I caught the paddle boarding bug a few summers ago and since then it’s become a huge part of my life. It’s turned into a major trend and as a result the selection process has become a little bit overwhelming. I’ll be breaking down our top choices for beginners, surfing, yoga and touring. I also highlight the cheapest SUP board on the market.
|Solstice Stand-Up Paddleboard||All-Around||10' 8"||Inflatable||$|
|Keep Stand Up Paddle Board Setup||All-Around||10'6"||Solid||$|
|NAISH Hokuna||Surf||9' 10"||Solid||$$$|
|BIC Sport Wing AceTEC||Touring/Racing||12' 6"||Solid||$$$|
|Tower Adventurer 2||All Around||10'4"||Inflatable||$|
How to Use This SUP Guide
If you want to skip right to the choices you can click on any of the categories and that’ll take you to the full review of the product we recommend.
If you’re completely new to this process I suggest starting at the top of the article and working your way down.
Types of Stand Up Paddle Boards
The first thing you need to identify is what you’re going to be using your stand up paddle board for. If you’ve clicked or scrolled to this section I’m assuming you’re new to the selection process. If you’re not feel free to skip this. Basically there are four types of paddle boards; flat water paddle boards, touring (racing) paddle boards, yoga (fitness) paddle boards and finally surf paddle boards.
Can you use a flat water board to crush a SUP Yoga session? Absolutely, but it’s not as ideal as using a nice board with a grippy mat.
Flat Water or All Around Paddle Boards
For most of us, a flat water paddle board is where it’s at. If you’re not interested in doing downward dogs on your board OR flying around at top speeds Or catching waves.
If you answered no to all of these questions, a standard, flat water SUP is for you. If you’re a beginner or wanting to use a SUP to fish this is a great place to start. These boards provide a ton of stability so you spend more time on your board and less time in the water. If you’re brand new to the sport, I strongly suggest renting a board and give it a whirl, if you’re like the majority of people that try paddle boarding you’re going to fall in love.
Paddle Boards are a serious investment and you’ll want to make sure you’re fully committed before you pull the trigger. The main specs that you’ll want to pay attention to are width, length, weight and construction. You’ll notice that all of these components tie into one another. If your board is wider and longer it’ll be able to handle more weight. Depending on whether it’s solid, or inflatable this will also impact the amount of weight it can hold.
For an all around board we recommend looking for a board that is 30-34″ in width. This will give you a nice wide base to plant your feet on. Until you master the art of balancing on a SUP, a wider base will put you in a position to generate power with your paddle without losing your balance.
In terms of length my preference is somewhere between a 10 or 11 footer. If your board is much longer than 14′ you’re probably looking at a race board which will be narrower. If it’s shorter then 10′ you’re entering surf SUP territory.
The final dimension you should pay attention to is weight. Most boards are plenty sturdy for anyone who weighs 200lbs (90kg) or less. If you’re heavier than that, or you’re trying to double avoid the inflatable SUPs. Which leads us into our next point, construction.
Paddle Boards can be made out of a wide range of materials the most basic classification is inflatable versus or a solid construction.
Inflatable boards are exactly that, you blow them up. This makes them terrific for storage and transportation. If you’re planning on cruising solo these are often a great place to start. They’re usually much cheaper than the boards made out of a solid material, however that isn’t always the case.
Solid stand up boards can be made out of a range of materials. The most common construction is a foam interior wrapped in a fibreglass shell. Others incorporate bamboo or another rigid material to reinforce the bottom of the deck. The quality of material is what’s important; cheaper boards are generally going to be heavier then the ones used to race with.
Touring or Race Paddle Boards
When folks ask about touring or racing boards they generally assume they’re unstable. And while a wider board is going to provide more stability, most will find that a race SUP is actually fairly easy to manage. The boards are constructed in a different fashion (longer and slimmer), however the main difference between an all around board and a race board is price.
Touring boards are going to be made out of lighter materials, they’ll have some customizations (such as a displaced hull) which allow them to slice through the water. Touring boards swap width for thickness, to decrease drag without compromising volume.
The goal is to reduce drag to increase speed.
These are actually incredibly fun to ride as they’re noticeably quicker through the water. That said, most entry level paddlers aren’t interested in swapping three or four hundred dollars for speed.
If you want to zip around the bay all day leaving other paddler’s in your trail these boards are for you.
Fitness or Yoga Paddle Boards
Yoga SUPs are very similar to an All Around board. In my experience, the wider the better. I personally use a Lotus YSUP Inflatable Yoga SUP Board. There are a few things I really like about this board, first off it’s very wide, 32″ wide to be exact. That provides a ton of “mat” area. I’d also recommend using an inflatable board as the surface is a little softer.
It also features a full length traction pad which is terrific for a solid Yoga sesh in the great outdoors. The real kicker for me was price. I already owned 2 boards, a solid touring board and an inflatable board. A third board is a little overkill, but I figured a third board just means more time spent with friends on the water. And when I’m by myself I could use it for Yoga.
Surf Paddle Boards
Admittedly I’m not a great surfer. I love surfing but I’m fairly average at the sport, which makes this section a bit tricky. From many conversations with friends who are great surfers and paddle surf they seem to unanimously agree, the Starboard Pocket Rocket is the way to go. It’s a smaller board, at just 8’5 and according to them it let’s them turn on a dime. It’s pretty outrageous to watch a quality surfer tear around on the pocket rocket.
I personally use a NAISH Hokua 9’10” board for SUP surfing because I find it’s a little easier to balance on.
