Many people choose an all around paddleboard when buying their first sup. It seems like a safe choice because you can bring it anywhere. But if you know that you want to paddle in flatwater for fitness paddling, or for touring around and exploring then you probably want to entertain purchasing a touring paddleboard. There are even inflatable touring boards if transporting an epoxy board is not practical.
There are some characteristics that touring paddleboards tend to share.
-Displacement style hulls. They tend to have piercing noses giving you maximum glide and a nice quite ride. The piercing nose eliminates the slapping characteristic of planing hull boards. The piercing nose also cuts nicely through chop.
Increased width. Typically touring sups are in the neighborhood of 30” vs 24”-27” for many race boards. Touring boards are similar to race boards, but stability is more important than speed with touring boards. Narrow race boards are tough to stay on. Touring boards are wider, more stable, and even though they won’t go as fast as a race board, you won’t have to worry about spending more time in the water than on the board because of that extra stability. And you will suffer less fatigue than on a race board that you are fighting to stay on.
-12’6 is a common length for these boards. There are 14’ boards, and 10’6 boards with the same design (and a handful of models that come in other sizes) but 12’6 is the most common. 12’6 boards provide a lot of advantages. They are long enough that you can get good glide. Because of that you can get a good rhythm, which is great for fitness paddling. When you are paddling smaller boards, or those with a more all around shape, you tend to lose a lot of speed between strokes. It will also allow you to cover good distances because of this glide per stroke that you will get. And 12’6 is still a manageable length for most people on and off the water.
-They usually feature tie downs. Because these are boards that tend to go on longer adventures, it’s very nice to have an easy way to transport your gear. A dry bag will fit nicely under the tie downs and even if you are going on a short adventure, water, snacks, a phone (in a waterproof case/bag), and maybe a hat, extra layer, or pair of shoes (I always carry at least flip flops on my board if I’m barefoot, because we never know where we might stop for a break) can be nice to have.
If you are looking to do primarily flatwater paddling, you should probably check out touring paddleboards. They will take you to countless new places to explore and you will get there efficiently, quietly, and smoothly. Just like other paddleboards, there is a wide range of prices and quality on the market. Visit your local sup shop to decide which option is best for you.