A Complete Beginners Guide To Choosing An Inflatable Paddleboard

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

Picking the right inflatable paddleboard as a beginner can feel like navigating uncharted waters. With an array of types, sizes, and accessories to consider, it can be overwhelming!

This comprehensive guide will simplify your decision-making process by highlighting essential factors such as size, weight capacity, skill level, intended use, and more.

So let’s dive in and set you on course towards choosing the perfect inflatable paddleboard for your needs!

Looking for our best paddle board product recommendations?
Check the Paddleboard Insiders Buyer Guides

Types of Inflatable Paddle Boards

There are several types of inflatable paddle boards to choose from, including beginner boards, all-around boards, touring boards, racing boards, and yoga boards.

All-around boards

All-around boards serve as a versatile option for those who want to explore different aspects of stand-up paddle boarding. They float well, making them great for leisure paddling and small wave surfing.

These inflatable paddleboards feature a rounded nose and larger surface area that ensures good stability.

The unique design of all-around boards provides an excellent blend of speed, balance, and maneuverability. It’s not uncommon for beginners to start with this type because it allows you to develop your skills in various water conditions.

Whether you’re cruising on flat water or navigating through mild surf, an all-around iSUP makes the adventure fun and manageable!

Touring boards

Touring boards excel at covering long distances on flat water, such as lakes or calm seas. These paddleboards feature a pointed nose and longer length to glide smoothly with less energy exertion.

Suitable for intermediate and advanced paddlers, they offer increased speed and efficiency compared to all-around boards. However, their narrow width might present stability challenges to beginners.

Touring boards provide an excellent choice for those who desire extended SUP adventures or fitness workouts on the water.

Racing boards

Racing boards are designed for those who want to take their paddleboarding skills to the next level and compete in races. These boards are longer and narrower than other types of paddleboards, allowing for faster speeds and better maneuverability in the water.

They often have a displacement hull, which cuts through the water more efficiently, reducing drag and increasing speed. Racing boards also tend to be lighter in weight, making them easier to paddle over long distances.

If you’re serious about racing or want to challenge yourself with some high-intensity paddling, a racing board may be the perfect choice for you.

Yoga boards

Yoga boards are specifically designed for practicing yoga on the water. These paddleboards have a wider and more stable shape to support various yoga poses. The ample deck space provides enough room for yogis to move around comfortably and perform their routines.

Many yoga boards also come with additional features like bungee cords or D-rings for securing accessories and attaching optional equipment such as an anchor or a cooler. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, a yoga board can enhance your practice by combining the benefits of yoga with the tranquility of being on the water.

Important Features to Consider

When choosing an inflatable paddleboard, it’s important to consider factors such as size and weight capacity, stability and balance, material and construction, as well as fin configuration.

These features will greatly impact your overall experience on the water.

Size and weight capacity

When choosing an inflatable paddleboard, size and weight capacity are crucial factors to consider. The size of the paddleboard should be based on your body weight, skill level, and intended use.

It’s important to choose a board that can support your weight without compromising stability and balance. Additionally, considering the weight capacity ensures that you have enough room for any gear or accessories you may want to bring along on your paddling adventures.

See also  Best TAHE Paddle Board: We Reviewed The 4 Top SUPs In 2024

By selecting the right size and weight capacity, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the water.

Stability and balance

Stability and balance are crucial factors to consider when choosing an inflatable paddleboard. As a beginner, you’ll want a board that offers excellent stability, making it easier for you to find your balance and stay upright on the water.

Look for paddleboards with larger dimensions and wider widths as they tend to provide better stability. Additionally, boards with thicker construction often offer increased buoyancy, enhancing their stability even further.

By prioritizing stability and balance in your selection process, you can ensure a more enjoyable paddleboarding experience as you build your skills on the water.

Material and construction

The material and construction of an inflatable paddleboard are crucial factors to consider when choosing the right one for beginners. Inflatable paddleboards are typically made from durable and lightweight materials such as PVC or drop-stitch fabric.

inflatable paddleboard

These materials ensure that the board is both sturdy and easy to transport. Additionally, pay attention to the construction of the paddleboard, as it affects its overall performance and durability.

Look for reinforced seams and double-layered constructions for added strength and longevity. By selecting a paddleboard with high-quality material and solid construction, beginners can have a reliable board that will withstand regular use without compromising safety or stability in the water.

Fin configuration

The fin configuration of an inflatable paddleboard plays a crucial role in its performance and stability on the water. The type and number of fins can impact how well the paddleboard tracks, turns, and stays balanced.

Image Source: SurfNation.com

There are different fin configurations to choose from, including single fins, thruster setups (with three fins), and quad setups (with four fins). Each configuration offers unique characteristics that cater to different skill levels and water conditions.