The Top Stand Up Paddle Boards Reviewed
Now that you know what type of board you’re looking for, it’s time to take a look at the best individual paddle boards.
Beginner Paddle Board Reviews
Cheapest (New) Paddle Board: Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard
Solstice Bali iSUP Key Specs
Type: All Around’r
If you’re brand new to the sport of paddle boarding and you’re looking for an inflatable all around’r that isn’t going to break the piggy bank the Solstice is a great place to start. An iSUP for under $500 is great value, and while you might think it’s going to be prone to bending or cheap quite the opposite is true.
Once blown up to 14-15PSI it’s rock solid across the length of the board. The board is 10’8″. I wouldn’t use this board in choppy conditions or for going out into the surf but for cruising around bay or the lake it’s perfect. The Solstice comes with a pump but you might want to consider buying a better pump to make sure you get enough air in the unit.
Cheap All-In-One Setup (Leash, Board & Paddle) – Keeper Sports Stand Up Paddle Board Set:
Type: All Around’r
I’m not sure that you can find a cheaper setup. Sure you can find cheaper boards but they’re probably not coming equipped with a leash and a paddle.
California Board Company has a rock solid reputation in the industry. The board itself is made high density EPS and it’s reinforced with three wooden stringers. This setup makes it pretty darn durable. You could certainly make the argument that the board itself is worth $550 and the paddle and the leash are nice bonuses.
Overall a very nice board for a very reasonable price.
The Highest Rated SUP Board:Tower Adventurer 2 10’4″ / Tower Adventurer 9’10”
Tower Adventurer 2 – Key Specs
The Tower 2 has quickly become the best selling paddle board on the market. It’s not a whole lot different than it’s predecessor the main difference is it’s a little more user friendly with it being half a foot longer.
When you’re first starting the additional size is very helpful. More space for you to wobble around and hopefully find your balance. It’s also a little bit nicer if you’re planning on doing some Yoga on the water.
Tower Adventurer iSUP – Key Specs
If you’re looking to spend a little bit more on a product that can manage more weight and is more durable the Tower Adventurer Stand Up Paddle Board is for you. At under 750 it’s still considered to be on the low end of SUP prices.
It’s made from high quality military-grade PVC and comes with a two year manufacturers warranty. It’s advertised to carry 350lbs which is pretty remarkable for an iSUP.
This Paddle Board offers the most bang for your buck and is terrific across all skill levels.
The Best Beginner Paddle Board: Naish Nalu GS Stand Up Paddling Board 11′
Brand new to the sport of paddle boarding? Maybe you’ve cruised on a lake a few times, know you love it, but are still a little unsure on a SUP. The Naish NALU GS 11′ SUP should be your board of choice.
It’s a pretty large board which makes it incredibly stable, if you can’t stay atop the Naish Nalu GS Paddle Boarding probably isn’t the sport for you. It’s seriously that easy.
Unlike the Tower & Solstice boards above this isn’t an inflatable board. It’s made out of fibre glass, wood and EPS foam which makes it super stable.
Because it’s not an iSUP and it’s so big it’s perfect for tandem paddling, which if you’ve never tried is a lot of fun.
Yoga Paddle Board Reviews
NAISH MANA AIR: The Top Stand Up Paddle Board for Yoga
Naish Mana Air iSUP – Key Specs
Length: 10′ or 11’6
Maybe you’ve gotten the paddle board bug, you’ve tried cruising around the bay and now want to get into some YSUP. Something about Yoga on the water is incredible.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re doing yoga on an iSUP and not a sold constructed board. From experience, the air filled paddle boards give a little more cushion and give then one made from foam and fibre glass. Next you want to look for a big ass board, the Naish Nalu GS is a perfect example except it’s the wrong material.
After that it’s all about features and feel. The Mana Air is silky smooth on the water and doubles as my “hey friend, you don’t have a paddle board, let’s go paddle boarding you can use this one”. For smaller riders, the 10′ version of this board will be suffice. For anyone over 5’8 I would suggest the 11’6 version. More area means more stability to get bendy on the water.
The Top Surf Paddle Board Reviews
The Best Stand Up Paddle Boards For Surfing: NAISH Hokua Series
NAISH Hokuna Key Specs
Assuming you can surf, and you know I can but not well, the pocket rocket is your go to Surf Stand Up Paddle Board. I can tell you from experience I hate the thing, but all my buddies who surf, absolutely love the Pocket Rocket. The ability to cut in and out on the rocket is way better than any other board on the market.
You’ve been warned if you can’t surf stay clear! I personally prefer a larger surf SUP which is where the NAISH Hokua Series comes into play.
The Best Tour Paddle Board Reviews
The Top Touring/Race Stand Up Paddle Board: BIC WING ACE-TEC
BIC Wing Ace-TEC Key Specs
At 12’6″ the BIC Wing Ace-TEC is a bit of a hybrid. It’s not quite long enough to be considered a true race board however, it no longer fits in the all-around category either. This is a terrific paddle board for fitness paddling and zipping around the bay. I’ve seen guys race the ACE-TEC in a number of an amateur races, however you’re not going to find them very often in the pro circuit.
The Best Value Touring Stand Up Paddle Board: 14″ Tower Xplorer
14″ Tower Xplorer Key Specs
At just under $900 the Xplorer is great value. It’s the fastest inflatable board I’ve ever been on, although it doesn’t compare to the light weight solid construction boards that are used in the pros. This is a very impressive iSUP, that said make damn sure you have a high end pump. Trying to pump this up with a cheap hand pump is a nightmare.