The Complete Guide To Buying Your First Stand Up Paddle Board

In this guide, we’ll look at a few critical areas of Paddleboarding to help you when buying your first Stand Up Paddleboard. We’ll cover everything you need to know and answer the questions you have in relation to buying your first SUP.

By the time you have finished reading, you will be confident and knowledgeable enough to go out and buy a board that’s perfect for you.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

Man Paddle Boarding

Stand Up Paddleboarding, or as it is widely known by the acronym ‘SUP,’ is a popular outdoor water sport, where the rider paddles through the water while standing up on a board similar to a surfboard. 

Paddle boarding has grown in recent years and is now one of the quickest growing board-sports around the globe. SUP is accessible for pretty much anyone, which has helped it to become so popular. 

From racing to relaxing, yoga, tours, and workouts, it’s a versatile outdoor activity for all.

Benefits Of Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Before we get into buying your SUP, let’s take a look at some of the reasons it’s become so popular.

If you speak to anyone who regularly does SUP, they will give you a laundry list of reasons to start paddle boarding and the benefits that come with it. With the increased number of people looking into starting to paddle board, let’s look at some of the benefits :

Great for Your Mood

There are a few reasons why paddle boarding is great for your mood. One of them is being out in the fresh open air, this is an excellent mood booster, and pair that with the effect being near water has on our mood, and you’ve got a natural way to elevate your self-esteem.

Also, after a lot of time out on the water, you’ll be much more likely to get a good night’s sleep, which will, of course, improve your mood.

A Core Workout 

If you’re new to paddle boarding you’ll notice how much of a core workout you get, in fact, it’s one of the best ab workouts you can get in an outdoor sport. 

Despite looking pretty relaxing, you’ll get a solid workout. This is because you’re maintaining your balance the whole time you’re paddling, which engages all your core muscles simultaneously, resulting in a killer core workout.

Controls Your Stress

Needless to say, being out in nature and getting exercise is an incredible stress reliever. Water has a relaxing property, and while you’re on your board you’ll be focused on keeping your balance and paddling, which will keep many other thoughts grounded.

Falling off your board can also give you a surge of adrenaline, especially if the water is freezing, which can help to alleviate stress. If you’re paddleboarding on the sea, you’ll also get the bonus of the salt air and sound of waves to aid in your relaxation.

Low-Impact 

Stand up paddle boarding is regarded as a low-impact exercise, which in short, means it won’t put your tendons or ligaments at risk compared to a lot of other workouts. 

SUP is great for recovery and in particular for those who have hip, knee, or shin pain. The low-impact workout means you can not only recover from any injuries but also increase your overall strength without putting yourself at risk.

Helps Your Balance 

Man trying to balance on a paddle board

There are many different situations where having good balance comes in handy. When you start paddleboarding you’ll notice a significant improvement in your balance. 

The focus on your core makes it a perfect way to improve your balance, but it can also help you strengthen your stability by training your ankles and joints.

Improve Your Posture 

The way we work as a whole has shifted, which has had an adverse effect on our posture. Pair that with increased smartphone usage, and you have a recipe for poor posture and back pain.

One of the great lasting benefits of regular paddle boarding is that it keeps you very upright and strengthens a wide array of muscles that help maintain good posture — as simple as it sounds, just standing up and paddling on the board correctly will have a host of benefits for your posture. 

A Quick Overview of SUP Features 

Broadly speaking SUPs can be split into two categories: hard boards and inflatable boards, so let’s have a look at these two types.

Inflatable Vs. Hard Boards for SUP

Hard Boards — There are a few boards in this category (Epoxy, Fiberglass, Traditional, Non-Inflatable).

Hard boards have much better performance than their inflatable counterparts; they are much more agile and work better for SUP surfing.

Considering storage might be a key factor when deciding on your SUP. You’ll need a large vehicle or car racks to transport your hard board, and these boards are much heavier, so this is something to take into account. 

On top of how you transport it, you’ll need somewhere to store your hard board, so that’s something also to consider.

Hard paddle boards are best if you want optimal speed and handling, plan on staying local, want to try SUP surfing, or want peak performance.

Inflatable paddle boards (iSUP) are favoured by people who want to travel, have limited space, or want the flexibility of where they can go with their board.

Strangely, inflatable boards are more durable than their rigid counterparts, which surprise a lot of people. An inflatable board won’t scratch, dent, or get damaged if you drop it, as opposed to the hard board.

You should choose an inflatable paddle board if you want to travel, have limited storage space, are a first-timer, or want a more affordable option.

SUP Hull Types

There are two main types of hulls for Stand Up Paddleboards, Displacement and Planing — Let’s take a quick look at both these hulls and give an overview of each one.

