6 Best Paddle Boards For Beginners in 2021

Getting started with standup paddleboarding is exciting. And so is buying your first SUP board.

You may have seen people paddleboarding on a nearby lake or river. Perhaps you’ve rented a paddleboard while on vacation. And, like so many before you, you’ve fallen in love with the fastest growing watersport in the world.

So you consider buying your own SUP board.

But how do you choose the right paddleboard from the hundreds of SUPs that are available? What is the best paddle board for beginners?

Top Picks – Best Beginner Paddle Boards

Highest Rated
Atoll iSUP
4.9
Atoll iSUP
Check Price

Sizes
11’ x 32” x 6″
Weight
21 lbs
Capacity
700 lbs
Sizes11’ x 32” x 6″
Weight21 lbs
Capacity700 lbs
Most Popular
iRocker All Around
4.8
iRocker All Around
Check Price

Sizes
11’ x 32” x 6”
Weight
24 lbs
Capacity
435 lbs
Sizes11’ x 32” x 6”
Weight24 lbs
Capacity435 lbs
Best Yoga SUP
Gili Meno
4.7
Gili Meno
Check Price

Sizes
10’6 x 35″ x 6″
Weight
23 lbs
Capacity
450 lbs
Sizes10’6 x 35″ x 6″
Weight23 lbs
Capacity450 lbs
Best Heavy Duty
Blackfin Model XL
4.8
Blackfin Model XL
Check Price

Sizes
11’6 x 34″ x 6″
Weight
29 lbs
Capacity
485 lbs
Sizes11’6 x 34″ x 6″
Weight29 lbs
Capacity485 lbs
Best Budget
iRocker Nautical
4.7
iRocker Nautical
Check Price

Sizes
10’6 x 32″ x 6″
Weight
20 lbs
Capacity
240 lbs
Sizes10’6 x 32″ x 6″
Weight20 lbs
Capacity240 lbs
Best Kids Board
Bluefin Cruise Jr.
4.8
Bluefin Cruise Jr.
Check Price

Sizes
8′ x 29″ x 5″
Weight
n/a
Capacity
264 lbs
Sizes8′ x 29″ x 5″
Weightn/a
Capacity264 lbs

We will help you pick a beginner board that is perfect for you. And there is something for everybody.

Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

Read on for my reviews:

1. Atoll 11’ Inflatable: Highest-Rated All-Around Paddle Board for Beginners

atoll paddle board standing up

Paddlers love the Atoll iSUP. They speak highly of it in every SUP boarding forum you will find online. And I have to agree with them.

Read on to find out why.

Build Quality

The Atoll 11 inflatable board is constructed using Korean Drop Stitch technology. It features machine-laminated, dual-layer PVC. It is tough and durable. You can run it over with your car and it won’t get so much as a scratch.

Stability

This paddleboard measures 11 feet by 32 inches. The platform is wide enough for stability, but not too wide to make the board bulky.

The impeccable construction and six-inch thickness promote rigidity. This paddleboard will not flex or sink leading to a wobbly ride.

Performance

The good thing about the Atoll is that it finds a balance between stability and performance. A wider board is more stable. But it also has more resistance. So in gaining stability, you lose speed. The 32-inch width ensures that you get both.

It has a three-fin system; one large fin and two side fins. They help with tracking and maneuverability.

Design

The Atoll 11 paddleboard is available in four gorgeous colors: aquamarine, desert sand, light blue, and army green. The army green board seems to be most people’s favorite. 

The iSUP has two carry handles and 15 D-rings for attaching your gear. There is a bungee storage area at the front.

Package

You will get everything you need to start paddling with the Atoll 11 paddleboard. Its package includes a paddle, bag, leash, and a pump. The travel bag has been redesigned. It is heavy-duty with high-quality zippers and padded straps. The paddle is lightweight, with a carbon fiberglass shaft and nylon blade.

