If you are in a rush, the best paddleboard for beginners is the iRocker Cruiser Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard.
Paddleboarding is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the world. While traditional surfboards require a surplus of dexterity and strength, paddleboarding only requires a little bit of balance. As such, young children, adults, seniors, and even pooches can all enjoy the benefits of this versatile water activity. There’s a long list of SUP-top entertainment. Paddlers can float around slowly or attempt more vigorous exercises. SUPs are a great base for water-based yoga and fishing paddle boarding.
If you’re new to paddleboarding, the sheer variety of SUPs can be overwhelming! Before you dive headfirst into this popular water sport, check out our comprehensive paddleboard guide and top products. A reliable SUP will help you develop confidence while refining your skills. The perfect pick will make your paddling pursuit even more enjoyable!
The Best Paddle Boards for Beginners go as Follows:
- iRocker Cruiser Inflatable Paddleboard >>Check Price on Amazon<<
- Retrospec Weekender Inflatable Paddleboard >>Check Price on Amazon<<
- Isle Versa Stand-Up Paddleboard (Hard Board) >>Check Price on Amazon<<
- Atoll Inflatable Paddleboard >>Check Price on Amazon<<
- Chris Craft Edition Tower Inflatable Paddleboard >>Check Price on Amazon<<
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Beginner Paddleboard
Choosing The Right Size
Optimize your paddleboard experience by choosing the right SUP size.
You must take a paddleboard’s weight capacity into consideration. Most paddleboard manufacturers specify a board’s maximum weight capacity. However, these numbers don’t always live up to their promise.
Many people enjoy floating along with a friend, child, or dog. Tandem paddle boarding is a great way to share the water. However, it’s not always as glorious as it appears. The weight of dual passengers can leave a board feeling low and unstable.
Length is yet another feature that plays an important part in your paddleboard experience. Most paddleboards are between 9 and 13 feet long. Paddleboards under 10 feet are ideal for teens and children. Meanwhile, 10- to 12-foot boards are excellent options for full-sized adults and tandem paddlers. As always, think about your weight and height when selecting a paddleboard. Keep in mind that big and tall paddlers need more deck space to disperse the weight of their bodies.
Entry-level paddleboards should be 32 inches or wider. A wide deck pad enables paddlers to spread their legs apart for more stability. Paddlers need to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart. As such, paddlers with more girth will want to look for a wider board.
A wide board enables paddlers to achieve more dynamic yoga poses on top of the water. With that said, wider boards tend to be more difficult to paddle. As such, most manufacturers trim down the width of their racing and touring models.
Most manufacturers recommend all-around SUPs for first-timers. These boards tend to be wider than surfing and touring SUPs. Of course, fitness SUPs tend to be widest. Some of these boards measure 36 inches across. With more width, paddlers have plenty of room to disperse their body weight.
Board thickness has an impact on rigidity and performance. Inflatable paddleboards with high PSIs should feature several inches of thickness. Meanwhile, hard EPS boards can be a little bit thinner. Check out this video for a scientific look at the impact of board of thickness. As you can see, there are plenty of other factors that impact board rigidity. In most cases, it’s safer to choose a 6-inch board over a 4-inch board.
Choosing the Right SUP Shape
Blue Planet does a great job explaining the difference between planing and displacement hulls. These are the two main types of paddleboard hulls.
Displacement hulls have flat, wide rockers that maximize a paddlers’ weight displacements on still water. Paddleboards with displacement hulls are perfect for leisure floating, SUP fishing, and SUP yoga. They’re not the fastest crafts in the water. However, they offer first-timers substantial balance.
On the other hand, planing hulls have narrow, curved rockers and pointy noses that do well in surf and moving water. Planing hulls do a better job of cutting through waves and currents. As such, they can go faster and further than boards with displacement hulls. On the downside, these crafts can be difficult to turn and balance. Since they require a bit more skill, they are not always the first choice of beginners.
Most paddleboards feature one or more fin boxes. Most fins can be detached. Removable fins make it easier to travel with and store your paddleboard. Common fin configurations include single, 2+1, and 4+1 arrangements. Fins may be placed near the nose or tail of a SUP. Front fins are ideal for dynamic maneuvers. Meanwhile, rear fins work best for straight-ahead travel. Listen to Chuck Patterson’s guide to fin placements. It can be fun to experiment with adjustable fin boxes.
