Best paddle board for beginners 2023: Quick links
00. Top 3↴
01. Best overall: Red Paddle Co 9'6" Compact MSL PACT
02. Best budget: Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star
03. Best for touring: Decathlon Itiwit X100 10ft Touring SUP
04. Best budget kit: Portofino 10' Inflatable SUP
05. Best convertible: Bluefin Cruise SUP Package 10'8"
06. Best for couples: Red Paddle Co 15'0" Tandem MSL
07. Best lightweight: Bluefin Cruise Lite
08. Best for heavy people: Two Bare Feet Entradia 10’10”
09. Best rigid board: Jobe Ventura 10'6" SUP
The best paddle board for beginners typically has a larger volume (width, length and depth) and is, therefore, more stable than models aimed at experienced SUpers. Because SUPing is not as easy as some people make it look, finding the best beginner SUP board for you is crucial for gaining confidence and developing the correct technique when you're getting started.
Whether you fancy taking a tour of your local waterways, heading further afield or grabbing some Instagram-gold standard SUP yoga shots, there's plenty to get excited about in the world of SUP. It's a great sport in its own right, giving you a good core workout, a fair cardio hit into the bargain, and a fun way to travel.
One of the best life jackets is a necessary safety precaution, and if you want to bring anything on the board, you'll want one of the best dry bags to protect your stuff. A pair of the best water shoes is essential for hopping in and out of water in comfort, and so is wearing one of the best wetsuits.
SUP season isn't over. While paddle boarding is a sport that can be enjoyed all year round, the post-summer season is probably the best of all, as the waters are still not too cold, but there are fewer people out and about, allowing you to practice your paddle board skills in peace. If you're feeling cold, don a wetsuit, and on the board you went!
The Top 3
Best paddle board for beginners overall
The Red Paddle Co 9'6" Compact MSL PACT is a fantastic beginner inflatable paddle board for those who want to explore further… or simply want something that’s super easy to carry around and tuck out of the way when not in use. Quality board for quality explorers.
Best budget paddle board for beginners
The Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star comes with everything you need to hit the water, including a paddle, pump, ankle leash, removable fin and repair kit, a waterproof phone case and a backpack for carrying everything in for an amicable price. An excellent beginner kit!
Best for touring
Best beginner paddle board for touring
This 10ft SUP is impressively well made for its budget-friendly price point. It feels robust, stable, grippy and a pleasure to paddle on. It's wide enough to offer beginner-friendly stability, but the narrower nose allows you to get some decent speed up.
Best paddle board for beginners to buy right now
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If you can swallow the hefty initial outlay, we think the Red Paddle Co 9'6" Compact MSL PACT is a fantastic beginner inflatable paddle board for those who want to explore further… or simply want something that’s super easy to carry around and tuck out of the way when not in use.
Red Paddle Co has ensured every element of the package is of fantastic quality, and the board’s on-water performance shortcomings are easily forgiven, considering how simple and convenient it is to live with. Please mind the max user weight; if you're of a heavier body type, you are better off with one of the boards listed below.
Read our full Red Paddle Co 9'6" Compact MSL PACT review.
Also consider: Red Paddle Co's Ride MSL used to top our beginner paddle board guide and is a versatile, easy-to-ride SUP with everything you need to get started included in the package. It's ideal for anyone getting into stand-up paddle boarding, although the higher asking price means it's an investment, but the quality means it's well worth it if you're keen to keep up the hobby.
Red Paddle Co's 9'6" Compact MSL PACT is a brilliant paddle board for beginners, but its price may be off-putting for anyone just starting out. If you want to spend quite a bit less on your first SUP but without compromising on quality, we'd recommend the Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star.
It feels brilliantly stable in use and comes with everything you need to hit the water, including a paddle, pump, ankle leash, removable fin and repair kit, plus a waterproof phone case and a backpack for carrying everything in. It even has an action camera mount, which isn't something you'll usually find on cheaper boards.
Read our full Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star SUP review.
