If you’re a beginner at paddle boarding, your priorities have to be stability and comfort. Choose a SUP that’s the right size for your body shape and skill levels. Also, make sure your paddle board is ergonomic, easy to track, and durable.
Too much pressure?
Keep reading and we’ll explain everything. We’ll also review some of the best paddle boars for beginners that you can currently buy online in the UK.
What to Look for in a Beginner Paddle Board
Beginner paddleboards look different than those for advanced or intermediate levels. The truth is, you need more stability and safety at the beginning. So, let’s see what you should consider:
If you’re a beginner, you’re not that sure what you like doing on your SUP, and you haven’t found your paddling style yet. Thus, you can consider purchasing an all-around SUP.
These paddleboards are versatile, meaning you can use them for different activities plus types of paddling. You can do Yoga on them, whitewater surfing, or even some racing. Also, consider an ultra-stable paddleboard if your confidence takes a hit each time you fall off your SUP.
Pro tip: If you know precisely the type of activity you’ll be into, purchase a specialised paddleboard.
After deciding on the type of paddleboard you’re going for, pick the best company that manufactures it. Most SUP companies specialise in specific categories, and it’s best to choose a brand that knows what it’s doing.
This strategy ensures top-notch quality, craftsmanship, warranties, and customer support.
Besides, you’ll know that the gamut of paddleboard you’re choosing from is best for your purpose – may that be fishing, windsurfing, racing, etc.
Size and Shape
Your paddleboard’s size and shape depend on your body type, abilities, and preferences. Therefore, it’s evident that petite people require smaller paddleboards, but you should also consider how the paddleboard’s design influences your performance:
- Longer boards glide better, but shorter boards may feel easier to control.
- Wider boards offer more stability, whereas narrower boards offer more speed.
- Wide-tail paddleboards are more stable, whereas narrow-tail SUPs turn left/right faster.
- Thicker boards have higher weight limits, but a thin SUP feels more stable if it’s weight-appropriate for you.
Materials and Construction
Inflatable paddleboards are made with PVC layers surrounding a dropstitch core. Cheap paddleboards have just one layer of that PVC, whereas more expensive boards have multiple ones.
Therefore, one-layer paddleboards are less resistant and less rigid.
If you’re a beginner, look for a 2-3-layer paddleboard to offer you the right amount of stability and resistance. Any more layers than that, and you’ll get yourself a heavyset board that doesn’t glide smoothly.
Warning: Beware of marketing fanfare aimed to disguise low-quality boards from questionable brands.
For example, “heavy-duty PVC” is such a term meant to cover up the fact that your cheap SUP is made with just one PVC layer, but that layer is thicker to make the board more rigid. However, the multi-layer construction is stabler and more durable than one “heavy-duty” layer.
Another impressive-sounding term is “fusion.”
Quality fusion paddleboards boast extra reinforcements to increase your SUP’s stability and rigidity while keeping its weight low. However, some cheap boards may boast the word “fusion” around to deflect attention from the single-layer construction.
Alternatively, you can purchase a solid paddle board.
Pro tip: Solid paddleboards aren’t great for beginners because you can’t deflate them for easy storing, and they hurt more when you fall. Besides, a softer deck decreases fatigue which you’re not used to as a beginner.
Beginners need comfortable and quality deck pads to reduce foot fatigue. Thus, you can paddle for longer without hurting your joints.
The features you have to analyse to ensure your deck pad’s quality are:
A high-density board with the right thickness for your weight cushions your feet, reducing the impact to your ankles, knees, and hips. A textured board with a raised tail and/or arch bar ensures that your feet get the best grip during your ride. As such, you’re reducing the fall risk.
Pro tip: Budget paddleboards don’t have these raised tails or in-built arch bars for extra foot support. So, if you can invest a bit more into your beginner paddleboard, do it; you’ll learn faster and be safer while at large.
D-rings and bungee cords are essential to secure your belongings and other valuable extras, such as kayak seats or fishing rods.
However, more isn’t always better with riggings.
If you have too many useless attachments, your paddleboard’s weight will increase unnecessarily. Besides, these useless D-rings will also hamper your footwork and snag on rocks/algae in the water.
So, focus on the riggings’ placement and materials instead. Look for:
- Crisscross front bungee system at the front of your paddleboard
- A front D-ring for towing
- A centre back D-ring for your leash
Also, stainless steel rings are the most resistant and lightweight of the bunch.
Fins influence your paddleboard’s performance, so it’s essential to analyse your board carefully from that perspective.
However, beginners usually go for the fixed tri-fin system. This design makes your paddleboard easy to use in most conditions, offering it sufficient stability and performance. For a beginner, that is.
The removable centre-fin system allows you to take out the centre fin if you want to catch more speed on a lake or at sea. However, this detachable centre fin is longer than the two permanent ones on the sides. That’s a problem when you’ll have to reinstall this fin in shallow, rocky waters because it may catch on obstacles.
