Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the world. The flexibility and accessibility of the hobby, as well as its many variations, guarantees there’s a paddleboard out there for everyone.
Even if you know your way around a paddleboard, however, you’ll know that there’s more to them than meets the eye.
A variety of widths, shapes, weights, and materials can make finding the right board a real headache, especially in a growing and competitive marketplace.
This is especially true if you’re transitioning to a different style of paddleboarding, such as touring. A touring SUP has a whole host of features that make it suited for speed and long-distance excursions.
However what makes a good tourer great?
Choosing the wrong board could be a real drag on your plans, or worst of all, kill your confidence on the water.
It’s crucial to choose a SUP that is going to connect you to the waves and support the unique thrills that come with paddleboarding.
To help make sure you’re getting the best touring SUP for your needs, we’ve listed some of the best touring paddleboards available, opening up new avenues of adventure and exploration.
OUR TOP PICK
Table of Contents
- 0.1 Thurso Surf Expedition
- 0.2 Bluefin Cruise SUP
- 0.3 Bluefin Sprint 14’
- 0.4 Boardworks SHUBU Great Bear
- 0.5 ISLE Explorer
- 1 Best Touring SUPs Buying Guide
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
The Thurso Surf Expedition is an inflatable tourer built for speed thanks to its pointed nose and tapered rear.
Utilizing multiple layers of military-grade PVC, this board is strong and rigid, giving boarders confidence even on choppy water.
Measuring 11’6”x30”x6”, the Thurso occupies the middle ground in terms of its size when compared to other touring paddleboards.
A width of 30” means that the board has solid stability for a tourer and is a good compromise between some of the narrower boards available.
Weighing in at 28lbs the Thurso is however fairly heavy for its size, which is a small trade-off for the stability it brings.
The board comes with a lightweight carbon shafted paddle (which floats), a coiled leash, air pump, backpack, and detachable travel fins, meaning you’ll have everything you need to start exploring immediately.
Its minimalist design and slender lines make this a great-looking paddleboard that cuts through the water well and still maintains good maneuverability allowing you to reach every cove you want to explore.
- Displacement Hull Design - This gives a focus on speed and efficiency, meaning easier paddling over long distances.
- Multi-layer PVC construction - Strong construction gives the board strength and durability.
- Quick-release/quick install fins - This means you’ll be able to store and fold your board easily and without fiddly tools.
- 6-point front and 4-point rear D-Ring Cargo Straps - Great storage capacity for a small board.
- 2-year warranty- Peace of mind for boarders who push their equipment hard.
- Heavy for its size
- Kayak paddle conversion sold separately - This means that the board is focused solely on paddleboarding out of the box, and swapping to a kayaking format requires a few extra accessories.
The Bluefin Cruise is another feature-rich SUP that is highly versatile for the experienced paddleboarder.
The Cruise has the smallest profile of all the boards on our list, coming in at 10.8’x30”x5.6”. This makes the Cruise somewhat shorter and narrower than some of its competitors but highly maneuverable.
The cost of this is a slightly less stable platform for less experienced paddleboarders, and slightly more paddling to track straight in the water.
The Cruise has an ace up its sleeve to compensate for this small drawback, however. Included with the Bluefin Cruise is a kayak conversion kit, with a paddle extension and a kayaking seat.
This means that the Cruise can quickly convert into a stable and versatile kayaking format, giving you the flexibility to choose how you explore and rest those aching legs.
The fins are able to be fitted without tools and there are several other eye catching features such as an excellent Croco-diamond deck pad and neoprene carry handles on the nose and tail.
A final added feature is a nose-mounted GoPro clamp, allowing you to document every minute of your journey, even while you're paddling!
- Smaller size board - This allows for great maneuvering.
- Kayak conversion kit included - This is great value for money, giving the Bluefin Cruise the versatility of both a paddleboard and a kayak.
- GoPro Mount - This is a nice touch for the tourist or adventurer who wants to document their discoveries.
- 5 Year Warranty - You can have faith that the Bluefin will take whatever the sea can throw at it, thanks to a generous warranty period.
- Strong build quality - Only Bluefin uses 1000 Denier Exo Surface PVC, giving the board great rigidity and toughness.
- Smaller size board - While allowing for great maneuvering, smaller boards also tend to track less easily than longer boards, meaning you may need to paddle more. This may cause you to tire faster on longer journeys.
