9 Essentials for Summer SUP

Paddleboarding keeps getting bigger—and the SUPs keep getting better. Here are three of the most versatile new models. Plus, smart tools for discerning paddlers.

Jun 15, 2015
Outside Magazine

Grab your board, grab these accessories, and hit the water this summer.    Photo: Inga Hendrickson

Summer is here! Take advantage of sunny days and glassy waters with these three boards and other paddling staples.

Naish Nalu Surf GS ($1,559)

  Photo: Naish

Best For: A Bit of Everything

The classic shape—rounded and wide, like an oversize surfboard—makes this 11-footer smooth and predictable in flatwater. You won’t set any speed records, but the 31-inch width provides ample stability, and the 4.5-inch-thick fiberglass-and-EPS-foam sandwich (with wood reinforcement in the standing zone) offers plenty of flotation without feeling corky. In the waves, the Nalu stands out as a maneuverable cruiser. It’s a true one-board quiver. 

Starboard Elite Touring ($2,149)

  Photo: Starboard

Best For: Touring

The basic outline was borrowed from Starboard’s fastest sprint racer, so it’s no surprise that this is a speedy rig that tracks and glides beautifully. It’s also stable, thanks to 30 inches of width and concave construction near the tail. But it’s still a touring board at heart, with bungee tie-downs for gear and smartly placed slots for attaching a rod holder or GPS. Nice: Australian pine tops the fiberglass laminate for added durability and style. 12'6"

SIC Air Glide X12.6 ($1,299)

  Photo: SIC

Best For: Apartment Dwellers

Traveling with a 12-foot board or finding room for it at home can be a challenge. Thankfully, inflatable technology has taken a quantum leap. The Air Glide fits easily your trunk and comes with a pack and an air pump, so you can lug it to mountain lakes. More importantly, it inflates to a rock-hard 20 psi and delivers a smooth, speedy ride in all kinds of conditions. At 30 inches wide and six inches thick, it’s super stable—even with a rowdy four-legged copilot. 12'6"

Kialoa Insanity Fiberglass Adjustable Paddle ($219) 

  Photo: Kialoa

Sharing with your spouse? Consider a telescoping option. The Insanity is significantly lighter (25 ounces) than many adjustables, and unlike others we tested, it’s supremely stiff, with zero wiggle while you paddle. 

Xcel XLR8R O2 Performance Ventx Surf Shirt ($55)

  Photo: Xcel

Skip the tight-fitting rash guard for a more comfortable tee. Xcel’s breathable Ventx moves with you, wicks sweat and water away from your skin, and blocks rays.

Smith Frontman Sunglasses ($209) 

  Photo: Smith

Take advantage of your elevated view with a pair of good polarized lenses. These cut cornea-cooking glare and help you see what’s swimming under your board. smithoptics.com

Werner Paddles Soul M 1-Piece ($269)

  Photo: Werner

Upgrade from your beginner paddle. Werner’s Soul M is relatively light (just shy of 20 ounces), and the carbon-fiber shaft and durable fiberglass blade deliver a smooth stroke.

MTI Fluid 2.0 PFD ($135) 

  Photo: MTI

Unless you’re SUP surfing, the Coast Guard requires a personal flotation device on board. We like low-profile waist-belt inflatables like the Fluid 2.0. Pull the yellow toggle and a CO2 cylinder deploys it instantly. 

Volcom Horizon Mod Boardshorts ($60)

  Photo: Volcom

Lightweight four-way stretch polyester moves well without too much cling. A side zip pocket stows keys and a snack. volcom.com

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web