport the board
  • Super-durable and rigid when inflated
  • Absorbent of any activity on the water which makes it ideal for beginners
  • Paddlers who like to explore the off-road places and have to carry their SUP by hands while hiking or walking to the water
  • Easy to take your paddle board on a plane and you won’t have to pay extra for transport
  • Great for whitewater paddling or paddling near rocks as they are more durable and can withstand bumping into rocks or other hard surfaces and not get damaged but will only bounce off instead
Isle-Megalodon-Group
Some types of paddle boards can carry huge groups of people (The giant Isle Megalodon in the picture)

Solid Boards

From the two types of paddle boards, we move on with the solid or composite boards. These can be found constructed of various materials like epoxy, plastic, fiberglass, bamboo, wood, carbon, Kevlar, Innegra, while the core is made from a shaped foam. Make sure the design of the board doesn’t add too much weight as it will be harder to carry and maneuver in the water.

While they come in different sizes, constructions, and price ranges, the most common ones are the plastic ones, which are considered the heaviest and the cheapest, then the epoxy with fiberglass which are mid-range priced and the carbon fiber which are the lightest and some of the most expensive ones.

A quick go-to summary for the solid boards:

  • While both newbies and experienced paddlers can use them, the solid boards are mostly recommended for seasoned SUPers that can maneuver them in water
  • Those who can transport them easily on their car racks and for paddlers that have a suitable storage room
  • Paddlers who like to go fast and smooth in the water and are looking for far and fast trips
paddle-board-rack types of paddle board
A selection of different solid boards on a paddle board rack

All the different types of paddle boards

As I said earlier, while there are two main categories of paddle boards, the inflatable, and the non-inflatable ones, within those two, we have tons of types of stand up paddle boards for everyone’s taste and preferences. I will explain each of the different types of paddle boards below, so depending on the use and conditions, you can choose for yourself whatever suits you best.

All-around Paddle Boards

These types of paddle boards have gotten their name based on their versatility. If you are just starting out and you’d like a board to explore all your options of paddle boarding and different types of activities, then the all-around paddle board is your best pick. These are considered to be very stable and easy to use. You can paddle in flat water, surf, or long-distance touring.

The great thing about these is that they have lots of space since they are wide and long enough so you can carry all your equipment, additional gear, food and drinks, and whatever else you may need for your paddling trip.

The all-around SUPs range from 274cm to 365cm and have a planning hull or a round nose, which reminds you of a longboard surfboard. These boards are incredibly versatile so they can be used in lakes, rivers, seas, by anyone from a complete newbie to an expert paddler.

A quick go-to summary for the all-around boards:

  • With their full deck pads, they are great for paddling with children or your dog
  • Great for yoga, gliding through the water on calm lakes or oceans, SUP touring, fishing, or SUP surfing
  • The full-wrap deck pads add a layer of extra protection to the rails of your board
  • Suitable for those who want a versatile, stable board to paddle in all conditions
Bluefin-Cruise-Carrying-Tom
Me with the Bluefin Cruise, probably the most popular All-Around paddle board at this moment

Women’s Boards

Why the difference between a men’s board and a women’s board, you may ask? Well, while regular boards come in all shapes and sizes, the women’s boards are specifically designed to match a woman’s build. Most women tend to be smaller in size than men, so if they get a large board, long and wide, they will have a hard time managing it.

Also, the weight of the board is lighter, so it’ll be easier to carry them around. These will range from 274 cm to 335 cm, and their width can go from 76 cm to 84 cm. However, if you, as a woman, find a regular board that’s suitable for you, of course, you are not obliged to buy a women’s board.

A quick go-to summary for the women’s paddle boards:

  • Those who want a lighter board with eye-catching colors and designs
  • Paddlers who want a smaller size board that cannot be found among the regular boards but with all the same features as the regular types of paddle boards
THURSO-SURF-Prodigy-Pink-Children-Girls-Paddle-Board
Some boards are especially designed for women in pink colors, but of course you can use any board you want!

