Stand up paddling boarding is a great activity for leisure or exercise. Solid stand up paddle boards (SUPs) are excellent, however not everyone is able to transport or store one. Inflatable paddle boards, on the other hand, give you the fun of paddle boarding without the weight and stress of transporting a solid one.
Whether you want a solid or inflatable model, this guide will teach you how to choose a paddle board and the important things to consider, then we’ll share the best stand up paddle boards you can buy.
Comparison of the Best Stand Up Paddle Boards
Below is a list of the best SUP boards. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
|SurfStar Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||18.8 lb||10'6"|
|SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||19.6 lb||10'|
|Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||17.5 lb||10'|
|Red Paddle Co Sport MSL Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||22 lb||11'3"|
|Boardworks SHUBU Kraken Stand Up Paddle Board||20 lb||11'|
|BIC Sport WING Air Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||23 lb||11'|
|NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||29 lb||10'8"|
|Hobie Mirage Eclipse ACX Stand Up Pedal Board||58.9 lb||12'|
|ISLE Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board||28 lb||10'5"|
|Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||19.5 lb||11'|
|Aqua Plus Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board||20 lb||10'6"|
What to Look for in a Good Stand Up Paddle Board
To make sure you get a quality board you feel comfortable on, here are the most important things to consider.
1. Type of Board
Most people think of solid boards when they think of stand up paddle boards. Solid boards are great for some, but they’re not a good fit for everyone. If you want a paddle board but a solid one is not an option, an inflatable paddle board is a viable alternative.
- Solid Board: The downside of solid boards is that they take up a lot of space, are heavy, and can be a hassle to transport. If storage and transportation aren’t an issue then there are plenty of reasons to choose a solid board over an inflatable one. A solid board will offer you a more stable feel, especially if you’ll be riding waves. You can also get a more custom fit on a solid board. So, if performance or speed is your priority, a solid board will be the best option for you.
- Inflatable Board: Inflatable boards are loved because of the flexibility they offer. If you want to travel or hike to a lake, it’s much easier to do so with an inflatable board. Many are compact enough to fit in your car, your closet, or even your luggage set. The inflatable paddle boards are also preferred for paddling through whitewater because of how well they handle bumps.
2. Type of Hull
What you’ll use the board for will determine the type of board that will work best for you.
- Displacement Hull: This type of board is best if you’ll be fitness paddling, racing, or touring. Displacement hulls have a pointed nose, similar to a kayak, and they’re designed to create an efficient, smooth, and fast ride. The goal here is aerodynamics and minimal drag. Because the focus is speed, it’s important to be clear about the most efficient weight/volume balance for your board. The board is difficult to control if there’s not enough weight on it, and if there’s too much weight on it then you’ll lose precious speed. These boards track straight, however they tend to be less agile than planing hulls. Displacement boards made for super premium performance can be pricey, but keep in mind you can always search for paddle boards on sale and try to get a great deal.
- Planing Hull: If you’ll be using your board for leisure paddles, these are the best SUP boards for you. The shape is more similar to a surfboard and promotes stability and versatility on rougher, more dynamic waters. The wide and flat boards glide on top of the water and are easy to maneuver. They’re great for relaxing paddles as well as surfing, whitewater, or yoga.
3. Width of Board
The width of the board will impact how it handles and how stable you feel. The best beginner stand up paddle boards will be a little wider, and that added width will help them feel more secure. If you’ve been paddling for years then you might prefer a more narrow board for better speed.
If you’re going to be carrying gear like a camping cooler, then a wider board will give you more storage space. A wider board will also be more beneficial for SUP yoga positions.
4. Length of Board
When thinking about the length of the board you want, consider that shorter boards are easier to control but longer boards are faster. But if you need to bring a lot of gear along, a longer board may suit you better.
- Long Boards: Most of these have displacement hulls and are longer than 12’ 6”. You should choose this type of board if you’ll be doing long-distance touring or if speed and tracking are important.
- Medium Boards: Most people go with a medium board between 10’ and 12’. These boards are great for beginner and intermediate paddle boarders. Medium boards are the most versatile and are perfect for all-around use. Some of these boards will have displacement hulls but most will have planing hulls.
