Paddleboards 101

Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

This is the core of our business so understanding Stand Up Paddle boarding through and through is a must.

History of the Sport: The sport of Stand Up Paddling started in Hawaii when big wave surfers Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama decided to take a oversized longboard out and try to paddle it. This was close to 15 yrs ago now. Before them it’s said that the early surfers from Hawaii, Tahiti, and other pacific islands would paddle dugout canoes while standing up.

What makes Stand Up Paddling so unique and special?

Paddling boarding is very unique in the perspective you get while on the board. It also requires some balance and engages your entire body. People feel a sense of independence while out on the lakes, rivers, or ocean. Paddle boarding is a free feeling. You are not confined to a small cockpit of a kayak. You also get an amazing view of the underwater world because of the height you are standing at. Anyone can do it. We can match the correct size board and paddle to any person so they can feel stable and confident on the water.


There are four categories of paddle boards. We’ll go over each one and their designs and purposes but first we’ll discuss how to size someone to a certain size board.

Sizing up a board and a rider: The board needs to be large enough to float the rider or riders using it. Sounds easy right. It’s a little more complicated than that but not much. A boards volume is a combination of it’s Length+Width+Thickness. This makes up overall Volume. The Volume number can be found on the bottom of most boards and is indicated in Liters and the Volume amount is fairly similar to the weight in Lbs that the board will hold. For example a board with 187liters should float someone up to about 200lbs. Here’s where it gets interesting. Some boards can be short but wide and very thick and have the same volume as a very long and narrow and thin board. Choosing the correct board for the customer is simple. Ask a few questions and you’ll know what they need. Here’s a few rules to follow. Heavier riders need more volume, more width and thickness. Lighter riders will be able to feel comfortable on a narrower board. Shorter riders should be on boards that are’t too wide because you don’t want their paddle reach to be too extreme when paddling. You want the paddle to be pulled through the paddle stroke along side the body, not at a far reach outside the body.

Length: Length plays a very important role in the boards GLIDE. The longer the board the better the glide. A short board, under say 10’, will tend to track side to side or in a zig zag pattern instead of going straight. I will ask a customer their intentions for using the board. If they say they would like to put in a few miles on it and use it for exercise, I will fit them with a board that has a narrower outline, one that will glide nice and track straight. Boards range from 7’ to 14’. A 7’ to 9’ board is generally a kids board or a board designed for surfing. They won’t paddle very straight but will be very maneuverable.

Thickness: Some boards have move volume in their sides also known as the RAILS. You’ll notice similar 10’ boards where one board has thicker rails than the other. Thicker rails will make the board more stable.

Sizing up a board for a rider or family: I usually approach a new customer with a few simple questions. Who is the board for and what’s the intended purpose? What’s the MAX weight you’ll put on the board. Make sure they consider placing any dogs or coolers or fishing gear on the board.

Board Type: If the customer says they are looking for a good stable board to just paddle on a smaller lake or a lot of different people will use the board, I’ll suggest we look at boards in the All Water category. If the customer says they are looking to get some exercise on it and wants to paddle longer distance, then we will begin looking at touring designs. What if a customer asks for a board that is extremely durable or that they could easily store or travel with? I’ll start with the inflatable boards.

Weight: If a customer says they are under 200lbs we can start by looking at sizes in their category to match that rider weight. Please note, an All Water board with enough volume to float a 200lbs rider could be 10’8” to 11’4” depending on Volume whereas a Touring board for a rider of 200lbs may start out at 11’6” to 12’6”. Here’s a guideline of board lengths to match rider weights. Remember that some boards may be wider and thicker and which would be better for larger riders.

Board Lengths:

10’ to 10’6” = Riders under 180 llbs

10’6” to 11’ = Riders under 240lbs 11’2” to 11’6”= Riders under 250lbs 12’ to

12’6”= Riders under 275lbs

All water Paddle boards: This category of boards is our most popular. They are generally the most stable and easiest to learn on. These boards come in a variety of sizes to match the various rider weights but more important is that these boards have a stable feel to them because of their designs. They are generally thicker and have more overall volume. Volume is the fullness of a board measured by adding up the boards length, width, and thickness. All Water boards are a great choice for families with a variety of different sized riders, heavier riders, and those just looking for a nice stable and easy to paddle ride.

Touring Boards: This category of boards are the 2nd most popular board category. People who choose these boards are generally looking for a board to paddle longer distances, more workout oriented. These boards can range from 10’6” to 14’. They are generally a little more narrow than the All Water Boards. The benefits of these boards are that they glide better and track much straighter.

Inflatable Boards: This category of boards is a great choice for people looking for a higher volume board that is easy to transport and store. Almost all the major board companies have now added Inflatables to their line up. There’s a big difference in quality from a cheaper inflatable to one that is made with high quality materials, that can handle higher PSI “ pounds per square inch” when inflating. Boards in this category range in length from 9’ - 14’. There are inflatables that cover every category such as All Water inflatables, touring, and race boards. Generally an inflatable will have more volume than a hard board with the same length.

Race Boards: This category is probably what we sell or stock the least of. These boards are designed to be more racing oriented. While they are great fun to paddle because of their superior glide and tracking, most people will be better suited to hope on a touring board with a bit more stability.

Paddles: The paddle is equally important when helping select the correct board. Paddles will come in various materials such as Aluminum, Fiberglass, and Carbon. They will also offer different sizes blades for various sized riders. Here’s a general breakdown on selecting the correct paddle for a rider.

Aluminum Shafts with ABS blades: These are the least expensive paddle option out there and for good reason. They are heavy, and do not always float. Yep, we’ve had a few of them sink. I will only sell this type of paddle if it’s for a family or someone who understands what they are getting. I’ll make sure to tell the customer to put a small piece of floaty tube on the shaft to avoid having the paddle sink.

Fiberglass Shaft/ Fiberglass Blade: This is our most popular paddle lay up. The all fiberglass paddle is a great lightweight option for most customers. They can come in a smaller dimension shaft, for lighter riders, or a thicker shaft for heavier riders. They are also offered with blade sizes from Small to XL. Again, lighter riders will enjoy paddling a small blade where as a heavier rider will benefit from a Large to XL Blade size.

Carbon paddles: These are the top of the line paddles. You can find all carbon Shaft and Blades or carbon Shaft with Fiberglass Blades. The more carbon the lighter the paddle. An all carbon paddle will also be much stiffer and offer more power transfer. If someone is purchasing a touring or race board, try to pair it with a higher end paddle. They will benefit from the increased power transfer.

Adjustable’s, fixed, or 3 piece paddles: Paddles can come in the following. Adjustable, Fixed Length, 3 piece. Adjustable Paddles are the most popular because they can be adjusted for various heights. There are different adjustment options as well. Some paddles will fit riders from say 5’ to 6’ and then there are adjustment ranges to fit riders from say 5’6” or so to 6’6”.

Fixed or cut to length: These paddles are generally higher end fiberglass or carbon paddles that will be only used by one person. We can cut them to a specific height. The benefit is that they are more responsive and offer a custom feel as there are no moving parts.

3 Piece: A 3 piece paddle is designed for someone looking to travel with their board. Most people who purchase an inflatable should choose a 3 piece because it can be broken down to fit inside the board bag.

Stand Up Paddle Board Brands: We only carry high quality paddle boards and paddles. The brands we carry have been around longer than any others, so we feel they have the history and R&D to produce the best equipment possible. Our main brands are, Starboard, Surftech, Naish, and Pau Hana. For paddles we carry Quickblade, Werner, and Starboard.