Whether you you are new to the world of paddle boards or a seasoned SUP pro, picking the best paddle board can be a difficult decision. We take a look at some of the best options on the market
Given its huge surge in popularity over recent years, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) will need little introduction to anyone that spends time on the water. If you want to get into the world’s fastest-growing sport too, here are some of the best paddle board options for entry-level and all-round use, or if you want to read more about the differences in stand-up paddle boards jump ahead here.
For those brand new to the sport, many of these options come as a complete kit, so you have everything you need to get on the water immedately. But if you are buying a board-only option (or, as is often the case with cheaper kits, you need to upgrade your accessories), you might want to take a look at our guides to the best paddle board pumps to ensure you are able to pump up your paddle board as easily as possible.
Although paddle boarding can be done in simple swimming shorts, if you want to be safe and comfortable, you’ll want to know what to wear when paddle boarding from athletic tops to paddle board lifejackets and buoyancy aids.
Once you’ve spent a little time on the water you might want to upgrade other kit swapping out bog-standard paddle board extras for some of the best paddle board accessories.
Best overall paddle board – Red Paddle Co 11’0 Compact
Best paddle board for families – Decathlon ItiWit Tandem
Best cheap paddle board – Bestway Hydro Force Fast Blast SUP
Best non-inflatable paddle board – TAHE 10’6″ Beach Performer
Best inflatable paddle board
Red Paddle Co 11’0 Compact Inflatable Paddle Board
Specs: Size: 11ft x 32in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: 110kg
Reasons to buy: Incredibly portable – fits into smallest of backpacks | High build quality | 5-year warranty
Reasons to avoid: Premium price
Red Paddle were the pioneers of high-quality inflatable paddle boards and they remain the most innovative brand out there, with an extensive product range – in fact many of the best inflatable SUPS on the market are made by Red and we have tested many of them. All the Red boards we have used have offered impressive performance and demonstrated great build quality. It is easy to look at the price of Red products and struggle to justify the cost. But if you want one of the best inflatable boards on the market, you’d be hard pressed to beat this one.
The reason we particularly like the Red Paddle Co Compact SUP is that, in addition to offering all the quality you expect from Red, this board also packs down into the smallest backpack on the market: half the size of most inflatable paddle board packages. Yet folded into that space is a real do-it-all board with a truly top-end finish.
This 11ft x 32in Compact is an ideal all-round size, though it does also come in a 9ft 6in option (best for small surf) and 12ft x 32in option (best for flat-water and touring.)
Superb for stowage and transport, pricey yet super-high quality with a 5-year warranty.
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Bestway Hydro Force Fast Blast SUP
Specs: Size: 12ft 6in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: 120kg
Reasons to buy: Cheaper than almost everything else on the market | Works well as a basic paddle board
Reasons to avoid: Needs to be well weighted when in use | Supplied paddle is very poor
With so many people getting into stand-up paddle boards in recent years there has been a similar boom in boards that have rapidly hit the market. There are several very established brands on the market – such as Red Paddle Co. But their boards tend to be around the £1000 mark, and sometimes more. Experienced paddle boarders will tell you that they are well worth the price and they undoubtedly are. But what of the cheapest brands on the market, can they be worth it for the novice?
We decided to test out one of the cheapest boards we could find. We found the Bestway Hydro Force Fast Blast SUP for around £200 and conducted a full SUP test. Our conclusion was that it was remarkably useable.
There are some drawbacks – as you would expect for something so cheap – the board is happiest when well-weighted, ideally near to its 120kg max. The Bestway Hydro Force Fast Blast SUP gets along nicely enough for what it is and did the intended job for our reviewer, Jake Frith as a two person fun craft and for occasional yacht tender duties, but don’t get it if you’re a lightweight and definitely budget for a half decent paddle as we found the one included was of very poor quality.
Bluefin SUP 10′8″ Aura Fit SUP
Specs: Size: 10ft 8in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: 160kg
Reasons to buy: Small size makes it very | 5-year warranty for peace of mind
Reasons to avoid: Premium price
If you are relatively new to the paddle boarding scene then a key consideration is going to be stability. Although this SUP from Bluefin is relatively short it is designed specifically for water-based yoga and Pilates.
