Wave Sup's Woody SUP package is actually aimed at intermediate paddlers, but after putting it through its paces out on the river, I actually think it's one of the best paddle boards for beginners. This generously wide stand-up paddle board comes in two sizes and with all the accessories you need, so it's an easy purchase if you're shopping for your first SUP. How did it fare in my tests? Is it up there with the rest of today's best inflatable paddle boards? Here's my Wave Woody SUP review.
Wave Woody SUP package review: design and features
I reviewed Wave Sup's Woody board package (the board isn't available on its own, though, so the package is actually your only option), which comes with everything you need to get straight out on your new paddleboard as soon as the cardboard box arrives at your door.
Wave Woody SUP package specs
Length: 10ft (11 ft also available)
Max weight: 130kg
Colours available: aqua or navy
Accessories included: yes
The package includes your new board, an adjustable paddle, a detachable back fin, a dual action pump, an ankle leash, a repair kit and a backpack to pack all of that into for easy transportation. Two lengths are available – shorter paddlers will get on best with the 10ft Woody, and the 11ft Woody will suit anyone over 6ft in height, for increased stability. I'm 5'7 and I tried the 10ft Woody, which felt like a great shape and size for me. The Woody has a rounded, slightly lifted nose, which decreases speed but offers good manoeuvrability, a grippy rubber mat to stand on and a wide deck, suitable for beginners gaining confidence with standing up on a SUP.
Most inflatable SUPs look pretty similar, and usually come in white or bright colours. The Woody, as the name suggests, is a bit of a cut above other entry-level designs – the single-layer ply on the surface of the board has an attractive wood effect that looks very smart, with details in either aqua or navy blue.
Wave Woody SUP package review: inflation and setup
Inflatable SUP boards can look a bit off-putting if you're new to paddling – although they offer a more compact size for storage at home and in the car, it can all look a bit fiddly to set up every time you want to go exploring. Not so the Woody. Zip open the backpack, which has comfortable padded straps for easy carrying, and you've got a roomy space packed with everything you need. Unroll the board, attached the included hand pump and the SUP will be solid and ready to use in about five minutes.
A single fin clips on easily to the bottom of the board (and no tools, which in my experience are a pain to use and immediately get lost, are needed). The paddle, which can be unclipped into three separate pieces for transportation, is adjustable and also feels like good quality. The ankle strap is comfortable and stays put even for hours of paddling, and features a ‘swivel' design that allows it to move with you. A comfortable handle on the middle of the board will help you lug it down to the water. Then you're ready to go.
I've tested out other entry-level boards in the past that feel rather cheap and flimsy, or even that degrade to the point of letting in water after just a few uses. These are obviously a false economy, especially given that most beginner boards start at around £200. The Woody is like a cut above those cheap models, and feels solid and secure to use. Design is thoughtful, with extra touches that you don't usually find on more affordable boards such as a GoPro mount on the front and D rings for added storage or for adding a chair at the back.
Other paddleboards can be a faff to deflate and to pack away into a backpack, but the Woody deflates fast, folds down neatly and the backpack has extra space built in, so there's no need to play tetris when you pack everything down again. There's even room to spare for a life jacket or extra kit, so if you need to hike a distance with the Woody to reach the perfect paddle spot, you can pack everything you need for your day out.
Wave Woody SUP package review: out on the water
I tested the Woody with a long paddle down the River Avon, and its inflated platform felt reassuringly solid and well-balanced underfoot. This is a wide, well-balanced board that beginners will find perfect for finding their feet, so it's not very quick. That doesn't matter much if you're out touring, but more experienced paddlers can pick something smaller and sportier. For laid-back days exploring rivers and lakes, rather than paddling for exercise or out on the open sea, this is a good shape to pick.
When you're sitting or standing, the rounded nose of the board rises slightly out of the water, which makes manoeuvring easier. The stretchy bungee panel on the front of the board is ideal for storing a dry sack with spare clothes, kit or even your lunch in it, although I'd have liked closer-spaced straps for keeping smaller items snugly in place. The wide rubber panel that takes up most of the back of the board feels grippy underfoot – great for getting used to standing up.
Wave Woody SUP package review: alternatives to consider
In T3's Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star inflatable stand up paddleboard review, the reviewer rated this similarly priced board extremely highly, so that's well worth a look to start with. Aquaplanet's MAX Sup is another entry-level design that offers good value for money when it comes to quality, and at 10'6 it's a generous size that will give beginners confidence. Its cheerful rainbow design is just as distinctive as the Woody's looks, too. Fancy something nimbler? The NKX Flash is smaller, lighter and faster, and will suit intermediate SUP-ers heading into the sea to try out small waves.
If you have a bigger budget, check out T3's Red Paddle Co Ride MSL review for a look at a top-quality, beginner-friendly board.
Wave Woody SUP package review: verdict
I've got nothing but good things to say about the Wave SUP Woody Package, which looks and feels like great quality even though it sits at the more affordable end of the paddleboard market. This beauty of a board is easy to inflate, set up and get out on the water with, offers a wide and comfortable platform for beginners to gain confidence on and packs away neatly when your adventure is finished. The included accessories are great, too. Top marks for this design, which is an ideal first board for would-be SUP-ers keen to explore placid lakes and rivers.