What is the Best Paddle Board for Beginners? [2020 Buying Guide]

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Are you looking for the best paddle board for beginners? This water sport is growing in popularity, based in part on the variety of experiences that it offers to a wide range of individuals. Stand up paddle boarding offers the opportunity for a relaxing afternoon paddle, an intense morning workout, a day cruise to explore nature and marine life, surfing on the ocean or even the growing number of individuals doing SUP yoga.  

With a variety of activities that can be done using a SUP, choosing the best board is critical to your success, safety and enjoyment. In this guide, we will focus specifically on paddle boards and what you should know as a beginning stand up paddle boarder when choosing the best beginner stand up paddle board. Here we’ve gathered 10 of the best options available on the market today, and a buyer’s guide to help you choose which is right for you.

Top 5 Comparison Chart

THURSO SURF Waterwalker All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board SUP 10'6 x 31'' x 6'' Two Layer Deluxe Package Includes Carbon Shaft Paddle/2+1 Quick Lock Fins/Leash/Pump/Roller Backpack (2019)
Atoll 11' Foot Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6 Inches Thick, 32 inches Wide) ISUP, Bravo Hand Pump and 3 Piece Paddle, Travel Backpack and New Paddle Leash Included (Light Blue)
iROCKER All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board 11' Long 32" Wide 6" Thick SUP Package | Blue 2019
GILI All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package | 10'6 Long x 31" Wide x 6" Thick | Lightweight & Durable SUP | Stable & Wide Stance (Teal)
ISLE 10'5" Versa | Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board | 4.5” Thick SUP and Bundle Accessory Pack | Durable and Lightweight | 32" Stable Wide Stance | Up to 235 lbs Capacity (Yellow - 2018, 10'5")
THURSO SURF Waterwalker
Atoll ISUP
iROCKER All-Around ISUP
GILI All Around ISUP
Isle Versa
Inflatable SUP
Inflatable SUP
Inflatable SUP
Inflatable SUP
Rigid Body SUP
10' / 10' 6'' / 11' Length
11' Length
11' Length
10' 6'' Length
10' 5'' / 11' 2'' Length
24lbs. / 26lbs. / 29lbs.
21lbs.
24lbs.
19lbs.
27lbs. / 32.2lbs
2-Layer PVC Coated Tarpaulin
2-Layer PVC Construction
4-Layer PVC Construction
Cross-Stitched Reinforced PVC Construction
Thermo-Molded Epoxy Construction
260lb. / 300lb. / 330lb. Weight Capacity
400lb. Weight Capacity
385lb. Weight Capacity
275lb. Weight Capacity
245lb. / 300lb. Weight Capacity
3 Removable Fins with Quick-Lock Fin Installation
Trifin Design, Removable Fin
3 Removable Fins
9'' Snap-In Fin
Removable Nylon Touring Center Fin
10' x 30'' x 6'' / 10' 6'' x 31'' x 6'' / 11' x 32'' x 6''
11' x 32'' x 6''
11' x 32'' x 6''
10' 6'' x 31'' x 6''
10' 5'' x 32'' x 4.5'' / 11' 2'' x 32'' x 5''
2-Year Warranty
2-Year Warranty
2-Year Warranty
2-Year Warranty and 60-Day Guarantee
1-Year Materials Warranty
2lb. Carbon Shaft 3-Piece Paddle Adjusts 68'' - 84''
3-Piece Carbon Fiberglass Floating Paddle
3-Piece Adjustable Fiberglass Floating Paddle
3-Piece Adjustable GILI Travel Paddle
Carbon Hybrid Adjustable 65'' - 86'' Paddle with Nylon Blade
Includes 10ft. Leash and Roller Backpack
Includes Poly Flex Leash, Pump, 15 Deck D-Rings, and Storage Backpack
Includes Ankle Leash, Storage Backpack and Dual Action Pump
Includes 10' Coiled Leash, Storage Backpack, and 2-Stage Hand Pump
Includes 8' Coil Leash
THURSO SURF Waterwalker All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board SUP 10'6 x 31'' x 6'' Two Layer Deluxe Package Includes Carbon Shaft Paddle/2+1 Quick Lock Fins/Leash/Pump/Roller Backpack (2019)
THURSO SURF Waterwalker
Inflatable SUP
10' / 10' 6'' / 11' Length
24lbs. / 26lbs. / 29lbs.
2-Layer PVC Coated Tarpaulin
260lb. / 300lb. / 330lb. Weight Capacity
3 Removable Fins with Quick-Lock Fin Installation
10' x 30'' x 6'' / 10' 6'' x 31'' x 6'' / 11' x 32'' x 6''
2-Year Warranty
2lb. Carbon Shaft 3-Piece Paddle Adjusts 68'' - 84''
Includes 10ft. Leash and Roller Backpack
Atoll 11' Foot Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6 Inches Thick, 32 inches Wide) ISUP, Bravo Hand Pump and 3 Piece Paddle, Travel Backpack and New Paddle Leash Included (Light Blue)
Atoll ISUP
Inflatable SUP
11' Length
21lbs.
2-Layer PVC Construction
400lb. Weight Capacity
Trifin Design, Removable Fin
11' x 32'' x 6''
2-Year Warranty
3-Piece Carbon Fiberglass Floating Paddle
Includes Poly Flex Leash, Pump, 15 Deck D-Rings, and Storage Backpack
iROCKER All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board 11' Long 32" Wide 6" Thick SUP Package | Blue 2019
iROCKER All-Around ISUP
Inflatable SUP
11' Length
24lbs.
4-Layer PVC Construction
385lb. Weight Capacity
3 Removable Fins
11' x 32'' x 6''
2-Year Warranty
3-Piece Adjustable Fiberglass Floating Paddle
Includes Ankle Leash, Storage Backpack and Dual Action Pump
GILI All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package | 10'6 Long x 31" Wide x 6" Thick | Lightweight & Durable SUP | Stable & Wide Stance (Teal)
GILI All Around ISUP
Inflatable SUP
10' 6'' Length
19lbs.
Cross-Stitched Reinforced PVC Construction
275lb. Weight Capacity
9'' Snap-In Fin
10' 6'' x 31'' x 6''
2-Year Warranty and 60-Day Guarantee
3-Piece Adjustable GILI Travel Paddle
Includes 10' Coiled Leash, Storage Backpack, and 2-Stage Hand Pump
ISLE 10'5" Versa | Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board | 4.5” Thick SUP and Bundle Accessory Pack | Durable and Lightweight | 32" Stable Wide Stance | Up to 235 lbs Capacity (Yellow - 2018, 10'5")
Isle Versa
Rigid Body SUP
10' 5'' / 11' 2'' Length
27lbs. / 32.2lbs
Thermo-Molded Epoxy Construction
245lb. / 300lb. Weight Capacity
Removable Nylon Touring Center Fin
10' 5'' x 32'' x 4.5'' / 11' 2'' x 32'' x 5''
1-Year Materials Warranty
Carbon Hybrid Adjustable 65'' - 86'' Paddle with Nylon Blade
Includes 8' Coil Leash

