Choosing the Right Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board

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 How to choose a SUP



Buying a RAVE Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board

Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is an investment that when done wisely can lead you to many years of SUP heaven! There are three main points to consider prior to purchasing a SUP board and paddle:

  1. Equipment cost
  2. Size of the paddler to board and level of experience
  3. Water conditions (flat water, surf, rivers, etc.)

Equipment Cost
SUP boards range in price from the low $800 to well over $2000. Stand Up Paddle is quite similar in equipment costs to wind surfing. The two main components are the board and the paddle. It is important to do your research. Just because a board is lower in cost, does not mean you will get a quality constructed board that will last.

Paddles range in construction from Fiberglass to Carbon Fiber. Fiberglass paddles are less expensive and typically run between $100-$150. Carbon Fiber paddles are more expensive ranging from $250-$400. Some paddles are less expensive; however are most likely aluminum shafts with plastic blades and are more likely to break easily. Most paddles have to be sized and cut for proper usage; RAVE paddles provide infinite adjustability so there is no need to size and cut.

Size of the Paddler to Board and Level of Experience
Board sizes vary from 8’ to up to 14.5 feet. If your interest is in SUP racing, boards can be longer; however for most recreational users a range from 11’ to 12’6 is suitable. Most SUP’s are roughly 30-31” wide, with some boards slightly more narrow around 27 inches. A wider board provides more stability and floatation; while a more narrow board is less stable but allows for faster turning.

Beginners should typically paddle on longer, wider boards. This provides the best opportunity to learn the sport before moving to a more advanced board. For people who weigh under 150 lbs., we recommend a board around 10’-11’ in length and about 27”-30” wide. We recommended our boards as follows:

Beginners 150 lbs. or Less:

Beginners 150 lbs+:

Intermediate to Advanced Paddlers 180 lbs. or Less:

Intermediate to Advanced Paddlers 180-300 lbs.

Remember that as a beginner the more weight, the more volume (i.e. the bigger the board) you will need for support.Once you have mastered paddling using a larger board, you can move to a smaller, more challenging board. A wider board will give you the stability you are looking for and you'll spend more time on top of the water and less in it.

Your paddle length should typically be no more than 8-10” overhead. Align your paddle to your body with blade on the ground, and adjust your paddle handle to about 8-10” above your head.

An introductory lesson from a professional that can guide you and teach you the basic techniques of SUP is highly recommended. There are many board designs and paddles to choose from when making this purchase. Don't be afraid to get all the knowledge needed to make the right choice for you.
Water Conditions
Stand up paddling is most often done in flat water conditions; meaning slow moving streams, lakes, and ocean bays. Most SUP stores carry a few brands among the many available, so it is advised to try out as many as possible prior to purchase to decide which board fits you and your specific location. Several locations have demo days, as well as stores that teach style and technique.
RAVE “RS” SUP boards were specifically designed as “flat water” boards that will deliver superior stability and glide. Overall, it is important to remember when purchasing your first SUP to:

  1. Take a lesson. The more you try the better.
  2. Learn what style and board works for you and the conditions you will be paddling in.
  3. Educate! A SUP shop can guide you, but when in doubt, contact a RAVE Sports expert

View our SUP Finder Graph to assist you in finding your perfect board; plus follow RAVE onFacebook, or check out to find a RAVE SUP demo near you!