Stand up paddle boarding is the perfect family activity. For younger children, it’s a great introduction to water sports in a safe and controlled environment. For older kids, it’s an easy way to get them away from their screens and into nature for the afternoon. Best of all, it’s a fun way for parents to stay active and healthy without feeling like they’re “working out.” But finding the right family paddle board or multi-person SUP can be difficult if you’re not aware of the many differences in stand up paddle board shapes and materials.
We’ve eliminated the guesswork by sharing five of the best paddle boards for every type of family. If you’re still unsure, we will tell you the most important factors to consider when shopping for a board for your family’s next great adventure.
Best Board For Big Families: Megalodon
For bigger families who don’t want to invest in more than one board, a multi-person inflatable paddle board is the best option. And with a weight capacity of up to 1,050 pounds and room for the whole neighborhood, the Megalodon is an obvious choice.
This supersized paddle board features a massive deck pad that’s gentle on delicate skin yet durable enough to withstand your pet’s rough paws. It’s built using a proprietary manufacturing process that machine-coats the drop stitch with a precision seal and bonding layer, then fuses a higher-density, military-grade PVC layer for the ultimate in dependable durability. The removable center fin makes it a great choice for shallower waters like rivers and lakes.
Best Board For Rowdy Families: Outpost
For families that are tough on their toys, the Outpost is a great choice. In addition to its durable epoxy construction, the Outpost features a resilient polycarbonate outer shell and reinforced rails for added protection.
This unique blend of rugged materials offers the highest impact strength available in paddle board construction. Additional passengers will ride comfortably and safely on the board’s full-length deck pad that stretches from nose to tail. Finally, the board’s 32” of width and 4.5” of height will ensure a stable and dry ride for everyone on board.
Best Board For Families With Young Children: Scout
When you’re paddling with younger children, their comfort and safety are especially important to guaranteeing a fun day on the water. The family-friendly Scout Inflatable Paddle Board is the softest and most luxurious board around, keeping comfort for delicate skin at the forefront. The board’s full nose and wide tail combined with 32” of width and 6” of height make this an extremely buoyant and stable board on the water.
In fact, it’s originally designed for SUP yoga, an activity that requires a stable board that won’t tip over during the most challenging balancing acts imaginable. And if it can handle a complex SUP yoga routine with ease, just imagine how stable you’ll be even with all of your smiling children aboard.
Best Board For Families On A Budget: Pioneer
An extremely versatile all-around shape and military-grade materials make for an excellent stand up paddle board for families. The Pioneer features a full nose and wide tail in addition to its 6” height to create an incredibly stable and buoyant board for parents paddling with their kids and pets.
Extra features like the nose-mounted and tail-mounted bungee systems are perfect for securing family paddling essentials like sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, and a spare sun hat or shirt for the little ones. And with a price point that can’t be beaten at this level of quality, it’s the obvious choice for families looking to add paddle boarding to their weekly adventures for years to come.
Best Board For Families That Like To Do It All: Cruiser
Fishing, yoga, surfing, flat water paddling, you name it and the Cruiser can handle it all with ease. It features a full-grip, soft-top coating called croc skin that covers every inch of the deck and rails.
This unique layer of soft textured padding adds the comfort and durability required for a true, family-friendly paddle board. As a beginner-focused board, it’s easy to maneuver and balance when paddling with children or pets. And if you think you might want to take a solo paddle on occasion, the Cruiser is lightning fast in the water and ready to take on any SUP activity under the glowing warm sun.
3 Features To Consider For A Family SUP
Stability Is King For Family Paddle Boards
From massive cargo ships to smaller boats, every vessel in the water is most stable when the weight on board is centered or equally distributed. And this holds true for stand up paddle boards as well. When you add additional riders, regardless of their size, you’re going to distribute weight unevenly across your board.
This is why it’s so important to find a highly-stable board that will hold its position in the water easily, no matter where your extra riders want to sit. Boards with a wide center point, full nose, wide tail, and extra height will offer the best stability for multiple riders.
Family Paddle Boards Should Be Durable
Families with children are notoriously rough with their toys. With that in mind, finding a durable board should be your a top priority (safety first!). If you’re set on a rigid or epoxy paddle board, make sure you’re getting the added protection of rail bumpers and enhanced materials like a polycarbonate coating. Other options like a soft-top outer skin can add the protection needed to withstand the bumps and bashes against docks, rocks, and other paddle boards.
For families, we often recommend inflatable boards that are built with military-grade materials, similar to dinghy boats. Inflatable paddle boards will allow your kids to play rough without worrying about damaging their boards or injuring themselves on any hard surfaces in the water.
Don’t Overlook The Deck Pad For Family Paddling
When paddling with multiple people on the same board, it’s important to provide enough traction for the whole crew. If you select a rigid or epoxy board that only has traction for the stand up paddler’s feet, your riders on the nose will be slipping and sliding with every paddle stroke.
In order to keep your kids and pets as safe and comfortable as possible, make sure they have enough traction and padding under their bodies. Otherwise, your fun family adventure may quickly turn into something that resembles a soaked family disaster.
Final Note For Family Paddlers
Everyone Needs To Wear Their PFD
Technically speaking, a stand up paddle board is a vessel according to the United States Coast Guard. In order to remain compliant with the national regulations, all riders under the age of 12 must wear a "USCG-approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V” life jacket when riding or operating a SUP.
While adults are exempt from the personal flotation device (PFD) requirements when paddling in “surfing, swimming, or bathing areas,” it’s still a good idea to lead by example by wearing your SUP life jacket every time you paddle with your loved ones. We recommend doing a bit more research about the paddle board life jacket requirements and different types of PFDs available for your family so you can make an informed purchase decision.