Ready to get your SUP on but not sure where to start? We break down the best stand up paddle boards for beginners in 2013.
UPDATE: Looking for the latest Beginner Stand Up Paddle Board review?
Checkout out our new post on the Best 2015 Beginner SUP Boards.
Best 2015 Beginner SUP Boards
If you spent all last summer renting, and falling in love with the sport, then it might be time to pull the trigger on purchasing a board of your very own. In this post, we’ll explore some options and outline the best stand up paddle boards for beginners.
There are a lot of options out there, yes, but as long as the board that you choose has a couple key ingredients, it will get the job done. In this article we will break down what to look for in your first board so you can get the most out of your purchase. We want you to end up with a board that will be easy to use now as well as something you can grow with as you fine tune your skills. A board that anyone in the family can enjoy a ride on and a board that you will be happy with for many years to come.
All the boards that made our list will have the following qualities – durability (so it can take the inevitable ‘beginner’ dings), a wider profile (for better balance and stability), and a fair price. We understand that you might not want to pay top dollar for your first board so we will touch on some key factors that make one board more expensive than another, and help you choose a board that fits your lifestyle and budget.
Key Ingredients – Width
The width of the board is the measurement from rail to rail (side to side). More width will allow for a larger platform and let the rider have a slightly wider stance for better stability. In simple terms, if you are standing with your feet closer together, and someone gave you a push, you would likely fall over. If you are standing with you feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, and get the same push, you will be stable enough to hold yourself up and not fall – make sense? A good width is something between 28 – 34 inches and will offer a comfortable stance width for any beginner.
Key Ingredients – Board Length
The length of the board depends on a couple of things, rider weight being the most important. Most SUP boards will fall into the 10-14 foot range. Anything longer is likely going to fall into the race category and anything shorter would be considered more of a traditional longboard surfboard. The most popular sizes seem to fall into the 10-12 foot range. The exact weight range per board depends a lot on the construction so be sure to check the suggested rider weight before making your purchase.
Key Ingredients – Volume
The volume of a SUP board is measured in liters and refers to the overall size of the board. Generally, more board equals more volume but depending on the shape of the board it may or may not refer to being able to hold more weight. For example, a 14 foot race board might have more volume than an 11’6 cruiser board but due to the shape, the smaller board could in fact be more stable. If a heavier weight rider is shopping for a SUP board, they may want to watch the volume to make sure they get something that can hold a rider their size.
Without crossing the threshold of “too much confusing information” we will touch on the different types of construction and how they might impact your decision. Most boards across the industry have a foam core wrapped in fiberglass and depending on the quality of that foam, the board weight can change drastically, along with the durability of the board. Some companies apply wood stringers outside the foam core for extra strength and rigidity. Some boards will have a sandwich construction which refers to wood stringers on both top and bottom, some boards will only reinforce the board under the deck pad area.
Now that we’ve given you a quick run down of the tech, let’s move on to the fun part. In no particular order, the following boards would be an awesome choice for your first SUP board.
Rogue Tesoro 10’6, 11’0
Our friends over at Rogue have done a pretty amazing job with their entire line, but the Tesoro series takes the cake when it comes to a fairly-priced, awesome, all around SUP board. Excellent stability thanks to the 31″-32″ width and the 11′ option clocks in at 250 liters which means any rider in the family can fit on this super sturdy board. Rogue also gave this ride a great quality deck pad and the tri-fin setup makes it easy to track nice and straight even in choppy water conditions. Available in 3 different colors, there is a size and style that will fit any beginner SUP customer’s preference.
C4 Da Beachboy 10’6
It doesn’t get much more classic than this. The Beachboy from C4 is truly the cadillac of SUP boards. Big, tough, sturdy and darn good looking. The Beachboy has a traditional longboard shape and can stand up to a day of surf with no problem, but the added width (32″) will allow a paddler of any skill level to jump on and feel perfectly stable even if it’s their first try. Another added bonus is C4’s FeatherCore Composite Construction – this unique core to skin ratio makes this board extremely lightweight (only 23 lbs!), durable and fairly inexpensive considering the tech that goes into producing a board of this performance level. And finally, topping off at 194 liters, this board can hold a rider up to 300 lbs.
Naish Nalu 10’10 GS & GT
The secret gem of the Naish Nalu collection is by far the Nalu 10’10. This board is specifically designed for ultimate stability, smooth tracking, and paddling with ease for paddlers of any skill level. The key to it all? The multi concave channel base that is only available in the 10’10. These grooves channel the water from nose to tail giving the rider the smoothest glide possible. Excels in flat water but also works well in chop. Not ideal for surfing but will still offer a smooth ride in smaller waves. Available in both GS and GT construction. GS offering excellent durability and quality at a lower price with a molded EPS core, inner and outer glassing and wood reinforcement in the stance area for rigid support under your feet. If you want to take a step up, look to the GT model which offers the same construction as the GS but adds a full wrap wood sandwich construction. This feature make the board even lighter and stronger than the GS model and offers the ultimate in rigidity.
Riviera 10’6, 11’6
Definitely a lot of bang for your buck, the 10’6 Riviera boards offer a tri-fin setup that will track perfectly straight in flat water and also be extra fun in small surf. The 32″ width offers a stable platform for any rider and the slightly pulled in nose will cut thru the water and create a smooth and easy glide in most conditions. At 171 liters for the volume, this board is best for riders 200 lbs and under – but the good news is that helps keep the board super light weight and easy to transport for a paddler of any size. Added bonus – they come in a ton of killer color options! And for a little more versatility in the weight range department – check out the Riviera 11’6. This board is a single fin that is an excellent “do it all” board and coming in at 210 liters, you can get a 250lb rider on this board with no problem. For a family friendly ride – the 11’6 is a great way to go!
BIC Soft Top 10′, 11′
Looking for a board for the entire family, that can take a bit of a beating? The BIC Soft Top board is the way to go. Built like a standard epoxy board but wrapped on the top and side wall in a soft and durable EVA skin, this board is perfect for sitting kids or pets on the nose and heading out for a paddle. Tough skin smooth bottom glides thru the water smoothly and the 31″ width offers a nice comfortable platform for any skill level. For riders 200 lbs and lower, the 10′ is a great choice. For riders up to 260, the 11′ will be more buoyant and easier to maneuver. Weighing in at 31 lbs, this board is tough as nails and perfect for your family’s lake house. Grab the kids and head out for a paddle!