Vacation close to home this summer by exploring your local waterways. 

By Gabrielle Hondorp
June 26, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

We may not be able to travel as much as usual this summer, but with a surplus of free time, why not pick up a new hobby and explore the great outdoors? While you may have tried stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, on a previous vacation, you don’t have to wait for travel restrictions to lift to enjoy this summertime activity. Instead, buy your own paddleboard (for less than the price of a family vacation!) and use it to tour local bodies of water in your area

Some people assume SUP is too tricky for them to master, but all it takes is some practice and patience — and the boards are actually incredibly versatile. Paddleboards are great for fishing, yoga, and some can even double as kayaks. But unlike typical kayaks, which can be cumbersome to travel with, inflatable paddleboards can deflate to fit neatly into a backpack. Since they’re easy to manage, paddleboards are also great for families; you can pack more than one in your car without having to invest in a rack or trailer like you would for most other types of water vessels.

Paddleboards may seem like an intricate balancing act, but they’re surprisingly easy to use because most have large, stable bases that keep you from toppling over. Beginners will want to look for an inflatable board that has a large non-slip surface and is at least 30 inches wide. (The wider and thicker the surface, the more stable you will be.) If you are still concerned with standing, you can always start on your knees and work your way up. But don’t be afraid to fall, so long as you are in open water — you are close enough to the water that it won’t hurt you, and most boards have soft surfaces. 

Once you get the hang of it, not only is paddleboarding a ton of fun, but it’s also a great form of exercise. Since you’re using a slew of muscle groups to remain upright and balance on the board while paddling, it ends up being a great core workout. Plus, the rowing motion can strengthen and tone your arms, too. Some even enjoy practicing yoga on paddleboards because it helps improve form and stability since you’re forced to adapt as the water moves beneath you. 

When it comes to choosing the right paddleboard, you’ll want to consider where you’ll be using it and how you plan to store it. Inflatable boards tend to be better for beginners because they’re less expensive, easier to store, and typically simpler to ride. Some can even function as kayaks, making them all the more versatile. Inflatable options are also usually better for rougher waters where you may come across rocks or logs — since they’re made from EVA plastic, they’re generally more flexible and durable than harder boards. 

On the other hand, solid boards excel in the ocean where they can be used for both surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. For those experienced in water activities, they can also allow for a smoother, faster ride, and they’re the better option for yoga because the hard surface offers a bit more stability. However, they tend to be heavier, more expensive, and tougher to store than inflatable boards. 

Whether you prefer an inflatable or solid board, you’ll have no trouble finding the right choice in our list below. We chose eight stand-up paddleboards to try this summer, including options that range in price and style to fit your individual needs. 

These are the best paddleboards for 2020:

The best part is, all of these boards are available to order online and be delivered right to your door, so you can get out there and start exploring your local bodies of water in no time. And since it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll fall in at least once, here’s to starting the summer with a splash!

Best-selling: SereneLife Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

The number one best-selling stand-up paddleboard on Amazon, this inflatable board from SereneLife has more than 2,000 positive reviews from shoppers who say it’s easy to inflate and a “high-quality board at a great value.” Along with the inflatable board, you’ll get three bottom fins, a foldable paddle, a safety leash, and a manual pump that all conveniently fit into the included storage bag — meaning this portable option is travel-friendly, too. It’s also a great choice for beginners because it has a wide, soft base that makes it easier to stay balanced, and it weighs just 19 pounds when inflated, so kids and adults alike won’t have any trouble maneuvering it. 