- Short Boards: Boards under 10’ are more agile and maneuverable so they’re great for surfing. If you’re teaching a child how to stand up paddle board, then a short board will be the best for them because it’ll be easier for them to control.
5. Weight / Portability
If you’d prefer a lightweight paddle board then go with inflatable over solid. The main reasons to buy an inflatable stand up paddle board is because it’s lighter and easier to travel with. Whichever type of board you choose, make sure you can comfortably carry, transport, and store it when you’re not using it.
If you choose an inflatable board, be mindful of whether or not the board includes a carrying bag. If it doesn’t, you probably want to make sure you have a bag you can carry it in. Many inflatable boards include a paddle as well. Make sure the paddle collapses down to a manage size and isn’t too heavy for you.
If you plan to fly with your paddle board, be sure you know the airline’s weight limit for luggage. Many airlines don’t charge extra for checked luggage under 50 pounds, however budget airlines may have a different weight limit.
The keys to feeling stable on your board are volume and weight. The volume relates to the board’s ability to float with weight on it. The thicker the board, the higher the volume and the more weight it can support.
When looking at the weight capacity of a board, consider your weight as well as the gear you’ll have with you. If you plan on paddle boarding with your dog, make sure you know their weight as well. If you exceed the capacity, you’ll lose efficiency when paddling.
Displacement hulls track very well, but fins on either type of board promote tracking and stability. Larger fins offer more stability and track straighter, however smaller fins offer better maneuverability. Stand up paddle boards have a variety of fin configurations, some of which are removable.
Inflatable SUPs can have the same fin configurations, however these boards either have detachable semi-rigid fins or attached flexible rubber fins.
- Single Fin: Single fins are great for flatwater paddling. Sometimes the fin can be adjusted back and forth.
- 2+1 Fins: This is the best fin configuration if you’ll be surfing with your board. You’ll have a large fin in the center and one smaller fin on each side.
- 3 Fins: Also a good option for surfers, all three fins are typically the same size and you can track well on flatwater with three fins. You might also see this configuration called a ‘thruster’.
Leashes are a safety feature you should wear every time you paddle board. Some boards include them and for others you’ll have to purchase a leash separately. Your leash should be secured to your dominant leg and it keeps you attached to the board in case you fall off. Your board also acts as a floatation device, so remaining attached to it can make the difference between life and death. Many SUP leashes are between 8’ – 10’ in length, but no matter how long it is, the most important thing is that you’re comfortable with it. The two standard types of leashes are coiled and straight, and they fit around your ankle or calf.
- Coiled Leashes: Coiled leashes are usually for flatwater and racing and will have less length. These don’t drag and you won’t have to worry about them getting caught on things like seaweed.
- Straight Leashes: If you’re going surfing then go with a straight leash. Since it lacks coils it drags in the water which leaves your board clear to move your feet around and lessens the chances of the board recoiling and hitting you.
- Quick-Release Leashes: You can buy this type of leash or you can purchase it as an attachment and add it to your leash. It’s worn around your waist and allows you to disconnect from the board almost immediately with the press of the quick-release tab. It’s becoming more popular for racing because it combines the convenience of a coiled and straight leash in that it doesn’t drag in the water and it won’t be in the way of your feet on the board. While some think it’s super unsafe to wear any type of leash in whitewater because of the potential to get caught on things and even potentially trap you under the water, if you’re going to be in fast-moving water a quick-release leash would be the safest of the three options.
9. Attachment Points
These may be included or you may want to buy them separately. Attachment points vary in use and can be designed for everything from a action camera to a fishing rod holder.
10. Air Pump
Consider whether or not your inflatable board comes with a pump. If it does, consider whether it’s manual or electric. Some people have no problem pumping up their board by hand, but others think it’s worth the investment to get an electric pump.
If you’ll be carrying extra gear like camping supplies or a dry bag, then it’s best to get a board with straps or tie downs. These will keep your gear secure during your paddle.
Best Stand Up Paddle Board Reviews
Below are the best paddle boards on the market. Whether you want a solid or inflatable board, you’ll find the perfect one from our list.
