Best Paddle Boards for Beginners – 2021

Best Paddle Boards for Beginners – 2021

Buying your first paddle board can be a daunting decision. Really exciting but daunting nonetheless. With so many variables to consider, where do you actually start? Manufacturer, Quality, Features, Design, Style, Accessories, Warranty, Cost? Definitely a lot to think about.

Below we touch on some of the key buying considerations that you should take on board as well as covering off some great entry level options that will not crush your wallet.


Your First Paddle Board – What to Think About?

Manufacturer

Many manufacturers will offer a range of boards that include entry level options as well as boards that cater for different paddling disciplines. There are dozens and dozens of SUP manufacturers out there. Are they new to the market or have they stood the test of time? Are the individuals behind the business seasoned industry experts (their About Page)? Do they dabble in a whole host of products or are they a specialist water sports or board manufacturer? Do they have a functional and informative website? Look at genuine customer reviews and consider their pre and post customer sales service.

Cost

It will probably govern your first purchase but it should not be your main purchasing consideration. SUP packages BELOW the mid $300 range should really be considered a no go zone. If you chose to dip below this level then what you’re paying for will likely be a substandard ‘toy’ in essence. The materials and build quality will offer limited performance and likely not last you too long.

Like a lot of things, you get what you pay for. While not always the case as there will be quality run-out models, seasonal sales and other deals to be had, as a general rule of thumb, a SUP that is made by an experienced manufactured that is priced between $500 – $800 will typically be a quality middle market board. Design, materials, quality control and the manufacturing process will definitely come into play. Between $800 – $1,200 you are getting into the higher end boards (brand will be a factor) and beyond that are the specialist boards.

The suggested recommendations in this article are for the budget conscious and what we consider to be the low end of town.

Inflatable or Rigid / Hard Board?

There is no right or wrong answer to this one. Personal preference will come into it as both board types offer different features and have their own pros and cons. It is more widely considered however that an inflatable board offers greater versatility and is an easier option if you’re just starting out and still trying to find your feet.

Our article on Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Any Good provides some useful information and guidance that will help you make that decision. Similarly, this Inflatable Vs Hard – What’s it to be? article breaks down the key differences which again will help you make a more informed decision.

Inflatable Paddle Board Construction Cross-Section
Size

Like many things – size matters. If your particularly tall or on the heavier size, then ensuring that you have a board that can sufficiently cater for your weight and remain stable and buoyant is obviously important. Wider boards offer great stability, thicker boards offer greater buoyancy. Longer boards have better straight line tracking and so on.

Our Paddle Board Size Guide covers the bases and will make sure you get yourself on the right ride.

Construction

As we touched on above, you get what you pay for so quality counts. Spending the $ and finding out that you’ve bought yourself a poorly made dud isn’t exactly an uplifting feeling. Think about the Manufacturer comment above and start from there.

If you are looking for an inflatable board, having at least two layers of military grade PVC material as the outer skin coupled with a dense drop-stitch core should be your minimum standard. A recommended inflation rate of no less than 12 psi with a weight carrying capacity of 220 lbs and up is a good starting rule of thumb as this will ensure that the board has sufficient rigidity and will remain buoyant. Children’s boards can have a lower rated capacity given their smaller weight and size. This is the lower watermark so design, functionality, construction process and methodology, materials quality and more will take on a greater focus as you move up to the mid-tier and specialist board ranges.

Epoxy Paddle Board Construction Cross-Section

Rigid or solid boards (think traditional surfboard) have an EPS foam core at its centre with an out layer of material. The most common outer material is fibreglass which is then covered in an epoxy resin and sanded to form a smooth surface. Other outer materials include rotomoulded plastic, wood (bamboo) and carbon fibre.

Unless money is not an issue, beginners will typically start with a fibreglass board as they are far more affordable than the higher quality carbon fibre boards which are lighter in weight, more durable and offer greater levels of performance.

A quality wooden board while also more expensive, will normally have a really appealing finish. With proper maintenance, they can be very durable and offer a higher level of performance when compared to fibreglass / epoxy SUPs. Its also worth checking the manufacturers warranty. As a minimum, the board should have at least 12 months warranty and preferably more which should again give you a greater level of comfort.

Outdoor Master Shark Electric SUP Pump
Type of Paddling

All Rounder – most beginners will typically look for an all round board owing to its versatility. Each of the recommended SUPs within this article are all inflatables that are best described as all round boards. They will typically be between 10’ to 12’ in length, 30” – 34” wide and 6” thick. Unless you are looking to focus on one particular disciple i.e. surfing, camping, touring etc. then an all round inflatable board is the best fit for beginners and general recreational paddling.

Touring – longer than all rounders, touring or racing SUPs are up to 14’ long and are more streamlined with a sharper nose. Their sleeker design enables them to get up greater speed and track well (hold a straight line) through the water. They are better suited to calmer flat water conditions although can be used for open water touring.

SUP Yoga – all round boards are well suited to yoga the main factors being stability (wider better) and buoyancy (thickness). As you will by and large be stationary on the water, you don’t really need a feature packed board.

SUP Surfing – a lot tougher to tackle if you’re a beginner but a hell of a lot of fun. Surfing SUPs are shorter than all rounders – up to 10’ long, are narrower in width and will normally have rockers (upward turned nose and/or tail). A responsive board that is nimble and easier to manoeuvre is key when you’re in the surf.

Kids Boards – you’re never to old or young to take up SUPing. Paddle Boarding offers many benefits and is brilliant for the young ones. Owing to there lighter weight, you can dial back on the board specs. For smaller children, 7’ to 8’ SUPs which will be correspondingly smaller in width and thickness, are normally well suited for young ones. The Size Guide referred to above will also serve as a useful guide.


Recommended Entry Level Boards
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ROC Explorer iSUP

Length: 10’
Width: 32”
Thickness: 6”
Weight: 17.5 lbs
Material: PVC with DuraWeld Technology
Inflation: 12-15 psi
Capacity: Rated to 300 lbs
Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
Leash: Coiled Ankle
Warranty: 12 Months

Best Paddle Boards for Beginners ROC Explorer iSUP

The Explorer is one of the best-selling entry level paddle boards on the market with in excess of 4,000 5 star ratings on Amazon alone. While it isn’t a feature packed SUP, it is available in no less than 11 colour schemes and comes with a full accessories package including: backpack for the deflated board and all accessories, detachable centre fin, 3-piece adjustable aluminium paddle, ankle leash, single cylinder dual action pump and a handy durable dry bag for small personal items.

It specs put it squarely within the all round category making for a nice stable paddling surface. Its slight front rocker assists the board to glide through the water and with a weight carrying capacity of 300 lbs, it can comfortably accommodate the vast majority of adult riders with additional kit if desired.

For Detailed SUP Package Review click HERE


Bestway Hydro Force iSUP

Length: 10’
Width: 33”
Thickness: 6”
Weight: 30 lbs
Material: TriTech PVC / Drop-stitch
Inflation: 15 psi
Capacity: Rated to 286 lbs
Paddle: 4-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
Leash: Coiled Ankle
Warranty: 12 Months

Bestway Hydro Force iSUP

The Hydro Force is another classic all round entry level SUP that is best suited for flat water recreational paddling for riders of all levels. While it too has limited board features from an accessorising standpoint, at 33” wide, it is well suited to SUP yoga or other stationary board activities.

The SUP package comes with all of the necessary inclusions and can also accommodate a kayak conversion kit (detachable seat and footrest) so you can mix it up a little. Its deck traction pad makes for a comfortable paddling surface that will enable better grip to aid stability. As an all round board, the Explorer offers a nice balance between stability, buoyancy, manoeuvrability and overall paddling performance.

