Riverboards come in four basic styles: rescue board, hydrospeed, hard shell and inflatable. Variations are as many as individuals are willing to experiment.
Solid board, tends to have a bit of bend in it, makes it easy to catch surf and play in holes. Hard bottom, hard plastic grips, variable lengths. Buy
This board is modeled after the bodyboard, made with mini-cell foam, astro-deck and slick bottom. Flexible grips. Surfs waves well, a little more work to punch through holes. Takes some practice to stay on. Personal favorite. Less rocker than the Carlson. New designs for surfing and rescue crafts are available. Buy
Check out this full comparison and the dangers. Can't beat them for travel, but you can on every other level. Rode a Mean Monkey at the New river at Fayette Station. Felt a little hard to control. Handles are at an angle on production models. Buy
Need help deciding which board is right for you?
Hand-made crafts that are ultra light-weight (no metal parts), durable. Mini cell foam. Watched one fly off a moving car on a highway, bounce off the car behind and neither was worse for the experience. You can make one yourself if you have the right tools.
Hard Shell or Sledge
I rode one of these on the American river and it felt like driving a Cadillac compared to a Porshe. Stable, heavy, easy to punch through waves & holes. At 15-22 lbs, carrying it will build your muscles. Notice how all the other boards have more vertically oriented handles, which feel more natural.
At 20lbs, the Anvil lives up to its name. The one I tried, an early model, had to be drained constantly. Punched holes well, comfortable riding on my back (transport with backpack strap, sold separately). On my belly, I kept slipping backward. Elbows felt cramped. I like being able to pull my legs up onto the Kern. Can't do that with this piece of plastic. Buy