What Is A Touring Paddle Board? (And what they are for)


In water sports, paddle boarding has secured a prominent position. Among the various types of paddle boards, one that has garnered significant attention is the touring paddle board. 

Often touted for its unique features and benefits, the touring paddle board sets itself apart. But what exactly is a touring paddle board, and how does it differ from others? And is it suitable for beginners? 

A touring paddle board is a longer, narrower type of stand-up paddle board (SUP) designed for distance paddling and exploring lakes, rivers, or oceans. It offers enhanced stability, speed, and tracking, making it ideal for longer excursions and multi-day trips. 

In this article, I will explain in detail what we mean by touring paddle boards. Drawing from my personal experiences, this is a comprehensive guide on touring paddle boards.

a woman paddles on a touring paddle board

What Is A Touring Paddle Board?

The term “touring” in paddle boarding essentially refers to using a paddle board to travel greater distances and explore different water bodies. 

A touring paddle board is designed for efficiency and speed over long distances, making it the ideal choice for those desiring to explore vast lakes, meandering rivers, or even the open ocean. 

Characterized by length and narrowness, a touring paddle board typically measures 12 to 14 feet long and 30 inches wide. These dimensions contribute to its exceptional glide and tracking abilities, permitting the paddler to travel straighter and farther with less effort. 

A pointed nose, or displacement hull, further enhances its performance by cutting through the water, reducing resistance, and facilitating faster, smoother rides. 

The deck of a touring paddle board often features tie-downs for securing gear, making it apt for multi-day adventures or picnic trips. 

If you envisage paddle boarding as a means to embark on long aquatic journeys and explorations, a touring paddle board would be your perfect companion.

How Is A Touring Paddle Board Different From Other Types Of Paddle Boards?

Touring paddle boards stand out from other paddle boards in several ways. First, compared to all-round paddle boards, typically shorter and wider, touring paddle boards are longer and narrower. This design allows for greater speed and efficiency over long distances. Whereas all-round paddle boards are versatile and suitable for activities such as yoga, fishing, and short-distance paddling, touring paddle boards are specialized for long-distance travel and exploration. 

Another type of paddle board is the surf SUP. These are shorter, have a rounded nose, and are designed for manoeuvrability in the surf, not for covering long distances. Unlike touring boards, surf SUPs can be challenging to keep straight on still water and are not designed for carrying gear. 

However, touring paddle boards are generally the fastest and most efficient, making them the ideal choice for paddlers looking to cover long distances or embark on multi-day trips.

Should I Get An All-Round Or Touring Paddle Board?

Deciding between an all-round or touring paddle board largely depends on your specific needs, skill level, and paddling goals. With their versatility and stability, all-round paddle boards make an excellent choice for beginners and those who enjoy varied activities like yoga, fishing, or casual paddling. They are also preferable for those who paddle in different types of water bodies, from calm lakes to wavy seacoast.

On the other hand, touring paddle boards, with their streamlined design and speed, are perfect for more experienced paddlers who aim to cover large distances or embark on long paddling adventures. They offer superior tracking and speed but may require more balance and skill to manoeuvre due to their narrow build.

However, it’s important to note that touring paddle boards can also be suitable for beginners willing to take up the challenge, as the learning curve can be relatively quick with regular practice. The decision ultimately depends on your preferences, endurance levels, and the type of paddling experience you seek.

Are Touring Paddle Boards Suitable For Beginners?

Touring paddle boards, despite their streamlined design and emphasis on long-distance travel, can absolutely be suitable for beginners. 

The primary features of a touring paddle board, such as its length and narrowness, while designed for efficiency and speed, also lend themselves to stability on the water. This means that even if you’re new to paddle boarding, you can quickly adapt to the feel of a touring paddle board. 

However, beginners might find it slightly challenging initially due to the board’s narrow width as compared to all-round boards. But with consistent practice, one can quickly become accustomed to it. 

It’s worth noting that the satisfaction of gliding smoothly and quickly across the water on a touring paddle board can make the initial learning curve worthwhile.

If you are a beginner with aspirations of long-distance paddling or if you’re keen on quickly advancing your paddle boarding skills, a touring paddle board could be an excellent choice. 

Just remember, as with any new skill, the key to mastering paddle boarding on a touring paddle board is regular practice and patience.

Can A Touring Paddle Board Be Used For Competitive Races?

A touring paddle board can be an excellent choice for competitive races. They are designed with speed and efficiency in mind, which are critical factors in racing. 

The long, narrow shape of a touring paddle board allows it to move quickly and smoothly through the water, while its pointed nose or displacement hull reduces drag and helps maintain a straight line, which is crucial in a race scenario. 

However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of a touring paddle board in a race also depends on the paddler’s skill level, strength, and conditioning. 

So, if you’re considering competitive paddleboard racing, a touring paddle board, coupled with regular training and practice, can certainly help you gain an edge over your competitors.

What Factors Should I Consider When Purchasing A Touring Paddle Board?