10 Best Paddle Board for Beginners Reviewed

1. Thurso Surf Waterwalker

THURSO SURF Waterwalker All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board SUP 10'6 x 31'' x 6'' Two Layer Deluxe Package Includes Carbon Shaft Paddle/2+1 Quick Lock Fins/Leash/Pump/Roller Backpack (2019)

Review

The Waterwalker is an Inflatable stand up paddle board (ISUP) that is 11 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick, making it an ideal board for beginners.  It has a weight capacity of 330 pounds. The size and design of this board provides great stability and tracking. This board also comes in a touring model that is slightly longer and thinner, making it a faster board.  

This ISUP includes the following accessories: an inflation pump, a paddle with a carbon fiber shaft, a roller storage and carry a backpack, and a 10 foot coiled double swivel leash.  The construction and design features a military grade PVC and drop stitch construction. The deck of the Waterwalker is a non-slip Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam traction pad that is soft, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable ride.  

PROS

  • Excellent Stability and Tracking is Ideal for Beginners
  • Board is Lightweight and Highly Durable
  • Lightweight Carbon Shaft Paddle Weighs Only 2-Pounds
  • 3-Piece Paddle Construction is Portable and Adjustable
  • Quality Accessories Included
  • 2 Year Warranty

CONS

  • Some Concern with Secure Paddle Connections
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

2. Atoll

Atoll 11' Foot Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6 Inches Thick, 32 inches Wide) ISUP, Bravo Hand Pump and 3 Piece Paddle, Travel Backpack and New Paddle Leash Included (Light Blue)

Review

The Atoll is an Inflatable ISUP that is 11 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick, making it a stable board, ideal board for beginners.  It has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. This board has a 6 point front bungee system, allowing you to store and easily access gear. Additionally, this ISUP has 15 D-rings to attach other gear or allows for the attachment of a kayak seat.

The Atoll includes the following accessories: tri fin system for smooth tracking, 10 foot poly flex leash, dual action hand pump, storage and travel backpack, and a 3 piece fiberglass carbon hybrid paddle.

PROS

  • 15 D-Rings and 6 Point Bungee System
  • Lightweight, Easy to Carry
  • Kayak Seat Attachment Ability
  • Durable and Stable
  • 3 Fin Bottom for Excellent Tracking and Maneuvering
  • Durable Dual Layer PVC Construction
  • 2 Year Warranty

CONS

  • Paddle is Heavier in Weight than Other Options
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

3. iRocker SUP

iROCKER All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board 11' Long 32' Wide 6' Thick SUP Package | Blue 2019

Review

The iROCKER is an ISUP that is 11 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick, making it an ideal board for beginners.  It has one of the higher weight capacities for an ISUP, coming in at 435 pounds. The size and design of this board provides great stability and tracking. 

This ISUP includes the following accessories: backpack for storing and transporting, adjustable fiberglass paddle, ankle leash, a hand pump, and a repair kit.  The board deck is a non-slip, diamond textured surface that covers a large area, ideal for beginners. The construction and design features a military grade quad-layer PVC.

PROS

  • 3 Removable Fins for Adjusting to All Water Conditions
  • Triple Action, Dual Chamber Pump for Easy and Quick Inflation
  • 3 Piece Paddle is Lightweight and Floats
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

CONS

  • Design and Materials are Heavier in Weight
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

4. GILI

GILI All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package | 10'6 Long x 31' Wide x 6' Thick | Lightweight & Durable SUP | Stable & Wide Stance (Teal)

Review

The GILI is an Inflatable ISUP that is 10.6 feet long, 31 inches wide and 6 inches thick, making it a stable board, ideal board for beginners. It has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. The board is constructed with a cross stitched, reinforced PVC, making it durable and sturdy. This material also makes the board lightweight and thus easy to maneuver.  The deck has a diamond shaped traction pad for stability and balance. Additionally there is a 6 point bungee system for storing gear.

The GILI includes the following accessories: an adjustable 3 piece paddle, a 2 stage high-pressure pump, a fin, coil leash, backpack and repair kit. As an added bonus, a portion of each SUP sale benefits the oceans and its inhabitants. If you’re someone who cares about these precious ecosystems, this company helps shine light on conservation efforts in the sea.

PROS

  • Lightweight, Durable and Rigid Construction
  • Constructed with a Military Grade PVC
  • Company Devoted to Saving the Ocean and it’s Creatures
  • A Portion of Each SUP Sale Benefits the Oceans
  • Extra Long Traction Pad is Ideal for Beginners and SUP Yoga
  • 2 Year Warranty

CONS

  • Pump may be Challenging to Use
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

5. ISLE Versa SUP

ISLE 10'5' Versa | Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board | 4.5” Thick SUP and Bundle Accessory Pack | Durable and Lightweight | 32' Stable Wide Stance | Up to 235 lbs Capacity (Yellow - 2018, 10'5')

Review

The ISLE Versa is a rigid stand up paddle board that is 10.5 feet long, 32 inches wide and 4.5 inches thick, making it an ideal board for intermediate and beginners.  It has a weight capacity of 245 pounds. The size and design of this board provides quality stability and tracking.  

This SUP includes the following accessories: a carbon hybrid adjustable paddle, a touring center fin, coiled leash, a front-mounted bungee system, a lift up handle that doubles as a locking point, and comfortable brush decked pad.  The construction and design features a “eco-friendlier” epoxy material that is both lightweight and durable.

PROS

  • Maneuverable and Stable, Ideal for Beginners
  • Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam Material
  • Lightweight and Durable Carbon Fiber Shaft Paddle
  • Center Fin Helps Maintain Tracking
  • Thick and Comfortable Traction Pad
  • No Inflation Required
  • 60 Day “Ride it and Love it” Guarantee

CONS

  • Can Scratch and Chip, Unlike an Inflatable Version
  • Special Consideration for Transporting and Storing
  • Lacks an Included Leash

6. Roc SUP

Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards W Free Premium SUP Accessories & Backpack, Non-Slip Deck Bonus Waterproof Bag, Leash, Paddle and Hand Pump Youth & Adult (Blue)

Review

The Roc is an ISUP that is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick, making it another ideal board for beginners. It has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. The physical design of the Roc creates a stable board for beginners. The size and design of this board is ideal for those novice to the sport, who will need more stability on the water and easy maneuvering. Additionally, it’s lightweight and durable construction is great for those learning the ins and outs of paddle boarding. This is an inflatable board that will suit both beginners and those more advanced, for a variety of fun paddling activities. 

This ISUP includes the following accessories: adjustable and floating alloy paddle, high capacity hand pump, detachable fin, safety leash, and a travel backpack. The construction and design features military grade material, providing a durable, lightweight ISUP. To make for worry-free investing, this SUP comes with a 1 year warranty.

PROS

  • Size and Design Provides Stability Ideal for Beginners
  • Lightweight and Durable Construction
  • Floating Alloy Paddle
  • Waterproof Phone and Key Bag
  • 1 Year Warranty

CONS

  • Concern with the Quality of the Pump and Waterproof Bag
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

7. SereneLife

SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (6 Inches Thick) with Premium Accessories & CarryBag | Wide Stance, Bottom Fin for Paddling, Surf Control, Non-Slip Deck

Review

The SereneLife is an ISUP that is 10 feet long, 30 inches wide and 6 inches thick, providing stability and balance for beginners. It has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. This ISUP has triple bottom panel fins that enhance maneuverability and a non-slip soft top deck, which are both ideal for beginners. The 3-fin panels improve both steering and handling on the water, and the deck provides ultimate traction and grip even when the board is wet. Additionally, the PVC body construction provides stability and durability, while it’s also inflatable for easy transport and storing.

This ISUP includes the following accessories: a coiled ankle safety leash, foldable paddle, front bungee cord system, manual air pump, patch repair kit, and convenient storage bag. These handy features add convenience and ease to your paddling adventures, and offer easy storage and transport to and from the shore.

PROS

  • Easy Storage and Transport
  • 3 Fin Bottom Panels Improve Steering and Handling
  • Wide, Non-Slip Deck is Ideal for Beginners
  • PVC Body Makes the Body Soft and Stable
  • Includes Accessories Needed for SUP Adventure

CONS

  • Paddle is Heavier in Weight
  • Smaller Board Size is Less Stable
  • Requires Inflating and Deflating

8. Tower

Tower Inflatable 9’10” Stand Up Paddle Board - (6 Inches Thick) - Universal SUP Wide Stance - Premium SUP Bundle (Pump & Adjustable Paddle Included) - Non-Slip Deck - Youth and Adult - Adventurer 1

Review

The Tower is an ISUP that is 9.10 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick. It has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. This board is constructed using a Military-Grade PVC material that is drop stitched, making it extremely durable. Included is a non-slip soft top, which is ideal for beginners, supporting balance and stability.  

The Tower includes the following accessories: 3 piece fiberglass paddle, a high-pressure pump, a diamond grooved traction pad, removable center fin, a hand hold strap, and a roll-up carrying strap. The 2 attached smaller fins and the 1 detachable larger fin provide improved tracking and maneuvering on the water. Additionally, it inflates quickly and provides a stable and rigid ride, which is ideal for those novice to the sport.

PROS

  • 2 Attached Smaller Fins and 1 Detachable Larger Fin for Ultimate Tracking
  • Rigid and Stable Ride
  • Inflates Quickly
  • Soft Traction Deck Pad
  • Highly Maneuverable
  • 2 Year Warranty

CONS

  • No Carrying Bag Included
  • No Bungee-Cords or D-Rings Included
  • Must be Inflated and Deflated

9. Vilano Navigator

Vilano Navigator 10' (6' Thick) Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board Package

Review

The Vilano Navigator is an ISUP that is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick.  It has a weight capacity of 280 pounds. This board is constructed using a Korean drop-stitch, high-grade PV material, which makes it durable and sturdy. The board deck has a non-slip, diamond groove traction pad surface for maximum grip even while the board is wet. Additionally, the compack, lightweight highly portable design is great for transporting to and from your favorite destination. 

