Best Stand-Up Paddle Boards for 2023 – CNET
Warmer weather is finally upon us, and while you can paddle at any time of year, there’s nothing like it during the spring and summer. The sun is shining, the longer days offer more prime paddle time, and the water is refreshing rather than freezing.
Whether you’re a paddle board beginner looking to get your feet wet, a veteran SUPer or somewhere in between, I likely have a good matchup for you on this list. This best paddle board review roundup is a selection of my favorite picks from the SUPs I’ve tested, including rigid boards and inflatables. Some are built for speed, some are best for balance and others offer a great value — it all depends on your skill set and what you’re looking to use your board for.
Scroll on for the best paddle board picks, from best lightweight paddle board to best yoga SUP.
How we test
CNET health and wellness editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. Each paddle board was tested individually on the same body of water to determine speed, tracking and balance performance. Tests were completed when wind conditions were below 10. SUP was inflated to its suggested PSI, typically between 10 to 15.
How to choose the best paddle board
Solid vs. inflatable
There are two kinds of paddle boards you can buy, inflatable or rigid, aka solid. One isn’t better than the other — it will primarily depend on your current circumstances and what you’re looking to get out of your board.
Solid paddle boards tend to be better for the ocean because they’re more durable and can likely withstand the hit from jagged rocks and coral reefs. They’re also more stable when you hit choppy waters, boat wakes and waves. However, they’re usually heavier, harder to transport and harder to store.
Inflatable paddle boards allow you to easily store it in small spaces like apartments, studios or the trunk of your car. They are also easier to get to the water, especially if you don’t own a truck or vehicle with roof racks.
You can buy specific types of paddle boards you can buy that are ergonomically designed for certain activities. There are different lengths, widths and styles to maximize functionality.
- Touring: Touring paddle boards are meant to go long distances over flat water and enable you to cut through choppy waters without trouble. They tend to be long with pointed noses to maximize speed but are wider than a racing board to help you feel more balanced over a long period of time.
- Racing: Racing paddle boards are built for speed. They are usually long, skinny and agile for great maneuvering. Expect to pay over $1,000 for a quality racing paddle board.
- Yoga: Yoga paddle boards are longer and wider than your average SUP, so you can feel more balanced while practicing your poses. The foot pad also tends to take up a lot of the board’s surface area, so you have plenty of space to move around in.
- Fishing: Fishing paddle boards are like yoga SUPs in that they are longer and wider for better balance. They also typically have a recessed deck to help lower the center of gravity and improve balance. Not to mention, more D-rings to hook your fishing gear to.
- Multiperson: Most paddle boards fit up to 250 to 300 pounds. Paddle boards meant to fit more than one person are quite large, wide and can sit up to 20 feet long.
- Leisure: The average paddle boarder wants to glide through the water and balance without falling off. A paddle board can range between 10 to 11 feet long, and offers a nice combination of speed, stability and maneuverability.
You can find a wide price range with paddle boards, so you can enjoy the sport at almost any budget. Inflatable boards tend to be more affordable than hard-top ones, while performance and racing boards are among the most expensive you can buy. For a good paddle board, prices start around $300 and go all the way up to $2,000 or more.
Once upon a time, I lived in a one-bedroom, 750-square foot apartment and bought a 10-foot paddleboard. Did I have a detached garage? No. Did I have an abnormally large storage closet? No, I didn’t have that either. Not understanding the sheer size of a paddleboard, I didn’t take storage into account. So, I had to buy wall mounts to hold my paddle board above my bed, almost like a make-shift headboard. Before I knew it, my place felt like a beach house in the middle of Reno, Nevada.
Moral of the story is, make sure you have the storage space for a solid SUP before you buy if that’s the kind you’re leaning toward.