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July 11, 2023

Choosing Your First Paddle Board: Top Picks for Beginners

Written By Zack Newsome
Updated July 11, 2023
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Paddleboarding is a popular water sport that offers a unique blend of relaxation and physical activity. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful glide on calm waters or an adventurous ride on rolling waves, paddle boarding has something to offer for everyone. If you’re new to this awesome sport, one of the most critical decisions you’ll make is choosing your first paddle board.

The right paddle board can make all the difference in your initial experiences on the water. It can enhance your stability, boost your confidence, and help you progress quickly in mastering the sport. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the best paddle boards for beginners, ensuring that your first steps in the world of paddleboarding are smooth and enjoyable.

We’ll explore various factors to consider when choosing a paddle board, such as stability, size, weight, construction materials, and budget. Additionally, we’ll present a curated selection of top picks for beginner-friendly paddle boards, highlighting their key features and benefits for novice riders. Finally, we’ll share some additional tips to help you get started on the right foot.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and insights needed to confidently make an informed decision about your first paddle board. So, let’s dive in and discover the best paddle boards for beginners that will pave the way for your exciting paddle-boarding journey!

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Paddle Board for Beginners

Woman carrying an inflatable paddleboard on the beachBefore diving into the wide array of paddle board options available, it’s essential to understand the key factors to consider when selecting the perfect board for beginners. By keeping these factors in mind, you can ensure that your chosen paddleboard aligns with your skill level, preferences, and goals. Let’s explore these crucial considerations:

Stability: As a beginner, stability should be your top priority when choosing a paddleboard. Look for boards with a wide and long design, as they offer better stability on the water. A stable board will provide you with a solid platform to build your confidence and balance skills.

Size and Weight: The dimensions and weight of the paddle board play a crucial role in its overall performance and maneuverability. Generally, longer and wider boards offer more stability but can be slightly slower in the water. Consider your body weight and the intended use of the board to find the right balance between stability and maneuverability. For a stable beginner board, we recommend boards that are 32″ or wider and 6″ thick.

Construction Materials: Paddle boards are commonly constructed using different materials, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Fiberglass boards are lightweight and offer excellent performance, while inflatable boards provide easy storage and portability. Other materials, such as plastic or foam, may offer durability and affordability. Consider the trade-offs of each material and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Price Range: Paddle boards can vary significantly in price, and as a beginner, you don’t need to break the bank for your first board. Determine your budget range and look for options within that range. Remember that while higher-priced boards may offer advanced features, there are plenty of budget-friendly options available that can still provide a great experience for beginners.

By considering these factors, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and find a paddle board that meets your specific needs as a beginner. In the next section, we’ll delve into our top picks for the best paddle boards for beginners, taking into account the factors we’ve discussed here.

Top Picks for Beginner-Friendly Paddle Boards

Now that we’ve covered the essential factors to consider when choosing the best paddle boards for beginners, let’s explore our top picks for boards that are specifically designed to cater to novice riders. These boards have been carefully selected based on their stability, maneuverability, durability, and overall suitability for beginners. Let’s dive in:

Inflatable Paddleboards:

Due to their packability and portability, we prefer inflatable paddleboards over rigid paddleboards.  Inflatable paddleboards offer a paddleboard experience that’s very similar to a rigid SUP, but in a package that’s much more flexible and convenient and typically can be found at a much lower price. Due to the lower cost of entry and the ease of transport, beginning paddleboard will find themselves using an inflatable more often than a rigid board at a lower financial risk.

ROC Inflatable Paddleboard

At 33″ wide, the ROC Inflatable paddleboard hits the sweet spot for a beginner board. Rated at a weight limit of 350lbs, this board is forgiving for beginners of all sizes. Complete with a full range of accessories (including paddle, pump, leash, and carrying bag), the ROC paddleboard has everything you need to get out on the water. ROC is a US-based company with top-rated customer service. The ROC inflatable paddleboard is available in 11 colors each between $200 – $250.  With a 2-year warranty at this price point, this inflatable board is a great value for those looking at getting into paddleboarding.

