6 Best SUPs for Surfing | Surfs SUP

6 Best SUPs for Surfing | Surfs SUP

As stand up paddle boarders continue to claim their fair share of the waves, the availability of choice for those that are looking to upgrade or buy their first Surf SUP board has never been better. But what should you consider before you part with your cash?

Below we cover off each of the key SUP Surf paddle board buying considerations as well as looking at some ideal recommendations for those that are still yet to make that all important decision.

6 Best SUPs for Surfing

What’s the Best SUP for Surfing – an Inflatable or a Hard Board?

A lot will come down to personal preference. Is ease of transport an important consideration? Are you a regular SUP surfer or is it more of a casual holiday thing for you? Are you more focused on performance rather than having a little fun in the waves?

It is without question that non-inflatable (hard) SUPs offer an unrivaled level of performance when compared to inflatables. Their sleeker more streamlined design features, rigidity, and more tapered rails which allow for quick and easy transitions, means that you are able to get a lot more out of the board which in essence performs somewhat similar to a like-for-like sized traditional surfboard. Hard boards are easier to paddle on, can get you into waves quicker and there’s a lot less fuss in terms of setting up and getting out on the water i.e. no need to pump up.

Not to rule out inflatable paddle boards though as they too have their own distinct advantages. iSUPs, owing to their portability are far easier to store and transport meaning no need for roof racks or finding a spot to store. They are also great if you are traveling or want to access more remote areas where carrying a hard board can be challenging and more cumbersome.

iSUPs have a far greater rider weight capacity meaning that they are more stable when compared to a hard board making them well suited to beginners or less experienced paddlers. The slightly more cushioned softer deck will also help reduce fatigue as well as being friendlier on the body for the inevitable spills that you will take.

Inflatable boards are typically more durable than non-inflatables, are less expensive and offer greater versatility when not in the surf so depending on how often you take to the waves or what you ultimately want to get out of your board, there and pros and cons to both options.


What is the Optimal Fin Set-Up?

Your fin configuration is a critical component to the boards set-up as it heavily influences how the board tracks and manoeuvres through the water – think steering wheel of sorts.

The simplest fin set-up is a single centre fin (both for general recreational paddling as well as SUP surfing). It creates less drag but is better suited to hard boards rather than iSUPs. Inflatables being far thicker than hard boards have a higher softer rail so having two small side fins or side bites is necessary as it will make the board far easier to handle and manoeuvre in the waves.

SUP Tri-Fin Configuration

Adjustable fins are also a nice option as you can tailor the boards fin set-up to suit your style and the wave conditions. The length of the fin also plays a part. The larger the centre fin the better tracking and hold you will have whereas the shorter the fin then the looser the ride will be.


Deck Traction Padding

Surf SUP Deck Traction Pad

Whilst it doesn’t impact the performance of your board in the water, it does impact your level of comfort and traction as well as your ability to effectively handle the board.

A thicker and longer padded surface is not only softer for when you take falls, but it also helps if you are transitioning into different positions and switching stances. A traction pad with a thicker lip at the tail of the board (sometimes referred to as a kick pad or contoured tail), is the best set-up for SUP surfing as it helps you find your rear foot position to create greater leverage when stepping back through turns or more acute manoeuvres.


Versatility

If you are purely looking to take to the surf, then focusing on a SUP that is specifically designed for surf conditions will be the way to go. If storage or transportability are not issues then a non-inflatable board is the best option owing to its superior performance attributes.

Even if surfing only, you need to consider where you plan on surfing and the water and wave conditions that you have access to. Shorter boards are better for responsiveness and quick transitions, larger faced waves that are more powerful or where gliding into a barrel is what its all about. Longer boards are ideal for thicker slower paced waves where time is on your side and you want a more relaxed ride where you can maximise your time on the wave.

Purpose built Surf SUPs are shorter in length, more streamlined in their dimensions with thinner rails, have lower levels of buoyancy and weight carrying capacity making them easier to glide across the wave and pick up speed.

If you are looking for a board that offers greater versatility rather than purely surfing, then an all-round SUP makes the most sense. You’ll still be able to have some fun in the waves but will also have the benefits of a board that is well suited for general recreational flat water paddling, longer distance paddling, SUP yoga or simply taking to the water with the kids or the dog.


