What is an All-Around Stand Up Paddle Board?
An All-Around stand up paddle board is one that can be used primarily for recreational paddling in general, but also, as the name implies, for all the other SUP activities to some extent:
- SUP surfing,
- SUP fishing,
- SUP yoga/fitness,
- SUP cruising/touring,
- SUP river riding/whitewater, and more.
All-Around SUP is Good for Anything & Anyone?
Different shapes of stand up paddle (SUP) boards have different purposes. For example, a SUP board dedicated to surfing would be shorter (7′ – 10’5) than a typical all-around board (10′ – 12′) as that allows for better maneuverability on waves, whereas a SUP board dedicated to touring would be longer (11′ – 14′) than a typical all-around (10′ – 12′) as that allows the board to glide for longer distance with less effort for long trips across the waterways (check this SUP Buying Guide article for more insights). You can try and imagine how hard it would be to surf with a SUP board dedicated to touring, and vice versa – so you can just imagine an all-around being the golden middle between such extremes. As such, all-around boards are great for all paddle boarding conditions to some extent and paddlers of any skill level.
All-Around Best Suited for Beginners?
Different types of SUP activities have different skill requirements. For example, you wouldn’t want to go full-on river riding as a total beginner – you might even lose your life (have a read on this, this, and this – and while at it, unless you’re immortal, check out this SUP Safety article as well). I therefore usually recommend people to explore the many SUP activities to some extent using an all-around and not restrict themselves to just one way of using the board. You don’t need to be experienced in order to use all-arounds as these are jacks of all trade, masters of none.
Having read that – fun, fun, fun, right? No really, it’s actually quite adventurous of an activity even though it might not look like that from the bystander’s point of view. It almost feels like walking on the water, and from up there the shimmering water shows itself from a totally new angle. There’s definitely a little adrenaline involved even just standing there.
What Makes a Good All-Around SUP Board?
All-around stand up paddleboard sounds like the ultimate SUP type around, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is for the average user.
Now granted, you won’t win a SUP race with an all-around, you probably won’t get the most out of surf and long-distance tour either, but an all-around doesn’t entirely exclude those activities and everything else is pretty much a go to a moderate degree with a good quality all-around stand up paddle board. Another thing to note is something obvious: not every all-around board is equal. Some all-around boards may even have different orientations towards some specific SUP activities, not to mention the quality of construction and design which too can vary wildly. The best is one that sits well with you of course.
All-around stand up paddle boards for lighter and smaller paddlers are around 9’6 – 11′ in length. They are not too long nor too short, such a board is sufficiently both maneuverable and fast with decent enough tracking. Tracking and speed is not at the level of long-distance touring board and maneuverability isn’t as good as that of a whitewater/surf board.
The most typical all-around boards are 10-feet-5-inches long. If you’d consider your weight and height to be not too far off from average, this would be the length for you as well. In hindsight, you’d want a longer board the more you weigh or the longer you are, and you’d likely want a shorter one the smaller you are. Check this article section on SUP size chart for a better understanding.
Width and Thickness:
A beginner will have a good time with an all-around that’s 32 inches wide. The width of the board directly correlates to how stable it feels.
However, a 30-inch wide board can be an option too because you’ll likely learn to balance yourself and get used to it rather quickly. Then again, if you wanted to take your dog for a ride and perhaps go on a cruise or do all sorts of relaxing activities on the board for the most part, the 32-inch width is probably the safest bet in the long run. Though you can do all that with a 30-inch wide all-around too if you weren’t too big of a guy or gal (this article can shed more light on paddlerboarding when overweight).
When it comes to thickness of an all-around stand up paddle board, typically inflatable all-around SUP boards range from 4″ to 6″ in thickness. A 4-inch thick inflatable all-around would be the best as long as it’s of good quality and supports enough weight.
Typically inflatable all-arounds are made 6 inches thick mainly to save on construction costs. Ideal would be 5-inch thickness as it allows for good design of the board, but when going with inflatable boards thinner than 6 inches, always watch out for the weight capacity and overall quality. Usually a low weight capacity is the main indicator of a board being lower quality (check this article on when & whether cheap iSUPs are worth buying). I won’t even mention typical weight capacities because you’ll pretty much spot the differences the moment you compare them. Lower quality boards aren’t inherently bad – they’re sold in mass for beginners because they’re good entry level boards (check this article on general price range of iSUPs overall).
A typical all-around board is designed with either a rounded or a rounded squared tail as it provides the best balance and performance. An overly squared tail would make turns feel clunky while a pointed needle tail would simply make the board wobbly to stand on.
When it comes to the nose of the board, a pointy nose for an all-around doesn’t really bring much of any benefits. A simple rounded nose will leave you with some extra space for equipment when cruising or fishing and allows you to do yoga or bring your pup along with you. When it comes to hydrodynamics, the rounded nose won’t block the water and you lose too litte in speed compared to a needle nose that it really doesn’t compare to all the benefits a rounded nose has in comparison.
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