We researched and compared dozens of different stand up paddle boards, then bought the 13 best boards you can get in 2019 to test out head-to-head and find out which SUP is truly superior. We have been testing and reviewing these boards for over three years now, taking them out in tons of different lakes, rivers, and streams to rate and score their performance. We evaluated the glide performance, stability, and maneuverability on flat water and windy and wavy conditions, as well as everything in between. Finally, we awarded points on the ease of transporting each board around and on their resistance to getting roughed up. Check out the full review below to see which board is the best of the best, which is the best budget buy, and which one is an excellent choice for first-timers or for fishing.
The Best Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP) of 2019
|Price||$1,400 List||$1,349.00 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$795.00 at Amazon||$779.95 at Amazon||$1,100 List|
|Pros||Fast, stylish, stable||Good glide performance, very stable, reasonably priced||Great value, glides well, super stable||Stable, great for beginners, more wear-resistant than other SUPs||Great glide performance, extremely durable|
|Cons||Pricey, felt a little more fragile than other models||cumbersome to turn, not the most durable||Heavy, not the most maneuverable||Heavy, harder to move||Harder to move, mediocre maneuverability|
|Bottom Line||If you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to stand up paddle boards, it’s hard to go wrong with the Catalyst by Surftech.||The Kraken is the best of the best for most people.||The best all-around board for those shopping on a budget.||If you are searching for your first SUP or a board for the whole family, then it’s hard to beat the BIC Sport Cross.||If you are looking for a quality touring board that can take a beating, then this is the perfect model board for you.|
|Rating Categories||/prAna Catalyst Tuflite VT||Boardworks Kraken||ISLE Versa Epoxy||BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Cross||BIC Ace-Tec Wing|
|Glide Performance (35%)|
|Ease Of Transport (15%)|
|Specs||/prAna Catalyst...||Boardworks Kraken||ISLE Versa Epoxy||BIC Sport...||BIC Ace-Tec Wing|
|Measured Weight||27 lbs||26 lbs 10 oz||27 lbs 9 oz||39 lbs||34 lbs|
|Board Volume||203 L||326 L||175 L||260 L||285 L|
|Weight Capacity||215 lbs||290 lbs||245 lbs||285 lbs||260 lbs|
|Length (feet)||11 ft 2 in||11 ft||10 ft 4.8 in||11 ft||12 ft 6 in|
|Fin configuration||Single||Single, 11" center fin||Remoable center box fin||Single||Single|
|Bungee cargo system||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Deck inserts but bungee not included|
|Warranty||Limited 30-day warranty against manufacturer's defects||1-year limited warranty against any manufacturer's defects||180-day limited manufacturer's warranty||2-year manufacturer's defect warranty||2-year manufacturer's defect warranty|
Best Overall Rigid SUP
Surftech/prAna Catalyst Tuflite VT
Meriting the highest score that we have seen so far, the Surftech Catalyst is the clear choice for our Editors' Choice award, and the title of Best Overall Stand Up Paddle Board. This SUP is one of our all-time favorite boards, offering a perfect combination of speed, stability, and glide performance, all in a sleek and stylish package. This board looks great and feels super light both on and off the water, making it easy to turn and easy to carry.
Unfortunately, all of this performance comes at a price, and the Catalyst is one of the more expensive boards that we have tested. This board also tends to show scuffs and scrapes much more prominently than other boards, so you want to treat it delicately. However, the Catalyst is truly one of the best boards that you can get in terms of performance and we highly recommend it, as long as you can afford the top-dollar price tag and are careful enough to keep it from getting too scratched and scuffed.
Read review: Surftech/prAna Catalyst Tuflite VT
The Best Inflatable SUP
Many inflatables look the same, but the Isle Explorer stood out. It performed well and was still a great deal. A lot of inflatable companies come and go, but Isle has been making boards for years and hits the right balance between quality and value. Less expensive boards work but come with cheaper accessories and unknown customer service.
As with all inflatables, the glide ratio is poor compared to a rigid SUP. You have to get the inflation right. Most people under inflate and the board is much less stable or fast as a result. This board is much easier to travel with than a non-inflatable SUP, but it does take some extra time to inflate. Overall, this is a more durable and easy-to-transport alternative to our favorite rigid stand up paddle boards.
