8 Best All-Around Paddle Boards

best-all-around-paddle-boards

You’ve already made the first step in deciding to try paddle boarding. Now all you need to do is get a board. But this isn’t always such an easy task. There are several factors that go into this decision, such as size, weight capacity, materials, fins, etc. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a guide of what you’ll need to know when buying a paddle board. We’ve also included our eight top choices. Be sure you know how to paddle board before buying your first paddle board.

8 Best All-Around Paddle Boards

HARD SHELLS

Hobie Mirage Eclipse 12 Stand Up Paddleboard SUP

Hobie Mirage Eclipse 12 Stand Up Paddleboard SUP

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  • Primary Use: Recreational
  • Material: Advanced Composite Epoxy
  • Width: 35 in
  • Length: 12 ft
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lb

The Hobie Mirage Eclipse is a very unique stand up paddle board. Unlike most stand up paddle boards, this one is a motorized paddle board with a tall handlebar for steering. This makes it a great choice for beginners because it offers extra balance support. Also, there’s no need for a paddle. But if you do prefer to use a paddle, the Mirage drive and handlebar can easily be removed.

Ocean Kayak SUP Nalu 12.5 Stand Up Paddleboard

Ocean Kayak SUP Nalu 12.5 Stand Up Paddleboard

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  • Primary Use: Recreational
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Width: 31 in
  • Length: 12 ft 6 in
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lb

The Ocean Kayak Nalu 12.5 is a stand-up paddle board and a sit on top kayak all in one. Its long body makes this board great for both traveling long distances and relaxing days on the water. It features padded footwells for balance, a sitting and standing area, large bow hatch with Cross Lock buckle system, storage bungee, carry handles, molded-in integral fins, and a rear storage area with a bungee. Best of all, the Ocean Kayak Nalu 12.5 is affordable. It’s the ultimate two-for-one deal.

Bic SUP Slide Stand Up Paddleboard Package 10-6
Bic SUP Slide Stand Up Paddleboard Package 10-6

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  • Primary Use: Recreational
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Width: 33 in
  • Length: 10 ft 6 in
  • Weight Capacity: 240 lb

The BIC SUP 10-6 Slide is as to-the-point as you can get. With a wide, soft foam deck that makes standing stable and comfortable, this board is great for beginners. The BIC SUP 10-6 features an adjustable paddle, an ankle leash, a removable fin, a moderate rocker, a central carry handle, a bungee cord on the deck, and leash plug at the tail.

JP Outback AST Light Stand Up Paddleboard 12-0

JP Outback AST Light Stand Up Paddleboard 12-0

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  • Primary Use: Touring
  • Width: 32.6 in
  • Length: 12 ft

The JP Outback AST Light Stand Up Paddle Board offers that vintage feel with modern innovation. This touring board has a large, stable platform, making it great for intense touring expeditions or relaxing afternoons under the sun. It features many accessory mounts, like multiple bungee tie downs, FCS nose plugs for a GoPro, and cooler tie-down inserts.

What makes the JP Outback AST Light UP Stand UP Paddle Board truly unique and our favorite is the Light Capsule storage system. This capsule has a transparent bottom and a spot for a flashlight, illuminating the wonders below the surface. It’s one of a kind.

BIC SUP ACE-TEC Cross Adventure Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

Bic SUP ACE-TEC Cross Adventure Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

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  • Primary Use: Fitness
  • Material: ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate)
  • Width: 34 in
  • Length: 11 ft
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lb

The BIC SUP Cross Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board blends the best features of a touring SUP and a surfing SUP into one. It’s extremely wide platform offers an incredibly stable surface, making it a great board for cruising, fitness, and SUP yoga. It features a full-length deck pad for extra comfort, 10 deck attachment points for ample storage, an EVA rail and bumper, and an Ergo-grip handle that makes transportation simple.

INFLATABLES

JP CruisAIR’ LE Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-6

JP CruisAIR' LE Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-6

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  • Primary Use: Touring
  • Width: 30 in
  • Length: 11 ft 6 in
  • Weight Capacity: 335 lb

If you’re looking to use your paddle board for touring, cruising, or fitness, the JP CruisAIR’ LE Stand Up Paddle Board is the one for you. This long board is fast, allowing you to cover long distances in no time, all while not compromising on stability. It features a double wall rail, a self-regulating pressure release valve, and a bungee rope on the nose.

