Do you want a no-fluff report featuring expert advice on the best paddle boards for beginners? If so, this simple guide is just what you need.
So, you have the bug for paddle boarding?
The joy of being on the water with the sun on your back has you hooked. All you can think about is getting your own board as soon as possible.
It can be overwhelming, tiresome, I’m not going to lie.
When looking for your first SUP you’re hit with specs and accessories, features and styles, it’s enough to send you potty.
But fear not.
With the correct guidance you can avoid the stress of getting it wrong — You’ll be able to find a paddle board that’s perfect for you.
If you’re asking questions like:
What are the best paddle boards for beginners? What features should I look for? Are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners?
Then you’ve come to the right place. That’s exactly what this article is about. After reading, you’ll know which SUP is perfect for you.
That being said, let’s get to it.
Our Number 1 Pick (For Those In A Hurry)
Our top pick for beginners is the GILI Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board. The board’s wide and round nose design makes this a perfect choice for beginners to find their balance and sharpen their skills. The SUP also comes with added features, included extras, and a 2-year warranty.
Best Beginner Friendly Paddle Boards To Buy
There are many great manufacturers on the market making quality SUP’s for beginners. From Gili Sports to iRocker, Thurso to Shark, you’re spoilt for choice.
Below is a selection of the best available Paddle Boards for beginners to purchase. All of them are suitable for new SUPers, and will get you off to a great start with your new hobby.
A timeless design from a standout company — the 11’ iSUP from Red Paddle Co. is one of the best-rated boards for beginner riders looking to push their paddling to the next level. The newly innovated shape, from nose to tail, is more streamlined than the models before. This board has found a balance between stability and maneuverability.
There is less thickness to this board than others, which may make the first strokes more challenging. But that doesn’t have a massive impact on the weight capacity as it can carry 110kg comfortably.
Red Paddle’s Compact SUP boards deflate down to half their size, one of the great features helping in taking your adventure anywhere. This board also has tubular carry handles to help take it down to the water, a bungee cargo holder on the nose, and a quad stringer system giving more tension and rigidity.
Red Paddle Specs
|MODEL||Red Paddle 11″|
|DIMENSIONS||11″ x 32″ x 4.7″|
|MAX WEIGHT||110 Pounds|
|Backpack, Pump, Paddle, Fins & Leash||Only Available In One Color|
|5-Year Warranty||Low Max Weight|
The Gili Air 10’6 iSUP paddle board performs well in practically all water conditions including the ocean, for the more advanced SUPers. The board features a generously wide deck, which is suitable for you to ride with your dog if you have one.
Durability and versatility are two words that come to mind when talking about the Gili Air. The SUP feels like a hard board under your feet when fully inflated. The military strength PVC is quite durable so you won’t have to worry about scratches, dents, dings, drops, or rocks.
Front and center grab handles for portability and rear D-Ring makes attaching a leash simple. The round nose at the front is great for balance and helpful for those who are new to paddleboarding
This is one of the best beginner boards available in our opinion and it’s suitable for all skill levels.
Gili Air Specs
|MODEL||GILI AIR 10’6|
|DIMENSIONS||10’6″ x 32″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||275 Pounds|
|Pump, Leash, Paddle & Pump||Side Fins Not Removable|
|Valve Wrench & Repair Kit|
|Multiple Colors Available|
|Supports Ocean Charities|
Versatility, stability, and a great all-rounder. The GILI Komodo offers great performance for all water conditions. Designed to carry multiple riders, pets, and yoga enthusiasts. This versatile board is great for those who want a versatile paddle board.
This board features both a wide stance and a pointed nose so you won’t be losing any speed when paddling this board. All the bungee cords are fully removable which allows you to make full use of the full-length deck pad.
Beginners will have no problem mastering the basics, and then taking it to cover all other areas of paddling. The Komodo is a great example of a hybrid board design to cover all bases. It’s made with Triple Layer Fusion Technology — the strongest SUP material available, and is 20% lighter than other dual-layer constructed SUPs.
