Find the perfect SUP for you.
By Trent Jonas
Stand-up paddleboarding is a not just a fun way to get out and enjoy the water, it’s also a great way to exercise, including growing-in-popularity SUP yoga. If you’re new to the sport, you’ll want a stable board that you’ll feel comfortable on. At the same time, as you improve, you’ll want a board that can perform the way you want it to. As a beginner, look for a medium-length, relatively wide board that fits your body type. If you’re shorter, a board that’s too wide may not allow you to paddle comfortably, while taller or bigger folks may feel less stable on a narrower board. If you’re hoping to engage in activities like SUP yoga or fishing, you’ll want the widest board that you can paddle comfortably. Keeping these criteria in mind, check out these six perfect paddleboards for beginners.
The 10’6” Pau Hana Malibu Classic is another rigid board that is an excellent choice for beginners. At 34” wide, the Kevlar-reinforced VFT planing board perfectly combines performance and stability. You can surf it, use it for yoga, or take it fishing. The board weighs in at 31 pounds and can support up to 249 pounds of weight.
The Isle Versa is a rigid epoxy stand-up paddleboard that is an excellent all-around SUP for beginners. The design is wide and stable enough for SUP yoga or fishing, yet the board performs well enough that it could surf a moderate swell. The 11’2” model is 33 inches wide, weighs in at a reasonable 32 pounds and can support up to 300 pounds of person, dog, cooler, fishing gear, or any combination thereof.
Not everyone has the space to store a rigid paddleboard. Fortunately, ever-improving technology allows for inflatable SUPs that perform comparably to their less-packable counterparts. The NRS Thrive is one such example. Capable of fitness paddling, yoga, touring, and even light river running, the Thrive comes in at around 10’8” in length and 34 inches in width when inflated and packs down into its own backpack when stored. The board weighs 29 pounds and supports up to 250 pounds of additional weight on the water.
The full-foam deck on the 10’6” Slide from BIC Sport is friendly and forgiving enough for a beginner but performs well enough that you may not ever need an upgrade. Perfect for flatwater and small wave surfing, the Slide can be used for fishing or yoga or simple recreation. At 33 inches wide, the board is stable in the water, but it only weighs 25.5 pounds, so it’s also easy to manage outside of the water. The board has a 240-pound weight capacity.
With an extra-wide fishtail design, the Lifetime Freestyle XL offers an excellent combination of stability and performance. Although it’s designed primarily for flat water, its double-fin design allows for paddling in light surf, as well. The board is built from high-density polyethylene, so, at 40 pounds, it comes in a little heavier than an equivalent epoxy board. The Freestyle XL is 11’8” long, 35.5 inches wide, and can support a payload of up to 220 pounds.
Another inflatable worth considering is the Tower Adventurer. Coming in a little on the short side for a beginner board, 9’10”, the Tower gains in maneuverability what it lacks in length. The board is 32 inches wide, so it offers plenty of stability, as well as a non-slip deck. The board weighs 25 pounds and packs down into its own handy backpack for easy portability, but it can handle up to 300 pounds of weight when inflated on the water.