6 Questions to Ask Yourself when Buying your first inflatable SUP board

You are a Stand Up Paddle enthusiast and are looking to buy your first inflatable SUP board? Here are the important questions you need to ask yourself before buying!

On which SUP board will you conquer rivers, lakes and seashores next year? But what do you have to look out for when buying a SUP board, which is, after all, a rather high-priced piece of sports equipment? The well-travelled all-round sportsman Sebastian Grazzini, founder of the Mexican SUP brand CALA, knows.

Especially for still inexperienced stand-up paddlers, this is his ultimate buying guide with 6 steps for the successful purchase and use of a SUP board:

1. Buying a SUP board: does quality win?

No one does themselves any favours with cheap and correspondingly poorly constructed and processed boards, because impractical details or real defects naturally seriously spoil the SUP experience. So if you choose branded goods of superior quality, you will benefit from the solid material and comfortable equipment details, such as a camera mount, well-placed D-rings for luggage nets and a robust bag, even with long use. This makes stand-up paddling even more fun.

2. More pumping with an inflatable paddleboard or more weight with a hard one?


Many SUPers prefer inflatable boards because they offer good riding characteristics, can be stored without air and folded up in a small space, and are therefore easy to transport. They are usually sold with a matching bag or backpack. Inflatable SUPs are quite robust, light bumps and scrapes cannot harm them. However, a sharp stone could seriously damage the PVC skin, causing the board to capsize. This danger is naturally less with a hard board. Although this type of board weighs considerably more and is rather unwieldy when travelling, it does away with the need for strenuous inflation.

3. Choose the right Stand Up Paddle board dimensions

Stand-up paddling boards can be bought in different sizes and shapes – depending on who uses it and where. Especially wide and thick boards carry more weight and beginners can keep their balance on them without any problems. However, they are more difficult to control. Board classifications are based on dimensions: Fitness boards offer solid strength and therefore tend to be long and wide. All-round SUP boards lie in the golden mean between manoeuvrable and stable. Long, narrow boards are more suitable for advanced paddlers who can glide quickly through the water, but need more balance to do so.

4. How much importance should I give the paddle? A lot!

Don’t skimp on the paddle. The paddle plays an important role in SUP and should not be underestimated: If you fall off the board and lose the paddle, it should definitely float in the water and not sink to the bottom of the water. Most SUP paddles are made of aluminium, carbon or fibreglass. The somewhat more expensive but qualitatively very durable carbon paddles are suitable for beginners and professionals alike. People with small hands usually manage better with knob handles, while T-shaped handles fit better in large hands. The more surface area the paddle blade has, the more you feel the resistance of the water. This makes paddling more strenuous but also faster.

5. Protect skin from cold and sun

Uncovered skin is particularly vulnerable to sunburn on the paddleboard because the water reflects the sunrays and intensifies them. If there is also a light breeze, you often only feel the power of the sun when it is already too late and the sunburn is already there. That’s why protective clothing in the form of close-fitting and quick-drying swimming shirts is indispensable for anyone who wants to spend longer periods of time on the board. If it is very hot, waterproof sunscreen will of course also help.

Those who fall into the water more often will appreciate belly-covering clothing even more, as this protects the sensitive skin well when it is pulled up over the edge of the board.

6. Am I going to have fun?

Enjoyment is elementary for the successful use of a SUP board, because this great piece of sports equipment was invented specifically to satisfy one’s own individual needs for freedom and nature. This can be, for example, a sociable water tour with friends, a quiet outing all alone or just with the dog, or a complete yoga session on the board. On a well-chosen SUP model, every moment becomes a personal pleasure.

To find out more about Cala Boards, please visit:

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

To follow Mathieu: