best paddle boards for beginners
Gig Harbor, WA at sunset
Wander Healthy

Are you looking for the best paddle boards for beginners? Are you thinking ahead for summer spent on the lake? I’m right there with you.

I’m in the market for a new one because mine are over a decade old. I’m looking for an upgrade, preferably a lighter one, and I’ve found several great options. Ten years has made a fantastic difference in quality, stability and weight.

Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

✅ Best Overall – Roc Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board

best paddle boards for beginners
Rattlesnake Lake, WA

1. Top Pick – Roc Inflatable Stand-up

  • Price: $199-345, depending on design and color
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 33”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight 17.5 lbs
  • Material: reinforced PVC
  • Accessories: adjustable paddle, hand pump, detachable fin, safety leash, travel backpack
  • Reviews: 5 out of 5 stars on 9685 reviews

The Roc is lighter, best rated and the least expensive of the three. This board comes complete with premium accessories and a 2 year warranty. The paddle has the option to be converted to a double-sided paddle and the middle fin is removable, both bonus features for a beginner board!

I purchased this Roc board a year ago and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase! The board is incredibly well-made and is a great combination of stability and portability. It’s served me well in all conditions and weather, with usage every couple weeks in the winter and almost every day in the summer!

Amazon Review

Read More Roc Reviews

Why choose an inflatable paddle board over the hard board?

  • Inflatables are more stable
  • Inflatables hurt less when you fall on them
  • Inflatables are easier to transport
  • Inflatables are easier to store
  • Inflatables are not as easily damaged as hard boards (surprising but true)

It’s important to choose the right paddleboard because you’re spending a lot of money and you want to be happy with your purchase right? The most important considerations are stability, weight of the board, your body weight and ratings. Everything else is minor in comparison.

Assuming you’ll want to go with the best rated one as possible, you’ll have a hard time finding a well-rated board that isn’t stable. That’s because stability is the most important thing to look for in a board. Especially for beginners.

So really, we only need to focus on the weight of the board and what size works best for you. The first is dictated in large part by the second, your body.

Paddle Boards for Beginners Size Chart

best paddle boards for beginners size chart

As you can see, there isn’t much variation between different weights and recommendations. Just enough to pay attention to it.  

Interestingly, even though there are different recommendations for different weight groups, most boards fulfill all of the weight classes. Then it comes down to price, ratings and board weight.

2. iRocker Nautical Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

  • Price: $330
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Material: 2 layer military grade PVC
  • Accessories: adjustable paddle, hand pump, detachable fin, safety leash, travel backpack, repair kit
  • Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars on 658 reviews

Coming up second in weight, ratings and price, the iRocker would be my second choice. The beauty of this one is that it has a kayak conversion kit if you’re interested in giving kayaking a try at some point in the future.

Have had it out on the lake, rivers and gulf coast. The quality is great. I can’t believe how well it tracks! I’m so happy with this isup. Had it out on about a dozen outings so far and it has exceeded all of my expectations. I have two friends with the nicer black fins and will definitely upgrade in the future but for a starter isup I’m really happy with the nautical.

– Amazon Review

Read More iRocker Reviews

3. Gili Air Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board

  • Price: $400-450
  • Length: 10.6’ or 11′”
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 19 lbs
  • Material: PVC
  • Accessories:  travel paddle, hand pump, backpack, leash
  • Reviews: 5 out of 5 stars on 255 reviews on Amazon

Lastly, I’m mostly including this Gili board for comparison. But also because it comes in a longer size if you’re interested in a longer board. It’s a great board, but the other two are better options because of price and ratings.

“This board is well worth the investment!! The quality is unsurpassed. The customer service is like a dream! I’ve used my board in the ocean (on a day Poseidon was particularly moody) as well as in the lakes of Colorado. The memories make my heart happy. I will be buying a couple more for my kiddos..”

Amazon Review

Read More Gili Board Reviews

4. For kids, or very light weight adults – Serene Life Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board Thunder Wave Roc Inflatable Stand-up

  • Price: $300
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 30”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 13.9 lbs
  • Material: reinforced PVC
  • Accessories: paddle, safety leash, hand pump, waterproof bag, repair kit
  • Reviews: 5 out of 5 stars on 20,976 reviews

The Serene Life seems too good to be true, yet the ratings stand for themselves. The board weighs next to nothing. After carrying 25 pounds back and forth to the beach for years and years, I’m beyond excited to lose a few pounds.

I’m purchasing it now, in the winter, because I’m thinking the price will go up towards summer.

I’ve bought a total of 3 inflatable boards of my own over the last 2 years. I’ve ridden countless other boards, both hard and inflatable and I can easily say this is probably the best board you can buy at the price range ($319 before shipping when I purchased).

