Ready to hit the water? We broke down the finalists in our buying guide into the following three categories, best paddle board, best paddle board for beginners, and best paddle board for kids.
We’ll go ahead and tell you a little of what we liked about each board up front — no cheating though, keep reading to find out more.
The BIC Sport ACE-TEC Cross Sup Stand Up Paddleboard took top honors for its all-around design. Expect high-quality construction from the ACE-TEC, with a deck, as well as a reasonable mid-range price and the versatility you need for all sorts of activities, ranging from SUP Yoga to SUP fishing.
Beginners with stand up paddle boarding need extra stability, and the Peak Navigator Rigid Epoxy Stand Up Paddle Board satisfies this without sacrificing any of the fun. The board is lightweight for its length, with high weight capacity, but it’s also ultra-durable and built for performance.
Kids just getting into SUP boarding don’t have to stick to an inflatable stand up paddle board. Instead, look no further than the Wavestorm 8 ft Stand Up Paddleboard. With Wavestorm you’ll get stability, a strong EPS, expanded polystyrene, core and lots of accessories for a fun day on the water.
Finding the Best Paddle Boards
Curious about paddle boarding? This is the year you’ll take the plunge — but hopefully not too often. All joking aside, paddle boarding is one of the easiest water sports to get into, mellow if you choose it to be, but also versatile if an adventurous afternoon on the lake is what you seek.
In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about choosing a paddle board, from the finer points of solid or hard SUPs versus inflatable paddle boards, or iSUPs, to SUP dimensions and even a little bit about SUP accessories. For the purposes of this ranking, we focused on hard SUPs. If inflatable boards are what you’re after, we have you covered with our article, “Best Inflatable Paddle Board.”
By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll be well informed and ready to choose a SUP that’s both sized right for you and well-suited for the kind of SUPing you’d like to try. The sun is out, the water is fine, so let’s get started.
The Paddle Boards We RAVE About
What kind of paddle board do you need? Yes, the answer to this question extends beyond “the floaty” kind. There’s a lot to know about paddle boards, in fact, so before telling our picks for the best paddle boards, let’s first talk a bit about hard versus inflatable paddle boards, and how to pick the one that’s right for you.
What’s the Difference Between a Hard and Inflatable Paddle Board?
In the article, we rank hard, sometimes called epoxy paddle boards. If you’re curious about the best inflatable SUP, check our ranking of the best inflatable paddle boards [here]. But if the jury is still out on which one’s right for you, here’s what you need to know about hard vs. inflatable SUP boards.
We’ll begin with the differences in construction. Most hard, epoxy, or solid SUPs are made from an EPS foam core wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy. These boards are lightweight and durable. You can find hard SUPs made from carbon fiber, making them even lighter and stiffer but also more expensive. There are also solid plastic boards, but those boards tend to be heavy.
Here are the top three reasons a hard SUP might be right for you:
Interested in traveling fast and far on your new paddle board? Hard paddle boards handle better in the water and travel faster, a better choice for touring SUPs.
Hard SUPs come in a wide array of shapes and sizes so chances are you’ll find a hard SUP that fits you perfectly, without sacrificing any of the maneuverability you require.
Some say hard boards are more stable for beginners, while others say beginners should stick with inflatable SUPs if for no other reason than their inevitable falls while learning to stand will be better cushioned.
What’s for certain is that hard SUPs sit lower in the water, and some find that feels more stable. They also provide more stability in waves and whitewater.
Storage is also an important consideration, as well as a roof rack for your car. You’ll simply need more space to store your hard SUP when not on the water while iSUPs can be easily stashed away once deflated.
Next, let’s talk a bit about board volume and the weight capacity of your board.
SUP Volume and Weight Capacity: What You Need to Know
Now that you’ve decided to go with a hard SUP, the next point to think about is the SUP volume and weight capacity of the board. A board that can’t handle your bodyweight won’t do you much good once you’re out on the water.
To understand your board and max weight, you need to first understand the following.
Expressed in liters, board volume indicates how well the board can float with weight on it. Higher the volume, the more weight the board can support.
- Board weight capacity
Weight capacity is listed in pounds. Putting too much weight on a board will cause it to ride too low in the water making it difficult to paddle. Weight capacity means more than just your own body weight, but also the added weight of gear, food and drinks, paddle board partners, or even just your dog.
Where volume and board weight come into play is hull type, especially displacement hulls — or a board with a convex bottom. Too heavy, the board will sink and be hard to paddle. Too light and you won’t sink enough and that can also make your board difficult to control.
So far we’ve talked about inflatable vs. hard SUPs, as well as board volume and weight capacity.
Although there’s a bit more to know about paddle boarding, (we’ll cover how to choose SUP length, width, and thickness in the FAQ section) for now, let’s move on to the main event. Up next is our ranking of the 10 best paddle boards.
While researching this article on the best paddle boards, we solicited input from SUP board experts David Lenze of the authoritative water sports-themed website, Floating Authority and ex-NFL quarterback, fitness expert, and SUP board enthusiast Thomas Jones.
After gathering input and consulting other similar rankings from all across the internet in order to gather a broad range of opintions, we conducted our own research.
We evaluated each board on the following:
- Board dimensions
- All-around versatility
- Construction materials
- Consumer reviews
- Added accessories (military-grade construction, d-rings, paddles, fins, etc.)
All this combined has produced a comprehensive list of the best paddle boards available. We can’t wait to get started.
The Best Paddle Boards
BIC Sport ACE-TEC Cross Sup Stand Up Paddleboard
The winning board in our ranking is the BIC Sport ACE-TEC, a board Lenze recommends for big ‘n’ tall paddlers. “I knew someone who owned this board and they were 6’2, 250 lbs and they had no problem learning on this board because of its displacement size,” Lenze says.
Otherwise, this family-friendly SUP comes in 10, 11, and 12-foot options, with weight capacity at 222 pounds, 285 pounds and a whopping 350 pounds respectively. There’s also a keeled-nose helping the board track straight and a flat deck suitable for SUP fishing, SUP yoga, or just multiple paddlers.
The board features a full-length deck pad and an ergonomic grip carry handle, as well as sliding rails for maximum versatility during fishing trips which can be removed for touring or other activities like SUP touring. There’s also a Quick-fin system for quick, tool-free installation and removal of both fine, as well as numerous attachment points to keep your gear safe and secure.
- Good for SUPing with dog
- Big weight capacity
- Quick-fin system
- Some fissures reported
Tava Blue Stand Up Paddle Boards
Up next is the Tava Blue Stand Up Paddle Boards. With dimensions measuring 11 foot 2 inches by 33 inches by 5 inches and weighing 30 pounds with a volume of 215 Liters, this board is relatively long and narrow, making it perhaps a bit better suited for intermediates.
Overall though it’s a great all-around option for both flatwater and choppy surf. It’s made from EPS Foam, fiberglass cloth, and epoxy resin, with high gloss finish. 1/4 composite divinycell is used on the stringer.
Max weight capacity on the board is pretty high on the board, up to 300 pounds in fact, accomodating groups of riders or if you like to get out on the water with your dog. Included with purchase is a 9-inch center box fin with two super fin side bites.
There are lots of other nice features as well, like a comfort groove retractable carry handle and an alloy plastic adjustable paddle.
- Long and narrow
- High weight capacity
- Two super fin side bites
- Not for beginners
ISLE Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board
With a good all-around SUP design, the next board in our ranking is the Cruiser Stand Up Paddle Board, our choice for the best hard paddle board for beginners. Due especially to the rigid and stable construction for all skill levels, making this also a good choice for anyone looking to flatwater paddle, SUP yoga, or SUP fish.
With the Isle Cruiser, rugged construction meets comfort, with an ultra-durable soft-top deck, and don’t miss the comfortable croc skin padding for added grip. There’s also a molded EPS foam core with dual wood stringers adding strength and rigidity with a very aqua-dynamic, slick bottom for extra speed in the water.
Pick the Cruiser, and get a full set of SUP accessories, including a carbon hybrid adjustable SUP paddle with nylon blade, an 8-foot coil leash, and a nylon touring center fin. The 10 foot 5-inch Cruiser model weighs 28 pounds, with a weight capacity of up to 238 pounds and a volume of 175 liters and a board weight of just 28.5 pounds.
And for customer service, ISLE offers a 60-day or return policy, and a 1-year warranty on all materials.
- Stable on choppy lake water
- Light enough to carry
- Good choice for short paddlers
- Soft top easily dented
- Requires extra foam on car rack
South Bay Board Co Pro Series Surf Paddle Boards
A beginner to intermediate-friendly option in our ranking is the incredibly durable South Bay Board Co Pro Series Surf Paddle Boards With custom Bamboo and carbon fiber decks and rails, these boards measure 10 feet by 32 inches by just under 5 feet with 170 liters of volume. This is also a good choice for kids, with a weight limit of only 125 pounds.
The result is a stable and fast board on flat water that doesn’t back down in the waves, while the double pulled-in tail keeps the board loose in turns. The board is made from EPC closed-cell foam with fiberglass sheets and resin, with wood and carbon fiber layers and a concave bottom deck.
Buy the package and get a SUP surf paddle, a 9-inch black shaka FCS fin and two large FCS black shaka side fins, as well as one fin key and one 10-foot SUP surfboard leash and an accessory storage strap.
- Sized for kids
- Good in waves and flat water
- Concave bottom deck
- Too small for many adults
- Very short
- Low weight capacity
BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Performer Stand Up Paddleboard
The BIC sport TOUGH-TEC SUP features a surf-inspired shape for flat water and small wave surfing, but also all-around SUPing with friends and family. Overall the board is sturdy and stable, making it a good choice for beginners as well.
Boasting touch-tec epoxy construction, BIC balances thickness and width for optimal stability. There’s also a premium deck pad, center fin, and an ergonomic handle and D-ring deck attachment points to keep your gear safe and secure on longer adventures.
The board comes in three length options: 9 foot 2 inches, 10 foot 6 inches, and 11 foot 6 inches. weighing about 36 pounds, maximum weight on the boards at around 200 pounds.
“It has a good blend of performance, stability, and glide since it’s made from plastic and foam,” Ton Jones, who’s used the board, comments. “The board is incredibly durable. It’s not going to win you a surf contest or SUP race but if you’re looking for a good all-around solid board for your entire family, it’s a great choice.”
One possible drawback to the board, however, is that it can’t accommodate a kayak seat.
- Well balanced, easy to maneuver
- Fin great for flat water
- Two nose leash ports
- Some find deck pad slippery
- No seat
- Shipping issues
Boardworks Kraken All-Water Stand Up Paddleboard
Up next is the Kraken All-water Stand Up Paddle Board from Boardworks, a great choice for flat water, according to David Lenze of Floating Authority. “The board is great for paddlers of all experiences,” he says, “but especially for beginners because of how wide the board measures and how it’s constructed.”
The board boasts EPX-V construction, with an EPS core laminated with layers of fiberglass and bamboo veneers. The board also earned high marks for stunning graphics as well as a coating of high-grade paint and polish.
Also not to be missed is the center fin box offering a FCS2 Connect Dolphin Fin for toolless installation. It can also accommodate up to a 5-fin configuration, depending on conditions. There’s also an integrated lift up handle for effortless carrying and locking ability, as well as three front tie-downs with crossing bungee included with purchase.
The board comes in three length options: 9 feet 9 inches, 10 foot 3 inches and 11 feet. The width on the board is 36 inches, with a weight of 47 pounds and a volume of 200 liters.
- Single, tri, quad-fin options
- Versatile — flat and choppy water
- FCS2 Connect Dolphin Fin
- Bit spendy
- Not recommended for ocean
- Flashy graphics
Starboard Sprint 2020 Stand Up Paddleboard
The next hard SUP in our ranking, the Starboard Sprint, is the best choice for SUP racing, says David Lenze of Floating Authority. “The Starboard Sprint is like the Ferrari of SUP racing boards,” he says, “it paddles quick!” Recently redesigned, the Starboard Sprint comes in two construction options, the light and strong “carbon sandwich” or “wood carbon” for added strength.