Just make sure to choose a board with indestructible fins and universal fin boxes! You want the option to replace these essential paddleboard elements. Since fins protrude from the base of a paddleboard, they are typically the first thing to collide with rocks, sand, and other underwater hazards.
Deck and Stomp Pads
A soft, slip-resistant deck pad enhances your stability and comfort. We recommend opting for a material such as textured EVA foam. This will hold up well under body weight and consistent pressure. What’s more, it won’t become slippery or soggy when it is exposed to an excess amount of water.
Materials and manufacturing techniques play a huge part in the durability of a stand-up paddleboard. If you opt for an inflatable SUP, make sure it is made from a puncture-resistant material, such layers of military-grade PVC. Keep an eye out for boards that feature reinforced seams. Drop-stitching is a technique that uses thousands of spacer threads to create a nearly impenetrable seam between the top and bottom of a paddleboard hull.
If you choose a hard paddleboard, opt for a durable composite or EPS foam core. Most hard paddleboards are covered in an impact-resistant fiberglass shell. This material is typically quite slippery, making a soft deck pad indispensable. Hard SUPs may also incorporate wood or plastic stringers.
Onboard Storage and Accessories
SUPs offer enough deck space for a paddler and a few accessories. The following elements make it easier to secure your belongings while traveling on top of the water.
There’s no use being up a creek without a paddle! Make sure your SUP paddle is long enough to extend from your arm to the water. Most SUP paddles are adjustable, enable you to hone in on a paddle length that compliments your body. REI suggests adding 8 to 12 inches to your height in order to determine your ideal paddle length.
SUP paddles may be made of a combination of plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Always opt for durable, lightweight materials. Heavy, rigid elements can leave first-time paddleboarders frustrated and exhausted. Inferior materials can also leave a paddleboarder stranded in the middle of the water. Ensure that your paddle floats and won’t break easily. What’s more, opt for a two- or three-piece paddle. These are easier to store and transport.
Beginners can benefit from using a SUP leash. These elements prevent you from losing track of your board. Many newbie SUPers don’t realize how quickly a paddleboard can float away and leave them SUP-less and stranded. SUP leashes should be 8 to 10 feet long with an easy to remove Velcro closure. Leashes may be straight or coiled.
Some paddleboards feature nose or tail bungee riggings. These essential storage elements enable paddlers to bring along plenty of gear. While aftermarket deck kits can be purchased, it is nice to have one preinstalled. You can use these stretchy straps to secure items such as dry bags.
D-rings and Deck Mounts
Bungees are generally attached to a set of metal D-rings. Sometimes SUP manufacturers place bungee-less D-rings on their boards, giving paddlers the freedom to tie down several belongings.
Deck mounts offer paddlers a way to connect special accessories, such as cameras, drink holders, fish trackers, and pole mounts. Some boards come with preinstalled mounts, while others feature universal mount attachments.
Hard Epoxy vs. Inflatable
Most beginners have difficulty choosing between hard epoxy and inflatable stand-up paddleboards. It’s important to understand that both types of SUPs are completely acceptable. The decision comes down to your lifestyle and personal expectations.
Many first-time paddlers choose inflatables. After all, these boards can be inflated and deflated in very little time. They also require a small amount of space for storage. They are perfect for beginners with limited budgets and a craving to travel. Most inflatables can fit into a small bag, making them a great option for crapped modes of transportation. They’re perfect for exploring waterways outside of your immediate location. Most inflatable SUPs are also just as durable as the hard-shelled alternatives.
On the other hand, epoxy paddleboards are designed to handle more intense water navigation. They tend to be better suited for surf and choppy water. They are also faster and easier to maneuver. If you live close to a beach or have water-side SUP storage, a hard-shelled option may be right for you. Hard epixy boards are also a bit easier to stand on if you are a beginner. For me I was able to get up on the first try while on an inflatable Sup it took a few goes to get a handle on it.
