Best Paddle Boards for Beginner Paddlers

Last Updated:

New to paddle boarding? Welcome! 

In this guide, we will be going through the best paddle boards for beginner paddlers. We will list the top 10 best paddle boards that make stability and durable construction the corner of their nucleus. 

In these guides, we explain why we choose them, how they handle and we talk about some of the designs incorporated into the SUP that make it a great pick

We are also aware that not everyone has thousands of dollars to throw around so we chose 8 boards that are under the $900 mark so that you don’t have to break the bank.

After our picks, we have a do-it-yourself buying guide that gives you the most important things to look for when looking at a SUP that allows you to help make your own decision. 

This was the exact set of criteria I used and it helped me choose a good set of boards!

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

10 Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

The following are the best beginner paddle boards.

  1. Atoll 11 – (Editors Pick)
  2. iRocker Blackfin XL – (Stability Pick)
  3. Nixy Newport G4 – (Premium Accessories Pick)
  4. iRocker All Around 11 – (Beginner-Intermediate Pick)
  5. Red Paddle Co 10’6” Ride – (Premium Pick)
  6. Gili Komodo – (Small Passenger Pick)
  7. Serenelife Free Flow – (Budget Pick)
  8. Bluefin Cruise 12 – (Europe/ UK Pick)
  9. Gili Meno 11’6” – (Capacity Pick)
  10. Bote Breeze Aero 10’8” – (Travel Pick)

Most of the picks will be in the sweet spot of the $400 – $900 range with a few over for those looking for premium picks. It’s recommended you stay within this range as cheap Amazon no-name brands cheap out on materials and construction which dramatically shortens the life of your SUP. 

What would you prefer? Buying 2-3 SUPs within 5 years or have one quality one that will last you 5 years and over?  We do have a Guide for Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards here.

1. Atoll 11 (Editors Pick)

Derek standing with Atoll board

Features

  • Dimensions: 11’ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 315 Lbs (Tested to 550 Lbs)
  • Material: Machine Laminated Dual Layer PVC

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

I chose the Atoll 11 as the best SUP for beginners as it is a board with the perfect blend of quality that meets affordable pricing and a high maximum capacity. 

I also have one which I tested in slightly higher stakes. I first paddled this board at the beginning of March in a small lake located on Salt Spring Island. So yes the water was a bit cold. 

I tested the Atoll out and it had fantastic primary stability. But it’s not just me that says this. Out of a few Reddit threads several paddlers preferred the Atoll over other popular SUPs. 

On-Water Performance

In my first test of the Atoll 11, we tested it in a small lake and did your standard paddle boarding motions. We kneeled, stood up on the board, did sweep strokes, small side paddle maneuvers, and hauled butt on it. We even scared some swans in the process (oops)!

Overall the Atoll was a fantastic board to paddle. Its stability got top marks with nothing going below an 8/10 in terms of tracking, maneuverability and speed

Board Features and Design

The Atoll 11 features a hybrid design that allows water to flow freely to the sides giving it less drag on the water’s surface. If you are planning to load this SUP up with gear I have good news for you. The Atoll 11 features a 550 pound tested maximum capacity with their board. 

So if a multi-day trip is eventually in the cards this SUP is more than up to the task. It also comes in a comfortable bag that comes with a compact single chamber pump that has a total weight of 38 pounds with board and paddle included. So if you plan to do some backcountry paddling this would also be a solid pick for that. 

What Customers Think

Overall the Atoll 11 is one of the best-rated paddleboards in terms of customer ratings and support. If you search Reddit threads there are tons of customers who give this board the thumbs up. 

As shakasupgirl on Reddit put it:

My husband and I have Atoll boards. We love them and our friends do too. Their customer service is fantastic. I’m born and raised in Hawaii and grew up paddle boarding so I’m picky about my boards. Get the Atoll.

