How To Select A Stand Up Paddle Board For Beginners

If you have done any stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) while on vacation or with friends who are paddleboarders, then you might be interested in getting yourself a new standup paddleboard.

Paddleboarding beginners can easily get overwhelmed when shopping for a good SUP because there is a lot involved in choosing a good stand up paddle board.

See our #1 SUP for Beginners on Amazon

Some of the features that you need to consider are the board’s size, weight, capacity, and volume. Before heading out to purchase your new SUP, first familiarize yourself with the different types of SUPs that are available for you to choose from when selecting a new paddle board.

Top 7 Best SUPs for Beginners (ActiveWeekender Picks!)

we've based this list on value, maneuverability, and versatility
Ten Toes WEEKENDER 10-Feet Inflatable Standup Paddleboard SUPTen Toes WEEKENDER 10-Feet Inflatable Standup Paddleboard SUPInflatable4.6 Stars
PEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle BoardPEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle BoardInflatable4.7 Stars
California Board Company Stand up Paddle BoardCalifornia Board Company Stand up Paddle BoardRigid4.5 Stars
ISLE Classic Soft Top Stand Up Paddle Board PackageISLE Classic Soft Top Stand Up Paddle Board PackageRigid4.5 Stars
Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9'10Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9'10" SUP PackageInflatable4.8 Stars
ISLE Versa Epoxy 10'5 Standup Paddle Board PackageISLE Versa Epoxy 10'5 Standup Paddle Board PackageRigid4.8 Stars
ISLE Airtech Inflatable 10'4 iSUP PackageISLE Airtech Inflatable 10'4 iSUP PackageInflatable4.4 Stars

Different Types of Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs)

When you start looking at SUPs, you will notice that they are available in two main style types, as well as in two different design types.

The two different design types are:

  • inflatable boards
  • rigid/hard board

When it comes to style, the most common two options are:

  • racing/touring SUPs
  • all arounder SUPs

Note that while these are the two main types, they are not the only types of SUPs. To help you determine which type is best for you, let’s look at all your options.

types of stand up paddleboards

Race, touring and downwind SUPs:
The front end (bow) of this type is pointed and the hull is rounded, like a kayak. This is your longer type of SUP, with most of this type coming it at either 12’6″ or 14′ in length. The pointed bow makes the SUP more efficient so that you do not have to expend as much effort to paddle. One thing to remember about this type of paddleboard is that it is generally more narrow than the other types. For that reason, it is important that you choose one that gives you a stable base. This type is best for:

  • competitive paddleboarders

All arounders: If you want something more like a traditional surfboard, then this is your best bet. In fact, this is the perfect type of SUP for beginners. In terms of size, this type ranges between 10′ to 12′ in length and ranges from 29″ to 36″ in width. This type is best for:

  • paddleboard beginners
  • fishing from the paddleboard
  • paddleboarding on a calm lake
  • paddleboarding near the shore

Hybrid SUPs: Hybrid paddleboards are the most versatile type as you can stand on them or use them as a sit-on-top kayak. Some SUP hybrids are equipped with a deck hatch so that you can store your gear if you’re on a long trip. This type of SUP is best for:

  • fishing
  • light surfing
  • easy paddleboarding

Surfing SUPs: If you want to do surfing with your SUP, then definitely go with this type as that is what it is designed for in terms of use. You can choose between a wide, stable all-arounder SUP or a shorter, narrower SUP. The wider option is best for those who are new to surfing because they are perfect for just paddling in some waves. The narrower models are better for experienced surfers, otherwise it can take some time to master their smaller size. However, do know that the smaller, narrower models are easier to maneuver in the water.

SUPs for kids: Got a little one who wants to go out paddleboarding with you? There are several different types of kid’s SUPs available for the rugrats. An 8’ long all-arounder is a good short board for kids who want to paddle on their own. This size board is a little easier for children to carry and maneuver. Of course, an inflatable SUP is another good option for kids since they offer a little cushioning for falls and are incredibly lightweight.

SUPs for women: Since stand up paddle boards can be a bit on the heavy side, especially when trying to lift one above your head to secure to the rack on top of your vehicle, manufacturers offer some options for women that are lighter. Teens and adults who want a lighter board can also use this type of standup paddleboard. If you check out any of these ultra-light SUPs, then you will notice that some of them feature a narrow mid-section. This feature is designed to make it easier to reach both the deck handle and opposite side of the board.

The people over at StandUpPaddlingTV give a great summary of this section in the video below. Give it a watch before continuing reading to learn more about how to choose the best SUP.

Board Width and Maintaining Your Balance On A SUP

When you are looking for a new paddle board, you want to be sure that you are shopping for a SUP that gives you good stability so that you can easily maintain your balance out in the water. The single best way to know if you will get good stability from a board is the width of the stand up paddleboard.

