girl on SUP with a yellow paddle

Best Stand Up Paddle Boards for Beginners Compared

Looking for the Best Paddleboards for a Beginner?

Choosing the right paddleboard for a beginner is no easy task in today's market.  There are so many types an different variations of SUPs out there that it's easy to get lost.

Well here at Paddleboard Surf we will steer you to SUPs that are stable, forgiving, user friendly, and most importantly boards that are fun!

Why is it important for beginners to start out on boards that are fun?  Because if you are not having fun, then you won't stick with it.  

The Benefits of SUPs for Beginners

SUP is relatively easy to learn, and most pick it up quickly, but you'll want to start off on a board that makes it easy, so you don't get discouraged. 

When learning to SUP you'll want a board that you don't have to take care of too much.  So most of the boards we will discuss are inflatables and soft tops.  Inflatable SUPs and soft top paddleboards are great for beginners because they are fun and forgiving.

If you fall on to an inflatable or a softy, you won't bang and hurt your knees, elbow, or head.  Not getting hurt is important in keeping the fun factor high.  You also don't have to worry about hurting someone else or damaging property.

If you have a hard or rigid SUP and it gets away from you and hit's another person, you can hurt them.  If a rigid SUP gets out of your control and hits something like a boat, it can damage it.  You don't have to worry about these problems with iSUPs and softies.  

And finally, iSUPs and soft tops are generally less expensive than solid SUPs, which is great for beginners just starting to learn.

Thurso Surf Waterwalker with leash, fins, pump, backpack, and paddle
Waterwalker stats


Features:

  • Complete package, everything you need to get on the water
  • Width: 32 inches
  • All around board good for all skill levels
  • Inflatable
  • Carbon shaft paddle

The Thursosurf Waterwalker is an all new design and it's once of the best looking boards for a beginner out there.  

This inflatable SUP comes in three sizes but we recommend the larger, 11 foot size.  The reason is that the larger size is 32 inches wide whereas the the smaller model is 30 inches wide.  The slightly wider waist will help the board be more stable.

When you are a beginner it's a good idea to go with whatever can make your paddling experience easier, like a wider board, because your are more likely to have fun and to stick with the sport.  

Also, the double layer construction, and carbon reinforced side rails, make this the strongest iSUP structure in the industry.  A super strong, stable board makes it more fun when you are new to the sport of stand up paddleboarding.

Some of the things that make this board great for beginners is that everything is included in the package.  The Waterwalker comes with a carbon shaft paddle, double chamber pump (this makes pumping your board up SO much easier!), roller backpack, 3 fins, and a coiled leash.

Everything you need to get out on the water in one simple package.

And finally, Thurso Surf backs up their product with a 2 Year Warranty.  That is peace of mine for a first time SUP buyer.

Pros of this Board

  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy payment plan available
  • Storage backpack comes with easy-e rollers
  • Carbon enhanced side walls for unusual stability for an inflatable

Cons of this option

  • Sometimes this product is unavailable for purchase depending on the season
blue atoll isup package


Features:

  • Inflatable
  • Darn near indestructible construction
  • 32” wide
  • Lightweight at only 21 lbs
  • Utilizing Korean Drop Stitch technology for improved durability

This inflatable from ATOLL is super sturdy and give you the confidence that you won’t fall, unlike cheaper boards. Unlike the other inflatables already listed, the ATOLL has a narrow tail, but with the 32 inches of width and the impressive rigidity for an inflatable, this is an ideal setup for a SUP beginner.

This board is really stable, which might have something to do with the logo of a Buffalo standing on a paddle board. You can load this board up with fishing gears by attaching to the 6 point bungee system on the front, or you can tool around with a passenger (holds up to 350 lbs total), and you’ll still have stability and ease of maneuverability.

This is one of the best all around paddle boards. It’s also great that the ATOLL comes with a 2 Year Manufactures Warranty.

Wanna see a big SUV drive over an inflated ATOLL paddleboard and the board stays inflated and acts like it's no big deal?  Watch the video below.

Pros of this Board

  • Black Carbon Fiberglass Paddle with Nylon Blade
  • The board inflates to very stiff state making it stable on water
  • Nice thick and padded straps

Cons of this option

  • It takes some time and muscle to get it to the recommended 15psi
Nautical by iRocker complete ready to go inflatable SUP package


Features:

  • Inflatable
  • Complete package, everything you need to get on the water
  • Great beginners and riders of all shapes and size
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Length: 10'6" , Width 32"

The Nautical by iRocker is their entry level paddleboard, which allows you to get on the water quickly, easily, and affordably, which is great for beginners.

When you're just getting started with the sport of SUP, there's no need to break the bank with an expensive board.  That's one of the reasons why the Nautical is a great choice for a beginner, quality ride, without the expensive price tag.

But don't worry, the Nautical is still constructed in the same manner as all of iRocker's high quality products and comes with a 1-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty on all workmanship and materials.

For one low price you get iRocker's quality inflatable that is built very tough and won't dent or get damaged from normal use.  The Nautical has nice control, great design, awesome price, lightweight and is easily transportable.

The difference between the Nautical line and the more upscale lines from iRocker is that doesn't have carbon fiber in the paddle shaft (carbon fiber is expensive), the pump that is included has a single chamber instead of a dual chamber, and the backpack doesn't have wheels.  