When purchasing a touring paddle board, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you pick the best board for your needs. 

  1. Length and Width: As discussed earlier, touring paddle boards are typically longer and narrower than all-around paddle boards. A longer board will generally be faster and cover more distance per paddle stroke, but it can be harder to turn. A wider board will be more stable but slower. Think about what’s more important to you—speed and efficiency or stability?
  2. Material: Touring paddle boards come in different materials, such as epoxy, inflatable PVC, or carbon fibre. Each material has its own pros and cons. Epoxy boards are rigid and smooth, offering good performance and durability, but can be heavy and difficult to transport. Inflatable boards are lightweight and easy to transport but can be less rigid and slower. Carbon fibre boards are extremely light and rigid, offering the best performance but are also the most expensive.
  3. Volume and Weight Capacity: The volume of a paddle board tells you how much weight it can support. Make sure to choose a board with a suitable weight capacity for you and for any gear you plan on bringing on your paddle-boarding adventures.
  4. Hull Shape: Touring paddle boards typically have a displacement hull—a pointed nose designed to cut through the water, making the board faster and more efficient. This is different from the planing hull found on all-round boards, which is flat and wide, designed for stability and versatility.
  5. Additional Features: Consider what additional features you might want. Many touring paddle boards come with bungee cords for securing gear, a kick tail for making sharp turns, or a built-in handle for easy carrying. 
  6. Price: Last but not least, consider your budget. The price of touring paddle boards can vary greatly, but remember that a higher price often means better materials and features.

By taking these factors into consideration, you can find a touring paddle board that fits your specific needs and preferences, ensuring many enjoyable paddle-boarding adventures to come.

Can You Surf With A Touring Paddle Board?

While surfing with a touring paddle board is technically possible, it’s not particularly recommended or ideal. 

Touring paddle boards are designed with a specific purpose in mind – for long-distance paddling and for speed on flat water. Their narrow and long design, which is excellent for cutting through the water and maintaining speed, doesn’t lend itself well to the manoeuvrability required for surfing waves

They lack the necessary width and planing hull design that all-round or surf-specific paddle boards have, which are better for stability and manoeuvrability on waves. 

However, if you find yourself on a touring paddle board in mild surf conditions, you can certainly give it a try but expect a challenging experience. 

It’s important to remember that each style of paddle board, whether it’s touring, all-around, or surfing, is designed with specific conditions in mind.

Is It Better To Have A Longer Or A Wider Paddle Board?

The choice between a longer or a wider paddle board depends largely on your intended use and your skill level.

A longer paddle board, like a touring paddle board, is designed for speed and for covering distance efficiently. These boards cut through the water more easily, glide further with each stroke, and track straighter. However, they can be more challenging to manoeuvre and control, especially for beginners.

On the other hand, a wider board offers greater stability, making it a good choice for beginners or for those who plan to do a lot of standing, fishing, or yoga on their board. Wider boards are also generally more suitable for larger paddlers and those planning to paddle in choppy water or surf conditions. However, they can be slower and require more effort to paddle.

So, in essence, a longer board is ideal if speed, efficiency, and distance are your priorities, while a wider board is better if stability and versatility are more important to you. It’s all about finding the right balance based on your individual needs and skills.

Is It Better To Have A Long Or Short Paddle Board?

Deciding between a long or short paddle board boils down to your personal paddling goals and your skill level.

Long paddle boards offer more speed and stability, making them an excellent choice for long-distance touring or racing. They glide smoothly and track better in a straight line, thanks to their length. However, they might be more challenging for beginners due to their reduced manoeuvrability and increased weight. 

In contrast, short paddle boards are more manoeuvrable and easier to control, making them an ideal choice for surfing waves or for children. They are typically lighter and, thus, easier to transport. However, they might be slower and less stable compared to their longer counterparts. 

In summary, if you’re aiming for speed and distance, a longer board might suit you better. But if your priority is manoeuvrability and control, especially in waves, a shorter board would be more appropriate. As with most things, it’s about finding the right balance for your needs and abilities.

Final Thoughts

A touring paddle board is an excellent investment for those who wish to explore the tranquillity of flat water bodies or engage in long-distance paddling. While it may not be the perfect choice for everyone, particularly beginners or those who wish to surf, its design for speed and efficiency makes it a standout in certain conditions. 

Your choice of a paddle board—whether long or short, wide or narrow—should ultimately hinge on your personal needs, skill level, and paddling goals. By taking the time to consider all the important factors, you can find the perfect touring paddle board that will provide endless fun and adventure on the water.  

Overall, a touring paddle board offers a unique and specialized experience in the world of paddle boarding. It’s not just about gliding on flat water but also about exploring new horizons and challenging yourself.

Remember, the best paddle board for you is the one that brings you the most enjoyment on the water.

Happy paddling! 

Emma Moore

Hi, I am Emma, and I am obsessed with all watersports, from swimming to surfing and everything in between. I spend my free time in the water or preparing for my next water travel adventure.

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