Your Complete Guide To Stand Up PaddleBoards (SUPs)

best stand up paddle boards
Beautiful couple in black swimwear walking with standup paddleboard on the beach ready for surfing

Over the last few years, paddle boarding has really taken off. The best part about this for me, at least, is that there are now more options to choose from.

Of course, as I soon found out, this doesn’t always mean that every make and model out there is worth an investment. To figure out what the best stand up paddle boards were, I had to do quite a bit of research.

Below, you will be able to discover just what I learnt when I went on my search for the top SUPs. In addition to this, I’ve also included reviews of the paddle boards that I found to be a step ahead of the competition.

Inflatable or Solid SUP?

The very first decision that you are going to need to make is regarding whether you should buy a solid SUP or an inflatable one. The truth of it is that there is no right or wrong answer – rather, it is about selecting one that is right for you. So, let’s take a look at some of the features of each of these options…

Solid SUPs

Solid SUPs can be made from a wide variety of materials. These include wood, plastic, foam, fiber, and sometimes even Kevlar. The one thing that they all do have in common, though, is that they have an epoxy coating on top of them. This is what hardens the board and ensures that it is airtight as well.

The main advantage offered by solid or hard SUPs is performance. They have a tendency to be faster and more responsive as well. At the same time, these boards can be rather heavy due to their construction. Furthermore, hauling them around can be quite the hassle.

Inflatable SUPs

The most common material used for inflatable paddle board construction is high quality PVC and drop-stitch material. The PVC provides the rigidity once the board has been inflated. It is the drop-stitch technology, however, that works to ensure that the board can be inflated and deflated at will.

Despite what most people think, these boards are incredibly tough and durable. They also offer up full rigidity and can be used for a number of different forms of paddle boarding. Interestingly enough, these paddle boards also work incredibly well in environments with rapids, rocks, and boulders. This is because they are actually tougher than solid boards that are more easily scuffed.

Of course, as mentioned, inflatable SUPs may not be able to match up to their solid counterparts for performance-based activities. So, these boards are best for those who would like to stick with leisure activities.

Types Of SUPs

There are around six different types of paddle boards. The categories correspond with the kind of activity that they are most suited for:

  • All-Around: as the name suggests, this type of paddle board works for all types of activities and environments. If you don’t have a specific activity in mind or if you are only just getting started with paddle boarding, then this is a good option for you.
  • Flatwater: this kind of board is best suited to smooth water, with very little waves. It often works well for covering longer distances as well. These boards are a bit longer and narrower than all-around boards.
  • Fishing: considering that they function as a fishing platform, these boards are often quite stable and have a wider base. The downside, though, is that most of these boards aren’t all that fast. Fishing paddle boards may come equipped with specialized rigs and other features.
  • Touring: touring boards are more suited to advanced paddlers. They tend to be longer and narrower, and thus more difficult to balance on. The upside of this, though, is that they are also faster and you can cover a lot more distance.
  • Surfing: the tell-tale feature of a surfing paddle board is that they are more oval shaped than other boards. The benefit of this, though, is that these boards are much easier to maneuver. As you can imagine, they are also great at handling waves.
  • Yoga: Yoga paddle boards are often wider and shorter, allowing you to balance on them more easily. They also have much better non-slip surfaces, making it easy for you to practice your poses on them.

Hull Design

Another way that you can differentiate paddle boards is with the hull design. The boards with a displacement hull have narrower, more pointed front-ends. This allows the board to cut through the water, essentially displacing it. These hulls are excellent for speed and a smooth paddle.

The planing hull is smoother and more rounded. As a result, the board will ride on top of the water rather than through it. While this board may compromise on speed, it more than makes up for it with stability.

The Size

Stand up paddle boards are available in a variety of lengths and widths. Now, there are several factors that will determine which dimensions are most suitable for you:

Your Size

Getting a paddle board that is too big or too small for you is simply going to get in the way of your fun. As such, there are a few rules that you need to remember. Child riders may want to stick with a board that is less than 9 feet long. If you are on the petite side or weigh less than 150lbs, then you should opt for one that is less than 10 feet in length.

Skill Level

If you are a beginner or simply looking for a board for general use, then it is best to opt for a board that is a little bit over 10 feet. More important than the length, however, is the width as it can have a huge impact on stability. So, look for boards that are between 32 and 34 inches in width. If you have been paddle boarding for a while, though, you may not have any trouble in handling longer and narrower paddle boards.

