The sport of paddleboarding has become wildly popular over the last several years and it’s a great way to get out on the water with your friends, family members, or significant other. The good news is that the best inflatable paddleboard for beginners doesn’t have to be super expensive.
Nowadays, improvements in inflatable SUP technology have made these paddleboards super stable and easy to use. Those improvements have also played a major role in making inflatable SUPs significantly more affordable than many of their rigid counterparts.
As a beginner, there are many advantages to choosing an inflatable paddleboard over a hard board. For starters, inflatables are much easier to transport and many of them also come with all of the tools and accessories you’ll need to get started.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of selections for the best inflatable paddle board for beginners and we’ll also help you decide on the perfect board for you. We’ll also define some key paddleboarding terms to add to your vocabulary so that you can ‘talk shop’ with fellow SUPers you meet on the water.
So, let’s hop on and paddle out!
Table of Contents
- 1 Jargon Buster
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 Inflatable Paddleboard Reviews
- 4 Our Pick – ISLE Explorer
- 5 Enjoyed 10 Best Inflatable Paddleboard For Beginners? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayak Help journey.
As you might imagine, paddleboarding has its own slang that, in many ways, is entirely different from the kayaking terminology that’s relevant to that sport. Here are a few SUP jargon terms that you should be familiar with if you’re new to the sport:
PSI stands for ‘pounds per square inch’ and it’s a common metric for how much air pressure an inflatable paddleboard will need to hold in order to be efficient on the water. Most inflatable SUPs these days require somewhere between 10 and 15 PSI to maintain enough rigidity to function like a hard paddleboard.
No, it’s not for attaching your favorite furry companion to your paddleboard! A SUP leash attaches to the tail of the board and then goes around your ankle or calf so that you remain attached to your board if you fall in the water.
A SUP’s fin box is located at the tail of the board and it provides a reinforced location to hold the SUP fins in place. On most inflatable SUPs, the fins are removable and the fin box will contain slots for the fins to easily slide and lock into place.
Most quality inflatable SUPs these days come with a repair kit that contains all the supplies you need to patch the board in the event of a tear or puncture. While this is uncommon, it’s always good to know how to patch an inflatable SUP if its integrity becomes compromised while you’re out on the water.
If you’re a beginner paddleboarder, you’ll obviously need to look at your board options a little differently than someone who has experience with the sport. So, here’s a quick overview of the most important features to pay attention to while you’re selecting your new inflatable SUP.
The width of an inflatable paddleboard will have a large impact on its stability. As you’re looking through the boards that we’ve highlighted below, keep in mind that a wider board is generally also a more stable board.
When you’re a taller individual, you’ll need a wider board to provide more stability as you get used to how to stand up on a paddleboard. Shorter individuals can typically balance more easily on narrower boards, but all beginners should look for a SUP with a minimum width of 30 inches.
A board’s length can also impact its stability and performance on the water. Keep in mind that a longer board will offer a larger surface area upon which to balance when you try to stand up for the first time.
Many taller paddlers will prefer a longer board because they can be more stable and easy to balance upon when you’re just learning how to SUP. Keep in mind that a paddleboard’s length and width must be assessed together to determine a board’s total surface area.
For example, a board that’s 11 feet long by 30 inches wide (27.5 square feet) may actually have a smaller surface area than a board that’s 10’6” long and 33” wide (28.875 square feet). Because these boards aren’t perfect rectangles, however, that surface area measurement will depend on the exact shape and design of the boards in question.
Those measurement figures are simply meant to give you an idea of why it’s important to consider length and width together when you’re determining the surface area of a paddleboard. At the end of the day, larger paddlers should look for boards with larger surface areas, and smaller paddlers can generally balance better on smaller boards, as you might expect.
One thing that most paddleboard beginners don’t consider is just how long it will take to inflate and deflate their new board. While these boards are convenient because of their ability to deflate and store in a compact package (so that you don’t have to get a roof rack to transport them!), some of them can require quite a bit of time and energy to inflate.
When you’re looking through these inflatable paddleboards, try to find one that comes with a dual-output (sometimes called bidirectional) air pump. These pumps can make the inflation process much quicker and also require you to expend less energy before you even get on the water.
Also, be sure to look for a SUP that comes with a pump with a built-in pressure gauge because, without one, it’s going to be very difficult to estimate just how much PSI your paddleboard is currently holding as you’re inflating it.
Being unaware of just how much air is in your SUP puts you at risk of both under and over-inflation. And, in case you’ve settled on a paddleboard that checks all of your boxes besides having a good pump, you could always grab an electric SUP pump for even easier inflation!
