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The sport of surfing established its early roots in Hawaii where it has continued to grow in popularity around the world. Surfers have continued to seek new thrills and ways to experience the exhilaration of riding a wave. Traditional surfing has given birth to a variety of sports for wave riders to hit the surf including: bodyboarding, skimboarding, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and a whole host of other variations of surfing.
One of those offshoots is stand up paddleboarding (SUP) or stand up paddle surfing. To SUP surf, you will need a paddleboard that is designed specifically to enhance your abilities to ride a wave. SUP’s specifically constructed for surfing have an increased rocker, are smaller in size than the traditional surfing longboard and are intended to primarily be used when surfing but can be used, although not ideal, for simply cruising, touring or even for a great workout or yoga.
With the growth in popularity, the wide range of activities you can do on a SUP and the various bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans) that you can take your board, choosing the best SUP for surfing can become a bit of a challenge.
Not all SUPs are designed for surfing, so you should have a clear understanding of what you to look for before heading out to make a purchase. To assist you in your search we have put together our top 10 recommendations for the best SUP for surfing that also allow you to enjoy other paddleboard activities. Additionally, we have provided a buyers guide that has specific design criteria that should guide your decision making.
Top 5 Comparison Chart
10 Best SUPs for Surfing Reviews
Stand up paddleboarding is an amazing way to get out and enjoy nature and a day on the water. When you decide you want to take the experience up a level and seek the thrill of riding a wave you need to have a quality SUP designed for surfing.
In order to ensure you have the right board for you there are a few features to consider:
- Size (length, width, thickness)
- Construction materials
- Features and accessories
The SUPs we have recommended are designed for surfing, as well as being able to utilize in other paddling activities. Each recommendation has an overview and a link to gather more specific information on the paddleboards.
1. ISLE Versa Surf Stand Up Paddleboard
The ISLE Versa Surf is designed for responsiveness in small to medium sized waves. The board is 10.6 feet long, 32 inches wide, 4.5 inches thick and has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. The ISLE Versa is a versatile board that will provide a rigid and stable platform for all levels of paddleboarders. This board will allow flatwater paddling, surfing, yoga, fishing or touring.
The Versa is constructed using a thermal molded technology, which creates an eco-friendlier epoxy board that is lightweight and very durable. The ISLE company is a conscience, eco-friendly manufacturer that is involved in a variety of projects that help conserve the ocean and planet.
The board comes with accessories including a carbon hybrid adjustable SUP paddle with a nylon blade, an 8 foot coil leash, non-slip deck grip and a nylon touring fin.
2. Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Roc Stand Up Paddleboard is an inflatable paddleboard that is designed both for smooth cruising and surfing the waves. The board is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick with a 275 carrying capacity. The Roc inflates in just minutes, has an adjustable paddle, high capacity pump and a detachable main fin.
This inflatable paddleboard is constructed using quality military grade materials that make it both lightweight and durable. This board includes a safety leash, waterproof bag for personal items like cell phones and keys and an upgraded backpack that will hold everything you need.
3. THURSO SURF Waterwalker Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Thurso Surf Waterwalker Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard is an all-around board with a rounded nose and stable width that can be used to cruise on a calm lake or ride the waves in a light ocean surf. The board is 10 feet long (also comes in a 10.6 and 11 foot option), 30 inches wide and 6 inches thick, with a 260 pound weight capacity.
The Thurso Surf is a double layered construction with military grade PVC coatings on the deck and sides. This extra attention in design makes this SUP lightweight and extremely durable. The board features a carbon shaft paddle that floats, 3 removable fins, a backpack on wheels, manual pump, and a wood graphic design.
4. Peak Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Peak Stand Up Paddleboard is constructed using a military grade PVC material that is 10.6 feet long, 31 inches wide and 6 inches thick with a 300 pound weight capacity. This board has an all around design that can be used for a variety of activities including surfing.
The Peak SUP features a deck that is covered with a diamond traction pad for comfort and to prevent slipping. Also included is a carry backpack, coil leash, a paddle and high pressure air pump. This SUP comes in three different colors: white, aqua and blue.
5. Atoll Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Atoll Stand Up Paddleboard is an inflatable SUP that has a sleeker design, tapered nose and lighter weight makes it a good choice for surfing. The board is constructed using a double layered fused PVC material, measuring 11 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick and a 300 pound weight capacity. The design is ideal for a wide range of uses including surfing in a light ocean surf.
The Atoll paddleboard comes with a durable backpack, 3 piece carbon shaft paddle, 10 foot coiled safety leash, double action hand pump and a repair kit. The board has an 8 inch removable fin for better control and maneuverability. Additionally, it has 2 attached side fins.
6. Bestway Hydro-Force Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Best Hydro-Force offers four unique inflatable stand up paddleboards in varying sizes and features: Aqua Journey 9 feet; Cruiser 10 feet; Ocean Edge 9.5 feet; and the Oceana 10 feet. For this review we have chosen the Oceana based on its measurements of 10 feet long, 33 inches wide and 6 inches thick with a 287 pound weight capacity. Additionally, it has a tri-fin system that provides greater control and maneuverability for riding the waves.
The Oceana is constructed using an industrial grade PVC that is flexible and very durable. This paddleboard is designed to function in rough conditions while avoiding damage. This board features a high quality EVA deck pad that is soft while providing secure footing, a hand pump, backpack for storage and transporting and a surf leash.
7. SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The SereneLife is a popular choice of inflatable paddleboard. The board measures 10.5 feet long, 30 inches wide and 6 inches thick, with a carrying capacity of 275 pounds. This board comes with a pump, center fin, carrying bag for storage and transporting, and a coiled leash. Additionally, the deck has a traction pad that covers the majority of the top of the board.
The SereneLife is an all-around use board that is suitable for mild wave surfing. The design provides control and maneuverability to support making turns riding the waves while being a stable board for balance. The board is constructed using a durable PVC with a corrosion resistant layer.
8. ISLE Pioneer | Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The ISLE Pioneer is a very versatile paddleboard with a wide range of functionality. The board measures 10.6 feet long, 31 inches wide, 6 inches thick and has a 240 pound carrying capacity. It’s constructed using a military grade PVC that makes the board rigid and durable.
The Pioneer features a soft brushed EVA traction pad that has grooves for extra grip while providing a comfortable pad for your feet or knees. Additionally, the board has a center removable fin and 2 side fins. The ISLE company is a conscience, eco-friendly manufacturer that is involved in a variety of projects that help conserve the ocean and planet.
9. Goplus Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard Surfboard
The Goplus is a very functional all around inflatable paddleboard suitable for a wide range of activities. This paddleboard measures 10 feet long, 30 inches wide and 6 inches thick with a 265 pound weight capacity. The board is constructed using a tear-resistant, military grade, drop stitched PVC material, with a very competitive cost for those looking for a durable and reasonably priced paddleboard.
The Goplus features an EVE deck pad, comes in 4 different colors, and a tri-fin navigation system with a removable center fin. Additionally, included in this package is an adjustable paddle, air pump, backpack and repair kit.
10. Three Brothers Boards Rico Wood Paddleboard, Rico
The Three Brothers Boards is a solid paddleboard designed using advanced technology, that the company describes as including “A 1” diamond kevlar weave vacuum bagged over the entire board giving it a very hard exoskeleton.” The hard and extremely durable exterior supports a lighter foam internal material, making this a very light board for those wave riders that want to catch some air.The Rico is designed specifically for paddleboard surfing but can also be used for other stand up paddleboard activities. This board is designed with a thin, pulled-in tail that makes it responsive and easy to maneuver while providing stability with it’s 31 inch width. The board is 9 feet long, is 4 inches at its thickest point and has a weight capacity of 225 pounds.
Buyers Guide: SUP for Surfing
We focused our recommendations on high quality stand up paddleboards for surfing that provide some versatility at a reasonable cost. When you are researching paddleboards specifically for the purpose of surfing you will want to be looking for a narrow and shorter board. The nose is typically pointy and in some instances so is the tail, which provides a design to create lift and forward thrust, desirable in surfing.
Reducing the length and width minimizes the drag and maximizes performance. Additionally, paddleboards for surfing sacrifice some stability to gain a faster and more maneuverable board. This sacrifice is needed to both catch a wave, as well as to support providing the longest possible ride.
A few characteristics to be aware of when choosing to purchase a stand up paddleboard for surfing include:
- Surfing paddleboards are best suited for intermediate to advanced paddlers
- Designed for individuals looking for more adventure from their paddleboard experiences
- Require better balance as you will be sacrificing stability
- Increased control and maneuverability
- The high end SUP for surfing is essentially an oversized surfboard.
What to look for in a Stand Up Paddleboard for Surfing
There are a variety of factors to consider in choosing a surfing paddleboard:
- Length: The shorter the board the more control you will have while surfing. Shorter boards have less drag due to the reduced surface area.