If you do opt for an inflatable paddleboard, you’re going to need an air pump. Many paddleboards are packaged with high-pressure manual air pumps. These tools help paddlers achieve an optimal PSI with very little effort. If your paddleboard comes with a pump, ensure that it features an air pressure dial.
What Can You Do on A Stand-Up Paddleboard?
Many people prefer SUPs because they serve as a low-impact form of exercise. You can develop your strength and dexterity without putting an excessive amount of pressure on your joints and muscles. Some people enjoy meditating on their stand-up paddleboards. Bays, lakes, and other still waterways provide a safe, scenic environment for floating reflection. You don’t need to paddle far from the shore to reap the benefits of walking on water!
Other paddleboarders use the sport to get in more vigorous cardio movements. Racing and surfing boards represent some of the more extreme angles of this ever-expanding water sport. SUPs enable boarders to work the muscles in their arms, legs, and core.
SUP yoga is yet another form of paddleboard exercise. Many communities offer SUP-top yoga classes, enabling water-loving yogis to enjoy a fresh take on an old favorite.
Fishing is yet another fun recreational activity you can enjoy on top of your stand-up paddleboard. Aftermarket pole mounts and deck riggings provide a secure space for all your angling essentials. Unlike kayaks and other water vessels, paddleboards enable you to stretch your leg while tracking down your favorite fish species.
How to Prep for Your First Paddleboard Excursion
There are so many conditions that can affect your SUP experience. Use this guide to make the most of your initial paddleboard experiences.
Gather Safety Gear
Make sure you have all the essential safety gear before setting out on the water. Basics include a SUP leash, a personal floatation device, and an energy contact.
Check Local Weather and Water Conditions
You’ll also want to have a good grasp on the weather and conditions in your area. You’ll want to know the basic temperature and sky conditions so that you wear the right clothing and protection. Generally speaking, you should never leave shore without a hat and sunscreen. Take note of both atmospheric and aquatic temperatures. These numbers can vary significantly.
You’ll also want to keep track of the wind, tides, surf, and sun patterns. You can find detailed weather reports at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. Many beaches and waterways also boast up to date
Take a Lesson
It’s not hard to find beginner stand-up paddleboard lessons. A professional can help you master the fundamentals of stand-up paddleboarding. You may even be able to find a course that teaches special skills, such as SUP yoga or meditation. Paddleboard classes are a great way to connect with other SUP enthusiasts. Classes also serve as a safer, more controlled environment for first-time boarders.
Take the time to observe skilled paddleboarders. When you are first starting, just getting the board in the water can be a major accomplishment. Some people even prefer to start on all fours in the kneeling position. There are plenty of amazing video tutorials that will help you get started. If you live in an area with an active paddleboard community, it can help to sit back and observe the experts.
It feels great to walk on water. When your first starting, practice in a shallow, calm waterway. This will help you find your balance and develop the confidence you need to master choppier water.
Tips for Paddleboarding Success
Use a Leash or PFD
You’ve just spent a good chunk of your paycheck on a new stand-up paddleboard. Why lose it to a sudden swell or sneaky rip tide? A quality leash will keep your tethered to your new water toy. A leash will also make it easier to retrieve your SUP after an abrupt fall or dismount.
Learn to Fall Right
Yep, there’s a right way to fall off a SUP. This video explains the best way to fall from your board. They recommend falling away from rather than onto your board. What’s more, always attempt to fall feet first. Be aware of gear and other accessories that will keep you from remounting your board in the water. You may need to paddle back to shore before you can remount your SUP.
You can reduce your chances of falling by using proper techniques and scheduling excursions when the water conditions are appropriate for learning.
Master the Paddle
Good paddling techniques up your chance of SUP success. Practice tracking, turning, stopping, and reversing. Always angle the paddle away from you and try to maintain a consistent paddle height. Keep the paddle vertical to optimize the returns from each paddling motion. Make sure that the paddle is fully submerged. What’s more, never dig your paddle into rocks, reefs, or other waterway hazards.
Find Your Balance
Always position yourself in the center of your paddleboard. Keep your feet parallel to one another. Your feet should be close to but not on the edges of your board. Shift your body with the movement of the water. When you are first starting, do not attempt to take your paddleboard out in choppy water. Choppy water requires expert skills and refined muscles. First, you need to master balance in calm water!