Pros:

  • One of the most stable boards I’ve tested
  • Lots of room to load gear
  • High maximum capacity for many shapes of folk
  • The bag is comfortable to wear
  • Great backcountry/ hiking pick

Cons:

  • No rear deck bungee storage
  • Side fins are glued on and shorter which leaves tracking performance on the table

2. iRocker Blackfin XL (Stability Pick)

Features

  • Dimensions: 11’6 X 34” X 6”
  • Weight: 29 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Material: Triple Layer Composite PVC Construction

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

The iRocker Blackfin is one of the widest boards on the list and is also known to be one of the most stable. The Blackfin XL is a great board if you have the budget for it because it gives you a lot of different options to customize the board exactly to your liking.

On-Water Performance

Standing on the Blackfin XL for the first time will be easy for most beginners as its 11’6” length coupled with its 34” wide base gives you just about as stable a platform as you need for a variety of different reasons. 

While the Blackfin is on the heavier side when it comes to ISUPs its on-water performance is more than respectable thanks to that hybrid displacement hull coupled with its hydrodynamic shape. The only big on-water downside with this board would be maneuverability because it is a heavier and longer board, which means more effort is needed to do maneuvers. 

Board Features and Design

The Blackfin is the add-on enthusiasts’ dream board. The 6 action mounts and 2 Scotty holders give you a ton of options for this board

The Blackfin gives you the option to add things to specialized mounts that are planted on the board. You can attach anything from cup holders, rod holders, action pro mounts, sand spear holders and even mount a fishing rack to their Scotty mounts.

If you have previously done kayak fishing then this is the natural transition to a fishing paddleboard. Standing and fishing help you see more of the water and therefore unsuspecting fish as well.

What Customers Think

The Blackfin has a lot of love in the SUP community. In fact on a poll that I did on Inflatable Paddle Board Owners group. The Blackfin was the top-rated option with 69 votes!

inflatable paddle board poll

I also have a friend who has a Blackfin XL and he absolutely loves it. He goes paddling in many different locations. Although he does admit that it is a bit heavy at times to lug around. 

Pros:

  • One of the most stable Paddle boards around
  • Tons of options for add-ons and accessories
  • Great board for fishing
  • Lots of Bungee Storage
  • Lots of love from ISUP owners

Cons:

  • Heavy Package
  • It can be a bit tricky to maneuver

3. Nixy Newport G4 (Premium Accessories Pick)

Nixy Newport G4 Pic

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 Lbs
  • Material: Advanced FusionTech dual-layer laminated woven drop stitch

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

The Nixy Newport is one of my favorite boards and it is my main go-to board for all sorts of different paddling adventures. I’ve clocked over 40 hours on this specific model

The Newport is a great beginner pick because of what you get with the package. Both the construction of the board and the quality accessories you get are one of the best on the list. And this is all within less than $1000. 

In fact, I’m seeing this board go on sale a lot of times this year

On-Water Performance

The Nixy Newport G4 has good stability but it’s a bit of a different feel from other paddle boards. The board has more “play” on it meaning there’s more room for allowance when leaning from one side to the other. 

The tracking, maneuverability and speed of the board are all fantastic for a board that has a 33” width. There are several factors that lead to the board having great on-water performance.

Board Features and Design

The board weighs 21 pounds and features an FCS “screw in” fin set-up for all 3 fins. The center fin is 9” long while the side fins are 5” which makes the board track extraordinarily well in the water for a “cruising board”. 

On Top of this the board also features 5 action mounts where you can mount Go Pros, cup holders, camera holders as well as rod holders to transform this SUP to be your own. 

What really impressed me the most though was the quality of accessories that come with this SUP. In my opinion, it has one of the best carry bags in the SUP industry. It’s baggy so it gives you a lot of room to put your SUP as well as paddle holders on the side and 3 wheels for harder surfaces!

What Customers Think

As a Nixy customer, I personally love the board. As I’ve accumulated more SUP knowledge both through product testing and writing for this blog I’ve really come to appreciate the quality that Nixy put in their boards. Many features like the action mounts and carbon side rails are found on more expensive boards. But somehow Nixy managed to do this while adding quality accessories at a more than affordable price tag. 

Many customers who buy the Nixy Newport loved the quality of the board. One that struck me as interesting was:

As a 61 yr young woman for 1st time ever using SUP, and having some issues with balance, find the NIXY Maui board very stable & firm, standing right up from its inaugural launch. Manageable both on the water and to carry about for my slight stature/low muscle mass (5’3+”/80 lbs). Cuts thru lake waves nicely… like the feeling!

Betty A (Nixy Customer)

Pros:

  • Good stability for a beginner
  • The board has amazing quality put into it for the price tag
  • The Accessories that come with the board are phenomenal
  • After over 40 hours paddled I personally love the board
  • Nixy has fantastic customer service

Cons:

  • Can get a bit unsteady in choppier waters
  • The price tag could be said to be a bit too high

4. iRocker All Around 11 (Beginner-Intermediate Pick)

iRocker All Around 11 Presented

Features

  • Dimensions: 11 X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 26 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 435 Lbs
  • Material: Triple Layer Military Grade PVC

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

The iRocker All Around 11 is a great board that you can grow with. Meaning it will last you years while keeping up with your skill level as you improve.

It’s also a very underrated long-distance board as it has a narrow longboard profile that features 6 Deck rigging rows. This will allow you to carry small to medium-sized gear like drybags, water, backpacks, or even a change of clothes should you need to. 

On-Water Performance

The iRocker All Around 11 rated highly in our On-Water Performance ratings with an average of 8.5/10. When I personally tried the board I was really impressed with its speed and tracking performance. Although you did have to put a bit of elbow in to turn the board accordingly.

Stability-wise I was really impressed with it. It’s almost on par with the Atoll 11 in terms of primary stability. Its longboard shape is also not as influenced as more tapered boards like the Newport G4.

Board Features and Design

The All Around 11 features a longboard design coupled with a 3 fin system that helps it track well and travel a good amount of distance in the water. 

Like the Newport the iRocker All Around 11 features 4 mounting points where you can mount cup holders, rod holders, and action cameras to it. Another smart design is the fact that it features handles at the front and rear for passengers to hold onto on those rocky sea days. 

What Customers Think

The iRocker that I tested was my friends that he bought in 2020. The design from then to now has not gone through too many changes so I’ll share his thoughts here. 

Overall my friend is pleased with his All Around 11, he was able to stand up the first time on it and we’ve gone on a few journeys that have ended up being 3 and half hour long paddles. He particularly likes the Kayak conversion kit that the board comes with. When we are paddling into some waves he often changes to the kayak set-up and cruises through the waves like a boss. 

Pros:

  • My friend loves his All Around 11
  • Solid Stability
  • Can be taken for longer paddles
  • Lots of room for gear
  • Handles on the front and rear deck are handy for passengers

Cons:

  • Triple-layer construction is a bit unnecessary and adds weight
  • The white does show some scuff marks over time
  • While Snap-on Fins are convenient I believe FCS style fins are more sturdy

5. Red Paddle Co 10’6” Ride (Premium Pick)

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 32” X 4.72”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 220 Lbs
  • Material: In-House Designed MSL Fusion Composite

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

Red Paddle is like the Rolls Royce of paddle board manufacturers. Unlike most SUP manufacturers all of Red Paddle’s boards are designed and made in house. This means that they have the freedom to try new techniques to make their SUPs more durable, stronger, paddle better, and longer-lasting.

Red Paddle Comes with a 5-year warranty on all manufacturer defects and is sold all over the world. If you can swing the $1,400 price tag it’s well worth it as these boards are the premium choice for those who want their paddleboard to last a very long time

On-Water Performance

Red Paddle provides some of the most stable boards on the market. Part of this comes down to the thickness of the board. Red Paddle makes their boards 4.75 inches thick which is below what your standard SUPs are. 

This allows the Red Paddle Co 10’6” Ride to sit lower in the water making it almost feel like a hardboard but at half the weight! This gives the board fantastic glide, tracking, and maneuverability aided by its primary 2 fin set-up. 

Board Features and Design

While you may have read that you HAVE to go 6” or the board is a bust this is not true for Red Paddle. 

