Best Non-Inflatable Paddle Boards – 2021

Best Non-Inflatable Paddle Boards – 2021

Traditionalist or otherwise, the increased take up rate of stand up paddle boarding, and in particular those who are taking advantage of the benefits of inflatable boards, has seen manufacturers continually pushing the envelope in terms of design, build quality, performance, features and board durability.

For those with a predominant focus on performance however, it is widely agreed that non-inflatable boards are clearly still the way to go.

In this review we will look at the benefits of both inflatable and hard boards, the construction and performance traits that you should look for when buying your next non-inflatable, pricing ranges as well as some quality recommendations that will get you out on the water in style.

Best Non-Inflatable Paddle Boards - 2021
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Benefits of Inflatable vs Non-Inflatable SUPs

Hard / Non-Inflatable

▪️Superior all round performance
▪️Uncompromising rigidity
▪️Greater stability
▪️Easier to manoeuvre
▪️Better straight line tracking
▪️Faster than inflatables
▪️No need to pump up / straight on the water
▪️Safer (will not puncture)
▪️Easier to paddle

Inflatable

▪️Portable and easy to transport / store
▪️Lighter in weight
▪️More buoyant than hard SUPs
▪️Greater weight carrying capacity
▪️Better overall durability
▪️Not as expensive as hard boards
▪️Softer deck for reduced fatigue
▪️Offer greater versatility


Price

If you are new to stand up paddle boarding and are still doing your research, then you might well have been shocked when you saw some of the price tags that the upper end high performance non-inflatable boards can go for. This doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily pay a fortune to get yourself out on the water but if you are looking for a reasonable quality hard (non-inflatable / rigid / epoxy) paddle board, then you will need to open up the wallet.

If pricing is one of your bigger buying considerations and you are still relatively new to paddling, then an inflatable SUP might be the way to go. We’ve highlighted some of the benefits above so don’t rule inflatables out altogether.

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Below $800 – outside of clearance or end of model sales, you will struggle to find a reasonable quality paddle board under $800. Boards within this range will likely be heavy to carry and cumbersome on the water; offer little in the way of structural integrity; be quite challenging to gain any level of paddling performance; have limited or unreliable warranty periods and no after sales service. If you are looking for any real level of performance and longevity out of your board then we would strongly suggest that you aim a little higher are stay away from this pricing bracket.

Up to $1,500 – this is the ideal range where you should be focusing on with a view to overcoming the above mentioned hurdles. Beyond the $1,000 mark, attention to materials and build quality, versatility and performance as well as a genuine manufacturers warranty (2 years and up) will become more evident as will the enjoyment and longevity you will get out of your board.

Above $1,500 – for those with deeper pockets that are looking for high end performance oriented or disciple specific boards (racing, touring etc.). Unless you are an advanced paddler who is looking for that little bit extra, there is really no need to stretch yourself this far.


Construction & Build Quality

Epoxy Paddle Board Construction Cross-Section

Each manufacturer will adopt their own design and construction methodology, so its important that you develop a feel for the various types of non-inflatable boards, as well as their overall build quality. With price normally comes better quality but this is not necessarily always the case. The majority of quality manufacturers will show SUP details and specs for each of their boards so this information will be available.

While you can get handcrafted boards i.e. bamboo or wood, non-inflatable paddle boards will normally be either, plastic at the lower end of the spectrum, epoxy (fibreglass) or carbon fibre at the upper end.

Plastic – made from durable PVC, plastic SUPs will normally be rotomolded (rotational molding) one-piece plastic units. Cheap, highly durable, and very heavy, they can take a beating and while great for kids having a play in the water, they lack any level of performance so really aren’t ideal if you are looking for a genuine paddle board.

Epoxy – this is the most common method of construction which has also been widely used within the surfing industry for many years.

Epoxy paddle boards have a hand or machine shaped dense foam core at the centre. Better quality boards will also have a number of stringers (a wooden, carbon or glass spine of sorts) running through the centre of the foam for additional strength and rigidity. This foam is then wrapped in layers of fibreglass and epoxy resin which is worked across the full surface of the board and then sanded into shape. Epoxy SUPs can still vary in terms of quality, durability, weight and overall performance.

Carbon Fibre – the top tier when it comes to construction and overall performance. By extension, they are also the most expensive boards where prices can exceed $3,000+. They are constructed along the lines of epoxy / fibreglass paddle boards although also introducing carbon fibre to reduce the weight which correspondingly improves performance. Carbon fibre can be used in conjunction with other materials e.g. bamboo to further enhance rigidity and overall performance.


Performance

By most metrics, non-inflatable paddle boards out perform inflatable boards. The only area where this is not always the case is stability. As inflatable paddle boards have greater weight carrying capacity and volume, they typically offer more stability when compared to a like for like sized hard board.

When it comes to speed, tracking, manoeuvrability and overall responsiveness in the water, a hard board will always outperform an inflatable – all things being equal.

With greater rigidity and a more streamlined sleek design, hard boards are easier to paddle meaning you will get greater output and use less energy. A typical recreational inflatable SUP is 6” thick whereas a similar hard board will be 1-2” thinner creating better glide across the water and will better hold a straight line whilst paddling.

While both inflatable and non-inflatable boards can be easily used for fishing, yoga, touring, and general recreational paddling, a non-inflatable board will out perform in surf and race conditions again by virtue of their sleek design, greater rigidity and overall level of performance. They are also better suited to poor weather and wind conditions as they sit lower in the water and are marginally heavier than an iSUP.


Recommended Non-Inflatables

Of the countless paddle boards to pick from, and from an ever increasing number of quality manufacturers, we have selected a small handful of boards that check the boxes above. A little something for everyone.

GLIDE Retro 10’6” Paddle Board
  • Length: 10’6” (320 cm)
  • Width: 31.5” (80 cm)
  • Thickness: 4.6” (11.7 cm)
  • Volume: 185 litres
  • Weight: 26 lbs (12 kgs)
  • Capacity: 210 lbs (95 kgs)
GLIDE Retro 10’6” Paddle Board
Highlights

☑️ Outstanding design and build quality
☑️ Ultra durable GSS construction
☑️ Ample weight carrying capacity
☑️ All round versatile paddling
☑️ Mid-weight at 26 lbs

☑️ 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
☑️ 2 year manufacturers warranty

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.

Built by arguably the most eco-friendly manufacturer in the market, 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. 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.

ISLE Cruiser 10’5” Stand Up Paddle Board
  • Length: 10’5” (318 cm)
  • Width: 32” (81 cm)
  • Thickness: 4.5” (11 cm)
  • Volume: 175 litres
  • Weight: 28.5 lbs (13 kgs)
  • Capacity: 235 lbs (107 kgs)
ISLE Cruiser 10’5” Paddle Board
Highlights

☑️ EPS closed-cell foam core / epoxy
☑️ Soft top skin for comfort and traction
☑️ Beginner friendly
☑️ Designed for versatile paddling
☑️ Rubber tail bumper to reduce damage

☑️ Patented LIFT SUP pop-out handle
☑️ 6-point forward bungee system
☑️ Detachable nylon centre box fin
☑️ Includes carbon hybrid 2-piece paddle
☑️ 1 year manufacturers warranty

Summary

Just like a traditional epoxy board, at the core of the Cruiser is a dense closed-cell EPS foam and double wooden stringer which is enveloped in fibreglass to create a stiff and rigid paddling platform. This is then covered in a layer of textured croc skin to create a slip free surface for added comfort as well as reducing paddling fatigue over longer distances.

Suitable for paddlers of all levels and designed as a genuine all-rounder, the Cruiser is ideal for flat water recreational paddling while still comfortably tackling choppier waters and small waves. With solid rider weight capacity, good stability and reasonable manoeuvrability, the Cruiser is a nice well-balanced board with a little something for everyone.


South Bay 10’ Big Barco Pro Paddle Board
  • Length: 10’ (305 cm)
  • Width: 32” (81 cm)
  • Thickness: 4.9” (12.3 cm)
  • Volume: 170 litres
  • Weight:  30 lbs (13.6 kgs)
  • Capacity: 275 lbs (125 kgs)
South Bay 10’ Big Barco Pro Paddle Board
Highlights

☑️ EPS Core / Bamboo / 6 oz Fibreglass
☑️ Classic all-rounder for greater versatility
☑️ Concave bottom for more speed and control
☑️ Plenty of rider weight capacity
☑️ Tapered design for more responsive feel

☑️ Suits beginner to advanced paddlers
☑️ Detachable tri-fin / FCS Fin Box
☑️ EZ Carry SUP Handle
☑️ 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.


Boardworks Solr 11’6” Paddle Board
  • Length: 11’6” (350 cm)
  • Width: 33” (84 cm)
  • Thickness: 4.6” (11.7 cm)
  • Volume: 192 litres
  • Weight: Not Available
  • Capacity: 260 lbs (118 kgs) 
Boardworks Solr Recreational Paddle Board
Highlights

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

☑️ Well suited for beginner paddlers
☑️ Rounded design for greater stability
☑️ 4-point forward bungee system
☑️ 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.