Read review: Isle Explorer
Best Value Board
If you saw the premium price tag of the top boards and started to panic, then you should check out the PEAK Escape. While this SUP can't quite compare to the top-tier boards, it doesn't perform half bad, and it retails at a fraction of the cost of the premium models. This board is lightweight and maneuverable and has so-so stability and glide performance. The soft top of the PEAK is quite a bit more resistant to dents, scratches, and scrapes than composite boards.
While this board is more resistant to scrapes and scuffs, it does show punctures — particularly from dog claws if you are a fan of bringing your canine companions along for paddles. These don't affect the board's performance but can leave it starting to look a little rough after a while. Additionally, this board can be a bit slow and hard to paddle for long tours and isn't stable enough for most people in windy and wavy conditions. Despite these flaws, the Escape is an excellent option for anyone that is looking for a solid SUP without blowing their budget.
Read review: PEAK Escape
Best on a Tight Budget
Sun Dolphin Seaquest 10
Earning a Best Buy Award, the Sun Dolphin Seaquest should be your first choice if you are looking for a new SUP and are hoping to spend a moderate amount. This plastic stand up paddle board is exceptionally durable and can handle almost anything you throw at it. It is also extremely stable, easily cruising through choppy waters even when you have plenty of cargo or a dog or child on board. It is a fantastic option for a beginner who doesn't want to invest a ton until they get a feel for the sport or for families who want a board that can handle plenty of abuse.
However, the Seaquest is not particularly fast, having some of the worst glide performance of any rigid board we tested. It's as bad, or even worse, than some of the inflatable boards we tested. This board is also exceptionally heavy, which can make it a bit difficult to carry or to load on a car — a task that usually requires a second set of hands due to this board's bulk. Despite these drawbacks, the Sun Dolphin is an outstanding option if you are shopping for a SUP on a skinnier budget.
Read review: Sun Dolphin Seaquest 10
Top Pick for Families and First-Timers
BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Cross
If you are looking for a board that is a mix between the Surftech Catalyst and the PEAK Escape, then the BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross might be the perfect board for you. This SUP almost matched the performance of the Catalyst overall yet only costs just a bit more than the Escape. This makes the Cross an excellent option for beginner to intermediate paddlers or families who are willing to pay a bit more than the PEAK for their board but don't want to outgrow it quite as fast. In fact, the Cross is more than enough board for tons of paddlers' entire paddling career, combining excellent glide performance, stability, and maneuverability in a relatively affordable and durable package. It can take a beating without showing too much damage and is one of the more stable boards, making it particularly good for novice paddlers or for kids or someone else who doesn't want to have to treat their board too delicately.
While the Cross TOUGH-TEC is a lot of things, lightweight isn't one of them. This SUP weighs significantly more than most of the other boards in the group. It also isn't quite as stylish as some of the boards in the group, but it is one of our favorite boards if you want a good mix of performance at a more budget-friendly price, especially if you want one that can withstand a bit more of a rough & tumble lifestyle than the other boards of the group.
Read review: BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Cross
Top Pick for Touring
BIC Ace-Tec Wing
If you are looking for a superior SUP for touring, look no further than the BIC Ace-Tec Wing. This is our favorite option for longer paddles. It offers the perfect mix of glide performance and stability to keep you on the board and get you where you want to go quickly and efficiently. On top of that, its plastic construction is also amazingly durable. We're talking orders of magnitude more than comparable boards made of fiberglass. It's more stable than other touring boards we tested, which are usually narrow and prone to instability. It does a decent job of remaining upright through smaller wakes and waves but can be a bit wobbly for beginner paddlers or if loaded with cargo.
This board is one of the longest that we have tested, meaning that it isn't the most maneuverable and has quite a wide turning radius. It is also pretty easy to crash into submerged objects if you aren't paying attention, as this board's clunkier handling means that you have limited time to take evasive action. Its heft makes it harder to move around out of the water as well. But it's not too bad if you have someone else to help you move it. Regardless of these minor flaws, the Ace-Tec Wing is our top recommendation for touring or other long-distance paddling.
Read review: BIC ACE-TEC Wing
Top Inflatable Touring SUP
Red Paddle Co Voyager+ MSL
Most inflatables offer great value, durability, and ease of transport. However, they usually suffer from poor glide performance and quality. The Red Paddle bucks that trend and provides excellent glide performance and quality. While not as efficient as the rigid race-style boards, it's close. Whether you're racing or just want to move more efficiently, this is the best choice.
The only significant downside is the price. You can buy two or three cheaper boards for the same cost as one Red Paddle model. But that's the price of quality, and it's priced about the same as other high-end rigid SUP models.
Read review: Red Paddle Co Voyager+ MSL
Top Pick for Fishing or Big & Tall
Pau Hana Endurance XL
If you are looking for a board that can haul some serious weight around, then look no further than the Pau Hana Endurance XL. This burly board is listed as having a maximum payload capacity of 417 lbs. making it the clear choice for any paddler on the big & tall side or anyone who needs to bring a bunch of stuff with them when they go paddleboarding. Designed for fishing or endurance paddling trips, this board not only has ample area to store things under its forward cargo net but also has 35 threaded mounting points and multiple through holes to secure things too. Pau Hana makes a full line of accessories that attach to these, including camera mounts or fishing pole holders, or you can always make your own to customize this board to your cargo carrying needs. In addition to being a packhorse, the Endurance XL is also surprisingly speedy with tons of glide once you get it up to speed and is large and stable enough to handle conditions that would instantly capsize other boards.
This board doesn't feel overly large or cumbersome when it's on the water, though it definitely isn't quite as nimble as some of the surfier boards and takes a little effort to get up to speed from a standstill. However, it can be quite a burden on dry land, being both one of the longest and heaviest boards in the review. It can be almost impossible to load it onto a taller car by yourself and we found ourselves searching for other boards to take if we knew that we would have to carry the board for more than five minutes or so to get it from the car to the water. Despite its heft, this board is quite fun on the water and paddles great even when fully loaded for camping, fishing, or a marathon tour and we would recommend this board to anyone using it for those purposes — though it does come at a premium price. However, you just might want to make sure you have a buddy around for the unloading or loading process.
Read review: Pau Hana Endurance XL
Why You Should Trust Us
Our review and testing process for stand up paddle boards is led by Marissa Fox. Marissa is a former competitive snowboarder, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, RYT yoga instructor, and AIDA freediver. She has also traveled the world working for various non-profits and marine conservation projects, such as satellite tagging whale sharks in the Philippines, monitoring Minke Whale behavior in Iceland, and promoting turtle conservation in the Caribbean. When she isn't working as a land-use attorney in Lake Tahoe or traveling, she spends her free time on — or under — the water as much as possible, whether it's stand up paddle boarding, swimming, scuba diving, or snowboarding (frozen water counts, right?).
In total, we logged dozens and dozens of hours on these boards, taking them out in every type of conditions possible — everything from early morning paddles with completely still waters to conditions that were windy and wavy enough that we were repeatedly cautioned not to head out on the water, all to help you find the perfect stand up paddle board. Along the way, we rated and scored the glide performance of each board, looking at both their speed and acceleration, as well as how maneuverable and stable each SUP is. Additionally, we evaluated these boards out of the water, comparing their ease of transport by seeing how much work they are to load up on a car or carry to the water and their durability by how much damage each board sustained throughout the normal course of testing.
Related: How We Tested SUP Boards
Analysis and Test Results
We took all of the results from each of those individual tests and evaluations and divided them into five weighted rating metrics: Glide Performance, Stability, Maneuverability, Ease of Transport and Durability. Each board received a subscore in each metric and each metric is weighted proportionally to its overall significance. While we think the weightings are spot-on for an average paddler, you will want to pay particular attention to how each board performs in the metrics that you care most about, such as if you value stability or ease of transport above all else.
Related: Buying Advice for SUP Boards
If you are shopping for a new SUP on a budget, then three boards immediately come to mind: the PEAK Escape, the Sun Dolphin Seaquest 10, and the BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross. The TOUGH-TEC Cross is the most expensive of these three but it also scored the best overall, only falling just a little bit shy of the top scores of the entire group. This makes it a great option for anyone who is still being budget-conscious when they shop but are willing to spend just a bit more for a board that will last. The Escape is the next most expensive of this trio, costing a significant amount less than the BIC but also scoring considerably lower in the pack. The PEAK is a good bet for someone who still wants a decent board but is very focused on spending as little as possible. Finally, the Seaquest 10 is the board for anyone who pays attention to price above all and wants the least expensive board possible. It's slow and weighs a ton but is very stable and built to last — just don't plan on paddling anywhere in a hurry or carrying it for very far.
