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Lingo and Terminology of the SUP Industry.

Lingo and Terminology of the SUP Industry.

Standup Paddle Boards are full of terms that every person who is starting SUPing should know. We have created a list of the basic terms and parts of a SUP. Use this list as a learning guide and remember these terms while you shop for a SUP. These basic terms are universally shared by every paddler and Paddle Board Manufacture out there. 

Basic SUP terminology:

Deck:The top of the board, the part you stand on. It is usually flat, but can also be domed in some cases.

Deck Pad:The soft foam or rubber pad on top of the board. Used for added traction and comfort.

Doming:Doming is most often used on Surf SUP boards. This allows for easier transitions during wave surfing. 

Bottom: The bottom of the standup paddle board. Flat bottoms are typically what you will see more often than not, as this allows for more stability.

Rails:The edges of the SUP are called rails. Higher volume rails will aid stability, while thinner rails will act in an opposing manner. The rail design feature allows for more maneuverability in the surf.

Rocker:This is the section that starts from the curve of the nose (front of board) to the tail (back of board). Rocker can in turn can be broken down into nose rocker/lift and tail rocker/lift. Rocker is one of the most important things to look at on a board as it helps the board move through water. River and Surf SUP boards generally have more rocker than flat water boards.

Tail:The tail is the back end of the standup paddle board. There are actually many tail shapes available, and while some of the tail shapes aid in board performance, most of them are all about preference and aesthetics.

Fins:Stand up paddle board fins are an essential part of your paddle board rig. Without a fin your board would start to turn radically with every stroke, making the whole paddling experience pointless. The fin allows you to move forward in a relatively straight line, or “track” * Held in by fin boxes.

  • Single fin set-up: A board with a single fin.
  • Two plus One: One large center fin and 2 small outside fins (sidebites)*
  • Thruster: All three fins are the same size.
  • Quad set-up: All sidebites.

Fin Box:The area where the fin attaches.

Tracking:The degree that the board naturally goes straight. Fins are used to improve tracking. 

Handle:Often called the “soap dish,” the handle is a built in way for you to easily carry your board under your arm.

Leash:The accessory used to keep the rider attached to the board.

Vent and Vent Plug: Only found on hard boards. Because they are made of foam, the gases in the board will expand and contract with the air temperature. Vent plugs can be removed to allow the gases to equalize during storage and to prevent damage to the board due to over expansion of the gases.

Stability: The ease of standing on the board. Width adds stability and, to a lesser extent, so do thickness and length.

Planing hull: Surf board like, i.e. designed to ride on top of the water.

Displacement hull: Kayak-like nose, designed to cut through the water. 


Recreational:Most user friendly and can be used for many types of SUPing.

Touring: Often displacement hulls for use with higher speeds and are designed for cruising flat water long distances.

Racing: Most often displacement hulls for flat water or open water speed. The most unstable type of board.

Downwind: Specifically designed for surfing, traveling waves on open water. Usually 12-14 ft or longer with good speed and significant nose rocker.

Surfing: Planing hulls designed primarily for surf.

Whitewater: Specialized designs for technical rivers and creeks (and the brave souls that paddle them). 

Fishing: Built for fishing and include extra stability and means to carry rods, tackle boxes. Long, flat, and thick.


Hard Boards:High performance boards shaped in foam and wrapped with fiberglass or other composite materials to create a hard exterior. 

Foam Boards:Constructed of hard foam, cheapto build and cheap to buy. Perfect for families.

Rotomold:Boards made from molded plastic, cheapest and great for beginners. 

Inflatable:Boards made of heavy duty vinyl with a dropstitch construction. Can be stored in small places, and perfect for traveling. 

While there are many more technical terms used in the industry, this list is a perfect resource for new standup paddle boarders and people learning the basic terms of the sport. Many of these terms carry over from surfing and other paddle sports, but some are unique to SUP terminology and paddleboard slang. Knowing the proper terms and lingo for SUP can help you buy a board, or talk to other people about paddle boarding.



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