I remember sitting on a beach in Bali, enjoying a cold Bintang and watching a golden sunset. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see this strange silhouette on the water. It was something that my mind just was not familiar with, and had me baffled for a little while. As this unusual object got closer to the shore, I could see that it was a man, somewhere in his late thirty’s, paddling what looked like an oversized surfboard. That was back in 2010, how times have changed. The Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) has now become an enormous world phenomenon in just a few short years.
This sport has become so popular that there is now a multi-million dollars industry just catering for the enthusiastic new breed of water-lover. Those who could not, or just didn’t want to master surfing have now got the opportunity to enjoy the ocean’s waves, as well as peaceful rivers or lakes. The SUP has brought a generation a whole new chance to experience the freedom that the worlds numerous water bodies have to offer.
Here are the 8 best SUPs.
It doesn’t matter what reviews or top ten lists you look at, the Peak Inflatable 11’ just keeps on popping up. Although it is classed as a middle of the road SUP, this popular board is turning heads wherever it goes. The quality of design on this board is impeccable. From its sleek looks to the non-slip coating on its deck, this board has everything needed, whether a novice or pro. Even though it is regarded as one of the lightest boards on the market, this sleekly designed craft is extremely stable in rough waters because of the uniquely designed rounded nose. Some say that this is a disadvantage, because, in some ways, it cuts down on the overall speed of the board.
Once fully inflated, the Peak 11’ has a PVC deck that measures 32” across; this and the fact that it is 6” thick makes it almost feel that you are riding a ridged board instead of an inflatable. When in use, the Peak measures 10’ 6” long and can carry up to 300lbs, so even the larger adventurer can utilize this versatile SUP, and if you are into fitness at the next level, it is ideal for practicing your on-water-yoga. Its design also helps with those of us who may have some balance issues, especially if you are just learning how to master one of these exciting boards.
The package comes with an easy to carry case that only weighs 23lbs. when packed. The accessories include the all-important pump, an aluminum 3-piece adjustable paddle, and center fin. There is also a patch kit that with any luck you will never need to use. One of the most attractive features of this board is its relatively low price. Ideal for the beginner who is still learning how much fun the world of SUP’ing can be, and best of all, it is a breeze to inflate and deflate.
To a lot of SUP aficionados, this board is the crème-del-le-crème of stand-up paddleboards. Unfortunately, the price tag that comes with this unit may put it out of the budget of the novice board rider. This board is regarded as one of the best all-around high-performance boards, but the choice is yours. Is it white water surf you are craving? A relaxing paddle along a picturesque lake or tackling the currents of a free-flowing river? Whatever your choice of activities, the Hala straight up will handle the situation. This board is renowned for two very important capabilities. First, it is a remarkably stable board; this along with it impeccable maneuverability makes it truly a pro’s choice.
The stability of this board is achieved by the cleverly designed carbon stringer that runs from the top to the bottom panels along the length of the board. Combine this feature with its progressive nose rocker and the rear stomp pad, and you have a board that is a delight to maneuver. One of the stand-out features of the craft is the three fixed finsand its swallow-tail design.
The Hala Straight Up is a little bigger than most of its competitors. When inflated, it is 11’11” in length and a foot-holding 42: wide. This means that it has no problem dealing with a whopping 500lb payload. What does this mean to the average paddler? This board is ideal for the overnight adventure, as carrying that all-important backpack is not an issue for the Hala. Another nice feature is the rolling backpack, making transportation a breeze, and it comes with not only a hand pump but also an electric car pump to make inflation a pleasure.
If you are a beginner or a pro, once you have gotten over the price-tag of the board, you will definitely be on a winner.
The interesting thing about the iRocker SUP is that it has been designed to be as much like a ridged board as possible. Once you have inflated the board to the recommended 15 psi, hop on, and start to paddle, you can feel the difference, but it does come incredibly close. Like most of the SUPs in this category, the iRocker is constructed from military grade PVC and is drop-stitched for maximum strength. Because of its streamlined design, this board paddles pretty much like a standard epoxy board that gives the user that little bit more confidence if they are not used to inflatable craft.
The only criticism that users have with this board is that it is not as stable as some because of its narrow design. The reason for this is simple; it reduces drag, therefore making the iRocker extremely hydrodynamic. For those of you who like to record their paddle board antics, there is a multi-use action mount on the front that can hold a go-pro, speakers or even a fishing rod.
The iRocker is quite a stable board because of its 33” wide design; this and its 10’6” length make it capable of carrying up to 400lbs without an issue. When deflated, it only weighs a mere 25lbs., so transporting this board is not an issue. Of course, it comes with the standard triple action pump, 3 fins, and a 3-piece adjustable paddle. This all packs up into an easy to carry back-pack with a leash and a repair kit should you touch that sharp rock that you know you should have avoided.