Inflatable Paddleboard Reviews
1. FunWater SUP
The FunWater Inflatable SUP is a great selection for smaller beginners because it’s one of the lightest boards to transport. It weighs just 17.6 pounds and it offers a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
The length of this board is 10’6”, the width measures 33” across, and the board is a total of 6 inches thick. It also includes a total of three removable fins that give it added tracking ability while allowing you to customize your fin setup.
This board also features a central carry handle and includes a section of bungee rigging at the nose that allows you to strap a dry bag or other gear down securely. It also comes with many of the essential accessories that you’ll need to get started as a beginner.
In addition to the paddleboard itself, this package comes with a repair kit, high-pressure pump, adjustable three-piece SUP paddle, SUP leash, waterproof phone case, and large travel backpack for convenient storage and transportation.
2. ACOWAY SUP
The ACOWAY Inflatable paddleboard also measures 10’6” long and six inches thick, but its width measurement is slightly smaller at 32 inches. It’s a bit heavier than the previous model at 22 pounds, but still easily maneuverable for paddlers of many different body types.
It also includes a total of three fins at the tail for improved tracking over longer distances and it features a non-slip traction pad on the top of the board for added stability and improved comfort for your feet.
This paddleboard boasts a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and it comes with many of the essential accessories that every beginning paddleboarder needs. That includes a bidirectional pump for more efficient inflation and deflation and that pump also includes a built-in pressure gauge that makes it easier to monitor inflation status.
In addition to the pump and the paddleboard, this package includes a collapsible three-piece SUP paddle, SUP leash, waterproof phone case, repair kit, and travel bag for easy storage and more convenient transportation to your favorite remote paddling locations.
The Hydro-Force Oceana SUP is a ten-foot paddleboard with a slightly unique feature. It comes with a detachable seat that gives you the ability to turn it into a sit-on-top kayak when, and if, you get tired of standing.
Because of its shorter length, this SUP is also a great choice for beginners that are interested in paddling on small waves or learning the basics of SUP surfing. Its other dimensions measure 33 inches across and six inches thick.
This inflatable paddleboard comes with a paddle that’s suited for either stand up paddling or sit-down kayaking. This allows you to avoid having to search to find one of the best kayak paddles and then carry two paddles if you want to retain both stand up and sit-down versatility.
With a maximum weight capacity of just 245 pounds, this SUP is geared towards small to medium-sized paddlers. But it does come with a SUP leash, hand pump, and travel bag to complete the all-in-one package.
The Feath-R-Lite SUP is another excellent option for smaller paddleboard beginners. It’s just 10 feet long, 30 inches wide, and six inches thick, but it only weighs 20 pounds when it’s fully inflated, which makes it easier for smaller folks to transport.
Despite its smaller size, this SUP boasts a maximum weight capacity of 330 pounds. It’s constructed with an extra layer of PVC material along the board’s rails, which helps to protect it against scratches and punctures.
At the tail of the board, you’ll be able to customize your fin setup with three removable fins (two small and one large). Install all three for maximum tracking ability or just the large fin for better maneuverability.
In addition to the board and its fins, this SUP comes with a waterproof phone case, repair kit, SUP leash, travel bag with backpack straps, three-piece collapsible SUP paddle, and a high-pressure hand pump with a built-in PSI gauge.
5. Roc SUP
The Roc SUP takes the prize as the lightest inflatable paddleboard on our list (even if it’s not by much!). It weighs just 17.5 pounds while still boasting a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
The full dimensions of this SUP measure 10’ long, 33” wide, and 6” thick. It comes with two smaller fins that are built into the fin box and then includes a third larger fin that’s removable to help with more compact storage.
Speaking of storage, the travel bag that this paddleboard comes with features wrap-around straps that help to compress the entire bag for more comfortable carrying. This SUP also comes with a 10-liter dry bag for storing your phone, keys, and other essentials that can’t get wet while you’re on the water.
The Roc SUP also includes a bungee tie-down at the front of the board and an additional four D-ring attachment points along the rails. These attachment points allow you to secure a kayak seat for sit-down paddling if you choose, although that type of seat isn’t included in this package.
In addition, this paddleboard comes with a collapsible three-piece paddle, a high-output hand pump, and a SUP leash for added security. It also boasts a UV-resistant exterior coating for added durability and longevity.
The SereneLife SUP is a 10’5” paddleboard with a six-inch thickness and a width measuring 30 inches across. It boasts a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds and it only weighs 19.6 pounds when fully inflated.
This is another all-in-one SUP package that comes with all of your essential paddling accessories. That includes a SUP leash, manual air pump, removable center fin, repair kit, adjustable paddle, and convenient travel bag.
In addition to the removable center fin, this SUP also has two smaller fins that are permanently affixed to the fin box. This gives you added tracking ability that also serves to maximize your straight-line efficiency on the water.
The SereneLife SUP’s carry bag also includes enough space to store additional paddling accessories, such as a life vest or dry bag. The bag includes handles on either side, as well as backpack straps for carrying comfortably over longer distances.
