When you are just discovering a new sport, everything may seem a bit blurry, as you get bombed with information about techniques, gear, practice places, and prices. However, this shouldn’t discourage you but motivate you to find out more. Good research will help you avoid many rookie mistakes, so make sure you understand what type of equipment you need before investing all your money into something that might have been designed for other purposes.
Often, beginner paddlers struggle to understand the differences between surf and SUP gear, and their main concern is that they won’t pick the right board for their activity. So maybe it’s time to shed some light upon this subject and clearly present the differences between stand up paddle boards and surfboards.
Surfboards are designed to be quick, so they are smaller in size with an average length ranging between 5 and 9 feet. Moreover, they are narrower, slimmer and lighter, to easily ride with the waves. Paddle boards, on the other hand, are more stable due to their generous dimensions. With length reaching up to 14 feet and wide decks that measure up to 36+ inches, these boards’ main purpose is ensuring an optimal balance for activities like fishing, yoga, fitness, exploring, and more. Although you can use a SUP for surfing, their thickness and weight will most likely prevent you from reaching the great speed you will reach with a surfboard.
By definition, a higher volume means bigger dimensions, so the SUPs excel at this chapter. You are paddling to catch the waves, so you’ll need a sturdier base, which is usually provided by the thick deck. Surfboards are all about speed, so a high volume will only drag them down. You will be able to recognize the difference by looking at their shape, as surfboards are slim and smaller, while SUP boards tend to be bulkier.
When you buy a surfboard, you know from the start you are going to use it for surfing, as there aren’t many other activities that require its presence. But you can purchase a SUP board without having to decide immediately what you are going to do with it. Although there are specialized boards for fishing or yoga, you can get a pretty good experience with a generic one.
By generic, of course, we meal an all-around model that, as stand up paddle board reviews point out is suitable for use regardless of water conditions and caters to users of all skill levels equally. Moreover, it is the sole type that you can perform any of the aforementioned activities on if you have a good enough hang on paddleboarding, while the same cannot be said about SUPs specially designed for surfing or yoga.
Imagine paddle boarding along the shores, with magnificent landscapes arising in front of you, and then stopping for a fishing session. You won’t be able to do that with a surfboard. However, a surfboard will allow you to catch higher waves and navigate with higher speed, so if you are more of the adventurous type, this could be a better choice.
Most SUP boards come with storage space and a bungee system consisting of a bungee cord and D-rings that can be used for securing supplies or other types of cargo. Moreover, you can reach and grab the bungee cord every time you feel you are losing balance. Surfboards don’t have this option as they are too narrow to accommodate the supplementary volume. However, both models include or accept ankle leashes, so the board doesn’t drift away in the case you fall over. The fin-system differs, as surfboards usually need more fins for more precise navigation.
Deck pads are also important and they are present on both types of boards. The only thing you need to decide is if you go with a rubbery pad or with a smoother, more delicate one. The first type offers better stability and is indicated if you are planning to tackle higher waves, while the second one is perfect for SUP yoga, as it won’t leave marks on the skin.
Although the SUP boards are bigger, they can fit in a bag if you choose the right model. We are talking about inflatable boards. They come with pumps and a carry bag, and inflate in minutes, allowing you to enjoy the fun without thinking about means to transport them back to the hotel. However, if you choose a hard model, you might have to deal with this problem. You could consider buying a board rack and attach it to your car for easier transportation. Plus, you can use it to carry both your SUP and surfboard, if you decide to practice both.
Each board is designed to fit the needs of a particular sport. Although a beginner might not notice the difference, the waves will tell if the chosen board is not the right one, so make sure you get one that can help you get the best experience. Remember, surfing means speed and adventure, while paddle boarding is more about relaxation and exploring.