In terms of width, there is a lot of variety in SUPs to ensure that people of all body sizes can find something that works for them. The largest across board you will ever come across is 36″ wide. The wider and thicker the board, the more it helps displace your weight in the water. In general, wider boards are best for people who:

  • have poor flexibility
  • are larger in body size
  • experience a recent hip or leg injury

If you are new to stand up paddleboarding, then consider going with a larger SUP initially until you get comfortable balancing on it. Once you reach that point, trade up to a thinner, smaller board which will be more lightweight and offer better maneuverability.

What The Best Stand Up Paddle Board Length To Choose?

The thing with board length is that there is not really a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the best length. The important thing is that you get a board with a length that is a good fit for your body size (mostly weight). The reason that this is such a big deal for beginning stand up paddleboarders is that you have to make sure that your board displaces the correct amount of water for your weight, or it will not support you in the water.

If you end up needing a longer board, then you should know that they can be heavier and more difficult to carry when walking to the water (especially in wind) or trying to store in your home or on your vehicle. So, this is something that you might want to think about before you buy a new SUP.

To give you an idea of some length options, consider these scenarios:

  • A 10′ to 12′ long board is a good option for paddleboarders who are just looking for a relaxing time out in the water or beginners to paddleboarding.
  • A 12.6′ or 14′ long is good for people interested in racing or touring, or people who plan to travel for several miles on the SUP. A board of this length is faster than short boards.
  • Get more maneuverability with shorter boards if you are an experienced surfer who knows how to handle a board out on the water.

What Are SUPs Made From?

The construction materials of stand up paddleboards varies by brand and model. The most common makeup that you will see for a SUP is an EPS foam core wrapped with fiberglass, carbon fiber or plastic. SUPs can either be solid or hollow.

For example, if you go with a more high-end paddle board, then it will probably be hollow to give you better performance and to reduce the weight of the board. If you go with a rotomolded board, then it will be hollow as a result of the manufacturing process. Keep reading to learn about the different materials that you will encounter when inspecting new SUPs for purchase.

Fiberglass and epoxy over EPS foam: This is the most common makeup that you will come across because it can be used for several different types of paddleboarding. The weight for thie type of board varies though because the construction techniques differ as well. For instance, you could get a sheet of wood that is under the fiberglass deck to add durability and stiffness, or  an infused epoxy process could be used to make the board’s exterior extra tough. The price range for this type of SUP puts it at a mid-range cost.

Plastic (rotomolded): This is one of the cheapest SUP options out there. For the money, you get an extremely durable board. Some plastic SUPs are also sit-on-top kayaks, which offers a great value for the money. The disadvantage to this board type is that they are very heavy. That being said, they do make great boards for families with kids because the board can withstand a kid dragging it across the shore without getting damaged in the process.

Plastic over EPS foam: This is another great value SUP type because you get ultra durability combined with lightweight materials. That means you get a board that is easy to carry that will last you a long time. The BIC-brand boards are the biggest brand out there that focuses on this type of SUP.

Softtops: Beginners who are worried about falling on the SUP will find this board type to be a great option. You get a SUP with a super tough exterior where the decks are  fully covered with a rubber traction pad. This means that you can easily walk both ends of the board or have your dog with you on the board. In terms of cost, this is a very affordable board type. However, this type of SUP is rather heavy to carry.

Inflatables: This is probably the cheapest type of stand up paddle board for sale. It offers versatility in terms of the type of paddleboarding that you can do. Made of PVC with drop-stitch construction, it is surprisingly durable. And, it is very lightweight. Another benefit of inflatable SUPs is that they break down for compact storage, which makes them perfect for taking on a vacation or for people who live in a small apartment or condo.

How Much Do Stand Up Paddle Boards Cost?

The amount that you will spend on a new hobby is something that you should consider before you ever start shopping around for the necessary gear. When it comes to stand up paddle boarding, not a lot of equipment is needed, with the board being your main expense.

SUPs range in price from under $500 at the cheapest stand up paddle board price all the way up to over $1,500 for the most expensive SUP for sale.

It is important to remember that most of the cheaper SUPs are made of plastic, which makes them the heaviest SUPs that you can buy. Go with a more lightweight option though, and you will likely have to spend a little more. The exception to this are the inflatable SUPs.

Other gear costs that you will also want to factor in are things like a paddle, a leash and personal flotation device (PFD). These things are a MUST for paddle boarders. Other items that you may also need include:

  • water shoes or booties for those rocky beaches and pavement (also good for cold water)
  • drysuit or wetsuit (good for cold water)
  • wheeled carrying bag for the board
  • roof rack for your car
  • indoor storage rack for your home

One thing to remember is that boards may be able to be used by more than one family member, especially if everyone will not be in the water at the same time. You see this working with most families where the kids take turns on the SUPs. Of course, an adjustable-length paddle will be required for board sharing.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments