Best Stand Up Paddle Board

Summer is almost here and getting out on the water on your new California Board Company 10 foot 6 inch Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) California Board Company (CBC) Stand up Paddle Board is a great way to get fit, enjoy the outdoors and have fun with family and friends. You may have seem celebrities like Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz stand up paddle boarding. You may have a friend who does it and swears her core has never been stronger or better. You may have seen people engaged in this activity and want to try it for yourself. There are many stand up paddleboards to choose from depending on your level of experience, your needs and your budget. Paddle boards can be pricey. Understanding what you are getting in these price ranges in terms of board length, thickness, materials and options will be a good starting point in determining the board that fits your needs.

California Board Company SUP
Jen’s Top Pick: California Board Company SUP

If you are looking for a good entry level paddle board for yourself or your family, the CBC SUP offers great performance at a great value. This board will provide you with a stable multi-functional board capable of being enjoyed by a variety of users at varied skill levels.

If you are looking for a great all around stand up paddleboard, the California Board Company Stand Up Paddle Board in the 10 foot 6 inch length is a great choice. The Board is sold as a set with an adjustable paddle, surf leash and ankle strap and a kit that will help you attach it to the top of your car. This board has a 30 inch width which falls in the target range of 30 to 34 inches for optimum stability. Having a stand up paddle board width in this range will provide you with the stability you need to generate power with your paddle strokes without losing your balance.

If you are looking for maximum performance and convenience and are willing to pay a premium price, we recommend our step up pick, the Tower Xplorer 14 foot inflatable SUP with pump and 3 pc adjustable paddle. This board is exceptionally durable and made from military grade material so you won’t have to worry about dings or wear and tear. It has a width of 32 inches making for a stable ride and it rolls up like a sleeping bag when deflated and not in use. It has a weight allowance of 800 pounds, making it a great choice for tandem riding, family outings on the lake or even taking your St. Bernard for a ride.

The Bestway Hydro-Force Wave Edge Stand Up Inflatable Paddle Board. This inflatable board is a great option for touring waterways and has a maximum carrying weight of 220 pounds. It also has a built in handle for carrying and inflates easily and quickly. This board has a good width at 32 inches and a good length at 10 feet. It has good maneuverability but is not really designed for choppy water. Many Amazon reviewers found it relatively difficult to inflate but otherwise a very portable board. It comes with its own pump and adjustable paddle but many reviewers found the paddle to be somewhat heavy and cumbersome.

Why Should I Buy a Stand Up Paddle Board?

Stand up paddle boarding is a rapidly growing sport for outdoor enthusiasts, individuals looking for recreation and a new type of core strengthening or total body workout. It’s become an increasingly popular sport because of its ease and accessibility. If you have some water, a board and a paddle you are all set. Stand up paddle boarding gives you a total body workout and remaining upright on your board while paddling is a great core strengthening exercise. A paddle board is extremely versatile and can be used on a wide variety of water surfaces. The choppier the water, the greater the core strengthening possibilities as you work to balance yourself on rough water. Calm water boarding is also great exercise but can also be a fun way to fish, enjoy the great outdoors, relax and spend time with family or friends. Paddle boarding is a great pursuit for anyone of any age. If you want more information on paddle boarding or would like to learn more about the history of this activity you can check out this Wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddleboarding.

What to Look for in a Stand Up Paddle Board

Paddle Boards are designed to meet the expectations of the user and depending on your skill level those expectations may vary dramatically. Most paddle boards are usually between 9 feet and 15 feet long. This sizing is designed to accommodate the user’s weight and skill level. The most common length is 11 feet and this is a great length for an entry level paddle boarder. Boards can vary in thickness and rocker (the degree of upward curve from the front to the back of the board) and the shape of the sides or rails. Most boards come with handles to carry them and a pre-installed deck pad that provides a surface for your feet to grip and maintain your balance on. Great dimensions for a paddle board that is shared between family and friends or for someone looking to get more involved in paddle boarding is a board that is 11 feet long, 30 – 32 inches wide, 5 inches thick and has a minimal rocker. A board with these dimensions will be easy to handle and paddle and will be stable in modest surf.

How am I Going to Use My Paddle Board?

Before you purchase your new paddle board you need to figure out how you are going to use it and what your skill level is. This will help determine the type of board you need to buy and will get the most use from. There are 4 types of boards, paddle boards that work well in flat or calm water, paddle boards designed for heavier surf, boards designed for fitness activities like yoga and racing paddle boards. The three latter type of paddle boards are specialty boards and you probably know more about paddle boards if you are looking to purchase one of those. For most people, a paddle board designed for calm water is the target. These boards are great for families, beginners and people who want to spend more time on the board and less getting wet.

