Stand-up paddleboards marry the freedom of being out on the water with a muscle-burning workout. They work on any type of water — still lakes, rushing rivers and choppy oceans — which means you can take them anywhere. If you have the SUP bug, chances are it’s from paddling on a rented or borrowed hardboard. But, if you’re looking to buy your own, consider going inflatable — they’re cheaper and easier to store and carry, which means you’ll get more use out of them. Unless you plan on racing, an inflatable version will work just as well as a hardboard, or even better if you plan on using it for yoga.
The sweet spot with inflatables is a board that’s nimble enough to fit into a (reasonably comfortable) backpack, yet durable enough to stay together past your first tour. Your end goal (surfing, racing, just cruising) will determine rigidity, length, width and hull type, says Grant Nyquist, explorer and host for The Outbound Pursuit Series, an adult adventure camp. For example, you want a wide, medium-length, rigid board for yoga but a longer, narrower board for better speed and maneuverability when open-water touring.
Across the board, quality of construction matters: Single-layer construction with drop stitch is standard and cheaper, but it can warp or change the board shape over time. A double layer make-up is better but costlier and heavier. And, smallest isn’t always ideal, Nyquist points out, since that can also mean thinner, more fragile materials that won’t last.
Best for Tackling Waves: Hala Fame
Once you get past the steep price tag, this board is a trustworthy iSUP for white water or overnight expeditions. For starters, the slow rocker design can flirt all day with waves and let you punch pockets, while the deck pad and raised stomp pad keep you steady to navigate lines. The swallowtail is great to minimize tipping and we love Hala’s patented retractable fin system, so when the shallows sneak up on you, there’s no worrying about the potential breakage of the fin underneath. It’s short (9’6″) and wide (36″); with a core of double-layer drop stitch and PVC, it’ll hold up through the roughest waters you want to run and surf. Bonus: It comes with a 3-year warranty (though you’ll have to buy a paddle separately).
Article posted by Gear Patrol.