Are you finally ready to give stand up paddle boarding a try? Have you been watching people do it and wondering if it is right for you?
If so, then you need to understanding the characteristics that make up the best paddle board and what board is going to be a best fit for you.
Since you’re taking the opportunity to plan ahead (great job!), you’ll definitely want to purchase the best stand up paddle boards for your needs. To help you make the best decision possible, we have written loads of stand up paddle board reviews and created an interactive stand up paddle board buying guide (Consumer Reports style)!
Everyone has their own personal opinions (check out our blog), including us, on what makes a quality paddle board. I get questions all the time about the best paddles, best boards, inflatable or a regular board. At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that you purchase the best stand up paddle board for your needs, so we provide all the information that you need to make a good decision.
Within the buying guide, we’ve included the following information about the boards that we’ve reviewed:
- Stand up paddle board photos
- Brand name and board type/model
- Overall length of the board
- Width of the board in inches
- Board Thickness
- Material (i.e. Polyethylene/EPS foam)
- Pricing (by range)
- Consumer opinion (ratings/reviews, up to 5 stars).
Quick note regarding the included pricing information, the Stand Up Paddle Board Buyer’s Guide is setup as follows for your convenience: less than $400= $; between $400 to $800 = $$; between $800 to $1200 = $$$, $1200 or more = $$$$.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the paddle board guide, we have added a search box to the bottom of the page that includes even more boards. Most of the boards that are included come with paddles and other accessories , a feature of many popular paddle boards.
|Name of Board||Board Length||Board Width||Board Thickness||Material||Price||Amazon Rating|
|Sea Eagle SUP Inflatable Paddle Board||11'0"||30"||4"||Reinforced Drop Stitch||$$$||5.0|
|Naish Mana Air||11'6"||33"||4"||thick drop stitch||$$$$||5.0|
|C4 Waterman iSUP XXL Window Inflatable||10'6"||30"||4"||drop stitch PVC||$$$$||4.8|
| Bomber||11'3/8"||30"||4-5/16"||Reinforced Drop Stitch||$$$$||4.7|
|Surftech Blacktip Stand Up Soft Board||10'6"||30"||5.6"||Polyethylene Skin / EVA Foam Core||$$$||5.0|
|Surftech Lahui Kai Pro Elite||14'||27.83"||6"||Carbon Fiber Epoxy||$$$$||4.8|
|Ozoboard Cross-over||8'6"||25"||4-1/2"||Polyethylene/EPS foam||$$||4.5|
|KL Industries Sun Dolphin Seaquest||10'||33"||10"||polyethylene||$$||4.4|
|Conquest Adventure Gear Inflatable||11'||30"||-||PVC reinforced skin||$$$||4.1|
|Advanced Elements Hula 11||11'||30"||4"||PVC-coated polyester||$$||4.0|
|BIC Sport ACS Wind||9'4"||27.5"||-||Polyethylene/EPS foam||$$$$||3.7|
|Airhead AHSUP-1||10'6"||30"||-||Extra Rugged Drop Stitch/EVA||$$||4.4|
|Lifetime Freestyle Multi-Sport||108"||35.5"||6"||EVA||$$||3.5|
|11' SUP Soft||11'||31.5"||4.75"||EPS core||$$||5.0|
|Tower Adventurer 9'10" Inflatable||9'10"||32"||6"||Military-grade PVC||$$||4.7|
|Surftech Brown Rail||9'6"||30.5"||4.63"||EVA||$$$$||4.5|
|BIC Sport Classic||11'6"||30"||-||Polystyrene/Fiberglass||$$$$||5.0|
|Ocean Kayak Nalu||11'||31"||-||Polyethylene/Hollow core||$$||4.6|
|Surftech Universal||9'6"||31.5||4.65"||EPS/Foam core/fiberglass and epoxy lamination||$$$$||4.2|
Stand Up Paddle Boards 101: Finding the Best Paddle Board
A stand up paddle (also abbreviated as SUP) is a type of paddle that is used in stand up paddle boarding. A stand up paddle is basically used to propel the user across the water surface while standing on the board. A paddle consists of a shaft, a blade and a handle. Stand up paddle boarding, also known as beachboy boarding, uses the paddle to offer a special and unique experience when cutting way through the waters.
The paddle boards can range from about 9-feet up to 14-feet in length & are sized so as to accommodate the user’s weight & skill level. The shapes may vary dramatically so as to meet different user expectations. The varying degrees of rocker (that is, the upward curvature of the board that’s viewed from the nose to the tail), thickness & shape of rails (the sides), and the overall width also usually determine the board’s performance characteristics.
Most paddle boards are constructed of a foam core which is wrapped in a fiber glass and epoxy skin, which is similar to the traditional surfboard construction. However, some of the excellent paddle boards are usually built from molded plastics, wood & other materials.
There are also some extremely durable inflatable paddle board designs which are made for white water river runners, or paddle boarders who have a limited storage space or area. Most paddle boards usually come well equipped with pre-installed or an integrated deck pad, that’s essential for good grip and comfort.
It is best you look for a built in center handle, which will make transport to-and-from the water so much easier. Low profile bungee cord deck rigging will provide a more secure means to lash down extra gear.
The sweet spot for “all around” boards is basically about 11 ft long by 34″ wide & about 5″ thick, with minimal rocker. These type of boards are easy to paddle, super stable and are capable of handling modest surf. All around paddle boards are a great choice if you just started getting into this sport, or if you want a board to share amongst your friends and family members with different levels of skill & interest. The price can range mainly depending on the material and the design of the board.
As with the boards. SUP paddles vary in shape and size relative to the paddler’s interests and needs. Most users typically choose paddles with smaller blades, while the long distance racers & fitness paddlers normally prefer the wider blades. The average blade has a width of about 8″ and it is similar in design to modern canoe paddles except for the length. In order to get the right length, choose a paddle that’s 6″ to 8″ taller than the board paddler.
Alternatively, you may buy an adjustable paddle, that’s convenient for sharing among paddlers of varying heights. Select a paddle that has a bent shaft (an angle between 7-and-12 degrees) so as to maximize the length of each stroke while on the water. Good SUP paddles are usually made from Kevlar, plastic, wood, fiber glass, carbon fiber, or any combination of these.
It is best you look for paddles that are both durable and light, and you should also consider spending a few more dollars for a lighter paddle since it can make a great difference in regards to comfort & enjoyment when you are on the water.
Reviews of the Top 5 Best Stand Up Paddle Boards
Why Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
The moniker of “The Most Rapidly Growing Sport in the World” is usually used when describing paddle boarding. The key reason for the rapid growth of SUP is the simplicity of the sport. All one needs is a board, a paddle and a body of water.
Now, let’s have a more detailed look:
Here is a link to Wikipedia if you would rather read about it there.
Stand up paddle boarding involves an individual or a paddler standing on top of the board and using the paddle so as to move the board through water.
This typically gives you a full body work out Unlike surfing, SUP isn’t limited to just the ocean; one can paddle the board through any body of water. The paddle board can be taken and used in all types of waters including choppy or smooth waters with waves & boat wakes, or even the calm back waters of creeks.
This sport will also allow anyone of any age who prefers not to drive motorized boats to go out onto the water and enjoy themselves. Anyone can take a good leisure morning paddle, a brief afternoon work out, or use the paddle board to go fishing from almost about anywhere with water over 12 inches deep.
The paddle boarding sport is a great way for you to exercise more so considering it will burn up to over 700 calories in an hour. It’s a great all round work out which helps you improve your overall balance and will allow you to gain more core strength after every work out.
Training on unbalanced surfaces is quite effective for building core muscle groups, (that is, the back and the stomach) and for the training muscles to fire in coordinated ways to ensure the benefits are instantly transferable to various other dynamic sports & activities, as opposed to the traditional resistance training where the body muscles are usually trained to work in isolated groups in the stable environment.
In sports, we require the body to provide great explosive strength especially when we’re on the move, that is the kind of benefit you will get from cross training in a more fluid environment & this is where this sport of paddle boarding excels. Besides standing, one can sit, lay, or kneel on the paddle board. (Yoga & exercise classes/sessions are also normally offered in some stand up paddle surfing or boarding destinations.)
While standing on the paddle board, a rider will be able to see much more clearly down in to the water and get to observe the fish, the underwater plants & other great scenes that are under the sea, river or ocean. There are some SUP models which are set up for anglers with straps, seats & rod holders, which can be used for fishing almost anywhere.
Performance boards have traditionally been made from laminated layers over foam cores. The SUP boards are much larger boards & the desire to use them to travel has led to development of the inflatable system where boards and pumps can be easily carried in a backpack. The core material used is known as ‘drop stitch’.
Thousands of locked nylon stitches typically keep the boards at a certain specified thickness. Pressure from the specially designed hand pumps can inflate the board to over 30-Psi. This creates boards much less rigid than the hard boards. 2 of the greatest advantages of the inflatable paddle boards are durability and transportability.
Paddles that are used for paddle surfing/boarding are a lot similar to the traditional canoe paddles only longer. They’re usually constructed from wood or carbon fiber with flat blade on one end that connects to the handle on the other end by a long shaft. The blades usually range from 6″ to 10″ in width with round or oval shafts ranging from 67-inches to 86-inches in length with 1″ to 1.5″ diameter.
