Why the right size paddle board matters? From this guide you'll know everything necessary to find the paddle board best sized for you.
Going paddle board shopping for the first time and have no idea where to start? With so many brands to choose from, it can feel a bit overwhelming, not to mention time-consuming to figure out which are worth the investment.
You’re in luck: we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of the best SUP brands to choose from! We’ll not only help you find the good brands but also find out which are the “dud” brands you’re better off avoiding.
Quick Answer: Our Top List of SUP Brands
This isn’t a list of every SUP brand on the market, just the ones we’ve verified through testing and research to be at the top of the industry. We’ve got a lengthier review on each of the brands below, so feel free to click on the links and learn more about each of the companies and the SUPs they produce.
- Red Paddle Co.
- Thurso Surf
- Sea Gods
- BIC Sport/TAHE Outdoors
- Nixy Sports
- Tower Paddle Boards
- Gili Sports
How We Rated the Best SUP Brands
When researching each of the SUP companies, we looked for a few crucial factors:
SUPs (especially inflatables) need to be able to take a beating. That means making them using strong materials that are sturdy, puncture-resistant, and unlikely to sag with repeated use.
Whether it’s a whitewater, touring, racing, Yoga, surfing, or recreational SUP, the paddle boards should perform up to the standard you’d expect and need for the sport/activity you’re doing. “Performance” includes speed, tracking, maneuverability, and stability.
Given how varied the market of paddleboarders is—from kids to oversized people like me (at 6’6’ and 250 lbs.)—you want a brand that makes boards that cater to a wide variety of people, as well as sport/activity types.
Problems arise and issues crop up, it’s just part of life. A good SUP brand will have quality customer support standing by to help you deal with them. If the brand doesn’t have great customer support, it’s likely the quality of their products isn’t great, either.
The “best” brands are able to strike a balance between a reasonable price and excellent quality. Most of the budget brands focus more on making the price cheap even if that means the boards end up being a bit “cheaper”, too. We’re only including on our list brands that are worth the money you’re investing.
Companies that stand by their products will back them up with warranties. Any paddleboard that doesn’t come with at least a 1-year warranty isn’t worth considering. Ideally, you want a warranty in the 2 to 10-year range.
Who Makes the Best SUPs? The 16 Top SUP Brands on the Market
Isle Surf and SUP was founded in 2004 by “two San Diego surfers fresh out of college with nothing more than a dream of following our passion and some lint in our pockets.” That dream was to bring paddleboarding and all its many mental and physical health benefits to as many people as possible.
The company has a mission I find admirable:
- Boards for Everybody. Their hard-shell and inflatable boards are compatible with everyone from newbies to experienced paddlers, crafted for everything from fishing to SUP Yoga to adventure paddling.
- Fair Pricing. The Isle boards are slightly on the pricier side compared to some of the other brands on the list, but they represent a solid investment that will last for years of regular use.
- Thoughtful, Inspired Designs. The brand prizes quality first and foremost, crafting every one of their boards to be the ideal blend of function and form.
- Earth-Minded. Not only does Isle consciously endeavor to reduce harm to the environment from the byproducts of their manufacturing, but they also support ocean conservation programs.
- Smooth Shopping. Great customer service and a website designed to see all the features of their paddleboards at a glance makes for a much better experience overall.
I’ve personally tested out their Isle Switch and can say with full confidence that ISLE’s products meet the criteria that I laid out above. They’re tough (thanks to their high-performance materials and drop-stitch technology), perform well, offer enough variety for all paddler types, and strike a good balance between reasonable price and the backing of a 2-year warranty.
I love a good play on words, which is why I love the iROCKER tagline: “We make outdoor gear for those geared to the outdoors.”
Launched in Florida in 2013, the brand started in Steve Elder’s garage with the intention of putting reliable and fun gear into the hands of paddle boarders. As their Our Purpose page says, “With paddle in hand and adventure in our soul, we focus on top-quality manufacturing, design, and functionality.”
iROCKER specializes in recreational and all-around paddle boards. Some are compatible with fishing and Yoga, and some can be used for adventure, touring, and racing. But for the most part, iROCKER offers affordable, versatile SUPs—mostly inflatables, but a few hard boards, too.
Under the iROCKER banner are two more brands you’re probably familiar with:
- Blackfin, which offers higher-end (for the brand) models.
- Nautical, which offers more budget-friendly SUPs.
All of the paddleboards sold by iROCKER and its brands are on the affordable side, which is why they’re often present on so many “Best of” lists.
Their boards feature dual- and triple-layered construction, high-quality materials, and rigorous testing, which combine to make solid, long-lasting products. Best of all, their boards are backed by a 3-year warranty.