The configurable fin system is the most versatile of the bunch because you can take out all three fins and change their positions around. That way, you can use:
- A tall centre fin for racing
- A tall centre fin + two short ones for stability
- A short centre fin for direction shallow waters
- Two side fins for stability in shallow waters
Accessories are essential for beginners because (a) they’ll assist you when you’re at large, and (b) they’ll be helpful if/when you are getting other boards. Besides, accessories can make or break your paddling experience.
Here’s what to consider:
The paddle influences your comfort and performance, so consider its:
- Handle design. You want a smooth, moulded, ergonomic handle that’s easy to grip without getting your hands tired.
- Adjustability options. Your paddle should be easy to adjust so that you can tackle different waters.
- Carbon-fibre paddles are the most resistant and light, but they’re also the most expensive. Beginners can do well with aluminium paddles, too, even if they weigh a bit more.
Inflatable paddles feature manual pumps in their packages, but not all pumps are created equal:
Dual-action pumps are easier to use and faster than single-action pumps because they move the air when you’re pushing and pulling the handle.
Dual-cylinder pumps have two cylinders, meaning they can move more air. However, they take up much space, are heavier, and are more challenging to handle than dual-action pumps.
That said, the best option for beginners is getting an electric inflator. You can attach this pump to your car or a portable battery and be done in minutes with no effort.
Pro tip: Research your electric pump before purchase because some lower-end products don’t hold up with time.
Life Jacket / Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
You need a life jacket or a personal flotation device to avoid accidents and drowning. Life jackets are the safest for beginners because they’re already inflated and ready to save your life in a second.
Once you gain some more experience, you can consider an inflatable belt. This belt doesn’t hinder your movements, but you’ll have to pull on its cord to inflate it in an emergency.
But if you’re a beginner, you’re going to fall off your board quite a few times. So, even if you’re a great swimmer, get a life jacket to save you time.
The leash ensures you don’t drift away from your paddleboard when you fall off. And, just like we said literally two lines above, you’re going to do a lot of.
There are different types of leashes, though.
Coiled-cord leashes are best for flat water because they don’t inconvenience you, but their spring-back effect makes them a poor choice for surfing.
Hybrid leashes are best for beginners because they’re the most versatile.
Also, consider your leash’s length:
- Ten feet is best for paddleboarding.
- Less than that is best for surfing.
Pro tip: You’ll need a quick-release mechanism on your leash if you’re paddleboarding in rapid, rocky waters. The reason is that your leash can get stuck on a rock, and that’s very dangerous. In this case, you want to separate yourself from the board fast.
Pro tip: Make sure your leash has a cushiony cuff, especially if you’re at large for more extended periods.
Best Paddle Boards for Beginners
Now, without any further ado, let’s review some of the best beginner paddle boards on the UK market:
AQUA SPIRIT iSUP Review: best for touring or racing
The main reason is its generous dimensions. This paddleboard is 300 x 80 x 12.5 cm, therefore wide enough to maintain your balance and thick enough not to bend it if you’re petite.
Most customers admit they’ve even used this plate in choppy waters!
Besides, the grooved footbed offers maximum traction. This board is sturdy and long-lasting, which is why Aqua Spirit comes with a two-year warranty.
You can use Aqua Spirit for lots of purposes thanks to its length and pointy tip, for example, touring or racing. However, keep in mind that Aqua Spirit is broad, so maybe not best for dodging obstacles.
We also recommend this model to beginners because it sports a 3-fin system. That way, tracking is a breeze.
If you’re a beginner paddler, you also need a complete package. Luckily Aqua Spirit boasts a high-pressure pump, collapsible aluminium paddle, and safety leash. Unlike other models, Aqua Spirit also comes with a change mat and waterproof case for your smartphone.
On the downside, don’t expect high-quality accessories. Some customers complain their bags broke, for instance.
Another disadvantage is that Aqua Spirit doesn’t cater for heavy people; instead, it works best for beginners below 85 kg.
Tigerxbang SUP Board Review: best for flatwater
The Tigerxbang SUP board is the best sup for beginners if you weigh up to 150 kg. However, the heavier you are, the more this sup will submerge into the water. And then it will be more challenging to control.
However, the size combination is perfect for buoyancy and balance, considering its 15 cm thickness and 80 cm width.
You can also notice that Tigerxbang SUP is longer than Aqua Spirit, which means it can catch more speed. Therefore, you can use it for a slew of activities, such as speed surfing, yoga, or fishing.
This board is very light, meaning 11.5 kg. This lightweight allows you to control it easily in flat water but might cause you problems if you’re a complete newbie in choppy waters.
Another point of difference compared to Aqua Spirit is that the Tigerxbang Sup features just one fin instead of a triple fin system. This is another indicator that Tigerxbang is more challenging to manoeuvre in choppy waters.
Otherwise, both paddleboards contain everything you need in the pack. Tigerxbang has a strong pump, safety leash, repair kit, plus other practical surfing accessories.
We also recommend Tigerxbang to beginners who’re looking at scaling up their fitness levels. This paddleboard is manufactured from hard-wearing materials with high-density drop stitches to ensure its long-lasting life.