This is thanks to them using their MSL patented technology on their SUPs. Their in-house MSL fusion composite construction coupled with their double-thread internal high-density drop stitching. 

This allows the board to be thinner but hold up just as well if not better than any 6” paddle board. The bend on Red Paddle boards is extremely minimal. 

What Customers Think 

Interestingly enough on Paddling.com (A great place to find customer reviews), Red Paddle Co Ride gets some mixed reviews. It has an average of a 4.3 star review. 

A lot of customers really liked the stability of the board and were really happy with this board being their first choice while others lamented that the pump broke, and the board didn’t track as well as they expected. I believe Since those reviews Red Paddle has provided a better quality pump and I have not seen any recent reviews complaining about its quality

Pros:

  • The Rolls Royce of Paddle Boards
  • Designed in house with Quality MSL Fusion construction
  • Very stable feels like a hardboard
  • Can handle a wide variety of different environments
  • Has a 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Some issues were reported with the tracking of the board
  • Some reports of the board being slower than expected

6. Gili Komodo (Small Passenger Pick)

Gili Komodo passenger

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 340 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Tech

Why Is It a Good Beginner Pick?

If you are looking to take up paddle boarding and you want to eventually bring a pooch with you on your journeys then this is the paddleboard to get

The Gili Komodo’s deck pad covers the entire surface of the SUP with 3 different deck pad textures. This means that fido (or anyone or anything) has more grip to stay on the board while you are paddling. Its 33-inch width also gives you the confidence of stability while out in the water.

On-Water Performance

One of the biggest compliments of the Gili Komodo by customers is its stability. It’s a pretty good Yoga pick for those who want to add the dimensions of their yoga practice to the water

Gili Komodo Big dog

One of the things I appreciated most about this package, is the fact that the board comes with a race fin in its package. Although it is a snap-in fin similar to iRocker. Regardless this race fin helps improve the Komodos tracking ability from what it would be with a regular dolphin fin. 

Board Features and Design

The Gili Komodo’s biggest strength is what’s on its deck pad. The full-length deck pad allows both you and fellow passengers to get to grips with the board, even in wavey conditions.

The board also has a total of 17 D rings of which 10 are used by deck bungees (6 at the front and 4 in the rear of the board). Outside of the towing and leash bungees the remaining D rings can be used to hold the shoulder strap or a kayak conversion kit. 

What Customers Think 

A common agreement among customers was the fact that Gili has really good customer service. In fact there was one instance where the pump that came with the board broke, so Gili sent them an upgraded dual-chambered pump free of charge

The other common compliments had to do with stability with a few customers even reporting that they had their 90+ pound dogs on the board!

Pros:

  • Great stability 
  • Full-Length Deck pad which means more grip everywhere
  • Great paddleboard for most sizes of dog
  • Great passenger board for kids
  • Lots of compliments on Gili’s customer service

Cons:

  • There is nothing too impressive about the pump that comes with the board

7. Serenelife Free Flow (Budget Pick)

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’5” X 30” X 6”
  • Weight: 19 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer PVC

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Serenlife Free Flow is one of the best-selling paddle boards on Amazon as well as the market in general. I got a chance to test my friend’s board and I found that it provided surprising stability for a board of its budget range.

Serenelife is one of the more trusted of the Amazon brand boards as it has been on there for a very long time. The board itself has accumulated more than 15,000 ratings over its lifetime with its average rating clocking in at 4.7/ 5 stars.

On-Water Performance

The biggest plus on the on-water performance side of things was its stability. Before I even tried it I kind of wrote it off in my mind because it was an Amazon board. But to my surprise it did better in the stability tests than the Tower Yachtsman. I would even dare to say it felt almost as stable as my Nixy Newport as well!

Outside of stability the board in terms of speed and tracking it lacked behind a bit. I found that the round nose of the Free Flow aquaplaned a bunch of water while paddling which reduced my speed a bit compared to my more pointed-nosed boards. 