Male SUP Surfer on Wave
<< Play nice on the water and follow best practice Paddle Boarding Etiquette >>

Recommendations

The more specialised the board, the greater its ability to perform in the desired conditions. While the majority of well-made all round style SUPs will perform to a certain extent in choppy waters and surf conditions, we have highlighted a small handful below (inflatable and non-inflatable), that offer both greater overall paddling versatility, as well as quality performance when it comes to tackling the surf.

Non-Inflatable / Hard Paddle Boards
South Bay 10’ Big Barco Pro Paddle Board
South Bay Board Co. Big Barco Paddle Board

Length: 10’ (305 cm) | Width: 32” (81 cm) | Weight: 30 lbs (13.6 kgs) | Capacity: 275 lbs (125 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ Classic all-rounder for greater versatility
☑️ Concave bottom for more speed and control
☑️ Plenty of rider weight capacity
☑️ Tapered design for more responsive feel

☑️ Wider outline for enhanced stability
☑️ Detachable tri-fin / FCS Fin Box
☑️ Bamboo finish for improved durability
☑️ Rubber tail bumper to reduce damage

Summary

An incredibly well built SUP ideally suited to advanced paddlers who are looking for an uncompromising ride. Constructed with an EPS closed-cell core, double wooden stringers, 6 oz layers of resin on both decks, carbon fibre wrapped rails as well as top and bottom deck bamboo body armour, this is a highly durable ‘no corners cut’ paddle board.

The Big Barco is an extremely versatile and durable paddle board offering great stability on flat waters while still being agile and responsive in the surf. The wide outline creates significant balance while the double pulled in tail keeps the board loose and nimble through turns. The tri-fin set-up and tapered rails enable better transitions and overall manoeuvrability and board performance.


GLIDE Retro 10’6” Paddle Board
GLIDE Retro 10’6” Paddle Board

Length: 10’6” (320 cm) | Width: 31.5” (80 cm) | Weight: 26 lbs (12 kgs) | Capacity: 210 lbs (95 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ Outstanding design and build quality 
☑️ Ultra durable GSS construction
☑️ Ample weight carrying capacity
☑️ All round versatile paddling

☑️ Full length non-slip deck traction padding
☑️ USA style fin box / centre fin 
☑️ Available as a 10’6” and 11’6” board
☑️ Two distinct colour schemes

Summary

Known for producing incredibly durable boards, all GLIDE non-inflatable SUPs are hand shaped and designed with a bio-resin coated fibreglass underlayment. This is then coated in their patent-pending GSS coating, or Glide Surface Shield, which has been developed to create an extremely durable coating that withstands damage caused by rocks, drops and floating debris.

The Retro 10’6” SUP (also available as a 11’6” board) is GLIDE’s take on the classic all round paddle board offering versatility in varied water conditions including the surf. Suitable for paddlers of all levels, the Retro has a minimalistic and clean feel with a single centre grab handle and 4-point forward bungee cargo system. Performs really well is smaller wave conditions and messy shore breaks.


Boardworks Solr 11’6” Paddle Board
Boardworks Solr 11’6” Paddle Board

Length: 11’6” (350 cm) | Width: 33” (84 cm) | Weight: Not Available | Capacity: 260 lbs (118 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ Highly durable X-SHOT construction
☑️ All round versatile paddling
☑️ Ample weight carrying capacity
☑️ Honeycomb heat embossed deck pad

☑️ Well suited for beginner paddlers
☑️ Rounded design for greater stability
☑️ Includes 2-piece paddle & ankle leash
☑️ 9” FCS2 Dolphin centre fin

Summary

Like the majority of the boards within the Boardworks range, the Solr 11’6” SUP is an aesthetically appealing board with clean lines and a minimalistic feel. The board is constructed using Boardworks X-SHOT construction methodology which features a hand cut closed-cell EPS foam core that is laminated with layers of fibreglass and epoxy resin with a clear coat high gloss finish.

All-round in design and really well suited for long rolling waves (think long board surfboard), the Solr suits less experienced paddlers and can comfortably carry large adult rides while still offering ample stability for greater performance. The honeycomb traction padding and wider nose and tail create plenty of stability while the centre FCS2 fin-box allows for different fin configurability for greater versatility.


