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The Best Paddle Boards

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Matt Zhou / Unsplash

By Daniel Meagher, OnRamp

When paddle boards first started trending, it was easy to see why. What sports sound more serene and peaceful than one in which you find yourself gliding across the water? You can either stand up on your feet, kneel, or even just lay down and float around. And in recent years, standup paddleboarding, or SUP, has combined with yoga for SUP yoga. But going back into the past, paddleboarding has been a part of water-based cultures for thousands of years. Similar boards have been used for everything from fishing to transportation and now, recreation. Regardless of your own use, paddle boards are a ton of fun. Today's paddle boards can come in a variety of materials and can even be inflatable and completely packable, which makes them ideal for backpacking into a high mountain lake for a heavenly hiking/boarding hybrid experience. If you're looking to add a paddle board to your water sport toy box, these paddle boards on this list are a good starting point.

SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

The One You Can Count (and Stand) On

Best Overall: This top-of-the-line inflatable paddle board is an excellent choice.

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If you’re searching for the best of the best when it comes to an inflatable stand up paddle board, you can quit your search now. Made with premium military-grade material, this is hands down the most durable inflatable paddle board on the market. But that’s not all that we love about this board. Simply put, it’s easy to use, and if you’ve had experience on a paddle board, you know that’s a bonus. Measuring in at 10.5 feet long and 32 inches wide, the stability of this board makes learning how to stand and maneuver on the board a breeze.

We also dig that it comes with an entire kit. This includes an ankle cuff safety leash, an aluminum paddle, a manual air pump, a storage bag, and a waterproof bag.

Pros:

  • Completely portable and inflatable, making it ideal for small apartments or folks with a lack of storage. We also love that you can easily store it in your car and use it on a moment’s notice.

  • A complete accessory kit is included.

  • 6-inch thickness on this board means it’ll hold two people (but be aware: maximum weight capacity is 275 pounds).

Cons:

  • With only four color/design options (and each one a bit wilder than the next) if you’re looking for an unassuming board, you might not appreciate the loud designs and colors present on this paddle board’s surfaces.

Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Carry In, Carry Out

Runner-Up: Highly portable, this board-in-a-backpack is a favorite for those looking to hike to a choice paddleboarding lake.

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Next up on our list of the best paddle boards, you’ll find this runner-up from Roc. Featuring much of the same as our top contender, this paddle board comes in second because of its size. It’s a bit shorter (only 10 feet long) but it still comes in at 32″ wide. Another bonus? It’ll hold a bit more weight, with a maximum capacity of 300 pounds. Its carrying backpack makes it a top contender, too, because we love the option to pack in a paddle board for a mountain lake paddle.

So why does this paddle board come in a close second place? For the similar features and materials, it’s a bit more expensive than the SereneLife. We also wish there were a few more color options or designs available.

Pros:

  • Comes with a premium accessory package. In addition to the paddle board, you’ll get a collapsible aluminum paddle, a safety leash, a hand pump, a waterproof bag for your essentials, and a backpack that’ll hold all of it. This makes it an ideal carrying paddle board for those insane hike-in paddle adventures you’ve been dying to go on.

  • Family-owned company from the USA.

  • Completely collapsible board and paddle for ultra storage and accessibility.

Cons:

  • More options for colors or design would be fantastic.

Bestway Hydro-Force Oceana Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

It's the Paddle Things in Life

Best on a Budget: If you're watching your budget but still want to treat yourself to a more-than-decent paddle board, this is the one for you.

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If you’re looking for an economical yet durable inflatable paddle board option, you’ve found your ticket. Although this board is a bit smaller than others, the wide base provides excellent stability and will hold up to 220 pounds.

Aside from the ease of maneuverability and the excellent stability of this board, it’s also made with both a TriTech and Drop Stitch materials, making it a lightweight board that’s super easy to inflate and deflate. There’s a deck handle that makes for easy transportation after inflation, as well.

Pros:

  • Top deck is made of a soft non-slip traction surface. For beginners, this is an especially nice feature.

  • Full accessories kit that comes with this board, including the paddle board, bungee cord ties, a fully adjustable aluminum handle, a hand pump, a travel bag, leash, 3 different steering fins, and a truly genius addition: a repair and patch kit.

  • Price point is excellent if you’re just starting out.

Cons:

  • The carry bag is a bit small for carrying extra accessories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you look for in a paddle board?

Paddle boards can be a bit pricey, so it’s nice to know exactly what it is you should be looking for when it comes to taking the plunge, regardless of your skill level. First, you’re going to want to assess which type of paddle board it is that you’d like. Do you want an inflatable one, or do you prefer a solid board? The answer depends on a few things: mainly, the storage space you have, your mode of transportation, and where you’ll primarily be using your paddle board.

Up next, you’ll want to think about the shape of your paddle board. There are primarily two types of hulls when it comes to the shape of a paddle board. There is a planing hull, which is wide and flat and designed to ride on top of the water. It’s known for its maneuverability and is a great option for beginners, leisurely paddles, SUP yoga, and general enjoyment on top of the water. The other type of hull is a displacement hull, and is a fantastic option for tougher fitness paddling, touring, or racing.

If you’re totally unsure which direction to go in, there are plenty of options on or near your local beach for SUP rentals. Trying before you buy could be an awesome option for you if you’re totally clueless but know you want to dive into this serene sport.

What’s the best way to care for your paddle board?

While proper care for your paddle board does depend on the type of paddle board you have, there are a few basic rules for proper care of your new paddle board. First, you’ll want to make sure you wash your board with fresh water after each use. You can use a cleaning solution (gentle soap or other recommended cleaning agent) every so often, as well. And finally, you’ll also want to keep your board out of the sun during storage, as well as in cooler temperatures (basically, a garage or similar storage space).

Beyond these few basic rules, you’ll likely have some clear-cut directions for care that come with your purchase. Following these rules will be vital to the proper care of your paddle board.

Daniel is a freelance writer covering the latest in technology and all things outdoors

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