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Comprehensive Guide to buying your first Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)

Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Blog Post, Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

The world of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) brings the promise of adventure, fitness, and a connection with nature. But for first timers, purchasing your first paddleboards can be overwhelming. Fear not! This guide will equip you with the knowledge to confidently choose the perfect board to launch your SUP journey.

Where are you planning on using your board?

The ideal paddleboard caters to your paddling environment. Imagine yourself carving through crashing waves, paddling peacefully across serene lakes, or exploring bustling harbors. Here’s how your paddling location influences your board selection:

  • Open Ocean: Embrace the power of the ocean with a wider, high-volume board that prioritizes stability. For those seeking to dance with the waves, a shorter board with a triple-fin setup provides optimal control and maneuverability.
  • Harbors: Leisurely harbor tours call for a longboard. This board’s generous length offers ample space to pack everything you need for a day on the water. Heavier paddlers venturing into harbors should prioritize boards with significant volume and length to ensure a comfortable and stable ride.
  • Lakes and Rivers: These calmer freshwater havens allow for more board versatility. Flatter, longer boards excel at maintaining pace and distance on tranquil lakes and gentle rivers. If you crave speed, consider a touring or racing board. These sleek designs are built for cutting through the water with minimal resistance.
  • All-Conditions: Can’t decide between flatwater cruising and wave riding? An all-round board bridges the gap! The ideal specifications will depend on your weight and paddling priorities.

Different types of SUP Boards

Inflatable vs. Hard Board

Paddleboards come in two main varieties: inflatable boards and hard boards. Each offers distinct advantages, so the “best” choice depends on your lifestyle and storage space.

  • Inflatable Boards: Perfect for space-conscious paddlers or those who crave remote paddling adventures. Inflatable boards inflate and deflate for easy transport and storage. Their softer surface is more forgiving for beginners who might take a tumble or two while finding their balance. Higher-quality inflatables maintain their shape surprisingly well in choppy conditions, mimicking the performance of hard boards.
  • Hard Boards: Prioritize performance? Hard boards boast superior maneuverability, speed, and wave-catching prowess. Their rigid construction is always ready to hit the water, no inflating required. However, they can be bulky to transport and store.

Board Types

Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Types

There’s a perfect paddleboard for every paddling style:

  • All-Rounders: The ideal choice for beginners or those who crave versatility. These stable, wider boards with ample volume offer a forgiving platform that inspires confidence on the water. Check Out the Aqua Marine Breeze.
Aqua Marine Breeze 9'10" Inflatable SUP Set for sale. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town
  • Surf SUPS: Calling all wave riders! Surf SUPS are designed for agility and quick turns. These shorter, thicker boards boast pointed noses and tails for precise maneuvering and wave riding. Check out the Aqua Marine Wave Surf.
Aqua Marine Wave 8'8" Surf Inflatable SUP Set for sale. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town
  • Flat Water & Race SUPS: Slice through calm water with lightning speed on these elongated boards. Flatwater boards have pointed noses for efficient travel, while race boards feature narrower builds and elevated decks for an enhanced paddling experience that prioritizes speed and performance. Check out the Aqua Marine Hyper Touring.
Aqua Marine Hyper 12'6" Inflatable SUP Set for sale. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

Finding the right board size

Don’t underestimate the importance of size when choosing your paddleboard. Here’s a breakdown of key factors to consider:

  • Size Specifications: Always double-check the board’s dimensions before purchasing. Ensure they align with your weight and height for optimal paddling comfort and performance.
  • Volume: A good rule of thumb is to choose a board with double your weight capacity in liter’s. Beginners may prefer extra volume for increased stability as they develop their paddling skills.
  • Length: Boards range from 8 to 22 feet. Shorter boards prioritize maneuverability, while longer ones excel at speed and tracking. Consider storage and transportation limitations when choosing board length. A 22-foot race board might not be the most practical choice if you live in a studio apartment!
  • Width: Wider boards offer superior stability, ideal for beginners who are still finding their balance. Narrower boards are faster but less forgiving.

Stand Up Paddle Board Features

Look out for features that can enhance your paddling experience and make your time on the water more enjoyable:

  • Carry Handles: Opt for boards with deeper carry handles for a more comfortable grip during transport to and from the water.
  • Leash: There are different styles of leash that may come with your board. See if you are getting a calf, an ankle or a waist leash. Calf leashes are mainly for racers and waist leashes are better suited for those planning on being in white water in rivers etc.
  • Luggage Compartments: Secure your belongings with bungee cord attachments for convenient storage.
  • Deck Pad: Ensure the deck pad feels comfortable and offers stability underfoot, especially if you’re planning on starting off on your knees.

Fin Options

Fins play a crucial role in board control. Here’s a breakdown of common fin setups:

Stand Up Paddle Board Different Fin Set up. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town
  • Single Fin: Offers less stability than multi-fin setups, not ideal for beginners.
  • 2+1: Provides extra support with a large center fin and two smaller side fins.
  • Thruster: Three fins of equal size, ideal for advanced paddlers and SUP surfing due to their emphasis on speed and control.
  • Quad: Four fins, best suited for experienced SUP surfers seeking enhanced control in powerful waves.


Most, but not all SUPs come with adjustable paddles as standard to accommodate different heights and paddlers. As a general rule, your paddle should reach your head with a slight bend in your elbow when held upright.

Paddleboard Pricing

While budget is a consideration, quality matters. We recommend investing at least R7500.00 in your first board to ensure durability and a positive paddling experience. Anything less than that and the quality is going to dramatically reduce.

We hope this guide has been able to help you on your way to picking the best paddleboard for you. If you get stuck or are still unsure give us a call, drop us an email or stop by the shop and we’ll happily assist you in finding the correct SUP. Also remember to give us a follow on Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.

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