Buying Guide: Paddle Boards Rated Best by Consumers
The best paddleboard is a model that suits your size and skill level. Once you’ve tried out a stand up paddle board you’ll soon want to purchase your own. In order to find the best stand up paddle boards, you’ll need to consider the type and size of SUP board that will work best for you, in addition to the type of SUP accessories you’ll need and of course, the price.
Paddle Board Buying Guide
There are several different styles of stand-up paddle boards to choose from, each of which will come with their own pros and cons. Here are a variety of factors you may want to take into consideration when you choose a stand-up paddle board, and based on your priorities and needs, you can determine the preferences in style you want to find in paddleboards. Here’s what you need to know to guide your buying decision.
Types of SUP Paddleboards
When it comes to stand-up paddle boarding, there are so many options out there. This is because there are so many different types of activities you can do while paddle boarding! From more specific sports like yoga, racing, and surfing to general purposes like touring, camping, fishing, or just taking a ride around the lake, boards can vary widely and the importance of certain features to the sort of purpose varies as well.
Surf SUP Paddleboards
A surfing paddle board is often lighter, narrower, and shorter than other stand-up paddle boards, featuring a shorter tail and narrower nose. This style of board is designed for high surfing performance, quick turns, and is typically used mainly in surf zones in the open ocean. This type of board isn’t ideal for a more long distance, flat water type of paddling because it will require a lot of physical effort to keep the board on track. This surfing style is also less stable than a long SUP board.
Touring SUP Paddleboards
A touring SUP is considered a multipurpose model that’s usually much longer, wider, and equipped with a greater volume. This sort of stand-up paddleboard also features a pointier nose. The volume and size of the board makes it much more stable than a surf paddleboard, and they work well on flatwater.
This sort of board is also perfect for the paddle boarder who plans on spending a lot of time and want to go a long distance in flatwater paddling on still bodies of water. Touring boards are a good choice for beginners, so if you don’t have much experience paddling paddle boards and stand-up paddle boarding, then picking this SUP board style is the way to go.
Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
The inflatable paddle board was invented to solve a couple of SUP paddle boarding issues beyond simply paddling around. These issues involve transportation and storage. Many boarders live in apartments or don’t have large enough vehicles to accommodate a large, solid board. Because of these issues, an inflatable board makes a lot of sense. Inflatable boards are much easier and lighter to transport.
However, the boarder will need to sacrifice the stiffness of a traditional board, which at times can make riding waves a little challenging, but still possible in the right conditions. Not to mention, the added give in this kind of board acts like an inflatable raft and allows the riders to avoid holes or bumps while going over rough water in the open ocean or bumping to rocks.
Racing SUP Paddleboards
Racing stand up paddle boards have become huge in popularity over the past few years. If you’re interested in racing SUP, or you simply want a great work out, a racing board is the way to go. This sort of board is much narrower and longer and has an extremely long fin and pointy nose. This style of SUP board is considered advanced and can definitely take some getting used to.
SUP Yoga Paddleboards
Yoga stand up paddle boards are much longer and wider than the traditional wave SUP board. This style usually features a soft top and includes places to hook up a variety of exercise equipment such as resistance bands.
Maneuverability and Stability
Your main considerations when picking out a new board should be maneuverability and stability. Fins, core materials, width, length, thickness, volume, and hull type will all guide the stability of a board. Learning more about these stand-up paddle boarding features and how they affect your ride depending on intended use can guide you to narrow down your choices when it comes to finding the right SUP board.
Displacement Hulls vs Planing Hulls
The body, or hull, plays an important role in determining how an SUP board will perform. A stand up paddle board will have one of two hull types: displacement or planing.
A planing hull is the best choice for riders who are looking for an SUP board that can do it all. This SUP board is wide and flat, similar to what you’d find on a surfboard. It performs well in both flatwater and ocean waves and is designed to ride on top of the water. Many beginners will start off their first time on a planing board because this style tends to be more versatile and stable for recreational surfing and paddling.
The displacement hull is ideal for racing and paddling longer distances. This style features a pointed bow or nose that’s similar to what you’d find on a canoe or kayak. This kind can easily slice through the flatwater, pushing water around the board’s nose, off to the sides for better efficiency. Models with this kind of hull are usually narrower and longer than boards that have a planing hull. This works to make them much faster but it also puts them at an increased risk of tipping over if you take them anywhere other than flatwater.