Beginners may prefer a single fin setup for simplicity and easier maneuverability, while more experienced paddlers might opt for thruster or quad setups for enhanced control and stability.

Considering the fin configuration when choosing an inflatable paddleboard is essential to ensure you have optimal performance based on your skill level and intended use.

Necessary Accessories

You’ll need a paddle, pump, leash, and backpack/storage bag to complete your inflatable paddleboard setup. Don’t forget the essentials! Read on to find out more about these accessories and why they’re important for your paddling adventures.

Paddle

Choosing the right paddle for your inflatable paddleboard is crucial for a comfortable and efficient paddling experience. Consider the length of the paddle, which should be approximately 8-10 inches taller than your height to ensure proper technique and optimal performance.

Additionally, pay attention to the material of the paddle, with options including aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Fiberglass and carbon fiber paddles are lighter and more durable but come at a higher cost.

The blade shape is also important; choose a blade shape that suits your preferred paddling style – whether you prefer a narrower blade for speed or a wider blade for better stability.

Use this article for a detailed guide on how to choose the right paddle for you
How To Choose Paddle Board Paddles: A Guide To Find The Perfect Fit

Pump

The pump is an essential accessory for inflating your inflatable paddleboard. It allows you to quickly and easily inflate the board to the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) for optimal performance.

Look for a high-quality pump that is durable and efficient, with a pressure gauge to help you accurately measure the inflation level. A dual-action pump is a great option as it allows air to be pumped into the board during both upward and downward strokes, making inflation faster and easier.

Remember that proper inflation is crucial for maintaining stability and maximizing your paddling experience.

Here are the best paddle board pumps on the market right now
Don’t Buy an SUP Electric Pump Without Reading This Guide First!

Leash

When paddleboarding, it’s essential to have a leash attached to your ankle or calf. A leash is an important safety accessory that prevents the paddleboard from drifting away if you fall into the water.

It keeps you connected to the board, making it easier for you to climb back on and continue paddling. Additionally, a leash ensures that your board doesn’t become a hazard by floating uncontrollably in the water.

Remember to choose a leash suitable for stand-up paddleboarding and ensure it is securely fastened before heading out on the water.

Inflatable paddleboards often come with their own leashes, but if not, be sure to purchase one separately. Leashes are available in different lengths and styles, so choose one that suits your preference and intended use.

Here’s everything that you need to know about leashes
5 Best Paddleboard Leashes To Secure Your SUP In 2024

Backpack/storage bag

The backpack or storage bag is an essential accessory for your inflatable paddleboard. It allows you to easily transport and store your board when it’s deflated and not in use. Look for a backpack or storage bag that is durable, lightweight, and spacious enough to fit your paddleboard comfortably.

See also  11 Epic Places To Paddleboard In San Antonio, Texas

Some bags even have additional compartments for accessories like the pump and leash. A good quality backpack or storage bag will make it convenient for you to carry your paddleboard wherever you go, whether it’s to the beach, a lake, or on vacation.

So don’t forget to consider this important accessory when choosing your inflatable paddleboard!

These are the best paddleboard bags on the market right now:
The 5 Best Stand-Up Paddleboard Bags Of 2024

Choosing the Right Paddle Board for Your Needs

When choosing the right paddle board for your needs, it’s important to consider factors such as your skill level and intended use. Do thorough research and compare different brands and models before making a decision.

Additionally, reading reviews and asking for recommendations can help ensure you make an informed choice.

Consider your skill level and intended use

To choose the right inflatable paddleboard, it’s important to consider your skill level and intended use. Keep in mind the following factors:

  • Your experience level: Are you a beginner or more advanced? This will determine the type of paddleboard that is suitable for you.
  • Type of activities: Do you plan on using the paddleboard for leisurely paddling, yoga, racing, or touring? Each activity has specific board requirements.
  • Body weight and size: Consider your weight and height to ensure that the paddleboard you choose can support you properly.
  • Stability needs: If you are just starting out or prefer a more stable ride, look for a wider board with increased stability.
  • Maneuverability preferences: Decide if you want a board that turns easily or one that tracks straighter in the water.
  • Portability requirements: If you need a lightweight and compact paddleboard for easy transportation and storage, opt for an inflatable one.

