Stand-up paddle boarding (known typically by its acronym, SUP) is on fire these days, growing more over the past three years than any other outdoor activity. As it grows, it seems as though the boards just keep getting better. No longer mere slabs of plastic, the SUP market now boasts ultra-light glueless inflatables, yoga-specific decks with delicate graphics, and sleek touring boards aimed at slicing through long, pristine stretches of blue water. Here are seven new standup paddleboards we couldn’t help but fall in love with this year.
Best for the family — BIC Cross 12-foot
Picture this: a sunny day, three kids, a partner, and two dogs. Your objective isn’t logging distance or mastering your perfect stroke but rather having an incredibly good time with the family. Now imagine BIC’s Cross 12.0.
This board is a bigger, family-sized version of the company’s uber-popular 10-foot and 11-foot Cross hybrid designs. It boasts the same stability-enhancing features as the line’s more petite models but with the ability to carry up to 350 pounds. The board’s keeled nose promotes effortless paddling while maximizing stability.
With 12 attachment points, there’s no limit to the gear you can strap down, either — frisbees, sun hats, snacks, water bottles, the world is yours. A full-length, embossed EVA deck pad ensures paddlers have a solid foot grip while the board’s Ergo-Grip carry handle makes transportation a breeze.
Best for women — Surf Tech Aleka 10-foot 4-inch Prana Collab
This good-looking board is the love child of a collaboration between Surf Tech and women’s apparel giant, Prana. Shaped by surf legend Joe Bark, the goal was to offer paddlers stability for flat-water cruising as well as solid control in small to medium surf scenarios. Made out of fiberglass with EPS and Expoxy resin, the hand-finished board features four deck tie-downs for stashing gear, a ledge handle, a rear padded handle, and a sleek bamboo veneer.
Perhaps the best part of the Aleka has to be its core which, in addition to featuring Tuflite Ghost Carbon construction with water-resistant fused cell foam, is made out of Bloom algae biomass. Harvested from a smattering of freshwater sources throughout the world, the algae enhance the performance of the foam while forgoing harmful petroleum-based ingredients. On top of a stunning aesthetic, paddlers can feel good knowing they’ve shopped with an eco-conscious approach.
Best touring and performance — S.I.C Bayonet 14-foot
While many paddle boarders simply want to splash around in the water and have some fun, others demand a truly elite performance board. Whether that’s because of racing goals, fitness objectives or the desire to take multi-day trips involving long distances, it’s hard to beat S.I.C’s sexy new Bayonet 14-footer. An extension of the brand’s top-of-the-line Bullet series, this narrow downwind board is ultra-light and razor-fast.
With a higher bow volume than its predecessors, the Bayonet features a lowered deck standing area and wider tail to increase its rail-to-rail stability. The board also comes in a 17-foot 4-inch size for those who want to win races or log serious miles.
Best value — Pelican Flow 94
Despite being one of the fastest-growing and addictive new sports of the past decade, paddle boarding is also one of the most expensive. For the would-be paddler who’d like to try out the sport but doesn’t want to break the bank, Pelican’s Flow 94 is a stellar choice — when it releases, that is. We rode the company’s pre-release model and while it won’t officially hit the market until December, Pelican’s 106 model is similar for those looking for a bigger board boasting the same ride.
Made of the company’s proprietary RAX-X impact resistant material, users can knock the board around while they’re learning without worrying about significant damage. It also features a deck pad with anti-slip cushioning that (largely) prevents falls, along with integrated rail ramps for enhanced balance and leverage. Grooves in the bottom make tracking easier and it comes with a flexible 5-inch-long fin. At 43 pounds, the board isn’t exactly light but that also means it’s durable. Extra features include bungee cords for cinching down any gear and integrated handles which make transporting easy.
Best for whitewater — NRS Quiver 8.8
If there’s one thing folks at NRS know how to do, it’s how to dominate whitewater. This board is meant for the adventurous paddler who’s ready to catch some serious whitewater on their SUP. Designed specifically for river running, the Quiver has a wide stance to offer stability when gliding over waves or punching through holes. Extra rocker on the nose makes the board maneuverable and it inflates to a solid 20 PSI for stiff, killer performance.
The board features NRS’s proprietary Axis Technology with an acrylic stiffening agent in the deck, Leafield D7 inflation and deflation valve, and ultra-durable, abrasion-resistant PVC drop-stitch construction. The Quiver’s six steel D rings mimic the ones on a whitewater raft and let paddlers rig their gear in the same fashion. Topping off its features are ABS plastic fins which allow paddlers to navigate shallow ledges and other river obstacles without worrying about them breaking off.
Best for yoga — Level Six Ten-O Yoga Ultralight Inflatable
Releasing in 2018, this ultra-sleek inflatable paddle board is designed for the water lover who wants to get their ohm on. Following last year’s hardshell version, the new model is a mono-layer drop needle inflatable capable of holding up to 270 pounds. With 34 inches of width, it’s got plenty of space to execute downward dogs and its 4.7 inches of thickness provides extra stability as paddlers move through each pose.
A handy paddle holder also allows users to practice sessions without knocking their stick overboard and it features numerous anchor points to attach gear. Offered in a Neptune blue colorway with a shoulder strap and full deck made of yoga mat material, this is the perfect SUP for any yoga session.
Best inflatable — Red Paddle Tandem
Red Paddle only makes inflatable SUPs — it’s the company’s specialty and it shows in the quality of its boards. The forthcoming 15-foot Tandem 15.0 is made with the company’s proprietary MSL (monocoque structural laminate) which allows the board to be lighter than many of its competitors while still offering users all the benefits of an inflatable. This levity is achieved via a double-lamination process using a machine with no glue involved, leaving the board stiffer and more maneuverable. With 34 inches of width, the board has plenty of space for gear for two riders and it also features seven carry handles and two luggage storage spaces for long distance touring. Due out Oct. 16, 2017.