How To Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board

mainUnless you’ve been living in the desert, or hiding under a rock in a cave on Mars, you’ve probably heard of stand up paddle boarding, or SUP for short. This sport takes its roots from the surfing and canoeing culture of Polynesia, and has exploded on to the world stage over the last 5 years. With the growing popularity of the sport, board designers have branched out and started designing boards for specific purposes and areas. If you are new to stand up paddle boarding choosing the right board to fit your needs can seem daunting at first, no worries we are here to help you out.

For those of you that are local to the Ottawa area, we will also let you know the best spots for stand up paddling in Ottawa.


We are the largest stand up paddle board dealer in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec with a huge selection of brands and all board styles in stock. Here are the brands we carry:


imagine focus corran sic bic bluwave starboard


 All-Around Stand Up Paddle Boards


All-Around stand up paddle boards are designed to perform adequately in all conditions. Featuring a planing hull, these boards typically have surf inspired shapes but are longer and wider. The extra length and width gives them better stability and glide for flat water paddling when compared to surf specific stand up boards. These versatile, multi-purpose boards, are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all facets of the sport with only one board. All-around boards are wide enough to be very stable, have reasonable glide and tracking for flat water paddling, but also have enough rocker and side cut to be surfed on some waves.

Due to their stability all-around boards are ideally suited to people looking to do stand up paddle board yoga (yes that’s a thing!). These SUPs also make great family/cottage boards, they work really well for people looking to have a small child as a passenger

Some All-rounders lean more towards catching and riding waves (more rocker), others have more glide and less manoeuvrability so are better for touring.

 Touring/Cruising Stand Up Paddle Boards


If you’re paddling on calm water and are looking to paddle for more than an hour at a time, or want to cover a bit more ground, touring SUPs are made for you.

Touring/cruising stand up paddle boards are distinguished by their displacement hull shape. Planing boards, which glide on top of the water like a surfboard, move water around the board like a canoe or kayak. As a result the displacement shape allows for better tracking, efficiency, and speed. You’ll recognize them easily by their pointed nose and thicker decks, they also often have a slight “v” shaped bottom. This type of board will appeal to anyone looking for a board with better tracking, glide and speed, than what is available from all-around boards. People looking to bring a lunch or even do an overnight will also want to choose this type of board.

Racing Stand Up Paddle Boards


Stand up paddle board racing is growing fast, there are a number of SUP races in Ottawa and Ontario with more popping up all the time. Racing SUP’s can be split into flat water and downwind style boards.

Flat water racing stand up paddle boards are similar in design to touring boards in that they both feature a displacement shape but racing SUPs are narrower and sometimes feature a lighter construction made of carbon fiber. These boards can be extremely quick, but their design means stability is sacrificed for speed.

Down wind boards are designed to paddle with the wind blowing at your back taking you downwind of your starting point. This is usually done on longer boards of 14 foot plus length, these boards are long and fast enough to catch an ocean running swell with the wind behind you. Surfs or ‘glides’ of 50-100 metres are not uncommon in the best conditions.

Racing boards can also be well suited to paddlers looking at stand up paddle boarding for fitness, as the extra speed can be a great motivator to go the extra mile.

Surfing Specific Stand Up Paddle Boards


Surf-Specific SUP boards always have a planing hull. These hulls are flat on the bottom allowing the board to glide over top of the water as opposed to displacing water around the board like a kayak or canoe. Surf stand up paddle boards are generally shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (curve). These boards are purposed designed for surfing. If you are looking for a board to surf with but also paddle flat water look at the all-around category.

Whitewater Stand Up Paddle Boards


The newest SUP discipline, whitewater stand up paddle boarding is a blast! Regular board designs and constructions are not suitable when dealing with rocks and rapids, therefore specialized boards had to be made.

On the construction side of things, the fiberglass layup used for most boards is too fragile for the abuse and rock hits of the whitewater environment. Whitewater boards are therefore usually made either of hard plastic or are inflatable which typically bounce of rocks.

From a design point of view these boards feature planing hulls that are very wide, have lots of rocker and plenty of volume. These design features allow the boards to be very stable and manoeuvrable, as a result these boards are not ideal for flat water cruising. Whitewater SUPing is a ton of fun and a great way to explore your class 1-3 rivers. The experienced whitewater kayaker, canoeist or rafter will find that taking on the river on a stand up paddle board, makes the class 1 and 2 rapids that have become boring in your watercraft really exciting and challenging again.


Where to Stand Up Paddle Board in Ottawa

There are many spots to SUP in Ottawa let’s break them down by type of paddling.

  • Surf in Ottawa
    • The ocean is awfully far away but we’ve got river waves right in our backyard! In the springtime when the Ottawa River is high there are a few good SUP surf spots in Ottawa. The spots will change depending on water levels. The wall wave at Bates Island, as well as Sewer Wave are the best known spots, but the Desert Wave and the Deschenes wave can also be surfed on sup. For wave locations and recommended water levels check out:
  • Flatwater SUP Paddling in Ottawa
    • We are very fortunate here in Ottawa to be surrounded by water. Drive in any direction for 20 minutes and you’ll find water. The local beaches offer convenient parking and great launch points. For this type of paddling you can basically just find water and go! You can even paddle the Rideau Canal, once you are confident enough not to fall in.
  • SUP Racing in Ottawa and Ontario
    • There are a number of stand up paddle board races in Ottawa and Ontario. These races usually have several classes to choose from, to accommodate both experienced racers and people newer to the SUP racing scene. New races are always being added but here are a few of the more established one.
      • Eastern Canada SUP Championships
  • Whitewater Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Ottawa
    • One of the best places to learn whitewater SUP is at Bates Island accessible from the Champlain Bridge. Those looking to do a river run may want to check out the Ottawa River in the Beachburg area or the Rouge River (portage around the water falls at the end) both these rivers will be easier at lower water.