What is the Best White Water SUP Board?

Here follows the list of what the best 5 white water SUP boards are which are currently on the market! All of which you can get in the UK!

  1. Hala Atcha – The all round best white water SUP boards out there by a mile!
  2. Hala Radito
  3. Hala Rado
  4. NRS Quiver
  5. Hatha Drop
What is the best white water SUP Board in the world? Hala Atcha 9'6

Hala Atcha Series - the Best White Water Sup on the market!

Hala Atcha paddleboards are basically the F1 version of a SUP.  They are designed to be near enough perfect in every way. They are manoeuvrable, durable, have tremendous rocker, multiple carry handles and retractable fins… It is no doubt that this takes the number 1 spot on the list and Hala have been at the forefront of white-water SUP for many years now pushing the limits of what is possible.

You can get the Hala Atcha paddle boards in three different sizes, 7’11, 8’6 and 9’6. Each one is brilliant in its own right. The 7’11 is smaller, more manoeuvrable, more playful and surfs like a dream. The 9’6 is built to ride over rapids and designed to be stable in all big water, and the 8’6 is the in-between of the lot. If you want a paddle board for stability, fun, ease of paddling then the 9’6 is the one for you. If you want more playful then just lower the size!

Its multiple layers, drop stitching and welded seams make for a near enough indestructible paddle board. If you hit a rock you probably won’t even notice a scratch. As a result it comes with an industry best 5 year warranty. It features a patented design; the stombox 2 which means if you hit a rock with the fin – the fin retracts inside the board so you don’t notice even hitting the rocks and on top of that don’t break the fins ever. Once you are past the rock the fin pops back out as it is spring loaded. 

It comes with the most aggressive river rocker of every board out there allowing you to ride over the rapids instead of having the nose pearl on you and the 7’11 even comes with a. removable front fin to aid the tracking due to it’s shorter length. Seriously we can’t fault this SUP board series and having paddled them all they perform just as well in grade 1 as they do in grade 5. 

What is the best white water SUP board in the world – Hala Atcha 9’6.

What is the Best White Water SUP Board - Hala Atcha 9'6

Hala Rado

The Hala Rado is suited great for a larger paddler or for anyone looking at paddling expeditions on a SUP due to its size and progressive river rocker.

This package includes a paddle as well which is extremely handy – on top of this is it a decent paddle, most SUP packages include cheap or poorly made paddles but not this!

The board has Hala’s retractable fin system which means that you are highly unlikely to ever break or damage any fins due to how flexible they are and the fact the main river fin retracts inside the board if you hit a rock. 

This board is also suited perfectly to expedition style paddling and at 10ft’10 takes a hell of a lot of kit. If you re looking for an expedition board for white water up to grade 2+/3 then this is probably the best one on the market! Also due to it’s size this means extra weight can be carried on the board, this is not just kit and could also be your dogs, or your kids.

Hala Rado

Hala Radito

The Hala Radito is suited to a smaller or moderately sized paddler who is wanting to do multiple different things on the water i.e. white-water, flat water, lochs, rivers, estuaries. It is 10 ft by 34 inches so is suited to travelling well in a straight line and it has a progressive river rocker at front and back but not so aggressive as to effect the tracking much if at all.

This package includes a paddle as well which is extremely handy – on top of this is it a decent paddle, most SUP packages include cheap or poorly made paddles but not this!

The board has Hala’s retractable fin system which means that you are highly unlikely to ever break or damage any fins due to how flexible they are and the fact the main river fin retracts inside the board if you hit a rock. 

This board is also suited well to expedition style paddling and at 10ft takes a reasonable amount of kit so if if is your sort of thing then perhaps this is your board. 

Hala Radito

NRS Quiver

The NRS Quiver is a relatively popular white water SUP board . It is recommended to inflate slightly more than other SUP boards providing more of a rigid board which can be both good and bad depending on your own preferrences. But it is nice that someone is doing this.

A really handy addition to this board is the overflow pressure release valve which will stop your board from going above pressure – this is exceptionally useful if it is a hot sunny day as the pressure will increase. You do not need to worry about thinking about the PSI as it will reduce itself if required. Something that we think should be on other boards as well.

It comes with a 3 year warranty which is pretty good but again has the same fin system that lots of other general boards have and as a result you will break fins in the river. Given it is just as expensive as a Hala begs to question why would opt for this board unless you prefer to paddle a harder board in which case this could be for you!

NRS quiver river sup board

Hatha Drop

The Hatha drop makes this list because of its price range which has got to be considered. It is cheaper than the rest but also as a result comes with compromises you would need to know about. 

It has a moderate front rocker which does help to ride over features, and it has a grippy deck pad as well as risen sides to touch parts of your feet for added connection (not everyone likes these!). It is 36 inches wide and as such nice and stable as well as 9’6 so filling the general length category for rivers and it comes with handy connection points for bags on the front as well which is always nice to see. It will suit you up to and including grade 2+ but after that you will need something better BECAUSE it has 0 tail rocker! This 0 tail rocker means than the fins constantly catch and career you straight off the board into the water while also breaking the fins at the same time.

You will end up spending more on fins on this board over a few years if paddled regularly that you will possibly even on the cost of the entire board! But and there is a but! if you are only paddling this on deep water or man made white water courses this board will suit you absolutely fine and is a good entry level board to help you develop and hone your skills before purchasing something a little better further down the line.

Hatha Drop what is the best white water sup?

Other Sup Boards for Consideration

There are lots of other white water SUP boards that one might also consider when thinking about what one to buy; we can briefly discuss some below and why they haven’t made this list. 

  1. Badfish RiverShred – they do not ship internationally so are not worth the hassle trying to get one unless you live in America. If you do live in America, then they are a good aggressively rockered board. But like many others you will end up breaking the odd fin – not as many as other boards as they have rear rocker but you will break some still
  2. Starboard River Deluxe – a good length and width but it has minimal rocker so only really good for basic flows up to grade 2 or so and like others you will break fins.
  3. Fanatic Rapid air, basically the same as the above but more suited to touring so would work relatively well for grade 2 expels. Although why you wouldn’t just get a Hala Rado would be open for question.
  4. Aquamarina Rapid – not really sure what they thought when they made this board and classified it as a river board, it has 0 rocker, 33 inches wide so isn’t stable and as a result pearls in the waves and you normally come off… Worthy of grade 1 paddling but not much more.
Aquamarina sup board

What to consider when buying a white water SUP

Your ability will be crucial to consider here – if you re a beginner and you buy a board more suited to touring but try and paddle bigger rapids in them you are going to struggle. You should stick with generic 9’6 style boards to begin with unless you are wanting to think about expeditions as well.

You need to consider the size of the board, 7’11 sized boards are effectively the playboats of the SUP world. 9’6 are the creek boats built to do big water and be stable. Anything over 9’6 is really designed to be more of a touring board and as such travel downriver from point A-B but not manage big rapids as easily or at all. Also consider your own weight, height and size in relation to the board and the width of the board. 36 Inch is really stable down to 33 being significantly less so. You should also consider the rocker and how aggressive it is – you want an aggressive rocker like the Atcha series or maybe the river shred (Badfish) if you are wanting to paddle grade 3 or more.

The deck pad of the board makes a big different, having a quickstep at the back is crucial for quick turns by moving the weight to the back of the board. Having multiple tie down points are crucial to alter how and where bags are attached to the board to help the trim and take with you and safety equipment. And it goes without saying you do not want a slippy deck pad. Hala and NRS both have pretty durable grippy deck pads but not every board out there does!

The fin system is very much worth considering, Hala boards have a retractable fin so if they hit something they return inside the board so you never end up breaking them making their fin system head over heals better than everyone else. You also have standard fin boxes and US fin boxes. The standard fin boxes are more prone to fin snap-age than the US fin boxes which are a bit more robust being screwed in but you will need to ensure you have appropriate river fins for the board not general purpose!

Before starting out on whitewater and also when developing it is crucial that you stay on track with best practice and try not to develop any less favourable habits. As such we highly recommend lessons from a certified instructor or better yet a coach specific to whitewater SUP. Once you have the basics go and develop them and push towards grade 3 then get further lessons as between grade 3-5 there are som e really tricky skills that need mastered. If this sort of thing interests you, we offer the most advanced SUP coaching course out there in Spain with Jim Miller one of the individuals at the absolute forefront of white water SUP at the moment Link.

What do you need to get started with white water SUPping

It goes without saying you need a SUP – we recommend finding a friend and trying some of their’s, or alternatively booking a lessons and trying a few different types out. You will also need a paddle – make sure to get something robust – single piece paddles will be stronger but not adjustable so if you cut them wrong you are screwed. Get a three piece to begin with and if you start pushing the realms of white water SUP then you can figure out what is the best paddle;e for you at the time.