- Less Storage Capacity - Being a smaller board, the Cruise has less storage capacity for camping equipment and longer expeditions.
Another offering from Bluefin, the inflatable Sprint 14’ is an extremely fast tourer that will reward experienced paddleboarders with straighter tracking and less paddling to maintain speed.
The dimensions of the Bluefin come in at 14’x28”x6”, making this the longest and narrowest board on our list. True to its name, the Sprint uses its slender form to maintain excellent speed, as it carves through the water with ease.
This also makes the Sprint well suited for longer expeditions, as easier paddling lets you travel further and longer. The large and secure storage area will also allow you to head out well provisioned for those multi-day tours.
The drawback is that the Sprint is less stable than some other boards in this list, and can feel especially unstable for less experienced paddleboarders.
Thanks to its length and triple-layered PVC construction however, the Sprint still feels solid even on heavier bodies of water. There is a great selection of well-placed carry handles meaning the board is easily manipulated when out of the water.
A host of included accessories such as a dual-action high-pressure pump, adjustable aluminum paddle, and detachable fins allow you to set the board up quickly and exactly as you want it, providing great value for money.
- Racing hull design - A long and thin board with excellent displacement allows for very fast paddling with less effort, as well as a straighter slide through the water. Great for long-distance tours.
- Great Storage Capacity - 8-point front and 4-point rear D-Ring cargo straps allow for excellent storage of equipment for longer expeditions.
- Lightweight - Considering the Sprint is a large board, it is comparatively light, making it surprisingly easy to carry and store.
- Sturdy - Benefitting from military-grade PVC and inflatable up to 15psi, this board feels very stiff and solid in the water.
- Narrow platform - Narrower boards tend to be less suitable for newer or inexperienced paddleboarders due to their lower stability.
The Boardworks Great Bear truly lives up to its name, as it is the biggest board on our list, measuring 14’x32”x6”. The 14’ length allows the Great Bear to reach excellent speeds but also provides solid stability due to its slightly wider profile.
This makes the Great Bear a durable go-anywhere tourer that is well suited to longer expeditions as well as cruising.
Another bonus of the Great Bear’s wider footprint is that it is more stable for beginners looking to head out on their first sea-borne expedition.
Another notable feature of the Great Bear is its 3-piece carbon fiber travel paddle, with sleek graphics that match the board’s distinctive design.
Weighing just 26.5lbs, the Great Bear may be big but is actually surprisingly lightweight which is a welcome surprise.
This in turn affords a surprising level of portability and maneuverability, assisted by well-placed neoprene carry handles.
Despite its lightweight, the Great Bear is rated to a maximum load capacity of 320lbs, meaning most riders and their equipment will fit onboard with ease.
- Great Storage Capacity - The Great bear has 8-point front tie-downs and 6-point rear tie-downs allowing for a very generous amount of storage. Probably best to leave the kitchen sink behind, though.
- Stable - Being a larger board, the Great Bear gives confidence and stability to newer, inexperienced paddleboarders.
- Accessories - Good selection of included accessories including a single, detachable 9” touring fin, backpack, and repair kit for any unexpected punctures.
- Comfortable Deck - The embossed deck uses a comfortable and grippy pattern to help keep you stable.
- Lightweight - Considering the size of this board, it has a very portable weight and can be easily stored.
- Wide Profile - Wider boards tend to require a little more effort when it comes to paddling, as the board doesn’t cut through the water as easily as thinner boards.
The ISLE Explorer is another great board with a vivid aesthetic and a versatile profile. Measuring 11’x32”x6”, the ISLE Explorer is the lightest board on our list weighing in at just 22lbs.
This makes the ISLE a highly portable paddleboard that is easily carried out of the water after a long day of paddling.
Despite its light weight, the Explorer is rated to carry 300lbs, which ensures you’ll be able to bring the gear you need for multi-day excursions or coastal camping trips.
The 6-point front and 4-point rear bungee tie-downs give secure and ample storage, letting you concentrate on stunning views and keeping the board moving.
The Explorer also comes with a soft-brushed traction pad that is very comfortable and allows you to practice your yoga with ease, while still being able to shrug off rough terrain.
A two-year warranty and a host of well-finished accessories make the Explorer a good middle ground for paddleboarders who want stability, ample storage, and great portability.
- Lightweight - This is the lightest board on our list, which makes the Explorer super portable and maneuverable in and out of the water.