Skatinger Super Wide SUP

The Skatinger Super Wide is an inflatable paddleboard that all beginners should consider.  At 11’6″ long and a crazy 35″ wide, the Skatinger might be the perfect setup for those getting started paddleboarding. Capable of carrying 430 lbs, the extra 3″ of width makes for a more stable board for beginners or can haul additional cargo or pets for experienced SUPers. We love the design of the Skatinger that reminds us of a cross between a high-tech and yet uber-clean look and feel. Like other boards on our list, the Skatinger comes with a plethora of included accessories to offer a complete beginner’s package. The only downfall of the Skatinger is the 6-month warranty – only half of the industry standard and much less than the ROC and BOTE 2-year plans.

Drift Inflatable SUP

Drift is a sister brand of one of our favorite paddleboard manufacturers, BOTE, and offers similar, yet less expensive paddleboards under the Drift name. Drift boards look great and their 11’6″ x 33″ offering is a great size for beginners. The Drift’s center and nose grab handles make it easy to transport and the 6″ thickness gives beginners the stability they need.  The Drift SUP comes with all the essential paddle board accessories: coiled leash, removable fin, repair kit, 3-piece aluminum paddle, paddle board pump, and backpack carrying bag.  The Due to its association with BOTE that yields quality boards at lower prices, the Drift SUP is one of our favorite choices for a beginner SUP.


In our eyes, BOTE is the brand to beat in the SUP world.  This uber-cool inflatable manufacturer includes magnetic cup holders in most of its products and sells pool rings for $250.  But if you refuse to be seduced by their overpriced and overhyped products, you’ll find some solid and industry-leading products offered by BOTE. The Wulf Aero paddleboard is a great example. In our opinion, the Wulf’s 10’6″ length and 33″ is the sweet spot for an inflatable paddleboard – balancing stability and speed in a single design. It’s a great-looking board and the BOTE name will make your friends think you paid a lot more than the mid-$400 price this model is offered at. Overall, it’s a great option for those who prefer to pick up a brand name board with a great warranty should something goes wrong.  The BOTE Wulf Aero comes with an industry-leading 2-year warranty that proves that BOTE builds a superior product that they stand behind.

Rigid Paddleboards:

Though inflatable technology has vastly improved in recent years, rigid paddleboards, made of fiberglass or other durable materials, will outperform their inflatable counterparts.  For those looking to start paddleboarding, but wanting to have the best-performing platform, a rigid SUP may be the best choice. While more expensive and more difficult to store and transport, rigid SUPs appeal to the purists of the sport.

Lifetime Amped Paddleboard

The Lifetime SUP is an HDPE-constructed rigid paddleboard that has “beginner board” written all over it. Its 11′ long x 32″ wide size is great for those just getting started in the sport.  You can pass the rigid Lifetime SUP down to your kids and grandkids with their unheard-of 5-year limited warranty.  This SUP is a tank that will most likely outlast you.  While it’s not the sexiest board on our list, the Lifetime SUP makes up for it with a practical, durable design at a decent price for a rigid SUP.  If you choose this board, think of it as the beginner’s platform that all of your friends and family will pass around on their way to getting a board of their own.  In a way, it’s the most beautiful role a board can play and for this reason, don’t look past the Lifetime rigid SUP.

Isle Versa Rigid SUP

We’ve been a fan of ISLE paddleboards for a while now.  ISLE is a quality brand with products that are elegantly designed and high quality.  ISLE paddleboards aren’t cheap, but they offer a great product that should last a long time. These ISLE rigid boards are epoxy boards – meaning they are lighter and 35% durable than fiberglass boards – perfect for beginners who may experience a ding or two.  The design of ISLE boards are sexy – they look great and exude quality. The best part? ISLE offers a 60-day trial period on their boards. “Ride it and love it OR return it” as they say.  And if you do keep your ISLE board and run into any issues, a standard 1-year warranty has you covered.