Features and Specifications

  • Korean Drop stitch technology
  • Dual-layer PVC material
  • Three-fin system; one large center fin, two side fins
  • Comes in four colors
  • Two carry handles, center and tail
  • 15 D-rings
  • Six-point bungee storage
  • Large comfortable deck pad
  • Measures: 11’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weighs: 21 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 700 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Super tough, durable construction
  • Stable
  • All-inclusive package, high-quality accessories
  • Great weight capacity
  • No nose carry handle

Customer Feedback

The Atoll is one of the best paddle boards for beginners and users agree. When you look at what they say, there are hardly any negative reviews of the Atoll 11. The manufacturers have been listening to customer complaints and making corrections. That is why the paddleboard is almost perfect.

Many SUP newbies say they can’t get enough of their Atoll SUP. It is extremely sturdy and stable. They love the accessories as well.

Check Price of the Atoll SUP

irocker all around 11 2021 model beginner paddle board

iRocker is a well-known name in the SUP community. Their boards are among the best-selling iSUPs globally. The iRocker All Around is a great beginner paddle board. Let’s look at it’s features.

Build Quality

The iRocker All Around 11 stand up paddle board is built using triple-layer composite PVC construction. They started using this instead of their quad-layer construction. However, the board is just as durable as before, only 20% lighter. 

The SUP is quite sturdy and can hold up to 435 pounds.

Stability

The All Around is 11 feet long and 32 inches wide. Like the Atoll, the iRocker paddle board has a stable platform but is not too bulky and hard to control.

The construction makes the iRocker iSUP stiff, preventing it from bending in the middle and wobbling.

Performance

Because it is neither too wide nor too short, the iRocker 11 inflatable paddle board glides with decent speed. It has a large central fin that helps with tracking, especially in flatwater.

Paddlers of all sizes will find it maneuverable.

Design

You can now choose from six beautiful iRocker colors: teal, green, grey, orange, white, and seafoam green. Whether you like bright boards or more chill colors, you will find something you like.

The iRocker 11 has 20 D-rings and four action mounts for your gear. There are two bungee storage areas, at the front and back. 

And if you plan on paddling with a child, the inflatable SUP has safety handles for them to hold on to.

Package

The iRocker All Around 11 SUP package includes a backpack, paddle, pump, and leash. The bag is compatible with a wheel tray for easy traveling. The paddle has a carbon blend shaft.

Features and Specifications

  • Triple-layer composite, military grade PVC construction
  • 20 D-rings
  • Four action mounts for gear
  • Six color options
  • Two bungee storage areas
  • Three carry handles: nose, tail, and center
  • Three-fin system
  • Four safety handles
  • Extra comfortable EVO deck pad
  • Measures: 11’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weighs: 26 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 435 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding construction
  • Lots of attachment points
  • Stiff and stable
  • All removable fins
  • No universal fin box

Customer Feedback

The iRocker All Around 11 exceeded the expectations of many paddleboarders. It is solid and performs better than most inflatable stand up paddle boards. Stability hasn’t been an issue. Beginners are having an easy time learning how to SUP. Even some not-so-experienced paddlers got on with their dogs and they say it was stable. There are tons of comments praising the iRocker customer service too.

Check Price of the iRocker

3. Gili Meno Yoga Board: Best Yoga Paddle Board for Beginners

gili meno yoga paddle board

You don’t need to be a SUP pro to start exploring SUP yoga paddle boarding. All you need is determination, calm water, and a good paddle board, like the Gili Meno.

Build Quality

The Gili Meno is built using triple-layer fusion-laminated PVC material. The rails are reinforced with carbon fiber for extra rigidity. It is remarkably durable and comes with a two-year warranty. The 10’6 Meno can hold 450 pounds while the 11’ Meno can hold 485 pounds.

Stability

The Gili Meno comes in two sizes; a 10’6 long and an 11′ long SUP. Both of them are 35 inches wide and six inches thick. As you can see, it is a wide board, ideal for all kinds of yoga poses.

Performance

As mentioned earlier, a wider board is more stable but slower. The Gili Meno will have more resistance than narrower SUP boards so don’t expect much in terms of speed. The shorter one is likely to be even slower. The good thing is that beginners and yoga enthusiasts are more concerned with stability than speed.

The boards are maneuverable.

Design

You can get the Gili Meno in two colors: green and teal. It has three grab handles: at the center, tail, and nose. There are two bungee storage areas at the front and back for your luggage. 

The SUP also has extra D-rings and three Scotty mounts for action cameras and other gear.