Board Features and Design

The Serenelife Free Flow is a pretty standard board in that it’s pretty bare-bones after the board. When you drop down a few hundred dollars I find the quality of the accessories drops. 

I really didn’t like the bag that the Free Flow came in. I found that it was too difficult to fit the folded SUP, paddle, and pump back into and when you carried the board on your back it really was not very comfortable to wear whatsoever. The paddle is also heavy as it’s made of aluminum. This is fine on shorter paddles but the extra weight becomes apparent when you are paddling 2000 strokes in over an hour. 

What Customers Think 

Many of the compliments of the board (including mine) are at the fact that this board is very stable to paddle. For beginners, this is about as easy a board to learn on and it comes at a smaller price point! 

The most common complaints were that the paddle was heavy. In my experience paddling I also found there was some movement in the handle, which never leads to good things in the end. 

Pros:

  • Very stable in the water
  • Maneuvers pretty well
  • One of the best value-board ratios
  • Has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon
  • Comes in a bunch of different designs

Cons:

  • The accessories that come with the board are cheap
  • The paddle is heavy and not very well made
  • Board may not last as long as others on this list
  • Some complaints on the valve malfunctioning

8. Bluefin Cruise 12 (Europe/ UK Pick)

Bluefin Cruise SUPs

Features

  • Dimensions: 12’” X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 34 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 385 Lbs
  • Material: Exo Surface Laminate (Fusion laminate) 

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Bluefin Cruise is a great pick for those who live outside of North America and want a board that ships worldwide without the duty fees associated with it. The Cruise is a solid entry board along with its cousin the Cruise carbon which is a more rigid board. 

It also comes with a good amount of accessories for the price point.

 The Cruise comes with a fiberglass paddle, backpack, waterproof smartphone case, camera mount, kayaks seat, and double action pump, center fin, and SUP leash.

On-Water Performance

The Bluefin Cruise is a bit of a hybrid between an all-around and a touring board. This shape allows the board the go through the water with relative ease and little resistance. 

Its 32-inch width also allows the board to give a good mix of stability without affecting the board’s glide. There are more than a few customers who also rate this as a good ocean paddle board. In Fact we have it rated #1 on our list

Board Features and Design

The Bluefin Cruise features double-layered construction, an action mount, D rings for the kayak seat included and a kick pad at the back for pivot turns. While its design may appear to be a bit simplistic compared to other SUPs on this page The Cruise does come with an upgraded version. 

The Cruise Carbon is a SUP that features two inflatable chambers. One in the middle of the deck pad and one surrounding the rest of the board. This dual chamber construction allows the board to be more rigid and gives it a slightly better on-water performance than its cousin. 

The accessories like the paddle or the pump are also upgraded to carbon and a triple action pump respectively.

What Customers Think 

Many of the most common compliments are based on the Bluefin Cruises’ stability. A few have even commented that they have their dogs climb on and enjoy the ride!

Customers seem to really like Bluefin’s customer service as many of them have complimented them on their shipping time and how they replace damaged accessories. 

Pros:

  • Solid entry board that will last a while
  • A popular pick for those in Europe and the UK
  • Gives you the most accessories than any other on this list
  • Bluefin has great customer service
  • Comes in 3 different sizes

Cons:

  • Board construction is pretty standard
  • No bungee storage in the back
  • The pump is pretty standard

9. Gili Meno 11’6” (Capacity Pick)

Features:

  • Dimensions: 11’6” X 35” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Tech

Why Is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Gili Meno 11’6″ is one of the widest boards on the list listed at 35” wide. Which means that its a very stable board to paddle. For those who feel that the 11’6” is overkill there is also the smaller 10’6” Meno board which has the same width. 

In my experience 10’6” boards are still good for many bigger guys and gals that are 6 foot and over. 

On-Water Performance

The Gili Meno boards are supremely stable but they would be one of the slower ones on the list. The board profile is wider which means that the bard will have more drag in the water. The nose is also a bit rounder as opposed to other SUPs you see on this list. 

