All around boards are generally Between 10 and 12 feet long and have a rounded shape similar to a surfboard. Attributes we look for in this category include adequate stability, speed, and portability. The
is a versatile and well-made board that has been around for a number of years and has become a bit of a classic. It strikes a very workable balance between speed, stability, and capacity and comes with Red's fast inflating Titan Pump and a nice rolling travel case. The
has come on the scene more recently and is proving to be a popular all arounder board due to its enhanced stability, paddling speed, enhanced deck pad, and choice of permanent or removable fin systems.
SUP Yoga has become a favorite paddle boarding activity, and some boards are particularly well suited for paddleboard Yoga. Yoga boards should be relatively stable and have a comfortable deck pad that doubles as a Yoga mat.
Inflatables work especially well for yoga because they are softer than epoxy boards and easier on the body. The Starboard Yoga Dashama
adds a full length deck pad, off center handle, and a paddle holder to Starboard's Astro Whopper, transforming it into a stable platform for SUP Yoga. In a similar vein, Red Paddle Co repurposes its stability board, the 10'8 Ride, with a full length deck pad and modified handle positioning to create the Red Paddle Co 10'8 Activ
. The Activ is an inch narrower than the Dashama, which we think is more than adequate stability for SUP Yoga. If you want a more versatile and reasonably priced board that can also be used for SUP Yoga, the Earth River SUP 11-0 Skylake
provides plenty of stability for yoga, a plush, elongated deck pad, and flat handle with removable gripo, but is also a great all around board to use between yoga sessions.
TOURING CLASS Inflatable SUP Boards
Touring boards are designed to make it easy and enjoyable to cover longer distances for day trips or even overnight excursions.
In the touring inflatable paddle board class, we look for a mix of speed, straight tracking, cargo capacity, and stability. We have been on just about every 12'6 inflatable that exists and have come to the conclusion that touring boards works best at 32 inch width. That winnows down the field quite a bit and leads us to the Earth River SUP 12'6 Touring (also available in a lighter and lower priced Skylake model) and the Red Paddle Co 12'6 Explorer. The Earth River SUP 12'6 is fast and stable - key attributes for a touring inflatable - and has a contoured tail pad that comes in handle when you want to depress the tail of the board for more responsive turning. The Red Paddle Co 12'6 Explorer keeps the deck pad simple but adds low profile side fins to help the board track straighter. A previous offering, the Naish One Air has been removed from our 2017 line due to quality issues.
WHITEWATER Inflatable SUP Boards
River rapids present unique challenges and recreational opportunities for stand up paddle boarders. Whitewater paddlers generally want ample width for stability, rugged construction, nose rocker, and convenient tie down points for a leash and other accessories
. The Hala Atcha
is a special purpose board built for running rapids. It is a whopping 36 inches wide, which gives stability needed for advance whitewater paddling and its 9'6 length makes it a fast turning board, but at the expense of speed. Hala has equipped the Atcha with five removable fins so that it can be adapted for various whitewater situations. The Starboard Astro Stream
has almost identical specifications and a similarly elaborate fin system, so choosing between the two is more a matter of personal taste, though we feel the Hala has a more rugged construction. Other options for whitewater include the Earth River SUP 10-0 Crossover
which is designed to excel on both whitewater and flat water and also surfs
SURF Inflatable SUP Boards
Paddle board surfing demands a board that is highly manoeuvrable, has enough nose rocker to keep the nose above water, but is fast enough to catch waves easily.
Surfing paddle boards are generally not as long as touring or all-around boards and are often narrower than whitewater boards. The Red Paddle Co Whip
is an inflatable made for ocean paddle surfing, and we recommend it highly if that will be the board's primary use. It has an innovative rail stiffening batten system that is designed to make this relatively thin board stiffer than it would otherwise be. If surfing will be more of an occasional thing for you, the more versatile Earth River SUP 9-6
and the faster Earth River SUP 10-0 Crossover
will catch plenty of waves without gathering dust between surfing sessions as its design lends itself to more varied SUP pursuits.