Sizing SUP Boards
The SUP board you choose must work for your size. If a paddleboard doesn’t displace the right amount of water for the rider’s weight, then they won’t be supported. A board’s weight capacity and volume are a couple of important factors to consider before you buy.
Calculating Board Volume
A board’s volume is expressed in liters and will give you an idea of a board’s ability to float with a determined amount of weight on it. The larger the volume the more weight the board can handle. Volume can be calculated by multiplying the length, width, and thickness of the paddleboard.
Typically, SUP boards are measured first by their length. How long boards are can give an initial estimate for what sort of volume it will have, although width and thickness play a role as well.
Shorter SUP boards feature a higher volume if it’s thick and wide. SUP boards that are a little longer can feature a lower volume if they are thin and narrow. This means that a rider (or riders) that weighs two hundred pounds who wants to ride paddle boards in surf will need more maneuverable short boards that have a higher volume.
Determining Weight Capacity
Every board comes with a weight capacity, which will be listed in pounds. Learning about a board’s weight capacity is crucial because if you’re too heavy for an SUP it will cause the board to ride too low in the water, making it hard to paddle.
What sort of Water are you Paddling?
You should also think about where you want to paddle in order to find the right length. Riding surf in the ocean and paddling around calm lake flatwater involve different styles of boarding, requiring different lengths of boards in order to perform well.
Can you Transport it?
Boarders should also consider the length in regards to the type of vehicle they have, the length of the walk to the shore or beach, and their home storage situation. If you are planning an SUP activity that requires you to carry an SUP board around with you for a long ways, it may not be ideal to get a large, heavy SUP. You may even want to get an inflatable SUP and a carrying bag so that you can carry it around on your back if needed.
Paddle Board Length
Short SUP boards are usually under nine feet in length and are great for surfing. They’re also more maneuverable than a long board size. Short boards designed for children will be under eight feet in length. Medium length SUP boards measure in at nine to twelve feet and are designed for all-around use in the ocean surf and over calm waters.
Long SUP boards feature a length of over twelve feet to fourteen feet and are great for touring and racing. These SUP boards are faster than medium or short boards and have a reputation for better tracking. If you’re interested in touring or racing, you’ll want a board size and deck pad with this length.
Paddle Board Width
The width of a board is also important when you’re determining a board’s stability. Paddle boards are made up to thirty-six inches wide with deck pads designed to accommodate just about all body types.
A wide board features a width of thirty-one inches or wider. This type of width makes a wider board much more stable than a narrow board, which makes the SUP deck pad much easier to stand on. However, it also affects the overall speed of a board, making them much slower than a narrower board.
SUP boards that are narrow feature deck pads with a width of twenty-nine to thirty inches. This kind of SUP board is much faster than a wide board but they can also be less stable.
Stand-up Paddle Boards & Core materials
Another important factor to consider is the core materials used in an SUP you’re interested in. The quality of your stand-up paddle boarding can have a lot to do with not only the type of material used to make the board you’re riding, but also the quality of the manufacturing of your board. That’s why you want to know you’re getting a good brand when you look for a board. SUP boards are not all created equal.
EPS foam is a kind of core that’s wrapped with epoxy and fiberglass, and it’s the most common kind of SUP core used. Plastic and carbon fiber are also used for the exterior of some SUP boards. The weight of an SUP board will vary based on the type of construction technique used.
Plastic hollow core
Mid-range models of plastic SUPs feature hollow cores due to the manufacturing process, but higher end models can also come equipped with this kind of core because it works to increase speed and saves on weight, making it a great option for surfing.
Polyurethane foam core
Polyurethane is found on entry level SUP boards and is much heavier than the EPS foam core. This can be an advantage if you have to carry your solid SUP for long distances at a time (maybe for SUP fishing or exploring multiple bodies of water separated by areas you’ll have to cross on land).
An inflatable SUP paddleboard features an exterior made from PVC and a drop stitch construction that works to create an air core. They offer an advantageous alternative to solid SUPs. An inflatable SUP model is easier to store than a solid model, light to carry, and highly durable.
The fins attached to the board can add to the board’s stability and tracking. A large single fin is placed securely in a fin box and is usually secured using a screw and nut. The fin box features a channel that allows the fin to easily slide back and forth. The traditional three fin setup offers good control in surf and promotes straight tracking on calm water.
