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When it comes to warm-weather workouts, paddleboarding is tough to beat. It's a killer for sculpting your abs, but the benefits don't end there. As you balance on the water and propel yourself forward, your arms, chest, shoulders, back, legs, and glutes will be working just as hard. If scorched calories and a toned physique aren't enough, you'll be breathing in the fresh air and soaking up the sun. (Speaking of which, don't you dare skip the sunscreen!)
Whether lying on your stomach, kneeling, or standing up (called stand-up paddleboarding or SUP), you can bet your muscles will be engaged from head to toe. Paddleboarding has a reputation for being challenging, but with the right board and a little practice, anyone can get the hang of it. Boards are traditionally hard (or rigid), like surfboards, but modern iterations are often inflatable, making them a lot more portable and versatile. With this in mind, we searched high and low to find standout options in both categories.
Scroll down to check out the best paddleboards for everyone and every budget.
Best Overall: Isle Versa Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board
What do buyers say? 600+ ISLE reviewers rated this product 4.2 stars or above.
For an all-around amazing stand-up option, you can't go wrong with the Versa. Made of durable epoxy, this rigid paddleboard boasts a versatile design suitable for people of all skill levels. Not only that, but you can take it out on the lake, river, or ocean.
When you mount this 27-pound board, you can count on an ultra-stable ride and a smooth glide across the water. Measuring 10.5 feet long and 32 inches across, the Versa is comfortably wide and stable. Thanks to a rubbery EVA traction pad on the surface, it offers plenty of grip and a comfy feel in various positions.
Best Budget: Goplus Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Want something a little easier on your bank account? The Goplus Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is an excellent choice. Measuring 11 feet long and 30 inches wide, it's designed to provide stability, balance, and resistance in ocean waves and rocky rivers.
It's easy to inflate and deflate using the included air pump too. This SUP also comes with an adjustable paddle, a safety leash, a removable fin, and a backpack. The thermoplastic shell, reinforced core, and tarpaulin layer make it super resilient and resistant to punctures—but the included repair kit will ensure you aren't stranded in the event of a tear.
Best Splurge: Glide SUP Godspeed MK II
"For hardboards, the best board brand is Glide SUP," says Krista Patterson of Northwest Paddleboarding. "Glide SUP has a GSS coating that makes their boards incredibly durable. They will last a lifetime."
If you can swing the price tag, the Godspeed MK II won't let you down. A revision of the brand's classic racing board, it's incredibly stable, smooth, and stable. This paddleboard is 12.5 feet long, 28 inches wide, and weighs 25 pounds. Featuring a V-shaped prow and a tapered square tail, it effortlessly slides through the water with the speed of marlin and the grace of a swan.
Best Rigid: Pau Hana Malibu Tour Stand Up Paddle Board
Pau Hana's take on the rigid SUP is this island-inspired beauty. The Malibu Tour Stand features a lightweight plastic core and a super-sturdy thermoplastic frame with a wood-style finish. It's 11.6 feet long, 30 inches wide, and weighs 31 pounds.
This exceedingly durable paddleboard is engineered to withstand bumps and knocks from rocks, sticks, and paddles. For ultimate comfort and grip, you'll get an EVA-coated deck pad and a molded center handle. Additionally, it comes with an adjustable aluminum paddle and has a built-in leash cup for venturing into choppier waters.
Best Inflatable: Red Paddle Co. Ride MSL Paddle Board
"Red Paddle Co. has the best technology in creating inflatables, and they are very lightweight for their size," Patterson tells Byrdie. "They are also rich in features, from the deck pads to the handles and the mounts—just wonderful boards all around."
We recommend the brand's award-winning Ride, a handsome board designed to glide effortlessly in all water conditions. It's 10.5 feet long, 32 inches wide, and weighs 42 pounds. Made of thermoplastic and engineered with Red Paddle Co.'s exclusive "Tec-Air" and MSL (monocoque structural laminate) technologies, this paddleboard offers incredible stiffness and stability. Plus, it comes with a Titan II pump for quick and easy inflating and deflating.
Best for Beginners: SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
If you're a paddleboarding novice, your best bet is this inflatable number by SereneLife. It's 10.5 feet long and 32 inches wide, with three fins on the bottom for better maneuverability and control.
This stand-up paddleboard is made of extra-durable PVC with reinforced stitching and a soft, anti-slip top deck for traction and comfort. It comes with everything you need to get started and stay safe on the water, including a pump, a coiled ankle cuff, an aluminum paddle, and a patch kit.
