Soft Top Paddle Board Vs. Regular Paddle Board

by Nicole Schmoll
Paddleboarding is similar to surfing.

Paddleboarding is similar to surfing.

Stand up paddleboarding is a growing sport that is gaining participants rapidly. It combines surfing and canoeing and can be done in salt or fresh waters. Paddleboarders can surf waves, but they don't have to. Boards are designed to allow riders to stand on relatively still water and paddle their way from one point to another. Two kinds of boards are used by those learning to paddleboard.

Soft Top Paddleboards

A soft top paddleboard is an excellent choice for someone new to the sport of paddleboarding. All paddleboards should be chosen to match the height and weight of the person riding it -- but soft top boards are unique -- in that they feature a wide, forgiving shape and soft surface with a traction pad that makes it easier to stand on and maintain balance. Nose and tail rockers aid beginning paddleboarders in making turns, and soft top boards are made from epoxy fiberglass with a foam core, making it easier to lift and transport the board. Soft top boards come in a range of sizes.

Regular Paddleboards

Regular paddleboards are made from wood or hard epoxy fiberglass. Many feature traction pads although many don't. If you purchase a stand up paddleboard (SUP) without a traction pad, purchase wax and wax the top of the board before riding it, to provide traction that prevents slipping and falls in the water. Regular paddleboards have hard tops, which distinguishes them from soft top paddleboards. They are heavier, but are also suitable for beginning paddleboarders. Many are between 10 and 11 feet long and feature front and rear rockers as well as fins; to accommodate a variety of skill levels and water conditions, including rough surf and wave riding.

Additional Paddleboard Gear

In addition to a paddleboard, people wishing to take on this enjoyable sport must purchase a stand up paddle, personal flotation device and possibly a wet suit, depending on where you plan to paddleboard. Stand up paddles have angled shafts or handles. Select a paddle that's six to eight inches taller than your height and wear a life vest or inflatable flotation vest, similar to the kind used when snorkeling to protect yourself should you fall into the water and hit your head or be otherwise unable to swim for a time.If you plan to paddleboard in cold water, wear a full-length neoprene wetsuit.

Paddleboard Mechanics

Paddleboarding offers those who participate in it, a full body workout. People who ski enjoy using it as a training method, as do those who snowboard. Paddleboarding is also a relaxing way to enjoy the water. Many compare it to walking on water. Taking a few paddleboard lessons is a great way to get comfortable with the sport. Practice proper paddleboard stance, which requires feet to be parallel and positioned about 18 to 24 inches apart on the top center of the paddleboard. Unlike riding a surfboard, paddleboarders stand straight on the paddleboard, facing the front or nose of the board. Learn how to paddle, moving your board through calm waters at first, before moving on to rough, surf-laden waters. Practice common moves like sidestrokes, backpaddles and sea strokes.

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