Bluefin Cruise SUP Review: best for heavy people
Bluefin Cruise is the best inflatable paddle board for beginners that you can also convert into a kayak. We recommend this board to beginners because it’s very robust and durable. You can gather that from its military-grade PVC construction.
In fact, Bluefin Cruise is one of the highest-quality sups on the market. The accessories are top-notch too. For example, the collapsible paddle is fibreglass instead of aluminium.
Fibreglass is a more robust and lighter material. Therefore, this paddle is more durable and more comfortable to manoeuvre.
Simultaneously, the Noflutter polyurethane composite blade withstands most of the usual accidents that can happen while paddleboarding.
You’ll also appreciate the 8-inch central fin if you’re a complete beginner. This fin boasts an optimized rake that allows you to glide effortlessly on most flat waters. Plus, it’s easy to clip without any metal parts.
However, the double-action pump isn’t that effective compared to other sups’ in this price range. Therefore, you’d better invest in a better electric pump.
Besides, you can use Bluefin Cruise for most activities, although its primary purpose is cruising. As such, you can use it for paddling fun, waterboarding, and even yoga. Many happy customers also admit to using Bluefin Cruise for short tours.
However, Bluefin Cruise works better for flat waters or small waves. It’s easier to lose balance in choppier waters using this sup, especially if you’re a newbie.
And here’s the best thing about this paddleboard:
It accommodates heavier people. The smallest size option that you can click above holds users up to 186 kg. However, you can pick two other larger models.
Bluefin Cruise is also wide at 76 cm, meaning it’s relatively stable. However, considering it’s not much longer than Tigerxbang Sup, for example, it’s not the best option for speed.
AQUAPLANET ALLROUND: best all-round for petite people
Aquaplanet ALLROUND Ten Sup is one of the best inflatable sups for beginners. We recommend this board especially for flat waters and petite paddlers, with an ideal weight below 80 kg, although this paddle is rated up to 100 kg.
We like this board for beginners because it’s easy to steer and quite snappy. That’s thanks to its slim, short, and somewhat thin build, as well as light 10-kg weight. For example, Aquaplanet ALLROUND is 300-cm long, meaning it’s easy to glide.
That’s why we recommend this sup for smaller paddlers. Otherwise, you’ll like its responsive construction.
On the downside, Aquaplanet ALLROUND features just one layer of PVC. So, it’s not as rigid and durable as Bluefin Cruise, for example. But remember that Bluefin Cruise is better for heavier people.
In turn, Aquaplanet ALLROUND is more flexible. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t recommend it for choppier waters.
Besides, this board is only 10-cm thick, so it’s not best for people heavier people. The 71 cm width is also smaller than other sups in this review, so you might think the board lacks some stability.
However, the Aquaplanet ALLROUND features rock proof rail tape so you can hold your balance better, especially if you’re using it in rugged terrains. You also have an anti-flex stability band to manoeuvre it easier.
We recommend this paddle board to beginners because you can always add a kayak seat for relaxation or fishing. Besides, the deck pad is comfortable and grippy because it’s made with EVA.
Plus, you can use Aquaplanet ALLROUND right out of the box because it includes all the extras you need.
Bestway Hydro-Force Inflatable SUP Review: best for speed
That’s why it can support people up to 120 kg, whereas Aquaplanet ALLROUND only accommodates users up to 100 kg.
But remember what we discussed above: the heavier you are, the more resistance you’ll face. Therefore, your sup can be more challenging to handle.
We recommend this sup for beginners because it’s built with quality materials and craftsmanship. You can see that the Tri-Tech system and drop stitches reflected in the price. However, you can rely on Bestway Hydro-Force’s durability and ruggedness.
If you’re a beginner, you also need increased traction and stability.
Bestway Hydro-Force features a comfortable and grippy pad that keeps your feet secure throughout your ride. We recommend this sup for medium-long tours so you can enjoy that exhilarating paddle boarding feeling.
Plus, you have everything included in the pack – except for the paddle. Also, it’s not the easiest to inflate. A double pump or an electric pump would be better than the one you get included in the pack.
In Conclusion. What Is The Best Size For Beginners?
Sups come in different shapes and sizes, so choose according to your weight, experience level, and favourite sup activities.
For example, if you’re a beginner, consider wider sup of at least 72 cm. However, 80+ cm would be better if you’re a complete newbie. Wider sups may not be best for general paddling, though they’re excellent at navigating through rapids.
Shorter paddleboards around 300 cm are also easier to manoeuvre, though they don’t catch as much speed.
We also recommend rigid sups for beginners. Check the weight specifications, too, to see if specific sups fit your size.
In this article, we discussed five of the best paddleboards for a beginner. As you can see, some are best for choppy waters, while others are best for small waves. You can find all-purpose paddleboards, as well as ones made explicitly for touring.
Get the one that fits your needs best:
- AQUA SPIRIT: Best for touring or racing
- Tigerxbang SUP: Best for flatwater
- Bluefin Cruise: Best for heavy people
- AQUAPLANET ALLROUND: Best all-around for petite people
- Bestway Hydro-Force: Best for speed