The large traction pad acts as a comfortable yoga mat.

Package

On top of the usual accessories in most SUP packages—a bag, pump, paddle, and leash—the Gili Meno package includes a five-piece fin kit. It has two side fins, a 3-inch river fin, a 4.5-inch speed fin, and a 9-inch center fin. The paddle has a carbon-fiber shaft and nylon blade while the backpack is wheeled.

Features and Specifications

  • Triple-layer fusion-laminated PVC construction
  • Carbon fiber rail
  • Two colors available
  • Two sizes available
  • Three carry handles
  • Scotty mounts for gear
  • Additional D-rings
  • Three-fin setup
  • Large traction pad
  • Measures: 10’6/11’ x 35” x 6”
  • Weighs: 23 lbs/ 24 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 450 lbs/ 485 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Five-piece fin kit
  • Unmatched stability
  • Attachment points
  • Super rigid, reliable construction
  • A little slow

Customer Feedback

Despite the Gili Meno being quite wide, users notice that it is lightweight and easy to carry. Inflating it is not as difficult as many anticipated. When it comes to stability, paddlers couldn’t be happier. It can handle multiple people without getting tippy at all. They can’t recommend it enough for beginners and families.

Check Price of the Gili

4. Blackfin Model XL: Best Heavy-Duty SUP for Beginners Over 300 Lbs

blackfin model xl 2021 paddle board for beginners

For newbies on the heavier side, the Blackfin Model XL would be perfect. It is big and sturdy enough for multiple paddlers.

Build Quality

The Blackfin Model XL features a triple-layer composite PVC construction. iRocker refers to it as the “strongest and lightest construction available.” The XL can hold up to 485 pounds. It has a carbon rail that enhances stability and makes it exceptionally rigid.

Stability

This is where the Blackfin Model XL excels. It is one of the most stable single-person paddleboards around. It measures 11’6 x 34”. The platform is long and wide, giving you all the stability you need to learn SUP. Its construction ensures rigidity. You will never have to worry about it bending in the middle.

Performance

Most small paddlers will find the Blackfin XL challenging to control. It is wide and long. Its speed is above average and it tracks well. The glide is amazing, and for such a wide all-around SUP, the general performance is impressive.

Design

This Blackfin inflatable paddleboard features a three-fin system, all removable. It has three grab handles: at the center, nose, and tail, as well as four safety handles.

There are eight action mounts and a total of 20 D-rings. The board has a sand spear and fishing rod attachment point.

The comfy EVO deck pad now extends all the way to the back—in case you want to try yoga.

Package

The Blackfin Model XL SUP package includes a paddle, pump, bag, and leash. The backpack has lots of pockets and is wheeled to make transport a breeze. The paddle has an all-carbon shaft and a nylon blade. The twin-chamber pump makes inflation 100% faster.

Features and Specifications

  • Triple-layer composite PVC construction
  • Three grab handles, four safety handles
  • Three colors available
  • Tri-fin system, all removable
  • Eight action mounts
  • 20 D-rings
  • Two bungee storage areas
  • Large comfy EVO deck pad
  • Measures: 11’6 x 34” x 6”
  • Weighs: 29 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 485 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Impeccable stability
  • Rigid and durable
  • Full carbon shaft paddle, wheeled backpack
  • Lots of attachment points
  • Hard to handle for smaller paddlers

Customer Feedback

There are so many comments about how stable the Blackfin Model XL is. Bigger guys are having a blast. Most people paddle with their kids and dogs. Despite its size, the XL performs well and some say it is fast. They don’t regret paying extra for it.

Check Price of the Blackfin

5. iRocker Nautical: Best Budget Paddle Board for Beginners

irocker nautical 106 2021 buget beginner paddle board

What if you are on a tight budget? Well, there is something for you too—the iRocker Nautical. And it is not a cheaply made board that will come apart in a few months.

Build Quality

The iRocker Nautical is built using dual-layer military-grade Drop stitch construction. It is super tough and you can’t dent or ding it. When fully inflated, it can hold up to 240 pounds. It comes with a 60-day guarantee and a one-year warranty.

Stability

The Nautical is 10’6 long and 32 inches wide. Its size ensures stability without hindering maneuverability.