The Tower includes the following accessories: front bungee strap system, stainless steel D-rings, 3 piece aluminum paddle, pump and pressure gauge, a carry bag, a single fin, and a repair kit/valve wrench. These convenient features add to the ease of your paddling adventures, and ensure you are prepared for an epic experience.

PROS

  • Compact, Lightweight and Highly Portable
  • Bungee System and D-Rings
  • Oversized Deck Traction Pad
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Adjustable 3-Piece Paddle

CONS

  • Pump-to-Board Connection may be Difficult
  • Requires Inflation and Deflation
  • Paddle Could be More Durable

10. Peak Escape

Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board | 10'6' or 11' Long x 32' Wide x 6' Thick | Durable Lightweight Touring SUP | Stable Wide Stance (2018 - Aqua Escape, 10'5)

Review

The Peak Escape is a rigid soft top stand up paddle board that is 10.5 feet long, 32 inches wide and 4.5 inches thick. It has a weight capacity that will support up to 250 pounds. This board is ready to go, requiring no inflation. The Peak Escape is a stable and good general purpose board, suitable for all skill levels. It has a center fin for improved tracking.

This Sup includes the following accessories: an adjustable 2 piece alloy paddle with a nylon blade that floats, a center fin, waterproof phone case and a coil ankle leash. Peak describes the construction and design features as, “wrapped in a soft EVA shell with an ABS bottom. If you drop this board, it won’t ding or scratch.” The bottom line is that this SUP has a durable bottom while offering a non-slip deck that has a soft cushion feel.

PROS

  • Rigid and Durable Design
  • Stable Ride is Ideal for Beginners
  • Comfortable Non-Slip Deck
  • Lightweight and Easy to Carry
  • No Inflation or Deflation Required
  • Waterproof Phone Case Included
  • 1 Year Warranty

CONS

  • Board May Get Scratches and Dings Unlike Inflatable Options
  • Special Consideration Required for Transporting and Storing Board

What Makes a Quality Beginner Stand Up Paddle Board?

So, what should you be looking for to find the best paddle board for beginners?  Your first steps will be to consider and answer the following questions:

  • How do you plan to use your SUP?
  • What body(s) of water will you be using your SUP on?
  • What body type(s) will be using the board?
  • What is the skill level(s) of the individual(s) using the board?
  • How do you expect your board to respond, maneuver and handle while you are on the water?
  • How will you transport your SUP?
  • Where will you store your SUP?

Key points you will want to factor into your research and decision making are:

  • The shape of the board.
  • Determining the best capacity and volume for your board.
  • The thickness, length and width of the board.
  • A solid SUP or an inflatable board.
  • Additional accessories you may want or need.

When you’re new to paddle boarding, your success and enjoyment will largely depend on your ability to maintain your balance and stability.  With a SUP the wider the board, the more stable the board. Stability is very important, as it allows you to maintain your focus on your techniques and enjoy the views rather than spending your time worried about losing your balance.  

Additionally, as a beginner, you will want a board you can easily manage getting in and out of the water, as well as transporting and storing the board.

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board

In this buyer's guide we’ll try to focus primarily on what a beginner should consider when purchasing a stand up paddle board.  Before venturing out to buy a SUP we would recommend renting or borrowing a board from a friend and going out a couple of times. 

There are a large variety of boards to choose from and depending on your intended uses are designed to perform differently based on conditions, activities and skill levels.   Getting a basic feel and general understanding for what you might be looking for in a board is a good first step.

So for the purposes of choosing a paddle board for beginners, we have provided the following information and tips for your consideration when buying a paddle board:

Solid or Inflatable SUP

If you go to rent a board or use a guide company typically you find that they will have rigid, solid boards.  The reason is that a solid board is sometimes thought to provide more stability and are better for beginners to learn on.  With the evolution of paddle boards, the stability and performance of ISUP’s has improved dramatically, to the point that their stability often rivals a solid board.