Designed as an all-round SUP and ideally suited for less experienced paddlers, the Solr can comfortably carry large adult rides while still offering ample stability for greater performance. The honeycomb deck traction padding and wider nose and tail design create plenty of space for SUP yoga while the centre FCS2 fin-box allows for different fin configurability for greater versatility.


GLIDE Quest 12’6” Paddle Board
  • Length: 12’6” (381 cm)
  • Width: 30” (76 cm)
  • Thickness: 7” (18 cm)
  • Volume: 280 litres
  • Weight: 34 lbs (15.4 kgs)
  • Capacity: 240 lbs (109 kgs)
GLIDE Quest 12’6” Paddle Board
Highlights

☑️ Ultra durable GSS construction
☑️ 4-point forward bungee system
☑️ Aggressive design for greater speed
☑️ Squashed tail to support manoeuvrability
☑️ Sufficient rider weight capacity

☑️ Better suits advanced paddlers
☑️ USA style fin for better versatility
☑️ Full deck non-slip traction padding
☑️ Additional thickness for better buoyancy
☑️ 2 year manufacturers warranty

Summary

With a sleek and aggressive design, the 12’6” Quest is built for speed and enhanced paddling performance. The thicker sharper nose design amplifies the boards glide as it cuts through the water whilst the large centre fin supports straight line tracking. The board offers moderate levels of agility and stability so is better suited for more advanced paddlers with performance in mind.

Like the other hard boards within their range, the Quest is a highly durable SUP that has been 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.


South Bay 10’4” Big Cruiser Soft Top SUP
  • Length: 10’4” (315 cm)
  • Width: 32” (81 cm)
  • Thickness: 5” (12.7 cm)
  • Volume: 195 litres
  • Weight: Not Available
  • Capacity: 350 lbs (159 kgs)
South Bay 10’4” Big Cruiser Soft Top SUP
Highlights

☑️ EPS foam / epoxy resin construction
☑️ Tri-fin set-up for greater versatility
☑️ Pre-installed kayak seat hooks
☑️ Rubber bumper for safer vertical storage
☑️ Significant rider weight capacity

☑️ Custom wax-free textured deck padding
☑️ EZ carry retractable centre SUP handle
☑️ Squared rails for greater stability
☑️ Includes paddle, leash & paddle bag
☑️ Available in 3 colour schemes

Summary

Staying true to form in terms of durability and build quality, the 10’4” Big Cruiser is constructed with a full board length triple stringer and dense closed-cell EPS foam core which is then covered in two layers of 6oz epoxy resin laminate and a wood shell body armour. The board is then enveloped in a custom fingerprint textured wax-free deck for enhanced traction and rider comfort.

With its round nose design and significant weight carrying capacity, the Big Cruiser is an ideal board for new paddlers that offers the genuine versatility that would be expected in an all-rounder. The squared rails and squashed tail provides greater stability while the adaptable tri-fin set-up enables better tracking and glide as well as enhancing general board agility and responsiveness.


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<< Yet to buy your first SUP? Check out the Best Paddle Boards for Beginners >>

Whether you are a relative beginner or an experienced paddler, we’re definitely spoilt for choice these days. Once you’ve managed to cut through the marketing noise and sales pitches; focus on the above suggested tips and do your research. Your ideal board will be out there but if we can help in any way then don’t be a stranger.

We hope you found the above reviews beneficial and as always would love to get your feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

2 thoughts on “Best Non-Inflatable Paddle Boards – 2021”

  1. Thanks for this, but….. why do all the board carry 250# or more? I paddle an old 11’6″ x 29″ and my wife a 12’6″ x 26″ surfboard style and they’re getting worn out. We also have 12’6″ x 28″ and 12’6″ x 23″ flat water boards but like the thinner and more rugged surfboard style. Does anyone make a 12’6″ x 26 and 28″ with only a 150# capacity? I’ve searched unsuccessfully, thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Jim.

      Sounds like your boards are a little older as you suggest. Judging from the specs that you have referenced, the newer boards are now typically wider (hence greater capacity) with a focus on all round paddling opening them up to a wider audience. What the consumer is after in effect. You can still get the sleeker narrower touring boards but these are typically non-inflatable and more expensive. The GLIDE Quest is a little closer at 12’6” – 30” although is really aggressive so not well suited to the surf.

      Others worth taking a look at with a closer match to your specs although at a price are the Rogue All In and SIC Maui RS

      Good luck Jim and let me know how you get on.

      Reply

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