Touring paddle boards

If you are someone who likes to travel far and fast or tour the surroundings in a relaxing manner, these boards are for you. The touring paddle boards have a displacement hull in the front, or a pointy nose as you might notice, so they add speed and smoothness to your paddling. While they are great for speedy rides and long-distance paddling, they are designed for non-surf conditions because of their specific surface and their width.

These types of paddle boards are fast and efficient and will take you far with a little paddling. They offer enough size on board, so they are still suitable if you are just starting out with the paddle boarding. They come in lengths of 353 cm to 384 cm.

A quick go-to summary for the touring boards:

  • Suitable for long-distance paddling tours
  • Long surface with a regular width body and a pointed nose for a faster and smoother sale which give you better speed and glide efficiency than most of the other types boards
  • The displacement hull provides a better tracking
  • Excellent both for experienced and rookie paddlers
  • Can be used for race competitions too
  • Paddlers looking for a faster version of the all-around paddling boards
  • Those who like to cover great lengths with their boards in a shorter time
  • Paddlers who like a high volume board
  • Those who like a board for calmer waters overall
Decathlon-Paddle-Board-Touring
As you can see touring paddle boards are longer than all-around boards (Decathlon touring board in the picture)

Surfing paddle boards

Surf types of paddle boards are extremely smooth when wave riding. They are designed to maximize the wave riding ability with their increased rocker and much more compact sizing. Their design makes them ideal for the more seasoned paddlers who want to upgrade their boards onto something more adventurous.

Their wide range of length – 182cm to 330cm – allows you to pick a shorter board just for surfing or a longer board that can be for surfing and flat-water paddling. By choosing the medium to the larger side of the length range, you have the best of both.

A quick go-to summary for the surfing paddle boards:

  • Designed to take maximum advantage of the waves
  • Can also be used for flat-water paddling if you choose one of the longer boards
  • Easily maneuverable by experienced paddlers
  • The least stable so, a challenge for those who are just starting out with SUPing
  • Those take like to have the freedom of choice between flat-water paddling and surfing but still spend more time surfing
  • Adventurers that like to wake-surf behind a boat
Aqua Marina Wave
These types of paddle boards allow you to catch waves with a lot of flexibility

Yoga paddle boards

The yoga and fitness types of paddle boards are for the gym junkies that want to get some exercise on the sun instead. I mean, who said the gym is the only place where you can get a good workout? That’s right, it isn’t! These different types of stand up paddle boards are great for those doing push-ups or stretching on board to a shoulder stand or the pillow pose above water.

Since they are designed for fitness, they provide maximum stability, at ideal width, and length so they can be used both for training and for touring flat waters. Their sizes range from 304cm to 365cm in length and 82cm to 86cm in width. Since they are predominantly designed for doing on-board activates, they have full-length deck pads to ensure your hands and feet have good grip and traction.

A quick go-to summary for the yoga and fitness boards:

  • Designed with a wider, expansive deck pad, so you have more space for the yoga poses
  • Inflatable yoga boards are superior to the non-inflatable because they sit higher on the water and keep you dry and well balanced
  • There is an increasing number of people who prefer yoga on water vs. yoga on land because of the increased core contraction that you need to keep stable
  • With their increased stability, you can use it as a recreational paddle board if you are just starting out with paddle boarding – so it’s extremely suitable for beginners
  • With its width and very comfortable deck pad, it can be used as an all-around SUP
Aqua-Marina-yoga-SUP
Enjoy nature and relax while exercising on the water

Fishing paddle boards

Now, you must admit, there’s no better way to relax in nature than to go fishing. However, for those enthusiasts who want to make it more fun, guess what! You can now fish on a paddle board. If you’re still scratching your head, confused, let me explain why.

You see, fishing boards are some of the most stable boards that offer the highest floatation design so they can comfortably accommodate you and all your gear. You will notice a fishing board by all its attachment points on which you can attach your additional equipment like fishing rod holders, tackle boxes, GPS mounts, and anything else you might need for your fishing trip.

