Stand-up paddle boarding is one of the best entry-level water sports and it is growing fast.
It’s easy to see why, too; it is a versatile water sport which isn’t confined to the beach.
The things which we usually associate with standing up are queuing in stores or commuting on a packed-out subway, however, stand-up paddle boarding is an entirely different story, isn’t it?
Although stand-up paddle boarding is growing in popularity and there are no limits to what you can explore with it, it is always best to start off with a beginner-friendly board.
Even if you have lots of experience with other water sports, paddle boarding is very different.
Here, I am going to cover X of the very best stand-up paddleboards for beginners available on the market and provide you with lots of useful information which can help you get ahead with your paddle boarding journey.
Choosing a Beginner-Friendly Board Helps You Learn Quicker
Beginners can very easily find themselves overwhelmed when shopping for the best stand-up paddle board because there is a lot to consider when choosing one. A lot of the time, people can find themselves facing an information overload.
It is an important decision, however, a stand-up paddle board which has been designed with beginners in mind will help you learn the ropes a lot faster.
Instead of wasting half of your session falling off the board and trying to work with something which is unsuitable, a beginner-friendly stand-up paddle board will enable you to focus more on your session and take the information in.
Two types of paddle board
If you have been shopping around for stand-up paddle boards, you have likely noticed that there are two distinct types available on the market: rigid boards; and inflatable boards.
Inflatable stand-up paddleboards and rigid stand-up paddle boards each have their own unique properties and deciding between the two at the outset of your search is important.
You may opt for a rigid paddle board over an inflatable one if you have a higher budget, more storage space and easy access to your local waterways with it. The main difference between a rigid and inflatable board is that one is cheaper and easier to store.
If you are serious about stand-up paddle boarding and want to spend a lot of time doing it, we would always recommend opting for a rigid board.
Rigid boards vs. inflatable boards
The major difference between fiberglass and foam (rigid) stand-up boards and inflatable boards is performance.
Over the years, inflatable boards have vastly improved in that good quality ones are now very similar and virtually indistinguishable from their rigid counterparts. Inflatable boards in some cases perform just as well as rigid ones.
This, however, depends on one thing: air pressure.
Without this, inflatable boards feel nothing like a rigid board in terms of overall feel, control and performance. When push comes to shove, a rigid board is always the best option and provides the best experience.
For beginners, I would always recommend going for a rigid board over an inflatable one. You can always invest in an inflatable board further down the line when you are comfortable with paddle boarding.
3 things to look out for when choosing a paddle board
Finding the best stand-up paddle board for beginners is made a lot easier when you keep the following in mind.
1. Stability & Volume
As a beginner, you need a stable board, this is key. Like I said, you want to spend time focussing on learning, and you can’t do that if you keep falling off!
The majority of people will find a board measuring around 11ft. in length and 30in wide to be more than suitable when it comes to stability. There are other board features, however, which can have an impact on stability.
If you want to get technical and really ensure you buy a board which will remain stable with your weight, figure out the board’s volume.
To do this, find your weight in kilograms and multiply it by two, then replace the kg unit with liters… boom! There you have it.
For example – a person weighing 63.5kg would need a board with a volume of 127 liters as a bare minimum.
2. The Board’s Use
The beauty of paddle boarding lays in the fact that there is so much you can do with one; you are not confined to beaches. You can go paddle boarding wherever there is a body of water.
Think about where you will be using your board primarily, and for what purpose. Will you be racing, fishing, touring or just using it as a general all-rounder?
To put this consideration into perspective, some use a paddle board for water-based yoga! Of course, the key consideration for these people is stability and volume.
3. Optional Extras
There are many ways you can customize your stand-up paddle board to enhance your experience.
Additions such as bags and pumps can improve your overall experience, whereas bungees and cords are a great way to haul things with you to the water.
As a beginner, however, your main focus is to improve your paddle boarding skills and you should avoid getting yourself bogged down in the many different decisions and how these will improve your experience – this can come later.
Do I need to wear a life vest or safety equipment?
Whenever you are participating in water-based activities, I would always recommend wearing a life vest. Why? Because you never know what’s lurking around the corner, especially if you’re exploring unfamiliar territory.
There are plenty of simplistic and lightweight options when it comes to life vests, and they are very affordable. There is no good reason why you shouldn’t have one and be taking it with you.
As a beginner, wearing a life vest is especially important. You are participating in a new water sport which you have little experience with and are a long way from mastering.
A life vest will have your back should something go wrong. They are affordable too; safety doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.
Is paddle boarding the same as surfing?
No! They are two entirely different water sports. You can’t use a surfboard for stand-up paddle boarding, and you can’t use a stand-up paddle board for surfing. It just doesn’t work.
The most obvious difference between the two sports is that you use a paddle for paddle boarding which helps with movement and steering, whereas with surfing you rely on the waves to move you.
This difference has massive implications for the ways the two boards are designed and built, and each undergo a different design and production process. It also has an impact on other things such as the ride and its stability.
P.s. just because you can surf well does not mean you can paddle board!
The 5 Best Stand-Up Paddle Boards for Beginners
These are my top picks for the very best stand-up paddle boards on the market for beginners and novices.
From time to time, this list will be updated to reflect new products entering the market. As you are reading this, these are the best boards available right now.