For Detailed SUP Package Review click HERE


iROCKER Nautical iSUP

Length: 10’6”
Width: 32”
Thickness: 6”
Weight: 20 lbs
Material: Dual Layer Military Grade / Drop-stitch
Inflation: 15 psi
Capacity: Rated to 240 lbs
Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Fibreglass
Leash: 10’ Coiled Ankle
Warranty: 12 Months

iROCKER Nautical iSUP

iROCKER are a well reputed paddle board manufacturer that offer the entry level Nautical as well as their premium branded Blackfin SUP. At only 20 lbs, the Nautical is one of the lightest all round inflatable boards on the market making it easier to manager on the water as well as being easy to carry and transport. The 10’6” board best suits beginner to intermediate paddlers in flat water paddling conditions. The Nautical is also available as a 11’6” board which enhances straight line paddling and glide through the water.

The SUP package includes: a 3-piece adjustable fibreglass paddle, 3 detachable fins, single chamber dual action manual hand pump, 10’ coiled ankle leash, durable storage backpack as well as a standard SUP repair kit.

For Detailed SUP Package Review click HERE


Goosehill Sailor iSUP

Length: 10’6”
Width: 32”
Thickness: 6”
Weight: 20.5 lbs
Material: SCE Technology / Drop-stitch
Inflation: 12 – 15 psi
Capacity: Rated to 440 lbs
Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
Leash: 10’ Coiled Ankle
Warranty: 36 Months

Goosehill Sailor iSUP

While only offering a limited range, Goosehill are an established inflatable SUP manufacturer that focus on premium entry level paddle boards. Their proprietary SCE material strength enhancing technology manufacturing process enables them to produce the Sailor which has a very impressive weight carrying capacity of 440 lbs which is more than enough to cater for adult riders with the kids, or dog and other accessories. They can in fact produce custom order boards which is not a common offering amongst the entry level board manufacturers.

The Sailor is a classic all round stable paddle board that performs nicely in flat waters or mild swell conditions. It comes with the full accessories package and has an impressive 3-year warranty (uncommon for entry level SUPs) which speaks to Goosehills confidence in their products.

For Detailed SUP Package Review click HERE


Atoll Paddle Boards iSUP

Length: 11’
Width: 32”
Thickness: 6”
Weight: 21 lbs
Material: Korean Drop-stitch / Dual Layer PVC
Inflation: 15 psi
Capacity: Rated to 400 lbs
Paddle: Adjustable Black Carbon Fibreglass
Leash: 10’ Coiled Ankle
Warranty: 24 Months

Atoll Paddle Boards iSUP

Atoll are one of our favourite paddle board manufacturers and produce a very high quality all round SUP that will likely exceed your expectations. Their inflatable boards while great for newbie paddlers, are well suited to SUPers of all levels. They are a next level manufacturer that offer mid-level boards only so not what we would class as an entry level product. If you can stretch your budget a little, then this is a great place to start.

While the recommended paddler weight sits at 400 lbs, Atoll claim that it can withstand weights of up to 700 lbs which is arguably the most rigid and buoyant paddle board within its class. The board has all of the key elements of a classic all rounder so will offer an uncompromising paddling experience. With a SUP package that includes all of the key essentials, we are a fan of Atolls inflatables and have no reservations in including them on this recommended SUP list.

For Detailed SUP Package Review click HERE


We hope the above content has been useful and as always would welcome your comments or feedback.

If you would like to start a conversation or are looking for advice on other paddle boarding needs, please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

3 thoughts on “Best Paddle Boards for Beginners – 2021”

  1. I am so glad to have found your website! This is a great article for me, I am an aspiring stand-up paddleboarder – it’s even on my vision board!
    I have a question for you please. Currently, I live in a city far away from the ocean, come summer I could stand SUP on the local dams which are freshwater of course. The plan is to relocate to the coast though. Would I be able to take a board I’ve been using on freshwater dams and use it at the coast? In all likelihood, I will spend more time on lagoons rather than the sea itself because the surf is pretty intense in my part of the world. That said, it will be saltwater once I am at the coast.
    Look forward to learning more from you.
    Happy paddling!
    Louise

    Reply
    • Hi Louise,

      Paddle Boards can be used in both fresh and salt water so no issues there at all. Just give it a rinse with fresh water and let it dry before you store it away. Any one of the all round inflatables would likely make the most sense if you’re simply looking for a good recreational board for flat water paddling.

      Stay safe and enjoy – Jason.

      Reply

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