Stand up paddle boarding is becoming one of the most popular sports in the world right now. It has captured the imagination by allowing normal, everyday people to hit the water and have an activity to do. This has bucked the previous trend that had been seeing mostly very fit people able to perform any sort of watersports. The stand-up paddleboard craze has well and truly began. So much so, in fact, that is now considered to be the fastest-growing sport in the world. Today, we are going to take a look at the sport of stand up paddleboarding itself. We’re going to look at the benefits of doing it. We’ll then take a look at what makes a paddleboard great, and what to look for when you’re looking to purchase one. Some people can get a little overwhelmed, but after our guide, you will have a much better idea of what you are looking for! We will then look at some of the top stand up paddleboards that are currently on the market. This will help you narrow down your search and allow you to get out on the water in a much quicker fashion!
Top SUP Stand Up Paddleboard Comparison Chart
What is Stand Up Paddleboarding?
Some people out there may be a little unsure of what exactly it is. So, we should answer this before we go any further. To be very crude about it, stand up paddleboarding is a combination of surfing and kayaking. You are standing on a board while rowing yourself in the water. This has done wonders for many people, but we will get to more on that later. This sport has grown to be so popular because it is easy for virtually anyone to learn. If you can balance yourself on a board, then you can do it! It’s taken a lot of people that weren’t able to get out onto the water and allow them to do exactly that, so it has really taken off a result.
Paddleboarding is a great sport for many people because it allows them to go out on the water and spend time with their family, friends, or just themselves. It’s a great way to waste away the day because it is very relaxing. You can go see things that you’ve never seen before, you can peruse up and down the beach meeting new people, or you can simply just choose to paddle out and sit on the board for extended periods of time. The choice is totally up to you as to what you do, but it’s a very good way to relax after a hard day or week!
One of the big benefits that stand up paddleboarding offers is fitness. Fitness is something that everyone should be practicing and looking to obtain, but many people have a hard time fitting that into their schedules. This is a great way to do it, and most importantly, it’s very low impact! This refers to the fact that this sport is great on the joints. You don’t have to be jumping up and down, running for hours at a time on pavement, or even pushing weights. Instead, you can get a great workout just with a board and a paddle! Nothing else is needed, so it’s really a great way to cut down on costs as well. Some sports require all kinds of material to do it and do it well, but the sport of paddleboarding isn’t nearly as taxing!
Where Can I Use My Paddleboard?
Unless marked as such, paddleboards can be used virtually anywhere that has water. Almost all paddleboards are easy to carry around, so you won’t have to worry about that at all as you look for a place to paddle. In addition to surf ‘zones’ and beaches, you can also use paddleboards on rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, bays, etc. You can get to so many places that a boat wouldn’t be able to because you aren’t going to be taking up very much space, and you won’t have an engine or anything to pollute the water with. Basically, you can go anywhere that would be an acceptable place for kayaking and canoeing as you are essentially doing that while standing up after all!
Origins of Paddleboarding
Paddleboarding has been around for a very long time, dating back to the origination of surfing in Hawaii, it is believed. It’s always been seen as a great for instructors to keep an eye on the surfing students. This way they could be a little closer to them while still being able to easily balance and move around if they needed to. This started to become its own sort of category when people began to use stand up paddleboards to get to surf ‘zones’ that couldn’t be reached by those that were paddling like a surfer would- in the prone or face down position. Once paddleboarders were able to get to those waves that most surfers couldn’t, it really blew up to be a huge sport! And it has been rapidly growing ever since then!
Types of Stand Up Paddleboards
Now that we know what the benefits of paddleboarding are, we can take a look at the different types of paddleboards that are out there for purchase. There are five main kinds, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some work better than others for specific things, and this section will help you narrow down what kind you will want to purchase for use!
The name says it all for this category. This type of paddleboard is best used for surfing. This type of board differs from most others because it is shorter and more narrow than others. It’s also quite a bit lighter, to allow for you to make turns and jumps and the such. They also tend to have a narrow tail and nose, to look like a regulation surfboard would. The downside to this type of board is that it’s not going to be great for long distance paddling trips. It will be hard to keep on a specific track, due to the narrowness of the board and its nose and tail. It’s also a lot less stable, again, because of the narrow nature of it. So be aware that if you plan to go far out, this is likely not the option that you will want to use!