The most important metric in our test — accounting for 35% of the total score — is glide performance. Boards that glide well allow you to travel further and move faster while expending less effort. A board that doesn't glide well will feel slow and sluggish, leaving you struggling to keep up with friends. To evaluate the performance of each board, we ran a time trial and a glide-per-stroke test for each board — both on flat water and in rough conditions.
The Surftech Catalyst, the Boardworks Raven, and the BIC Ace-Tec Wing all tied for the top score in our glide performance metric, all offering fantastic amounts of speed and tons of glider per paddle stroke. Only stand up paddle boards specifically designed for racing will outperform these boards. (We didn't test racing SUPs as they are far less stable and are well outside the budget that most people can tolerate.)
The Wing and the Raven are longer touring boards and are exceptionally fast — especially on flat water. It can be quite hard to go fast on choppy water with touring boards, as their so-so stability can make it hard to focus on paddling when so much effort is required to stay upright. However, the Ace-Tec Wing's superior stability gives it the advantage in rougher water, allowing you to paddle harder and faster without risk of capsizing.
These three boards also have decent glide per paddle stroke once they are up to speed but are far inferior to the Catalyst when it comes to acceleration.
The Catalyst is a much shorter board than the other three, which means it can't quite compare in terms of outright speed. However, this SUP from Surftech simply feels exceptionally light on the water and has tons of acceleration, letting you get up to maximum speed without a ton of effort. It's a breeze to paddle and we wouldn't hesitate to grab it for longer tours, even though it isn't necessarily marketed as a touring board.
The Pau Hana Endurance XL followed the top performers by just a small margin. It can keep up with those four once it gets up to speed but it takes a long time and a lot of effort to get this board up to cruising speed compared to the other boards, dropping it down a few points. This is completely understandable, given the Pau Hana's heft.
The BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross, the Isle Versa Epoxy, and the Boardworks Kraken all followed. None of these are touring boards but each of these SUPs held their own against the top models, especially given their shorter stature. These three boards all have fairly typical hull designs and get up to speed quickly with a decent glide per paddle stroke but a longer touring board will slowly start to overtake them on longer paddles.
By far the best glide performance of an inflatable came from Red Paddle Co. Most inflatables feel like barges but not the Red Paddle. This SUP does an excellent job of mimicking a high-end rigid touring board — almost to the point that you could forget that you are on an inflatable, but not quite, putting you just behind the Kraken, TOUGH-TEC Cross, and Isle Versa in terms of glide performance.
The remaining boards all scored below average in this metric, to the point where we wouldn't really want to grab any of them for a paddling trip that covered more than a mile or two. In particular, the Sun Dolphin Seaquest distinguished itself by being particularly sluggish.
The Sun Dolphin claimed the last place position for this set of tests, being both exceptionally slow and having one of the shortest glides per paddle stroke. This SUP is extraordinarily boat-like and feels like it displaces much more water in the front of the board as you paddle. It's fine, it just feels significantly more like most inflatable boards, rather than a rigid stand up paddle board.
Stability is responsible for 25 percent of the overall score for a good reason. A stable board can make all the difference between an awesome day or an abysmal one. It doesn't matter how well a board glides or how speedy it is if you can't stay on it. We evaluated how each board handled rough water and carried a handful of canines and cargo. We also polled a panel of beginner paddles to rank each board's stability.
Easily claiming the top spot of the entire group, the Sun Dolphin offers extreme stability. This is by far the most stable board we have tested to date, doing an excellent job in rougher or choppy water. However, we did notice that his board can get a little squirrely in river currents and eddies, with one of our testers almost inexplicably getting knocked off this board in the river. It's shaped a bit like a whitewater kayak and offers edges that are easy for currents to grab. On flat water, it's a fantastic option for beginners or entirely new paddlers and is excellent for hauling dogs, kids, or cargo.