Activity

If you wish to go touring or racing, then look for a board that is greater than 11 feet in length. Now, for such boards it can be tempting to opt for the narrowest possible board. However, unless you are fairly confident in your capabilities, avoid ones that are around 28 inches wide. For the best balance between stability and speed, select one that is around 30 inches in width.

The thickness of the board is quite important as well, particularly when it comes to inflatable boards. So, try to look for boards that are around 5 inches or 6 inches thick. Boards of such a thickness will only add to the overall rigidity of the board. So, when you are standing on them, it will be virtually indistinguishable from a solid board.

Best Stand Up Paddle Board Reviews

Now, let’s take a look at the top paddle boards on the market:

Atoll 11′ Foot Inflatable SUP Board

ON SALE
Atoll 11' Foot Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6...
661 Reviews
Atoll 11' Foot Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6...
  • NEW 2019 isup package comes complete with : extra...
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  • NEW Sleek new heavy-duty travel backpack (large...
  • 6 inchs thick, 32 inces wide and 11 feet long, the...
  • Tri fin design enables easier and more efficient...

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite being 11 feet in length, this stand up paddle board is incredibly light. I had no trouble at all hauling it around by myself, even when it was fully inflated. At the same time, the SUP becomes totally rigid when it is inflated. Not to mention, it is able to support up to 350lbs in weight so you can bring an additional rider along if you want. All of these features are due to the fact that the board is made from high quality, dual layer PVC material that is incredibly durable.

I also really enjoyed being on this paddle board. With a width of around 32 inches, the board is quite stable and I was able to easily keep my balance. The board is six inches thick and this certainly helps with that. The other enjoyable thing on this board is that it tracks quite well due to a well-placed, durable fin. The only unfortunate thing about this fin – and the board – is that it is tricky and time-consuming to fit onto the board. In addition to the fin, the board also comes along with a paddle, pump, leash, and backpack.

SereneLife Premium SUP Board

ON SALE
SereneLife Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle...
  • EXTRA WIDE FOR BETTER BALANCE: Measuring 10'5 feet...
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  • ALL IN 1 BLOW UP PADDLE BOARD KIT: Complete with...

I would say that this is a good board for people of all skill levels who don’t have a particular activity in mind. At 10 feet in length and 30 inches in width, this board more or less balances itself out. As a result, I discovered that it was quite stable out on the water. Even if you aren’t the greatest at keeping your balance, this task should be made a little easier with this board. Not to mention, the board has a really great non-slip surface which further adds to its ease of use. Even if you should take a tumble, the surface is soft enough to cushion it.

Another thing that I noticed was that steering the board around was a total breeze. Even with a little wind, I had no trouble getting it to go in the direction that I wanted. The only complaint that comes to mind with this board is the sheer heft of it. Although the manufacturer says that it weighs less than 20lbs, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. So, if you are on the smaller side, this board may be a bit tricky to manage. You get a pump, storage bag, glider, paddle, repair kit, and leash with the package.

Roc Inflatable SUP Board

Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards W Free...
778 Reviews
Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards W Free...
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My favorite thing about this SUP is the stability. It is 10.5 feet long and 32 inches wide. Thanks to this, I found that it was incredibly easy to balance on. Even first-timers would feel completely comfortable on this board. Also, the textured surface makes it easy to get a good grip on the board, even when it is wet. The weight limit on this SUP isn’t too bad either and it has been designed to equip around 275lbs. So, it should work out quite well for an adult rider and a passenger child. 

I do like that the board is quite so durable as well. It really makes you feel like you are getting the best possible quality for your money. The military grade material and reinforced core really convinced me that this is going to last a while. The only aspect that I wasn’t too fond of, though, was trying to get the pump hose to form a proper seal with the port. It is a tricky thing to manage and I found that it was a two-person job. Apart from this, however, I would say that this is an excellent SUP for paddlers with different levels of expertise. 

iROCKER Cruiser SUP Board

ON SALE
iROCKER Cruiser Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board...
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If you are looking for unbeatable stability, then I would nominate this board. Part of this balance is offered by the fact that this

If you are looking for a SUP to carry a couple of people, then I would suggest this one. It is capable of holding up to 400lbs without any issue at all! Not to mention, the width is 33 inches and the length is 10 feet, 6 inches long ensuring that there is more than enough room for everybody. These dimensions have another advantage as well – they keep the board perfectly balanced. So, whether you are out on the water by yourself or others, you will have no trouble keeping the board upright and steady. At the same time, the overall design ensures that the tracking isn’t too shabby either. 

