A general guide to sups

Let's start with some basics about the different types of kit we use when stand up paddleboarding

We’ve outlined each type of board and paddle, and tried to highlight what sort of paddler they work for and when.

Inflatable paddleboards

iSups are the inflatable paddleboards that you see out on the water.

We strongly suggest trying boards before you buy as the dimensions don’t tell you the whole story and there are many cheap, poor quality boards out there.

iSUP offer all rounder shapes, touring board, race and surf sups.

General starter boards range from 10’6 to 11’6 and then you also get race board and smaller kids or surf sups as well.

sup touring boards used sup
surf sup shapes

Hard boards

Hard boards or stand up paddleboards are made with an inner foam core wrapped with glass fibre or carbon.

Hard boards can be more performance oriented on many levels, even for more novice paddlers, with added stability and better shapes.

Hard boards, like isups, offer all rounder, touring, race and surf shapes, but in comparison to isups, they offer more precise shapes and increased performance.

Much like the inflatables, a starter board would generally be around 10’6, but you’d be best t try based on many factors before just copying others board choices.

All rounder paddleboards

All rounder paddle boards are great for many types of paddling including, sup surfing, touring, splash and dash and good old family fun.

Something around 10-11ft long, around 30+ wide and 220+ litres will be plenty for a beginner and family board.

The boards sit flat to the water and offer loads of stability, but can be capable of surfing, longer paddles and rider paddling.

If you go for a hard board over inflatable, you can scale down the width a bit, as you’ll often find them more stable.

Learn to stand up paddleboard
Touring and adventure standup paddleboarding

Touring boards

Someone looking for a bit more performance or out for adventure

The Touring SUP board is generally longer and not too narrow, as it is aimed at someone who is looking to go farther afield.

A board of around 12ft+ and often about 30+ inches wide will give you a board that glides well, but is stable enough, so you don’t waste energy on staying up right even when conditions get rougher.

You’ll have the ability to attach luggage for and aft and the will board will be pretty buoyant even when loaded.

Surf SUPs

Surf sups let you explore and capture the power of waves.

Sup surfing is so radical and variable, changing depending on the wave, breaks, size and your own skills so picking the right board is critical.

For the short boarders out there you have the 7ft+ boards using either classical or slate type outlines, after which you have boards ranging up to 10ish ft that can deliver amazing longboard performance.

Tail shapes, width, volume, rocker line and plan shape make
differences that will either suit or not your own skill level and home waves.

Ollie Shilston sup surfing at BSUPA Watergate
Martino Rogai on the Jimmy Lewis UBoat

Race boards

Paddling hard and fast with a board that keeps on delivering

Race boards break down into flat water, ocean and all round boards so that’s 3 options for you to look at.

Being between 12’6 to 14ft, the differences come with widths that can be from 30 to 21 inches wide, but we always say to people, don’t simply think that narrower is faster.

The flat water board, as it’s name implies is going to be the fastest of all 3 types in the flat due to a flatter rocker line and piercing bow, whilst the ocean board will have to cope with chop and swell so the rocker and bow is more aimed at managing those conditions.


We run regular beginner to improver wing sup surfing lessons.

With over 35 years experience, we are fully insured and certified with: