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What Are The Best Paddle Boards For Lakes

Introduction

Even though paddle boarding originated in the tropical waters surrounding Hawaii, it is enjoyed by people from all around the world. This includes riders and paddlers from deep inland parts of countries. These individuals use paddle boards to explore and enjoy the rivers and lakes that are available to them. Lakes are of special interest to inland paddlers due to their size, which depending on the lake, can be as big and as moody as the open ocean. Conversely, they can also be placid, glass-like and an absolute joy to ride in. Needless to say, the technical requirements of a paddle board being used on lakes is far less than one say being used in whitewater rivers or the deep ocean. But, they still need to be stable, sizeable and rideable regardless of the specific paddle boarding activity. To that end, these five paddle boards have been rounded up and represent some of the best ways to explore lake waters.

Value

Those who have never been out on lake waters don’t know that there are many sides to a lake. There is the mirror-surfaced, tranquil lake that looks like it was lifted straight out of a painting. But, when the wind starts blowing and the water starts churning, the same waters can remind someone of the choppy seas of the open Pacific. While the board required to enjoy such a ride may not need to be as technical or high performance as say an open ocean touring board, it still needs to be stable, manoeuvrable, easy to use and due to the various activities a vast lake can offer, it needs to be fairly versatile in its function.

Stability

Lake paddling is usually a casual affair and unless they are training or competing in an event, most lake water paddling is relaxed and meandering. Since technical riding is not high on the lake paddlers priority list, the focus of lake bound paddle boards should surround stability. Its ability to keep the rider upright and enjoying hours of riding is certainly something that should be kept in mind.

Stability is often dictated by a combination of factors, but with the case of lake paddle boards it generally boils down to size. These boards are generally longer and wider, which gives a greater amount of contact with the water surface. This means that the board is more buoyant and acts more like a moveable platform. In contrast, wide boards would be battered about by the turbulent waves of rough rivers and open ocean.

Ease of Use

A day out on the lake is supposed to fun and relaxed, so the last thing a rider wants to be doing is spend time fussing around with their board when all they want to do is get out on the water. Paddle boards headed for the lake should be single piece or quick to put together, they should be worry and hassle free, so that riders can get as much paddling time in as possible.

Versatility

There are several reasons to go paddle boarding on a lake. Yes, paddling by themselves or with friends is a solid reason to be out on the lake water in and of itself, but there are other activities that paddle boarders enjoy, such as racing, yoga and fishing. While paddle boards do exist to meet the needs of these specific activities, it would be nice to own a single board that lets a rider enjoy all of these experiences.

Lake SUP Reviews

ISLE Classic Soft Top

The aptly named “Classic” weighs in at a maximum length of 10-feet, 8-inches and comes with 5-inches of soft top thickness. Born and bred for the casual, relaxed or beginner paddler, this board exudes comfort and stability. Though it is lacking in the speed, manoeuvrability and style department, it does not mean that its quality has suffered even by a little. Beneath its soft, grippy surface lies an EPS core (the same kind of material used in most hard-top boards).

ISLE Classic Soft Top Stand Up Paddle Board

Some may attribute a soft top with a flimsy board, but the Classic is anything but. Its built-in triple stringer system brings hard board-like rigidity.

The Classic’s 31-inch wide, polyethylene deck is at once firm enough for someone up to 275-pounds, but soft enough that their feet, ankles and knees will be pain free even after hours of paddling. For convenience, ISLE also provided an adjustable paddle that floats, and a 9-inch removable fin. This makes getting the Classic out on the water a breeze. Just attach the fin, set the paddle to a suitable length and slide the board into the water. It rides like a cruiser and is stable enough for someone to practice yoga on or be used as a fishing platform. A Styrofoam body does however include drawbacks which includes a decrease in hydrodynamics, translating to a decrease in speed. Therefore, those who are looking for a competition or performance board should most likely set their sights on something else.

PROS

  • soft, comfortable standing surface
  • comes with quick to assemble adjustable paddle
  • deceptively stable for a soft top

CONS

  • styrofoam construction equals more drag which means less speed
  • susceptible to dents and damage due to soft construction


Just take a look at the Weekender and one of the first words to come to mind is comfort. The board was practically built to deliver it in spades. A favorite among cruisers and leisure paddlers, this 10-foot long paddle board can call any calm body of water its home, but really excels on lakes. While it does have a bit of difficulty handling the chop and waves of the open ocean, its rider has nothing to be worried about in the confines of a lake.

Lakes do occasionally exhibit rough waters, especially in the presence of high winds, but the Weekender’s wide body ensures that the rider remains on the board and its rounded nose means that it will ride over small waves and won’t errantly plow through them. The stability and real estate afforded by the wide body means that a rider can take on a passenger whether they be of the human or furry variety.

Ten Toes weekender paddle board

Furthermore, unlike other boards with removable fins, this board can be alleviated of all 3 of its fins, making it one of the most packable and carry-able inflatable boards on the market. Removing all 3 fins not only makes it a breeze to pack, but it also means that fins won’t be digging into the person’s back when carrying it out. Like most cruisers, this board won’t turn on a dime, nor would it be the top choice to run a race with.

