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6 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Paddle Board

April 14, 2023

Are you set on buying a paddle board? Before you do, consider these 6 essential things you need to know before you make a purchase!


Paddle boarding is an exciting and versatile water sport that has gained immense popularity in recent years. It offers an amazing full-body workout, a unique perspective on the water, and the opportunity to explore new locations.

If you’ve ever tried it yourself, it’s almost guaranteed to become a new hobby obsession. That is, after all, the magic of connecting with the natural world that comes with paddle boarding. The experience is so rich that it often becomes addictive.

And as this addiction grows, so too does the need for owning your own board.

Before you go purchasing any board at your local big box-chain store, there are a few things you need to consider in order to make the right purchase.

To help with your buying decision, here are six essential things you need to know before buying a paddle board to ensure you choose the perfect one for your abilities. The type of paddling you’re going to do. Your size. And the environment you’re going to be paddling in:

Types of Paddle Boards

There are four main types of paddle boards. They include all-around, touring, surfing, and racing (with some variations required for SUP fishing and whitewater river paddling).

All-around paddle boards are versatile and suitable for beginners. They provide stability and are ideal for flat water, small waves, and recreational use. Touring boards are designed for longer distances and offer better tracking and speed, making them perfect for more experienced paddlers. Racing boards are the fastest and most agile, but they require a higher level of skill to navigate and balance. And SUP surfing boards are the smallest, shortest, and thinnest designed to catch waves but not for long-distance paddling.

Knowing this, it’s important to ask yourself, “What do I plan on using my board for? What type of paddling will I be doing?”

Of course, there are boards that can cover multiple activities. For example, our 11′ Atoll iSUPs are great all-around boards. They’re perfect for touring. Great for beginners. As well as SUP fishing, and whitewater paddling. With that said, they are not your best option for SUP racing or SUP surfing. The reasons for this we’ll get into in the next section.

Summary: Ask yourself what type of paddling you’re going to be doing and in what environment you plan on paddling before making a purchase.

buying a paddle board

Inflatable vs. Solid Paddle Boards

Inflatable paddle boards are lightweight, easy to transport, and ideal for those with limited storage space. They are also more forgiving when it comes to bumps and impact, making them a popular choice for beginners and river paddlers.

Solid paddle boards, on the other hand, are more rigid and offer better performance in terms of speed and maneuverability. However, they are heavier and require more storage and transport considerations – you’ll need roof racks on your car to carry them to your launch location or a truck with a long tail-bed to store it on.

Summary: Ask yourself…Are you looking for high-performance provided by a hardboard? Do you have enough storage space? Do you have roof racks on your vehicle? Or do you want to ease-of-storage provided by an inflatable that might not be the best option for SUP racing or SUP surfing?

Side View of Atoll Boards on the Water

Size and Weight Capacity

The size and weight capacity of a paddle board directly affect its stability and performance. To avoid any buyer’s remorse, you need to choose a board that can accommodate your weight and skill level.

As a general rule, larger paddle boards offer more stability but are slower and less agile, while smaller paddle boards are faster and more maneuverable but may be more challenging for beginners.

If you’re not sure if a board can float your weight comfortably, it’s a good idea to test out options at your local outfitter or speak directly to the manufacturer’s customer service. At Atoll, our priority is customer satisfaction. If you have any questions about our boards in terms of size and weight capacity, give us a call directly at 8 7 7 . 6 9 8 . 8 5 8 1.

Summary: Always consider your own specific size and the capacity of the board before buying a paddle board.

Hull Design

The hull design plays a significant role in how a paddle board performs on the water. There are two main hull types: planing and displacement.

Planing hulls are flat and wide, providing stability and versatility, making them ideal for beginners and all-around use. Displacement hulls have a pointed nose and are designed to cut through the water, offering better tracking and speed, which is perfect for touring and racing paddle boards.

Atoll Boards are built with adventure in mind. This means they’re built durable, tough, and designed with a displacement hull that will allow you to comfortably paddle miles at a time without issue. While this might make it seem like you will have less stability, the 6″ thickness of the board will keep you upright even in a strong side wind.

Summary: Knowing the type of hull design before buying a paddle board will help you to make the right decision.

Holding Atoll Board in Front of Water and Mountains

Fins and Accessories

Fins help with the stability, tracking, and maneuverability of your paddle board. There are various fin configurations available, so consider your intended use and skill level when selecting a board with the appropriate fin setup. Additionally, consider the paddle board accessories you may need, such as a paddle, leash, board bag, and personal flotation device (PFD).

To learn more about fins, please refer to our previous article entitled, “How to Choose Your Fin Size, Shape, and Position.”

Summary: Fins are an important part of your paddle board. Learn everything you need to know about them by clicking the link above.

Two Cars with Paddle Boards and Camping Supplies in Front of a Fire, buying a paddle board

Budget and Quality

Paddle boards can range significantly in price, so it’s essential to set a budget and find a board that offers the best value for your needs. While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, investing in a higher-quality paddle board can provide better performance, durability, and overall enjoyment in the long run. Look for reputable paddle board brands and read customer reviews to ensure you’re making a well-informed decision before buying a paddle board.

To view our customer reviews, please refer to this page HERE.

Summary: Don’t immediately decide on a cheaper board. These brands are typically not built to withstand multiple seasons.


By considering these six factors before buying a paddle board, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision that suits your needs and preferences. Remember to take your time, do thorough research, and, if possible, test out different paddle boards to find the perfect match for your paddle boarding adventures.

If you have any questions before making your first purchase, please reach out to us directly and we’ll walk you through the process in order to make sure your purchase is the correct one.

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