Although we’re not called Austin Canoe & Kayak & Standup Paddle because we mainly specialize in kayaks (and that name would be a mouthful), we do sell SUP boards and fully support the paddle board community!
Our home Austin, Texas could be considered the unofficial SUP capital of the nation. There aren’t any statistics to back that claim up, but the hobby/sport/lifestyle has grown increasingly popular here over the last few years. On any given day of the week, there’s no shortage of people out on Lady Bird Lake in the heart of downtown. Stand-up paddling can be a great workout, as this 2014 feature on SUP racing in Austin Fit Magazine suggests. But for me and many others, it’s more of a relaxing experience, a relatively inexpensive option to get out on the water and enjoy the stillness of our local lake and the orange-pink hues of Texas sunsets. And while I’ve never attempted SUP Yoga (sticking to land for now), that’s a thing too!
People can feel wary of standing up on a SUP for the first time, but finding your center of balance doesn’t take long after you launch onto the water in a kneeling position (and if you ever get tired, you can just sit down and lounge on your board). And momentum helps balance, so the faster you get going, the more sure-footed you’ll feel.
Now let’s get to the boards! We’ve pooled together a list of some of our most affordable boards – different styles for different needs.
The Beginner Beach Board
This is the ultimate family-friendly beginner board. Its width gives it extra stability for the waves you’ll encounter offshore (it’s tricky to find your stability on the ocean for the first time!) but it’s certainly not exclusive to the beach. If it can handle waves smoothly, it’s more than good to go for calm lake waters.
The Ideal Touring/Racing/Yoga Board
Whether you’re a beginner that’s debating the possibility of entering races in the future or a seasoned touring pro, this is the board to look at if you identify with the “SUP as a workout” lifestyle.
Ocean Kayak SUP Nalu 12.5
People get pretty excited about this two-in-one option, which is quite frankly, a great deal! Stand on it and it’s a SUP, attach a chair and it’s a sit-on-top kayak. It doesn’t have the proper footholds to get the most out of your stroke, so I wouldn’t suggest long, challenging excursions using it as a kayak. But for recreational use, it’s the best of both paddling worlds!
The Versatile Board
SurfTech Blacktip 10-6
Started in 1989 in Santa Cruz, California, SurfTech is a well-respected brand when it comes to boards, known for its smart engineering. SurfTech describes its Blacktip boards as “soft, safe, versatile and easy to ride – perfect for newer paddlers looking to progress.” Outside Magazine named the Blacktip 11-6 one of the best paddleboards of 2016, calling it a “fun, utilitarian cruiser at a great price.” The Blacktip 10-6 is one foot shorter, designed the same, and a couple of hundred dollars cheaper (thank ya, closeout clearance)!
The Fishing Board
Kaku Kayak Kahuna Fishing SUP
We can’t forget our SUP fishing lovers! The Kaku SUP offers plenty of features that make the board easy to rig for a fishing trip, including being the only SUP that allows for a fully integrated Power Pole mount to keep you anchored in place when you’ve reached your honey hole. It’s common for people to stand on top of their coolers on the deck, and they’ve reported back that they never once felt like they were going to topple over into the water! And like the others, the board functions just fine for a recreational paddle.
Which of our beginner SUP picks catches YOUR eye?