Five years ago, you may not have been familiar with paddle boarding. Now, you’re likely to see amateur athletes cruising on their boards with paddle in hand whenever you pass a body of water. Stand up paddle boarding, or SUP, is one of the most popular warm weather activities for outdoor enthusiasts in the United States and around the world.
Although it’s a new activity for most of us, the sport is actually thousands of years old. Its popularity, which has grown immensely in the past decade, is attributed to Hawaiian surf legend Laird Hamilton who used the sport as a way to cross train in preparation for the big waves.
Why is paddle boarding such a prevalent outdoor activity? The reasons are myriad and vary from person to person. Paddle boarding provides a rigorous full body and core workout if you want it while remaining a relatively easy activity for those who aren’t as interested in exercise.
You can take your board on just about any body of water, and it’s a sport men, women, and children can all enjoy. It’s a fun yet tranquil activity, and your fully upright position while on the board allows for superb views of your surroundings. Another reason paddle boarding has become so popular is that it doesn’t require much gear—a board, a paddle, and a personal floatation device will be all most SUP enthusiasts require.
That being said, your stand up paddle board is an important piece of equipment, and if you’re looking to make a purchase, you should weigh several considerations. The board is a rather big investment—generally ranging from $700 – $2,000—so it’s not something you’ll want to rush into. If you’re new to SUP, try out several types of boards as rentals in a variety of environments.
What to Consider When Shopping for Stand Up Paddle Boards
When buying a paddle board, the main things you’ll want to take into consideration are:
- Where you plan to use your SUP
- Your purpose for using the board
- Your body type, height, and weight
- How much money you’re willing to spend
Stand Up Paddle Board Basics
Generally speaking, SUP boards are available in two main designs: racing/touring boards and “all arounders.” Many paddle board sellers further divide these into categories like surf, cruise, fitness, family recreation and yoga.
Racing and touring boards have a pointed nose and are often longer and narrower than their contemporaries. They are built for speed, and therefore are often used for fitness purposes. On the other hand, the all arounder is shaped more like a traditional surfboard and is rounder, shorter, and thicker. This makes it easy to maneuver in just about any circumstance.
When choosing a board, the weight and length of the board should correspond with the rider’s weight. For instance, a person weighing in somewhere in between 120 to 150 lbs will find themselves comfortable and stable on a board between 10 ½ feet and 11 feet long and 28-30 inches across. On the other hand, a larger person who weighs 200 to 230 lbs will need a board longer than 11 feet with a width of 29-32 inches to feel the same level of stability.
Best Stand Up Paddle Boards for Sale Today
So what are the top-rated stand up paddle boards for sale these days? Of course, that depends on who you are and what you’re looking for. Here are a few of the boards we recommend:
Best SUP Boards For Beginners & Families…
If you’re relatively new to paddle boarding or you’re just in it for some on-the-water fun, you’ll want a board that’s wide enough to provide easy stability. Overall volume is also important—if you’re looking for a board to suit everyone in the family, you should look into boards with enough volume to support the heaviest member.
A low cost board that’s great for taking on the lake with your family is the BIC 10’6 SUP Soft. With top and side walls coated with a soft yet strong EVA skin, this BIC board provides more comfort than its competitors—and it can handle a little wear and tear. At only $999.95 for the brand new 2014 model, you can afford to take the plunge into paddling.
If you’re willing to dish out nearly double cash, the Naish Nalu 10.10 GS/GT is a more versatile choice. While the whole family can have fun with this board, it also can be used for fitness training or light wave riding. The Naish Nalu is fantastically durable, featuring an EPS foam core surrounded by a glass matrix deck and bottom. It’s expertly designed for a smooth ride, and it’s stable enough to carry coolers and gear or even to try out tandem paddling.
Best SUP Boards for For Adventure Enthusiasts…
Touring, surfing, and racing are activities best left to more advance paddlers—but once you’re comfortable on your board, any adventure lover will want to take paddle boarding to the next level.
Race enthusiasts should check out the all new 2014 Naish Javelin 12.6 or 14.0 for speed to beat the competition. A slim profile, lightweight design, drop-nose displacement hull, and rounded tail work together to propel this board forward in flat water race environments.
If you’re interested in getting into touring, a good board to start on is the Rogue North 2.0. Rogue takes the smooth glide characteristics of a race board and introduces a wider and more sturdy platform to provide stability for the long haul. The lightweight board has a superb carrying design, so you can easily stow coolers and gear for overnight ventures.
For the really thrill-seekers among us looking to hit the waves, a board designed specifically for surf is a must. The Boga 9.5 Bullet is at the top of its class and was actually designed by the surfers and paddle boarders who know what they’re looking for in a board. It’s perfect for waves that are five feet and smaller, but it’s suitable for any surf. The 9.5 Bullet is one of the most stable short boards available and the bamboo sandwich construction makes for a lasting board that can take on choppy waters.
If there was ever a cure for the work week doldrums, it’s having the perfect paddle board of your own to take out on the water after a long day or week stuck indoors. You can go directly to the makers to find stand up paddle boards for sale or take a stop in your local sporting goods store to see if they carry any of the aforementioned brands.