Excellent performance in a variety of water conditions. Lightweight and durable. Easily maneuverable with smooth tracking and glide. Recessed standing area for added comfort and stability. Features a non-slip deck pad, ergonomic carry handle, and deck attachment points for onboard gear.
Although lightweight, the length of this board may still make it difficult for some to carry.
Kayak-like construction is extremely durable. Great stability and good tracking. Handy built-in storage compartment and recessed cooler area. Non-slip foot pads and a wide platform are invaluable features for beginners. Comes with paddle.
At 50 lbs., it's on the heavier side and can be difficult for one person to carry.
A sporty, reasonably priced board that earns praise for stability. Handles well in the water. Features include a paddle and a slip-resistant deck covering. A good choice for inexpensive fun on the water.
A bit awkward to carry, as it's a heavier model.
Features a wide platform for better balance. Great stability. Three-fin setup for better tracking and smooth glide. Comes with bungee system for storage. Lightweight and easy to carry.
Materials can be easily damaged. Paddle needs to be bought separately.
Exceptional quality in an innovative design. Suitable for both surf and flat water paddleboarding. Comfortable deck pad with good grip. Easy to maneuver with excellent stability. Lightweight foam core encased in polyethylene shell for increased durability.
Paddle and accessories need to be bought separately.
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One water sport that has really taken off over the past few years is stand-up paddling (SUP). This activity is unique in that it appeals to a wide range of different interests. Are you into relaxing lake paddling? Whitewater? Surfing? Yoga? Fishing? Racing? Long-distance touring? If you answered yes to any of these, you’ll probably love SUP.
But a stand-up paddleboard designed for surfing is considerably different than one built for racing. Between the different hulls, construction materials, fin placements, and specifications such as volume, width, length, and thickness, shopping for a stand-up paddleboard can get complicated fast.
This guide will help you navigate the various features, specifications, and costs of non-inflatable stand-up paddle boards, so you can get out on the water and enjoy some warm-weather fun.
There are two primary hull types to consider when shopping for non-inflatable stand-up paddle boards: planing hulls and displacement hulls. If you want to buy the right board for your interests, knowing the difference between the two is important.
Planing hulls are flat and wide like surfboards, allowing them to ride atop the water and offer improved handling. This type of hull is geared toward more leisurely or relaxing paddling, which includes surfing, yoga, and whitewater paddling.
If you are more interested in a workout, consider a displacement hull. These hulls are generally pointed in the front like kayaks. Boards with displacement hulls track better and are faster in the water, making them better for physically intensive activities such as racing or touring.
The material the board is constructed from is also a primary consideration. The three main types of paddle board construction are fiberglass/epoxy, plastic, and carbon/wood.
Popular fiberglass/epoxy paddle boards have a foam core that is covered with fiberglass and epoxy. These boards are durable without being too heavy.
While they won’t win any beauty contests, plastic paddle boards are durable and inexpensive compared to other types. That said, they do lag in terms of performance, and they are generally pretty heavy, which affects portability.
Carbon/wood construction offers an attractive finish, light weight, and superior performance for racing or surfing. However, these paddle boards are more expensive and less durable than other options.
If you’ll primarily use your stand-up paddle board for practicing yoga, consider going with an inflatable board, which offers a softer surface for yoga poses.
The volume of a paddle board is the first specification you need to take into consideration when comparing boards. The more volume a board has, the more weight it can support. If you go over the weight limit, the paddle board will handle poorly in the water and may become unstable.
With planing hulls, you really only need to worry about staying under the weight limit and the board will handle fine. Displacement hulls are a little trickier as either too much weight or too little can adversely affect the board’s performance.
Length is another important specification to consider. Generally, longer paddle boards are faster, while shorter boards are easier to maneuver. How you plan on using your board factors into the length you should buy.
Under 10’ in length, short paddle boards are used for surfing and are a great option for kids. Short boards usually have planing hulls.
Medium paddle boards range from 10’ to 12’ and are used for all-around paddling and yoga. Medium boards also largely use planing hulls.
Measuring 12’6” and up, the majority of long paddle boards have displacement hulls and are used for touring and racing. Longer boards are more challenging to store.
paddle boards generally range between 25” and 36” in width, and the wider the board, the more stable it will be. Wider boards are used largely by beginners, yoga enthusiasts, and others for whom stability is a prime factor. Wider boards can also hold a greater amount of gear, a definite plus for those into touring.
