If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into standup paddleboarding, it’s the perfect time to do it. The SUP category is exploding, and there’s a range of models for all skill levels and even specific activities, like fishing and long-distance touring.
Most models prioritize stability and sturdiness, so you’re not toppling at every ripple. But they vary in price, weight, length, nose and tail shape, and material. Some are inflatable, while others are made from plastic, foam, fiberglass, and even wood (those are usually the heavier ones). Other key features include lash points for carrying cargo, single or multiple fins that help the board track straight, and traction pads, so you don’t slip.
Below, we’ve pulled together seven of our favorite SUP models. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced waterman, these boards will help you make the most out of your time on the water.
The Best SUPs to Get Out on the Water This Summer
1. Beginner-friendly: South Bay Board Co. 10’4” Big Cruiser Soft Top
Glide seamlessly through the water—on your first try—with South Bay Board’s soft-top model. With its rounded nose, squared rails, and generous 32-inch width, this board has excellent stability. With a weight limit of 350 pounds, it’s also accommodating for heavier riders. Plus, each board comes with everything you need to get on the water, including an aluminum paddle, three fins, a leash, and a protective bag.
2. Affordable: Boardworks SHUBU Riptide Inflatable SUP
You won’t find another feature-packed board that’s this wallet-friendly. It’s super lightweight (only 20 pounds), and built-in neoprene handles help you carry it to and fro. It comes with a dual-action hand pump, so you can inflate it even when you’re miles away from an outlet. Better yet, the board includes a three-piece aluminum and nylon paddle, nine-inch fin, coiled leash, travel duffel bag, and even a repair kit.
3. Whitewater: Hala Atcha 96
Catch the surf on something agile, precise, and durable with the Hala Atcha. This nine-foot, six-inch whitewater board is shorter than entry-level models, which makes it easier to maneuver in waves on the river or in the ocean. The retractable fin system—the Stompbox 2.0—keeps the board on track in deeper waters, but it won’t inhibit your ride in shallow or rocky areas. The Atcha also comes in a shorter version, if you’re looking for something sportier.
4. Wood: Shore Boards Explorer
Handcrafted in Minnesota, the Explorer is more than a board—it’s a stunning work of art. Shore Boards ditches foam in favor of western red cedar, basswood, and paulownia to create these hollow boards, and each one is finished with a plant-based epoxy resin. The Explorer is designed for cruising flat water, and the knots and natural features of the wood grain make each board unique. Just keep in mind that wooden boards are much heavier (and pricier) than their synthetic counterparts.
5. Touring: Pau Hana Malibu Tour
Replace your daily run, ride, or weights workout with laps around the lake on a touring-specific board like this 11-foot one. The pointed shape efficiently cuts through flatwater when you’re paddling at speed, and the grippy deck pad keeps you secure when the water gets choppy. Heading out for a long journey? Attach your water bottle or backpack to the clips included with the accessory attachment system.
6. Fishing: California Board Company Super Voyager
If you can do yoga on a SUP, you surely can fish from one, too. This rigid board—constructed from wood and polyurethane with an EPS foam core—was built with the angler in mind. It features a fishing rod holder, neoprene ankle strap, traction pad, deck mount for a camera, bungee deck straps, and adjustable paddle. The molded seat is removable for the days you’re not casting lines.
[$650 (temporarily out of stock); sportsmans.com]
7. Family-friendly: NRS Beast Inflatable SUP
The whole family can fit on this massive board. Whether you’re lounging in the sun or taking on waves, you can pile up to 10 people onto its 18-foot length. When inflated, it’s eight inches thick and offers plenty of buoyancy, and it’s made with flexible-yet-durable PVC. Four fin plates snap and lock underneath, while four D-rings on the nose and a daisy chain running down the middle secure dry bags, water bottles, sandals, and other gear.
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