One of the things I like about this board is the fact that it comes with 3 different center fins! This means you can change the tracking of the board by swapping out from a racing fin, to a speed fin or even use a river fin in shallower depths. 

Board Features and Design

This board is built to be as steady a surface as possible thanks to its wide base and its thicker profile. This also means that this is a solid board to use for extra passengers. Its 485 lb max capacity allows you to have more than one person on there without affecting the performance too much.

The board also comes with grab handles and the front and rear bungee deck areas. The deck rigging also gives you a good amount of space to put backpacks, travel bags, and maybe even some camping gear for overnight paddles as your skill level grows.  

What Customers Think 

A lot of customers of the Meno series are first-time paddle boarders who are just dipping their feet in the water so to speak

Most of the compliments about the Meno were directed at the stability of the board and how it was a straightforward learning process to get from kneeling to standing.

Others really appreciated the customer service that Gili provided both communication-wise as well as quicker shipping times!

Pros:

  • Very Stable Board
  • Excellent board for extra passengers
  • Good customer service
  • Sufficient room for larger gear
  • 3 center fins included in the package

Cons:

  • It will be one of the slower boards on the water
  • The bigger package size may make it a bit more cumbersome to pack

10. Bote Breeze Aero 10’8” (Travel Pick)

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’8” X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 Lbs
  • Material: AeroULTRA Technology

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Bote Breeze Aero is one of Bote’s introductory inflatable paddle boards that is travel friendly. The loaded bag weight is 26 lbs which is the lightest on the list. The bags dimensions also fit within more airline baggage dimensions.

Its 10’8” frame coupled with its 33” width and 20-pound weight makes it a stable and lightweight pick for almost any kind of paddler. 

On-Water Performance

This is more of a cheaper jack of all trades board that does everything fairly well but nothing particularly stands out with it. The stability and maneuverability will be the big pluses of this board. 

What aids the maneuverability is that it has “side bite” fins which are smaller fins glued to the board. The center fin is also a slide in that you see with many Amazon boards. 

Board Features and Design

The Bote Breeze uses single-layer AeroULTRA technology which allows the board to be lightweight. The board also provides 3 rows of bungee deck storage and a non-slip traction pad in the middle and a diamond grooved pad on the back of the board.

The board is not the most feature-rich board but for the price and 2-year warranty is a good simplistic pick to keep in mind

What Customers Think 

One thing I do appreciate about BOTE is how their customer reviews are posted honestly including 1-3 star reviews. Many SUP manufacturers leave this out to make their products look more enticing to future buyers. 

A lot of the complaints had to do with the paddle or a manufacturing defect with the deck pad peeling off. 

Pros:

  • Solid Entry Board
  • Lots of beginners liked the stability the board provided
  • Board is a bit more maneuverable than some of the others on this list
  • Great travel pick
  • Very Lightweight board at 20 lbs

Cons:

  • Some complaints about manufacturing
  • Paddle could be better quality
  • Fins are pretty basic

How to Choose a Great Starter SUP

There are a few concepts you should recognize and look for when choosing the best beginner paddle board for yourself.  We go through the most important ones below. 

If you want to see a full detailed Inflatable Paddle Board Buying Guide check this post out. 

Quality Construction and Materials

irocker deck bungee

An inflatable paddle board is an inflatable paddle board, right?

Well not quite. When looking for an inflatable SUP the biggest thing to look for is what kind of construction they put into their SUPs. SUPs come in a few different kinds of construction starting from the cheapest to the more expensive materials.

  • Single Layer PVC (material you will find on many $200 – $400 boards) 
  • Double Layer PVC (More layers but also more glue)
  • Triple Layer PVC (Used by iRocker but adds more weight)
  • Fusion Laminate PVC (Fuses both layers of PVC into one, often used by machine)
  • Custom Layer Construction (Done by paddle boards designed and made inhouse and not overseas. Ex: Red Paddle’s MSL Fusion)

When it comes to price tag an inflatable SUP manufacturer doesn’t just charge more because of their name, the extra cost is labor and the materials put into each board.

For more information on this, we have a What are Paddle Boards Made of? article that explains in more detail.

When I polled some inflatable paddleboard owners this was the most important factor to consider.

Your Size and Weight

Your body size and weight will determine what paddle board is best for you. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller and lighter you are, the shorter your paddle board can be both length and width wise.

A 10’5 board like the Serenelife Freeflow would be good for smaller paddlers because of its 10’ length and 30” width and its 275 lb maximum capacity.

While bigger paddlers would be more comfortable with the larger Gili Meno 11’6” which has a 35” width and a larger stable base for a larger person with a 485 lb maximum capacity. 

For more information on paddle board sizes check out our What Size Inflatable Paddle Board Should I Get? Guide.

Stability Considerations

How do you know how stable a board will be?

One of the first things that you need to look at is the board’s dimensions. As a rule of thumb, the longer and wider the board is the more stable it will be for you. This is because you have a wider platform to stand on. 

Another way to tell how stable a board is is by looking at verified customer reviews from places like Reddit, Amazon, and the manufacturer’s website. 

On-Water Performance Considerations

Much like stability, On-water performance depends on the size and more specifically the shape/ profile of the board. 

Derek Maneuvering Atoll

The narrower your board the faster and better tracking you will have in the water. Things such as longer fin set-ups can also help influence the board’s tracking capabilities.

As you get into wider shaped boards you start getting better maneuverability which is good for tighter waterways like rivers,and mangroves. 

A lot of the boards on this list have good tracking ability but you won’t be winning any races with them as they are more meant for All-Around performance

Budget Considerations

This one will be down to you and what you have available to spend. 

But what I will say about this is that if you are looking for a paddle board that will last you more than a couple of years you should consider going into the $700 and up range. Most of the boards above are in about this range.

There are exceptions like the Serenelife Free Flow board which goes for around 500 and under depending on what discounts are available on Amazon. 

Company Considerations

When choosing an inflatable SUP look at the SUP Company and Brand Reviews. We compiled a few of our favorites here. 

Warranty and Returns

This is often an overlooked criterion but it’s important to know how well you are protected against manufacturer defects. 

A standard policy I look for is at least a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Make sure you look at the exact terms of each policy (usually found at the bottom of the page)  as sometimes SUP companies will charge a restocking fee or the items needs to be returned in like-new condition. 

Customer Service

You can tell a lot by the quality of the SUP manufacturer by how it serves its customers. An easy way to look at it is to look at the reviews on the manufacturer’s page. But this is not always the most reliable metric

Some SUP brands often have the ability to choose what they put in as a review and very often they will post only positive customer reviews

Good unbiased places to look for customer reviews are:

  • Amazon Reviews (They will post everything)
  • The Brands Facebook Page (Every Review on here has to be displayed) 
  • Trust Pilot (Sometimes you can find the more popular SUP manufacturer on here) 

Also, try reaching out to the company yourself and see how quickly they respond to your requests. This is usually a good indicator of how responsive they are. 

FAQ’s

Below are some common FAQs we get from customers looking for a first-time SUP. 

Whats The Best Paddle Board For Beginners?

The best beginner paddle board in our testing and experience is the Atoll 11 due to the board’s stability, portability, and high maximum capacity. It’s a great board that can grow with you as you increase your paddling skills with lots of room to strap cargo on as you become a more confident paddler.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Better For Beginners?

Inflatable Paddle board are better if you have less space available to store the board. Their popularity is also skyrocketing which means more innovation is being put into them year after year allowing their performance to inch closer and closer to hardboards. 

What Do I Need To Paddle Board?

As a beginner you will need the following items to paddle board.
A PFD
A whistle
Lots of Water
Sunscreen
A dry bag with valuables like snacks, wallet, cellphones, and maybe a change of clothes

When starting out only go in calm conditions with little interference from outdoor elements like wind, waves and currents. This will allow you to get used to standing, paddling, and kneeling on the board without being influenced by the above outside elements. 

Photo of author
Author:
Hey, My name is Derek and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports. My new-found passion is learning about and testing SUP's. I love teaching people what to look for.