Paddleboarding and surfing are two extremely popular water sports but the boards are made differently from different materials. There are also differences in their dimensions, types, rocker, decking, and floatation.
Each sport has its own pros and cons that we’ll look into to decide which one might suit you best!
Surfboard: Pros and cons
- More agile
- Not as bulky
- Direct route to waves as you can go under them
- You can’t use a surfboard for SUP boarding
- It’s impossible to stand still while riding a surfboard
- More dangerous
Paddleboard: Pros and cons
- More diversity
- Some designs can surf waves
- Surfers usually sit farther out than others
- Needs a paddle
- Bulkier to transport
- Harder to handle
- Not ideal for larger surf areas
Surfboard vs Paddleboard: How Do They Differ?
Surfboards weigh between 6-7 pounds while longboards weigh 15-16 pounds on average. The weight of a surfboard varies depending on the size, construction accessories, and materials.
The average paddleboard weighs between 15 and 40 pounds. Paddleboards vary in weight depending on what material is used to craft them and what type of board it is.
Surfboards are more lightweight than paddleboards when choosing a board based on weight.
Polyurethane or polystyrene foam forms the basis of modern surfboards. It’s layered with fiberglass cloth, epoxy resin, or polyester.
There are several materials used to construct paddleboards. However, wood and fiberglass-reinforced plastic are the most common materials used in solid boards.
Both boards run at the same level for construction. Both are most often made of the same materials.
Thin and light, the length of surfboards varies from five to 10 feet.
Paddleboards are usually wider and thicker than surfboards of the same length.
Paddleboards are the bigger board in both thickness and width
4. Decking strength
Surfboards need to be lightweight, fast, and maneuverable. There’s no need for reinforced decking since the rider will not stand the entire duration Paddleboard
Paddleboards have a stronger deck than surfboards. The deck of any paddleboard should be able to support the rider’s weight. The concentration is at two points on the board at the size of the rider’s feet.
A paddleboard wins for strength; there isn’t as much strength in a surfboard.
5. Rocker shapes
Similarly, paddleboards and surfboards have rockers. In order for surfboards to drive into the waves, they have more rocker.
Paddleboards have a rocker, but it isn’t as prominent as surfboards.
Surfboard have the bigger and better rocker out of the two.
6. Ease of mobility
The narrow, short, and slim design of the surfboard specializes in mobility to the maximum. They are perfect for taking on waves and mastering precision through waves.
It is definitely possible to ride waves on the heftier SUP board. Changing direction with these behemoth boards requires some extra skill and effort.
The surfboard wins here as it has better mobility and precision through waves. It also has a better design for ease of mobility.
Unfortunately, the surfboard view is quite limited. A surfer only sees a fraction of the view for the small amount of time they are sitting on the board.
With a paddleboard, you have the ability up unencumbered. You can see everything going on around you, directly connecting with the water.
It is clear the paddleboard wins here, and you get to see your surroundings both on top of the water and below it.
A surfboard serves one purpose, which is to ride waves. It is lightweight and sleek to flow through the waves.
You can do more with a paddleboard, such as fishing, yoga, floating, and hauling camping gear.
The paddleboard wins here as the weight and size allow for plenty of versatility.
A surfboard is very responsive to your movements and the effort to steer. This makes it easier to balance on the board.
A paddleboard is easy to balance on when floating along. It can get out of control once you come across a wave.
You see, while a paddleboard is easy to balance on, it’s not as easy to control once you catch a wave.
10. Using paddle vs surfer’s body
The surfer paddles out into the surf with their body and hands and then shifts their weight to move the board.
Stand-up paddleboards use a paddle to move about, and not much body movement is needed.
The surfboard is better if you prefer not using a paddle all the time to move about. Surfing might be harder as it requires more body movement and balance.
Surfing is a workout in itself. You are mostly sitting down, waiting for a wave to form. There are small bursts of quick energy in between.
A paddleboard uses our whole body. You can glide over the waves, and to do so, you need heaps of balance.
The paddleboard wins when it comes to a workout. You need balance and movement the whole time you are on the board.
Buoyancy is not as important for surfboards.
Paddleboards can support a person’s entire weight without sinking when standing on them.
A surfboard will sink slightly when you stand on it when on still water.
You need to have clothing for the water temperature, not the air temperature. A wetsuit is suitable when surfing. You don’t have to wear a lifejacket when surfing.
Bottom layer bathing suits allow you to jump into the water and swim if you wish. Barefoot paddleboarding is the best way to experience paddleboarding since it allows you to feel the board properly. The Coast Guard recognizes paddleboards as vessels and you should wear a life jacket.
Wetsuits are typical for surfing but many don’t like the feel of the full suit. Paddleboard clothing requires a lifejacket. Many find it annoying and prefer not to wear. Both these options are equal when it comes to clothing.
Surfboards are usually between $150 and $300 off-the-shelf. In most cases, they’re less than $1,000 for good-quality ones.
Paddleboards usually cost $500 for boards available at sporting goods stores. Custom boards at specialty shops cost upwards of $3,000.
For affordability, surfboards come out on top. You can buy a good quality one for under $1000, but you are looking way over that mark for a quality paddleboard.
When to surfboard?
The difference between the two boards is due to how you use them. As surfboards ride waves, they need greater mobility. This type of board cannot work for much else apart from catching waves.
When to paddleboard?
It is generally better to use SUP boards in more stable water since they glide over waves. Paddleboards are a great choice for beginners and families since they’re very stable.
Is a surfboard and paddleboard combination possible?
In general, the experience is similar. If you have a longboard give it a try with a paddle. If you have a SUP, try leaving the paddle back on the beach. Try it and see how you go.
1. Can a paddleboard and a surfboard catch the same waves?
Ans. SUPs can ride waves with surfers. If riding a paddleboard, it is best to stay away from surfers’ areas catching waves. Surfboards are usually smaller and more responsive than SUP boards. This is not true for seasoned wave riders who practice both types of surfing. Paddle surfing in areas with a lot of people can be hazardous due to its less responsive nature.