iSUP: The Board - What you need to know when purchasing!
Updated: May 10
iSUPs, or Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards, are some of the most popular pieces of gear in the water these days, with the ease of use and storage key selling points to families and advanced riders alike. But what do you really know about the make up of the boards, and what that means for you. Today, we will take a look through what the unique elemets of a board will mean for the rider, through understanding different shapes, widths and thicknesses.
When considering the Shape you desire for your iSUP, there are two main formats; All-round and Touring.
An All-round board will tend to have a more rounded nose with slight kicker to the front, meaning the nose is raised slightly pushing the water down allowing for a perfect glide. This makes it the perfect candidate for most non-specialised paddling, being able to handle Lakes, Rivers, Coastal and even SUP Yoga, which has increased considerably in popularity of the last few years.
The main benefit of the All-round board is that they come in a variety of widths, that tend to exceed those offered in the touring shapes. This additional width provides great stability for newer paddlers and will make the board easier to maneuver. However, it will come at a slight cost of speed and lack distance paddleability, when directly compared to a touring shape.
All-round shapes offered within the VAST Boardsports range:
ASTRO 8'6 Kids - Starting from £374.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/astro-8-6
Eclipse 9'8 - Starting from £399.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/eclipse-9-8
Nova 10'2 - Starting from £399.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/nova-10-2
Aurora 10'6 - Starting from £399.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/aurora-isup
Nebula 11' - Starting from £499.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/nebula-isup
The Touring paddle board shape has a pointed nose, like a kayak or canoe, and really sees its benefits when used for longer, more fast-paced flat-water paddles.
The pointed nose, also known as a displacement hull, will provide you with a higher efficiency and performance. Meaning, this will allow you to track straighter and quicker with fewer strokes to achieve a smooth glide across the water. This makes Touring boards best for speed and SUP racing.
However, this board shape is much more difficult to balance on which makes it less maneuverable for someone who isn’t a serious paddler. For this reason, the Touring shaped boards are not the most ideal paddle board for beginners.
Touring boards available within the VAST Boardsports range: Flare 11'6 - Starting from £599.99 - https://www.vastboardsports.com/flare-isup
The width of your board will really be determined by the size of the rider. The larger/heavier the rider, the wider you may need your board to be in a perfect world. For beginners, stay within the 32-34 range, unless you are particularly petite in which case you may choose to go for a smaller board at 30. For advanced paddlers, you can drop to the 30 -32-inch range. The one thing to remember with board width is that it can be a competing argument of board stability when being wider v board performance of a wide board. Wider boards have to displace more water when attempting to paddle so it is important you think carefully when buying your board.
Board thickness is a really interesting topic. The old standard of iSUPs was that all boards had to be 6" thick. This produced a lot of stability, and in theory still does. However, the better board manufacturers, including us at VAST, are tending to move towards a thinner construction on all-round boards. All VAST all-rounders are now at 4.75" thickness. We based our decision on a few key points; performance, safety and the ability for our paddlers to grow through the sport with our boards.
Performance - For 99% of paddlers, especially those under 110kgs, a 6" board will just have far too much volume. Your board will sit on top of the water, potentially with nothing other than the fin in the water. Now those who are new to the lifestyle may think that is a positive, and that is certainly the way the brands who only sell 6" thick boards like to market. However, the reality and research is that a board that is sat on top of the water will not track as cleanly and any waves can actually cause significant stability issues.
Safety - At VAST we work extensively with the RNLI and SUP safety organisations to truly understand best practise when it comes to water safety, centralised around the sport of Paddleboarding. It has been well documented in the press over the last year that RNLI have reacted to more stranded iSUP and Paddleboarders, in record numbers, than ever before. Now, the fact that there are organically more iSUPs in the water than there used to be will be an element to those record numbers, but another element would be people on the wrong thickness of board. We followed the RNLI's suggestion of moving all beginner all-rounder boards to a thickness of 4.75" so that they do sit in the water more. The idea behind this is that if your board is sat on the water, not in it, then the rider will act as a sail for the wind. This is leading to large numbers of paddlers being pushed out to sea by fairly mild winds.
Hopefully our breakdown of board shapes and sizes here will give you a more educated idea of what to look for when you are looking to purchase an iSUP, however, should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 01656 654 989.