How To Choose An Ultra-Stable Inflatable SUP Board

Last updated on Apr 8, 2022 by Goosehill

Table of contents

When would you need a stability board

How to choose a SUP board that can provide extra stability?

Fin System

Deck Pad

Verdict

Stability is one important parameter to take into consideration when buying a paddle board, especially for beginners as they could have a hard time balancing on the board if it’s not stable enough. A stable board can go a long way to making the learning process easier for beginners. 

With a stable board, beginners can build confidence in themselves and master the basic skills much faster.

When would you need a stability board

Beginners are not the only type of paddler who need a stable board. There are other people who might also need a board that can offer extra stability.

For a heavier than average paddler, a stability board would make paddling much easier and more comfortable as it’ll be easier to balance on.

Also, there are a lot of people who lack confidence in their balance and could really have a hard time finding their balance on the board. This kind of people will also benefit from the extra stability offered by the board.

And sometimes you just want to stay dry and avoid falling into the water, which could be hard if there are other vessels on the water that might affect you. In occasions like this, you could really use more stability in a board and an ultra-stable board is more likely to keep you from falling.

If you are into SUP activities like SUP fishing, yoga or even whitewater paddling, you will also benefit from an ultra-stable board. These activities typically require more stability than paddling on flat water.

How to choose a SUP board that can provide extra stability?

The simplest way to see if a board is stable is through its width. But there are other aspects of the board that could affect the amount of stability it can offer. Generally speaking, a wider board is more stable than a narrower board, but it’s based on the premise that all other aspects of the board are equal.

Other important factors that could affect the stability of the board include board thickness and outline shape. 

Thickness is often neglected by paddlers when they are picking a new board. In actuality, the thickness of the board affects board stability greatly, and in a way that defies common sense.

In the early days when inflatable SUPs were not as popular and developed as they are now, they were thinner at about 4 inches. An inflatable paddle board at 4 inches thick is not able to provide enough rigidity and volume for a lot of paddlers, especially heavier ones. It will flex easily in the middle, making it hard to paddle smoothly.

And then boards at 6 inches thick were introduced. A 6-inch thick board offers much more rigidity to be able to support heavier paddlers. 6-inch boards started to take over from 4-inch boards and it made people believe that thicker is better.

Making a board thicker comes with its downside. The extra thickness added to the board raises the center of gravity of the board, making it less stable and harder for riders to balance on it. 

But SUP manufacturers still chose to embrace the 6-inch thickness because it has a much wider range of application and brings in some practical performance enhancements.

Even though 6-inch thickness is the norm now, it’s undeniable that the extra 2-inch thickness decreases the stability of the board. But it’s still at a reasonable level that it makes sense for various board types.

Width and thickness are not the only factors that affect the stability of a board. For instance, different tails in different widths will give you different feels. Generally, wider tails will make the board feel more stable, especially when you turn. 

The same goes for the nose of the board. A board with a wider nose will feel more stable if you have a passenger or your dog on board. 

Fin System

The fin configuration on your board will also affect board stability, although not as greatly as board width and thickness.

The fin set up affects the board’s performance more than its stability. If your board features a 3-fin setup with one removable center fin or just one big detachable center fin, you can choose the center fin based on your needs.

Generally speaking, the height, surface area and base of the fin can all affect the stability of a board. A taller fin is more stable than a shorter one as a taller one can better prevent the board from rocking from side to side. Also, a fin with a larger surface area and wider fin base will also help the board provide more stability. But they also result in more drag, which means you will be losing speed and maneuverability.

Deck Pad

The deck pad will provide traction when you stand on it. It won’t affect the stability of your board directly but can decide how well your board is suited to different paddling activities. If you paddle mostly on flat water, you can pick a relatively smooth deck pad which provides enough traction and is more comfortable to stand on.

If you are going to be paddling on choppy water or do a little whitewater paddling or surfing, you are going to need more traction. Look for boards with deck pads that has more deeply grooved diamond or square groove pattern.

Verdict

Getting a stability board brings more benefits than you’d think. Yes, it might sacrifices the performance a bit, but you will also be able to do a lot of the paddling activities more comfortably, and have more fun. 

If you are going to be paddling on choppy water or do a little whitewater paddling or surfing, you are going to need more traction. Look for boards with deck pads that has more deeply grooved diamond or square groove pattern.

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