paddler on a river sup

5 Best Stand Up Paddle Boards for Whitewater and Rivers

Best SUPs Whitewater & Rivers

Standup Paddleboards are fun to ride around lakes and rivers. They can also help you travel great distances at racing speeds. There are many ways to enjoy a watery ride, whether you are a beginner or an experienced traveler. The best paddleboards for touring come with multiple features that make them different from other paddleboards and more durable than regular boards.

Which Stand Up Paddle Boards Are Best For Rivers And Whitewater?

Using a paddleboard in a river can provide a wide range of challenges and opportunities, even for the most athletic of paddlers. That being said, if you're looking for a stand-up paddle board (SUP) for whitewater or river surfing, you might find it hard to determine which is the right pick for you.

This article will go over several different, great SUP board options, as well as what makes each of the boards special. In other words, choosing any of the boards on this list will have you happily (and safely) working your way down any river, regardless of difficulty.

All that said, if you don't find any of the boards featured in this article suitable for your needs, these are by no means the only options! Doing your own research might be pertinent, especially if you don't find any of these SUP boards to your liking.

Front and back image of the Rapid iSUP for rivers
cut out image of the Rapid iSUP to show it's heavy duty construction


  • Type: Inflatable
  • Length: 9’6"
  • Width: 33"
  • Weight: 22 lbs.
  • Value priced

The Aqua Marina Rapid 9.6 iSUP is built to run rivers and rapids.  At 9 feet 6 inches is short enough to be maneuverable, and with 33 inches of width, it provides a stable (as stable as possible for rapids) platform on which to pilot the white water.

River specific boards are generally not cheap.  The Aqua Marina Rapid really over delivers with the quality, and complete iSUP package, while keeping the price point extremely reasonable, and for this Aqua Marina should be celebrated.

The Rapid has a comfortable, and grippy, diamond grooved deck pad, as well as a camera mount built into the front tip of the board.  Did you really even run the rapid on a stand up paddle board if you don't have footage of it?  The Rapid has you covered.

The Rapid 9.6 has 4 smaller fixed fins that provide some stability, yet can handle the river rocks, and a larger removable slide in river fin, that has a more slender profile than the average SUP fin.

In addition to the removable fin, the Rapid also comes with a backpack to store and transport your SUP, as well as a double action pump, and river leash.  It's got everything you need to get on the water, although the paddler's helmet is not included.

The Rapid was designed with a stubby nose and built with tough Double Layer Technology that can handle all types of waves.

This is a great option for a river SUP because of the overall look and shape and value for money.

Don't let the brand snobs scare you away from the range of Aqua Marina boards as they have ramped up their quality in construction and design, and have become the contender at a lower price point.

Pros of this board

  • Tough, it will handle whatever you throw at it.
  • Inflates to 18 psi for suprising stiffness underfoot

Cons of this option

  • Not an all-around paddle board, not good for surf, but can handle flatwater cruises


  • Type: Inflatable
  • Length: 12’6″
  • Width: 17″
  • Weight: 30 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 485 Pounds

The Blackfin Model V SUP board is a great product that is designed for long-distance paddling and is suited for paddlers of any skill level. This board also does best in moderate water conditions and glides through the water easily.

This product also has a wide range of cool features, the most impressive of which being its durability. The Blackfin SUP board is made of triple later competitive PCV construction, making the board 20% lighter while maintaining its durability.

Reportedly, this SUP board is extra comfortable and will help prevent soreness. Plus, it can double as a yoga board.

The Blackfin Model V also comes with some extra attachments, which might be useful depending on the activities you plan on doing with your SUP board.

More specifically, the Blackfin board comes with a fishing rack attachment, making it easy to store rods, coolers, buckets, or any other fishing attachments you might need.

This SUP board also comes with a sand spear attachment, which can double as an anchor for a sandbar or shoreline if you're looking to hang out on your board instead of rafting through tumultuous waters.

As far as pricepoint is concerned, this board will, once again, run you a pretty penny, but amid that hefty price point, you'll be receiving a very quality product.

Overall, this product is a great option for a wide variety of SUP board users and can be used by paddlers of many different skill ranges!

Pros of this board

  • Paddleboard comes with a wheel compatible backpack for transport and storage
  • Multi-use action mounts
  • A triple layer of PVC

Cons of this option

  • Weight
nrs whitewater river board


  • Type: Inflatable
  • Length: 7’8"
  • Width: 33″
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 150 Pounds

The NRS Whip 7.8 Inflatable SUP board is a great board that has been designed to surf and carve through the water with a surfboard-like fin and tail. This board is round and short and is great for whitewater park shredders and downriver paddlers alike.

Functionally, this board is made of heavy-duty construction, giving it an incredibly durable build that won't break down amid powerful waves. It also features D-ring tie-down points and webbing handles on the center deck for both hauling and remounting.

This SUP board also has a pressure relief valve in-case of over inflation. Plus, it folds easily and compactly, which makes it great for any paddler who needs to store or transport their board. Plus, the board also features a removable nylon-reinforced plastic fin for extra customization.

As far as price point is concerned, this SUP board will cost you a pretty penny, but that's no surprise considering the high-quality materials it's made of.

The NRS Whip also comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, free shipping, a three-year manufacturer warranty, and a price match if you find the board cheaper on other sites. Plus, you might qualify for financing, paying as little as $102/mo.

If you're looking for a stand-up SUP board from a reputable company and a product that can stand up to the harshness of whitewater, you'll definitely want to give this product a look.

This board also comes in an 8'4" model that can accommodate a rider up to 180 lbs.

Pros of this board

  • Purpose built for whitewater
  • Inflates to 20 psi which makes it super rigid creating better performance
  • 2 Whitewater and 2 All water fins included

Cons of this option

  • Often out of stock
hala atcha river sup


  • Type: Epoxy
  • Length: 8’6″
  • Width: 34"
  • Weight: N/A
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs

Part of the river series, the HALA ATCHA 86 SUP board is a great pick for many paddlers, especially those who are more focused on pushing themselves and paddling and surfing in challenging river conditions and whitewater.

This SUP board utilizes a patented Stompbox fin system that is great for paddling in shallow rivers year-round.  We can't under estimate how much of a game changing invention the Stompbox fin system is.

The Stompbox solves the problem of breaking your fins when you go over rocks on a river.  It's guaranteed you'll go over rocks, because that's what creates whitewater, and SUP fins simply break off when they hit these under water obstacles.

To solve this annoying and expensive problem, the Stompbox has the fin on a spring that allows the fin to retract into the board, when it touches the rock, then spring back once it is passed.  

It's impossible to understand how important the Stompbox system is, unless you have paddled down a river with a bit of whitewater and realized your are about to break your fins.  The Stompbox system is revolutionary, allowing you to have a lot more fun on the water.

illustration of hala gear's patented Stompbox system

And, at 8'6"x34", you'll be surprised at how much board you're getting for your buck.

Construction wise, this product features a responsive board shape, meaning you won't have any trouble maneuvering this board, even in the roughest of conditions. The design is also great for agility and persistence, especially in whitewater.

Other than the Stompbox fin system, this board has a lot of other great features, including 2 webbing side handles, 6 centralized rigging points, and a bottom D-ring that makes towing an absolute breeze.

Furthermore, this board also boasts a 1.5" raised stomp pad, and 4 removable gummy side bite click fins. Plus, it comes with a 3-year, industry-leading warranty.

Additional features include a diamond groove 4 mm EVA deck pad, and a rolling backpack that makes traveling with your SUP board easy and convenient.

As far as pricepoint is concerned, this is the most expensive board on the list. That being said, because of the quality construction and proprietary features, you'll certainly be getting what you've paid for.

Anyone looking for a quality board, a real dedicated river running SUP, will be stoked with this awesome product.

Pros of this board

  • Stompbox (patented) auto retracting fin system.  Hala Gear invented this to protect your SUP fins from breaking on river rocks.  A complete game changer that no one else has.
  • 1 Center fin, 4 Side Bite Click Fins
  • Diamond Groove Deck Pad
  • 6 Soft rigging points

Cons of this option

  • Dedicated river board. If you don't need a 100% river/whitewater focused board, then there are cheaper options.  
nrs river sup


  • Type: Inflatable
  • Length: 9’2"
  • Width: 29"
  • Weight: 21 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: N/A

Another NRS product, the NRS Youth AMP 9.2 Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board is a slightly lower price option that is great for younger paddlers looking to hone their skills on rivers or whitewater.

This board features a lot of great specs but, just like the NRS board above, is made of heavy-duty materials and double sidewall construction that will stand up to any abrasion or abuse that white water paddling might inflict.

The NRS Youth Amp inflates up to 20 PSI, giving the paddler a sturdy place to plant their feet, and deflates compactly to make for easy storage and transportation. This is optimal for a younger, lighter paddler, as it provides increased stability and optimizes performance.

Other features of this SUP board include a sturdy handle to make for easy carrying and transportation, D-ring tiedown for attaching gear or a leash, and even front handles that allow easy re-entry after any unexpected falls.

Like the other NRS SUP board, this product comes with a manufacturer 3-year warranty, as well as a 1-year commercial warranty. And, at a lower price point than the other board, this can be a great birthday or holiday present for any young paddlers in your life.

Overall, if you have a young paddler in your life, or are a beginner trying to learn about river and whitewater paddling, this is a product you'll be grateful you took a look at.

Pros of this board

  • Comes with one 5" and one 9" fins
  • Inflates to 20 psi for super rigid performance

Cons of this option

  • A smaller board not great for larger adults


  • Type: Inflatable
  • Length: 138.”
  • Width: 30″
  • Weight: 28 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 330 Pounds

The THURSO SURF Expedition is an inflatable paddle board that is perfect for long-range paddling. Amid ordering, you also receive many other add-ons, including a 3-piece CARBON shaft paddle, a 2+1 Removable Quick-Lock Toolless Fin Set, a 10-foot double swivel coiled leash, and even a roller backpack for easy transport.

By design, this SUP board is streamline, precisely built to minimize drag and cut through the water easily. Plus, it's made of the strong iSUP structure on the market, and double later construction that makes sure this board will stand up to the roughest of waters.

This SUP board also comes with a CARBON shift paddle that is only two pounds and floats in the water. Rest assured you will never lose your paddle amid the whitewater.

Upon purchase of this board, you will also receive 3 removable fins, which allow for two different setups. Using all three finds will give you great stability and maneuverability in rough waters, whereas using two will grant you additional speed and low drag.

In terms of price, this is one of the cheaper options on the list, although it's not because it lacks anything in terms of quality. Anyone, regardless of skill or preferences, would have a great time with the THURSO SURF Expedition.

Pros of this board

  • Made with heavy-duty materials
  • Large weight capacity
  • The board features detachable side fins that make it easy to steer and navigate the water

Cons of this option

  • Not all that light

Final Thoughts

Clearly, there are many great options when it comes to stand-up paddle boards. And, between all the different specifications and features, it can be hard to determine which board is right for you.

The Hala Atcha is hands down the best one though.  The Stompbox Fin System, that lets the fins retract inside the board, when it encounters a rock, is a complete board saver.  Problem is, it's expensive.  That's why we have several different recommendations.

As long as you keep your specific preferences in mind, and use this article as a guide, you'll certainly find a SUP board to keep you happy, and safe, for many years to come!