Race fins are stiffer and straighter. Fins that are stiffer are perfect for downwind runs because they allow a longer board size to track easily in rolling swells and large wind waves. An inflatable SUP paddleboard will be equipped with either a detachable semi-rigid fin that’s removable from the inflatable stand-up paddle board, or flexible rubber fins.
SUP Paddle Specifications
Having the right paddle is important as well. You want a paddle long enough to dip the blade pretty deep into the water without having to lean over to get the best propulsion force. For a beginner paddlers guide, try a paddle that is approximately ten inches taller than you.
Accessories For Your New Paddle Board
After you get the right board, you’ll need a few more important pieces of equipment that can enhance your SUP riding experience. Let us guide you on what equipment to get for SUPs.
SUPs feature an elbow or angle located in the shaft for ultimate efficiency. Make sure you choose a paddle that’s six to eight inches taller than you are. Some companies recommend choosing a paddle that’s eight or ten inches taller.
The Coast Guard classifies a paddle board as a vessel, so wearing a personal flotation device is a requirement. These regulations also require the rider to get an SUP light if paddling after sunset and to wear a whistle.
If hypothermia is a concern in cool conditions, experts recommend wearing a dry suit or a wet suit. In milder weather you can wear a bathing suit, or a pair of shorts and a shirt. Just be sure you wear something that allows you to move easily once you get wet.
An SUP leash is often sold separately and works to tether your SUP board to you, allowing you to keep it close by should you fall off. A paddle board is a large floatation device, so wearing an SUP leash can be important for your safety. An SUP leash is designed specifically for rivers, flatwater, and surf, so make sure you buy the right one based on your intended use.
Buying a car rack will be an important purchase unless you have an inflatable board. If you have a solid board then you’ll need a way to transport it. You should find paddle board racks that are designed to go on the crossbars of a traditional roof rack. Another option is to use utility straps and foam padding to securely strap your SUP board to the top of your vehicle. Now that you’ve read our buying guide, you’re almost ready to get your own SUP!
Stand Up Paddle Board Comparison Chart
Finding great stand-up paddle boards may appear challenging at first, but finding systems that are reviewed well by customers can help you get one that will be best for your intended water activity use and boarding conditions. Let us offer a comparison chart.
|California Board Company Stand Up Paddle Board||Weighs twenty-five pounds|
300 pound weight capacity
Comes with camera mount
Paddle features blade shield
|iRocker Triple Layer Military Grade Inflatable Paddle Board||Weighs twenty-two pounds|
385 pound weight capacity
Features two color options
Comes with a starter kit
|ISLE Classic Stand Up Paddle Board||Weighs twenty-seven pounds |
358 weight capacity
California Board Company Stand up Paddle Board Review
The stand up paddle board by the California Board Company is made from high density foam and is equipped with a fully waterproof core. This board also comes with an adjustable paddle, camera mount, and roof rack, and it features a higher than average weight capacity of three hundred pounds. While it might be a bit more difficult to store and to transport, this paddleboard is a great choice in terms of high performance.Click Here to Read the Full California Board Company Stand Up Paddle Board Review
iRocker Triple Layer Military Grade Inflatable Paddle Board Review
This iRocker triple layer inflatable SUP paddle board comes with everything you’ll need to start boarding, including a hand pump, repair kit, and carry bag. This model is made from military grade PVC and features an internal layer of drop stitch core that’s six inches thick. This extra thick core adds to the overall stability of the inflatable SUP board. There are few things more convenient than a paddleboard you can deflate and pack up with you or put away as needed. Though it doesn’t have the rigid structure other boards might have, it still performs more than decently in most conditions.Click Here to Read the Full iRocker Triple Layer Military Grade Inflatable Paddle Board Review
Isle Classic Stand Up Paddle Board Review
The Isle classic paddle board is a semi solid model that’s designed to handle a wide range of water conditions with ease. The lightweight design makes it easy to transport and the overall flexibility of the board itself is what makes this board so popular with consumers. This flexible model offers great versatility in paddleboarding sports and water activities.Click Here to Read the Full Isle Classic Soft Top Stand Up Paddle Board Review
References and Sources:
Keeper Sports Products. https://keepersportsproducts.com/
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