- Stable - The well-balanced dimensions of this board give a reassuring sense of stability making it ideal for less experienced paddleboarders who want to build their confidence.
- Good Storage - The explorer has ample storage space and a good load capacity, especially for its size and weight.
- Vivid Aesthetic - The Explorer has a very distinctive finish that will stand out from some other muted boards that are available.
- Wide Board - Being a relatively short, wide board, the Explorer may require more strokes to maintain a good speed and could tire you out faster on long trips.
Best Touring SUPs Buying Guide
Buying ought to be an exciting moment for paddle boarders, whether you’re totally new to the hobby or in the market for an upgrade.
However, due to the fast-growing nature of the hobby, the market is a hotbed of competition between different designers all trying to cater to the various requirements of paddleboarders.
In this guide, we’ll try to highlight some of the key things to keep in mind when you look for a touring SUP.
Dimensions and Size
The size and configuration of your SUP is probably the most important characteristic, in any variation of the sport. This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to touring.
Most touring boards will be similar in these respects, but it's surprising how a few inches here or there can make all the difference when it comes to the performance of your board and how enjoyable it is to use.
Boards that are long and narrow are far faster than shorter, thicker boards. Their shape allows them to cut through the water more efficiently, which also makes paddling easier, and also allows for a truer, straighter slide through the water.
This means less swapping sides as you paddle and a smoother, less taxing cruise. The drawback here is that the board will be less stable until you get up to speed.
Thinner boards can often be less maneuverable for less experienced riders, as they inspire less confidence than wider boards.
Wide, short boards are far more stable in the water, and as mentioned above, trading off some speed and straight-line tracking as a result. Take into consideration your experience and fitness level when deciding on what size board will suit you best.
Another important thing to keep in mind is your intended destination. Are you planning to paddle on lakes or rivers? Seas or tidal basins?
The state of the water on which you’re paddling may require something more rigid, more stable or faster depending on where you intend on using your SUP.
Most modern SUPs, even inflatable ones, are built strong enough to handle calmer coastal waters but some may perform better than others.
One thing you may have noticed about touring SUPs is that they have a very similar overall shape, and it's very different to all-rounder boards. This is due to the fact that touring boards need a pointed nose in order to carve through the water efficiently.
Touring SUPs are designed for long-distance trips or all-day paddling, and a pointed hull reduces some of the effort needed to keep this up. The tapered tail also assists in carving through the water efficiently and for longer periods of time.
The trade-off is that touring boards are much less stable than all-rounder boards, which are rounded at the front and have squared off tails.
If you want to tour, you definitely want something with a good amount of tapering at both ends, but make sure you take your experience level into consideration when choosing how extreme the degree is.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can’t I Just Use My All-rounder Board?
While all-rounders are great for beginners, yoga, and cruising at the beach, they aren’t well suited for long-distance paddling.
As we highlighted in the buyer’s guide, Tourers are fully designed with long-distance, physically demanding expeditions in mind.
They have the storage and dimensions to ensure that you’re comfortable and efficient while out exploring.
How long does it take to inflate?
This depends on the pump you’re using. We recommend buying a dual-action pump, or checking which style of pump your SUP comes with.
Many reputable manufacturers include pumps with boards as standard accessories.
Pumping with a decent dual-action pump should take around 15 minutes, but can vary depending on the size of your board and the quality of the pump.
Always check your tourer meets your load capacity needs and factor in the equipment you’ll be taking along with you.
Load limits can vary quite a lot, but most reputable brands have ample capacity for the rider, their equipment, and sometimes even passengers.
Just make sure to double-check the product description or contact the manufacturer to make sure. The lighter you travel, the easier the paddling will be!
How do I look after my SUP?
Again, this depends on the board and can vary. Some boards come with a manual for guidance, however, we can provide you with some basic tips.
Try to rinse your SUP off with fresh water after usage to keep it in good shape and get rid of any dirt or salt that might build up on it.
Keep your fins clean and never over-tighten them if they use thumbscrews. Only use straps recommended for the particular SUP you’re using.
And finally, if you hit anything sharp or drop your board, always check it for damage immediately, and seek professional repair if necessary. You don’t want to end up sinking while out at sea!
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I’m an Colorado native, who learned to surf in the Pacific Northwest, and SW Canada. I live inland near the mountains now, and love to get out on my SUP. It’s weird, but I love windy, choppy days as no-one is out and I like the challenge.