There’s so much to think about when you engage in a new hobby for the first time. Sometimes, it can mean you invest in inappropriate equipment or buy too much too early.
When beginners plan to plunge feet-first into the world of paddle boarding, the choice of SUP can make or break their experience.
Choose the wrong board, and the constant fails will make you want to reconsider the idea of paddle boarding altogether.
But, with so many options, how do beginners choose the right entry-level boards?
Well, for starters, it would be a good idea to consider inflatables.
I know inflatables may not have the best rap out there, especially when it comes to speed, but, trust me, they’re the best option you have when starting.
They’re not only easier to store but highly portable, so traveling with them is a cinch.
More importantly they’re softer and more forgiving than a hard board, so falling on one, as quite often happens with beginners, isn’t as painful as falling on a more advanced board.
Another good thing with the inflatables is they’re less expensive than hardtops, so they make the perfect entry-level option for beginners.
And, make no mistake, beginners’ inflatables don’t look much different than other SUPs, but they’re a lot easier to balance on. Therefore, it’s easier to learn the sport faster and enjoy, not to mention stick with it more.
However, certain inflatables are better suited for beginners than others.
If you’re new to the growing sport of stand-up paddling and are looking for a board to take you from the beginner stages through to intermediate, follow our review guide below.
Table of Contents
The Best Inflatable SUP for Beginners For The Money
#1 iRocker Cruiser - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Topping our list of the best inflatable SUPs for beginners is the iRocker Cruiser, a product from one of the industry’s biggest brands.
As far as the construction, features, and performance go, it’s easy to tell that the iRocker is built with beginners in mind, and here’s why:
Features and Benefits
The Cruiser is built in the same style as the existing range of iRocker boards, using the same quality components and technologies.
In the 2019 version, the board was updated with a quad-layer, military-grade PVC outer skin, so it makes perfect sense to use this board in rough water conditions,
It doesn’t scratch, crack, peel, or separate, and from user reviews, the overall durability and rigidity make it hard to tell the difference between the Cruiser and the hard tops.
The overall Cruiser’s dimensions point to a board tailored for beginners.
Let’s start with the width, which stands at 33 inches. The board isn’t tippy or wobbly at all and will give you a safe and stable ride. Yet, the width isn’t so great that paddling becomes an issue.
As far the length is concerned, the Cruiser won’t win you races, but at ten feet, riding the board on both calm and choppy waters feels great.
Combined with the optimal stability, the board’s length also makes it easier for users to tag along with their pets or ferry large amounts of goods.
With the Cruiser’s six inch thickness, the board keeps your feet high and above the water. More importantly, the depth adds to the board’s overall rigidness and offers a weight capacity of 400 pounds; the board will accommodate you and your pup, and still leave extra room for your gear.
A crucial element of any beginner-level SUP is the ability to maintain direction and straight-line tracking.
The Cruiser doesn’t fail in this department, thanks to the triple-fin system.
The board tracks well, and beginners won’t have have any issues evading obstacles or preventing collisions with other boarders.
Maneuvering the board through wetlands and marshy waters is also straightforward, and beginners won’t face big challenges.
We also love that the fins are subtle, so they don’t easily get tangled or scraped by obstacles when paddling through shallow waters.
The fins are also detachable, so it’s easy to configure the Cruiser to your liking.
If storage is important to you, this board doesn’t disappoint.
The six stainless steel D-rings on the front will serve as anchors for elastic bungee cords for securing your paddling gear.
You’ll also have access to an additional four D-rings that run across the rails in the middle of the Cruiser, together with an extra-large D-ring on the tail hook.
Comfort is essential in a SUP, and with this option you’ll have no problem paddling on your knees thanks to the soft, plush, yet grippy EVA foam.
The board also allows you to attach a kayak seat, letting you experience your water-based moments while comfortably relaxed.
#2 Tower Adventurer 1 - Basic, Entry Level Board
Our runner-up is a basic and frill-free model offered by another reputable brand in the SUP world, namely Tower Adventure.
The Tower Adventurer 1 is a rather minimalist board and may lack the speed offered by longer models, but it’s stable, fairly lightweight, and offers great portability.
Features and Benefits
Tower Adventure, like the iRocker brand, takes its quality seriously, and, indeed, the Adventure 1 is an example of that dedication.