Gili Komodo Specs
|MODEL||GILI Komodo 10’6|
|DIMENSIONS||10’6″ x 33″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||340 Pounds|
|Paddle, fin Kit, Rolling Backpack & Leash||Manual Pump Can Be Hard Work|
|2 Color Choice|
The iRocker Cruiser SUP performs well in most conditions and is a perfect choice for beginner paddle boarders. The overall stability and maneuverability qualities are what makes this board so desirable for beginners. So, whether you want to cruise gracefully or remain stationary for an onboard yoga flow, this is one of the best paddle board choices on the market.
iRocker’s latest model is 20% lighter than their previous inflatable stand up paddle boards but that doesn’t impact the weight capacity. It can carry up to a whopping 400lbs (181kg), making it one of the strongest SUPs going.
The EVA deck pad is comfortable underfoot and doubles up as a perfect yoga mat. You can deflate the board and easily roll it up to take on planes, trains, and all kinds of road trips. This Cruiser board will definitely not limit where your adventure will take you.
iRocker Cruiser Specs
|MODEL||iRocker Cruiser 10’6|
|DIMENSIONS||10’6″ x 33″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||400 Pounds|
|Twin Chamber Hand Pump||A Bit Slow Compared To Other Boards|
|Multiple Color Options|
ITIWIT’s range of touring inflatable SUP boards for beginners is good for progressing skill and confidence up to an intermediate level. The X100 board is easy-to-use and has an impressive weight capacity of up to 190kg, meaning you can take a friend or your dog for a ride. However, to achieve the most from this light and stable board, the ideal weight of the paddler is around 60kg.
This stand up paddle board is significantly smaller than others mentioned above which will make it difficult for some people to learn the basics. But the durability boasts a tough PVC paired with impact-resistant glued drop-stitch construction — it can handle the bumps and falls as you start off. There is also a foam deck pad already fitted giving a touch more comfort for the rider.
ITIWIT’s versatile shaping and pointed nose not only allows you to cruise along flat water without a care in the world, but also perfect for riding some small waves. Storage backpack, center fin, and coiled leash are all included in the bundle.
|DIMENSIONS||9.0″ x 29″ x 5″|
|MAX WEIGHT||Less Than 60KG|
|Compact Design||No Paddle Included|
Inspired by nature, the Jobe Ventura is one of the best paddle boards for beginners for those wanting a hard board option. The bamboo veneer makes this board aesthetically pleasing. This all-round board features a large deck area that is ideal to learn and master the basic steps on flat water.
Everything about this board is easy and simple. Click in the (toolless) center fin, attach your action camera to the included plug, and begin your paddling adventure. The channels and sharp cut nose and rocker will have you gliding through the water with ease.
As it’s a hardboard SUP, the weight is almost twice as heavy as an inflatable paddle board. However, it can comfortably carry 110kg with no problems.
Jobe Ventura Specs
|MODEL||Jobe Ventura 10’6|
|DIMENSIONS||10’6″ x 32″ x 5″|
|MAX WEIGHT||110 Kg|
|Leash||Low Max weight|
|Auto-Air Vent Plug|
Lightweight and stable – the Nixy Newport iSUP is one of the best buys out there. Inflate to 20psi for maximum rigidity will make this inflatable paddle board feel and perform like a fiberglass model. The build quality is good and the design versatile, meaning it will last you well as you progress your skills from a first-time beginner to a competent intermediate paddler.
The design is very sleek and looks great as it’s cutting and tracking through the water. The dual bungee feature on the nose and tail allows you to take gear along for the ride.
Nixy has really hit the mark on all things. Speed, performance, durability, and stability are all exceptional features and will be a fantastic addition to any water enthusiast branching into the stand up paddle board world.
Nixy Newport Specs
|DIMENSIONS||10.6″ x 33″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||350 Pounds|
|Duel-Chamber Pump, Leash & Paddle||Not The Best For Accessory Use|
|Multiple Color Options|
The Slingshot Crossbreed iSUP is a versatile board that’s suitable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced paddle boarders. It’s easy to inflate, deflate, and super portable with the included carry backpack. With a durable drop-stitch and a firm 15-18psi level, the performance easily matches a hardboard paddle board.
The paddle board has an enormous volume and is over 10 feet in length, safe to say this is an ideal board to learn basic SUP skills. It features a wide deck with a tapered tail and a slight rocker to the nose, making it perform well in most conditions.
You receive everything needed to get paddling when you buy this board: 3-piece adjustable carbon paddle, 9” center fin, dual-action pump, heavy-duty backpack, repair kit, and bungee cords for storage. All you need to bring is enthusiasm to learn and a nice summer day to hit the water.
Slingshot CrossBreed Specs
|DIMENSIONS||11″ x 36″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||320 Pounds|
|Repair Kit & Bungee Cord||Quite A Heavy SUP|
This SUP from Blu Wave, the easy rider is one of the best all-rounder paddle boards out there, perfect for the whole family. Touring, fishing, Yoga? — no matter what you want to do as you progress your skills, this board will see you through. It’s versatile shaping and construction makes it very stable in most conditions.
The Blu Wave board is made using an EVA foam core, molded P.C layer, a second fiberglass epoxy layer, EVA bumpers, reinforced carbon fiber rails, a built-in carry handle, and an EVA deck pad. This is an ultra-tough construction, ideal for beginners to make mistakes and learn at their own pace without any worry.
With less rocker at the nose and large volume, this Easy Rider paddle board is stable and can carry up to 240lbs -— perfect for an afternoon out on the water with a friend or a coolbox.
Easy Rider Specs
|MODEL||Easy Rider 11’6|
|DIMENSIONS||11’6″ x 32″ x 4.75″|
|MAX WEIGHT||240 Pounds|
|Fin Box||Carry handle Not The Best To Grip|
|Built-In Carry Handles||On The Heavy Side|
|EVA Deck Pad|
Thurso Surf is one of the most well-known names in the industry. Their high-quality and superb designs make them stand out for good reason. We’ve picked out their Prodigy Junior SUP as one of the best stand up paddle boards for beginners. The weight capacity allows for 165lbs (75kg) making it a great board for kids to learn and progress before stepping up to something more specialized.
The package comes with everything you need to get paddling straight away including a 3-piece carbon paddle, 3 removable quick-lock fins, 10ft double swivel coiled leash, and a travel-friendly duffel bag for storage. You just need to grab a pump (not included in board purchase price) and then you can hit the water with the kids.
This Junior board is the best way to get your kids into the sport safely. With the top materials and construction methods, there is no better kids board than this Thurso Surf iSUP.
Thurso Surf Specs
|DIMENSIONS||7’6″ x 30″ x 4″|
|MAX WEIGHT||165 Pounds|
|Duffel Bag & Leash||No Pump|
Start your aquatic adventure off with this awesome paddle board from Tower. This newly designed, second-generation SUP can hold more weight than previous boards and is more streamlined, allowing you to paddle better, gaining more speed. Carry and move this iSUP easily when fully inflated using one of the three strategically placed carry handles.
Suitable for use on rivers, lakes, or calm oceans — there are no limits with this board. It doesn’t have as many fancy features as other SUPs, however, its simplicity is what makes it so great for beginners.
Tower Adventurer 2 Specs
|MODEL||Tower 2 Adventurer|
|DIMENSIONS||10.4″ x 32″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||400 Pounds|
|Pump & Paddle Included||Quite Heavy To Transport|
|Large Center Fin (Removable)||No Leash|
Scott Burke’s boards are lightweight and a convenient alternative to standard fiberglass/epoxy SUPs. The materials chosen are tough and durable, designed to last and provide maximum performance to the rider. The drop stitch technology holds the board’s shape through the several layers, allowing a high pressure of inflation for great rigidity and stability.
This board is designed for anyone and everyone, with a weight capacity of up to 300lbs, and near-indestructible construction. Because of these qualities, this is a perfect board for beginners to get to grips with the basics and not worry about putting a dent in the board.
The package bundle includes a pump, fins, leash, and travel bag, making life easier right from the get-go. So what are you waiting for? Grab yours and hit the water.
Keeper Sports Specs
|MODEL||Keeper Sports Quest SB|
|DIMENSIONS||11″ x 32″ x 6″|
|MAX WEIGHT||300 Pounds|
|Pump & Repair Kit Included||Paddle A Bit Heavy|
|Paddle||Reports Of Being Heavier Than Advertised|
Last but not least, is Shark’s All Round Cross stand up paddle board. This is an extremely versatile board and great for riding waves. It’s lightweight, in fact, one of the lightest on the market, and suits lighter riders best, with a maximum capacity of 165lbs.
With only 4 inches thickness to the board, this means it is not the most rigid SUP which could be difficult for some people. However, if you are a lighter rider then this will be great for you as you get more flex and turning capability to the board.
The materials used are heavy-duty and will be able to withstand the harsh learning curve that comes with the beginner territory. Like most other inflatable boards, it’s easy to inflate and deflate making it perfect for portability and travel.
Shark SUP Specs
|MODEL||Shark 10’6 SUP Cross|
|DIMENSIONS||10.6″ x 30″ x 4″|
|MAX WEIGHT||75 Kg|
|Pump & Repair Kit Included||Paddle Is A Bit Heavy|
|Paddle||Only 75 Kg Max Weight|
|Straight Ankle Leash|
|Backpack & Phonecase|
7 Key Features To Look For In A beginner’s SUP
Searching for the best paddle boards for beginners is made simple when you know what you’re looking for. If you’ve ever tried paddle boarding before, you may have noticed your SUP board was very wide and stable as you clambered onto the deck.
Generally speaking, entry-level boards are wider and slower, as this helps you out when you are learning. As you develop your skills and become a more advanced paddler, you can then experiment with different sizes and shapes of board.
For your first paddle board, you should be looking at a typical style of an all-around paddle board. Keep in mind to check these key features for your entry-level SUP:
Let’s take a look into each of these and discuss how these features can affect your search in finding the best beginner SUP.
Feeling stable and balanced is key for standing up on a paddle board. The size and shape of your board, in addition to your core strength, will determine how easy this is to do. Look for boards that are long, wide, and have a lot of volume, as these tend to be easier to balance on.
Size: width, length, and volume
Size does matter, especially for beginners. As mentioned above, Novice riders generally need a bigger and wider board to help with their balance and stability. However, it’s worth remembering that as boards get wider, it does get more difficult to maneuver.
Every SUP has a weight capacity that is determined by the board’s size, meaning there is leeway to consider depending on the rider’s height and weight. For more information, check out the specifications for each board.
The main factors used to measure a paddle board are:
- Length: how tall/long is the board?
- Width: how wide is the board’s deck?
- Volume: how many liters is the board? (i.e. the float)
There are a whole array of paddle board sizes out there, but these are the most ideal dimensions for the best beginner paddle board:
- Length: 10 to 12 feet
- Width: 30 to 35 inches
- Volume: epoxy/soft – 175 liters | inflatable – 225 to 275 liters
It is important to remember that these dimensions are a general guide. Remember, you can’t be too light for a SUP! It’s much better to be too light for a board than too heavy.
The volume is good guidance on buoyancy. The higher the volume in liters means a higher weight capacity. Generally, the more volume a board has the more stable it will be on the water.
When choosing the right stand up paddle board for you, the volume should be an important measurement to consider.
Pro Advice: To calculate the ideal weight capacity for you, include your weight plus any additional weight you’ll be carrying. We suggest adding 10 or 15 lbs to that number — just in case, this will cover any gear you choose to take with you. Choose a board for the weight you are now – even if you plan on losing weight in the future.
We always recommend an all-around style shape for beginner paddle boards. This offers a nice wide deck, a well-rounded nose, and plenty of length to get a feel for paddle boarding.
These beginner-friendly SUP’s will have you glide over the water gracefully and easily, no matter what the conditions are.
As you begin to advance your skills, you’ll be able to experiment more with the different shapes available depending on what activity/style of paddle boarding you choose to do. Hull shaping will begin to come in question, either planing or displacement hull. Beginners should be aiming for a planing hull shape.
There are three types of constructions to paddle boards, all suitable for beginners in their own way. Deciding which to go for depends on your lifestyle and what you want to get out of your new stand up paddle board.
- Soft Top
Soft tops suit those who:
- Have a tighter budget, as the material tends to be much cheaper than other constructions.
- Who are nervous about hurting themselves — the soft upper layer provides a more cushioned surface in the case of falls.
However, soft tops are very limiting and slow to handle on the water which will put a hold on your improvement.
Inflatables suit those who:
- Want to travel easily with their board, simply deflate, roll up, and tuck away in a SUP backpack.
- Have minimal storage at home, same idea as traveling, plus, your board only takes up a backpack size space in your home.
- Want a durable and versatile board that can go anywhere while limiting damage
Epoxy (hardboards) suit those who:
- Have space at home to store a large board without sacrificing their bed or sofa.
- Looking for optimal performance and speed.
- Don’t have the patience to inflate an iSUP and just want to grab and go with their gear.
Getting yourself set up to paddle does cost money. You need to determine your budget and decide how much you can afford.
All of the inflatable boards are in a mid-range price bracket which is both affordable and gives great quality.
A general rule of thumb for people buying their first paddle board is to not spend too much money on them. Chances are you are going to knock into things in the water. An entry-level board at the mid-range price bracket will give you exactly what you need in performance and won’t break the bank.
Most paddlers often look for a paddle board that is versatile. They want to cruise across a lake in addition to riding the waves in the ocean. It’s worth remembering, however, that versatility will be more important as your skills progress and you become a more competent rider.
Most all-around paddle boards will have a degree of versatility to get you started. Once you have experienced different activities with your new paddle board, you will then be able to look at specializing your board even more.
A good level of versatility in a board will take you over lakes with a fishing rod, and provide space to stretch into some yoga poses, while also allowing you to catch some waves and paddle with your dog.
Fins are a crucial element of your SUP. They give you tracking, speed, and help with the steering of your board. Stand up paddle boards generally have one center fin and two smaller side fins to aid in stability.
Normally for simple cruising, you can get by quite comfortably with just a single fin. For longer tours or more choppy waters on the ocean, a thruster or even quad set-up is advised to give you something extra to cut through the waters.
Nearly all SUP fins are removable. The key thing here is knowing which type of fin box to go for.
Snap-in boxes or US fin boxes.
As the name suggests, Snap-in boxes are quick and easy to use with no tools required. This is super convenient and appealing to beginner paddlers. Whereas the US fin boxes are more versatile and allow you to use a wider range of fins, but they do require a tool to use.
What kind of paddle board do I need?
Now you have a rough idea of what you need to look out for, you can begin to think about what type of paddle board you need.
You can find boards that tick a lot of boxes, while others are more specifically designed for a single purpose. Don’t worry and get overwhelmed! We’re about to tell you all you need to know about the different types of stand up paddle boards and which are great for beginners.
What’s The Best Type of SUP for a Beginner?
When you begin browsing for stand up paddle boards you may notice the amount of variety that is available. There are all-around boards, hybrids,, touring and racers, surf SUPs, and more.
An ‘All-Around,’ paddle Board is hands down the best type of SUP for a beginner. They are shaped with a wide nose, stable deck, and forgiving rails that are not overly sensitive to mistakes. These boards are designed with beginners in mind and allow the paddler to experience most avenues of paddle boarding.
Hybrid Paddle Boards are also suitable for beginner paddlers. If you’ve been able to get to grips with the basics beforehand, then this is possibly a good option for you. A Hybrid board will see you through most activities and allow you to progress your technique. You’ll be able to try the waves, and also cruise on flat water lakes.
What’s Not Suitable For a Beginner?
Touring and Racing Paddle Boards are not suitable for beginners. These boards are narrow and are shaped to cut through the water efficiently with an expert level of technique. Beginners will struggle on these more specialized boards and risk falling into the water instead of progressing with the basics.
What size paddle board do I need?
Ok, now you know what type of board you should be looking for. How do you figure out what size paddle board you need?
The best beginner paddle board provides stability and is proportional to the rider. You must consider your weight along with the board’s length, width, and volume.
Volume is the float capacity based on the board’s dimensions. A higher volume means more float, which results in higher weight capacity.
The recommended paddle board size for beginners is:
- Length: 10’ to 12’
- Width: 30” to 32”
- Thickness: 6”
- Volume: 225 to 275 liters
Are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners?
We firmly believe that decent inflatable paddle boards are ideal for beginners. When fully inflated, these boards are just as rigid and solid as any hardboard underfoot. They also sit much higher out of the water making it significantly easier to paddle in any conditions.
Benefits of an iSUP over a hard board
Still, need a bit more convincing? Here are some benefits of an iSUP over a hard board that should sway your mind:
- Storage made easy: simply deflate, roll up, and tuck away in a backpack
- Travel is simple: the same principle as above, take your iSUP anywhere with you, even up mountains for far reached wonders to discover
- Better value for money: generally speaking, you can get a better bang-for-your-buck in the inflatable department than the epoxy boards
- Safer when learning: you are less likely to hurt yourself when learning the basics with an iSUP
Basic paddle boarding tips to get you going
Once you’ve got your paddle board there will be no stopping you from hitting the water and exploring your new passion. Before you grab your SUP and start paddling, take in a few of these basic paddle boarding tips to help get you going in the right direction.
- Safety is always the first priority. Check your surroundings, be aware of any hazards, always use a leash and wear a PFD (personal flotation device).
- Fit, size, and adjust your paddle to be the correct height for you as the rider.
- Make sure you’re paddling correctly by keeping the paddle blade angled away from you.
- Get comfortable with paddling on your knees first before trying to stand up on the paddle board.
- When you stand, take one foot at a time in the center of the board keeping them at shoulders width apart.
- Momentum is key. Once you start standing get paddling straight away to get your momentum working in your favor.
- Be sure to clean all your equipment thoroughly after your paddle and make sure it’s dry before storing. This extends the lifespan of your gear.
Other paddle boarding gear to get you started
A lot of inflatable paddle boards come as a bundle with everything you need to hit the water straight away. Along with the board, here’s a few other pieces of kit that you need.
- Coiled ankle leash
- Center fin
- Paddle / adjustable paddle
- Hand pump (if you have an inflatable SUP)
- SUP backpack (if you have an inflatable SUP)
Coiled Ankle Leash
Having a coiled ankle leash is crucial for your safety and the safety of those around you in the water. The coil is important to keep the leash from tangling under your feet but still giving you space if you do wipeout in the waves, allowing your board to safely stay close without hitting you.
Fins’ are needed to give you steering and tracking while in the water. When you begin to progress your paddling you can begin to experiment with the center fin, possibly trying out a 9” Touring Race Fin or other varieties.
The best paddle for beginners is an adjustable length paddle. This enables you to try different lengths to find what works best for you, and even share your paddle with friends or family.
If you do choose to go with an inflatable SUP then you will definitely need a paddle board pump to inflate and deflate your board. Choose between a dual action, a triple action, or even an electric pump to save your arm power for paddling
Again, if you do go for an inflatable paddle board then you will be wanting to kit yourself out with a SUP backpack. A good backpack will have enough room to store your paddle board, paddle, pump, fin, leash, and wet gear in various storage compartments throughout the bag.
So there you have it. You have a complete guide and all the information you need regarding the best paddle boards for beginners. All you need to do is decide which one is best for you.
What are you waiting for?