Touring paddleboards, also known as “all-around” paddleboards, are the type that most people will associate with paddleboarding. This is due to the fact that most people who have one will have one of these. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, this type is very wide, much longer than any other choices, and has a pointed nose as well. This makes them very desirable for newer people because it’s easy to balance on something that is so large! And it can even fit more than one person, so you can bring kids or friends along without any problems whatsoever. Due to the size and volume, this type is also very stable, as you would have guessed. This type is great for paddling- outside of the surf zone of course. This type is the absolute best choice for people that are pure beginners. It’s really a good place to start in order for you to learn gradually and work your way to a different type of board!
This is perhaps the most ‘out there’ type of paddleboard that you can find. It seems random that paddleboarding and yoga would be linked together, but it’s actually a great idea. In addition to the water being calming and all of the serenity surrounding it, it also takes a great deal of balance, strength, and power to do yoga on a board. This means you can get an awesome workout on the board, see things, and get super fit. This type is usually about the size of a touring board, but it is a little more rounded. It has a soft top of the board so that you can lay down on it, though. This makes it much different from others because it’s designed for you to be laying on it, after all, as you practice yoga! They also typically have places where you can attach items like resistance bands and other fitness accessories to help you get the most out of your day on the water.
Racing boards are the type that will allow you to get the most extreme workout possible. This type of board is great for anyone that wants to get very serious about their fitness while also going very fast out on the water. You can also do competitions with these! This type of board is completely different because they are designed to get through the water as quickly as possible. They are much longer than traditional paddleboards, they are more narrow, and they have a very ‘pointy’ nose and quite a long fin. This is because the board is made to help you get from point A to point B in the quickest, straightest, and most efficient manner. This type is for people that are very advanced because they are unstable when you are going SLOWER. This means that if you are new to paddleboarding (unless you’re just a freak athlete), then you will want to look elsewhere for a choice that will better suit you. You need to be moving fast, and to remain moving fast, if you want to properly use these boards!
This type of paddleboard came to be because of challenges faced by some members of the paddleboard community. Chiefly, the problems of transportation and storage made life difficult for some. Perhaps you have a small car or little to no space at home. You will not want to purchase something only to leave it to wither away in the elements. So maybe an inflatable paddleboard is your best bet. This type is very easy to carry around because they are much lighter. However, they do have a couple of drawbacks to discuss. First, they aren’t nearly as stiff, of course, as a normal board would be for you. So, riding waves will be a huge challenge unless they are just smaller waves. This is likely to be something that a beginner or someone that just wants to have a leisurely day on the water with would use. This type, though, is going for down water paddleboarding, it should be said. Similar to rafting, the inflatable type can take a beating on rocks that the others cannot! So it kind of becomes just like a raft and will allow your board to hold up.
Board Thickness & Volume
The volume of your paddleboard will determine how well it maneuvers. To figure out what the volume is, you have to look at a number of things. The length, width, and the thickness of the board will help determine the overall volume. The more volume you have (the more of the three combined), the more stable the board will become. This is something that is highly needed for those that are new to the sport. You have to first learn how to paddle before you can move on to other things, after all! Keep in mind, though, that bigger volume boards are harder to turn. This is why you see racing boards going in one straight line after all- because they’re huge! So, if you want to make quick and responsive turns, then you will want to look for something shorter. But not if you’re not used to a starter board first! To find the right one for you, you just have to experiment and see what feels right to you. Remember, you are going to have to be able to carry the board at some point, so you have to keep that in mind. And you will have to store it somewhere as well. All of these things should be big factors to you if you want to protect this big investment you will be making!
What Do You Need to Begin?
To keep it simple, a board and a paddle are all that you need to have a great day out on the water. This is for the majority of people that will be paddleboarding. However, there are other accessories that you will need if you plan to go above and beyond what most paddleboarders end up doing out on the water. If you plan to go surfing with your paddleboard, you will need a leash as you head into the surf ‘zone’ because you don’t want to be yanked off the board and get injured. Also, if you’re planning on going very far out, you might want to look into life jackets. We here are going to encourage everyone to buy one and have one ready, but you especially need to be able to judge your skill and experience at swimming. If you know you aren’t a good swimmer, please do not take the risk of going without a life jacket. You can have fun and be safe at the same time, and that is the ultimate goal of this activity.
Features of Paddleboards
There are a few features that paddleboards could- or should- have that you should know about before looking to purchase one. We’ll go into further detail here to help you figure out exactly what you’re going to be looking for for your days out on the water.