Sizing and Dimensions are Important

The most important considerations when purchasing a paddle board are length, width, weight and their construction. Many people think length is the most important factor but it is the width that will give you the stability and footing you need to stay up on the paddle board. A width anywhere between 30 and 34 inches will provide the stability you need to make stand up paddle boarding comfortable and fun. The larger the width, the larger an area you will have to plant your feet on. Balancing on a SUP can be a difficult task, particularly at first. The wider base will allow you to paddle with power and remain upright, an important part of the experience! The other two considerations when looking at a board are the weight of the board and its carrying weight. The weight of the board will be an important factor in determining its level of portability for you. An inflatable board can usually condense into a bundle the size of a rolled up sleeping bag. This is not the case for a solid board. Solid boards can vary tremendously in carrying weight based on the materials they are made out of. Boards made from foam and fiberglass are usually lighter weight than boards made from other materials. Many standard, entry level boards have a carrying weight of around 200 pounds. If you weigh more than this or want to use the board in tandem you may need to look at longer boards that can carry more weight. Our step-up pick for example has a carrying weight of 800 pounds.

Paddle Board Construction

Paddle Boards can be made out of a wide range of materials the most basic classification is inflatable versus or a solid construction. Paddle boards come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. Most paddle boards are made from a combination of a foam core, fiber glass and epoxy. This is very similar to how regular surf boards are made. However, there are also paddle boards made from wood, plastics and other materials. Paddle boards range in size from about 9 feet to 14 feet which can require a lot of storage space. For people who do not have this storage space, inflatable paddle boards are also an option. This is a great choice for people who are enthusiastic about paddle boarding but lack the storage space.

Inflatable Paddle Boards

A couple of years ago, the vast majority of paddleboards were made from a combination of epoxy resin and fiberglass. Since 2011, this has changed and virtually all manufacturers have at least one inflatable option. Inflatable boards are exactly that, you blow them up. This makes them terrific for storage and transportation. This is a result of the many advantages offered by inflatable boards, particularly around storage and transport. Inflatable stand up paddle boards are now produced at 6 inch thickness and many of them can hold well over 300 pounds, making them a truly viable option to replace the heavier and harder to transport traditional stand up board. The technology used to make these inflatables has improved so much over the past couple of years that they are now a great option for any type of stand up paddleboard user.

A great option in this category is the Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9 foot 10 inch package Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable SUP

Tower Paddle Board Adventurer Inflatable SUP
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It will provide the performance you need and the options you are looking for with a minimal amount of storage space required. Inflatable boards are great options if there is not a convenient spot to store your paddle board or if you travel to different locations to participate in this activity.

Choosing a Paddle

A stand up paddle boarder’s best tool is his or her paddle. Many boards come with their own adjustable height paddle. Most recreational stand up paddleboard users like paddles with a narrower width. For competition, many racers choose to go with a wider headed paddle. An adjustable paddle is a great option because it will allow for sharing among family members. A paddle should be 6 to 8 inches taller than the user. Therefore, the adjustable height paddle is important consideration in examining which paddle to buy. Don’t let that discourage you from buying the board that is right for you if it doesn’t come with an adjustable paddle. The most important consideration in choosing a paddle will be it’s weight. Finding a lightweight paddle is worth a few extra bucks on the front end to save on inconvenience and pain while out on the water. Particularly if you have kids who will be using or riding on the board you will want to make sure you have a light weight paddle. If you want to learn more about paddles or the equipment that will make your paddle boarding experience awesome check out this article from.

How We Picked: Our Criteria

Choosing the right stand up paddle board is about a lot more than just its appearance. Some people might be tempted to choose a paddle board based on its design, color scheme or price point. However there are a number of considerations in choosing the best stand up paddle board and these are some of the features and considerations that played a part in the choices made here:

Length of the Board – the optimum length for a board for entry level users is between 10 and 11 feet. If you go shorter than this you are in traditional surf board territory and too much longer and you are into competition boards.

Width and Thickness of the Board – the width of the board is the most important consideration for entry level users because it helps determine the stability of your board. A width of between 30 and 34 inches will provide you with the stability you need to effectively paddle.

Deck Surfacing – Most boards come with integrated deck surfacing and this is what provides a non-slip surface for your feet to grip onto while out on the water. There are a variety of materials and patterns.

Weight Restrictions. Many of the entry level boards have weight limitations of approximately 200 pounds. This makes the board unsuitable for heavier users and for tandem riding with family members in many cases.

Portability – Lightweight boards are easier to move around, inflatable boards have even more flexibility as they can be rolled up into a carrying case.

