Updated: Feb 22, 2020
The information in this post is meant to assist you in choosing the right SUP for your intended use. From the most important considerations to least:
The most important question you need to ask is what you are going to use your stand up paddleboard for.
*Touring - SUPs used for touring have little rocker (curve from nose to tail) and a pointy nose that slices through the water and waves. This is the board you'd choose if you are paddling any distance or along side kayakers that you are trying to keep up with. This category can also include the "downwind" styles of boards that are meant for paddling with the wind and waves. kind of a surf/tour combo.
*Surf - Paddleboards used for surfing (primarily) are going to be shorter with a fin on either side of the center fin for carving. This would be a slower board for touring, but fun in the surf with good turning ability and agility.
*All-Around - These SUPs are long enough to paddle on shorter touring trips, and shaped to take on some surf. They don't do well heading in to the wind, but are fun going down-wind.
Normally a smaller shorter board will be more agile, while a longer board will track better and float a bit higher, and so be more stable. Another consideration is how thick the board is. Size isn't just length, but a combination of length, width, thickness.
SUPs can be made from many different materials, each having it's pro's and con's
*Epoxy - This is the traditional surfboard makeup with a foam core, which fiberglass or carbon fiber is then used to create a shell. It's light and stiff, and resistant to some light abrasion but not to rocks or even sharp sticks. Most of our rental boards are made up this way since we launch and land on a sandy beach.
*Molded plastic - is a typical material for whitewater boats also known as roto-molded plastic. It is very strong and abrasion resistant, but is also heavy and the production process does not allow for fine lines like epoxy boards do. Performance is low on these boards, but they tend to be stable. This is the least expensive way to create a SUP, so you will find the likes of it in big box stores such as Walmart.
*Hybrid - SUPs may have a foam core like the epoxy boards, but then a layer of fiberglass, and a layer of plastic or other durable material on the outside. This creates a strong, light board (not the lightest, but way better than molded plastic) that allows for a good design shape.
Finally, the most important consideration is what you will REALLY use your SUP for. We tend to fantasize doing 5 day camping trips and surfing in Hawaii, but in the end you'll be happiest with equipment that you will use every day and get you out on the water!