Narrower paddle boards are prized by racers due to their superior speed and handling. Paddlers who are physically smaller may also find narrower boards easier to handle.
While less vital than volume or length, paddle board thickness is still an important factor. Thickness increases volume, which in turn increases the amount of weight the board can support.
To improve performance, paddle boards have fins of various sizes. Smaller fins can improve a board’s maneuverability, while larger fins can help with tracking and stability. All fins should be easy to remove for transportation and storage.
Single fins offer little drag and are useful for flatwater paddling. A three-fin, or thruster, configuration features three similarly sized fins and offers improved control in surf situations, in addition to better tracking in flatwater. Designed for surfing, a 2+1 fin grouping features one large center fin flanked by two smaller fins.
You will need a paddle to go with your paddle board. Many stand-up paddle boards come with a paddle, but many do not. Paddles may be carbon, plastic, aluminum, or wood.
There are a variety of accessories that may be included with your stand-up paddle board.
Tie-downs/bungees: These help to secure gear on the front or rear of the paddle board.
Deck pads: Usually built into the board, these offer more comfort and traction for your feet.
Carry handles: paddle boards are easier to lug around with built-in handles.
If you use your stand-up paddle board in saltwater, be sure to wash it thoroughly afterward.
Consider buying a board bag to store and transport your stand-up paddle board, particularly if it is made from epoxy. A bag will protect your board from damage.
Non-inflatable stand-up paddle boards are an investment. Bargain boards start at around $300 to $400, and that is before you factor in paddles, transportation bags and racks, and other accessories.
The mid-range for stand-up paddle boards is around $600, with some pricier models costing more than $1,000. The higher price point is usually reserved for high-performance carbon racing boards and other boards offering advanced features or construction materials.
When considering the weight limitations of a paddle board, take into account your own weight and any equipment or food and water you will be paddling with.
Never store your paddle board in direct sunlight or leave it in the sun for extended periods of time.
When outfitting your paddle board, don’t forget to include a personal floatation device. This is not only a good safety idea, but it may also be a legal requirement depending on where you plan to paddle.
If a variety of people will be using the paddle board, consider purchasing an adjustable paddle, which will accommodate paddlers of different heights.
If you frequently have to hike from where you parked to where you paddle, consider picking up a wheeled cart for an easier trek.
A leash that attaches the paddle board to your leg can be a handy accessory if you fall off in the water. Leashes are sold based on the type of paddling (surf, whitewater, etc.) you plan to do, so shop accordingly.
As you gain more experience with stand-up paddling, consider purchasing additional boards designed for specific types of paddling, such as surf paddling, touring, or yoga.
Two safety items to consider keeping with you are a whistle (to warn boats of your presence) and a light (if you’re going to be on the water after sunset).
In addition to our picks above, we wanted to mention a few other non-inflatable stand-up paddle boards that caught our eye. The first is the South Bay Board Co. 10’6” Orca Stand Up Paddle Board, which features a hard outer shell to protect against scrapes and dings and fun extras like an action camera mount. The BIC Sport Slide SUP Stand Up paddle board Package includes everything you need to quickly hit the water like an adjustable paddle, leash, and deck bungee. The Scott Burke 10'6” Stand Up paddle board one-ups BIC with a paddle/leash/deck bungee package that also includes a padded roof rack for easy paddle board transport.
Q. Why should I choose a non-inflatable stand-up paddle board over an inflatable stand-up paddle board?
A. Non-inflatable paddle boards are available in more sizes, offer improved performance on the water, and are more stable than inflatable boards. On the downside, non-inflatable boards can be more difficult to store and transport, are not as comfortable for SUP yoga, and are not recommended for whitewater use.
Q. As a complete beginner, what features should I look for in a stand-up paddle board?
A. An ideal beginner paddle board is an all-around board that is wider and thicker for increased stability. A planing hull and a single fin are also a plus in terms of stability. If you’re just starting out, consider a plastic board for its low price and durability.
Q. What size paddle do I need for stand-up paddling?
A. Think of a stand-up paddle as a long canoe paddle. To size a paddle for all-around paddling, stand up and raise your arm over your head. The paddle should reach from the ground to your raised wrist. If you plan on racing, go a little longer for more power, while a slightly shorter paddle is best for surfing.
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