Paddle with a Partner
It’s always a good idea to paddle with a more experienced partner. If you don’t have someone who can join you, make sure to take your SUP to a well-supervised waterway. We don’t recommend that you brave the water by yourself. If you do, let someone know where you’ll be and how long you’ll be there.
Rent First, Buy Later
It’s difficult to know how a paddleboard feels before you try it. Consider renting, testing, or borrowing gear before purchasing some of your own. Test a variety of SUPs to find out which size and type feel right for you. Lessons are a great way to brush up on skills and try new products. Often, SUP lessons come with a complimentary or low-cost rental. I personally got started by trying a rental for $20 with a bunch of friends. If possible try out an epoxy board vs an inflatable paddle board to see which you prefer to paddle.
A Few More Thoughts
Paddleboarding isn’t just growing in popularity. It’s also an ever-expanding water sport. Think about your personal goals and expectations before purchasing a personal SUP. Some crafts are better suited for yoga, while others are perfect for sightseeing. Find a SUP that works for you! Water walking has so much to offer! It’s a fun sport for people and pups of all ages. The right SUP is only going to make your experience more phenomenal!
Our Top 5 Best Paddle Boards for Beginners Reviews
Topping off our list of best beginner paddle boards is the iRocker Cruiser. This incredibly rigid inflatable SUP features four layers of impenetrable PVC material. It also comes with all the accessories you need to get onto the water. Thanks to its whopping 400-pound weight capacity, most boarders can enjoy this premium product.
While newbie SUPers are often skeptical of inflatables, the iRocker offers epoxy-level rigidity and support. This board is 10 feet 6 inches long and 33 inches wide. That means there’s plenty of space for you to spread your legs into a wide stance. It’s also big enough that you can bring along a friend, pooch, or child.
The iRocker also comes with a durable travel backpack. When you are finished with your SUP, you can deflate it and roll it into a small parcel. The backpack makes it easy to store and transport the paddleboard. The included dual-action hand pump makes it easy to inflate the board without electricity or batteries. There’s even a built-in pressure gauge that helps you maximize the board’s PSI.
We love that the iRocker features a boatload of onboard accessories. First off, the paddleboard features a slip-resistant crocodile print deck pad. This soft yet textured element boasts a lovely pinstripe design, making it easy to track in the water. The deck also boasts rear D-rings and a front cargo area. A multi-use mount on the front of the board enables you to secure everything from portable speakers to rod mounts.
The iRocker has an excellent planing hull with removable side fins. The fins have adjustable configurations, making it possible to set your board for particular water depths and conditions. You can also remove the fins when its time to pack up. The board also comes with an adjustable fiberglass paddle and a coil ankle leash.
Customers agree that the iRocker is perfect for first-time boarders. It is one of the most stable inflatable SUPs on the market. Not to mention, it boasts military-grade durability. It’s also super portable, making it excellent option for globe-trotting floaters.
- 400-pound weight limit
- Extra-wide tale
- An impressive 15 PSI
- Three-piece adjustable fiberglass paddle
- Triple-action hand pump
- Convenient travel packpack
- Soft crocodile-texture deck pad
- Three removable side fins with adjustable configurations
- Backed by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Some customers experienced issues with fin placement
The 10-foot inflatable Retrospec Weekender is a perfect beginner paddle board. First off, it comes with all the essentials need to get out on the water. The Weekender kit includes a durable paddleboard backpack, paddle, and air pump. The military-grade PVC hull is backed by drop-stitch technology. It inflates fast and maintains a PSI of 15. A standardized H3 valve makes it easy to fill and deflate the Weekender.
We love that this board features a soft EVA foam deck pad. This textured pad provides plenty of under the foot and knee comfort. The deck also features a set of four stainless steel rings with bungee cord connections. These onboard ties make it easier to pack gear and other essentials. The bungees are located directly between the deck pad and nose.
The board’s wide planing hull makes it easier for beginners to find their balance. Meanwhile, a set of three removable tracking fins makes it easier to navigate. The stable, performance-oriented board is a perfect pairing for the three-piece paddle included in the kit. The paddle is made from lightweight aluminum. It extends nearly 9 feet and collapses to less than 3 feet for easier transportation.
Customers love that the Weekender comes with a complete repair kit. The kit includes a valve wrench and PVC patching. While the Weekender is virtually indestructible, it’s nice to have some emergency supplies on hand. Overall, this is the perfect SUP for learning. It’s durable, portable, and super stable. Thanks to the SUP’s high weight capacity, you can even share the experience with a pet or child.
- Made from three layers of military-grade PVC
- Includes durable travel backpack with padded straps
- Three removable nylon tracking fins
- Water-resistant cellphone case
- Comes with aluminum paddle and manual air pump
- Variety of unique colorways
- Features a three-piece aluminum paddle
- Rolls up into sleep bag-sized bundle
- 1-year warranty
- 250-pound weight limit
- Lacks stability
Isle’s Newest epoxy board offers 10 feet 5 inches of unmatched flotation. This rigid board serves as unparalleled leisure, yoga, surf, and fishing SUP. It is constructed from a durable EPS blank. A such, it is very lightweight and rigid. The nose features a four-point bungee system. This offers plenty of room for your gear!
The board is 32 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches thick. It weighs 27 pounds without any passengers. This gives it an approximate weight capacity of 245 pounds. With such a large deck space and weight limit, you can easily bring along your pooch or a small child.
The Versa features an ample amount of onboard accessories. The board boasts a patented LIFT SUP pop-out-handle. This durable element is made from military-grade materials. You can use it attach a cable lock or carry your board. When you’re finished, you can pop it back in to create a smooth surface. The board also features a recessed leash lug and an 8-inch coil leash. A quality leash system is imperative for beginners. The Versa system makes it easy to retrieve and remount your board.
Customers say the Versa makes an excellent beginner paddleboard. After all, it offers unmatched stability in the water. It also has a super soft brushed EVA traction pad for added foot and knee comfort. On top of that, there is a tailed-mounted traction pad with a center support arch bar. This grippy surface makes it easier for riders to master curvy waves and undertows. The Isle package also comes with a center fin setup. The box fin can be removed for easier transportation and storage.
We also love that the Isle board is made with green technology. The company has refined their thermal-molded epoxy. As such, they are able to use less material and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Since SUPs depend on nature, it makes sense to choose a board that is ecofriendly.
- 245-pound weight capacity
- Lightweight and exeptionally rigid
- Made from eco-friendly thermal-molded epoxy
- Full accesory bundle included with board
- Carbon hybrid paddle with nylon blade
- Suitable for all water conditions
- 8-foot coil leash and onboard leash plug
- Nose-top bungee system
- Large brushed EVA stomp pad
- Center fin setup
- Patented lift-up handle
- Difficult to balance
The Atoll Board Company is a California-based company that offers a fresh take on inflatable paddleboards. Their 2019 light blue, 11-foot inflatable stand-up paddleboard is one of the highest ratest SUPs on the market. The board’s hull has impressive girth. It measures 11 feet long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. It is made from two layers of machine-laminated PCV material with reinforced Korean dro-stitch technology. This makes it light, rigid, and durable.
At a mere 22 pounds, it is hard to believe the Atoll is capable of carrying a single passenger. Nevertheless, it has a weight capacity greater than 350 pounds. The board stays firm and rigid throughout long periods of flotation.
The Atoll’s deck features 15 D-ring, enabling boarders to bring along all of their essentials. The board also comes with a 10-foot iSUP coal leash. A complimentary two-way high-pressure hand pump makes rapid inflation a reality. Meanwhile, the board’s universal fin box is equipped to fit most aftermarket fins. With that said, an indestructible 8-inch composite fin is included in the iSUP package.
The package also comes with a durable travel backpack. The pack features rugged zippers and padded shoulder and waist straps. You can easily pack up your deflated SUP and head to the closest waterway. Inflatables can be transported in car trunks, overhead compartments, and even the backs of motorcycles. When your paddleboard is no bigger than a sleeping bag, you can take it around the world with you.