That width and stability are also ideal for a general newcomer to the SUP world. Another side effect of the yoga specialism is an extra wide deck with plenty of grip and a gentle, rounded profile. This means it is unlikely to be the absolute best performer, but it will provide the ideal platform for those wishing to take their fist step into the world of stand up paddle boarding – and is, obviously ideal for those tempted by a little water-based yoga too.
A three-fin setup adds stability and good water manners, while the fibreglass paddle and polyurethane blade are reasonably light weight, so you won’t get tired paddling for long periods of time.
The kit also includes a double action pump, leash and rucksack for transport, letting you take on waterways as near or far as your fancy takes you.
Isle Pioneer Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Specs: Size: 10ft 6in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: 130kg
Reasons to buy: Versatile for a variety of uses | Durable construction | Comes with bag, leash, pump, paddle
Reasons to avoid: Performance will be limited | Not ideal for experienced paddlers
Isle have produced a number of paddle boards that have impressed us and they tend to focus on creating paddle boards that offer a range of uses. We were particularly impressed by their paddle board / Kayak hybrid, which the US-based company brought out in 2022.
Across their range, Isle have a variety of clips and accessories so you can carry belongings with you. This does mean that they are not always the absolute best boards for the aspiring paddler who wants to do nothing but get the very best paddle board performance from their board, but if you want to head off on an adventure then these could be the choice for you.
The Pioneer 2.0 is what Isle call their ‘all-round’ board and would be well suited to beginners with plenty of volume and with a width of 36in, it should be plenty stable enough. However, with a suggested maximum pressure of 12psi, it is on the soft side compared to the very best inflatables, so might not be as suited to advanced paddlers.
Decathlon ItiWit Tandem
Specs: Size: 15ft | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: N/A
Reasons to buy: Great value | Stable and manoeuvrable | Optimised for two people but can stretch to a small family
Reasons to avoid: Doesn’t include a pump, leash or paddle | Not the fastest or most directional
Multi-person boards aren’t commonplace in paddle boarding, yet it is a lot of fun to paddle in company and a few manufacturers do produce quads and tandems.
The best value you’ll find is this Decathlon ItiWit at a penny under six-hundred quid – although be warned that doesn’t include a pump, leash or paddle, so do budget for those too unless you already have your own.
At 15ft x 35in this is relatively short and wide for a tandem, so while it won’t be the fastest or most directional it will be stable and pretty manoeuvrable.
Well put together for the money and good for 17psi of air pressure, so robust and rigid enough to work nicely on the water.
Optimised for two-person paddling, although a board this big could take a small family at a push.
Mistral 11ft 5in Adventure Paddle Board
Specs: Size: 11ft 5in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: N/A
Reasons to buy: Fairly cheap for the quality | 2-year warranty
Reasons to avoid: Accessories could be better
If you are looking for a brand you can rely on in the increasingly congested world of stand-up paddle boards, you could do a lot worse than picking up a board, but Mistral a brand that have been at the forefront of windsurfer boards and sails for many years – in fact it was a Mistral windsurfer that was used when the sport was first included in the Olympic Games.
Falling back on years of board construction, the Mistral Adventure’s body uses a single skin made from Mistral’s Fusion Layer Technology which helps to make it lighter than double-skinned paddle boards and polyester strands run between the upper and lower faces of the board to maintain the correct board shape and add extra rigidity – as is the case with many top-end inflatable paddle boards.
A small word of warning, however. Although the board inflates to high pressure and is very rigid, and is very well constructed the accessories that come with it are somewhat lacking in quality. As such, you probably want to consider the price as ‘board only’ and expect to want a better pump and paddle in relatively short order.
Gul Inflatable Paddle Board
Specs: Size: 10ft 7in | Type: Inflatable | Max Weight: N/A
Reasons to buy: Light | Good stability for beginners | Max inflation of 20psi means a rigid board when pumped up
Reasons to avoid: Slightly cheaper options are available for beginners
As with Mistral, when it comes to looking for a SUP, you can be overwhelmed with choices, so it can be a good idea to go for a well established brand so you know you are less likely to be sold a cheap dud. Gul have been making marine products for many years and we really rate their wetsuits and a variety of other watersports kit they produce.