Not only does iROCKER guarantee the quality of their products, but they’ve also established a “Below the Water Initiative” to implement sustainable manufacturing processes and help keep the waterways clean.
Red Paddle Co.
Red Paddle Co. is the creation of John Hibbard, a former windsurfer who saw an opening in the SUP market to craft better, more approachable boards that could make paddle boarding an activity for everyone.
Founded in 2008, Red Paddle Co.’s mission is simple: “Performance is at the heart of what we do. We create boards that perform for everybody, regardless of age or ability. We want to get as many people out on the water as we can, in the safest and most reliable way.”
Their boards are made using MSL, a reinforced non-stretched PVC material that’s thicker than standard drop-stitch fabric and uses no glue in the bonding of the laminated layers. The end-product of their unique manufacturing process (which you can read about here) is a tough material that is puncture-resistant, sturdy, and holds its shape well even under the weight of heavy paddlers.
The addition of their patented RSS stiffening system increases the rigidity of the SUPs and improves performance. The triple-layered construction ends up being actually lighter than older-model SUPs, but not so light they’re at the mercy of the wind and waves.
With boards suited to sport, long-distance travel, relaxation, and portability, they’ve earned their place as one of the best SUP brands on the market.
Bluefin is one of the newer brands on the market—their first board, the Bluefin Cruise was only launched in 2018—but it’s quickly become one of the best-known. Founded first in the Southern Uplands of Scotland, their mission is to “create a range of premium construction inflatable boards that all the family could enjoy, just as much as we did – and still do, without breaking the bank, and without compromising on quality.”
Bluefin boards are built using EXO Surface Laminate Technology, which combines composite drop-stitched (11200 stitches of 500 denier space yarn per square meter) military-grade PVC with a UV-resistant HQ coating, a thermosealed deckpad, and a high-pressure laminated finish. They’re so confident of their quality that they back up every one of their boards with a 5-year warranty.
Though their boards are chiefly used in Europe, they have come to the Western Hemisphere, too, and are popular in the United States and Canada.
Their products are firmly in the mid-tier pricing range, but from all of my tests, have proven to be in the top tier in terms of quality, performance, and durability.
Thurso Surf has boards for every activity—from SUP Yoga to fishing to touring to even kid-friendly boards, there’s something for everyone.
The brand’s mission is clear: “Thurso Surf is here to jolt you out of your daily routine and help you get in touch with nature and a sense of play on the water. We’re constantly chasing the highest quality gear and tech at an affordable price so that everyone can experience the thrill of paddling.”
Each of their boards features a lightweight carbon fiber railing around the sides to add rigidity, making the boards stiffer, more stable, and more responsive.
The boards are backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 2-year warranty to ensure you’re happy with your purchase. Having tested their Waterwalker 126 model for myself, I can say with full confidence that they’re more than worth their price tag.
Since its founding in 1974, Jobe has endeavored to live up to its mission: “We develop our products with the greatest care and highest quality materials, every day again.” Their water sports products—including PFD, wet suits, wakeboards, and towables—are well-known and well-regarded in Europe, earning a reputation for durability and reliability.
Their new line of SUPs are no different.
The hard-shell boards are made using an ultra-tough polycarbonate, and their wooden boards are crafted from bamboo. Their inflatable SUPs are built using heat-bonded and drop-stitching technology, making them both lightweight and ultra-tough.
All of their boards are backed by a 5-year warranty, and their customer service is one of the best in the water sports industry, according to real-life reviews.
Sea Gods has a mission to “foster a safe, vibrant, and sustainable paddleboarding community.”
Canadian water sports enthusiasts Mandy and Ryan Johnston took the Legend of the White Rock, a love story between a princess of the Cowichans of Vancouver Island and the son of a Sea God, and used the passion in the legend to bring the masterpieces of artwork and craftsmanship to life. Each Sea Gods board features artwork evocative of the mystery and magic of these ancient legends. They’re truly gorgeous, colorful, and eye-catching boards.
Their construction leaves nothing to be desired, though. The boards feature Cross Weave ULF technology, heat-molded seams, an integrated seam reinforcing strip, Apollo UV protective spray glazing, and premium military grade materials.
To prove just how much they believe in their quality, Sea Gods backs up every one of its boards with a lifetime warranty. Though they’re on the upper end of the mid-tier price range, their durability and performance makes these boards a worthy investment.
TAHE Sport is the fusion of BIC Sport (yes, that BIC!) and TAHE Outdoors. TAHE started out by creating “a range of high-performance, super-tough kayaks so they could attempt extreme expeditions into the harsh, frozen landscapes of the great white north.” Partnering with BIC Sport gave them access to one of the world’s foremost water sport companies, well-known for its kayaking, sailing, and, most recently of all, paddleboarding.