Customers love that the Atoll SUP comes with a carbon fiberglass paddle. The boasts an indestructible nylon blade for better overall navigation. Most customers also rave about the Atoll’s stability. If you’re anxious about getting out on the water for the first time, the Atoll can help you build strength and confidence.
Many people also say that the Atoll’s soft deck pad provides unmatched comfort. The long list of deck-top accesories enable paddlers to take the Atoll on extended adventures. It’s a board that is suitable for both beginner and experienced paddleboarders. If you’re looking for a well-made product that will please the whole family, Atoll’s baby blue paddleboard is an excellent choice.
- Lightweight, inflatable, rigid
- Includes a high-pressure Bravo air pump
- Three-piece floating fiberglass paddle with nylon blade
- Detachable/replaceable fin
- Includes a durable travel backpack with zipper closure
- Long and wide
- 10-foot poly flex leash
- Two layers of rigid pvc material
- Over 350-pound weight limit
- 6-inches thick
- Deck features 15 D-rings
- 2-year warranty
- Some issues with the valve handle
- Can get pushed by wind
The Tower paddleboard is a great option for first-time SUPers. Its military-grade, drop-stitch body can handle plenty of beginner blunders. The board comes as a complete package. The included three-piece fiberglass paddle and air pump are far from suprifilous add ons. Other onboard accessories include a front-towing ring, rear surf leash, handheld strap, and diamond-grooved deck pad. The board also boasts a 2+1 fin configuration with removable and backup center fins. Front and rear handles make it easy to transport the board to and from water.
This paddleboard measures 10 feet 4 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. Non-slip deck padding helps beginners develop confidence and balance. Don’t let this board’s inflatable state deter you from its excellence. It’s unmistakably rigid. Thousands of verticle strands connect the top deck to the bottom, giving it the feel of a solid piece of plywood. With a whopping weight capacity, this board is suitable for both children and adults. You might even consider it for a tandem ride.
We love that Tower collaborated with the legendary boatmaker Chris Craft to develop this monster SUP. The wooden teak-inspired deck pad resembles that of Chris Craft’s timeless yachts. It can’t hurt to have one of the oldest luxury boat makers in the country working on your first paddleboard. After all, Chris Craft has spent over 140 years mastering the art of refined floatation.
Customers love that this inflatable SUP is suitable for paddleboarders of all skill levels. Most people also seem pleased with the board’s portability. It inflates and deflates rapidly. The kit even comes with a high-pressure SUP pump and a roll-up carry strap. This lengthy board rolls up into a sleeping-bag sized parcel. It’s also exceptionally easy to clean, requiring only a squirt of soap and warm water.
Those who felt pressured to buy an EPS or epoxy board were happy they stuck with the Tower. It offers an epoxy-like ride in almost all water conditions. We don’t recommend this beast of a board for heavy surf. Then again, no beginner should be navigating harsh water conditions. We also want to add that the Tower SUP is soft and indestructible. In general, inflatable SUPs tend to be far more forgiving.
You can use this board in rivers, lakes, and oceans. No matter where you take it, you’ll be pleased with its performance!
- Chris Craft Edition
- Includes a three-piece fiberglass paddle and a high-pressure air pump
- Comes with several onboard accesories
- 400-pound weight capacity
- Teak-inspired nonslip deck pad
- Long and wide
- Made from 6-inch thick military-grade PVC
- Drop-stitch seams for enhanced durability
- Rolls into sleep bag-sized bundle
- Excellent warranty and superior customer service
- Customers have reported some failed pumps
We hope you enjoyed our in-depth look at the best beginner paddle boards. These impressive floatation devices offer some of the most thrilling water recreations. SUPs serve as a solid foundation for the whole family. Our top paddleboard for beginners is the iRocker Cruiser Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard. This impressive inflatable SUP offers plenty of stability for first-time paddlers. It also has an amazing on-the-water performance. You can use it to travel far and fast. Or, you can float around in still water. Of course, any of our picks will float your boat! Just be sure to hone in on the board that is going to help you achieve your personal SUP goals.
Are you planning on purchasing your first stand-up paddleboard? If so, drop a question or comment in the section below.
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