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Types of Paddle Boards | Which Is the Best Type of SUP for You?

If you’ve never bought a paddle board before, you might think that they’re all pretty much the same, but this is far from the case. Actually, there are a few different types of stand-up paddle boards, and which one is right for you will depend in part on how you plan to use it. Take our quick SUP board finder quiz to find the perfect paddle board for you. 

All Around Paddle Boards

All-Around Paddle Boards

More than 80% of paddle boards sold are all-around boards. 

Key benefits of all-around paddle boards include:

  • They can be inflatable or hard boards
  • They’re perfect for flat-water paddling on lakes or bays.
  • Many are OK to surf with on small waves.
  • They’re easy to test-drive, as these are the types of paddle boards a SUP rental shop will carry.

At Tower Paddle Boards, we focus on all-around boards, so most of our products, both inflatable paddle boards and traditional hard stand-up paddle boards, are all-around boards. Here are four models you should consider:

Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Inflatable SUPs

Key benefits of inflatable stand-up paddle boards include:

  • They’re as good as hard boards for most people.
  • These boards are surprisingly rigid. Most people barely notice they aren’t hard boards!
  • They’re far more durable and less susceptible to damage than hard boards.
  • They deflate and roll up for easy storage. They’re also easy to transport on a car, on a plane, or on your back on a hike.
  • They’re softer than hard boards when you fall or hit the board.
  • They’re highly resistant to punctures, like a whitewater raft material.

At Tower Paddle Boards, we pioneered the 6-inch inflatable SUP. We introduced inflatable SUPs to the market in 2012, eventually taking them from less than 1% of the market to more than 70% today. The innovative spirit that led us to create the best type of stand-up paddle board also led us to be named one of the top five SUP brands in the world by 2016. Our Chris Craft special edition (a color variation of our Adventurer 2 and Mermaid boards) was named the #1 best paddle board (hard board or inflatable) in the world by the prestigious Robb Report in 2017, beating out $2,400 and $3,400 competitor paddle boards while costing only $699 direct to consumer.

Here are four inflatable SUPs you should consider:

Touring Paddle Board

Touring Paddle Boards

Key benefits of touring paddle boards include:

  • They’re made for speed and covering long distances.
  • They’re better for tandem riding
  • Longer boards provide for excellent tracking.
  • They’re great for hauling gear

In this category, we exclusively sell inflatable touring paddle boards because longer hard boards pose unnecessary storage and transportation challenges. In fact, the benefits of inflatable paddle boards far outweigh the benefits of a hard SUP when you are looking for a touring paddle board. Inflatable boards are easier to store, easier to transport, and durable enough to run up on a beach or rocky shoreline without damaging it. They also have a massive volume to accommodate all of your gear. Here are two touring paddle boards we have for sale that you should consider:

Paddle Surfing Board

SUP Surfing Boards

Key benefits of SUP surfing boards include:

  • Surfing is one of the most enjoyable ways to SUP!
  • SUPs have significant a rocker (upward curve on the nose) so you don’t nose dive.
  • They have a lower volume and are shorter, so they’re easier to turn on waves but more difficult to balance.
  • Their lighter weight makes them easier to carry to the beach.
  • They’re shorter, so they often can be transported inside your vehicle.

When you’re looking for SUP surfing boards, the best type of paddle board is a hard one, as you need the edge transition to carve the wave. Both of our all-around wood boards surf quite well even in medium-size waves, although they’re not dedicated SUP surfing boards: They’re all-around paddle boards. If you plan to do both flat-water paddling and some SUP surfing, you should take a look at these options:

Racing Paddle Boards

Racing Paddle Boards

Key benefits of racing paddle boards include:

  • Naturally, they are among the fastest SUPs out there.
  • Narrow boards mean less drag, although they’re easier to tip, which can challenge beginners.
  • They’re often lightweight and use exotic construction materials.
  • Racing inflatable SUPs can be checked on a plane, while hard boards cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to ship.

Paddle board racing is a great way to immerse yourself in the local SUP community. It also has excellent health benefits: Racing on a paddle board is great exercise.

At Tower, we focus on selling inflatable racing SUPs. While hard-board SUP racing dominated in the early days of the SUP craze, they are extremely burdensome and heavy to transport, especially internationally. This led to only a small select group of paddlers competing on the racing circuit, as it was a money-losing proposition. Inflatable racing paddle boards solved this transportation problem, so this is a growing segment of the SUP racing industry. Here are two types of SUP specifically made for racing that you should consider:

Yoga Stand Up Paddle Boards

Yoga Paddle Boards

Paddle board yoga is a fun way to get fit outdoors, offering the opportunity to be social and enjoy the fresh air while getting a tan and toning your body. When you’re looking to buy a paddle board for yoga, consider these tips:

  • The more stable the platform, the better, so go wide and stable.
  • Flat traction pads or inflatable SUPs are ideal, as they won’t mark up your skin.
  • Inflatable paddle boards are great for yoga because they are soft at the points but rigid along their length.
  • Add a cargo net to hold a water bottle and other necessities.

At Tower Paddle Boards, we specialize in inflatable paddle boards for beginners, so almost all of our inflatable SUPs are 32 inches wide, making them the best type of paddle board for yoga because they are very stable. Here are three paddle board yoga SUPs to consider:

Fishing SUP Boards

Fishing Paddle Boards

Paddle boards are great for fishing because you can access any spot you need to. There are dedicated fishing SUPs, but any SUP can work. Just keep these tips in mind: 

  • Wide, stable stand-up paddle boards are ideal.
  • Make sure there’s room for an ice chest, a seat, and your poles, tackle, and bait.
  • Choose a board that’s rugged enough to run up on the beach or rocky shore. (All of our SUPs fit the bill.)

At Tower, we specialize in inflatable paddle boards, which are the best types of paddle boards for fishing. Fishing ISUPs have the added benefit of being easily transportable, even in a backpack, in the cabin of a larger board, or on the back of a four-wheeler, so you can best reach remote fishing locales. While there are dedicated fishing paddle boards on the market, all you really need is a cooler on an ISUP and you’re good. Here are three fishing paddle boards that you may want to consider:

No matter which type of paddle board you want to buy or how you intend to use it, our high-quality SUPs and consumer-direct pricing mean that you’ll get the best value for your money. Shop with us today to save on the best paddle board for your lifestyle!