The choice of solid or inflatable will often come down to a few factors and individual preferences.  The following are the pros and cons of each:

Inflatable SUP

PROS

  • Portable
  • Durability: military grade PVC is common and makes them very strong
  • Easy to store
  • ISUP's are often softer and thus more forgiving if you land on them

CONS

  • Must be inflated and deflated
  • Usually thicker and thus slower than solid boards
  • Fatter and a curved rail makes them hard to surf on

Solid SUP

PROS

  • No inflation or deflation required
  • Do to more rigidity they are faster
  • Surfing on a SUP will always outperform an ISUP

CONS

  • Unless you live on water you will need to factor transporting and storage
  • Made from fiberglass/epoxy they will scratch and dent more easily

Paddle Board Length

Paddle boards generally range in length from 8 to 15 feet. Your board length is an important factor to consider based on your skill level and intended uses for the board.  A very basic overview is that shorter boards are more maneuverable and longer boards are faster. The following is a basic guide on board length for your consideration:

  • Short Boards (9 feet and under): Shorter boards are easier to steer, handle and maneuver, however they are harder to maintain on a straight line and will be slower in the water.  Individuals who will be surfing find the shorter board to be a good choice because of their maneuverability. Eight foot boards are typically designed for kids.
  • Medium Boards (10 to 12 feet): For beginners a medium board is typically the length that works the best.  This length board works well for all paddlers. Not as maneuverable as the short board and not as fast as the longer board, they do provide a balance and the best of both worlds.
  • Longboards (12 feet and longer): Long boards are usually the choice for racing or touring.  Maneuverability is not a primary consideration when purchasing a longboard. The key factors are speed and tracking.  This board is not the best option for beginners.

Additional factors to consider regarding the length of your board, especially solid boards, is transporting, storing and carrying your board (wind can make managing your board a challenge).  

Paddle Board Width

Paddle boards come in a variety of widths, ranging from approximately 25 to 36 inches.  The width of a board significantly impacts the stability of your SUP.  

A narrow board of 30 inches or less will be faster but are not recommended for beginners because they are less stable.  A wider board over 30 inches makes it easier to balance yourself, however are slower and if too wide, for your height, can make paddling more difficult.  

Wider boards are generally recommended for beginners but you should also consider the following: 

  • Paddle Board Uses: Are you looking for a good workout, a leisurely paddle, touring, or doing some SUP yoga?  Going for a long paddle will make speed and tracking (a narrower board) a priority. If your a beginner or planning to do SUP yoga a wider board will provide more stability and space.  If you are going to try surfing a narrower board will work the best. Give some consideration to how you plan to use your board.  
  • Body Size: A general guideline is that a smaller or shorter person has a lower center of gravity and thus able to balance on a narrower board more easily.  In contrast, it makes sense that a larger or taller person should choose a wider board. Additionally, smaller individuals may find a wider board more challenging to paddle.
  • Skill Level: Your skill level and general athletic ability (balance) should be factored.  If you’re new to the sport extra width will support your skill development. A more experienced paddler can opt for a narrower board.

Paddle Board Thickness

A third consideration, relative to board size, is the board’s thickness.  A simple principle for understanding the thickness of a SUP is that the thicker the board the more weight it can support.  You want to find a board that is appropriate for your weight to ensure the most efficient and productive outcomes for your experiences.  

Using your weight, combined with your skill level allows you to calculate the volume of a SUP you should be considering.  Manufactures provide a volume rating for their boards that can help guide your decision.  

SBS boards provide a calculator to determine the volume, in liters, that is ideal for you.  To convert your weight from pounds to kilograms divide your weight by 2.2.  For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, divide your weight by 2.2 = 81 kilograms.  The calculator shows that the ideal board for an individual weighing 81 kilograms has a volume of 164 liters.

Paddle Board Nose Rocker

A paddle board nose rocker refers to the shape or angle of the front of your paddle board.  If you plan to go in rougher water or go surfing, you will want more nose rocker. Boards with less of a rocker are more likely to have water come up over the nose in rougher water and potentially submerge your board.  

Paddle Board Fins

The primary benefit of fins on a paddle board is they create stability and aid in tracking.  Generally speaking, the larger the fin and the wider the base the more stable and better the tracking of your board.  Oppositely, the smaller the fin the easier it is to handle and maneuver.

There are a variety of configurations for paddle board fins and the following are three of the more common fin designs:

  • Single Fin: A single fin provides tracking for you SUP and produces minimal drag, which makes it a good choice for calmer, flatwater paddling.
  • 2+1 Fins: This configuration has one larger center fin with 2 smaller fins, one on each side of the board.  This design is ideal for surfing.
  • 3 Fins: The purpose of this configuration is optimize the paddleboards tracking and supports better control when surfing.  The fins are typically of the same proportions.