Beginner Inflatable Paddleboard Recommendations

Here are some of my favorite beginner paddle boards that I strongly suggest that you consider buying:

CategoryPaddleboard
Best All Around Beginner PaddleboardsISLE Pioneer SUP
Best Hybrid Paddleboard Kayak For BeginnersBluefin Cruise Carbon Hybrid
Most Stable Beginners PaddleboardiROCKER 11′ iSUP
Best For Kids & TeensISLE Grom 8’6″

Paddleboard #1: ISLE Pioneer 10’6″ (BEST ALL AROUND PADDLEBOARD)

inflatable paddleboard

Where To BuyAmazon

Key Features:
– Allows up to 285lbs in weight

– 10’6″ in size

– Comes with bag, leash, fin and paddle

– 2 Year warranty on materials

– 60 day return policy

The ISLE Pioneer paddleboard stands as the flagship model that has garnered widespread acclaim as the brand’s top-seller. Crafted for supreme versatility, it embodies the all-purpose board ideal for users. Its construction is fortified by a double-layer technique, which is complemented by the latest drop-stitch technology to afford it extraordinary strength and longevity. This inflatable paddleboard merges the benefits of stability with a light framework, making it perfect for individuals up to 285 lbs. If you are beginning your paddleboarding journey, the ISLE Pioneer is undoubtedly a top contender to consider for your next SUP adventure.

For an in-depth look at the standout features of the ISLE paddleboard, tune into the brief video explainer below:

PROSCONS
– Great all rounder board that you can even do yoga or fishing on
– World-class design and materials
– Extra stable and great for beginners
– Allows you to paddle with multiple people (or your dog)
– It sacrifices speed for stability so advanced paddlers will prefer the ISLE Explorer
Where To Buy ➡️Amazon

Paddleboard #2: Bluefin Cruise Carbon (BEST HYBRID)

Where To BuyAmazon

Key Features:
– Allows up to 287lbs in weight

– 10’8″ in size

– Comes with bag, leash, fin, paddle & attachable chair for your SUP

– 1 year warranty

inflatable paddleboard

I’m of the opinion that a hybrid kayak-paddleboard is an excellent choice for beginners venturing into the world of paddleboarding, mainly because it offers flexibility. It allows you to stand up and practice your balance on the water, and when you need a break, you can simply pop up the seat and it transforms into a kayak for a comfortable seated experience.

If I were to take up paddleboarding anew, this hybrid option would likely be my pick. Its design prioritizes versatility, stability, and a lightweight structure, all of which are ideal for novices. The board’s pointed nose is adept at cutting through the chop, making it suitable even for the sea, and it’s hard to find any downsides to this board, other than it being on the higher end of the price spectrum.

See also  15 Breathtaking Lakes To Paddleboard In The Rocky Mountains
PROSCONS
– Great for beginners
– Gives you the option of standing or sitting on the SUP
– Comes with the kayak conversion kit included (often you have to buy this separately)
– Good quality materials
– Pricier than other beginner paddleboards.
Where To Buy ➡️Amazon

Paddleboard #3: iROCKER 11′ iSUP (MOST STABLE)

inflatable paddleboard

Where To BuyAmazon

Key Features:
– Allows up to 435lbs in weight

– 10’6″ in size

– Comes with bag, leash, fins and paddle


The iROCKER All-Around 11′ is a standout paddleboard, offering exceptional value at a moderate price point. The quality is immediately evident, reflecting the meticulous effort invested in its manufacture. Notably, it comes with a wheeled travel bag for convenient transportation, and the included triple action pump is impressively efficient, enabling you to inflate the board in a mere 8-10 minutes.

Its design provides remarkable stability, allowing beginners to get on and off with ease, minimizing the usual learning curve. This board is a favorite of mine, and it promises to deliver enjoyment to both novices and seasoned paddlers alike.

PROSCONS
– Great stability and easy to stand on with its 32 inch width
– Very pretty paddleboard
– Extremely high quality accessories like the wheelie transport back.
– Can be a great paddleboard even for experienced paddlers.
– Less maneuverable on the water because of its bigger size and width.
Where To Buy ➡️Amazon

Paddleboard #4: ISLE Grom 8’6″ (BEST SUP FOR KIDS & TEENS)

Where To BuyAmazon

Key Features:
– Allows up to 145lbs in weight

– 8’6″ in size

– Comes with backpack, leash, paddle and pump

– 2 Year warranty on materials

– 60 day return policy

inflatable paddleboard

Let me be transparent – with the array of choices out there, you simply can’t go wrong with an ISLE board. They’re in a league of their own, boasting top-notch quality and resilience, coupled with exceptional customer service.

In my opinion, ISLE stands out as the premier paddleboard brand globally. So, if you’re in the market for a reliable kids’ paddleboard, you’d do well to consider this one.

PROSCONS
– High quality material that is durable and can resist bumps and scratches.
– The 8’6″ size means that teens can also use it and your child won’t grow out of it quickly.
– Extremely stable so it’s easy to get going fast.
– Great price for what you get
– Difficult for some small children to inflate on their own because of its size – so get an electric pump or you’re going to have to inflate it.
Where To Buy ➡️Amazon

Inflatable Paddleboard Tips for Beginners

Take a lesson or practice with a friend to learn the basics of paddleboarding. Start in calm, flat water and wear proper safety gear. Practice proper paddling technique to ensure stability and control on the board.