JP AnglAIR SE Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

JP AnglAIR SE Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

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  • Primary Use: Fishing
  • Width: 38 in
  • Length: 11 ft
  • Weight Capacity: 456 lb

The AnglAIR is the ultimate inflatable fishing SUP. It has an ultra-wide and stable platform that allows you to comfortably move around on the board without losing your balance. It comes with a ton of accessories and mounts, including a bungee rope on the nose and tail, a paddle holder, two Scotty mounts on the tail, and a kick-up fin. This board can also carry a ton of weight (456 lb to be exact), so feel free to bring as much gear on board as you want.

NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 11-0

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  • Primary Use: Fitness
  • Width: 36 in
  • Length: 11 ft
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lb

Last but not least, the NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board. This board is as versatile as it gets. Whether you’re looking to do some fishing, touring, fitness, or light river running, the NRS Thrive has you covered. It features more accessories and mounts you could ever imagine, including a high-pressure pump with gauge for convenient inflation, seven stainless D-rings, sturdy webbing handle in the center and a second handle in the front, a pressure gauge, travel pack, repair kit, and shoulder strap for easy carrying.

But also as you would imagine, this board is not cheap. However, you pay for what you get, and with the NRS Thrive Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board, you get a lot. We think this board is worth every penny.

Paddle Board Size

Length

As a general rule of thumb, the shorter the board is, the slower it will be. Because paddle boards used for recreation and surfing aren’t designed with speed as a top priority, they’re typically shorter. These boards range from 10 ft to 11 ft 6 in long. On the other hand, paddle boards used for touring and racing are designed with speed as a top priority, making them longer. These boards measure between 12 ft 6 in to 14 ft long.

Width

The width of the board plays a key role in its stability and speed. In general, the wider the board, the more stable and slow it is, and vice versa. If you’re planning on using your paddle board for surfing or recreation, choose a wider board so you can comfortably stand up and move around on it. Wide boards range from 31 to 37 in. If you’re planning on using it for touring or racing, choose a narrower board to give you that extra speed. Narrow paddle boards range from 28 to 33 in wide.

Thickness

This may sound obvious, but the thicker the board, the more weight it can carry. If you’re planning on riding tandem or bringing your pet on board, you’ll want to consider one that is thicker to support the extra weight.

Weight Capacity

In line with board thickness, a very important factor to consider when purchasing a paddle board is the amount of weight it can carry. If you’re too heavy for the board, it will sit lower in the water and make paddling much more challenging and inefficient. So, when purchasing a paddle board, consider the total amount of weight that will be on it, including your weight and the weight of any other items you’ll be bringing on board.

Inflatable vs. Rigid

Inflatable

As the name suggests, inflatable paddle boards inflate and deflate before and after use. Transporting these boards is incredibly convenient, making them ideal for travelers. When deflated, most boards can fit in the trunk of a car, in small closets, and into suitcases. Many of them are even small enough to bring on an airplane. But that, of course, depends on the size requirements of the airline and the particular board.

Despite being made up of air, inflatable paddle boards are just as rigid as hard boards. This is because they’re made with drop stitch technology, in which small fibers are woven into the inside of the board. When the board is inflated, those fibers are stretched and almost interlock, providing the board’s rigidity and making you feel as though you’re standing on a hard surface.

Rigid

Rigid paddle boards are the more popular and common type of the two. They’re typically made from plastic or fiberglass. Rigid boards are very durable, making them great for rough waters. However, they’re heavier than their inflatable counterparts, making them much more difficult to transport.

Fin Type

While fins aren’t a necessary component of paddle boards, they add extra tracking and stability to the board. There are three main types of fin setups.

Single Fin

This set up consists of a large, single fin is placed in a fin box, which gives the fin a channel to glide in the water. As with most features of paddle boards, the placement of the fin depends on the style of riding you’ll be doing. For touring and racing, position the fin at the tail of the board for better tracking. For surfing, recreation, and white water, position the fin towards the nose of the board to allow for greater turning and maneuverability.

3 Fins

Also called a thruster, a 3-fin set up is ideal for surfing but also good in flat water. It offers better control when surfing and straight tracking on flat water.

Race Fins

Race fins are straighter and stiffer than their counterparts. They’re great for downwind riding because they assist with tracking in larger waves or rolling swells. However, because they’re less flexible than others, hitting a rock or any other object in the water will almost definitely land you in the water.

Deck Pad

Deck pads on paddle boards are an important accessory to have. They can help with three things. First, they provide traction for your feet to prevent you from slipping. Second, as paddle boarding has you standing most of the time, deck pads provide cushion under your feet. And third and most importantly, they spread your weight across the entire surface of the board, rather than being centered directly under the balls and heels of your feet.

We have also compiled a more in-depth guide on choosing a paddle board. So be sure to check that out.

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