Most of TAHE Sport’s products are manufactured in France, ensuring high quality standards and direct control over every aspect of the creative process.
The hard-shell boards are crafted using thermoformed polymers around a polystyrene core, with the end result being virtually indestructible while also being top-of-the-line in terms of performance. Their inflatable boards combine single-layer PVC sheets with PVC stringer patches, drop stitching technology, and PVC reinforcement along both the interior and exterior of the rail.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find SUPs better suited to weather and water extremes.
BOTE was founded by Florida native Corey Cooper and his wife, Magda Cooper, a 3-time collegiate National Swimming Champion at Auburn University. After discovering their love of paddle boarding in 2008, they decided they could make a better, more versatile, and more user-friendly product.
As Corey details in BOTE’s About Us page, “I wanted a board that was stable enough to fish from, yet paddled efficiently. A board that could hold a cooler for my beer. A board that was simple, fresh and fit our lifestyle. A board that virtually anybody at any age could paddle with ease. It needed the capabilities of a boat with the simplicity of a board. And, it needed to look good…really good.”
And that’s what they’ve done!
BOTE Boards are as user-friendly as they get, both in terms of functionality and design. Their boards are tough, reliable, and handle well, and come packed with features and offer a wide range of accessories to make fishing, lounging, SUP Yoga, or long-distance touring more comfortable.
The inflatable “Aero” boards are built using military-grade PVC, composite fiber inner core, and heat-pressed seams reinforced by rail tape. For durability and comfort both, they score high marks across the board.
AquaGlide was founded by watersports enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest, people who “take pride in creating premium inflatables for all users – families, athletes, adventurers, and more” and follow the mission to “to build the best products utilizing patented technology while providing world-class customer service and support.”
Their range of offerings includes recreational, fishing, and touring kayaks, each purpose-built to be unique and uniquely effective for the specific sport or activity. All of their inflatable boards are constructed using drop-stitch technology and durable layers of reinforced PVC to ensure they remain stable, sturdy, and resistant to damage.
Though on the higher end of the mid-price tier, the boards are built to last—and backed by a 2-year warranty to prove it.
Founded in 2015, Nixy is the creation of Southern Californian paddleboarders who “were searching for a portable, high-quality & lightweight board that was also stylish” and failed to find it. Their mission: “Only design top quality products that we would trust and use ourselves”.
In addition to recreational paddleboards, they also offer expedition boards, racing boards, and Yoga SUP boards. All are crafted from military-grade PVC and reinforced using their proprietary FusionTech layered woven drop stitch. They’re also backed by a 2-year warranty.
Where Nixy Sports really excels, though, is in its customer service/support. Real-life reviews highly praise their prompt responses, speedy delivery, and willingness to help troubleshoot any issues or problems that arise.
Tower Paddle Boards
Since 2010, Tower Paddle Boards has been providing top-quality boards to not only Southern California (where they were established in San Diego), but all over the world. You may recognize them from their appearance on Shark Tank, and to this day, Mark Cuban still considers this company “one of his best investments”.
Other accolades include:
- Named one of the “10 most impressive products in the US” by Inc. Magazine in 2015
- Ranked #239 on the INC 500 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2015
- Rated the #1 SUP worldwide by the prestigious Robb Report in 2017
Once you test the boards for yourself, it’s pretty clear to see why they’re one of the most-used and best-loved SUP brands in the country. They’re built by surfers and designed for performance, reliability, and versatility. Despite their low prices (some of the lowest on the market, in fact), their boards more meet all the criteria I listed above for choosing a good SUP brand.
Most of the boards use double-layer construction and drop-stitch technology, but their budget-friendly models use fusion technology to ensure durability while still keeping costs low. Their upper-tier boards come backed by a 3-year warranty, while their lower-end models only have a 1-year warranty.
GILI Sports was founded by Jay Regan and operates on the motto: “We believe everyone should enjoy the peaceful bliss of paddle boarding, and our mission is to create products that bring joy every time you use them.”
Though they first started offering hard-shell (epoxy) boards, they’ve quickly adapted to the new wave and released inflatable boards specifically crafted for Yoga, touring, fishing, and surfing.
All the inflatables are constructed using Fusion Dual Layer Technology, which results in a board that’s both lightweight while still being very sturdy. The boards are unique in that they offer multiple action mounts (3+) on even the base models so you can add on accessories like action cameras, fishing rod holders, and even cup holders (all sold by GILI, too). They also feature plenty of D-rings on the deck so you can mount a seat, lash down extra gear, and so much more.