We eluded to it earlier, and it’s just a fact of life. You will need someone to haul around your paddleboard. And nearly all of them have a carry handle to use. This makes it much easier to carry because some boards are just too wide, heavy, and/or long for you to use. The best designs have a handle in the very middle of the board so that you can carry the board right next to your hip without the board tipping to one side or the other. A really good board has a handle that is molded into the board so that it won’t be in the way of you when you’re in the water. These are little details, but they can go a long way in helping you have a better time in the water.
One of the most important features of stand up paddleboards, especially for new riders, is the deck pad. The deck pad is going to be your home while out on the water (well, hopefully!). The deck pad is where you will be standing up on, so it needs to be made of a good material and last for a while. It’s always helpful to get something with a warranty on it because paddleboards can be quite expensive. And no one wants to see theirs get ruined and have no backup plan for it. What you are looking for is something that is comfortable and also offers you good traction. You need comfort because you may want to be on the board for extended periods of time. Your feet will be digging into the board due to this. Also, you will be want something comfortable for when you need to take a rest and sit or kneel down on the board for a little bit. It wouldn’t do to have something that’s not comfortable here. This is especially true if you’re buying your board for leisure and hanging out with your friends and family. Traction is also important, though. If you don’t get a grip on your feet, then it won’t matter how comfy and cozy the material feels on them. So be careful and pick something that will do well in both areas!
The material in which the board is made out of can have a big impact on the price and quality of the board.
The most common option is boards that are made from fiberglass. These boards usually come with a mid-range price point and have a layered construction to them that also includes epoxy. The more advanced the system used, the more it will cost you.
This type of board is usually less expensive than the other choices. This type is a great entry-level choice because of this. They aren’t, however, very good when it comes to pure performance. You aren’t going to be going very fast or ride as smoothly, but you can afford enough for the whole family if you go this route.
We’ve already discussed this type, but this is a material that can be used. This is a great option for rocky rivers, but they are difficult to steer or go too fast with in comparison to other types.
This is the type that looks the best to the eye. Just imagine the sun hitting someone’s board as you are watching from the beach. It’s a classic look! Wooden boards nowadays aren’t totally made out of wood, in order to keep them lighter in weight, so you can hit the water without being bogged down all too much. This type is going to be more expensive, but they are a more premium choice in terms of overall quality.
Best Stand Up Paddle Board Reviews
#1 on our list is a good, moderate priced entry-level option. The 10’4″ Anima from SBBC is designed for children, teens, and first-time paddlers. Please don’t misunderstand that statement to mean this board has no good features and it’s cheap and chinsy! On the contrary! It’s filled with excellent features and of course, that’s why it hit the top of our list. We started with analyzing the purchaser feedback on Amazon and the ratings are VERY good! At 32″ wide (maintaining that width through a maximum of the length) and containing a boxed out rail system, this board feels more stable on the surface than most. Then, not happy to rest on that accomplishment, SBBC has added a double concave construction on the bottom of the board which allows it to glide smoothly in the water.
Pre-installed bungee tie-downs and a fingerprint textured two-tone white & black deck pad are all standard. In fact, the feature list go ON and ON. Check it out HERE.
- Great for families
- Good price
- Good entry level board
- Be aware of potential shipping condition issues (ie. lacking fins, dented, etc.)
- Easy to dent
Here’s one board that we would rate as a strong “OK”! Most purchasers of this board are super happy with the buy, though some have gone to great lengths (for our benefit) to explain the details of what keeps this board from hitting the highest ratings. The board might be a little more “wobbly” than others, and if you’re more than 200 lbs, you may find this board a bit more challenging than another option with a higher weight rating. The official rating is 250 lbs, but users pushing 200 lbs have complained about what they believe is a higher-than-it-should-be weight rating. This board has a surf leash included as well as a paddle and a tri-fin system. It also has a padded roof rack for you to easily put it on any vehicle safely without harming it. It is made of high-density foam, and it’s got good traction for the price! The dimensions are 108 x 5 x 30 inches, and it weighs 21 pounds – though the shipping weight is 43 lbs.
- Good price
- Has a number of additional accessories
- Dents easily
- Color seems to fade
- Not as easy to balance as others
here’s our first entry for those that are looking for an inflatable. This board is also at a very manageable, budget-friendly price, and it comes in four nice looking colors to really give you a choice on the matter. It weighs just 23 lbs, but it can support up to 300 lbs. Comes with a number of accessories including a paddle, pump, fin, backpack, and more. This one is made from military-grade PVC, so you can get out on the water and not worry about dents and dings going down the river!