Closely following the Seaquest 10, the BIC Ace-Tec Cross Adventure came next in terms of stability. This board is somewhat of a barge, handling choppy water and excessive cargo without any wobbling and instilling a sense of confidence in even the most novice paddler. This board handled having multiple people or small children aboard without any difficulty. This rock-solid board is also perfect for those that want to try their hand at on-the-water yoga.
Following the unshakeable performance of the BIC Cross Adventure and the Seaquest 10, the BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross, the Pau Hana Endurance XL, the Boardworks Kraken, and the Isle Versaall tied for the next position in our stability series of tests.
It's easy to see why the TOUGH-TEC Cross and the Pau Hana Endurance XL are stable boards. They are both giant, with the Endurance XL in particular beginning to resemble something more akin to a boat than a board. We took these boards out in the windiest and waviest conditions we could find and they both handled them with aplomb. These are great options for beginner paddlers and can also handle quite a lot of cargo before you notice an impact on handling.
However, we would give a slight edge to the Endurance XL when it comes to navigating wavy waters, as our testers occasionally took the unplanned swim when paddling the BIC TOUGH-TEC in the same conditions while the Pau Hana was unphased.
The Kraken and the Isle Versa both did surprisingly well in our stability tests, considering they are quite a bit smaller than the top boards in this group of tests.
Both of these stand up paddle boards did excellent in choppy water, handling small wakes and waves with ease. However, this pair of boards were just a little too shaky to relax on in rougher conditions, forcing you to take a more athletic stance and adjust your body position compared to the lackadaisical approach you could take toward waves while on a board like the Endurance XL or the Seaquest 10.
The Kraken did feel slightly more stable than the Isle when loaded up with cargo, most likely due to its massive displacement and weight capacity. The Isle was still more than up to the task of carrying some extra passengers, provided they were on the small side. However, our beginner paddlers slightly favored the Isle — though not by much.
The Ace-Tec Wing is more stable than some of the other touring boards, but it definitely can get sketchy in rougher waters, with a few of our intermediate testers taking some unexpected swims. It can be daunting for beginner paddlers, but they should get used to it after a while. It's not the best for transporting gear, but you should be able to get away with a smaller bag or soft cooler. The same goes for transporting additional passengers, with only a smaller, very well-behaved dog or child being the absolute max.
The PEAK Escape is comparable to the Ace-Tec Wing in terms of stability. It's not awful to take out either of these boards in choppy conditions and you can usually manage but it for sure isn't going to be much fun. These boards also have a lower total carrying capacity and you can definitely feel the added weight affecting their stability.
Rounding out the lower portion of the pack, the Raven is a narrow touring boards designed to travel fast and glide well. This boards does alright in choppy conditions while paddling but feels quite tippy when stationary — and you are essentially doomed to take a dip if a wave or wake comes by if you aren't moving. Slimmer boards also can be very difficult for novice paddlers and don't offer all that much space for loading them up with cooler or other baggage.
The CBC isn't a particularly narrow board but is one of the least stable, with almost all of our testers taking a fall from this board and anyone who wasn't alright with getting dunked refusing to paddle this SUP by the end of our testing.
Comprising 15 percent of the overall score for each board, our Maneuverability metric consisted of two tests: completing a full U-turn and paddling around obstacles, slalom-style. We set up buoys and steered around natural obstacles to determine scores, noting how close you could get at various speed and still have time to avoid a collision. For the U-turn test, we paddled as fast as possible on one side and shifted our weight to tilt the board, comparing the amount of area it took to do a complete about-face without back-paddling when determining rankings.
Claiming the top spot in our maneuverability metric, the Surftech Catalyst's exceptional agility distinguished itself from the rest of the group. The Catalyst is supremely light on the water and receptive to both paddling and shifting your body weight to turn extremely quickly. This lets you easily avoid most obstacles even if you only see them at the last moment, where other boards would crash into them. This also means that the Catalyst doesn't require a huge amount of space to turn, letting you execute a U-turn in relatively narrow channels and waterways.
The PEAK Escape was the runner-up position in this metric, almost matching the agility of the Catalyst, but not quite. The PEAK feels almost as light on the water as the Catalyst but it doesn't slice through the water when turning in the same way, feeling much more reliant on your paddle strokes to turn and isn't really influenced by body weight shifts.