Want more helpful tips for beginners? Read on!

Take a lesson or practice with a friend

Learning how to paddleboard can be easier and more enjoyable when you take a lesson or practice with a friend. Enrolling in a beginner’s class or hiring an instructor will help you learn the correct techniques from the start.

They can teach you essential skills like proper paddling form, maintaining balance, and safety precautions. Practicing with a friend not only adds extra fun to your paddleboarding experience but also provides support and motivation as you both progress together.

It’s an excellent way to build confidence on the water while enjoying the company of someone who shares your interest in this exciting activity.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to stand on a paddleboard
How To Stand On A Paddleboard: The Definitive Guide

Start in calm, flat water

Find a calm and flat water environment to begin your stand-up paddleboarding journey. This will provide you with stability and make it easier to learn the basic techniques. Look for a location without strong currents or waves, such as a lake or sheltered bay.

Starting in these conditions will boost your confidence and allow you to focus on improving your balance and paddling skills. Remember, safety should always be the priority, so choose an area that is suitable for beginners and free from hazards like rocks or obstructions in the water.

Wear proper safety gear

Wearing proper safety gear is essential when engaging in paddleboarding. This includes a personal floatation device (PFD) or life jacket, as well as a leash that attaches to your ankle and the board.

These items will help ensure your safety while out on the water, especially in case of any unexpected falls or accidents. It’s always better to be prepared and protected, so make sure to prioritize wearing the necessary safety gear before venturing onto your inflatable paddleboard adventure.

Here’s everything you need to know about what to wear when paddleboarding:
Essential Paddleboarding Clothes You Need For All Weather Conditions

Practice proper paddling technique

To fully enjoy your inflatable paddleboarding experience, it is crucial to practice proper paddling technique. This will not only make your ride more efficient but also help prevent any strain or discomfort.

Start by positioning yourself in the center of the board with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability. Hold the paddle with one hand on top and the other hand lower down, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Dip the blade into the water and use a sweeping motion to pull it towards you while keeping your torso upright and engaged. Rotate your core as you switch sides, maintaining a smooth rhythm throughout.

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing the right inflatable paddleboard is crucial for beginners to have an enjoyable and safe experience on the water. By considering factors such as size, stability, material, and intended use, beginners can find a paddleboard that suits their needs.

Remember to also research different brands and models, read reviews, and seek recommendations to make an informed decision. With the right paddleboard and proper preparation, beginners can dive into the exciting world of stand-up paddling with confidence.

Looking for insider guides to some amazing paddle boarding locations?
Check the Paddleboard Insiders Location Guides

Inflatable Paddleboard FAQs

What is the difference between an inflatable paddleboard and a solid one?

The main difference between an inflatable paddleboard and a solid one is that the inflatable board can be deflated and packed away, making it easier to transport and store.

Here is a detailed comparison between inflatable paddleboards and fiberglass ones:
Fiberglass Paddleboard vs. Inflatable Paddleboard: Which Should You Buy?

How do I choose the right size of inflatable paddleboard?

To choose the right size of an inflatable paddleboard, consider your weight, skill level, and intended use. Generally, longer boards provide better stability for beginners, while shorter ones offer more maneuverability for advanced users.

Can I use an inflatable paddleboard in rough waters?

Inflatable paddleboards are designed to withstand moderate water conditions but may not perform as well in rough waters or strong currents. It’s best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before using them in challenging conditions.

Is it easy to inflate and deflate an inflatable paddleboard?

Yes, most inflatable paddleboards come with a pump that makes inflating them straightforward. Deflating them is also simple by releasing the air valve and rolling up the board tightly for storage.

Here are the best electric air pumps on the market right now:
Don’t Buy an SUP Electric Pump Without Reading This Guide First!

What other accessories should I consider when choosing an inflatable paddleboard?

When choosing an inflatable paddleboard, you might also want to consider accessories such as a leash for safety purposes when paddling on open water, a detachable fin for increased stability or performance, and a carry bag for convenient transportation of your board

These are my favorite paddleboarding accessories:
The 23 Best Paddleboard Accessories That You Need In 2024
inflatable paddleboard
Avatar photo

Jason Watson

My initial goal was to document my paddleboarding experiences with friends and family, but that has evolved into a commitment to share this sport with as many people as possible because of the health benefits & peace of mind it has given me. This sport is not only a great way to see the world, but it also helps us come closer to ourselves. Information gives us strength!


More to Explore