Available in two lengths, 14 feet and 20.75 feet, The 2020 Sprint is a lot narrower than previous models, contributing to the speed, and new straight, raised rails to help prevent water from filling the standing area, adding unwanted weight while improving stability due to the board’s lower center of gravity. But in addition to being narrow, the board has a thicker profile, contributing to it sitting lower in the water and adding to the speed.
“It really surprised me how effortlessly the board moved per paddle stroke!” Lenze says. “When the water got a little bit choppy it also was surprisingly stable.”
- Stable in choppy water
- Best for racing
- New, straight rails
- Too narrow for some
- Not cheap
- Not ideal for beginners
Wavestorm 8 ft Stand Up Paddleboard
Turning to the Wavestorm Stand Up Paddleboard, this short board is meant for kids, measuring eight inches by 25.4 foot by 3.9 inches with about 94 liters of volume, and the weight capacity is very light — only 125 pounds.
Nevertheless, the board boasts a superior EPS expanded polystyrene core with three marine-ply stringers and an in-mold carry handle.
There’s also a removable and adjustable 9-inch single fin and an adjustable paddle, ranging from five feet to just about 6 feet 3 inches, perfect for growing arms. Safety first with the leash connector with a removable ankle leash, included with purchase. Protect your gear with the removable accessory storage strap.
Other features not to miss include crosslink top deck and rails, bolt through board components, and a polyethylene slick bottom skin made with AGIT Global’s patented graphic film technology.
- EPS Core
- crosslink top deck and rails
- Perfect for kids
- Low weight cap
- Low volume
California Board Company Atlantis Stand Up Paddle Board
Last in our ranking is RAVE’s is another great choice for a budget hard SUP, the California Board Company Atlantis Stand Up Paddle Board. In addition to being very affordable, the board offers a unique viewing window to take in all that’s happening in the water beneath your board. Fun for kids and grown-ups alike!
Otherwise, the board is thin but wider than previous models, with plenty of buoyancy for beginners. The 9 foot 6-inch board weighs just 26 pounds, holding up to 250 pounds in weights. As far as construction, the board has a waterproof molded EPS core with two laminated wood stringers and an HDPE slick bottom. Don’t miss the sick graphic!
There’s also full bungee storage and an attached traction pad. For transporting the SUP, California Board Company has you covered with an inset carry handle, protective tail cap. There’s also a universal camera mount at the nose to capture your adventures. This foam SUP is 33 inches wide, and 3.75 inches thick.
- Window for underwater viewing
- Inset carry handle
- Bit short
- Single fin only
- Not very thick
Need a little more information before making your choice? These SUP board FAQs are here to help.
How long should my paddle board be?
Here’s what you need to know about board length in a nutshell: long boards tend to be faster than shorter boards, while short boards handle better on average. You’ll also want to keep in mind transportation when deciding between long and short — will the board fit in your vehicle?
Here’s a quick guide to how SUP length related to experience level and the style of paddle boarding you plan to do:
- Short boards (under 10 feet)
Staying under 10 feet will get you a more maneuverable board that handles well in waves. For kids, pick a board eight feet or under. Short boards almost always have planing hulls (flat as opposed to something like the hull of a ship).
- Medium boards (10–12 feet)
This is the sweet spot for most all-around SUPs and good for SUP yoga. Hull types on these boards are pretty 50/50 planning and displacement.
- Long boards (over 12 feet)
Almost always made with displacement hulls, boards 12 feet and over are fast and track straight. They’re the best choice for touring or paddling long distances.
Another thing to bear in mind on the subject board length is stability. The longer the board, the more stable it will feel.
How wide should my paddle board be?
