My name is Andy and I love spending time out on my stand up paddle board when the weather allows for it. And I really love taking other people out paddle boarding with me (it’s a great date activity!).
I enjoy paddle boarding so much that I do it in my spare time as well as on my vacations. Since I devote so much time to it, I started getting a lot of questions from friends and family who wanted to get into this fun water sport. And since I keep answering the same sets of questions over and over with them, I decided to start this site as an easy place to refer them to when they get the itch to start doing a little stand up paddle boarding on their own.
My hope is that they, as well as anyone else who is interested, can use my reviews to find some great SUP gear that gets you out on the water and having a blast like me.
Types of SUPs
When you start comparing and shopping for a stand up paddle board, you will probably notice pretty quickly that there are two distinct types of boards – those that are inflatable and those that are not inflatable (often called hard, rigid or solid SUPs).
Each type has its benefits and often if just boils down to whichever one you prefer using. Personally, I like taking inflatable SUPs out, but solid SUPs are fun for me too. I review both types and try to not show a bias towards the inflatables so that you get an honest opinion.
Something else that you will notice is that the boards vary in length. I’d say that 10-foot stand up paddle boards are the most common size. Of course, you can find plenty of short 9-foot SUPs. The long boards are usually 12-foot SUPs, but some manufactures make 11-foot SUPs as well.
The general rule of thumb is that the longer stand up paddle boards are better for stability when surfing, so people who want to hit the waves should definitely go with a long stand up paddle board. If you’re just planning on using it in flat water, like in a lake or river, then a short stand up paddle board will probably best meet your needs.
Another important thing about the length is that the longer boards often can support more weight, which makes them the best choice for heavier people. So, if you’re a bigger guy then start your shopping with the longer SUPs. All the boards have a weight limit, so hone in on that to determine if it can hold you or not.
The shorter boards are also usually a better choice for beginners who are just getting started with stand up paddle boarding.
Probably my top pick for the best stand up paddle board for beginners is the Tower Adventurer inflatable SUP. See my review on it here. Also note that it is a number one best seller in iSUPs and is consistently rated high by paddle boarders.
How Will You Use Your SUP?
Other than just knowing if you want an inflatable stand up paddle board or a solid one, you need to know in advance what you plan on doing your with your board. This is important because different boards are optimized for different things. Some are versatile and can be used in a variety of water conditions while others excel at just one thing.
All-Around or Flat Water Boards
This is the best entry-level stand up paddle board type because you get a lot of stability, which means less time spent worrying about landing in the water. This stand up paddle board for beginners makes learning very easy. Of course, they’re not just for the newbie paddler either! You’ll find that these are great for your flat water paddling and for using a SUP for fishing.
The best all-around SUPs range between 30″ and 34″ in width because that this the sweet spot for maximum stability when out in the water. This due to giving you a lot of space to take your balancing stance. You’ll also want to stick to something that is between 10′ and 11′ in length as this gives best maneuverability for a flat water board.
Yoga Paddle Boards
Though you can use an all-around SUP for doing your yoga moves, it’s probably better if you can stick to those designed just for practicing yoga. This because they are not only wide enough for the poses but they also have a nice grip pad to keep you from slipping but that also won’t rough up your knees and legs like with some other SUPs.
Based on my experience, an inflatable SUP is better for yoga than a solid board just because the surface is not as rigid. That makes it so much easier to do the poses.
You can also use your yoga iSUP for some flat water paddling, so you’ll get more value for your money that way.
Racing or Touring Paddle Boards
If you are looking to take your SUP seriously and get the most speed when out on the water, then this is the board type for you. It is generally shaped a bit longer and not as wide as your all-around flatwater paddle board so that it can move through the water faster. It is also thicker than other types.
This is probably not the best choice for a beginner, but great for the intermediate stand up paddle boarder who wants to increase water speed.
Surfing Paddle Boards
If you see yourself riding some waves on your stand up paddle board, then you will want to make sure that you shop for a shorter board as they tend to maneuver better in the surf. Anything under 10′ in length should be able to turn on a dime and help you stay upright while riding the waves. You’ll find some great surfing SUP options available.
SUP Shopping Tips
As you do your stand up paddle board shopping, you will see that some of the boards are sold with nothing else and others come with some accessories. Often, it is the inflatable SUPs that come as part of a package deal.