SurfStar Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Measuring 10’6” x 33” x 6” and weighing in at just 18.8 lbs, this ultra-light inflatable paddleboard from SurfStar is one of the best boards for travel. It comes with all of the essential accessories, including a three-piece fiberglass paddle, a coiled leash, a manual pump, and a repair kit, plus a comfortable backpack and a detachable center fin that make this board super-easy to take on any adventure. Made from super-durable double layer PVC, the SurfStar Inflatable Paddleboard can support up to 320 lbs and will hold up against waves and wind just as well as its higher-priced competitors. Extra-convenient features include a camera mount, a waterproof bag for keeping your essential belongings safe, and a central handle so you can easily carry the board to the waterfront.
If the Surfstar SUP is sold out or you want to save a little bit of money, consider buying last year’s model instead. It has a similar design and is just as great as the current model.
SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
One of the best inflatable stand up paddle boards is made of a military-grade PVC construction and is loved for its steadiness. The SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is 10’ long and gives you 2’ 6” of deck width and 6” of thickness which improves balance and stability. The 19.6-pound board has three bottom panel fins to promote speed and handling. Beginner and intermediate paddlers appreciate this board because of its non-slip soft top deck. Included with the board is also a foldable paddle, coiled ankle cuff safety leash, manual air pump, repair kit, and storage bag. The SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board has a maximum capacity of 275 pounds and is a great option for everything from exploring to touring.
Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The increased stability features of the Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board make it one of the best stand up paddle boards for beginners. The 10’ board has a premium dual layer non-slip deck pad, side fins, and a comfort grip handle to promote comfort and stability. The 17.5-pound Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is 2’ 8” wide, 6” thick, and has a 300-pound weight limit. The board is made of a high-quality PVC material and a triple-layer fabric. It’s equipped with secure bungee tie-downs for your gear, a D-ring leash clip, and a detachable fin. Along with the board you’ll get a collapsible aluminum paddle, an air pump, a safety leash, a waterproof bag for your gear, and a backpack to hold everything. For fun and durability, check out the Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board.
Red Paddle Co Sport MSL Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Red Paddle Co created one of the best inflatable paddle boards and designed it to deliver impressive performance and speed to experienced paddlers. The 11’ 3” x 2’ 8” x 4.7” board weighs 22 pounds and is shaped to cut cleanly through the water. The nose is drawn out to improve performance and the deck is embossed to give you a good grip throughout your paddle. The 9” touring fin can be slotted into the fin box by hand and secured with a finger bolt. The board will pack down to 3’ 2” x 1’ 3” x 1’ 3” and fit in the included bag. In addition to the bag you’ll get RSS battens, a pump, a waterproof phone case, and a repair kit. The Red Paddle Co Sport MSL Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is an ideal choice for a performance-design inflatable board.
Boardworks SHUBU Kraken Stand Up Paddle Board
The 11’ long Boardworks SHUBU Kraken Stand Up Paddle Board was created for all around fun in the water. The inflatable board has a laminate construction and a comfortable “Honey Fomb” deck pad. The four metal D-ring tie-downs and bungee system allow you to carry your gear on your board, and the neoprene carrying handles make it comfortable to move. It has a 250-pound weight limit and a 2+1 fin setup with a 9” removable center fin to promote maneuverability. The nose is 1’ 7.5”, the mid is 2’ 9”, the tail is 2’ 1.1”, and the board has a 6” thickness. When it’s time to pack up the 286-liter board, it packs down to 3’ 1” x 1’ 5” x 7” and you can put it in the included roller bag. Also included is a three-piece carbon paddle, a pump, and a patch kit. If you’re looking for a stable, everyday board, consider the Boardworks SHUBU Kraken Stand Up Paddle Board.