It’s easy to see that the build quality, especially the choice of material, is nothing short of exceptional.
The PVC material, reinforced by drop-stitch technology, has everything to offer in terms of durability.
We’ve taken the board everywhere with us, and it doesn’t show any signs of wear. Additionally, the board will feel as at home on rocky beaches and jetties as it feels in calm backwaters.
That’s right- you can also forget the dings and dents common with inflatables, and there’s no hassle using the board on white water rapids either!
The Tower Adventure might not be the longest board on our list, but it’s clear that it is still long and wide enough to be perfect for a beginner’s stability.
It’s 32 inches wide, an inch shorter than the iRocker, but wider than the more standard 30 inches.
What does this mean?
It’s an ultra-stable option that doesn’t tip or tilt in the water; a perfect option for beginners who are still working on their wobbliness.
It feels great on the feet, and it doesn’t have the back and forth motion that often makes beginners take regular plunges into the water.
The nine feet length might feel short for an entry-level board, but, trust me, it is not a constraint. It offers plenty of room to hold your gear and for stable footing while offering enough stability fore and aft. Even better, the length won’t in any way obstruct your paddling performance.
When fully inflated, the Tower Adventure feels rock-solid, and unlike cheaper boards that tend to curl or deform, this option holds to its shape, size, and form.
It keeps your feet high above the waterline, ensuring you don’t get wet, and most importantly, maintains rigidity and a generous weight capacity of 350 to hold the heaviest users.
In truth, I didn’t expect a great performance from Tower Adventure 1, especially considering it’s not at the expensive end, and the size made me think it would probably be a little sluggish.
While it’s not the fastest, it will impress you with its tracking ability and how it glides smoothly over the waters.
Part of the reason for this is the triple-fin system that helps with maneuverability and allows the board’s use in different water conditions.
The large, removable skeg is perfect for flat water paddling, while the two detachable side skegs are ideal for navigating rivers or full-on surfing.
Overall, this board’s tracking performance is quite impressive, and beginners won’t have a hard time staying in a straight line.
Comfort and convenience
The Tower Adventure might not be the most comfortable paddle board on the market, but at the very least, beginners will appreciate the gripping foam pad that feels great on the feet. The pad also offers an unmatched grip on the board and helps you remain in control.
However, users might miss having no cargo net, which is quite handy in a range of situations.
Nonetheless, it still offers a couple of D-rings on each end for storage purposes.
#3 ISLE 10’6″ All Around - All-Around Option
The Isle All Around is one of the newest additions to Isle’s Inflatable Board line.
The board is advertised as an “all-around” paddleboard and, true to word, the board is designed to deliver decent performance for everything from flat water paddling and river runs to low and moderate surf.
It’s also an ultra-lightweight option, and at 21 pounds the board tempts paddlers to use it as a backpacking board.
Features and Benefits
We like this board because it’s durable and not susceptible to typical failures such as dings, cracks, or damage.
Utilizing the distinct and proprietary “Airtech Fusion Lite” technology and tough, military-grade PVC, this board can suffer the same damage as a hardtop board and remain strong.
Running it over with your vehicle, throwing it out of the room, or even ramming it on rocky piers and jetties does little harm to the board’s integrity.
You’ll also love that the board easily withstands extreme conditions, elements, and the general rigors of travel.
A SUP’s dimensions determine its suitability for the type of usage, and beginners will smile happily when they learn what the Isle has in store for them.
With a width of 31 inches, the Isle is pretty stable and beginners will have no problem with the balance or the board supporting their weight.
When in motion, the board doesn’t feel tippy and doesn’t suffer from the back and forth movement typical with other boards, so it’s a great pick for beginners with no paddling experience.
The ten feet length, which tallies with that of our top pick the iRocker, doesn’t only offer unmatched stability, but also enough room for wiggling and a platform to set your feet on securely.
With such a generous length and stability, this board can also be a great pick for fishing as it offers enough space to store your fishing gear, including coolers, while still offering a stable platform and sure footing when reeling in big catches.
And while you’re at it, you can relax knowing that you or your gear won’t slip and take a plunge thanks to the EVA padded deck grip.