This is all reasonable because iRocker wanted to make a quality, yet affordable SUP.  To learn more about the differences in the iRocker brands, check out this interesting infographic they made on their brand comparison page.

Overall this is a really solid "entry level" package for a SUP.  With the Nautical you'll get a fun board that everyone can use, has room enough to attach a cooler, and is even dog friendly!

Pros of this Board

  • Reasonably priced
  • Kayak conversion compatible
  • 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty
  • Carbon enhanced side walls for unusual stability for an inflatable

Cons of this option

  • The pump hose is delicate
top, bottom, and side views of Isle cruiser soft top rigid sup


Features:

  • Rigid SUP
  • Sturdy build
  • All around board good for all skill levels
  • All purpose design
  • Reasonably priced

The ISLE Soft Top is a classic SUP that can handle a wide variety of people and skill levels. It is built using an epoxy core and adding a soft layer on top that is firm but also gripp-able with wet feet.

The Soft Top is designed to handle everything from small ocean waves to lakes to fishing in quite coves and is even a good platform for SUP yoga, if you want to test your stability on the water.

It comes equipped with a smaller 4 point bungee system in the front, which is great for most situations. If you are doing some gear intensive activity like fishing, you might need a larger 6 point bungee system, but for most applications, you’ll be fine with the 4 point system that comes on the Soft Top.

Carrying your Soft Top is easy with a standard center mounted carry handle. What makes this carry handle better than most is the pop up feature, so that when it’s not in use, it closes flush with the board.

The board has a single center fin, and at 31 inches wide and 27 pounds this durable construction means that you won’t have to worry about bumping and banging your board.  It can handle it.

The Cruiser Soft Top also comes with a Carbon adjustable paddle

This is one of the best all around stand up paddle boards you can get for the money.

Pros of this Board

  • Basically: wide, stable, and great to learn on
  • Non slip surface is a great feature (and not just for beginners!)
  • The built in carry handle is great and super useful

Cons of this option

  • Soft top material can dent slightly from the straps on a vehicle's roof rack
layout of irocker cruiser entire inflatable sup package


Features:

  • Inflatable
  • Very stable, 6 inches thick
  • Lightweight at only 25 lbs
  • 4 layer Military Grade PVC construction
  • Adjustable fiberglass paddle

The ISLE Versa is a great all-around paddle board that will do well for yoga. It is constructed of a durable epoxy that is also lightweight.

With a width of 32 inches and 175 liters of volume, this board is plenty stable for your on the water yoga positions.

The brushed EVA traction pad composes the center of the board and is a great pad for yoga poses. The rear consists of a tail pad for extra traction and maximum grip while turning or surfing.

And easy-to-navigate board for beginners, the ISLE Versa will give you confidence and help you truly enjoy cruising on the water.

Pros of this Board

  • Dual chamber triple action hand pump
  • Attention to details, even the leash is high quality
  • Strong enough to hold two adults

Cons of this option

  • Worth the extra $ to get the inflatable pump, otherwise it takes a lot of work to pump up
top view of the ez slider sup with paddle


Features:

  • Soft top rigid
  • Classic longboard SUP design
  • Single 8″ removable longboard fin
  • Weight: 24 lbs.
  • Anti-slip foam deck

One of the most stable paddleboards available in the market today. This is not a SUP for winning a races, but if maximizing fun is your goal, this LiquidShredder paddleboard is the perfect vessel to make it happen.

With this board, the soft outer skin makes it so you will enjoy standing on the water for hours on end.

The stability of this board makes it suitable for SUP yoga, and when you are tired from your yoga, you can take a nap on the board (because it's a softy).

It is also perfect for fishing and cruising activities.

The materials used to manufacture this board makes it very light and floaty. The fins set up allows you to maneuver larger waves with good traction giving you confidence in the board. The rounded nose provides stability and maximum control over the board and the turns you make in the water.

The EZ Slider Soft is manufactured from multiple components such as polythene, polypropylene, and hard, slick bottom. The board is also made from components to protect it from heat. These materials are fixed together with no glue making the board very durable.

Pros of this Board

  • Suitable for beginners and pros
  • Very reasonably priced and installment payment options available
  • Very stable and floaty

Cons of this option

  • Graphics are pretty plain and it's only available in one color

What is the best paddleboard for a beginner?

Well, it depends.  There are some foam SUPs, like the ones listed here, that are very good.  A few of the best are the South Bay Board Co. Premium Beginner SUP and the ISLE Cruiser.  These are excellent boards.  

But, you need to be careful.  A lot of foam SUPs are priced cheap, and are manufactured using super cheap materials and techniques.  You get what you pay for, and that's ok as long as you are aware of this going into your purchase.

Some foam SUPs are really cheap which is for a specific buyer.  There are a lot of families that go on vacation to the beach or the lake, and they'll pick up a cheap foam SUP and use it on vacation and basically throw it away when vacation is over.  


Final Thoughts

Inflatables and soft top stand up boards are fun to ride. They are ideal for beginners and not worrying about letting friends, family, and guests use your expensive SUP.


The highlighted boards are some of the best you can get, and it will enable you to get to a new level in stand up paddleboard fun.