How to choose a beginner paddle board
Finding the perfect beginner SUP is easy. All you need are a few quick tips and you will be on your merry way to a beginner paddle board.
3 key things to look for in a beginner SUP
- Stability – Does the board have an appropriate amount of length, width and volume?
- Board Construction – Do you want a inflatable, epoxy or soft top board?
- Versatility – Can it be used for all types of paddling?
The most important thing to look for in a beginner paddle board is how stable it is. A paddle board’s stability depends on a few key factors:
- Length – How tall is the board?
- Volume – How many liters is the board?
- Width – How wide is the board‘s deck?
The perfect beginner paddle board
Length: 10 to 12 feet
Volume: Epoxy | 175 L Inflatables | 225-275 L Soft tops | 175 L
Width: 31-33 inches
Although these are solid dimensions for a beginner paddle board, keep in mind that these dimensions will vary depending on your weight and the weight of the gear you are taking with you. See our SUP Size & Weight Chart to find what your ideal paddle board would be. The more weight you have on the board, the more volume your board will need for the best stability. The greater the volume, the smoother your board will glide across the water.
2. Paddle board constructions
There are 3 different types of paddle board constructions you will come across when you’re looking for a SUP. All three constructions are great for beginners. Your lifestyle and needs will determine which construction is best for you.
Three main constructions
- Epoxy (traditional hard paddle boards)
- Inflatable (iSUPs)
- Soft top
You’ll want an inflatable paddle board if…
- You have minimal storage space at home: Inflatables are the size of a rolled-up sleeping bag when deflated and can be stowed away in small spaces like a closet.
- You travel often and want to take your board with you: Your inflatable is easy to bring anywhere with you because of its compact size. Bring it on long road trips or a check it as bag on your next vacation.
- You’re an adventurous paddler and need a durable board: Inflatables are the most durable type of paddle board. If you drop it, it won’t ding or scratch. Also, if a paddle location is a hike away from parking, an inflatable makes it possible to bring your paddle board with you.
You’ll want a hard paddle board if…
- You want a board that provides optimal performance: Hard paddle boards are the most agile type of paddle board. They have the best glide, tracking and control.
- You have a place at your house to store it: Hard paddle boards take up a lot of space. If you have room in your garage or shed, then you’re good to go.
- You’re a load and go paddler: If taking 10 minutes to pump up your inflatable board before you’re able to get in the water (and after to deflate) sounds tedious, then a hard board will be your best friend.
You’ll want a soft top paddle board if…
- You live local to a nearby beach lake or bay: Soft top paddle boards are an excellent choice for kids or a designated family board at a beach or lake house (you will need ample room to store it)
- You’re on a tight budget: Soft top paddle boards are the cheapest type of paddle boards.
- You’re worried about falling off your board: We don’t call them soft tops for no reason. Falling on this board’s deck will not hurt.
A beginner paddle board should be versatile when it comes to the variety of activities you can use your board for. Two good keywords to look for are ‘All Around Paddle Board’ and ‘Recreational’. All Around means that a board can be used for most paddle board activities. Recreational means that the board is suitable for beginners.
Top 3 beginner paddle boards from ISLE
Additional Paddle Board Advice
At ISLE Surf & SUP our only job is to make sure you find that perfect board(s), and our outstanding track record over the past 13 years demonstrates just how committed we are. Please feel free to call or email us regarding any questions or guidance you need. Here’s some additional resources that can help guide your purchase –
- 5 things to know before buying a standup paddle board
- 7 things to look for before buying a standup paddle board
- The difference between inflatable and hard paddle boards
- The 3 types of paddles boards you should know