Best Lightweight: Body Glove Raptor Plus Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board With Paddle
Weighing just 22 pounds with an impressive 300-pound weight capacity, Body Glove nailed the lightweight yet sturdy design with this board. Measuring roughly 10.5 feet long and 33 inches wide, the Raptor Plus doesn't skimp on features or accessories.
This stand-up paddleboard has a built-in handle for better maneuverability, plus an ankle-strap coil leash. It comes with a dry bag, air pump, repair kit, and backpack for easy transport. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, you'll appreciate the light, versatile design. Body Glove also backs this product with a one-year warranty.
Most Versatile: Roc SUP Co. 10' Scout Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Roc paddleboards are not only reliable but also notably versatile. At just 17.5 pounds, the Scout is a lightweight SUP with a user-friendly inflatable design. Made of military-grade polyvinyl with Roc's DuraWeld technology, this incredibly strong paddleboard offers a 300-pound weight capacity.
It comes with a removable fin, a coiled safety leash, a high-pressure hand pump, a waterproof bag, a collapsible aluminum paddle, and a sizable backpack for carrying everything. What's more, this SUP is suitable for lakes, rivers, and the ocean—it can even be used as a kayak with a seat conversion kit.
Best Kit: Vilano Inflatable 10' SUP Stand Up Paddle Board Kit
The Vilano Journey has everything you need to hit the water. This inflatable paddleboard kit comes with 11 heavy-duty D rings and a bungee cord for securing a kayak seat, small cooler, dry bag, or any other cargo you need for your excursion. You'll also get a paddle, a leash, a removable shoulder strap, a camera mount, a mini dry bag, and a backpack.
Made of high-grade PVC with drop-stitch construction, the board is 10 inches long, 31.5 inches wide, and 6 inches thick with a load capacity of 240 pounds. Its thoughtful design looks and feels like a rigid board, and an anti-slip deck pad keeps you comfy and secure for hours on the water.
The best option overall is the Isle Versa Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board. Its lightweight design, durable epoxy construction, and rubbery deck pad make for an ultra-smooth and endlessly comfortable experience. That being said, if you're interested in an inflatable board, your best bet is the Red Paddle Co. Ride MSL Paddle Board. Made of super-resilient materials with innovative engineering, it's impressively stiff and stable.
What to Look For When Buying a Paddleboard
Inflatable vs. Hard
Paddleboards are either rigid (meaning they're hard and solid) or inflatable. Hard boards are typically a little more expensive and less portable, though you can easily strap them to a car. On the other hand, inflatable boards can be rolled up into a backpack and blown up quickly, and they're generally easier to carry around.
If you live near the water and want to grab your board and go at a moment's notice, a rigid option may be best. However, if you're looking for an affordable, versatile paddleboard that's easy to transport and store, go with an inflatable SUP.
When browsing paddleboards, you'll want to consider the dimensions. Most are between 10 and 11 feet long, though some sportier options are a bit longer. Your SUP should be at least 30 inches wide in the middle and slightly narrower on the ends if you're a beginner.
With a wide enough board, you shouldn't have too much trouble balancing on the water. The most important thing is that you have plenty of room to stand with your feet at least hip-width apart, which will help you remain stable.
Many paddleboards are sold in "kits," meaning they come with various accessories you might need for a successful water excursion. This often includes a paddle, a safety leash, a dry bag, and sometimes a removable fin. Inflatable models typically come with air pumps, patch kits, and backpacks for carrying the rolled-up board.
How do you get on a paddleboard?
It's best to start in knee-deep water in an area clear of obstacles. Locate the center of the board (typically the widest part) and pull yourself up with your arms. Once you're on the board, get into a kneeling position with your knees facing the front, about shoulder-width apart. To move into a standing position, place one foot flat down on the board, then the other, and slowly rise.
Is paddleboarding a good workout?
Paddleboarding is an excellent workout, especially if you're standing up. Since it requires balance, you're constantly engaging your core, including your abs, obliques, and lower back. It's also great for your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Additionally, the act of paddling, steering, and mounting your board builds strength in your arms, chest, shoulders, and upper back.
Can you surf on a paddleboard?
You can surf on a paddleboard as long as it has a stand-up design and is the appropriate length and width for riding waves. Sometimes called stand-up paddle surfing, this is actually a relatively popular way to use a SUP in the ocean.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is a commerce writer specializing in cosmetics, fitness, and outdoor recreation. She has substantial experience researching, testing, and reviewing exercise equipment and recreational gear and knows how to spot high-quality products. You can read more of Theresa's work on The Spruce, MyDomaine, and Verywell Fit.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any paddleboards from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Schram B, Hing W, Climstein M. The physiological, musculoskeletal and psychological effects of stand up paddle boarding. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2016;8:32.