Stand-up paddleboarding is free once you get the gear — but the gear's not cheap. Besides the board itself, the shopping list includes a paddle; a personal flotation device (PFD), which has to be worn by those 12 and under or otherwise carried; and a hydration pack — not to mention a car rack. Advice? Rent before you buy.
FOR THE RECORD:
• Recreational/touring SUP: Ideal for beginners and touring, these big, heavy, plastic boards weigh as much as 40 pounds and range from $700 to $1,500.
Hobie DuraSUP: The ultimate beginner board, the DuraSUP is 11 feet, 5 inches long, weighs 40 pounds and is indestructible, a hard-plastic ding-proof shell wrapped around a nearly 5-inch-thick polyurethane foam core. Drag it across roads; it won't delaminate like cheaper fiberglass boards. But it's no barge, either; it skates across the water pretty fast.
Price: $845. 888-HOBIE21; http://www.hobie.com
• Racing SUP: Light and delicate with a narrow front end, racing boards can run to 18 to 19 feet in as little as 21 pounds.
SurfTech Joe Bark Appleby Race: Hand-built by famed shaper Joe Bark, this elite 12-foot-6, single-fin fiberglass racer is light, narrow (27.9 inches) and fast. SurfTech claims its recyclable cellulose fiber is ecologically friendly too.
Price: $2,235. (831) 479-4944; http://www.SurfTech.com
• Surfing SUP: These short, fast boards have three fins for maneuverability.
Paddle Surf Hawaii Hull Ripper 9-2: With raised rails and the Hull bottom, the 9-foot-2 Ripper gets great speed on the wave face and allows for sharper turns and cutbacks. Designed for extreme waves, it only works properly when riding with your back foot directly on the tail.
Price: $1,360 (including board bag and stock fins). (855) 842-9609; http://www.paddlesurfhawaii.com
• Yoga SUP: The bigger and flatter, the better for yoga. Less curve at the edges and a thicker nose and tail provide stability.
Boga Yoga 11.4: This 11-foot-4, 26-pound board earns its name with plenty of room to sprawl out: a flat top deck to the edge of its boxy rails, a square tail and nose, a soft, extra-long pad and a moderately wide 31.5-inch platform. Includes a scratch-resistant matte finish and netting at the front for storage.
Price: $1,190. http://www.bogaboards.com; (415) 830-4630
• Inflatable SUPs: Instead of leaving the board on your roof rack, the inflatable fits in its own backpack, disappears into the trunk, inflates in five minutes and won't damage your yacht. All-in-one kits range from $600 to $1,200.
Hobie ATR-1 Inflatable SUP kit: 10 feet, 8 inches long and 32 inches wide, the ATR-1 feels as sag-free and rigid as a solid board and has excellent glide. Includes a pump, tri fins with removable center fins for control and tracking, backpack, repair kit and three-piece collapsible paddle.
Price: $1,199; $1,099 for 10-footer. 1-888-Hobie21; http://www.Hobie.com
SUPATX CFX Carbon Fiber paddle: Budget-conscious 87-inch-long, 28-ounce all-carbon paddle.
Price: $145. (512) 517-5417; http://www.supatx.com
Quiksilver Stand Up Paddle SUP PFD: It stays out of your way until you need it. Pull the rip cord on the vest and the CO2 cartridge activates and a life jacket releases. A whistle and a stow pocket are included.
Price: $120. (800) 435-9917; http://www.quiksilver.com
Camelbak Baja stand-up paddle hydration pack: This great design includes a comfortable, 70-ounce lumbar bladder that keeps your shoulders free, a vest with a built-in whistle and numerous pockets, more cargo compartments in the back and a buckle-strap for securing an inflatable PFD.
Price: $120. (800) 767-8725; http://www.camelbak.com