There are a lot of differences purposes for your inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards. Most people want a SUP boards for all-around purposes or touring, but there are also some different interests like fishing, Yoga and yes, even surfing the wild waves!
Surfing SUP Boards can be a lot of fun, as you can catch waves and have some wild adventures. You don’t have to go regularly paddling on still waters. You do need some more skill and balance though to not fall off of your board on the water, so SUP surfing is not the best to do for beginners without practicing on calmer waters first.
While all-around and touring SUP boards are aimed at offering a lot of balance, the keywords for surfing SUP boards is manoeuvrability. You have to be able to adjust to a different wave over and over and be ready for the next one to come.
Generally speaking surfing SUP boards are smaller and more agile than normal SUP boards. Because they are smaller you can quickly make turns and follow the pattern of the waves. So there are a few things you have to pay attention to when you want a specific surfing SUP board, which I will explain more below.
There is a big difference when it comes to hard boards or inflatable SUP boards. I will just go over these differences again quickly:
So where for every other type of paddle board I recommend inflatable SUP boards, because of the added stability, the lower price and the ease to carry it along. If you are truly committed to SUP surfing a hard board will be worth checking out though, as you can reach more speed and you can be even more versatile on the waves.
However, inflatable SUP boards also have their advantages for surfing. When you fall down you will have a softer landing and you can be sure at some point the board will hit your head, which is a lot less painful when this happens with an inflatable board.
When learning how to surf you spend of lot of time practicing on your knees, which is also more comfortable on an inflatable board.
It will be more challenging to grab waves when you cannot adjust the board as quick, which will in turn be hard again. These are two really different styles that take practice to master.
In the end it is best to choose the type you feel more comfortable on and that you will actually want to go out on the water with. And the fun thing about an inflatable board is that you do not actually need waves. On days when the ocean barely has waves and is quiet you can still head out and paddle around on the water!
As I have mentioned before it is common for specific SUP surfing boards to be smaller than the all-around SUP boards you are used to. But if you really want the extra stability and don’t mind falling in the water a couple of times, you could try it out with the bigger board that you already own.
So the most important decision to make: Do you only want the board for SUP surfing or do you also want to be able to do normal paddle boarding?
If you prefer to also be able to do normal paddle boarding I would recommend getting an inflatable SUP board. You can go out on the water, even if there aren’t great waves for surfing.
Surf boards that are only aimed at surfing are shorter and thinner so you are able to quickly move along with the waves. Where surfing boards are sometimes only 4 inches thick, the standard for normal SUP boards is 6 inches.
This also determines the weight that the board can carry, as a thin board can not carry a really heavy person. Check out the maximum carrying capacity of the surfing SUP board you want to purchase so you can be sure it does not sink when you stand on it.
The deck pad of a surfing SUP board will get wet every time you go out on the water, where this will not always be the case when paddle boarding over still water. I can even say there are more occasions where I do not get my feet wet when paddling, this rarely happens when I tour around.
So you need a deck pad with a very good grip on a surfing SUP board. A big grip deck is also nice, as waves can make you perform sudden moves and a good grip all over the board is important.
Another necessary part of the board is a kick pad, which you need to quickly turn and pivot when the wave comes. You can lean back and put some pressure on your back leg for a firm stance, which helps a lot when catching waves.
In general SUP boards have two options when it comes to fins. They either come with one big middle fin or with a big middle fin and two smaller fins. So which is best for SUP surfing?
As these extra small fins offer more traction on the water, which can surely be used in these wild circumstances, a three fin setup is preferred in a surfing SUP board. The best option is to have a board where all three fins are removable, so you can try out the different setups and go with what feels best for you.
Fins that are a bit flexible will not break as fast as hard fins and will perform just fine on the waves, so for safety I would recommend getting these instead of the hard plastic fins.
So enough introductions and explanation, let me show you the best surfing SUP boards in my opinion. As I like to paddle around and do other things than SUP surfing also, I have picked inflatable surfing SUP boards. As said, if you only want to surf on your SUP board and you have the space a hard board might be your better choice!
I also have to mention it is hard to find inflatable surfing SUP boards that are available everywhere. I have seen quite some of these boards that are available here in Europe only, like the MOAI 9’5″ surfing SUP board, the Aqua Marina Wave, the ZRAY E9 and the Decathlon Surfing SUP Board.
So I had to dig quite deep to find suitable surfing SUP boards, but I hope I managed to offer you some good options for this purpose on which you can enjoy riding the waves!
Fanatic Stubby Air
Red Paddle 8’10” WHIP MSL
My conclusion is that it is damn hard to find good inflatable surfing SUP boards outside of Europe!
If you are looking to do other things than just surfing on your SUP board you should purchase an all-around paddle board instead to be able to enjoy the water at all times. You might want to check out my guide on the Best Stand Up Paddle Boards to find a good all-around board.
For specifically surfing a hard board is really a better choice than an inflatable one, as they are thinner and it is easier to carve the waves easily. If you are dedicated to surfing you might want to go check out hard boards instead.
Do you really want an inflatable Stand Up Paddle board that is specifically aimed at surfing? Then you have to go for one of the big brands, as for the smaller brands the target audience is not large enough to create these.
These boards are small and can only carry a limited amount of weight, but offer great freedom of movement and make sure you have a good grip on a wet board. Check out different boards to see what suits you best. If possible try to rent them and try them out, as they are quite a big investment for something you cannot be sure you will enjoy.
What do you think about a surfing SUP board? Have you tried riding the waves on an all-around SUP board? Have you ever tried a specific surfing SUP board?
Let me know in the comments what your experiences are and if you think SUP surfing is an experience everyone should try out.