The things that you might get with your iSUP include a carry bag, a pump, a paddle. I have also seen solid SUPs come with a roof rack included. The reason that I point this out is because buying one of these everything included SUP deals can save you money since you’d have to buy those items separately otherwise.
Stand up paddle boards have weight limits. And those that are longer and wider are able to hold more weight. So if you want to get two people on a board or if you are a heavier person, then you need to keep you shopping to SUPs that are wide and long.
Buying Used Stand Up Paddle Boards
Though there are some great options when it comes to the best cheap stand up paddle boards, the cost can still be too high for some people. If you are one of those people, or if you just want to save a little bit of cash, then you can consider shopping for a used SUP instead of buying yourself a nice new one.
Shopping for a new board is not much different than looking for a new one. Since a lot of the available models on the used market are the more expensive models, it might be difficult at first to locate a good, cheap deal on a used SUP. Stick with it though and you should be able to come up with something.
When it comes to price for a used stand up paddle board, you should familiarize yourself with the new price of any used board you’re looking at. This gives you an idea of what the owner paid so that you can negotiate from there.
You will definitely need to inspect an used SUPs that you’re considering buying to look for damage. Often the fins have some visible wear since this is one of the first things that owners end up damaging. Know that you can replace damaged fins, but that it will be costly. You’ll also want to check the bottom and sides of the board for damage. It is best to avoid sellers who are not showing you any images of the bottom of the board in their for-sale ads as it likely means that there is some damage to the underside.
Beginners Guide To Getting Started Stand Up Paddle Boarding
If you have ever surfed, then you will have a bit of an advantage when it comes to getting out on a SUP in the water. This is because it is really all about balance. If you have a strong core from doing yoga or similar exercises, then you will be able to quickly master using a SUP. If not, it still won’t take you too long to get the hang of it. Plus, you can paddle on your knees or sitting until you are comfortable standing.
But first, let’s look at all of the gear that you might need before you hit the water for the very first time with your stand up paddle board.
The most important thing that you will need is a SUP paddle. You cannot substitute a kayak or canoe paddle as they are made differently. You’ll want to get one that is about 8 to 10 inches longer than you are for the best results. When shopping for one, pay attention to the specs as some float and other do not. Important to keep in mind when in deep water as you don’t want your paddle sinking to the bottom.
Though it might not look cool, wearing a personal flotation device is just a good safety step. Sure, you don’t see all those paddlers off the California coast wearing a SUP life jacket, but from a safety perspective – don’t you want to be covered in case the worst happens?
If you’re doing flat water paddling, then this might not be of use to you, but a leash is necessary for many paddlers. With a SUP leash, you do not have to worry about your board getting away from you if you happen to take a tumble into the water. Especially important for those surfing with their paddle board.
Other items that you may want to buy but do not necessarily need include a traction pad (if your board doesn’t have one), a seat (if you need one for your board), a carry bag or a roof rack, a storage shelf, sun protection clothing and cold water booties.
When you get your board, the fin setup will be one of two ways – a single center fin or three fins where you have the standard center fin and two side bites. Single fins track well in the water and is the most common setup on beginner stand up paddle boards. The other setup is optimal for surfing.
Mounting your board might seem like a bit of a challenge, but it is actually easier than it seems. From the shore, you can place the board in shallow water, grip the sides and get onto the SUP on your knees. Once you feel stable enough to attempt standing up, you can do so. Don’t worry about taking a header into the water as it is inevitable and not as big of a deal as it seems. Once out in the water, when you fall off the board you need to mount it from the side. If you try from the front or the back, you will discover that it will not work and you’ll end up flipping the board. Oopsie 🙂
Now that you know how to get on the board, check out the video below to learn the basic paddle boarding techniques. An important thing to remember is that you need to hold your paddle so that the blade slopes away from you, keep your feet parallel to each up but not too close to the sides and stand up with your knees slightly bent.
When you need to make a turn in the water, the best way to maneuver with the paddle is to keep your strokes quick and short. This will help you get where you need to be in the water.
If you’re ready to start shopping for a new stand up paddle board, check out my reviews so that you can get yourself the best stand up paddle board for the money.
My reviews will be updated as I get a chance to familiarize myself with new boards. Until then, keep paddling!