Whether you’re looking to make your first purchase or just interested in learning more about the sport, this article will help you understand the main differences between two popular stand up paddle board types, all-around vs touring SUPs. Although they’re all quite versatile, the shape of a SUP does influence your time out on the water. Design decisions determine what activities they’re best for so, understanding how the shape affects your paddling experience will help you decide which paddle board is best for you.

Touring vs. All-around SUP: It’s Not About Pros and Cons

Deciding which paddle board to choose is less about the board itself and more about you the paddler. You could make a list of pros and cons, but that’s not the best way to think about SUP design. Fundamentally, it’s not that one board shape is better than another, they’re simply different. Each model is designed to excel in different conditions and activities. Like a set of golf clubs, a putter isn’t outright better than a driver, it’s simply a different piece of equipment. You use a driver in a specific situation at which it excels, hitting the ball off the tee, and a putter for something entirely different, taking short shots on a tightly cropped green. Although you could line up a putter off the tee you probably won’t get the result you’re looking for.

The same holds true for stand up paddle boards. They come in all shapes and sizes because there are loads of different activities you can do with them. The key is to find the right piece of equipment for the way you plan to use it. Keep that in mind as we approach the two types of SUPs reviewed in this article, the touring vs. all-around SUP.

Explore a variety of options with THURSO SURF's Touring and All-around paddleboards.

Explore a variety of options with THURSO SURF’s Touring and All-around paddleboards.

Touring vs. All-around Paddle Board: Understanding the Differences

All-around and touring SUPs are two of the most common shapes out there. They’re easily identifiable and distinguishable from each other because of their shape. An all-around stand up paddle board has a rounded nose. Whereas a touring standup paddle board has a pointed nose. That might not seem too significant, but it makes all the difference on the water. In addition to that easily identifiable difference, there are a lot of other design tweaks that matter.

THURSO SURF's Touring features a pointy nose optimized for speed and distance,while All-around have a rounded shape suited for recreational riding.

THURSO SURF’s Touring features a pointy nose optimized for speed and distance,while All-around have a rounded shape suited for recreational riding.

Design Philosophy Behind Touring and All-around SUP Shapes

The design philosophy of SUP board design is indeed fascinating, merging elements of physics, hydrodynamics, and user experience to craft boards that prove to be not only functional but also enjoyable.
Venturing into technical details, the design of a SUP is an exquisite fusion of science and spirit. When engineers shape Paddle Board Forms, they carefully contemplate how the paddler, in this case, will interact with the water – envisioning how the board will seamlessly cut through waves, gracefully traverse a calm lake, or skillfully navigate a meandering river.
Touring SUPs embody the essence of sleek sports cars within the SUP realm, meticulously engineered for speed and covering long distances. Characterized by a pointed nose and an elongated, narrow body, these boards emerge as a top preference for enthusiasts who relish stand up paddleboard touring or engage in long-distance paddle boarding.
In contrast, all-around SUPs serve as versatile SUVs on the water – prepared for a diverse array of activities. Featuring a wider, rounded nose and a more compact, maneuverable body, they consistently rank as the optimal choice for those seeking the best all-around inflatable SUPs for general use.

All-around vs. Touring Shapes Design Philosophy

Aspect All-around SUP Touring SUP
Shape Rounded nose Pointed nose
Weight Generally lighter Slightly heavier
Stability High Moderate
Speed Moderate High
Recommended Use Recreational, beginners, yoga Long distance, racing, advanced users

Touring Stand Up Paddle Board Shape

The pointed nose of a touring board is what makes it stand out. It’s drastically pointier than all the other SUP shapes. That narrow nose continues throughout the full length of the board. This allows a touring SUP to cut through the waves by parting and directing the water to either side. Even a bit of chop on the water is no problem. With some balance and a solid stroke you can paddle through.

The touring SUP’s sharp angles and streamlined shape are a great feature if you’re paddling for top speed over long distances. Over the long haul, every little bit of drag adds up stroke by stroke. By the end of the day you’ll have no question about the benefits of a touring board. With its sharp, pointed nose, it’s easier to track straight (maintain a straight line without having to steer or paddle on both sides frequently). Increased efficiency means you’ll achieve a smoother and much more efficient glide on top of the water.

However, a pointier nose and narrower deck also mean the paddle board won’t be as stable. This can be challenging for beginners as they’re getting the hang standing on water. However, if you already have a season or two of paddling under your belt and you’re looking for a board built for speed and long distances, a touring SUP is the way to go!