The board is six inches thick and made using high-quality materials. This makes it very rigid and prevents flexing. It can actually handle more than its rated weight capacity.

Performance

The iRocker Nautical is of medium length and width. Paddlers of all sizes and skill levels will find it easy to control. You won’t have trouble making quick sharp turns. Its speed is decent and it tracks amazingly. The board glides smoothly and is so much fun to ride.

Design

You can get the Nautical in three colors: white, blue, and aqua.

It has three grab handles, bungee straps at the front, and extra D-rings for gear attachment. The deck pad is large and you can use the board for yoga.

Like the other iRocker paddleboards, the Nautical has a tri-fin system. All of them are removable.

Package

The iRocker Nautical inflatable SUP package includes a paddle, pump, backpack, and a leash. The paddle is made of fiberglass and is adjustable. The bag is heavy-duty, comfortable to carry, and versatile.

Features and Specifications

  • Dual-layer military-grade Dropstitch material
  • Six-point bungee storage at the front
  • 13 D-rings
  • Three fins, all removable
  • Three grab handles
  • Three color options
  • Large comfortable deck pad
  • Fiberglass paddle
  • Measures: 10’6 x 32” x 6”
  • Weighs: 20 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 240 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Affordable
  • All-inclusive package, high-quality accessories
  • Responsive
  • Low weight limit

Customer Feedback

Some users say that you can’t tell the difference between the Nautical and the more expensive iRocker SUPs while on water. It handles more than the weight limit and is unbelievably stable. Manual inflation is easy for most people too.

Check Price of the Nautical

6. Bluefin Cruise Junior: Best Kids Paddle Board for Beginners

bluefin cruise jr

All the above-mentioned boards are great for beginners. But they may be too big for younger newbies. The Bluefin Cruise Junior is designed for youth paddlers.

Build Quality

This Junior board is built using 1000D exo-surface laminate PVC and Pro Weave Dropstitch. The construction is so tough, the board can be inflated up to 28 PSI. The double side rails have been heat-welded to make the SUP board even more rigid.

Stability

The stand up paddleboard is 8 feet long and 29 inches wide. For a newbie rider under 5’3, this platform is stable enough and it will not wobble. The state-of-the-art construction makes this youth iSUP rigid and it can handle up to 265 pounds.

Performance

The Bluefin Cruise Junior board has a kick pad feature that allows it to make quick sharp turns. Its maneuverability is excellent.

The stand up paddle board is responsive and tracks impressively too.

Design

This inflatable SUP has a four-point bungee storage area at the front for luggage. It has extra D-rings for attaching a kayak seat and other gear. There are three grab handles: at the front, center, and rear.

It comes with three fins. The large center fin is removable, the side fins are not. The croco-diamond pad is large and covers most of the deck to offer comfort and traction.

Package

The Bluefin Cruise Junior package includes an adjustable paddle, pump, backpack, leash, and kayak conversion kit. The paddle has a fiberglass shaft and polyurethane blade. The backpack straps are wide and padded for ultimate comfort.

Features and Specifications

  • 1000D exo-surface laminate PVC and Dropstitch
  • Fixed Go Pro mount
  • Soft, grippy deck pad
  • Kick pad feature
  • Three grab handles
  • Tri-fin system, one removable
  • Bungee storage at the front
  • Heat-welded double side rails
  • Gentle, optimized rocker
  • Measures: 8’ x 29” x 5”
  • Weighs: 22 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 265 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Remarkable construction, durable
  • Easy to handle for young paddlers
  • Rigid and stable
  • Kayak conversion kit in the package
  • Not ideal for heavy paddlers

Customer Feedback

As expected, most people bought the Bluefin Cruise Junior for their children. They say it is high-quality and handles well. The paddleboard is stable and perfect for junior paddlers. The accessories are awesome and people love the kayak conversion kit. Kids can learn to paddle while seated or when they get tired of standing.

Check Price of the Bluefin Jr.

How to Choose a Paddle Board As a Beginner

Deciding which beginner stand up paddleboard to buy can be overwhelming. You have to pick one out of many great paddle boards available.

Different Types of Paddle Boarding

inflatable paddle board reviews

To find the best paddle board, you should first consider the type of paddle boarding you’ll be doing.