The blades are designed in various shapes and come with different features. Usually the blades have banana peel like shapes, sometimes with a slight keel on the blades’ back side. Some other popularly used shapes can include oar like blades or diamonds. Different blade shapes are at times used for different kinds of paddling conditions (like long distance, flat lake water versus ocean surf)
SUP originally came from Polynesians and then became popular in Hawaii in the 1940’s as a way of surfing smaller waves. SUPs were originally used to take photos/pictures of tourists and having fun while on the water. That is what it is all about really, having lots of fun. Popularity of this sport began to pick up in early 2000s when many surfers realized that it was a great way of teaching people how to surf whenever the tide is down. It gradually began to spread up-and-down the west coast, east coast, along the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, in the Caribbean, among other places.
In the year 1777, ship’s surgeon of Captain Cook’s voyage is said to have described the act of paddleboarding at Tahiti: “I couldn’t help but conclude that this patient felt the most supreme pleasure while he was paddling, so fast & so smoothly on the sea.” Seems that act became a much more regular act and event years later. The oldest canoe known is dated from China. The utility of paddle boarding is apparent in the ease of paddle boarding, as seen in various historical & archaeological accounts from all around the world.
The Hasaki or Hasake, is the name that refers to boards that were used by the ancients in Mediterranean coast lines. Nowadays, Hasaki is commonly refers to the stand up paddle boards in some countries like Israel. Arthur Klein, (an author of Surfing and Boarding) wrote that Hasake or Hasaki is bigger and much heavier than the modern paddle board. Ranging between 13 ft to 15 ft in length & weighing at 155 pounds, the Hasaki has evolved from its’ 8th century beginnings & contributed to today’s paddle board designs.
Peru & Latin America
The activity of paddleboarding in Peru is more than 5,000 years old & is still prevalent in its’ original form today. Made from reed, the sizes and the shapes differ based on the intended purpose of the SUP. The designs are very favorable for fishing & sporting and they give the paddler much ease when maneuvering. Today one can find these types of boards identified as Caballitos de Totora of “little reed horse.”
There is a lot discussion regarding the actual origin of paddle boarding as a sport or activity. Is it originally from Peru or Ancient Polynesia or is it even from ancient Africa? The 1 thing that’s common throughout history of paddleboarding is that all cultures understood the importance and usefulness of the sport and they crafted, shaped & formed history which eventually led to our modern day paddle boarding sport.
One of the more common beginner complaints when paddle surfing is drifting. However, making some minor adjustments to the board can greatly improve or solve this problem. 1st, a larger fin will create maximum stability since it will sit much deeper in the water, it’ll create just enough drag to maintain the direction and also keep your board from tracking side to side. It is recommended you choose a board which suits your S.U.P needs. Flat water boards or open racing boards are designed to ride fast by cutting through the water. But, they aren’t designed to ride the waves.
Now, let me enlighten you on the most important things to consider when purchasing a board:
Purchase a board while keeping in mind where you are going to paddle so as to determine the right weight for your board. Windy conditions may dictate you buy a heavier board, however in some areas like California, current trend is to always go light.
Think of your paddle as an extension of your body so as to help you turn and stabilize. Look for something six to eight inches taller than you, which has a large, a bit more scooped oval shape at the blade. Some surfers/paddlers prefer a slightly bent shaft for a much longer stroke.
Look at the length of your paddle board. Like the regular surfing boards, they normally come in lengths varying from 9 to 15 feet. The bigger boards will give you much more stability when you are learning.
Pay keen attention to the width of the board, plan on at least 26″. Though some people pay more attention to the length, most stand up paddle surfers believe that the width is of more importance.
Adjust the thickness of the SUP based on the weight of your board and your own weight. A lighter board typically gives you more float. There are some boards which feature a thickness which tapers off.
Note that there are some types of paddle boards which come with flat bottoms; others may feature a curve. It is all based on the user’s preference, but it would be better if you could try out your friends paddle board before buying your own.
Remember to examine the nose and the tail of the board you are purchasing. A flatter nose will give you a bit more glide. The board’s tail will affect your turns.
In conclusion, if you are looking to purchase a good paddle board (SUP), you should put into consideration all the features mentioned above. Stand up paddling was listed as 1 of the most popular outdoor activity among 1st time participants with a 56 percent of all the 1st time participants of all outdoor activities in the year 2013, beating windsurfing which had 43 percent of 1st time participants in the same year 2013.
The aforementioned report also cited median age for stand up paddling in the year 2013 as 28 years, accounting for 63 percent of all the men & 56 percent of all women who participated in various outdoor activities that year.