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Best Paddle Board Anchors (And Why)

Sometimes you just want to sit still for a while. You’ve been paddling for a while, but now it’s time for a break. Time to hang your feet over the edge of your SUP and just chill, But the wind keeps blowing you into the beach, Or the current sweeps you downstream. What is a body to do?

It sounds like a SUP anchor would do the trick for you. But you ask, “What is the best paddle board anchor for me?”

There are many types of anchors, but there are 4 that are popular with paddleboarders. They are…

  • Grapnel Anchor (folding)
  • Mushroom Anchor
  • Navy Anchor
  • Danforth Anchor

The best anchor for you will depend on the conditions that you will be anchoring in. These conditions include:

  • What is the bottom of the body of water made of? 
  • What are the weather conditions?
  • What are the water conditions?
  • How much weight does the anchor need to hold?

Many of the anchors listed above can serve double duty, meaning they can anchor successfully in multiple situations. However, some conditions require a specific anchor type, and I will discuss that in more detail below. In fact, I once knew a guy who owes his life to having a good SUP anchor.

Grapnel Anchor

A Paddleboard Anchor Next to a Stand-Up Paddleboard

The Grapnel Anchor is by far the most popular anchor with stand-up paddle boarders because of its versatility. With its lightweight design and ability to hold fast in most conditions, It is almost ideal for use on a SUP. This is not lost on manufacturers.

They have taken the Grapnel anchor and packaged it into neat and tidy bundles with the anchor, line, and fasteners all packed in a nice carry bag that fits nicely under your forward bungees.

Here is a link to one on Amazon. It weighs 3 pounds and comes with plenty of line for most situations. Another option would be to buy the anchor by itself and buy as much line as you need separately. You could save a few bucks this way. (no snazzy bag, though).

The versatility is what really makes the Grapnel anchor stand out. It can hold a board still over a sand bottom, just as well as over an oyster bed or a rocky bottom. The four, usually foldable, arms of a Grapnel anchor can dig into the sand go make sure you don’t drift away from a yoga class on a windy day. Or they can catch the edge of a rock and hold you fast over your favorite fishing hole.

Pros of a Grapnel Anchor

  1. Good weight-to-strength ratio. With the ability to dig into the sand or hook onto a rock, it doesn’t need to add too much weight to your board to be functional.
  2. Inexpensive. You can pick one of these up, including the line for less than $30 generally. Here is an example.  Check Price on Amazon.
  3. Versatile. This type of anchor can hold on most bottom types.

Cons of a Grapnel Anchor

  1. When anchoring to a sandy bottom with a heavy current or high winds, the Grapnel tends to slip.
  2. A Grapnel can easily get snagged if anchoring near submerged vegetation.

Mushroom Anchor

A Mushroom anchor is the second most common anchor I see used by paddleboarders. It is ideal for anchoring over a sandy or other soft bottom (broken shell, soft mud, etc.) in light to moderate wind and current conditions

I see these used a lot where I live for SUP yoga. The classes I see are usually gathered in the bay on the backside of the barrier islands. They will anchor about 50-100 yards off the beach, but out of the main channel. Here, the tidal current and wind are moderate. When the wind and currents are unmanageable, the class will usually seek a more sheltered location in the pools formed in the tidal grasses.

With its smooth design, the Mushroom anchor is also much easier to retrieve than other types of anchors, and it avoids snags on weeds and other bottom debris. This design also helps protect against dings and scratches on your board.
Here is the Mushroom anchor that I recommend, listed on Amazon.

Pros of a Mushroom Anchor

  1. Holds well in soft bottoms.
  2. Less likely to ding your paddle board than other anchors.
  3. Easier to retrieve than other types of anchors.

Cons of a Mushroom Anchor

  1. Like the Grapnel anchor, the mushroom tends to slip when trying to anchor in heavy winds or heavy currents.
  2. Does not anchor well on hard bottoms.

Navy Anchor

The Navy anchor is designed to hold on sandy and loose bottoms. They tend to be a bit heavier than other anchors, which makes paddle boarders sometimes overlook them.

When the Navy anchor Hits the bottom and pressure is applied, the bar holding the anchor line will rise toward your board while the two flukes dig into the sand and hold fast.

When retrieving your Navy anchor, it is much easier to paddle directly over it or even up current/wind to relieve pressure on the flukes before lifting to your board. If you try to pull your Navy anchor in from your anchor point, it takes much more effort to dislodge it.

Like most anchors, it can be vinyl coated to protect your board. Here is my recommended one from Amazon…

Pros of a Navy Anchor

  1. Holds well on a sandy bottom, even in moderate current or breeze

Cons of a Navy Anchor

  1. Does not anchor well on hard bottoms
  2. Can be hard to retrieve if from down current or downwind

Danforth Anchor (My Choice)

The Danforth anchor is my choice for an all-around and robust anchor. With its sharp, pointed flukes, it grabs a soft bottom fast and digs in deep.

The sharp flukes also allow it to penetrate hard mud or matted roots of marine grasses.

The pointed flukes also allow the Danforth anchor to catch crevasses in rocks or other hard surfaces and hold tight over those structures.

Like the Navy anchor, this one holds so well that I usually have to paddle back directly over it to retrieve the anchor.

Pros of the Danforth Anchor

  1. Holds the best in heavy current and wind
  2. Very versatile can anchor on soft, hard or rocky bottoms

Cons of the Danforth Anchor

  1. Can be hard to retrieve
  2. Harder to find a coated anchor than the other types for some reason, so it may scratch your board.

My SUP Anchor Suggestions

There is a quick overview of anchor types and how they are used. I personally have a 3-pound Grapnel anchor and a 6 pound Danforth anchor. As you can see from above, both of those are not coated, so when I take an anchor with me, I will always have a barrier between it and my board (usually wrapped in a towel in my dry bag).

I usually take my small Grapnel with me because it will hold well enough in most conditions if I just want to stop and take a break out on the water. If I know I will need to remain stationary for an extended period, I will take my larger Danforth.

One last note on using these anchors, especially the Danforth or Navy, is that they work better with a length of chain between the rope and the anchor itself. This allows the anchor to lie flat on the and pull horizontally, making for easier anchoring. The downside is that it also adds a bit of weight. It may seem like overkill, but if I have to stay in the same place, I use the Danforth with about 3 feet of chain attached.

Here is the one I recommend from Amazon.

Anchorless Options

Of course, there are ways to remain stationary without an anchor. I almost always carry a length of rope with me when I paddle so I can tie off to a dock, overhanging tree, or stump.

One thing I would not suggest you do is use your paddle to remain still by forcing it against the bottom. I have been guilty of this, but it is terrible for your paddle.

That’s all I have for you on anchors.

Thanks for stopping by and reading y’all!


For more, check out How Do You Anchor a Paddle Board? | With 5 Different Uses.