In order to maximize stability, these types of stand up paddle boards are 335cm to 384cm in length and 81cm to 91cm in width.

A quick go-to summary for the fishing paddle boards:

  • These boards have plenty of space for all your fishing gear
  • Their wide deck pad offers max. stability so they are suitable for complete beginners too
  • Look for one with many attachment points for fishing rod holders, bait trays, and so on
  • When fishing from a paddle board you have a better overview of the area, and you have an advantage over fishing from land, kayak, or boat
  • For paddlers who need to transport hiking/camping equipment or virtually anything else on their paddling adventures
Sea-Eagle-Fishing-Paddle-Board
A paddle board completely tuned for fishing, including rod holders and a mounted motor

Beginner paddle boards

Just like the name suggests, the beginner boards are an excellent choice for all of you who are just now starting out with the paddle boarding. While they are quite similar to the all-around boards, the beginner’s boards are specifically designed for newbies. They are wider and longer and have a straightforward approach so you can climb easily. With their high volume stability, you will have no problem standing up and paddling away from your first try.

They have a rounded nose, which makes them slower types of paddle boards, suitable for a variety of activities for beginners. Mostly, flat-water paddling is recommended with these types of paddle boards, and surfing isn’t possible.

A quick go-to summary for the beginner’s boards:

  • An excellent base for first-timers
  • Great for learning to stabilize and balance on the water before progressing to more advanced types of paddle boards
  • Great for those who like fishing in all conditions
Bluefin-Cruise-Carbon-Girl-Sitting-Paddling
As a beginner you can also practice paddling while sitting down like my girlfriend does here

Kids’ paddle boards

Kids and youth need a whole different structure and sizes of boards so they can easily and comfortably paddle on the water. While these types of stand up paddle boards are quite similar in shapes and characteristics with the regular ones, they are smaller in size and lighter in weight so they can be easily maneuvered by younger individuals.

Predominantly, these boards are 243cm to 304cm in length and tend to be quite wide to they can offer maximum stability and balance over water. They also have shorter paddles since they depend on how tall is the paddler.

A quick go-to summary for the kids’ paddle boards:

  • Utmost stability and great for children learning to paddle
  • Wide with a round nose for balance and slow paddling
  • Great for families who like group paddling
  • Easy to maneuver and transport because of its lightness in weight
  • Even lighter-weight adults can use them for learning to paddle
THURSO-SURF-Prodigy-Blue-Childrens-SUP
Children having fun in shallow water on their Thurso Surf paddle boards

Family stand up paddle boards

Speaking of families and group paddling trips, the family types of stand up paddle boards are great for beginners and for multiple users. They offer stability and balance over water so that anyone can maneuver them even with more people on board. These are ideal if you have smaller children that cannot paddle on their own so you can take them with you paddling.

Since they are designed for a variety of users and conditions, these are the most durable ones and offer a plethora of functions. Family boards come in 304cm to 353cm length that makes paddling on them a breeze for anyone.

A quick go-to summary for the family boards:

  • For complete beginners or seasoned paddlers that want to take their family on board
  • Extra-durable boards for all conditions
  • Offer high stability and balance over water
  • Great for learning to paddle in calmer conditions
Aqua Marina Mega Family SUP Group Action
Go out on the water together on a family board for some great fun!

What types of paddle boards caught your eye?

So now that you know quite a lot about all the different types of paddle boards, which one do you think it’s the best for you? When considering multiple types of paddle boards, the vital thing to pay attention to is the condition in which you’ll be using it and then the storage and transport abilities.

Of course, if you have any questions, concerns or doubts when buying a paddle board of any kind, contact me or leave me a comment down below, I’d be more than happy to assist.

Also, for more on paddle boards in general, visit my Facebook and Instagram accounts and stay up to date with the paddling world.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)