What I also appreciated about this SUP was that it works well in all kinds of water environments. This, of course, is due to the construction of the board. With a quad layer PVC design, you can be certain that this board can withstand most of what you throw at it. If I had to pick a flaw regarding this board, it would be about the setup. Considering the size and the dimensions of the board, it isn’t surprising that you have to make quite a bit of effort in inflating the board.

Tower SUP Board

ON SALE
Tower Inflatable 9'10' Stand Up Paddle Board - (6...
544 Reviews
Tower Inflatable 9'10" Stand Up Paddle Board - (6...
  • [WIDE SUP DESIGN] - The Tower Inflatable Stand Up...
  • [SUPERIOR MANEUVERABILITY] - The large single...
  • [MILITARY GRADE MATERIAL] - 6" Thick...
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  • [INFLATABLE & PORTABLE] - Take your paddleboard...

While I do really like what this Tower SUP brings to the table, I would caution that it is not meant for beginners. While I found it easy enough to keep my balance, my friends who weren’t as experienced didn’t fare as well. So, this isn’t the best board to get started on. However, what does stand out about it is the rigidity. Once blown up, this board is as close to a hard board as you can possibly get. Also, as long as you know what you are doing, maneuvering the board out on the water shouldn’t be too difficult at all.

The steering is aided by the fact that the board is just 9’6 long and around 32 inches wide. While it doesn’t have the length required for touring, it is still suitable for most flatwater activities. The other feature that I noticed was that the top of the paddle board has an excellent non-slip, gripped surface. This makes it a lot easier to keep your footing even when the board is wet. While the weight capacity on this isn’t amazing, it can easily hold over 200lbs. The board comes equipped with a paddle, pump, and fin.

Retrospec Weekender SUP

Retrospec Weekender 10' Inflatable Stand Up...
  • This is the most stable inflatable standup paddle...
  • Made of military-grade PVC, making it virtually...
  • Measures 10'x30x6" when inflated & is just as firm...
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  • Includes Retrospec's 1 year

This is another board that I would recommend to more advanced paddle boarders. While this board certainly has a lot to offer, it takes a little more skill to keep it balanced out on the water. This is especially since the width is only around 30 inches. So, this board works best for someone who is a fairly confident rider. One of my favorite features on this SUP is the sheer durability. Made from military grade PVC, this is an SUP that will fare well in all kinds of conditions. If you are headed to somewhere with rocks or boulders, this paddle board will be able to survive without even getting a scratch on it.

There is also no denying that the stand up paddle board is also quite rigid once it is blown up. The six inch thickness certainly helps with this and makes you feel a lot more comfortable on the board. The weight limit is around 275lbs, so you may be able to bring a small rider on if you want. Another aspect that I like is that this board deflates to be rather small so lugging it around is that much easier. A pump, paddle, and repair kit accompanies this package.

PEAK Expedition SUP Board

Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board |...
  • BUILT FOR EXPLORATION: Designed for the paddle...
  • 35% LIGHTER CONSTRUCTION: The 10'6" Weighs only 18...
  • READY TO SURF iSUP ACCESSORY BUNDLE: Ideal for all...
  • TOUGH 6" MILITARY GRADE PVC CONSTRUCTION: Puncture...
  • USA DESIGNED AND RISK FREE RETURN: 30 day...

If you want a paddle board that can be used for a variety of activities, I would suggest that you opt for this one. To start with, the board is 10 feet, 6 inches long and 32 inches wide. This provides you with just the right balance between stability and performance. As such, it is a jack of all trades type of board. Adding to the fact that the weight limit on this board is 350lbs, it is also great for family adventures or if you want to bring an additional rider on.

I was impressed by just how durable this board was, as well. Not only is the board made from military grade PVC, but the outer shell is also puncture resistant. Despite this, the board is still surprisingly lightweight. You aren’t going to need too much of upper body strength to haul it around. The only thing that I don’t like about this board is that inflating it can be rather exhausting so be prepared for some serious effort. Even then, it may take longer that you would like for it to inflate. The board is accompanied by a backpack, paddle, pump, and leash.

What Is Our Best SUP Recommendation?

All of these stand up paddle boards are really the best that the market has to offer. However, if I had to narrow it down to just one, then it would be the Atoll SUP board. It hits all the high notes with balance, performance, and durability. It is also incredibly portable and a breeze to move around. You can be quite certain that you are getting your money’s worth with this paddle board.

This concludes the guide to the best stand up paddle boards. With all of the information available here, you should have no problem determining which board is just right for you.

Last update on 2019-09-15 at 23:06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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