- Good price
- No worries about dents and dings
- Easy to store
- Seams sometimes are leaky
- Loses some air overnight on occasion
Peak has been making Stand Up Paddleboards in San Diego, CA since 2004, so they know a thing or two about the sport. This 10’5″ board is 32″ wide, 4.5″ thick and can hold a 250-pound paddler. The best thing of all (I think) is that it weighs only 23.5 pounds! Experience has told me that the lighter a SUP is, the more use it will probably get! The non-aggressive shape of the board allows for bringing aboard a cooler, a pet or even another person! The board gives you all the features of a hard-shell board, but it’s wrapped in a soft EVA shell and an ABS bottom. Dropping this board won’t mean automatic scratches.
A two-piece alloy paddle with a nylon blade is included, and of course the paddle floats! The ankle leash is 10-feet long and Peak has decided to throw in a waterproof cell-phone case as a bonus along with a 6-point bungee system for secure gear storage. The center carry handle is necessary to bring it from your car to the water (in most cases) if you’re the sole carrier.
Amazon owners rate this board very high compared to many other competitors and that is what “peaked” our attention when we researched the best board for us to buy!
The 30-day return guarantee and the 6-month material quality warranty are nice additions as well!
- Very stable board
- Lighter board than most of similar size
- Very comfortable for casual use and can take turns fairly well for a racing board
- Has an actual built-in handle- could be a detriment for some
The Isle Versa is a higher-end board with lots of features you wouldn’t even know you needed if they weren’t included. You can get the 10’5″ model or the 11’2″ option. At 27 pounds it’s not hard to transport and it can handle paddlers up to 245 pounds. It’s 4.5′ thick and 32″ wide. There’s an 8-foot coil leash for security and it comes with a retractable carry handle that doubles as a security point for attaching a chain or anti-theft cable. The 3-piece aluminum adjustable travel paddle is really versatile and the locking mechanism is sturdy so you won’t feel any wobble between the pieces of the paddle once it’s adjusted and locked. The paddle includes an “anti-twist” technology that prevents unwanted movement or twist during use. There’s a bungee system at the back for attaching any extra items you have with you (makes sure they’re waterproof!!!).
Other features include a soft-brushed EVA traction pad under your feet. It’s like foot luxury when you least expect it! There’s a funky feature right in the center of the board and it’s a Gore-Tex plug that automatically regulates the internal temperature of the board so it won’t get too hot if it’s stored or transported in very hot weather. It further features a “traction pad” on the back which helps in cases of surfing with your SUP. The nylon center fin requires NO tools to install and it’s really easy to attach.
- Good volume for beginners
- Nice designs set it apart
- Epoxy makes it fairly light
- Not inexpensive
- Not portable like an inflatable SUP
ISLE is back on the list, but this time it offers us an inflatable paddleboard that is slightly more expensive than the other item it placed on the list. This paddleboard comes with an adjustable paddle, a pump, and a carrying bag to hold everything in. This board only weighs about 19 lbs, but will support people up to 275 lbs. It’s also made from military-grade PVC, so dings and dents will not occur easily on it if you plan to go down rough rivers. It has a great look, and the grip on it looks very nice, thick, and comfortable as well.
- Has great traction
- Nice looking board
- Very light and easy to carry
- Doesn’t stay in a straight line easily
- Is a little bit slow
This is the most unique looking, by far, paddleboard on the list. The Seaquest looks a whole lot like a canoe up front, but there are no seats! Instead, you’ll be standing up on its no-slip foot pads. It comes in three great, vibrant colors, and it’s at a very reasonable price as well. It comes with a paddle, a compartment for storing items, and it is easy to carry as its very lightweight and has five handles for you to use. It is a little heavy at around 50 lbs, but it’s a great choice if you’re looking for something just a little bit different!
- Made like a kayak, so it’s very durable
- Good price
- Easy to carry around
- Very slow because of its design
- Attracts dirt and dust very easily
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
No matter what your reason for buying a stand-up paddleboard, your task will now be much easier! When you hit the water, you will be looking great and performing very well thanks to one of these boards. Before leaving you, we do have one more suggestion to make, though. To make sure you are getting the very best board for you, make sure you check out a local shop. Those places can help you by measuring you for the right board. In fact, some of them will offer classes and might even let you try out some boards just to see how you feel on them. This is quite a decision and a bit of a costly investment, so you and the seller will want to do your very best to find the best equipment for you. You can also rent them to make sure that you know what you are getting into! No matter what, though, we really hope and believe you’ll be much less stressed after reviewing our guide!