Storage – Fiberglass boards need to be stored somewhere and transported to your paddleboard location, often on carrying racks. Inflatable boards don’t take up a lot of space and can be tossed in the back of your car for easy transport.

Handles- Having a carrying handle, particularly on the fiberglass boards will help with maneuvering and transporting your board to the water’s edge.

Paddles – many boards are sold with paddles, an adjustable paddle for use by multiple people is a great investment and an excellent added feature of many package deals available.

Additional Features in Kits – many kits have carrying packs and pumps for inflatable boards and surf leashes, fin options and other add-ons. These additional features can help increase the value and usability of your purchase.

Our Pick: California Board Company (CBC) Stand Up Paddle Board

California Board Company SUP
Jen’s Top Pick: California Board Company SUP

The California Board Company (CBC) Stand Up Paddle Board is a great choice for recreational family fun. This board delivers premium performance. The board measures 10 feet 6 inches in length which is the target length for a great, smooth ride in calm or even choppy water. It is made from wood stringers, super compact foam and waterproof resin and will deliver a smooth ride in calm or choppy water. It has excellent maneuverability in the water and is very lightweight to carry. The board weighs 25 pounds which will allow any adult to comfortable move and transport this board. Its maximum carry weight is 300 pounds which will allow most users to travel in tandem or with a child or younger family member. This gives the board a lot of versatility as a family recreation device. Even though this board is made of foam it is still extremely durable and will allow you to be a little careless with it.

This stand up paddle board will make you feel like you are flying across the water. While it may not be as fast as narrower competition board, it has the stability and width to make paddling comfortable, stable and efficient which will allow you to move across the water with ease and speed. The foam is easy to maneuver and easy on your knees when you are kneeling on the board. This board is essentially maintenance free and will provide a good ride for beginners, paddlers looking for a leisurely afternoon along the coast or exercise enthusiasts looking forward to a great work out.

Another great advantage to this board is that it comes as a kit which provides a lot of added value. This board comes with a paddle that is adjustable to accommodate many users, a leash for the board and a padded ankle strap made of neoprene to keep you safely secured to your board. The ankle strap is an important safety aspect to your paddle board as it essentially functions as a large life preserver in the event you fall off. The board also has a handle for easy carrying and comes with a padded roof rack so you can attach this board to your car for transport. The board is backed by a 30 day guarantee so get out on the water and enjoy your board.

Flaws but not deal breakers

This board is a nice large size. This is excellent for stability and performance but makes it less convenient to move around than an inflatable board or one that was more compact. However, this extra size gives it better performance on the water. The foam core that the board is made from provides for a comfortable surface, particularly when kneeling. The deck of this board is extremely durable but some users have found it to be a bit slippery. This may be problematic for a beginner, however, a little wax on the gripping surface and it does very well indeed. For users who are familiar with paddle boards, it should be a great gripping surface and a fun ride. Overall, this is a great stand up paddle board that is suitable for family and individual fun in many different water conditions.

Step-Up Pick

Tower Xplorer 14' Inflatable SUP
Tower Inflatable 14’ SUP

Longer, inflatable, military grade tough and fast, the Tower Xplorer 14 foot inflatable SUP with Pump and 3-pc adjustable paddle is our step-up pick. This pick is a lot more expensive than our main pick but it also delivers a step up in versatility, portability and functionality. This board is inflatable and made of military grade materials. This makes it extremely durable and easy to maintain. The construction of the material makes these boards strong enough to be thrown off buildings or run over with a car. It won’t dent, chip or show wear. It has the advantage of portability and storage. The board’s deflated form is about the size of a sleeping bag and can be rolled up and put in the closet for storage and tossed into the back of your car for transport. This makes taking it with you on vacation a possibility. Wherever you go you can bring your stand up paddle board with you.

The board itself is a great length for racing, tandem riding, leisurely excursions and a variety of calm and choppy water activities. It has a great 32 inch width which puts it in the optimum range for stability. It also has an 800 pound maximum carrying weight, making it a true tandem or family board. This board also comes with its own pump and adjustable paddle. The major drawback to this board is of course its price. All the features that make it functional and versatile also add to the price tag. This is why the CBC board is our top pick, it delivers high performance, maneuverability and stability at a great price. It remains the top choice for recreational users, families and beginners.

Budget Pick: Bestway Hydro-Force Wave Edge Stand Up Inflatable Paddle Board

Bestway Hydro-Force SUP
Bestway Hydro-Force SUP

The Bestway Hydro-Force Stand Up Inflatable Paddle Board is an amazing buy. This inflatable board is a great option for touring waterways and has a maximum carrying weight of 220 pounds. It also has a built in handle for carrying and inflates easily and quickly. This board has a good width at 32 inches and a good length at 10 feet. It has good maneuverability but is not really designed for choppy water. Many Amazon reviewers found it relatively difficult to inflate but otherwise a very portable board. It comes with its own pump and adjustable paddle but many reviewers found the paddle to be somewhat heavy and cumbersome.

