If you want to pick up a new hobby and explore the great outdoors, why not give paddleboarding a try? A favorite warm-weather activity for all ages, stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, suits every athletic skill set and doesn’t require much gear — all you need is a board and a body of water. In fact, it serves as an opportunity to get better acquainted with the nature around you, which is always a nice change of scenery.
Some people assume SUP is too tricky for them to master, but all it takes is some practice and patience — and the boards are actually incredibly versatile. Paddleboards are great for fishing, yoga, and some can even double as kayaks. But unlike typical kayaks, which can be cumbersome to travel with, inflatable paddleboards can deflate to fit neatly into a backpack. Since they’re easy to manage, paddleboards are also great for families; you can pack more than one in your car without having to invest in a rack or trailer like you would for most other types of water vessels. Below, explore the best paddleboards and learn how to choose the right one for your next outdoor adventure.
Paddleboards may seem like an intricate balancing act, but they’re surprisingly easy to use because most have large, stable bases that keep you from toppling over. Beginners will want to look for an inflatable board that has a large non-slip surface and is at least 30 inches wide. (The wider and thicker the surface, the more stable you will be.) If you are still concerned with standing, you can always start on your knees and work your way up. But don’t be afraid to fall, so long as you are in open water — you are close enough to the water that it won’t hurt you, and most boards have soft surfaces.
Once you get the hang of it, not only is paddleboarding a ton of fun, but it’s also a great form of exercise. Since you’re using a slew of muscle groups to remain upright and balance on the board while paddling, it ends up being a great core workout. Plus, the rowing motion can strengthen and tone your arms, too. Some even enjoy practicing yoga on paddleboards because it helps improve form and stability since you’re forced to adapt as the water moves beneath you.
How to Choose the Right Paddleboard
On the other hand, solid boards excel in the ocean where they can be used for both surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. For those experienced in water activities, they can also allow for a smoother, faster ride, and they’re the better option for yoga because the hard surface offers a bit more stability. However, they tend to be heavier, more expensive, and tougher to store than inflatable boards.
Whether you prefer an inflatable or solid board, you’ll have no trouble finding the right choice in our list below. We chose 14 stand-up paddleboards to try this summer, spring, and beyond, including options that range in price and style to fit your individual needs.
The best part is, all of these boards are available to order online and be delivered right to your door, so you can get out there and start exploring your local bodies of water in no time.