7. Runwave SUP
The Runwave SUP is a great choice for taller paddlers because it offers more surface area than any of the SUPs we’ve listed thus far. In total, the dimensions of this inflatable paddleboard measure 11’ long, 33” wide, and 6” thick.
This extra length not only makes this SUP able to accommodate larger paddlers, but it also allows it to cover more ground more efficiently. So, if you’re looking for a SUP that can eventually handle longer journeys, you might consider making the larger initial investment into a board like this.
Among the longer boards that we’ve included, this is also the widest of the bunch, which lends itself to additional stability. This SUP is rated for a maximum weight of 350 pounds and it weighs 25 pounds when fully inflated.
In addition to the board, this is another all-inclusive SUP package for beginners. It comes with a removable center fin, a high-pressure hand pump, collapsible three-piece SUP paddle, SUP leash, repair kit, and travel backpack.
8. DAMA SUP
The DAMA SUP is the clear-cut choice for GoPro owners who want to capture epic footage of themselves learning how to paddleboard. This is because the board comes with a camera mount attached to the nose for securing a GoPro or other type of waterproof action camera.
In addition to accommodating your filmmaking needs, this SUP has larger dimensions that are great for larger beginners. It measures 11’ long, 32” wide, and 6” thick while boasting a total weight of just 22 pounds.
In terms of capacity, this paddleboard can handle up to 352 pounds and it also gives you plenty of ability to attach paddling gear or water toys. In addition to bungee rigging at the nose of the board, there are nine additional D-ring attachment points for you to utilize on the deck of the board.
While we’d consider most of the boards on our list to be all-inclusive, this one also goes a step further. It’s a massive package that includes the board, a three-piece collapsible paddle, SUP leash, manual air pump, removable center fin (there are two fins built into the fin box), 10-liter dry bag, waterproof phone case, repair kit, and travel bag with backpack straps.
The ISLE Explorer inflatable paddleboard is one of the more expensive designs on our list, but it holds true to the old adage that “you get what you pay for.” This SUP is manufactured with military-grade PVC material and it’s highly adaptable to many uses.
With two bungee straps at the nose and tail of the board, this SUP gives you the ability to transport more gear than most others. That makes it great to grow with you as you gain experience and begin to contemplate setting out on longer paddling expeditions.
The dimensions of this exact board measure 11’ long, 32” wide, and 6” thick, but this board is also available in a 12-foot variety for larger paddlers. The 11-foot version boasts a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds and the 12-foot board can handle up to 300 pounds.
The ISLE Explorer is built to support your paddling preferences with its grooved traction pad made of EVA foam. This pad provides enough grip to help you remain stable while practicing SUP yoga and is also comfortable on your knees and bottom when you’re taking a brief break from paddling.
10. Drift SUP
The Drift SUP measures 10’8” long, 33” wide, 6” thick and it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds. This makes it an excellent choice for medium-sized paddlers or smaller paddlers that want to bring a pet or small child along on the water.
This paddleboard is constructed with an EVA foam deck pad for comfort under your feet and two grab handles at the nose and tail that make it easier to transport. It also weighs just 19 pounds when fully inflated and includes a third, centrally-located handle for single-person carrying.
There are two small, built-in fins in the fin box of this inflatable SUP and it also comes with a larger, removable fin that improves the board’s tracking ability. The board’s signature rocker-style hull also raises the nose to shed water more efficiently and make the board faster.
Like the other options on our list, the Drift SUP comes with everything you’ll need to get started as a paddleboarding beginner. It comes with a collapsible three-piece SUP paddle, hand pump, SUP leash, repair kit, and backpack-style carry bag.
Our Pick – ISLE Explorer
One of the most awesome benefits of buying an inflatable paddleboard is that it allows you to take a paddle craft to more remote locations to which you would never dream of dragging a heavier kayak, rigid paddleboard, or canoe.
As the image above suggests, the ISLE Explorer is our top pick for the best inflatable paddleboard for beginners because it will allow you to explore (and paddle) in locations that others simply won’t be able to access with their heavier watercraft.
While accessing remote locations with your paddleboard is something to work up to, the Explorer is built to grow with you as you gain paddling experience. It’s stable enough to allow you to learn all the basics of paddleboarding, but still rugged enough to last until you’re comfortable taking it on longer trips.
This long-term durability is a big reason why we’ve chosen it as our top pick. While there are certainly several more affordable paddleboards on our list, the extra investment you’ll make into a SUP like the ISLE Explorer will greatly increase the odds of your purchase lasting for years to come.
Finally, this SUP takes our award for the best inflatable paddleboard for beginners because its military-grade construction will hold up as you get used to handling and maneuvering it, both on and off the water!