The BodyGlove Performer has been touted as one of the best buys on the market. This budget-friendly board has been designed as the ideal craft for flat-water boarding. One of the main differences about the BodyGlove performer is that the fins are not only rubber but fixed to the board. Some will tell you that this makes it a little harder to pack up, but this is a minimal problem when comparing the overall performance of the board. The board has a rubberized reinforced nose and is constructed using triple layers of PVC, making is not only strong but also giving the board longevity that is so important to the budget-driven athlete.
The BodyGlove Performer 11’ is an ideal 34” wide, making it a very stable board to use. It is 11’ long and capable of carrying a passenger or the family pet if so desired. When deflated, the board only weighs a mere 24lbs, so carrying it from shore to shore won’t put much of a strain on your back, and best of all, the price won’t put a strain on your wallet.
The first thing that you will notice about the Nixy iSUP is the weight; its only 20lbs when deflated, so your back won’t even notice the difference when you are heading to your favorite paddling destination. This board is rated for carrying 300lbs, but for the experienced paddler, this could probably be exceeded. One of the features that sets this board apart from its rivals is the extremely well-designed carry bag. Like a suitcase, the bag has wheels which makes it so much easier to transport. There is also plenty of additional storage for such things as life jackets or water bottles. The clever people at Nixy have done their homework and thought a lot about the user when designing their entire package.
The Nixy is like most boards on the market, measuring at 10’6” long, 34” wide, and 6” thick, but when packed up, it shrinks down to a mere 11’ by 36”. It comes with the standard adjustable paddle, 3 fins, and a pump. There is also the obligatory patch kit, just in case. The board is manufactured using what the industry calls fusion laminated drop-stitch technology; this means that the Nixy is incredibly strong and sturdy.
The Isle Explorer is another one of those boards that are wallet-friendly and sturdy in the water. The performance level of this board is outstanding and outperforms many other boards in the same class and price range. Those who have tried this board are quietly pleased with how easy it is to paddle; this and the fact that the glide and stability are exceptional, it is hard to go past this craft when deciding what suits your needs the best.
It has a square tail section, and the nose is slightly rockered, these features along with the impressive fin design ensures the greatest maneuverability. The quality of the construction of the Isle Explorer will give any paddler, whether novice or pro, the confidence to approach the toughest parts of any river or lake.
This board has a 275lb capacity and comes in at 11’. There are cargo options at both the front and rear of the board so carrying that little extra luggage is not a problem. The board is also one of the lightest on the market, making transportation a breeze. The profile of the board is a little larger than most, which makes this craft just a little slower than its competition. This is probably the only criticism that you will hear about the Isle Explorer, but don’t let that put you off; this board is an exceptional value for your hard-earned cash.
Without a doubt, this board is probably one of the prettiest on the market today. The designers have put a lot of thought into the colors schemes used for this craft and have done an excellent job of finishing off the whole board with the consumer in mind. It is simply visually appealing. Add to this the fact that the board is constructed utilizing dual-layer PVC and seams that are highly reinforced. Most users of this craft will tell you that it is the closest board you will get to a hard board when fully inflated. Its heavy-duty design means that a 300lb payload is no problem at all. After a day of fun and fitness, this board packs up into a feather-weight 19lbs.
The unusual surf-board inspired tri-fin set up makes the board easy to maneuver and comes with a light carbon-fiber paddle making this particular board a dream to propel. The board itself is 11’ long and 32” wide by 6” thick. The board is also reasonably priced, so it won’t break the bank when you are ready to purchase your new fun-filled accessory for any weekend getaway.
This board is one of the shortest on the market, coming in at just over 10” when fully inflated. The opinion of most boarders is that this particular craft is probably the best value for money board on the market. Rated for carrying a whopping 350lbs, this board can easily carry two people making it ideal for doubling up as a tandem paddle board.
Fifteen psi is the recommended pressure when fully inflated, but this board is rigid enough at only 10psi. This board is remarkably like its fiberglass cousin and looks as close as it can to this even though it is an inflatable. Once you have packed it up for the day, the Adventurer 2 folds up into a 12” by 33” bundle, weighing only 25lbs. The only downfall with this board is that it does not come standard with a carrying case (an oversight on the part of the manufacturer I think), although there is an after-market case available.
If you are reading this, then I must assume that you are on the hunt for a SUP that meets your requirements. This list is purely meant to be a guide to help you in your decision. There are so many boards on the market that half the fun is going to be choosing the right product for you. Stand-up paddleboards have certainly come a long way since the day that I saw one in the sunset on a Bali beach, and the technology that is now being utilized in the designs to help maneuverability and stability is mind-boggling.
If you are about to start on your own SUP adventure the question arises, which board is best to suit your needs? On this page, we’ve gone over the best “Inflatable” SUP’s available. There are several ways of looking at what is the top choices in the market, so we’ll give you a look at what best suits your individual needs and budget.
If its fitness you want, or just plain old fun, now’s the time for you to stand-up, paddle, and enjoy.