Amazon reviews

Read More Serene Life Reviews

Other Considerations for Choosing a Board

For the sake of thoroughness, let’s go over the other things you should think about when choosing a board.

Width and Length

A wider and/or longer board will be more stable and will also hold more weight. It will also be heavier and harder to maneuver.


Just so you know, often the less expensive boards come with lesser quality accessories.  A pump, a paddle and a repair kit are the very basics. The repair kit is really only good for minor repairs and we haven’t used ours yet in all of the years we’ve owned them.

My original boards came with these three accessories and while I occasionally thought about getting a nicer paddle, my cheap one worked just fine so I never have.

Surface cover

You want to be sure that there’s nothing attached where you stand, that the cargo bungee area is either in front of you or behind you if there is one. The cargo bungee areas are super convenient to have and most boards have them now.

The soft handle, often placed in the very center, is good to have for convenient carrying.


Single layer PVC is not good at all as it’s more likely to come apart. Triple layer is significantly better, and more expensive, but also heavier. Double layer is a sweet compromise between the two. Single layer with reinforcements falls just below the double layer.

Customer service

This is the same as anything you buy and varies just as much too. You want to be able to replace or return something that isn’t working, so make sure the board you’re interested in is not getting poor ratings for customer service.


Warranties vary significantly and for the more expensive boards, have some really great warranties that are probably never used. I would go with one that covers the basics for a reasonable time, which is most boards and for obvious reasons.

Will you be hiking with it?

I’ll be honest with you here. This was my dream for the longest time. It’s the ultimate adventure workout. Have I ever done it? Nope. Because it’s an extra 20+ pounds that I can’t even fit into my backpack.

While most of them come with their own backpack, they are giant and a little bit awkward if you’re planning to cover significant distance.

I believe it takes the desire, strength and coordination of two people to manage this. One to carry the board and the other to carry everything else you need when hiking. Even still, you’ll probably want the lightest board possible.


The biggest consideration for choosing what color your board is, if you have the option, is the bee factor. Bees are drawn to the same colors that flowers come in – yellow, orange, pink, etc.

This is only a huge concern if you happen to be allergic to bees, but it does influence your experience either way.

Accessories You Will Need to Purchase on Your Own

A life jacket and a dry bag for certain. I have two dry bags, one large one for all my stuff and the second smaller one for just my phone. I clip the smaller one to my life jacket and the bigger one to the board.

You could easily get by with a 4L dry bag for the larger one, but I like to have enough room for all the things. This set comes with 1, 2 and 4L bags and is probably all you would ever need.

You may also want a soft cooler. Having said that, and I do have a nifty little cooler, I usually just let my larger dry bag drift in the water behind the board. As long as it’s attached and closed properly, there’s no need to worry and the water keeps everything rather cool.

Another consideration you might wonder over is an electric pump. This would be a wonderful accessory to have if it actually worked. I have yet to meet someone who likes their pump, but I will be sure to update here if the situation changes.

Please also consider renting or borrowing a paddle board before you buy one if you can at first. To get the feeling for it. There are many tours that offer to take you out on their own boards and these are great for learning the very basics of paddling in a safe environment.

Boards for Beginners FAQs

Are inflatable paddle boards better for beginners?

Yes, inflatables boards are better for beginners. They are more stable, hurt less when you fall on them, are easier to transport and store and are not damaged as easily.

What size paddle board do I need for my height and weight?

best paddle boards for beginners size chart
Should I buy an inflatable or hard paddle board?

If you are beginner, and even if you’re not, you should consider the inflatable board over the hard board.

What should I bring paddling?

There are a variety of items you should bring paddling, depending on the length of your trip. Safety, nourishment and comfort are most important.

How do I choose my first paddle board?

To choose your first paddleboard, consider factors like intended use (recreational or touring), board size (based on your weight and stability needs), construction materials, and budget. Renting or trying different boards can help you determine the right fit before making a purchase.

Is paddle boarding harder than kayaking?

Paddle boarding and kayaking have different learning curves. Paddle boarding requires better balance and core stability, making it initially more challenging for some. Kayaking involves learning proper paddle technique. Both activities can be enjoyable and offer unique experiences on the water.

Do paddle boards flip easily?

Paddle boards have good stability and are designed to be difficult to flip under normal conditions. However, they can be more susceptible to flipping in rough or choppy waters, or if the rider’s weight distribution is imbalanced. Proper technique and experience can help minimize the risk of flipping.

Wrap-up: Best SUPs for 2023

The best paddle boards for beginners are the right one for your body size. Following that, price, ratings and board weight are the most important factors for finding the best paddle board for you. The Roc is by far the best SUP board for beginners, for most adults.