I find SUP to be a better overall workout than kayaking with less risk of repetitive motion wrist or elbow injuries. I also like the perspective you gain by standing up and looking down into the water. Thirdly, SUP as an identity or image is something that I find more easy to align with...sporty and athletic. Lastly, it is common for a SUP to be inflatable and lightweight, making transport and storage a breeze with many brands and options to choose from.
I'm pretty good at research but I still didn't really know what I was doing or what I would want when I bought my first SUP a few months ago. The SUP I got is like what is referred to as an "all around" board. It's 10'6" long, 34" wide, and 6 inches (15cm) thick. Those dimensions are pretty common for a beginner board but it's not the fastest or the straightest and the 325 liter volume is more than I need.
|the SUP I got|
I don't have any plans to enter competitive SUP races and I have no plans to do overnight camping trips with a SUP, but I am a fitness-minded paddler. I like to SUP at a moderate to fast pace for a couple hours straight. As a full body workout. I don't use it for yoga or for a leisurely float on the water. I like to move. So for my next paddle board I want something more sleek.
The characteristics I'm looking for in my next inflatable SUP include:
-A displacement hull. SUPs with a displacement hull typically have a pointy nose. This helps it cut through the water more efficiently and track straighter. These are usually called touring boards. I want to get more out of each paddle stroke. More speed and better tracking.
-A width of 28 to 30 inches. A wider SUP, like my 34" wide board, is too slow. It's also probably too wide for my body type which can disrupt my paddle stroke. I'm a smaller paddler so I need a more narrow board. I don't bring a bunch of gear so I don't need much storage space.
-A thickness of 12cm as opposed to 15cm. This one's not a must because there are some good boards out there that are 15cm (6") thick, but I'm under 150lbs so based on what I've learned I stand to gain by going with a 12cm (5") thickness offered by premium brands. Lower center of gravity = more stability.
-A volume of 300 liters or less. A board is going to respond differently to me than it is to a heavier person. I'm not bringing along a child or a pet or gear and I don't need a lot of weight capacity. Ideally I'd like to find a board designed with a 130 to 160 pound person in mind. Also, a board with less volume requires less pumped air! I don't mind manually pumping up a SUP but I'll do anything I can to speed up the process.
-Durability. This would seem like a no brainer but sometimes racing boards are made with one thing in mind - speed - and may not be designed with as much durability as an all around board. So the goal is to find a board with the above characteristics and durability. Lakes and rivers can have rocks and sticks.
-A weight of 24lbs or less. Most boards meet this characteristic but there are some hefty ones that would be disqualified by weight alone.
The board that best meets all of the above characteristics appears to be the Red Paddle Co. 11'0 Sport model.