This board features a double wall design and strands between the decks, which mean it can be inflated to 20psi, which makes for a very rigid board. This is important as it means more of your effort is transferred into moving forward and the board will behave consistently in waves.
Best paddleboard – rigid options
Jobe Ventura 10.6 Bamboo Paddle Board
Specs: Size: 10ft 6in | Type: Rigid | Max Weight: 110kg
Reasons to buy: Rigid and durable | Beautifully-constructed
Reasons to avoid: Bulky to transport | Surface is delicate
This Jobe Ventura 10.6 paddle board is certainly easy on the eye, with bamboo construction really help it stand out from the other options, visually.
The solid construction also makes it highly robust in use. Although the bamboo deck draws the eye, the bulk of the board is made from a foam core for buoyancy with fibreglass for strength – that buoyancy is visible in the sizable 110kg weight limit (good for this size rigid board). Two channels in the underside promote stability and speed, while the sharp nose rocker will help the board to carry itself over waves well. A single toolless fin is great for long-distance stability, while the bungee and camera plug make this a practical choice too.
However, that strength and performance come with the problem of a 10.6-foot board to transport and store, something worth thinking through before buying. Portability is always going to be a problem when it comes to buying a rigid SUP, but the additional rigidity does help performance – even if that becomes less of a case each year as pressures continue to rise in the inflatable paddle board market.
TAHE 10’6″ Beach Performer
Specs: Size: 10ft 6in | Type: Rigid | Max Weight: 90kg
Reasons to buy: Great brand reputation for virtually indestructible boards | Strong outer skin | Solid value for money
Reasons to avoid: Sold as board only | Hefty weight
BiC Sport – the watersports subsidiary of the famous biro company – rebranded as TAHE following a 2019 merger. BiC’s surfing and windsurfing reputation has long been for virtually indestructible, mass-market products, and TAHE paddle boards follow that theme.
This 10ft 6in x 31.5in is a no-frills, versatile solid that looks wave-friendly and should be fun in flat water too.
Constructed in thermoformed ’Tough-Tec’, an extremely strong outer polyethylene skin wraps a watertight EPS foam core for maximum impact resistance, but that comes at the price of weight – a hefty 14.5kg.
Solid value for money, but supplied without a leash or paddle.
What size of paddle board do I need?
In SUP, as in surfing, measurements are generally imperial. In a nutshell, an average all-round paddle board is around 11 feet long and 32 inches wide. The wider the board the more stability it has – but that width is also drag, so a narrower board will be faster yet tippier.
Taller, heavier riders generally appreciate a little more width for comfort. A 32” wide board is a sensible beginner / all-round option – although a lighter or more progressive rider might prefer a 30”, while heavier or more nervous paddlers may appreciate a full 34”.
The longer the board, the better it will glide in a straight line, but the harder it will be to turn. All-round boards tend to be 10’ to 11’4” in length; longer will be more satisfying for flat-water ‘touring’, shorter more suited to ‘messing about’ in choppier water and even catching small surf.
Best paddle board brands
The massive growth in paddle boarding over recent years has also seen un upsurge in frankly substandard brands looking to ‘cash in’ on the sport’s popularity for both the boards and the many SUP accessories, such as paddle board pumps, to be found on the market.
Most reputable brands are sold via dealer networks, although there are a few notable small independents selling direct on the domestic market. Many of the best paddle board brands were borne from the windsurfing industry; Starboard, Naish, Fanatic, JP – and in fact the inflatable market leaders Red Paddle were founded by Tushingham Sails down in Devon.
Solid or inflatable?
Although the best paddle board for top-end surfing and racing is still generally of solid construction, inflatable paddle boards are justifiably more popular for most recreational uses. A good quality inflatable (ie; well constructed and able to pump up to sufficiently high pressure) has minimal performance disadvantages, yet will be much more resistant to damage from the inevitable knocks and scrapes.
Often more pertinently, storage and transport is much easier with an inflatable that packs down into a backpack than a relatively delicate solid board. This is particularly true for sailors, who increasingly have a paddle board onboard as a boating accessory.
If you are specifically looking for a pump up paddleboard take a look at our guide to the best inflatable paddle boards on the market.
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