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9 best inflatable stand-up paddleboards for fun on the water

Whether you’re a paddling pro or boarding beginner, these are the best SUPs for exploring the coastline

Jon Axworthy
Friday 26 January 2024 10:54 GMT
We put these SUPs to the test on different kinds of water off the South Devon coastline
We put these SUPs to the test on different kinds of water off the South Devon coastline (The Independent/iStock)
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There’s a certain Instagram versus reality thing going on with stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) – from images of the effortless, Californian-cool boarder, backlit by golden hour, to the wobbling newbie desperately trying to straighten up without taking an unceremonious dive into the drink.

Somewhere in between, however, is what has actually attracted thousands of people to the aquativity and made it one of the fastest-growing water sports in the UK, as they realise a SUP is a great way to get out on the water and have a ton of fun.

But before you step aboard, there are a few things you need to consider (including the tide times), beginning with pairing the right board to your ambitions. Generally, the wider the board, the more stable it will be, while thickness and volume add to how confident you feel when you get on. Too thin and it will be like paddling driftwood, which is OK if you’re a confident and competent paddler.

Length is another important consideration. Most beginners use a 10ft 6in board, which is a good all-rounder that will track well in the water and go where you want it to. But there are different lengths for all kinds of uses, from surfing and racing to touring and even yoga.

It’s not just on the water where SUPs need to excel, because they need to be portable, easy to inflate and made from some quality materials that will survive submerged scrapes and on-board bumps.

How we tested the best stand-up paddleboards

We took to the water off the South Devon coastline, setting off from the beach, paddling to an estuary and on up the river, so we could truly test the boards in different kinds of water.

Obviously, inflation systems (yes, we mean the pump) are pretty important when it comes to an inflatable paddleboard, but pumps have come a long way from the days when blowing up an inflatable on the beach would leave you a sweaty mess. All the boards included below were easy and quick to inflate, especially those that came with high-pressure double-action pumps.

The best stand-up paddleboards for 2024 are:

  • Best paddleboard overall – Wave woody SUP package: £249.99,
  • Best paddleboard for beginners – Two Bare Feet entradia inflatable SUP ultimate pack: £475,
  • Best paddleboard for surfers – Fanatic all-wave paddle board: £1,449,
  • Best paddleboard for kids – Red Paddle Co snapper: £799,
  • Best paddleboard for the pros – Wave pro SUP package: £419.99,

Wave woody SUP package

best stand up paddle boards 2023 reviews
  • Best: Paddleboard overall
  • Length: 10ft or 11ft
  • Width: 32in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 260l
  • Package: Paddle, detachable fin, dual-action pump, padded coiled ankle leash, repair kit and backpack
  • Why we love it
    • Stable through the water
    • Plenty of foot friction
    • GoPro mount

This board will certainly turn a few heads as you walk down the beach, with its wood-effect deck. It’s also nice and wide, which makes it a good option for paddlers who are gaining confidence and looking for a replacement for their first board.

Available in two lengths (10ft and 11ft), we trialled the 11ft, which suited our tester’s height and was very stable through the water.

The rubber offers plenty of foot friction, so you don’t feel like you’re going to slip around as you put more effort into your stroke, and the comfortable leash works with your movements on the board.

A mid-board handle is ergonomically placed to help you get it to the water’s edge, and there are lots of extras for a beginners’ board in this price range. These include a GoPro mount and D-rings, which can increase the storage on the board if you’re heading off on a multi-day adventure, or even secure a seat if you want to convert it to kayak mode.

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Two Bare Feet entradia inflatable SUP ultimate pack

  • Best: Paddleboard for beginners
  • Length: 10ft 6in
  • Width: 34in
  • Depth: 4.75in
  • Volume: 260l
  • Package: Board, pump, dry bag, paddle and leash
  • Why we love it
    • Great for beginners
    • Super stable

This board is proving to be very popular in the UK, thanks to its suitability for those just getting into SUPing. The good news is, after a period where it was tricky to get your hands (and feet) on one, there’s now plenty of stock to go around.

Thank goodness, because it’s a great board with a 34in-wide deck, which makes it super stable, with much less movement side to side when paddling.