A group of boards all tied for the next spot, with the Kraken, Isle Versa Epoxy, the Raven, and the CBC all being just a bit above average when it comes to maneuverability. You can avoid obstacles easily enough on these boards if you see them early enough and they don't take a ton of room to complete a U-turn — except for the Raven. This board does have a rather large turning radius and you usually need to back-paddle and complete a three-point turn when trying to turn around this SUP in narrower areas.
The remainder of the boards all earned so-so marks for their average maneuverability. They aren't impossible to turn but you are probably going to hit a submerged obstacle if you don't spot it early enough. The Pau Hana Endurance XL, the BIC Ace-Tec Cross, and the Sun Dolphin Seaquest are particularly slow to turn.
Ease of Transport
Our next two metrics analyzed and assessed the performance of these boards out of the water. Our Ease of Transport metric consisted of four tests and made up 15 percent of the final score. We weighed each model to verify the manufacturer's claims, evaluated the ergonomics of the handle, loaded them on a car, and carried each one over a set distance.
Overall, inflatable boards are easier to move than rigid stand up paddle boards. Period. It's simply no comparison, as inflatable boards can be deflated and fit back into a large backpack, then tossed in the trunk or back of a car. You don't have to worry about strapping down a hard board in a way that your tie-downs won't whistle and is tight enough to keep your SUP firmly attached to your car but isn't so tight that it damages the board or your car. On top of that, inflatable SUPs tend to be much lighter, again making them easier to load.
The California Board Company 10'6" and the PEAK Escape both tied for being the easiest to move of the solid boards. These are both soft-top models and are considerably lighter than most of the boards in the group, with these boards weighing about half as much as the heaviest SUP we have seen.
The CBC's reduced weight, and somewhat forgiving foam design made it easy to carry and load on a car. The handle is the standard recessed type that is common on paddleboards, though it is positioned off the centerline of the board. This can be very convenient for those with a shorter reach, but can also be quite frustrating if you grab the board from the wrong side.
The PEAK Escape weighs just about the same and is equally easy to load on a car as the CBC — something that can usually be accomplished solo for most people. You have tons more flexibility with the soft top to slide it around on roof racks and dents will usually spring back after a while if you strap either of these boards down too tightly.
However, the PEAK has a recessed handle in the center of the board, unlike the offset handle of the CBC.
Following the pair of soft tops, the Kraken is the next easiest to transport. This board weighs about the same and consequently were all relatively easy to load on a car.
Next, the Surftech Catalyst, the Boardworks Raven, and the Isle Versa Epoxy are all about average for a rigid SUP when it comes to moving them to and fro. The Raven is the longest of these three boards, measuring a little over a foot more than the Catalyst or the Versa. All three weigh between 20 and 30 lbs. and are about the same amount of effort to carry around. However, the extra length of the Raven can make it a little more difficult to load on top of a vehicle.
The BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross and the Endurance XL all are just a little bit harder to carry than the average SUP. The Pau Hana Endurance XL is also one of the longest and heaviest boards of the group — hence the XL in the name — basically making it almost impossible to load on top of a car by yourself. At least, not without adding a few scrapes or dents to the board. You can carry this board around by yourself but it definitely isn't the most fun but the comfortable fore and aft handles make it much easier to carry around with a buddy.
The BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Cross isn't particularly unwieldy due to its length but it is quite heavy and isn't perfectly balanced. However, this board does earn some points when it comes to loading it on a car, as its construction method makes it much more forgiving when it comes to sliding it around on roof racks — similar to a soft-top board.
The other stand up paddle boards from BIC, the Cross Adventure and the Wing came next. Both of these boards are on the heavier side and are exceptionally cumbersome and unwieldy to move. They usually require an additional person to load on a car. The Wing isn't too bad to carry for short distance, but the Cross Adventure is one of the widest boards of the entire group, making it much more difficult for those a with smaller arm span to grab the recessed handle.
Finishing at the back of the group, the Seaquest can be a huge hassle to move around. It is cumbersome at close to 50 lbs. — over double the weight of other boards in the group. Even though it is only 10' in length, its weight makes having additional help carrying or loading it appreciated. Luckily its extreme durability means you can throw it around a bit. Despite its bulk, the handle is relatively ergonomic, and it isn't too bad to carry for very short distances — emphasis on the very short.