Ride the waves effortlessly with pointed touring surfboards, making the experience easier and more enjoyable than ever.

Ride the waves effortlessly with pointed touring surfboards, making the experience easier and more enjoyable than ever.

What Are Touring SUPs Best For?

When you think of a Touring SUP, imagine a board that’s built like an athlete – lean, powerful, and designed for performance. These boards are the embodiment of speed and efficiency on the water. Their sleek design isn’t just for looks; it’s a statement of purpose. Every curve, every line, is crafted to cut through the water with minimal resistance, allowing you to glide effortlessly over long distances.

Touring SUPs are the marathon runners of the paddleboars world. They’re longer and narrower than their all-around counterparts, which gives them a distinct advantage in terms of speed and glide efficiency. This streamlined shape means you can paddle longer distances with less effort, making them perfect for those long expeditions where endurance is key.

In essence, touring SUPs excel in three primary categories:

Equip yourself with the essentials, seize your gear, and step into the unfolding adventure of the day.

Equip yourself with the essentials, seize your gear, and step into the unfolding adventure of the day.

When Is a Touring SUP Right for You?

For the Experienced Paddlers: While not exclusively for seasoned paddlers, touring boards are best suited to those who have a good level of experience and confidence in the water. Their narrower width can make them less stable than all-around boards, so having a solid paddling technique and balance is beneficial.

For the Speed Demons: If you feel the need for speed, a Touring SUP is your perfect match. These boards are designed to slice through the water at a pace that other boards can’t match. Whether you’re racing against friends or your own personal best, the touring board is your tool for achieving those high-speed thrills.

For Long-Distance Adventurers: Do you dream of long paddling expeditions, exploring coastlines or traversing large lakes and rivers? Touring SUPs are designed for such adventures. Their efficiency and speed make them ideal for covering great distances, allowing you to explore further and see more of the world from the unique perspective of your board.

Join experienced paddlers for an unforgettable journey into the night.

All-Around Stand Up Paddle Board Shape

The rounded nose of an all-around SUP is one of the obvious differences compared to touring boards. What makes an all-around SUP different from other rounded nose boards like yoga, multi-purpose, etc., is that they strike a balance between speedy efficiency and stability.

That makes them incredibly versatile. In fact, it’s why they’re called all-arounders. The rounded nose has a rocker to it, meaning it curves upward from the bottom to keep it out of the water. This feature, along with a wider deck helps all-around boards ride on top of the water rather than parting waves to either side. This in turn makes them more stable. All-around SUPs are a great choice for almost any conditions but there are some limitations.

Although an all-around shape can be used for long distance coastal cruising, a touring board will win the race. The rounded nose and wider deck create more drag when compared to touring SUP. However, if you’re not looking to race and just looking to cruise, an all-around SUP is hard to beat.

A rounded head shape opens up a multitude of possibilities for All-around paddle boards.

A rounded head shape opens up a multitude of possibilities for All-around paddle boards.

What Are All-Around SUPs Best For?

All-around SUPs are the heart and soul of the paddleboarding world. They’re not just boards; they’re gateways to adventures, big and small. Their design is a masterclass in balance – literally and figuratively. These boards are typically wider, offering a stable platform that’s perfect for those just finding their sea legs. But don’t be fooled by their friendly demeanor; these boards can offer a challenge too, pushing your skills and opening up new possibilities on the water.

In summary, all-around SUPs are perfectly suited for the following:

THURSO SURF All-around paddle board stands out as a versatile and reliable companion, excelling effortlessly across a spectrum of situations.

THURSO SURF All-around paddle board stands out as a versatile and reliable companion, excelling effortlessly across a spectrum of situations.

When Is an All-Around SUP Right for You?

For Beginners: If you’re new to paddleboarding, an all-around SUP is your best friend. Its width offers stability, making those first wobbles a little less wobbly. The forgiving nature of these boards means you can focus more on learning the basics and less on staying afloat.

For the Leisurely Paddlers: Not all paddleboarding adventures are about speed or distance. Sometimes, it’s about a gentle cruise around a lake, exploring hidden coves, or just basking in the sun. The all-around board is perfect for these moments, offering a comfortable and relaxed paddling experience.

For the Social Paddlers: These boards are perfect for social paddling adventures. Whether you’re joining a group of friends or taking your furry friend along for the ride, the all-around SUP provides the stability and space needed for a fun and enjoyable experience.

Savor the allure of the water in your leisure moments, surrounded by the company of friends.

Savor the allure of the water in your leisure moments, surrounded by the company of friends.