You should always use a quick release leash either on a waist leash which is common place in Europe, around the chest or more common in America would be to connect it to the quick release strap of your BA. There is no right or wrong here just do NOT wear an ankle leash on moving water this could be lethal in an entrapment situation. You should have an appropriate river PFD or even better an impact vest style PFD like two photos down. This leads on to talking about protective gear like knee pads, helmet, shoulder pads, lower back (wear a throb here is an option) and legs/bum. Some of the best kit out there is WRSI for the knees and actually biking or snowboard/rugby protective shorts and upper body vests.

 

What is the best river SUP - Hala Atcha

Skills

Certain skills are crucial for white water SUP borders and falling appropriately is one of the most important. You should learn to fall onto your board if at all possible and not into the water. A low brace and stern brace support stroke are also absolutely crucial for both going down the rapids as well s surfing and punching holes/waves so that you have a third point of connection (your feet being the first two). And above all do not be afraid to go to your knees – there are no points for hero’s learn on your knees and develop onto standing it will be safer in the long run. 

Your stance is crucial and you can see from the top two photos the standard river stance which is a surfing style with one foot in front of the other. This helps to keep your balance and weight more central on the board and transition more weight into the front and aft parts of your feet onto the edges of the board. On top of this it allows you to move weight forward and backwards on the board as you see fit. You can of course stand side-saddle but you will quickly learn that it only really works up to about grade 2 white water stand up paddle boarding.

Your stance helps in turn with correct paddling, you should reach a comfortable distance forward and allow your lower body to flex into the stroke. It should then stand up during the stroke and the paddle should come out of the water in line with your front foot or the middle of the board can be an estimated location as well. Make sure you hold the paddle in the correct orientation, and if you are not sure get some lessons they will be crucial. A wee tip to take away is your hips move to become flat on to the board before your paddle ever goes in the water and allow your hips to unwind during the stroke back to their original position.

Eddy lines are a really tricky thing on a SUP, possibly the hardest skill of all to master, you need to ensure that crossing an eddy you edge in towards it and the easiest way to do this is to learn to paddle on both sides of your board ensuring you always paddle on your upstream side coming into an eddy. If you paddle on your downstream side then you are in for the drink most likely!

the best white water sup bracing

Safety tips

foot entrapments, paddle sinking, throw bags, teamwork, lessons, water levels, time of the year, 

Safety on the river is absolutely key – having the best white water sup board out there doesn’t do much for unless you consider what safety is required! 

  1. Step 1 – learn to fall correctly, the safest option is to fall onto the board so that minimises any time in the water. It is worth practising falling forwards and backwards in nice deep water like a loch and trying to fall onto the board then climbing back on if it doesn’t work. 
  2. Step 2 – ensure you have the correct safety equipment; a throw bag could be crucial in a foot entrapment, a phone, first aid kit, group shelter and maybe even a PLB would all be ideal to carry with you. 
  3. Step 3 – ensure that you use the correct style of PFD – or even better an impact vest style buoyancy aid in case you fall on a rock.
  4. Step 4 – consider the weather, river levels and time of the year. Is the river rising, falling, deep, shallow, is it cold and if so do I have enough warm layers that I could stay warm if I stopped for a while?
  5. Step 5 – consider potential issues – if you fall off into the water keep a hold of your paddle and whatever you do – do NOT try to stand top in the river foot entrapments are real and very serious!
  6. Step 6 – trust your paddle partners – never paddle alone, always have someone with you.
James Miller_Things To Consider When Supping Waterfalls_Photo 3.JPG

Conclusion - So What is the Best White Water River SUP?

So to conclude what the best white water river SUP is on the market right now it is definitely the Hala Atcha river series. 

Some people might ask – but what about the other river SUP boards that are up for sale where do you rate them? The simple answer is that the majority of other white-water SUP boards on the market do not have much if any river rocker on them and as such are called river SUP boards but are more suited in reality to low grade moving water like 1-2. The moment you pass grade 2/3 you need a board with an aggressive rocker – otherwise you will pearl in every wave and hole and be in the water a lot risking foot entrapments, falling on rocks and worse!

We can’t recommend it enough and we highly recommend that everyone on the water has one of these – you won’t regret it! But make sure you get lessons, the right paddle, PFD and above all else enjoy what could become a new passion – maybe you will even paddle things like the as below rapid :

What is the best white-water sup in the UK
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