- Nose: The nose of your paddleboard should curve or point up, as this will make it easier to catch and stay on top of a wave.
- Fin Design and Configuration: Ideally you will want 3 to 4 fins on your paddleboard to maximize your ability to control, steer and maneuver the board. Additionally, a system that is customizable will allow you to adjust the fins to allow for your peak performance.
Points to Consider when Choosing a SUP
- Intended Uses: If you are looking for a paddleboard that you will use exclusively for surfing then our Three Brothers board is ideal. If you want to be able to surf but also engage in other activities like cruising, fishing, yoga or just hanging out, a more versatile option that will allow you to surf but also enjoy other SUP activities may be more to your liking.
- Weight and Skill Level: Due to the fact that paddleboards need to float on the surface, supporting the weight of the individual, you will need to factor the paddlers weight into your decision. Weight capacities are provided for each of our choices. Also, the skill level and abilities of the paddler will impact your board selection.
- Board Width and Thickness: The paddleboard’s thickness and to a larger degree it’s width help to determine the stability of the board. Also, note that the wider the board the more surface area you are creating and thus the slower the board will be.
- Nose: An additional consideration, along with the previously stated factor, is that a board nose that is pointed will increase speed and responsiveness and in the converse a rounded nose will be slower and less responsive.
- Tail: Again, as with the nose of the board, less surface area, pinched tails, provides better control and tighter turning. A fuller tail will increase the glide and speed but you will lose some control and maneuverability.
- Rocker: The rocker is the curve on the bottom of the paddleboard. A flatter rocker means more speed while increased rocker lines mean better turning in the surf and better control.
- Accessories: Depending on your paddleboard (solid or inflatable) and your intended uses and specific circumstances a few accessories you will want to consider are the following:
- Carrier: For solid paddleboards you will likely want paddleboard carrier straps and a car carrier
- Safety Ankle Leash (coiled leashes are preferable)
- Paddle: You will want a quality, lightweight and sturdy paddle for surfing
- Travel Backpack
- Storage Options
- Repair Kit for inflatable SUPs
- Air Pump: Inflatables require an air pump and we would recommend investing in an electric pump if you are inflating and deflating regularly
- Quality, durable materials used in construction of the paddleboard
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD): When you are in the water safety is always paramount.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is surfing on a paddleboard difficult to learn?
The popularity of SUP surfing has grown in large part because it’s a blast and relatively easy to learn. Now don’t take this to mean you won’t fall a few times or a lot. Generally individuals find surfing on a paddleboard easier than on a regular surfboard. Most paddlers can stand up on their first or second try. Surfing in mild waves allows the wave to do the work rather than you. Simply put the more times you try the better you are going to get.
How do I know which paddleboard design and shape is best for me?
You will need to consider how you intend to use your board when looking for a board shape. If surfing is your primary focus and intent and you want to consider having a second board for other paddling activities, then you should consider a surfing specific design.
If you prefer to only have a single board that will allow you to surf while also enjoying other paddle activities you will want to look at an all around board shape that is flexible enough to allow you to have a great time catching a wave while also enjoying other adventures.
How important is the fin system on the paddleboard?
If you intend to surf the fin system is critical and second only to the shape of your board. The most basic set up is a single center fin. A system with 3 or 4 fins will allow you better control in steering your board.
How important is it to have a traction pad on the deck of the paddleboard?
The quality, texture and design of the deck traction pad will make a huge difference in the traction/grip you have in maintaining your balance and being able to maneuver the board. Additionally, a quality pad will provide comfort for your feet while surfing.
Should I buy a solid or inflatable stand up paddleboard?
In our recommendations we have focused on quality construction, competitive pricing, versatility and with a design to support surfing. If you are an exclusive SUP surfer, a hardboard will have some performance advantages over an inflatable. Conversely, if you are traveling, want to be able to have a variety of paddle experiences, find competitive pricing and still be able to have a blast paddleboard surfing, an inflatable may be a better choice.
If you are looking for a well designed and constructed stand up paddle board to meet your specific needs, including surfing, you will need to do your research. If you will be surfing on a regular basis, it will make sense to search for a surf specific paddleboard. Our recommendation of the Three Brothers paddleboard is a great option.
If stand up paddleboard surfing will be one of many different things you want your board to be able to do, we would direct you to the all around boards that have the correct shape and design features so when those waves start calling you the SUP is ready to go.
Please let us know in the comments section how your search goes and what paddleboard you finally decide is the right one for you.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.