Fins are available on both solid and inflatable SUPs.  The differences you may find is that an ISUP may feature an attached rubberized fin or a detachable rigid fin(s).  Most fins are removable and either use a nut and bolt to attach or have a channel the fin locks into. Detachable fins help with storage and transporting your board and allow you to change the style or size of fins.

Paddle Board Accessories

As a beginner you may not have a need for a lot of additional accessories or gear but a few items you may want to consider, especially as you gain more experience and skills:

Paddle: Not really an accessory.  You aren’t going to have much success without a paddle.  Not all boards come with a paddle and of those that do, you may not be getting the best quality paddle.  You can always upgrade your paddle. A lighter paddle makes paddling easier and less tiring, which makes carbon fiber paddles a popular choice.  

To determine the best length of paddle for you is to simply hold the paddle vertically, with the paddle blade on the ground.  Holding the paddle, raise one arm to reach the top of the paddle. If your fingers can cup over the blade, you have a paddle that will likely be a good fit for you. 

Bungees Straps and D-rings: Located on the front, rear or side of your board, a bungee system allows you to store and secure equipment, while D-rings provide attachment points for things like a kayak seat.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Paddle boards are classified as a vessel by the US Coast Guard and as such a PFD is required to go paddling.  

Ankle Leash: Some paddle boards include a leash, others do not.  A leash should be considered an essential accessory if not included in your purchase.  The leash secures your board to your ankle. Due to the obvious potential for falling, being attached to your SUP is important; for your safety, as well as to save you time and energy tracking down your board when you fall off, a leash is a great idea.

Backpack: This is only necessary when you choose an ISUP.  For both storing and transporting your ISUP a backpack becomes an important piece of gear.

Electric Air Pump: Although not a necessity, a nice upgrade is an electric air pump that will both save you energy and ensure you can get the proper PSI for your ISUP.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right stand up paddle board?

There really is no easy answer for this question.  The factors you need to consider include: 

  • Your experience/skill level; 
  • How you intend to use your SUP; 
  • Your body type/size; 
  • The conditions and bodies of water you intend to paddle board on; 
  • Will others be using the SUP; 
  • Do you have a means to transport and/or store a solid SUP;
  • And how much you intend to spend on purchasing a SUP and additional accessories.

How much does a stand up paddle board weigh?

Due to the fact that paddle boards come both as a solid board and as an inflatable, as well as varying lengths, widths and thicknesses the weight will vary.  Inflatable boards are generally lighter than a solid board. A typical SUP will weight between 15 pounds on the lighter side and as much as 50 pounds on the heavier side.

How do I know if stand up paddle boarding is something I can do?

You will really not know unless you try it. A simple option is to go to a rental shop and give it a try. The great thing about paddle boarding is that just about everyone can pick up the basics on their first time out.  If you can find a relatively safe body of water, wear your PFD and have someone along to help out, what's the worst that might happen?  You take a fall and make a big splash? Give it a try.

Is it important to try out a paddle board before buying one?

You will be making a significant investment when you purchase a SUP. You’ve taken a good first step by reading this article. But your work is not done.  Nothing beats a first hand experience. Would you consider purchasing a car without trying it out? Not quite the same type of investment but still a good practice to do the same as you would with purchasing a vehicle.

Do your due diligence and research. Dealers sometimes offer demonstration models you can try out or you may have friends who have and will let you try their boards. Go to a rental shop and ask to try out a variety of boards and talk to the experts. 

The effort is worth it to ensure you get the board you desire and make a wise investment.

Final Thoughts

This guide has provided you with our top 10 stand up paddle boards for your review and consideration. Although we feel all 10 are quality SUPs, 3 of the boards stand out in our opinion: the Thurso Surf, Atoll and iRocker are ideal for beginners and provide quality boards.

Stand up paddle boarding is an amazing water sport that just about anyone can do and enjoy. Getting the right board for you is worth your time and effort and hopefully our guide and information provided, will assist you along the way.

Let us know in the comments section which board you choose and how it has performed for you. We’d love to hear from you, so get out there and get paddling!

What is the Best Paddle Board for Beginners? [2020 Buying Guide]
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