Durability accounts for the remaining 10 percent of the score. Because we can't completely speak to the durability of these products after only evaluating a single unit for a few months, we use two different methods to judge them. First, we gave each board a careful examination at the conclusion of all the other testing, noting and scratches, scrapes, scuffs, or other damage it had incurred during our rigorous testing process. Second, we combed through user reviews and forums, noting any commonalities that we found.
Tying for the top position in this metric, the Sun Dolphin and the BIC TOUGH-TEC Cross are the immediate frontrunners in our mind when it comes to durability. While these boards didn't completely escape our testing process unscathed, all of the damage they sustained was essentially cosmetic in nature and wouldn't require any repair work to limit additional damage. For the Seaquest, we did discover a somewhat significant dent after our testing, but we are quite sure that a comparable blow would have almost irreparably damaged almost every other board in the group. This is backed up in user reviews, with the major complaint being that some boards filled up with water — seemingly indicative of a manufacturing error that should be covered under warranty. There is a drain plug to evacuate water that gets inside the plastic halves, but we never had to use it.
The TOUGH-TEC Cross only had scrapes and scuffs, as well as a decent abrasion along the front of the skeg. However, we took this board multiple times down a river, bumping into all sorts of submerged rocks, roots, and trees along the way — something we wouldn't have attempted with pretty much any board besides the Seaquest 10.
The BIC Ace-Tec Wing and the PEAK Escape followed, both holding up extremely well but suffering just a bit more damage than the top boards. We put the Ace-Tec Wing through the wringer and it only sustained cosmetic scrapes and scuffs. However, we did lose a fin during testing, actually snapping it off with a portion of the base remaining in the fin box. It appears this is more on us for taking it down a fast-moving river with submerged rocks, as no one else seems to have encountered this issue. We were big fans of the plastic construction of the Wing, as it meant that we could be less cautious when it came to transporting these boards, usually skipping pads. It will start to show more scratches and scrapes if you forgo the pads though.
The PEAK Escape is our highest scoring non-plastic board in our durability metric, having the foam soft top. This is almost self-healing when it comes to scratches and slices it but we did find that it is prone to showing puncture marks — particularly from dog claws. These don't affect performance all that much, but we could see this board starting to look pretty chewed up if your canine pal regularly accompanies you on paddling adventures.
The Cross Adventure and the CBC followed, each coming out of our tests with less damage than the average board would. The Ace-Tec Cross Adventure is made from exceptionally durable plastic and only displayed a few minor scratches over the course of testing. Also, it is very well received by other users, with many reviewers noting how bulletproof this board is. Unfortunately, we had to deduct some points for the fin design.
We found the fin attachment system to be unreliable at best. We're somewhat amazed that we didn't lose it in the course of testing; it fell out a few times but we always recovered it. This would inevitably happen if you owned the board and some modification is necessary to keep the fin firmly attached to the board.
Rating the durability of the CBC is a mixed bag. We found zero damage to this soft foam board at the finale of our testing. However, many user reviews complain about the quality of this board, with the deck fading and the foam easily damaged.
The Isle Versa Epoxy sustained some scratches to the paint on their top decks — with our canine tester taking partial responsibility in both cases. The Raven had a few scrapes, as well as some noticeable pressure dings from being strapped down, even with padding on the car's crossbars and between the straps and the board. Extra care must be taken when transporting this board to prevent any damage. Also, none of these three boards had any overwhelmingly negative commonalities in user reviews or forums, instilling some confidence in our assessment of the boards.
The Kraken, the Catalyst, and the Endurance XL are all about average for a fiberglass composite rigid paddleboard in terms of being resistant to damage, which is to say that they are all fairly fragile. We wouldn't even think about loading up any of these on a car without padding and each of these boards have one or two spots with significant damage that came from a relatively minor event. The Kraken's has a chunk out of the nose from a relatively light tap while carrying it, the Pau Hana has a similar one on the side, and the Catalyst got a solid scratch on the bottom when sliding it around to load it on a car.
Hopefully, this review helped you pick the perfect stand up paddle board for your paddling needs, whether you are searching for the fastest, the steadiest or shopping on a budget.
— Marissa Fox