Whether you are looking at your first paddle board or your fourth. The thought of getting a touring paddle board vs an all around SUP will always cross your mind. Long-distance paddling sounds very appealing to most starting out.
You see those scenes of some bloke paddle boarding off some beautiful coastline, perhaps even with his dog and you think “I want to try that!”.
So the question becomes, should I get a touring paddle board or an all-around SUP?
In short, my answer would be the magical couple of words that anyone looking for answers loves to hear… “It Depends”.
I’ll explain more below.
How to Choose Between a Touring Paddle Board Vs All Around SUP
When looking at an inflatable touring SUP vs all around paddle board there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
- Where are you paddling? and what SUP Activities are you hoping to achieve?
- What is Your Experience level?
- What is Your Budget?
A good way to think about touring boards vs all around sups is like endurance bicycles vs gravel bikes. Endurance bicycles are great for traveling long distances but will not be as adept going in all-terrain conditions like gravel. While gravel bikes can handle a wide range of conditions they will not be as efficient traveling on a paved road for long periods of time.
Take a bit of time and answer these in your head honestly. Many people (myself included) often have a dream scenario of the ultimate touring paddle trip, but oftentimes reality has other ideas.
Ultimately the answer all comes down to how much touring you will want to be doing.
Dynamics of a Touring Paddle Board
Touring paddle boards are meant to go through the water at a lesser state of resistance compared to all around SUPs. Meaning they go through the water at a slightly higher clip which makes them paddle more efficiently for longer distances.
Shape of a Touring Paddle Board
Touring spec boards come in a wide range of shapes and sizes then you may be lead to believe. A lot of this depends on their purpose and what you want to use them for. Some common characteristics shared between touring boards is the fact that they have a longer and more slender profile compared to most other boards.
I like to categorize touring boards into two different categories. Speed touring and High Capacity Touring
Speed Touring: These boards have the characteristics of having a longer length, pointed nose, thinner width and a square tail. Their dimensions are usually 12’6” – 14 feet long and 26”- 30” wide. They are meant for pure speed and performance.
High Capacity Touring: These boards are often all-around hybrids that feature a longer length, wider width and, a higher carrying capacity. High-capacity touring boards usually range from 11’ – 12’ feet long and can be anywhere from 30”-36” wide. The priority of these boards is less about speed and more about stability and the ability to stash a good amount of gear on them.
When Should You Use a Touring Paddle Board?
Here are some instances where you should choose a touring SUP.
- You are getting more experienced on a paddle board and want to paddle for a longer duration. At this point you have adept skills in reading the conditions and your paddling skills are growing.
- You are a beginner but know from the outset that touring paddle boarding is what you want to achieve. You know that the learning curve will be a bit more tricky but are willing to put up with it
- You’ve done some overnight SUP excursions with a guide in the past and you want to start doing some overnight touring SUP excursions of your very own
- You want a paddle board for day touring and want to paddle at a more voracious pace. You know that you will go further and faster with a touring paddle board as opposed to an all-around SUP.
All of these purposes have one thing in common. The paddler knows that their primary reason for paddle boarding will be for traveling long distances at a greater clip.
Pros and Cons of Touring Paddle Boards
To help you paint an even better picture of touring SUPs we’ll let list what they do well and what they might lack.
- You will be able to travel greater distances with these boards due to their shape
- These boards are better for fitness reasons as they track better which means you don’t have to switch sides every 2-5 strokes like with an All-Around Board.
- Many of them can be loaded with a sufficient amount of gear depending on the board’s shape, size, and maximum capacity.
- The glide the board has per each stroke will be better compared to an all-around board.
- Speed touring boards will feel less stable due to their narrower width.
- To maximize the usage of a touring board you need to have practiced your SUP stroke for greater efficiency.
- It is harder to maneuver these boards, the longer they are the more advanced your maneuvers need to be for quick turns like pivot turns.
- Can be challenging to handle wind and waves due to their bigger length.
Examples of Touring Paddle Boards
Below are some examples of touring SUPs available on the market
- Red Paddle Voyager 13’2”
- Starboard 14’ Touring SUP
- Thurso Expedition 138
- Nixy Manhattan
- Gili Meno 12’6”
- Hala Carbon Nass -T
For a list of our Best Touring Paddle Boards take a look at our guide for some more examples.
Dynamics of an All Around SUP
All Around paddle boards are boards that can be used for a wide variety of needs and use for a paddler. They are great for trying out different SUP activities while still being stable enough to support beginners, dogs, or even a semi-reasonable amount of gear for a day paddle.
The shape of an All Around Paddle Board
All Around boards are meant to support a wide range of shapes and sizes for paddlers and are sized from 10’ – 12’ depending on the board’s usage. Their widths are usually 30” – 34” inches. If you are a bigger/ taller individual just getting your sea/lake legs then go for the wider range. Most inflatable all-around boards feature a rocker (a nose tilted upwards) that allows the board to drag less while riding over waves and chop
All Around boards have a more broad range in terms of shapes and sizes. Their goal is to be good at everything but not great in any one area. Their whole purpose is to balance good stability with decent speed and tracking abilities. Some All around boards will be better in certain areas than others. So it’s all about finding a balance between what characteristics you prefer in a paddle board.
When Should You Use an All Around SUP?
All around SUPs are like the introductory step into the world of paddle boarding. This can be seen as a good thing as they can be the tool that points you in the direction you want to go. Conversely, they can just be used for a fun day at the lake with friends and family for a few hours. Here are some more times when it’s best to use an all around paddle board.
- You are brand new to Paddle Boarding and you want to see how much you will truly enjoy it.
- You want to do some light touring every once and a while but don’t want to fork out the extra few hundred for a touring board.
- You want a good quality board to try the sport out before committing to a larger price tag.
- You want a sufficient board for some introductory SUP yoga. Wider/ thicker boards are usually the key here.
- You want to try a bit of low-key surfing on some smaller waves.
- You want a board for the family cabin or lake trip that you can throw into the water that the kids/ grandkids can play around with.
- You want to start practicing some SUP skills on a board that is stable enough to try new techniques on.
Pros and Cons of All Around Paddle Boards
Below is everything from the good to the bad about these all around SUPs.
- Are good for maneuvering in the water
- Most well-made models have pretty good stability
- Comes in models like the Compact or Ultra models that are easy to pack and don’t take up a lot of space
- Can be great boards for traveling due to their smaller dimensions
- You can do most SUP activities adequately on these boards
- A wide range of manufacturers and varieties to choose from
- Can do many things well enough but does not excel in any one area
- Are less efficient over longer distances
- As you get more experienced you will feel that these boards have more limitations
- Getting a $200-300 All Around SUP will not be worth it because they cheap out on materials
Examples of All Around SUPs
There are tons of models out there that it’s impossible to list them all! Below are some of the most popular.
- Nixy Newport 10’6”
- iRocker All Around 11 Ultra – (Compact Board)
- Thurso Surf Waterwalker 126
- Red Paddle Ride 10’6
- Serenelife Free Flow 10’
- Gili Mako 10′
If you want to see our ratings of the Best Inflatable Paddle Boards check this article out. Most of the boards rated here are all around models.
Below are some common FAQs that people ask me or things I have thought of when comparing all around SUPs to touring boards.
Should A Beginner Choose An All Around Paddle Board Or A Touring SUP?
Unless you know from the get-go that touring is something you want to work towards. I would say that a beginner should choose an all-around paddle board first to see how they like the sport.
Starting off with a touring board can have its own set of challenges like less stability, less maneuverability, and a bigger price tag.
Can You Tour on an All Around Board?
Yes, you can tour on an all around board and it will do the job fairly well. However, if you want to go a greater distance with less effort and more speed then that’s when you should start looking at a touring paddle board.
A touring board’s sleeker profile allows it to cut through the water more gracefully which offers less resistance to you the paddler. But if you are touring only once and a while and are not super serious about it then an all-around board will be just fine.
What is the Speed Difference Between an inflatable touring board and an inflatable all around SUP?
Isle measured this in a test with their 12’6” inflatable touring model pitted against their 10’ all around model. Their inflatable touring board went at a clip of 4.88 mph during an intense stroke while the inflatable all around board clocked in at a 4.38 mph stroke.
This is a bit of an outdated test, especially with the technological advances in materials with inflatable boards these days. But it serves as a good base comparison when comparing the speeds of a touring board and all around SUPs.