By presenting these top picks, we aim to provide you with a starting point in your search for the perfect beginner-friendly paddle board. Remember to consider your personal preferences, budget, and intended use of the board when making your final decision. In the next section, we’ll share some additional tips to help you make the most of your beginner paddle-boarding experience.

Looking for a list of “must-have” SUP accessories? Check out this article from our friends at Outward Spaces.

Additional Tips for Beginner Paddle Boarders

Congratulations on selecting one of the best paddle boards for beginners! As you embark on your paddle-boarding journey, here are some additional tips to enhance your experience and ensure a smooth transition into this exciting water sport:

Proper Paddle Length and Technique: Adjusting your paddle to the correct length and using proper paddling technique is crucial for efficient and comfortable paddling. Ensure that the paddle is adjusted to a height that allows for a slight bend in your elbows when standing upright on the board. Learn the proper paddling technique, which involves using your core muscles and engaging your whole body for efficient strokes.

Importance of Wearing Safety Gear: Safety should always be a priority when engaging in water sports. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket, especially if you’re a beginner. PFDs provide buoyancy and can be life-saving in case of an emergency. Additionally, consider wearing a leash that attaches you to the board to prevent it from drifting away if you fall off.

Choosing the Right Location for Your First Paddle Boarding Experience: Selecting the appropriate location for your maiden paddle boarding adventure can greatly impact your overall enjoyment. Opt for calm and flat waters, such as lakes, ponds, or calm bays, as they provide a more stable and less challenging environment for beginners. Avoid strong currents, crowded areas, and areas with hazardous obstacles.

Practice Balancing and Basic Techniques: Before venturing into deeper waters, take some time to practice balancing on your paddle board in shallow areas. Get comfortable with the feeling of the board beneath your feet and practice basic techniques, such as paddling in a straight line, turning, and stopping. This will help build your confidence and improve your overall paddling skills.

Learn from Experienced Paddle Boarders: Seek guidance from experienced paddle boarders or consider taking lessons from a certified instructor. They can provide valuable tips, teach you proper techniques, and share their knowledge about paddle boarding safety and etiquette. Learning from others will accelerate your learning curve and ensure you develop good habits from the start.

By following these additional tips, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your beginner paddle-boarding experience. Remember to be patient with yourself, have fun, and enjoy the serenity of being out on the water. In the final section, we’ll recap the importance of choosing the right paddle board for beginners and share some closing thoughts.

Older woman paddleboarding in calm marina waters

The Bottom Line

Choosing your first paddle board as a beginner is an exciting and crucial step in your paddle boarding journey. By considering factors such as stability, size, weight, construction materials, and budget, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and skill level.

In this article, we explored the essential factors to consider when selecting a paddle board for beginners. We discussed the significance of stability and the impact of size and weight on maneuverability. We also delved into the various construction materials available and provided guidance on finding the right price range for your first board.

Furthermore, we presented our top picks for the best paddle boards for beginners, highlighting their key specifications, notable features, and suitability for novice riders. These recommendations serve as a starting point to help you narrow down your options and find a board that instills confidence and joy as you embark on your paddleboarding adventures.

We also provided additional tips to enhance your beginner paddleboarding experience. From adjusting your paddle length and wearing safety gear to selecting the right location and practicing basic techniques, these tips will contribute to a safe and enjoyable journey as you explore the beauty of paddle boarding.

Remember, paddle boarding is not just about physical activity—it’s about connecting with nature, finding inner peace, and discovering new perspectives. Embrace the learning process, cherish the moments on the water, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Now that you’re equipped with valuable insights and recommendations from our list of the best paddle boards for beginners, it’s time to choose your first paddle board and start your exhilarating paddleboarding journey. So, get out there, paddle with confidence, and let the waters guide you to unforgettable experiences!

Happy paddling!

Love paddling? Check out our list of the Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2023!

About the Author

Zack Newsome

Zack is a lifelong adventurer passionate about sharing the thrill of the watersports with others. He loves fishing, sailing, paddling and exploring all types of water. He launched Outward Brands to inspire others to spend more time outdoors (and in the water) – improving mental health and more deeply connecting with nature.

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