The board is solidly constructed, too, so you won’t have to worry about damage if you get up close and personal with jagged rocks or riverbanks while you’re learning. What’s more, it’s very competitively priced for a starter board.

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Thurso surf waterwalker 126 all-around SUP

best stand up paddle boards 2023 reviews sup
  • Best: Paddleboard for speed
  • Length: 10ft 6in
  • Width: 31in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 270l
  • Package: Paddle, rechargeable electric air pump, backpack, leash and fins
  • Why we love it
    • Very quick
    • Adapts to lots of conditions

We really liked the shape of this 10ft 6in board, and we liked it even more when we got it out on the water, as it’s very quick.

This is a good option for the more confident riders out there, as it’s adaptable to seas, rivers and lakes. Plus, its shape, design and weight allow you to try out manoeuvres such as the step-back turn, where you shift your body to the back of the board and lift the nose up, so you turn more easily out of tight spots.

Quick inflation and the addition of Velcro straps for securing your paddle when you’re not using it are also very welcome, as is the inclusion of an electric air pump in the package, which takes all the effort out of getting the waterwalker ready to use.

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Quroc allwater 12ft 6in touring SUP package

best stand up paddleboards 2023 reviews sup
  • Best: Paddleboard for touring
  • Length: 12ft 6in
  • Width: 30in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 345l
  • Package: Paddle, backpack, board backpack, pump, fins, repair kit, leash and belt
  • Why we love it
    • Copes well with choppy conditions

The allwater from Quroc is perfect if you’re looking for a more advanced board, as its shaping is such that it improves paddling without making any compromise on stability.

The extra length you get with this 12ft 6in ride makes it the perfect point-and-shoot board, too, for touring. Just find your heading and it’ll track superbly, no matter how hard you’re paddling.

As the name suggests, it’s built to be adventurous, and the increased volume means it can cope brilliantly with choppy sections of the sea and stays stable in the wind – it even performs against a turning tide. All it takes is a little extra effort on the paddle and you can get to any target quickly.

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Red Paddle 10ft 8in activ MSL inflatable yoga paddle board package

best stand up paddleboard 2023 reviews sup
  • Best: Paddleboard for yoga
  • Length: 10ft 8in
  • Width: 34in
  • Depth: 5.9in
  • Volume: 160l
  • Package: Backpack, pump, leash, paddles, fin
  • Why we love it
    • Great stability
    • Made with yoga in mind

Yoga mats are yesterday’s news. Yoga paddleboards (YSUPs), however, offer the chance to take your practice to the next level.

Obviously, stability becomes even more important for aqua asanas, and this board offers up 333l of volume and a deck that’s 34in wide and 10ft 8in long, so your downward dog won’t turn into a drowned rat. The blunt-nose shape keeps the board steady, and, when maximally inflated, it offers a good hard surface to practise on.

Red has conceptualised the board well for yoga, too, moving the carry handles to the side of the board, so they don’t get in the way of your flow, and by including Velcro straps to stow your paddle while you’re in warrior pose.

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Fanatic allwave paddle board

best stand up paddleboards 2023 reviews sup
  • Best: Paddleboard for surfers
  • Length: 7ft 9in
  • Width: 28.5in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 105l
  • Package: Pressure vent screw, 3 x allwave 5in RTM
  • Why we love it
    • Combines paddle boarding and surfing

Whether you’re a surfer keen to try out paddleboarding or a paddleboarder keen to try out surfing, the allwave is well-equipped to give you the best possible chance of doing both.

With plenty of volume, the allwave sits quite low in the water, boosting stability and therefore confidence when taking on the waves. There’s a new swallow-tail design, too, which allows for some easy turning, even in some quite messy waters.

With five sizes to choose from, ranging from 7ft 9in (which we had on test) all the way up to 9ft 2in, you can match the length to your height, weight and competence.

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Red 9ft 4in 3-in-1 snapper MSL kids' inflatable paddle board package

best stand up paddle board 2023 reviews sup
  • Best: Paddleboard for kids
  • Length: 9ft 4in
  • Width: 27in
  • Depth: 4in
  • Volume: 134l
  • Package: Backpack, pump, leash, paddle, windsurf rig and fins
  • Why we love it
    • Can switch between SUP, windsurfing or surfing modes

This Devon-based manufacturer is always innovating and it’s come up with a great way for kids to make the most of their time on the water. The brand’s three-in-one board can switch between SUP, windsurfing or surfing modes, thanks to detachable handles and fins.