SUP surfing: If you want to ride the waves, a SUP surfing board is your best choice. Generally meant for intermediate and advanced paddlers, SUP surfing boards are typically shorter (max. 10′), narrower and have a narrower nose and tail than all around models.

All around SUP: All around paddle boards are usually thicker, wider and longer than SUP surf boards. They usually range in between 10′ to 12′ in length and 29” to 36” in width. All around boards are the most versatile types of SUP boards. As the name implies, they are great in all kinds of conditions. Unless you have good reason to go for another type of SUP board, an all around board is probably the best paddle board for beginners.

Touring or racing SUPs: Touring paddle boards are longer than all-around boards (usually they come in 12’6” or 14′ in length) and have a pointy nose and typically have little to no rocker. These boards are great if you know you’ll spend your time cruising your lake, river or even for open ocean touring.

A version of a touring SUP is a race board. Compared to tourings boards, race SUPs are much narrower giving them less drag and more speed. The downside is that this makes race SUPs much more difficult to stand on.

Yoga and fitness SUP: Doing your yoga routine and pilates on a stand-up paddleboard is a fresh trend called Yoga-on-Water (YOW). It’s perfect for people who are looking to get fit but who are bored with the usual gym setup. As you try to balance on your board, you are actually training your muscles and core strength. A yoga SUP board is generally wide for more stability and balance.

SUP for kids: Stand up paddle boarding is a great activity for you and your children. Not only is SUP boarding extremely fun to do by themselves or with friends but it also gets your children in the fresh air, helps to build their water confidence and has many great healthy benefits by getting kids active. The right SUP board for your child will depend on his or her length and weight, but most kids paddle boards are shorter than 8′.

To help you narrow down, here are the other things you should consider.

What to Look for When Buying a Paddle Board as a Beginner

1. Quality Construction

This is very important. You don’t want to go searching for another paddleboard after a few months because the one you bought is unusable. A good paddle board should allow you to be as adventurous as you like.

A standup paddleboard can either be solid or inflatable.

Solid paddleboards have an EPS foam core, layered with carbon fiber, plastic, fiberglass, or wood (usually bamboo). Others may be hollow, made of pure wood.

Carbon fiber paddleboards are lightweight, durable, and glide exceptionally. The only issue is that they are expensive. Most beginners may not have the budget.

Fiberglass paddleboards are diverse and common. It is easy to fall for a cheaply made one. Different manufacturers use different techniques and layers. If you decide to get an epoxy/fiberglass SUP, make sure you assess its quality.

Wooden paddleboards are stylish and have an authentic feel to them because ancient paddle craft was made of wood. Some wooden paddleboards are hollow and offer superior performance. They also last a long time but you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets.

Inflatable paddleboards are undefeated when it comes to durability. Just do a quick search on Google. You’ll see videos of people running them over with cars, dropping them from roofs, and all kinds of tests. They don’t get minor scratches, let alone dents.

However, you need to understand that different inflatable SUPs are made differently. Most of them are constructed using PVC and Dropstitch construction. But some have more PVC layers than others. A SUP with triple-layer PVC will be more durable than a single-layer PVC SUP.

If you are unsure about the construction, always look at the warranty period and user reviews. The longer the warranty period, the more confidence you can have in the board.

2. Stability

Standing on a floating paddleboard looks effortless when people are doing it. But it takes a lot of practice and core strength. It’s hard to attain and maintain balance on a SUP that feels tippy and wobbly. To avoid this frustration, you need a stable paddleboard.

What makes a paddle board stable?

The length, width, and buoyancy.

Longer paddle boards have better balance and they also perform well. But this doesn’t mean that you should look for the longest SUPs in the market. A longer board is harder to handle. As a newbie, look for a SUP that is 10’6 to about 11’6, depending on your size.

Another thing that makes a board stable is its width. The wider it is, the more stable it will be. You may have noticed that all the SUPs above are 30+ inches wide (except the junior board). That’s the best width range for stability. Don’t get anything less than 30 inches wide.

The buoyancy of a SUP also determines stability. And the buoyancy depends on volume. A paddleboard with a higher volume is more buoyant. It rides above the water instead of sinking. This keeps it steady and reduces drag leading to better performance.

