These two types of stand up paddle boards have a similar shape, but significantly different dimensions, which makes the all-around vs. multipurpose debate insightful. Although most SUPs are quite versatile, the size and shape have a significant influence on the way your board performs and how you’ll enjoy your time on the water. The design of a paddle board determines what activities it’s best for so, understanding SUP design and how it affects your paddling will help you decide which stand up paddle board is best for you.

All-around vs Multipurpose SUP: Consider Your Personal Paddle-style

Start by reflecting on the way you like to paddle. Thinking about where you’re likely to paddle, who you paddle with, and how much you carry is the best way to decide whether an all-around board will be enough or if you’d be better off upgrading to a multipurpose SUP cruiser like the Max. Read about these design differences below and think about which sounds better suited to your needs.

man knee paddles a Thurso Surf Multipurpose sup with kids

Multipurpose SUPs larger size means more room for people, gear, pets, and whatever else you’d like to bring along.

All-around vs. Multipurpose SUP

All-around and multipurpose SUPs share a similar shape. Both have a rounded nose (neither is as pointy as a touring board) which widens out slightly and tapers off at the tail. However, their dimensions are significantly different. The Max Multipurpose SUP is both longer and wider than the typical all-arounder. That increases its overall volume and carrying capacity. That added size means its great for multiple activities and multiple riders like kids and pets, or even tandem paddling with a friend or partner. However, that increase in size does come with some tradeoffs in speed and maneuverability.

Multipurpose Stand Up Paddle Board Shape

The longer and wider a SUP is the more stable it is on the water and the more free deck space you’ll find available. The Max multipurpose SUP is wider throughout the full length of the board than a typical all-arounder. It tapers sharply at the very front and rear. This expands the functional surface area of the board so it’s possible to have two paddlers active at the same time rather than one paddler balanced in the middle.

To make sure everyone is safe and comfortable and to protect your deck from pets’ paws and claws, the Max multipurpose SUP features a full-length traction pad, covering the board from end-to-end in grippy EVA foam. This added traction makes a huge difference for other paddlers sitting or standing at the front or rear of the board, or when moving up and down its length to fight a fish.

The increased stability of a wider deck throughout will help you stay on track if your passengers or pets aren’t so keen to sit still. The extra deck space also provides you with plenty of options of what you can bring along for the ride in terms of gear. If you’re hauling a cooler decked out for fishing, or lots of camping gear the Max is your best bet!

However, the bigger a SUP, the more drag you’ll experience. The Max will be slower to accelerate and less agile than an all-arounder that’s a more high performance match for your bodyweight. Once you get going, your multipurpose stand up paddle board will track straight and glide far, but it won’t be as easy to turn. It’s built for cruising with a crew rather than speed.

man carries Thurso Surf Max Multipurpose SUP along beach in front of trees

Multipurpose SUPs are big, but still manageable.

What Are Multipurpose SUPs Best For?

  • Additional passengers – tandem paddlers or kids
  • Pets – especially big dogs or more than one dog
  • Fishing
  • Extra cargo space
  • Group outings
  • Family fun

When Is a Multipurpose SUP Right for You?

  • You have kids, a partner or pet that wants to paddle board (but would prefer you to act as the motor 😆)
  • You’re a fisherman who wants the advantages of a boat without all the hassle and expense.
  • You’re part of a group or activity that can benefit from extra cargo space for the planned activity.

All-around Stand Up Paddle Board Shape

As previously mentioned the major difference between an all-around vs. a multipurpose SUP is their dimensions and traction pad. An all-around SUP basically looks like a smaller version of a multipurpose SUP with a bit narrower nose and tail for added speed and agility. However, their smaller size has major implications.

The top brands will carry a variety of sizes so you can get a board that fits you perfectly for the kind of paddling you like to do. You can select which all-around SUP is best for you based on your personal specifications (height, weight, experience, and preferred activities).

Remember if a paddle board is wider along the full length of the board it tends to be more stable and less maneuverable. And if it’s too narrow it may be quicker to accelerate, but it will certainly be less stable with reduced tracking and glide. All-around SUPs allow you to find one that fits you perfectly. And because of their versatile shape you’re able to use them in a variety of activities.

woman stands next to Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around SUP on beach in front of breaking waves

Choose from a variety of sizes with an All-around SUP.

What Are All-around SUPs Designed For?

  • Recreational paddling
  • A wide variety of SUP activities (try SUP yoga, SUP fishing to see if you want to upgrade to a bigger SUP down the road)
  • Learning how to paddle board and building a foundation of skills

When Is an All-around SUP Right for You?

  • You’re a recreational paddler just looking for some time out on the water and a leisurely cruise.
  • You’re interested in getting serious about stand up paddle boarding, but just getting started so you want to build up your skill level first.
  • You like doing all kinds of activities on your SUP. All-arounders are a great pick if you like to do some SUP yoga, occasional SUP fishing, SUP surfing, and more.
man and woman discuss the differences between all-around vs multipurpose SUP while carrying iSUPs into the water

Find the right size SUP for what you plan to do and head to the water!

All-around vs Multipurpose SUP: Which Is Best for You?

Great brands put a lot of thought and effort into the design of their SUP shapes. It’s not just the aesthetics that matter. The shape and size of your SUP will influence your time on the water. So think about what you want to use your SUP for and then find the shape and size that suits you and the activities you have planned.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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