There is something special about buying your first SUP—which is why you have to make a wise purchase decision.
The most important choice you have to make is whether to buy an inflatable or hard SUP. Inflatables have many advantages when it comes to storage, transport, and durability.
But are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners?
Quick answer? Yes, inflatable SUPs (iSUPs) are amazing for newbies.
Keep reading to find out why.
What Makes Inflatables Great Beginner Boards?
1. Stability and Versatility
Stability is one of the most important factors for a newbie. A stable board makes it easy for you to stand and learn how to maintain balance. It boosts your confidence and you will have more fun.
Inflatable SUPs are more stable and have a higher weight capacity. They are thicker and have a uniform thickness along their length.
The versatility of inflatable paddle boards also makes them a great option for beginners. Stand up paddle boarding is diverse. There is SUP touring, SUP racing, SUP fishing, SUP yoga, recreational SUP, surfing, and more.
Many inflatable paddleboards, especially the mid-range ones, are all-around boards. You can use them for almost all kinds of SUP activities.
Their performance may not be stellar in some areas like racing and surfing.
They, however, allow you to experience each activity and figure out what you like. You can later buy an expensive purpose-specific paddle board.
2. Ease of Storage and Transport
This is one of the best things about inflatable paddle boards. You don’t need a roof rack for transport or huge storage space.
An inflatable board can fit under the bed once deflated, regardless of its size. The fact that you live in a small apartment can’t stop you from owning a paddle board.
The same goes for transport. An inflatable board will fit in the trunk of your car when deflated.
If you don’t live near a body of water, you won’t have a problem traveling with your SUP several times a week. You can even bring it on a plane.
3. Soft Forgiving Surface
When learning how to stand up paddle board, you can expect to fall multiple times. You will be taught how to fall properly (if you have an instructor). You are supposed to fall away from the paddle board.
But that is not always the case. You might fall and hit the SUP board and this can hurt if you have a hard board.
Inflatable paddleboards have a soft surface that is less likely to hurt.
This surface also makes it easy to stand or kneel on your paddle board for hours. You won’t get sore or fatigued.
4. Included Accessories
Most inflatable SUP boards come as an all-inclusive package. You get everything you need to start paddle boarding right away.
The typical iSUP package includes a SUP board, paddle, hand pump, backpack, leash, and a repair kit. You only have to buy a life jacket and that’s it.
This doesn’t just apply to the expensive inflatables. Even the super cheap ones will come with the necessary accessories.
Unlike veteran paddlers, many beginner paddlers don’t already own paddling accessories like a leash and paddle. You have to buy everything at once. Most times you don’t even know what to buy.
Many hard boards barely come with accessories—if you’re lucky you will get a paddle.
With an iSUP bundle, you don’t have to wonder about what to get and where to get it from.
A good beginner paddle board should be affordable. Most newbies are not looking to splurge on their first paddle board.
You want a simple SUP to help you get a feel for the sport.
Inflatable stand up paddle boards are generally cheaper than traditional boards. You can get a good, quality board for $600 or less. Remember it comes with all the necessary accessories.
The inflatables in this price range are usually designed for beginners. They don’t have fancy features but they are all-around boards, perfect for recreational paddling.
These cheap SUPs also don’t come with expensive accessories, which is expected.
Mid-range iSUPs (under $900) are great and you can get an amazing deal. Some even come with carbon paddles which are the best and most expensive.
Hard paddle boards in this price range are less likely to impress you. You will be lucky to get quality accessories.
Are Hard or Inflatable Paddle Boards Better for Beginners?
Which is a better beginner paddle board: a hard board or an inflatable SUP?
We have established that inflatables are good for newbies. But are they the best paddle boards for beginners?
For someone who is just getting started with paddle boarding, an iSUP would be the better option.
Inflatable paddle boards are affordable, durable, and versatile. They have a soft surface that won’t hurt when you fall—which will happen.
Beginners will also benefit from the all-inclusive packages of inflatable boards. You get all the basic accessories at a friendly price.
Hard boards also have their advantages. They perform exceptionally and are great for surfing and racing.
For the newbies who have already decided to specialize in one of these areas, a hard board may be more suited.
ALSO READ: Are inflatable paddle boards safe?
What Is the Best Inflatable Paddle Board for a Beginner?
The best paddle board for beginners should have all the qualities we have discussed above.
Here are our top picks:
- Atoll 11’ inflatable SUP
- iRocker All-Around 11’
- Gili Meno Yoga SUP
- Blackfin Model X
- iRocker Nautical
- Bluefin Cruise Jr.
The Nautical is an excellent budget option and one of the most popular entry-level SUPs around. The Bluefin Cruise Jr. is the best beginner paddle board for junior paddlers.
What to Look for When Buying an Inflatable SUP
Just because a SUP is marketed as a paddle board for beginners doesn’t mean it is good.
The first thing you should consider is the construction. A well-made inflatable paddle board is durable and you’ll be using it for years. Quality iSUPs are built using multiple layers of military-grade PVC.
This is what makes them rigid and long-lasting.
Size is another important factor. Wide paddle boards are extremely stable. They work well for yoga, newbies, and paddling with the family. But they can be slow.
So while you gain more stability with board width, you lose speed. A SUP that is 10’ to 11’6 long and 30” to 33” wide would be perfect for learners.
Most SUPs this size are all-around boards. You can use them for flat water paddling and yoga, as touring boards (short trips), and for other SUP activities.
Don’t forget to check the iSUP bundle. As a beginner, you should go for an inflatable paddle board that comes with all the basic accessories. Make sure the package includes a paddle, leash, pump, backpack, and a repair kit.
This way, the only thing you have to buy separately is a personal flotation device.
The quality of these accessories is also important, depending on the price. For instance, if you’re paying around $800+, you can get premium accessories like a carbon paddle and a quality wheeled backpack.
You shouldn’t ignore the smaller features like fin setup, deck pad, extra D-rings, grab handles, and bungee storage.
Are Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards Any Good?
We have talked about the affordability of inflatable paddleboards. Some cost as low as $300. It is an enticing deal seeing as they come with basic SUP accessories. But are these cheap inflatable SUP boards any good?
More often than not, you get what you pay for. In this price range, you can’t expect much. But we have seen some really amazing cheap boards.
The accessories won’t be the best—they come with an aluminum paddle which is the heaviest.
If you are on a tight budget and decide to get a cheap inflatable paddle board, be careful.
Buy from a reputable company, one with a professional website and contact information. Search the web to see what other paddleboarders are saying about their products.
You also want an inflatable SUP that comes with a warranty.
Alternatively, wait and buy during a sale. You can get a high-quality paddle board at a lower price.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Are inflatable sup boards worth it?
Are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners? Yes! An iSUP makes the best beginner paddle board.
Inflatable paddleboards are affordable. You don’t need a lot of money to find a quality SUP that will last. Some of the best entry-level iSUPs cost less than $550.
These SUPs are all-around boards. They offer versatility, allowing you to try different paddle boarding activities.
Lastly, inflatables come with all the necessary basic accessories. Most beginners don’t own leashes and paddles. They may not even know what they need to get started.
Do you have any questions about inflatable paddle boards for beginners? Feel free to ask us below.