Displacement Hull 

A displacement hull on a Stand Up Paddleboard is a V-shape at the front or nose of the board. With this pointed nose, they almost look like a surfboard crossed with a kayak.

As the name implies, this hull displaces water, cutting through it as opposed to resting on top. This SUP hull type works great for speed and can provide extra stability for larger riders. 

Displacement Hulls are great for SUP touring, SUP racing, fitness paddling, long-distance paddling, and intermediate riders.

Planing Hull 

Many people mistake Stand Up Paddleboards with planing hulls for surfboards as they look very similar, aside from the paddle, of course.

Planing hull SUPs are much wider and flatter, with this type of hull resting on top of the water, as opposed to cutting through it like a displacement hull.

Planing hulls work well for beginners as they are traditionally more stable and more comfortable to control. Don’t mistake these as super slow options either, your speed is determined by a few factors, like your paddle strength, the water conditions, and the wind. 

Planing Hulls are great for surfing, yoga, recreational paddling, whitewater paddling, and beginners.

Choosing your SUP Paddle

As a general rule of thumb, your paddle should be around 9 inches taller than you; this will make your strokes more efficient and effective.

If you are looking at sharing your SUP with friends or family, it’s worth looking into an adjustable paddle — quite a lot of beginner SUPs will come with these.

There are different options when it comes to paddle materials. Let’s, look at a few of the different types and their materials.

Types of SUP Paddles 

Fiberglass Paddle & Nylon Blade

Fiberglass paddles are a great middle-ground between the more expensive and the more affordable paddles available. 

They are lighter than the aluminum alternative but are often more rigid. Fiberglass options  perform better than aluminum and offer a great compromise if you’re not ready to splash out for a carbon fiber paddle.

Aluminum Paddle & Nylon Blade

These paddles are often the best price and work great for a range of SUPs. They are also the heaviest of the paddle types but still perform well.

A lot of beginners often use these due to their price point and accessibility.

Carbon Fiber & Nylon Blade 

If you have a bigger budget, leaning to carbon fiber paddles is your best bet. They have optimal performance and are light and stiff. 

Regardless of the distance, these paddles will always be a good choice, but their main benefits are showcased most in long-distance paddling.

Carbon Fibre & Carbon Blade 

As we’ve mentioned above, this is the most expensive paddle you can buy and it performs the best out of the lot.

Similar to the Carbon & Nylon paddle, these shine at long distances but also work for any type of paddle boarding adventure. Typically these will not break down, so they aren’t recommended for travel.

Paddles for iSUPs

If you are looking at iSUP then finding a paddle that breaks down into a few pieces is a good idea to keep it easy to transport. 

For your first paddleboard we’d recommend leaning to one of the more affordable paddles; you can always get a carbon fiber paddle when you’re more established and experienced.

Stand Up Paddleboard Construction 

SUPs can come in a range of materials, let’s cover the most common ones below:

Epoxy Paddleboard – This is the standard material of a hard board. Typically EPS foam, fiberglass layers, and epoxy resin, which keeps it looking good. This is a durable and lightweight design that allows for flexibility and versatility. 

Inflatable Paddleboard – These boards have become very popular in recent years due to their ease of storage and transportation. Inflatable boards are suitable for first-timers and veterans alike. iSUP  are durable despite what their name implies and are really stable, so beginners and intermediate paddleboarders favor them. 

Soft Top Paddleboard – Another type of paddleboard to become popular recently is the soft top, which has a soft foam deck for comfort. The core of these boards is still rigid and sturdy, normally constructed with EPS high-density foam and other materials. 

SUP Fins

SUP Fins

Fins affect your speed, turning, and agility, and keep your board straight. How you set-up your fins is down to you and how you plan on using your SUP.  

If your board didn’t have fins, it would be difficult to turn and stay straight. The majority of fins will be removable so that you can customize your board to different environments and water types.

Note – Inflatable SUPs typically have small side fins that are non-removable; these are called side bites, don’t try to force these off.

Fins attach to your paddleboard in two main ways, Snap-In Fin Boxes and Standard/US Fin Boxes.

Snap-In Fin Boxes – these are easy to install and don’t require any tools to attach to your board.

Standard/US Fin Boxes – these fins are universal and work with multiple boards, and therefore there’s a broader selection available, but they do require a tool to attach. 

Both Fin Box types will work just fine, so it’s more a personal preference; snap-in ones are easier, standards ones are more versatile and widely used.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular SUP fin set-ups. Single Fin, 2+1 Fins, and Quad Fins.

Single Fin – Without a fin, you’ll struggle to keep your paddleboard straight, so they are an essential feature of your board. On a single fin set-up, you’ll have one center fin, generally between 8-10” in length. 

Note:  If you’re going to paddle in shallow water, you’ll want to get a shorter fin no more than 5”.

2+1 Fins –  This is the set-up most SUPs will use, with one large center fin and two smaller fins on the sides. These side fins help you turn and maneuver better in the water and are generally between 2-4”.

Quad Fins – Another set-up that people use is quad-fins., With no center fin and four fins on the back, two on each side. Quad fins lean more to surfing SUPs and are less common in recreational boards.

Additional Features to Look For When Buying Your First SUP

Paddle boarding on the water

Deck Pad – Regardless of how you’ll be using your SUP, you want to ensure you’ve got a comfortable deck pad, as you’ll be standing or kneeling on it a lot. They not only provide comfort but also grip, so look for high-quality deck pads.

Paddleboard Thickness – This is dependent on a few factors, such as board length, rider size, weight, and materials used. But anything from 4-6” is pretty common and recommended for first-time buyers or beginners.

Carry Handle – Having a board that is easy to carry and transport should be at the forefront of your mind. Not having a carry handle is a rookie mistake — most paddleboards nowadays include one.

Leash – One of the most essential features you’ll need. The leash keeps your board attached to you if you fall off and will help to keep you safe in the water.

The Best Stand Up Paddleboards for First Time Buyers 

Below, we will look at seven great Stand Up Paddleboards for first-time buyers in the price range we mentioned. All of these boards are good choices and all come with a money-back guarantee.

GILI 10’6 Komodo

The Komodo is a versatile and great-looking inflatable board that is suitable for any level of ability. This all-around board has a paddle holder, supports up to 340 lbs, and a comfy deck pad.

GILI 10'6 Komodo

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the GILI 10’6 Komodo.

Where To Buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 10.6″x33″x6″
  • Volume – 225L
  • Weight Cap – 340 Pounds
  • SUP Weight – 21 Pounds
  • Removable Bungee Area
  • Triple Layer Fusion

What We Like:

  • Beautiful colors: blue & teal
  • Paddle holder built-In
  • Can be converted to a Kayak
  • Suitable for multiple uses
  • Bundle accessories
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • Honestly, we can’t fault this paddle Board

The GILI 10’6 Komodo is a fantastic paddle board that comes with an array of useful features and included accessories. You have every you need with this SUP and it comes with our full recommendation.

GILI 10’6 11’6 Meno

The GILI Meno SUP is a perfect all-rounder board that is nice and wide, making it one of the most stable boards on the market. This inflatable board has a quick pump so you can get in the water faster. A perfect SUP for beginners and all water conditions. 

GILI MENO SUP

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the GILI 10’6/11’6 Meno.

Where To Buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 10’6″x33″x6″ & 11’6″x35″x6″
  • Volume – 245L for 10’6 & 270L for 11’6
  • Weight Cap – 450lbs for 10’6 & 485lbs for 11’6″
  • SUP Weight – 23lbs for 10’6 & 24lbs for 11’6
  • Bungees At Front & Rear
  • Fusion Layer Technology
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Love

  • Fantastic Bundle Accessories
  • Big Max Weight Capacity
  • Camera Mount On The Nose Of The SUP
  • Excellent Stability
  • Big Traction Pad
  • 2 Sizes To Choose From

What We Don’t Like:

  • Deck-Pad grooves could be deeper.

The GILI 10’6/11’6 Meno is another great option from GILI Sports. What we love about this paddle board besides the great features and durable build design, is the fact that you can choose betweeen 2 different sizes.

iRocker Cruiser 10’6

The Cruiser is designed to be a highly stable and maneuverable board geared towards first-time buyers and beginners. This wide SUP has a range of colors and can support two riders with its generous weight limit.

iRocker 10'6 Cruiser Paddle Board

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the iRocker Cruiser 10’6.

Where To Buy:

  • iRocker – With Worldwide Shipping Available

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 10’6″x33″x6″
  • Volume – 234L
  • Weight Cap – 400 Pounds
  • SUP Weight – 25 Pounds
  • Excellent Stability
  • Tracking Is Smooth

What We Like:

  • Carbon Blend Paddle
  • Lock-in fins
  • Famous Brand Name
  • Suitable for multiple uses
  • Suitable For Multiple Activities
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • The Light Color Deck Pad

iRocker is a well-known brand supplying stand up paddle boards all over the world. The 10’6 cruiser is a good chpoice for anyone regardless of their experience.

GILI 11″ & 12″ Adventure SUP

The Adventure iSUP is another board that has excellent stability and is designed for optimal performance, coming in two sizes 11’ or 12’. Defined as one of the fastest inflatable paddle boards, this board is made for people who want to use it in many water conditions.

GILI 11" & 12" Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the GILI 11″ & 12″ Adventure stand up paddle board.

Where To Buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 11″x32″x6″ * 12″x32″x6″
  • Volume – 238L for 11″ & 272L for 12″
  • Weight Cap – 290lbs for 11″ & 330lbs for 12″
  • SUP Weight – 23lbs for 11″ & 24lbs for 12″
  • Dual Layer Fusion Technology
  • Multiple Colors

What We Like:

  • Two Size Options
  • Yellow & Black Color
  • Great Shape To The Board
  • Lots of D-Rings
  • Fantastic Bundle Accessories
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • This is a great SUP, the only slight concern is lack of grooves on the deck, but this is nit-picking really.

The GILI 11″ and 12″ Adventure touring board is suitable for beginners and experienced paddle boarders. It’s fast, stable, and another great option for a great SUP.

THURSO Surf Expedition Touring SUP

The Expedition is a touring inflatable paddleboard created for maximizing speed with its streamlined body. This board is sturdy and uses a 2+1 fin set-up to increase maneuverability and control.

THURSO Surf Expedition SUP

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the THURSO Surf Expedition Touring SUP.

Where To Buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 11.6″x30″x6″
  • Volume – 300L
  • Weight Cap – 330 Pounds
  • SUP Weight – 28 Pounds
  • Lock Fin Set
  • Expandable Bungees

What We Like:

  • Lots of Space
  • Very Fast
  • Carbon Shaft Paddle Included
  • High Volume Board
  • Good Included Accessories
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • It’s quite a heavy board to carry

The THURSO SUP is a fast paddle board that’s probably a little bit more trickier to manage than other boards mentioned. Experienced boarders will be fine, while beginners will need to adapt and get used to the board.

GILI Air 10’6

The GILI Air SUP markets itself on being accessible for everyone, and that’s exactly what it is. Designed to be used in various conditions, stable, and easily portable. The GILI Air is a great choice for any first-time buyer.

GILI 10'6 Air Paddle Board

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the GILI Air 10’6 SUP.

Where To Buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 10.6″x31″x6″
  • Volume – 225L
  • Weight Cap – 280 Pounds
  • SUP Weight – 19 Pounds
  • Grab Handles
  • Snap-In Center Fin
  • Durable

What We Like:

  • The Color Options Are Great
  • Suitable For Beginners
  • Inexpensive
  • Suitable for multiple uses
  • Everything You Need To Get Started Is Included
  • Lightweight
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • The Included Paddle is Aluminium

There’s something special about the GILi Air 10’6 stand up paddle board. It’s a great price, suitable for many activities and looks really good on the eye.

Nixy 10’6 Newport G4

The whole G4 range is really strong, and this is no exception. The Nixy 10’6 Newport is a versatile all-around SUP that’s lightweight, performs well, is stable, and works well for different activities and styles.

Nixy Newport G4 Stand Up Paddle Board

For your convenience, we have found the best place to buy the Nixy Newport G4 10’6 SUP.

Where To Buy:

  • Nixy – With Worldwide Shipping Available

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions – 10.6″x33″x6″
  • Volume – 225L
  • Weight Cap – 300 Pounds
  • SUP Weight – 21 Pounds
  • Deck Pad Has Sun Protection
  • Action Mounts 5 M8

What We Like:

  • 16 D-Rings
  • Carry Handles At Front & Rear
  • Great Pump Included
  • Good Stability
  • Bundle accessories
  • 2-Year Warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • Honestly, we can’t fault this paddle Board

The Nixy Newport G4 is a great SUP suitable for beginners and those looking for a lightweight stable paddle board to use on a variety of different waters.

Top Tips for Standup Paddleboard Beginners

Here are a few more tips for people who are new to paddle boarding and are looking to buy their first board:

Keep an Eye on the Horizon 

Many beginner paddle boarders will look at their feet, but actually, for the best stability, it’s best to look at the horizon. 

Keep your head up, your body weight over your toes, and your back straight. You’ll be much less likely to end up in the water this way!

Use Your Core

A common misconception is that paddleboarders use their arms, but paddling is best done from your core. Using your core will help your paddle stroke become much more potent and more effective.

Pick a Location That’s Right for You 

The majority of people who paddleboard are doing it for fun. It’s not about who can ride big waves or impress other people. Pick the best conditions for your skill level; if you’re more of a beginner, try flat, calm waters, lakes, or rivers.

Watch the Conditions 

Understanding how weather and water conditions affect your paddleboarding is a crucial skill to learn. Always make sure you know the weather report for the day. 

Falling Right 

Everyone falls off when SUP; it happens to the best of us, but the important thing is to fall off correctly. Understanding how to fall off your SUP the right way will ensure you don’t get hurt.

The trick is to fall away from your board. SUPs are big and can hurt if you hit it. Don’t worry; you won’t get separated from your board if you’re using a leash, which brings us to our next tip!

Attach a Leash 

Regardless of your skill level or location, a leash is an important part of your board. This not only keeps you and others safer but also means you and your board won’t get separated when you fall off.

Be Mindful of Others

Remember always try to be respectful and mindful of other water users, especially when you’re starting out. Ensure you have plenty of space when you’re practicing, so you keep yourself and others safe.

Face the Front 

For many people, it’s not always clear which way you’re supposed to be facing and which end of the board is the front or nose. 

Make sure you are facing the right way. Checking where the fins are is a great way to double-check. Using a sticker is another easy way to remind yourself which end is the nose and which is the tail. 

Enjoy Yourself 

Arguably, the most important tip you can receive. Paddleboarding is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, so don’t get too stressed about it. 

Like with anything, it will take a little time to get used to it, but you’ll be paddling like a pro in no time if you follow these tips.

FAQs

Who Can Stand Up Paddleboard?

Short answer, anyone! 

Regardless of your age or fitness level, you are capable of learning how to SUP. Within a short space of time, you’ll be able to Stand Up Paddleboard like a pro.

What Are The Different Activities For Paddle Boarding?

There’s a lot of different activities and ways to paddle board. Here are a few examples: 

  • Recreational Paddleboarding
  • Paddleboard Yoga
  • SUP Surfing
  • Paddleboard Tours 
  • Long Distance SUP
  • SUP Racing
  • Whitewater and River SUP
  • SUP Fishing 

How Hard is it to Learn to SUP?

Compared to other water sports, Stand Up Paddleboarding is incredibly accessible and easy to learn. Once you get the fundamentals down, they’ll be no stopping you.

As a rule of thumb, the more momentum you have, the easier and more stable the SUP will be; the hardest part at the start is keeping your balance while you get your rhythm. 

Where Are You Going to SUP?

When you start to paddle, it’s recommended that you choose flat water so you can practice your balance and technique. This could be anywhere from a lake, to a river, to a calm bay. 

Regardless of where you are learning, you can always expect a little bit of movement, but you want to aim for flatwater conditions.

Many beginners ask about practicing in a pool, but as you need a lot of space, this isn’t a good idea. Plus, the risk of hitting the sides if you fall off.

How Do You Pick The Right Size Paddle Board?

Most paddle boards are going to be between 10-12 feet and around 31-35 inches wide. 

It’s recommended for beginners or first-time buyers to get a wider board for extra stability, so lean towards the 35 inches width. 

If you want additional size details, check out this more in-depth SUP Board Guide.

What Is the Best Stand Up Paddle Board For Beginners?

With all of the different types of Stand Up Paddleboards available on the market, it can be easy to get a little lost. With that in mind, we’ll break down two of the best types to look at when you’re buying your first SUP.

All-Around SUP

Different lengths, widths, and board set-ups are used for various specializations, so consider the All-Around Stand Up Paddleboard as a board of all trades, master of none. 

As the name suggests, an All-Around SUP is designed to be used for a range of activities and covers many bases. 

An all-around SUP is great for anyone and all conditions, so it works great as a beginner or first-timer board. 

Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards (iSUP)

One of the biggest trends in SUP is the popularity of Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards. With their more affordable prices, to the convenience of transporting them; there’s many reasons why people are choosing iSUPs.

Despite what people think, these boards can be useful for anyone, from beginners to veterans. The key thing to look out for when buying an iSUP is to make sure you get a high-quality one that has reinforced PVC exterior.

iSUPs are great for beginners.

How Much Should I Spend On A Stand Up Paddle Board?

There are many factors that affect the price of a SUP, and certain brands of boards can be expensive, as with anything high-end. With the recent boom in Stand Up Paddleboarding, there are many more affordable options available, which makes paddle boarding much more accessible than it used to be.

If you’re looking at buying your first SUP you should be looking for something that can last and give you the features you need to succeed. 

For your first SUP, look at spending between $500 and $1200. Prices can vary greatly, but this is a good benchmark price.

Wrapping Up

By now, you should know a lot more about SUP’s. You understand the different types, the accessories, and what’s best for beginners. When buying your first board use this complete guide to buying your first stand up paddle board to help you out — it could save you a lot of hassle.

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