Inflatable Paddle Boards (iSUPs)
Aquaplanet WINGTAIL Surf SUP
Aquaplanet WINGTAIL Surf SUP

Length: 9’ (275 cm) | Width: 30” (76 cm) | Weight: 23 lbs (10.5 kgs) | Capacity: 330 lbs (140 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ Ultra durable construction
☑️ Generous deck traction padding
☑️ Significant rider weight capacity
☑️ Winged swallow tail for greater agility

☑️ Pronounced rocker to reduce pearling
☑️ Rear kick pad for added manoeuvrability
☑️ Detachable centre dolphin fin / U.S fin box
☑️ All-inclusive SUP accessories package

Summary

Part of their premium range, the WINGTAIL is built using Aquaplanet’s Ultralite Composite Double Layer Fusion construction technology for enhanced rigidity, durability and overall paddling performance. Purpose built for surfing and river paddling, the board has a significant weight carrying capacity offering plenty of stability albeit designed with responsiveness and manoeuvrability in mind.

While it’s shorter in length and lacks the bulk of a more meaty all-round inflatable paddle board, its rigidity can still comfortably support larger paddlers. Design features include a pronounced front rocker to prevent pearling; winged swallow tail for easy connections and picking up drive; narrower 4” side rails; thruster tri-fin configuration for greater agility and a rear kick pad to aid more acute turns.


ISLE Pioneer 10’6” Paddle Board
ISLE Pioneer 10’6” iSUP

Length: 10’6” (320 cm) | Width: 34” (86 cm) | Weight: 24 lbs (10.9 kgs) | Capacity: 285 lbs (129 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ AiRTECH Fusion Dual Layer Technology
☑️ Designed for greater versatility
☑️ Ample weight carrying capacity
☑️ Greater width for enhanced stability

☑️ Tri-fin / detachable touring centre fin
☑️ Significant volume for greater buoyancy
☑️ Available in 3 fresh colour schemes
☑️ Includes quality accessories package

Summary

With an outstanding reputation and known for quality, the ISLE Pioneer is built using proprietary AiRTECH Fusion Dual Layer Technology for unrivaled durability and rigidity. With its significant weight carrying capacity and more than enough buoyancy, the Pioneer is ideal for larger SUP Surfers who aren’t looking to get too radical, but rather get themselves into small to mid sized waves and shore breaks.

Primarily designed for its versatility in both flat water and wave conditions, the Pioneer has a flat bottom deck for better glide. At 34” wide, the additional width provides plenty of stability. The marginally tapered nose helps with drive as you are getting into waves while the squashed tail and tri-fin configuration supports more agile turns and enhances the boards overall manoeuvrability and responsiveness.


Chasing Blue 10’6” All Round iSUP
Chasing Blue 10’6” All Round iSUP

Length: 10’6” (320 cm) | Width: 34” (86 cm) | Weight: 22 lbs (10 kgs) | Capacity: 320 lbs (145 kgs)

Highlights

☑️ Quality construction for greater durably
☑️ Sleek design to promote speed and glide
☑️ Plenty of rider weight carrying capacity
☑️ Squashed tail for enhanced agility

☑️ Generous grooved deck traction padding
☑️ Tri-fin for greater manoeuvrability
☑️ Wide belly section to support more stability
☑️ All-inclusive accessories package

Summary

While it has been termed an all-rounder, Chasing Blue have designed their 10’6” iSUP to take on a more aggressive feel making it really well suited to getting you into waves. Suitable to paddlers of all experience levels and with plenty of rider weight capacity, this is a great middle market board that has been really well-received by a broad cross-section of consumers.

Board features include a generous grooved deck traction pad and wide board mid-section for increased grip and stability; a squashed tail and tri-fin configuration making the board more agile and responsive through acute turns and manoeuvres; a mild front rocker to help prevent pearling (nose diving) plus an aggressive sleek design to promote greater drive and speed to put you into waves cleaner and faster.

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<< Strapped for cash? Check out the Best Cheap Paddle Boards on the market >>

There are many other quality SUPs out there so with time and research, it won’t be long until you’ve found yours.

Take your time and try to weed your way through the marketing noise and sales hype. As SUPs take a bit more of a pounding in the waves, do yourself a favour and stay away from the cheaper end of town. If you focus on quality and keep in mind the above buying considerations, you’ll be tackling the waves in no time.

How often do you take to the surf or is SUP surfing totally new to you? Start a conversation and share your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

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