It was the performance of the snapper as an SUP that we were most interested in, and our pint-sized paddler had an absolute blast on the board. It strikes a good balance between width, volume and narrowness, so it’s easy for smaller ones to get their paddle in the water and make progress.

Its 27in width offers stability while keeping the fun factor and responsiveness for quicker turns and playing in the waves too. A robust core also means the board can take plenty of punishment.

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Wave pro SUP package

best stand up paddleboards 2023 reviews
  • Best: Paddleboard for the pros
  • Length: 11ft
  • Width: 33in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 175l
  • Package: Paddle, backpack, fin, seat, pump, leash and repair kit
  • Why we love it
    • Narrow nose cuts through choppy water
    • Comfortable and grippy deck

We took the pro out in some pretty choppy conditions and it performed brilliantly, thanks to its narrow nose, which is shaped and curved to be able to tame rough water, whether you’re in the sea or on a river.

The deck is comfortable, grippy, and well-suited to take the aches and pains out of a day’s paddling. The double-walled construction means the pro is rugged enough to ride out meetings with rock and river banks. Five padded handles make the board easy to port around, and there’s a cargo bungee at the front of the board to store a dry bag.

Well accessorised with a GoPro mount and seat-friendly D-rings, this is a board for adventurous paddlers who are keen to document their journey.

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Thurso Surf waterwalker 132 all-around SUP

best stand up paddleboards 2023 reviews
  • Best: Paddleboard for stability
  • Length: 10ft 6in
  • Width: 33in
  • Depth: 6in
  • Volume: 322.5l
  • Package: Electric pump, backpack, paddle, fins and leash
  • Why we love it
    • Perfect for adventuring

If you want to banish the wobble factor that plagues many beginners, the larger size of the previously mentioned waterwalker is the most stable platform that we paddled.

Even though it shares the same name, this 132 board has very unique paddling characteristics, and its 31in width and squared-off tail minimises side-to-side movement and is a real confidence booster, even when you’re picking up speed.

The 132 is really well made and you won’t have to worry about damage if you get too close to jagged rocks while you’re adventuring, either. The inclusion of an electric pump and one of the most compact and comfortable backpacks on test only add to the board’s appeal.

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Stand-up paddleboard FAQs

What type of paddleboard should I buy?

The main decision you will have to make when picking the right board for you is whether you want an inflatable board or a solid one. Inflatable boards are excellent for those with limited storage space, for the same reason they are also easier to transport, and tend to be on the more affordable side. Surprisingly, inflatable boards are actually more durable than solid ones – due to quality boards being made of super-duper strong materials, they won't dent or scratch in the same way solid boards might. That being said, in terms of performance, solid boards tend to have the edge. They have a more agile approach to gliding through the water and, for those interested in SUP surfing, they are better at catching waves.

What size paddleboard do I need?

The general rule for SUPs is the larger the board is, the faster it is, whereas shorter boards are better for manoeuvrability, so the choice of size depends on your plans for the board. Your height also plays a part – short boards (less than 10ft) are best for kids or those wanting to surf. Medium (10-12ft) is the most popular size, and best for general use as well as SUP yoga. Longboards (12-14ft) are ideal for fast-paced paddling or long-haul adventures.

What to wear when paddleboarding

First of all, we have to advise wearing safety gear before you hit the water. With waves and weather being so unpredictable, personal floatation devices of any kind can be vital. When it’s summer, your favourite swimsuits will do just fine, but in the winter (because SUP is a year-round all-weather sport) wetsuits, dry suits and some water shoes are good ideas. Rash vests are also a good idea year-round, to protect yourself from the environment. Of course, SPF is always a must, no matter the month.

The verdict: The best stand-up paddleboards

The Wave woody is a near faultless board. Built for fun, it is the best way to sample everything SUPing has to offer – all at a fantastic price. It’s well-equipped to take you wherever you want to go, whether that’s exploring the coast from the water, going point to point or just messing about with some friends. If you’re taking the kids with you, Red’s inflatable paddle board package is a versatile option that will keep them active and entertained.

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