PROS

  • 3 removable fins make this an absolute joy to pack and carry
  • good, relaxed cruising

CONS

  • medium to large waves may cause issue
  • not suitable for races or technical paddling


Pau Hana Oahu Paddle Board

When it comes to Pau Hana’s Oahu paddle board, the real issue will be deciding on whether to ride it or to keep it hanging on the wall. Its trademark Polynesian tribal art looks fantastic, but so too is the boards performance on the water. The smooth ride of this 10-foot long, 32-inch wide board is thanks in part to its spooned-out nose. Dubbed a noserider, the boards exaggerated upward nose curve helps it overcome chop in the water, which can include sizeable waves. The amount of surface in contact with the water is also reduced, which means less drag and resistance. The nose’s profile also means that it is virtually impossible for the board to plough its front end into the water, which would usually result in the rider being catapulted into the water.

Even though it is under 11-feet in length, the Oahu is remarkably stable. Yes, the fact that it is a noserider has something to do with it, but its backend and solid design is what solidified it as a great lake paddle board. While some boards start out wide and taper near the tail, this board is wide throughout. The widened tail is complimented by 5 fins (in which the long middle fin is removeable). Rounding out the ride quality are full rails.

Its wide body is great for practicing yoga but the lack of ties or webbing may make it difficult to fish from. The limitations of Pau Hana’s Oahu comes from its lack of a keel, which means that the rider will have a particularly difficult time when they encounter rougher water, but also when out on the waters for long period of time.

PROS

  • amazing and attractive graphic design
  • good all-around paddle board
  • spooned-out nose, wide tail and full rails make it highly stable

CONS

  • a keel or improved hydrodynamics is needed if more speed is required


Imagine Surf’s Wizard is admittedly a specialist in this category. It was built specifically with the fisherman, or angler, in mind. Made of a single piece of blown polyethylene (hardened plastic) this paddle board needs no inflation, fussing around or major adjustments (they do give you the option to run it with or without the fin). The paddle board comes with plenty of storage which fishermen can use to store bait or tackle, and come in the form of two surface areas with bungee webbing and two storage hatches. Two rod holders, a flip up seat and foot wells (for when they want to convert it to a kayak) round out the features.

The 95-pound paddle board/kayak sits more like a kayak in the water due to the presence of a hull. The weight and the shape makes it very stable even in bad weather. However, all those bells and whistles, and its rigid construction means that it is very heavy on the water. This increases drag and drastically reduces speed. Do not expect to win any races with this board, but why would you want to anyway you’re supposed to be out there catching the night’s dinner. Even though the boards surface is fairly wide, the webbing, foot wells, rod holders and crevices created by the storage holds would make it tough to carry another person or practice yoga.

Imagine Surf V2 Wizard Paddle Board

PROS

  • great paddle board for anglers
  • heft and shaped hull make it stable in poor conditions
  • can be converted into a kayak

CONS

  • a bit heavy at almost 100lbs


Perhaps the lightest board on this list, Surftech’s Margaritaville Bamboo has a low-ecological-impact, but also a visually appealing paddle board. The board itself measures in at 11 and a half feet long and 31 and a half inches wide. It has a single fin and is 4 and a half inches thick.

By all accounts the dimensions and shape of the board are generic. But this is not what draws riders to this board. The fact that its surface is coated with one of the most renewable and lightweight naturally grown materials on the planet, allows it to weigh in at a mere 28-pounds.

Its dimensions and overall board shape allow it to be stable in the water, but its lightweight construction can be felt in its ride over the water. The glide is effortless and it tracks superbly.

Being lightweight does have its drawbacks however, and that is when it encounters high winds. Also, being constructed of lightweight materials means that it is susceptible to damage and this being a single piece hard top means that repairs can get costly.

Surftech Margaritaville Bamboo Paddle Board

PROS

  • lightweight eco-friendly construction
  • stable and glides effortlessly

CONS

  • a little more fragile due to lightweight construction

Conclusion

Lake paddle boards can be easily overlooked as more high performance, open ocean touring boards often draw the attention of many paddlers. However, as more and more fun, activities and paddling attract the masses, they need greater variety of boards to ride on. These boards are not about being able to make quick turns, slice through oceanic waves or race for miles, they are about cruising, leisure, relaxing, exercising and fishing. Lake paddle boards are about being hassle-free and getting out on the water as soon as possible and for as long as possible. This is why Pau Hana’s Oahu finds itself at the top of this list. Set aside its fantastic body art (which can easily double as wall décor) and what’s left is a paddle board ideal for lakes. The design and shape (which includes the spooned-out nose, the widened tail and full rails) ensure a stable and smooth ride. Sure, it may not be the best thing to fish from, but practicing yoga is almost a recommendation. Lake boards like the Oahu shouldn’t be overlooked, but embraced. Many of them were built with rivers and oceans in mind, but they’re very at home in the peace and tranquility of inland lakes.

Our choice: Pau Hana’s Oahu​

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