3. Utility

It doesn’t make sense for a beginner to buy an advanced racing SUP, does it? First, you still don’t know what SUP variation you like. You will be limited in terms of what you can try. Second, most purpose-specific paddle boards are not newbie-friendly. They are usually too long, too narrow, or too short.

Look for paddleboards that are advertised as all-around. These can be used for anything. You can do yoga, bring a friend on board, tour, fish, etc. They allow you to experiment with different variations to find what you like.

Most all-around SUPs are beginner-friendly too. They are wide, of medium length, and have a shape that enhances stability. Besides, you can find them in every price range. Purpose-specific boards tend to be a bit costly.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Good for Beginners?

Absolutely. I’ll tell you why.

Inflatable paddle boards are affordable. Most beginners are not looking to spend a fortune on a paddle board. You most likely want something to help you explore the wonderful world of SUP. 

Some inflatable SUPs go for as little as $400 or less.

While you can get cheap solid standup paddleboards, there is a high chance that you will end up with a disappointing product.

Take the iRocker Nautical for instance. It is affordable but its quality is superb, making it a great beginner board. It also comes with everything you need to start paddling right away. You will be lucky to get such a deal with a quality solid SUP.

This leads us to the next point: iSUPs come as a package, most of them do.

To go on your first SUP adventure, you will require a paddle, leash, and PFD. SUP packages save you the trouble of finding and buying each of these things separately. You only have to buy the iSUP and a PFD.

The other reason is that inflatable paddle boards don’t require large storage space. They are also easy to travel with. You don’t need to make room in your garage—or even have a garage. Once you are done stand up paddle boarding, deflate it and throw it under your bed.

What Size SUP Should a Beginner Use?

We have discussed this briefly above.

a. SUP Length

Paddle boards range from about 8 feet to 14+ feet long. Shorter boards are maneuverable but they don’t track so well. As the length increases, maneuverability becomes poorer and tracking improves.

Longer standup paddleboards (12+ feet) are mainly used for touring and racing. Shorter ones (8 to 10 feet) are meant for surfing and youth paddlers. Those that fall in between are mostly all-around paddleboards.

For young SUP beginners, the right length would be from 8 feet to 10 feet depending on their size.

Adult beginners should go with a medium-length SUP, 10’6 feet to about 12 feet. You should choose a board that is easier to handle depending on your size. If you are on the smaller side, stay within the 10’6 – 11’ range.

b. Paddle Board Width

You want a paddleboard that is wide enough for maximum stability, but not too wide that paddling becomes a problem. And also don’t forget that wider boards are slower.

So what is the right width for you?

Generally, standup paddleboards that are 30+ inches wide will be stable. If you are on the bigger side, you should get a board that is 33+ inches wide.

Take the Blackfin XL, for instance. It will allow you to paddle with a lot of gear for fishing or camping. You can also have someone else on board regardless of your size.

Smaller newbie paddlers will do fine with a 31- to 32-inch wide SUP—or wider if you plan on doing yoga.

c. Board Thickness

Sometimes, people overlook thickness when choosing a paddleboard. Don’t make that mistake.

Thicker paddleboards are more buoyant and float above the water. A thinner paddleboard will sink slightly leading to poor and frustrating performance.

But that is not the only factor that is affected by a SUP’s thickness.

A thicker board has a higher volume and is likely to support more weight. So if you are a larger paddler, stay away from thin paddleboards.

Furthermore, the thickness of an inflatable paddleboard influences its rigidity. Notice that most iSUPs above are six inches thick. If a board is thin, it will be less rigid and may flex when you try to ride. Unless you are a youth SUPer, you should get a six-inch thick iSUP.

Conclusion

Choosing your beginner stand up paddle board can indeed be an intimidating task. You want to get it right. The six paddleboards discussed above are some of the best paddle boards for beginners. They have been tried and tested by other paddlers—and they approve.

When picking out a paddleboard, consider construction quality, stability, and utility. If you are looking for a beginner SUP that you can travel with, an inflatable would be perfect. Lastly, make sure you get the right SUP size.

Do you have any questions about choosing the best beginner paddle board? Feel free to ask us below.

Happy paddling!