To buy: amazon.com, from $399

Best Inflatable: FBSPORT Premium Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard

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For just $360, this inflatable paddleboard and accessories kit comes with everything you need to get started. It has a soft, non-slip deck, a 30-inch width, and three bottom fins, making it super stable and ideal for all skill levels (even beginners). Since the durable, non-slip material covers such a large portion of the board, it also offers a great surface to practice yoga or take your pup along for a ride. With your purchase, you’ll get the 22-pound board, a pump, an extendable paddle, one ankle leash, three removable fins, and a carrying backpack. Amazon reviewers raved about how happy they are with the board, and one called it “the best summer purchase!” while another said it’s “worth the money” and an “amazing deal.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $360

Best Solid Board: Boardworks Flow Stand-up Paddleboard

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If you’re in the market for a solid board, this one from Boardworks is a great high-quality option. While solid boards are certainly more difficult to transport, they also tend to provide faster and smoother rides, making them ideal for more advanced SUP and long-distance expeditions. Made from bamboo and fiberglass, it’s also super-sturdy and more eco-friendly than EVA, which appears in most inflatable boards. It has a wide base and even comes with bungee cord ties, so you can bring a water bottle or other small essentials on your ride.  

To buy: amazon.com, $1,349

Best for Fishing: Bote Rackham Aero Inflatable Stand-p Paddleboard

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Stand-up paddleboards are often used for fishing since they’re more versatile and portable than boats. The best option for fishing excursions, this heavy-duty inflatable model is extra wide and thick, giving it great stability. Plus, it can hold up to 400 pounds, so you’ll be able to bring all of your fishing gear. Along with the durable foam board, this kit comes with all the bells and whistles you could possibly need, including a removable fin, a pump, a three-piece paddle, and even a repair bag that all fit into the portable storage backpack. Plus, paddleboards tend to disrupt the water less than boats, giving you the advantage of not scaring away the fish.  

To buy: amazon.com, $1,499

Best for Long Distances:  Goplus Expedition Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

While you can certainly use this paddleboard for a casual ride, its long, slim shape makes it ideal for longer, faster rides. Despite its slender shape, it also manages to be relatively stable, making it an option for beginners as well as more experienced paddlers. Amazon reviewers praised its ease of use and smooth ride; one user called it “stable, firm, and easy to use,” while another said the “quality is reliable.” And while many stand-up boards are expensive, this affordable option is on the lower end of the typical price ranges. 

To buy: amazon.com, $380

Best for Rough Waters: Pau Hana Surf Supply Endurance Air Touring SUP

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This top-quality inflatable board is ready for the toughest, longest water adventures. With 23 anchor points, it can easily carry everything you need for lengthy expeditions, and since it’s 12 feet long, it’ll offer a fast, smooth ride. Designed to handle all types of water — from lapping lakes to rolling waves to rocky rivers — this durable board will get you through while avoiding damage. It also comes with a paddle, a pump, an ankle leash, a removable fin, and a carrying backpack, so you’ll have all of the accessories you need. 

To buy: amazon.com, $1,249

Best for Yogis: Bote Floating Yoga Mat

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The best option for yogis and fitness fanatics, this board from Bote can be used as both a floating yoga mat and a stand-up paddleboard. Made with a durable PVC material, it’ll mimic the sturdy yet springy feeling of using a yoga mat on a wood floor. It has a 250-pound weight capacity and comes with other useful features like grab handles and bungee straps on the surface. Though it doesn’t come with a paddle, you’ll still get a hand pump, repair kit, and storage bag with your purchase.

To buy: amazon.com, $599

Best Budget: Streakboard Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Stand-up paddleboards are notoriously pricey, but you can still get a quality option at a more affordable price. Case in point: This budget-friendly option from Streakboard comes with a 10-inch inflatable board and accessories for under $300. It has a wide non-slip deck area and a six-inch thickness that can hold up to 230 pounds. Since it’s smaller than other options and weighs just 18 pounds, it’s also a great choice for kids or to bring your dog on board with you (as long as your pup doesn’t weigh over the 230-pound limit). And because inflatable boards like this one are softer, they’re typically better for dogs because they’re less likely to slip off. Many Amazon shoppers raved over this lightweight board and how easy it is to inflate and use. One reviewer said it’s a “great board at a great price,” also adding, “This paddleboard is just as nice as my daughter's super expensive one! She actually likes mine more than hers! Easy to inflate, very durable, well-made. I took it out on the lake the day it arrived and paddled a couple of miles all over the place. It worked perfectly. I would recommend this paddleboard 100 percent.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $264

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