From length, let’s now turn to width. SUP board width ranges from between 25 to 36 inches, accomodating a wide range of preferences. Although wide boards are more stable, they’re slower than thinner boards. A board that’s too wide can be difficult to paddle simply because your arms can’t reach wide enough to paddle comfortably. Here are some other factors to consider about the length of your SUP:
- Your own bodyweight
Matching board width to your own body weight is important. If you’re small, stick with a narrow board. Lightweight people on a board that’s too wide for them can run into a few problems. First, a body type/board width mismatch can make it difficult to paddle, but also, lightweight people on boards that are too wide for them can find it difficult to maintain balance.
- What kind of paddling do I plan to do?
If you plan on racing or surfing on your SUP then choose a narrow board since they tend to be faster. For yoga, fishing, or SUP touring (when you might have to pack extra gear like a cooler or fishing pole) choose a wider board to accommodate your extra gear like fishing rods.
- Experience level
Last, experience level plays a part in SUP width because inexperienced paddlers tend to like a board that feels more stable, while more experienced paddleboarders like a board that’s narrow, fast, and tracks well.
How thick should my paddle board be?
The last important dimension of your paddle board is thickness. Thickness is important because it affects the overall volume and weight capacity of your SUP. Comparing two paddleboards of the same width and length but different thicknesses, the thicker board has more volume and therefore can handle more weight than the thinner board.
Your own body weight plays a part in this as well. If you’re small, a thinner board will help keep down the overall volume of your board, optimizing the performance of your board. Otherwise, your board might sit too high in the water. This can make it both feel unstable and difficult to paddle.
In general, beginning paddle boarders should stick to boards about five inches thick, unless you’re a larger than the average person. If that’s the case, look for something six or more inches thick.
Otherwise,e thick paddle boards should be avoided for the following reasons:
- They ride higher in the water, making them feel “tippy.”
- Thin board feel better in the water — cutting through the water rather than floating like a raft
- When you fall off a thick board it’s harder to get back on
And last, thicker boards make carrying, transportation, and storage more difficult.
What are the best paddle boards?
Condensing all our own research and input from SUP experts into three categories: best paddle board, best paddle board for beginners, and best paddle board for kids, we’re ready to present the three finalists. You’re anxious to get out on the water, and we’re here to help.
The overall best paddle board in our ranking is the BIC Sport ACE-TEC Cross Sup Stand Up Paddleboard. With a quality, all-around design the board has a keeled nose, allowing the board to track straight and glide well, with plenty of space for family, furry friends, fitness, and fishing.
Just getting started with paddle boarding? We have answers for you as well. Our choice for best paddle board for a beginner is the lightweight Peak Navigator Rigid Epoxy Stand Up Paddle Board, offering beginner-friendly SUP design with rugged construction and lots of bonuses, like an aluminum adjustable SUP paddle.
For kids that like to SUP, our pick is Wavestorm 8 ft Stand Up Paddleboard. Though the board is short (meaning it’s extra stable!) it’s built strong from superior EPS Core with three marine-ply stringers with in-mold carry handle. You’ll also get a removable and adjustable 9-inch single fin with adjustable paddle.
Now that you’ve selected the best paddle board, here are five paddle board accessories you need to make your first SUP trip a success.
- Water shoes: Before hitting the water, choose a new pair of water shoes from RAVE’s ranking of the best water shoes.
- MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag: Protect your stuff while you’re on your adventure with this lightweight, compact, and durable waterproof dry bag made from ripstop tarpaulin with sturdy welded seams.
- THURSO SURF SUP Deck Bag Paddle Board Cooler: Keep your drinks and refreshments safe and dry in this paddle board cooler from Thurso Surf. Zippered and made from water resistant material, this cooler sticks to your SUP with four high-quality suction cups with hooks or four bungee hooks.
- StoreYourBoard Naked SUP Paddleboard Wall Storage Rack: Store your board when you’re not in the water with this storage rack boasting heavy-duty aluminum construction and padded protection.
- SereneLife Detachable Universal Paddle Board Seat: Made of a durable EVA foam interior and polyester exterior, this deluxe molded thick foam-cushioned seat supports long-term water sports keeping you comfortable all day long.