Looking for the best stand up paddle board for beginners? You're not alone. Stand up paddle boarding (or SUP) has been on the rise for several years now, but it’s fair to say that the current global situation has supercharged outdoor sports that are awesome to do in the UK, which certainly applies to SUP-ing.
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 and a fair cardio one into the bargain, as well as being a practical way to travel. As you’re standing full height you’ll get a whole new perspective on the world, as well as early warning of any hazards ahead. That same elevated perspective gives you a new level of visibility into the underwater world – great for wildlife spotting.
SUP has really taken off in the UK, partly because of the astonishing range of beautiful places to visit on your board. From the vast canal network to a huge variety of reservoirs and lakes and of course the hundreds of miles of coast, there will be inspiring and exciting SUP opportunities very near you, wherever you are.
If you need more guidance, head to the bottom of this article for a guide to if inflatable paddle boards are good for beginners, and what to look for in a beginners' SUP. And if you're thinking you might end up in the water, you'll perhaps want to invest in one of the best wetsuits, too, while a pair of the best water shoes are an essential for hopping in and out of water in comfort.
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The best paddle boards for beginners 2021
If it's quality and versatility you're looking for, the best paddle board for beginners is the Red Paddle Co 10'6" Ride MSL SUP inflatable paddle board package. Available in a range of sizes to suit different weights of paddler, the Ride MSL inflatable paddle board packages are part of Red Paddle Co's 'All round' range, which means they're beginner-friendly, as well as being suitable for general use by more confident paddlers. You get everything you need to get out onto the water – paddle board, backpack, pump, paddle, bungee leash and repair kit – all of which have been thoughtfully designed and feel high quality (there's also a 5-year warranty). This isn't the cheapest paddle board around, but if you're planning on getting a fair bit of use out of your board it's a great investment. Head to our Red Paddle Co Ride MSL review to find out more, or see how it matches up against a much cheaper option in our Red Paddle Co Ride MSL vs M.Y PointBreak inflatable paddle board comparison.
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 give 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 Portofino 10ft inflatable stand up paddle board 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.
The most important thing for SUP beginners and yoga fiends alike is – no, not the Instagram-friendly camera mount – stability. This little SUP from Bluefin is an outstanding board designed specifically for water-based yoga and Pilates, but that width and stability is also ideal for a general newcomer to the sport. Another side effect of the yoga specialism is an extra broad (91cm), grippy deck and gentle, rounded profile. A three-fin setup adds stability and good water-manners, while the fibreglass paddle and polyurethane blade weigh in at 45% less than standard paddles. The kit also includes a double action pump, leash and rucksack for transport, letting you take on waterways as near, or far, as your fancy takes you.
This tiny 9-footer from Decathlon delivers an awful lot of all-rounder bang for buck, and weighs in at a mere 7kgs, ideal for travel and longer walk-ins. The slimline silhouette is designed for touring with the minimum faff, and the single fin is easily mounted and dismounted without tools. As it’s a short board the user weight limit is on the lower side – under 60kg ideally, and under 80kg as an intermediate – but the tiny packsize and low carry weight will make up for this in spades on longer trips. Although this is a minimalist package (you’ll need to borrow or buy a paddle and pump), it'll get you out and explore that new SUP world in a low-cost, flexible way that'll take a lot of beating.
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 manouvering, kickpad 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 extra specialised paddle that means you can convert it into a kayak. Full marks for versatility.
If you want an occasional board or something to play around with while you find your sea legs, check out the M.Y PointBreak 10' paddle board kit is well worth a look. You'll get everything you need to get started with paddle boarding, all packed into one handy backpack that's (relatively) easy to tote around. While the board itself understandably feels less premium than other pricier options, it does the job perfectly well, and is a great, accessible way to get started with this hobby. Head to our M.Y PointBreak 10' paddle board kit review to find out more.
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 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 tool less fin is great for long-distance stability, while the bungee and camera plug make this a practical choice too. However, that strength and performance comes 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.
The 11'0 Compact from Red Paddle Co is an excellent all-rounder, as well as having an impressive trick up its sleeve – it'll pack down to half the size of anything else on the market, fitting into a custom backpack weighing under 14kg in total. This makes it ideal for anyone short on storage space, as well as great for family holidays, short hikes to water, and pretty much everything else. The 11-foot length adds stability and reduces bulk, making this an effortless tourer, while an EVA deck pad adds comfort and grip to the deck section for those longer days. A six-point bungee will keep all shapes and sizes of baggage secure too.
The package includes a small but mighty double-chamber pump, click-in fins and a rather lovely five-piece carbon paddle with robust nylon blade. Those five sections means it breaks down super-short for transport, as well as looking awesome. Overall, this is super-packable, lightweight and stylish, as well as being a well-behaved beginner board. You'll certainly not need to upgrade for a while!
The Slingshot Crossbreed is a great all-round inflatable SUP. A design that's large and versatile enough for all kinds of kiddos (both human and hairy... hence the name) is a huge selling point. At 11 feet by 34 inches, it's sturdy and stable on the water, wide enough to accommodate more than one paddler at once, and its maximum inflation point of 18 PSI makes it rigid and unflexing to mimic the feel of an epoxy or fibreglass board. Add to that incredibly durable DropStitch construction to see off wear and tear, plus feedback that shows this sub-£1,000 paddle board exceeded buyers’ expectations, and you have our pick of the best paddle board for families.
Enticed by the prospect of taking your yoga practice out onto the water, but not sure you can justify buying a dedicated yoga paddleboard? This Easy Rider SUP could just be your new go-to, with its sturdy oversized (11’6) design leading Blu Wave to claim it’s ideal for saluting the sun or a cheeky savasana (also known as "sunbathing" – that's right, we're onto you). If you’re not into yoga, it’s still a great all-round beginner's paddle board, and the GoPro attachment is a neat addition for when you get better and want to show off your skills.
Don't let that funky print fool you, because the Thurso Surf Prodigy Junior is an inflatable paddle board extraordinaire. This mini inflatable SUP is the best paddle board for children right now. It's light to carry down to the water, extra thick to aid balance, soft (just in case if they faceplant) and, reviewers say, easy to inflate. It also comes with a whole host of useful accessories including paddle, removable fins, leash and a travel-friendly bag. It's a smaller size – just 7'6" – so it's strictly for kids.
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 has 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 breed 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.
Best paddle board for beginners: what to look for
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 maneuverable but more buoyant. The overall shape ranges from the 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.