Touring Vs Recreational Paddleboard: Ultimate Comparison

Table of Contents

As Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) continues to gain popularity, enthusiasts have increasingly found themselves faced with a wealth of options. Among the questions that frequently arise are: Which kind of board should I buy? What is the difference between a touring paddleboard and a recreational paddleboard? Here, we’ll explore the differences between touring and recreational paddleboards, so you can find the best board for your needs.


What is a touring paddleboard?

Touring paddleboards, also known as displacement hull paddleboards, are designed for longer distances. These boards are longer and narrower than recreational paddleboards, with pointed noses that slice through the water. Their hulls are designed to cut through waves, providing greater speed and efficiency on longer paddles. Touring boards generally range from 10 to 14 feet in length, with a width of 28-32 inches and a thickness of 4.5-6 inches. These boards are typically constructed with lightweight materials like carbon fiber and are designed to perform well in choppy and open water conditions.


What is a recreational paddleboard?

Recreational paddleboards, also known as planing hull paddleboards, are wider and more stable than touring paddleboards. They’re designed for short paddles in calm water. Planing hulls are designed to ride on top of the water, rather than slicing through it. These boards are a great choice for beginners, as they are easier to maneuver and less likely to tip. Recreational paddleboards generally range from 8 to 12 feet in length, with a width of 30-36 inches and a thickness of 4.5-5 inches. These boards are typically constructed with more affordable materials like foam and epoxy.


What are the differences in length and width?

Touring paddleboards are longer and narrower than recreational paddleboards, typically ranging from 10 to 14 feet in length and 28-32 inches in width. Recreational paddleboards, on the other hand, are shorter and wider, typically ranging from 8 to 12 feet in length and 30-36 inches in width. The differences in dimensions between these two types of paddleboards reflect the way they’re intended to be used. Touring paddleboards are designed to cover long distances quickly and efficiently, while recreational paddleboards are designed to provide maximum stability and maneuverability.


How do the hull designs differ?

The hull of a touring paddleboard is a displacement hull, a design adapted from sailing boats and kayaks. The pointed nose of a displacement hull is designed to slice through the water, which helps paddlers cover greater distances more quickly and efficiently. The hull of a recreational paddleboard, on the other hand, is a planing hull. This design is similar to that of a surfboard, with a wider, flatter nose that’s designed to ride on top of the water rather than slice through it. Planing hulls provide better stability, making them more beginner-friendly.


What are the differences in performance?

Touring paddleboards are designed for speed and efficiency, making them the superior choice for covering long distances. Their pointed noses and displacement hulls allow them to move easily through choppy water, while their narrow widths make them easier to paddle for extended periods of time. With a touring paddleboard, you can cover greater distances more quickly than with a recreational board. However, this speed often comes at the expense of maneuverability. Recreational paddleboards are designed with stability and maneuverability in mind. Their planing hulls and wider widths make them more stable and easier to maneuver in calmer water. While they’re not as suited to long distances, recreational paddleboards are often a better choice for beginners or for those looking for a more leisurely paddle.


Which one is best for you?

When deciding between a touring paddleboard and a recreational paddleboard, there are a few factors to consider. If you’re planning to do long-distance paddles in rougher waters, a touring paddleboard may be the better choice. If you’re a beginner or you’re planning to paddle in calmer waters, a recreational paddleboard may be the better choice. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your personal preferences and intended use. Consider what you want to get out of your paddleboarding experience, as well as the conditions in which you plan to paddle, and choose the board that best meets your needs.



In conclusion, the differences between a touring paddleboard and a recreational paddleboard are substantial and should be carefully considered before making a purchase. Touring paddleboards prioritize speed, efficiency, and stability, with a longer and narrower shape for better tracking and control during long-distance paddling. They often come with additional storage space for gear and are ideal for multi-day trips. On the other hand, recreational paddleboards offer greater stability and maneuverability with their shorter and wider design. They cater to a wider range of users, providing a stable platform for leisurely paddling, yoga, and exploration of calm waters.

When choosing between a touring paddleboard and a recreational paddleboard, it is crucial to assess your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize speed and efficiency for long-distance adventures, a touring paddleboard is the better option. However, if you seek versatility, stability, and a board that accommodates various activities, a recreational paddleboard is the way to go. Consider factors such as construction, weight capacity, and the type of water conditions you’ll encounter to make an informed decision. Ultimately, both types of paddleboards offer unique experiences on the water, so choose the one that aligns with your desired paddling style and enjoy the exhilarating world of paddleboarding.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

Recent Posts

How To Make A Wakeboard Rails
How To Make Wakeboard Rails

Wakeboarding has emerged as one of the most exhilarating water sports, combining elements of surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding into a thrilling experience. As wakeboarders push

Read More »
How To Do A Scarecrow Wakeboard
Safety In Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding is an exhilarating watersport that combines elements of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. As with any adventure sport, safety should be a top priority

Read More »