The Isle SUP has a standing six-inch thickness, which ensures the board remains super rigid and solid when inflated. It doesn’t flex like cheaper options and will keep you high above the waterline while allowing you and your furry friend to take a ride safely together.
For being so lightweight, the Isle’s tracking performance is incredible.
The board tracks in a straight line, and considering it also has a detachable center fin, beginners should have no problem guiding the board to their preferred destination.
We also found it quite easy, considering its length, to turn the board using sweeping side turns, back paddle turns, and back-in pivot turns.
It’s easy to control the board, and avoiding collisions on the water becomes a simple task for rookie boarders.
If you prioritize storage on your paddle board you’ll appreciate the different storage options this one offers.
The Isle comes with a couple of D-ring on the front and back. It also has D-rings on the center lining making the board a great pick for those with plenty of gear to hold.
#4 SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board - Budget Option
The SereneLife Inflatable SUP claims the award for the best budget option SUP inflatable for beginners.
Despite the budget tag, this option offers a decent quality and true all round performance.
It doesn’t come with the frills of some of the premium options on the list, but it has what it takes to help beginners enjoy every second of their paddling.
Features and Benefits
The folks at SereneLife don’t overlook the importance of quality materials on all their SUPs.
Yes, this inflatable might be a budget option, but it doesn’t cut corners when using materials or craftsmanship.
The military-grade PVC construction, along with the drop stitch technology, guarantees the board can stand up to rough white water rafting or category two or three rivers.
Dragging the board across a rocky beach or even colliding with a pier does little to harm the board’s overall integrity. It offers a great deal for a budget purchase.
It’s surprising that the SereneLIfe shares some of its dimensions with the premium quality options, which says a lot about its suitability as an entry-level option.
Starting with the width, the 32 inches allow beginners to overcome any form of wobbliness. The board is super sturdy on the water and doesn’t feel tippy even in choppy waters.
The SereneLife allows beginners to keep their feet steady with relative ease, and, more importantly, to work on their balance.
The same applies to the board’s ten feet length. Rookies will love how the board balances on rough, choppy water and the incredible support provided even when battling small wakes.
At the same time, the board feels spacious offering plenty of room for moving and storing your paddling accessories. It’s even sufficient for you to tag along with your furry friend or kid.
The six-inch thickness is also superb, keeping your feet high and free from the wetness of the waterline. When fully inflated the board stiffens, and it would be easy to mistake it for a full-on hardtop. This excellent feature helps to bolster the overall stability and provide sufficient support, even for heavy users.
The SereneLife Inflatable is a comfortable paddle board and, like many premium options, it offers a host of features to support ease of use and convenient handling.
But, what we like most about this board, is the plush and soft EVA pad on the deck that feels great to rest your feet on. It even allows less confident beginners to ride the board comfortably with their knees on the board.
And for its price, we love that the board comes with a host of accessories. The board’s package includes a leash, a SUP pump, and more, all to make every second of your paddleboarding bliss.
#5 Nixy Venice Paddleboard - Besr Yoga Paddleboard for Beginners
The final pick on our list of the best inflatable SUPs for beginners is a paddleboard that can double up as a yoga board.
With the greatest width in our picks of 34 inches, this option is as stable as you can hope for in an entry-level board, and will keep you balanced when performing your yoga poses.
Is it the right option for you, though?
Features and Benefits
One of the elements we love most with the Nixy Venice is the build quality.
The dual-layered fusion consisting of a drop-stitch core and military-grade PVC can withstand common drops, crashes, and other accidents typical of the average day’s paddling experience.
This board is super robust and sustains little to no structural damage even when dragged across a rocky beach, paddled into a jetty, or when in collision with rocks and other obstacles.
With a little care, this board can be used for years to come, and you’ll find that it performs nearly as well as the day you first took it out on the water.
The Nixy Venice’s dimensions point to a paddleboard, perfect for both beginners and yoga enthusiasts.
The substantial 34-inch width offers an ultra-stable platform and is comfortable not only when paddling over waves and wake from speedboats, but also when bringing out your furry friends or paddling with your little one.
It’s a longboard too, and beginners of any height and size should have an easy time standing on the Nixy Venice board.
At the same time, seasoned paddlers will appreciate the six-inch board thickness that remains rigid even when holding up to 350 pounds of weight.