ISLE Cruiser Soft Top Stand-Up Paddle Board
This is by far one of my favorite stand-up paddle boards right now. Isle is a very strong brand name and has a reputation for building very high-quality paddle boarding equipment at budget-friendly price points.
Its weight limit is 275lbs (around 125kg), which is far more than enough for most adults of average weight and build. Even people with larger builds or heavier weights will be well-accommodated on this Isle board. In terms of width, it comes in at 31in which makes it a standard sized stand-up paddle board.
This paddle board comes with a few basic accessories which are helpful for beginners. These accessories include a paddle (of course!), a fin and a leash. It doesn’t come with any other basic equipment such as a storage bag.
Extending to 85in, the paddle is suitable for anybody up to the height of 6ft 4in.
The best thing about this board is that you can easily fit two people on it if the combined weight does not far exceed 275lbs, great for beginners who want to learn accompanied by an experienced paddle boarder.
- An adjustable paddle for differing heights.
- There is plenty of traction on the top to provide beginner stability.
- Perfect for calmer waters.
- It does not come with any storage options.
- There are only two color options available.
Keeper Sports CBC Classic Foam Paddle Board
Made by the folks at the California Board Company, this soft top is one of the nicest looking stand-up paddle boards money can buy. Great attention to detail has been placed on its design and I personally think it is stunning.
It is a very well-built board which can stand the test of time; CBC boards are among some of the most highly regarded products available on the market.
To keep the board rigid and sturdy in the water, it has been built with three wooden strips, whilst the top of the board is made from a soft EPS foam, making it ideal for beginners looking for something to gently ease them into the sport.
Comfortable and sturdy, the ride is pleasant, and the board is easy to maneuverer. With a weight capacity of 300lbs, riders can quite easily bring another person (or family pet!) aboard.
In terms of additional features, the product comes with an adjustable paddle with blade shield, a leash, camera mount and padded roof rack which makes it easy to attach to any vehicle.
- Extra sturdy foam design with wooden inserts.
- Eye-catching design.
- Lots of useful accessories included.
- Supports a tri-fin system but only comes with one fin.
- Longer than your average board.
Surftech Universal Coretech Fleet 10’6” Board
Another brand who is known for making quality paddle boards is Surftech, and their Coretech Fleet range is no exception to this rule. Surftech has many different models on the market, however, this is one of my favorites.
Although the Coretech weighs a little more than most paddle boards (coming in at 29lbs), it can support riders weighing up to 205lbs and is a great all-rounder for the wannabe recreational paddle boarder.
Its large volume and full rails help to keep the board stable and easy to control, making it an ideal product for those who are new to the sport. In addition to this, it is built from fiberglass and epoxy with a natural wood standing area for reinforcement.
Unlike most other paddle boards, Surftech doesn’t include any accessory to their products. If you do buy this one, you will need to invest in your own paddle. This is something I always recommend anyway, so it’s not a huge deal!
If you are looking for stability and good traction, Surftech’s Coretech board is definitely a strong contender for both beginners and seasoned paddle boarders.
- Made from durable fiberglass and reinforced with wood.
- Sturdy and stable, ideal for beginners.
- Supports a high amount of weight.
- Comes with zero accessories.
- Only one design.
BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Performer
BIC’s range of paddle boards, especially their TOUGH-TEC products, are renowned for their durability and exceptional performance. Because BIC’s designs are inspired by longboard surfboards, you get a product which performs well both in rough and calm waters.
The TOUGH-TEC Performer offers huge amounts of durability which is great news for beginners who need a board which can stand up to being bashed around from time-to-time, as it is made from lightweight EPS foam.
In contrast to fiberglass boards which are more fragile, the beginner suitability is obvious.
It is also available in three different sizes, meaning beginners can choose a board which best fits within their bodyweight. There is a 9’6, 10’6 and 11’6 model which can hold up to 120lbs, 200lbs and 240lbs respectively.
BIC’s classic longboard shape provides a stable and balanced ride with easy maneuverability and good control. It is even suitable for taking to the waves, so for those with surfing experience, it is a 2-in-1 product.
- Three different sizes and weight limitations.
- Can be used in choppy waters, such as at sea.
- Extremely durable due to the TOUCH-TEC epoxy construction.
- Only comes with one central fin.
- No paddle or other accessories included.
Can’t Decide? Here’s my Top Pick for the BEST Stand-Up Paddle Board
Personally, my favorite board is the Surftech Coretech board.
I have lots of experience with paddle boarding and have spent a lot of time using various products, including those on this list.
I love the Surftech Coretech board because it provides one of the smoothest and sturdiest rides possible. As a beginner, this is what you should be looking for.
In addition to this, it is a board which helps you easily transition from beginner to intermediate – there’s no need to swap out your board for a new one.
As a beginner paddle boarder, it is always a good idea to pick a board which, if necessary, can support more than one person. With its 205lbs maximum weight, this board certainly ticks that box.
Comparing Surftech’s board to other products on this list such as the Isle Cruiser, however, there is not a huge amount of difference – it’s all about personal preference.
The main thing which makes the Surftech board stand out is the fact that it can handle the most weight, is the most durable and is suitable for complete beginners to intermediate paddle boarders.
All the boards I have included in my list are great choices for beginners. The one which you decide to buy is down to you and all will provide a great entry-level experience.