Comparing All-around and Touring SUPs

When it comes to selecting the perfect Stand Up Paddle Board, it often feels like standing at a crossroads – one path leads towards the versatile and forgiving all-around boards, while the other veers towards the sleek and speedy touring boards. This decision isn’t just about picking a board; it’s about choosing the experience you want on the water. Do you value stability for a relaxing and diverse paddling experience, or do you crave the adrenaline rush of speed and distance?

Paddle Board Features: All-around vs. Touring

Aspect All-around SUP Touring SUP
Stability High Moderate
Speed Moderate High
Beginner-Friendly Yes No
Suitable for Rough Water High Moderate

Stability vs Speed: Making the Right Choice

Let’s delve deeper into this pivotal choice between stability and speed – the two defining characteristics that set all-around and touring SUPs apart.

Stability is the cornerstone of the all-around SUP design. These boards are typically wider, offering a larger surface area that provides a stable platform. This stability is crucial for a variety of reasons, stability in an all-around board doesn’t just mean being able to stand up without falling; it’s about providing a reliable and versatile platform for a wide range of activities and conditions.

On the flip side, speed is the soul of a touring SUP. These boards are longer and narrower, designed to slice through the water with minimal resistance. Speed in a touring SUP isn’t just about moving fast; it’s about experiencing the water in a dynamic, exhilarating way. It’s about the challenge, the thrill, and the satisfaction of mastering your board and the elements.

Your choice between these two paths – stability with an all-around SUP or speed with a touring SUP – depends on several personal factors:

  • Your Skill Level: Beginners may lean towards the stability of an all-around board, while more experienced paddlers may seek the challenge and thrill of a touring board.
  • Your Preferred Activities: Consider what you want to do with your board. Are you looking to relax and enjoy leisurely activities, or are you aiming for endurance paddling and racing?
  • Your Paddling Environment: The type of water you’ll be paddling on can influence your choice. Calm lakes and rivers are suitable for all-around boards, while open and choppy waters might call for the efficiency of a touring board.
  • Your Aspirations: Think about what you want to achieve with your paddleboarding. Are you looking to improve your fitness, explore new waterways, or participate in competitive events?
  • Portability and Storage: Consider how easy it is to transport and store the board.
  • Budget Constraints: Factor in how much you are willing to invest.

In summary, the choice between an all-around and a touring SUP is a personal one, reflecting your paddling style, ambitions, and the experiences you seek on the water. Whether you choose the stability and versatility of an all-around board or the speed and efficiency of a touring board, each path leads to its own unique adventures and joys on the water.

Which SUP is Right for You?

Deciding on the right paddle boards is akin to choosing a dance partner. It’s about finding that perfect match that complements your rhythm, style, and the adventures you dream of. With a sea of information and options, how do you pinpoint the board that’s destined to be your companion on the water?
First, let’s revisit and summarize the key features and benefits of both all-around and touring SUPs. This recap will provide a clearer picture to help guide your decision:

All-around SUP
These are the jack-of-all-trades in the SUP world. Ideal for beginners, they offer a stable and forgiving platform. Their versatility shines through in their suitability for a wide range of activities. Whether it’s a peaceful paddle on a lake, trying out some SUP yoga, or a fun day out with the family, the all-around SUP is up to the task. It’s like the friend who’s always up for anything, reliable and always fun to be around.

Touring SUPs
Built for speed and efficiency, touring SUPs are the choice for the more adventurous and experienced paddlers. They excel in advanced paddle boarding, offering superior speed and performance for those looking to push their limits. These boards are perfect for long-distance journeys, cutting through water like a hot knife through butter. If you dream of long expeditions, racing, or simply love the thrill of speed, a touring SUP is calling your name.

Choosing between a Touring SUP and an All-around SUP isn’t just a decision about a piece of water sports equipment; it’s about choosing how you want to experience the world of paddle boarding. It’s about your personal connection with the water, the experiences you seek, and the memories you want to create. Whether you’re drawn to the tranquility and versatility of an all-around inflatable SUP or the exhilarating speed and adventure of a touring SUP, your perfect board is out there waiting for you.

Paddle boarding is a journey, not just a destination. It’s about the feel of the water beneath you, the rhythm of your paddle strokes, and the pure joy of being at one with nature. So, take your time, consider your options, and choose the board that resonates with your spirit of adventure. Happy paddling, and may every stroke take you closer to your waterborne dreams!

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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.

One Comment

  1. Sebastian Milgram August 17, 2023 at 4:58 am - Reply

    Nice Matt, thanks for this interesting article for beginners like me

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