The Nixy has a wide deck, and so you shouldn’t expect to win any speed competition.
Nevertheless, the board offers a smooth, enjoyable glide, making your paddling trips a delight.
The board’s size, along with the carbon-reinforced rails, allow the Nixy to tackle choppy and windy conditions without experiencing any performance loss.
The Nixy is steady in the water and doesn’t require much effort to keep it on a straight course.
The tracking performance is also fantastic, and we found it quite easy to navigate. We were more than able to dodge other paddlers, rocks, trees, and even barnacles while out on the water.
The Nixy Venice has a lot to offer in terms of comfort, but what we loved most was the plush and soft EVA pad on the deck that feels great to rest your feet or knees on.
And like any other value purchase, the Nixy Venice package comes complete with a host of accessories, including a leash, SUP pump, and more.
Best Inflatable SUPs for Beginners Buying Guide
There are several factors I suggest are worth taking into account when selecting an inflatable paddle board for beginners.
I’ve listed them below and explained why I think they’re important.
Best Types of Paddle Board for Beginners
There are quite a few different types of SUPs on the market, but not all are suitable for beginners.
I would recommend that beginners look for a “touring” style SUP rather than a surfing, river, or racing SUP.
Touring boards make good general use boards, with their shape making a perfect all round option.
While they don’t shift as fast as other types of boards, they’re easier to steer and turn.
These multi-purpose boards are also suitable for people of all sizes and skill levels, with some beginners even using them to surf small waves.
After determining the type of board, you want to pick an option that is easiest to balance on.
Generally, this means you want a paddle board with at least a six inch thickness.
The board’s extra height not only keeps your feet high and dry above the water, but it lifts the board higher out of the water, making it more stable.
Additionally, it lets you inflate the board to a higher PSI, thus making the SUP firmer and less wobbly to stand on.
Boards with a higher rigidity are also great for beginners who are carrying more weight. They can support users up to 200 pounds without any signs of flex.
The width also plays an essential part in determining the stability of a SUP.
The greater the width, the more stable a SUP is. When picking a SUP, go with those with a width of at least 31 inches; anything less than that can tip and tilt and will make balancing a lot harder.
Tip* SUPs marketed as yoga paddleboards are excellent all round boards and offer great stability for beginners. You don’t have to use them for yoga, either.
The length of a board also determines the overall stability.
A longer board is more stable than a shorter one.
However, keep in mind a longer board needs more strength to paddle.
In return, the longer board tracks better, and you can build up quite a speed.
If you’re tracking on calm water, I recommend you go with a board anywhere from nine to 13 feet long.
Of course, a large board can be intimidating, but while the shorter boards are fun and easy to use, the longer boards are more beginner-friendly and suitable for long-distance touring.
In your excitement to get out onto the water, it’s all too easy to forget about board accessories.
There’re a few accessories, however, that are nice to have.
For me, bungee tie-down cords are a must as they offer an easy way to secure my dry bags, water bottle, sandals, or any other accessory I need for paddling.
The next accessory you might want to include is a carry bag, which lets you carry the board to and from the water on your back. A carry bag is also convenient for storage.
Of course, not all paddle boards come with everything you need, but you should expect the basics.
Again, remember, the more expensive a paddleboard is, the more likely it will include extensive accessories.
High-value SUP bundle
Finally, always look for an all-inclusive package when selecting the best inflatable SUP for beginners.
This means getting a SUP bundled with accessories so you don’t have to go out and spend more money on additional items like paddles.
Some of the common extras you should be on the lookout for include a repair kit, SUP pump, and paddle.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our review of the best inflatable SUP for beginners consists of excellent options, with each model having a unique selling point.
Making a choice can be challenging, but we hope we have included plenty of useful information to help you make your selection.
Overall, we feel the iRocker Cruiser takes the crown.
It’s an all round option that supports the needs of a range of different paddlers and various skill levels.
More importantly, it has every desirable feature beginners would hope to see on a paddle board.
For a start, the sizeable width offers a stable platform, sufficient to keep beginners in control and reduce the risk of falling.
Equally, both the length and the width provide a stable grounding for a more balanced and supportive approach for beginners as they learn paddling basics.