Specialized Picks

Isle Airtech Yoga Fitness Inflatable SUP
Isle Airtech Yoga Fitness SUP

With so many ways to enjoy paddle boarding these days there are some great picks for specialized uses. An increasing number of people are doing yoga on their paddleboards. A great pick is the ISLE Airtech 10’4 Yoga Fitness Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package. This board has a great width, deck and price point. A fitness or yoga paddle board has both a wide base and tip to make exercising on the board easier. Exercising or doing yoga on the board is a tremendous way to strengthen your core muscles.

Competition

Vilano Journey 10' Inflatable SUP
Vilano Journey 10’ Inflatable SUP

If the California Board Company Paddle Board is not available, too expensive or too inconvenient to store, a great runner up is the Vilano Journey 10 foot inflatable SUP Stand up Paddle Board Kit. This board is a little shorter but comes in at the same width of 30 inches which makes for a stable ride. The performance and maneuverability don’t quite match the CBC board but are still very functional for recreational stand up paddlers. It has a maximum carrying weight of 200 pounds so this board is not the right fit for tandem or duo riding and is not the right board for heavier users. What makes it an adequate substitute for the CBC board is its portability, it deflates and condenses into a bag the size of a rolled up sleeping bag.

Isle Soft Top SUP
Isle Soft Top SUP

There are many great options to consider when looking at Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP’s). Some of the competitors of the boards we have listed include the ISLE Soft Top Stand Up Paddle Board Package (5″ Thick). This board is made from foam core and wood stringers and comes in both a 9 foot 6 inch and 10 foot 8 inch length. The width is 31 inches and it is functional in both calm and mildly choppy waters. It has a 5 inch thickness and a weight limit that will support up to 200 pound riders.

BIC Ace-Tec Performer 10' SUP
BIC Ace – TEC Performer 10’ SUP

Another great solid board option is the BIC ACE – TEC Performer 10’6″ Stand Up Paddle Board SUP. This sporty board will give you great stability and exceptional maneuverability. This board is pricey but it delivers superior performance on all types of water from flat to choppy. It has a nice wide deck and is very light weight at only 25 pounds making it easy to transport and carry.

Atoll 11’ Inflatable SUP Atoll 11' Inflatable SUP
Atoll 11’ Inflatable SUP

If you would rather have an inflatable stand up paddle board give the Atoll 11’ Inflatable SUP a chance. At 11 feet in length with a deck spanning 32 inches across it will allow you to get more performance than some of its lesser competitors. Even though this is an inflatable board, it inflates to a hard, rigid surface which will give you a lot of support as you traverse the waterways. There are a number of D rings to hold things. Inflating it is a quick process and it collapses down into its own medium sized backpack to carry. You can take this board all over the world and have an adventure!

Isle Airtech 11' Inflatable SUP
Isle Airtech 11’ Inflatable SUP

If you like adventure and want to travel and explore more extensively with your paddle board, the Isle Airtech 11’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a great choice. It is great for fishing, exploring and having an adventure. It has 14 individual D rings and 2 bungee systems so that you can pack and store a lot on this board all while getting the performance you have come to expect.

Wrap Up

There are many great options to choose from when looking for a stand up paddle board. The key is to look for a board that will provide you with a wide base to plant your feet, a deck that will reduce slipping and a ride that will deliver the performance you are looking for. The California Board Company (CBC) Stand up Paddle Board provides the platform, stability, performance and versatility you need to have fun or get a good work out. This complete package will enable a beginner or intermediate paddle boarder to enjoy a recreational day or an intense work out with good maneuverability, a stable platform and a smooth ride. If you are willing to spend some more money, the Tower Xplorer 14 foot inflatable SUP with Pump and 3-pc adjustable paddle, will provide you with increased portability, performance and storage options. This inflatable board is virtually indestructible and provides a stable, fast paced ride on a variety of water conditions. If the CBC SUP is not the right choice for you then maybe Bestway Hydro-Force Wave Edge Stand Up Inflatable Paddleboard is the right choice for you. As an inflatable board, it provides portability and many storage options. However, this board while having a wide base lacks performance in the water. Many reviewers also found inflating the board difficult and time consuming. In the end, it is up to you to determine how you will use your stand up paddle board. The way you intend to use it will largely determine the specifications and categories that will be most important to you. Regardless of how you intend to use it the first step towards a fun filled summer on the water is purchasing a new stand up paddle board.

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