The boards are backed by a 2-year warranty, but can be upgraded to a 5-year warranty. For their price—slightly above the middle of the mid-tier range—they’re a truly top-notch option.
Honu was founded in 2001 in Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most popular hotspots for surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and all watersports. As their website states clearly, “The Honu team is passionate about making products to inspire everyone to fall in love with the ocean and outdoors because there is nothing quite like the ocean for helping to connect us to ourselves and our place in the world.”
Honu’s SUPs are crafted using an impressive array of technology: Carbon II construction with 50mm carbon strips to reinforce the top and bottom, fused drop stitching, triple bonded rails welded to a 3K carbon rail, and a TPU coating that bonds the vinyl to the carbon even more securely. The result is a truly tough and long-lasting boards, as is evidenced by the 30-day risk free return policy and 4-year total care warranty.
With boards designed for everything from surfing to ocean travel to lounging under the sun, they’re a brand well worth considering for their quality and reliability.
Founded in what is essentially the heart of California’s surfing scene, Huntington Beach, the Atoll Board Company combines their love for Mother Nature with their knowledge of SoCal’s surf culture to bring you some truly amazing SUPs.
Their boards are right in the middle of the price range, striking an excellent balance between affordability and high performance. Made using machine-laminated dual-layer PVC and drop stitch technology, they’re tough enough to handle any adventure while still being portable enough to pack and haul with you everywhere you go. All the boards are backed by a 2-year manufacture warranty, too.
NRS, or Northwest River Supplies, was founded in 1972 by a business professor intending to prove “that the principles he taught in the classroom could work in the real world”. Beginning with just $2,000 of his own savings, he began selling boating gear from his own garage. Fast forward to 50 years later, and NRS is one of the best-known kayaking, rafting, paddleboarding, fishing, and camping brands in the country.
What makes NRS unique is that it’s employee-owned. Instead of selling off the company to the highest bidder when he retired, founded Bill Parks sold it to his employees. As a result, quality has remained high and customer service is at the forefront of the company’s priorities.
NRS crafts inflatable SUPs using heavy-duty PVC featuring drop-stitch technology and double sidewalls. The SUPs are built to withstand a life of adventure, be it racing down a river or tackling the ocean currents. Every board is backed by a 3-year retail warranty (1-year for commercial use) so you know they’re constructed to last.
Which SUP Brands Should I Avoid?
You might think, “Well, if you only listed these 16 brands above, it stands to reason that any brands not on the list aren’t worth buying.”
That’s not entirely the case.
The brands we listed above are the ones we consider the best, the top of their industry. But just because a brand isn’t the “best”, that doesn’t make them the “worst” or a brand you should avoid.
The key to knowing which brands to avoid is to follow the criteria we listed at the top, the six factors we consider when doing our research:
- Customer Support
Real-life user reviews will be incredibly helpful for your research and tell you a lot about whether or not a brand meets these six criteria.
What About New SUP Brands?
New companies release new products all the time—that’s just the way of the free market. Just because they’re not tried-and-true like some of the companies and products that have been around for a long time, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them.
Again, it comes down to your research and whether or not the companies meet the criteria we listed. You can research their manufacturing practices and the materials used, the designs of their SUPs, as well as what warranty they offer and how their customer support responds to any inquiries or messages you send.
The last piece of advice I’ll offer, though, is to watch out for any deal that looks “too good to be true”.
If the price is significantly lower than competing products, it’s very likely either a knock-off of its competitors or the product is making exaggerated claims as to its quality and performance. The company won’t have to worry about things like long-term reputation or unsatisfied customers because (as is becoming more and more common in this modern tech-driven world) they’re simply there to sell as many of their cheaply made products as they can to make a big profit before quietly folding and going out of business.
“New” doesn’t always mean “scammy” or “cheap”. On the contrary, many new brands come on the market with amazing products.
But it’s always important to do your research before trusting any brand enough to commit with your wallet.
For anyone thinking of buying RED Paddle Co. PADDLEBOARDS. Beware that they will not stand behind their product. And yes, we have contacted them and the RED distributor that we bought through to discuss the issues. Due to COVID we were not able to use our boards due to travel restrictions, we have used these boards 2 months at the most and the one side has blown out. Note that we also treat our boards extremely well, never left in sun, stored correctly, etc. RED boards are marketed as being the best and they are also the most expensive – so we thought lets go with the best so we don’t have to replace soon – spend to quality. We weren’t told we needed to register them to get the warranty, and then RED extended the warranty over COVID to 5 years, but we miss this date by a few months. They could make an exception, they choose not to. Our old cheaper boards lasted us 5 years, RED lasted us 2 months. Extremely disappointed – buyer beware.