BIC Sport WING Air Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Tracking, stiffness, and stability help make the BIC Sport WING Air Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board an ideal option for flatwater cruising and touring. The 11’ long paddle board inflates up to 20 psi for impressive stiffness and performance. For added stability, the board is 2’ 8” wide and 6” thick. The bungee deck rigging lets you safely store your gear and you can even mount your action camera, like the waterproof Akaso V50 Elite, on the nose of the board. The 305-liter board weighs 23 pounds and has a 220-pound weight limit. Included accessories are a fiberglass paddle, leash, pump, fin, repair kit, and transport bag. You’ll be glad you chose the BIC Sport WING Air Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board when you take it out for your next flatwater paddle.
NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
This 350-liter board is a great all-around option for weekend lake trips. The NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a 10’ 8” x 2’ 10” x 6” board which inflates to 20 psi for ultra rigid performance and folds down small for easy transport. The PVC construction allows for a 250-pound weight limit. The fin is removable and interchangeable, there are four D-rings on the nose for custom rigging, and there are three D-rings for a water bottle, leash, and tie-downs. A pump is included along with a pressure-relief valve to prevent accidental overinflation. You’ll also get a leash, a dry bag, a pair of 9’ buckle bumper straps, three Allwater fins, one Touring fin, a repair kit, and a carrying bag. The 29-pound NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board will be a welcome companion for touring, paddling, and light river running.
Hobie Mirage Eclipse ACX Stand Up Pedal Board
While it’s not a cheap paddle board, you’ll have a blast on the Hobie Mirage Eclipse ACX. This board allows you to get rid of the paddle and use pedals instead. It has a displacement hull, measures 12’ x 2’ 11”, and has a 275-pound weight limit. Since it’s wider than many other paddle boards, you’ll feel more stable in the waves, wake, and wind. The technology features roller bearings for an efficient, fast, and smooth ride. The removable handlebars offer added comfort and easy steering, and their height adjusts between 36” – 43”. The deck pad is large and provides high-traction footing and the fins fold against the board so you can easily navigate shallow water and beach landings. The board also includes tie-downs, a kick-up rudder, and a bow handle. If your balance isn’t great, you have trouble padding, or you just want to try something new, you’ll love the Hobie Mirage Eclipse ACX Stand Up Pedal Board.
ISLE Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board
The 175-liter ISLE Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board has an all-around classic SUP design. Paddlers of all skill levels appreciate this board because it’s rigid and stable. The 10’ 5” paddle board has a top deck that’s padded with croc skin for comfort and grip. The molded EPS foam core has dual wood stringers for rigidity and strength, but the bottom is slick to give you speed on the water. The board weighs 28.5 pounds, has a 235-pound weight capacity, is 2’ 8” wide, and 4.5” thick. Each board includes a carbon hybrid paddle, an 8” coil leash, and a 9” nylon touring fin. For a high-quality rigid board, the ISLE Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board definitely deserves your attention.
Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Ideal for all skill levels and water conditions, the Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a great option for touring, fishing, snorkeling, and recreational paddling. The 238-liter board measures 11’ x 2’ 8” x 6” and weighs 19.5 pounds. It’s made of a PVC material that is puncture-resistant and lightweight. The deck pad is soft so it’s comfy for another person or your dog, and the board can hold up to 275 pounds. Front and rear bungee cords safely secure your gear. With this board you’ll also get a three-piece adjustable aluminum paddle, a coil ankle leash, a pump, a removable fin, a patch kit, a waterproof case for your phone, and a carrying bag. The Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a high-quality choice for flat-water paddling.
Aqua Plus Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board
The Aqua Plus Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board glides well through the water for exploring, fishing, yoga, or cruising. The board is made of a PVC drop stitch fabric and has a rigid design. It weighs 20 pounds, measures 10’ 6” x 2’ 9” x 6”, and has a weight capacity of 330 pounds. The deck features a 5mm comfort diamond groove traction for grip and there are D-rings and bungee cords on the front for storage. In addition to the board, the package includes an adjustable paddle (65” – 82”), a backpack, a shoulder strap, a coiled leash, a waterproof bag, a removable fin, and a pump. The Aqua Plus Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board is a solid option for beginners and for solid board owners who want more flexibility.
Whether racing or relaxing, it’s always fun to be on a stand up paddle board. The right board will be comfortable for you and will have space for your gear and maybe even a friend or your dog. You’ll love the excitement the right paddle board brings to your vacations.