Best for touring
If you want to give SUP touring a go, the Decathlon X100 touring stand-up paddle board could be a good choice to help you get started. This 10ft inflatable SUP is impressively well made for its budget-friendly price point; it feels robust (aside from the flimsy handle), is stable, grippy and a pleasure to paddle on. It's wide enough to offer beginner-friendly stability, but the narrower nose allows you to get some decent speed up.
Setup and pack-away are super straightforward, even the first time you do it, partly because Decathlon has printed instructions on the inside of the carry bag. We wish all SUP manufacturers did this. Unlike most paddle board kits, the pump and paddle are not included, so make sure you pop those into your basket too, or you're in for a shock when you reach your SUPing destination.
Best budget kit
The Portofino 10ft inflatable stand-up paddle board kit is an eminently affordable, robust, easy-to-use board that works very well on calmer waters. A broad nose and wide, flat tail add stability, making the Portofino even more beginner-friendly, and a drop-stitched core gives it a uniform shape that helps it move efficiently over the water. As you'd expect, the bundle includes everything you need to get started SUPing, and you can even add a kayak conversion kit (sold separately) to make it more versatile.
For the lower price, you'll need to be prepared to make a few concessions. In our review, we noted a few minor issues with the paddle – the interconnected sections twist slightly when pushing through the water, and it's a little on the heavy side – and there's a little sag underfoot that you won't find with pricier boards that can handle higher inflation pressures. Overall though, if you're looking to take to the waters without spending a fortune, the Portofino 10ft inflatable stand-up paddle board kit is well worth a look.
Read our full Portofino 10ft inflatable stand up paddle board review
The Bluefin Cruise SUP package 10'8" includes a lot for a pretty reasonable price. The board itself is designed to be tough, rigid and stable. The design includes neoprene handles at the nose, rear and centre for easy manoeuvring, a kick pad for quick turns, and an integrated GoPro mount on the nose to help you capture your watery voyages.
Some thought has gone into the extras, too: the 2-piece fibreglass paddle is ultra-light and floats on water, the pump has a double-action function that means you can also use it to deflate to board quickly, and the backpack is padded for extra comfort. This paddle board kit has a trick up its sleeve, too: it includes a seat and an extra specialised paddle that means you can convert it into a kayak. Full marks for versatility.
Best for couples
If you want to go out paddle boarding with a friend but don't want to end up in the inevitable situation where one of you goes faster, and you get split up, the Red 15'0 Tandem MSL Inflatable Paddle Board is a great – if expensive – choice. It's a tandem touring board that's ideal for exploring with a partner while having a relaxed and chatty time, and it means that either of you can take a break if you get tired without the other having to slow down or stop.
It's stable, beginner-friendly and comes with everything you need to get on the water, and its neat cargo system means that it's easy to take all your stuff with you too. The only real downside (apart from the steep price) is that while it's a delight in the water, it's a lot less fun to manoeuvre on dry land; however, Red has done all it can to make this as painless as possible. If tandem paddling feels like your thing, this is definitely the way to do it.
Read our full Red 15'0 Tandem MSL Inflatable Paddle Board review
We think the Bluefin Cruise Lite is a fantastic inflatable paddleboard for beginners, as it comes with everything you need to get you going on the water and is exceptionally lightweight at 12.2 kg (approx. 26.9 lbs). This is the SUP you need if you like to take water sports equipment with you when travelling or heading out on outdoor adventurers.
As well as being pretty straightforward to inflate, it's even easier to deflate; you won't have any trouble packing it away either (the key here is to roll up the paddleboard as it'll leave plenty of room to slot everything else around it). It's slightly more expensive than some boards we've reviewed, such as the Two Bare Feet's Entradia 10'10', but it is still significantly cheaper than the premium Red Paddle Co SUPs. However, it's worth the price if portability is your main criterion.
Read our full Bluefin Cruise Lite review.
Best for heavy people
Generously proportioned, super stable and available at a sensible price, the Two Bare Feet Entradia 10’ 10” is one of the best inflatable SUP boards for beginners and bigger paddlers, but it’s more than just that. It’s tons of fun even for more experienced paddlers, especially if conditions are lumpy or if you have small family members that want to get on board. The kit is really nicely put together too.
Constructed from ultra-lightweight DWF Double Wall PVC and featuring a single high-density air chamber, the Entradia 10’ 10” is a longboard. The extra few inches you get here from the more standard 10ft 6in boards makes a surprising difference – but the excellent buoyancy of these boards comes from more than the length. The width (34in/86cm) is exactly the same as the 10’ 6” SUPs, but the 6in (15cm) thickness of the 10’ 10” board is 1¼ in/3cm bigger, and this is where the extra stability really comes from.
The starter kit also comes with a standard aluminium 3-piece SUP paddle, which weighs 1080g and is easy to adjust to your preferred length, with a range of 162 - 210cm (64–83in), and a 90-litre backpack styled like a giant dry bag, with a fold-down top. Get all the details in our Two Bare Feet Entradia 10'10" Stand-up Paddleboard review.
Best rigid board
The Jobe Ventura 10.6 is a beautiful all-rounder that bamboo construction really draws the eye, as well as being highly robust in use. The build is a complex sandwich with a foam core for buoyancy and fibreglass for strength – that buoyancy is visible in the sizable 110kg weight limit. Two channels in the underside promote stability and speed, while the sharp nose rocker will slice through the waves with ease. A single toolless fin is great for long-distance stability, while the bungee and camera plug make this a practical choice too.
However, that strength and performance come with the problem of a 10.6-foot board to transport and store, something worth thinking through before buying. Some reviews also comment that the surface isn't that hardwearing and can peel fairly easily.
Are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners?
Construction is a key consideration, but usually an easily resolved one. The days of stand-up paddle boards being mainly solid fibreglass or expanded foam have long gone. If you have a campervan or live next to the water, then a solid construction will make sense, as these are almost indestructible and perform much better in the water. But if that's not the case (which it won't be for most), then you'll want one of the new breeds of inflatable SUPs.
We have a separate, dedicated guide to the best inflatable paddle boards, but they also appear in this list of beginner's paddle boards. These can pack down into compact(ish) bags and thus be transported anywhere with ease, as well as stored easily when not in use. For urban SUP addicts they are the obvious choice, as well as for holidays where the SUP might get occasional use.
How to choose the best beginner paddle board for you
There are boards out there to suit all tastes and pockets (as you'll see in our ranking), but the key thing when choosing the best paddle board for beginners is to choose something you can stand up easily on. While staying up can be a challenge in itself, there are a bunch of factors that will influence how stable the board will be. As well as ensuring the board can support your weight (there's normally a weight limit indicator for this), you'll also want to pay attention to the width and length of the board and its shape.
Wider boards are more stable but slower in the water; longer boards are less manoeuvrable but more buoyant. The overall shape ranges from bulbous to slim and shark-like. The slimmer and sharkier the board, the more suitable it is for racing and surf-style activities, but these are fairly advanced operations, so choose based on stability rather than flashiness, to begin with. To start out, you'll be looking for either an all-rounder or a touring-style SUP if you plan to travel longer distances, but either should be relatively stable and tractable to learn the basics on.
One final factor to consider is price. As with anything, you get what you pay for, and in our ranking, we've chosen beginner's paddle boards that range from the downright bargainous through to the spendy-but-tempting. Bear in mind that good quality, desirable beginner boards are always popular in the second-hand market, so buying well will pay dividends later in cash as well as enjoyment.
How we test the best the best stand-up paddle boards for beginners
To put together this ranking, wherever possible, we call the paddle board in and take it out on a couple of SUPing sessions to see how it performs. To put together our reviews (which you'll find linked in the product blurb for each item), we consider things like how stable and comfortable it is to paddle on, whether all the components work at they're meant to, the quality of the board and other components, how straightforward it is to set up and carry, and any added features that make life easier. We'll also look at what's included in the price and how it compares to other boards we've tried out. Specs and info from the brand round out the review, alongside accounts from other testers.
In the cases where we haven't been able to get hold of a product but feel it's worthy of inclusion, we research what other customers and reviewers have said and combine that with what we know about the paddle board market to put together an informed blurb for you to base your decision off. Find out more about how we test at T3 here.