Stand up paddle boarding is a fun and exciting way to spend time out on the water, and while many vacation destinations have boards available to rent, there’s nothing like having one of your own. The best inflatable paddle boards for beginners are over 10 feet long, weigh less than 20 pounds, and come with a paddle and other key accessories.
Inflatable stand up paddle boards, or SUPs, are great because they tend to be very lightweight, and they’re easy to pack in a suitcase if you’re flying somewhere you’ll want to paddle board. Most inflatable paddle boards are made from high-quality PVC, with either one or two layers of material. Look for a board that has D-rings and bungee cords on the deck, which you’ll want to use to keep essential items with you on the water (like water or extra sunscreen), as well as a carrying handle and an inflation valve on its underside.
As a rule, the longer your board is, the more glide it will have, though shorter boards are easier to maneuver. Most SUPs are in the 10-to-11-foot range, which is a good starting place for beginners. The width of the board is also an important factor, as wider SUPs typically offer greater stability — something in the range of 30 to 34 inches is a dependable choice for most people.
Fins are another important consideration, as they impact everything from speed and stability to steering. Some SUPs have interchangeable fins that you can adjust for different water conditions, while others have fixed fins — which is a helpful design for beginners. Anywhere from one to three fins is common for inflatable SUPs.
You’ll also want to consider the accessories that come with your new paddle board, which can have a big impact on your overall experience. Lightweight, adjustable paddles that are easy to grip are ideal. An SUP leash is another critical accessory, since it will keep you tethered to your board in case you fall off. Some inflatable SUPs come with their own pumps that you can use to blow them up, as well as convenient backpack-style carrying bags for easy transport.
The boards on this list are all great for beginner paddlers, so check them out below. Once you find one you love, you might just plan your next vacation around a picturesque paddling destination.
1. The Best Overall
A great all-around board, this beginner-friendly SUP is made from durable military-grade PVC with an EVA footbed. It’s 10 feet 6 inches long and 32 inches wide, so it offers a nice combination of stability and maneuverability thanks to the moderate length and three interchangeable fins on its bottom. The board weighs just 19.6 pounds and has a maximum load of 300 pounds. It comes with all of the additional accessories you’ll need to start your paddle boarding journey, including a lightweight, adjustable aluminum paddle, a leash, a manual air pump, and a storage bag. There are also bungees with D-rings for storage, and a handle for carrying your board. This set comes in six different designs, so you can find one that matches your beach aesthetic, and the board can be used in the ocean as well as on flat water.
One fan raved: “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.”
2. The Runner-Up
Boasting a near-perfect overall 4.8-star rating on Amazon, this inflatable paddle board is a little longer and wider than the previous pick, which means it’s a bit more stable. It measures 10 feet 8 inches long and 33 inches wide, weighs 19 pounds, and has a maximum capacity of 250 pounds. The bottom features an interchangeable three-fin design, which offers great maneuverability. The included aluminum paddle is fully adjustable, and the set also includes a backpack and a leash. The board is made from military-grade PVC with an EVA deck-pad that’s designed to last, and it also features bungees with D-rings for storage as well as a carrying handle. It can be used in both salt water and fresh water. For taller riders, or those who want a board with more glide, Drift also makes a longer 11 foot 6-inch board.
One fan raved: “I have used my inflatable paddle board at least 10 times since I have purchased it about 3 weeks ago. I absolutely love it! I get so many compliments and people are impressed by the stability of the board. I am able to put a beach chair, cooler, and myself comfortably and the ride is really smooth. Highly recommended for people who simply don't have the space to store a hard paddle board or want to travel with it on a plane :)”
3. The Most Lightweight
If you want to fly with your inflatable SUP or hate carrying heavy bags at the beach, you’ll want to find a lightweight inflatable paddle board. This one weighs just 17.6 pounds, making it the most lightweight option on this list. It measures 10 feet 6 inches long and 33 inches wide, with an interchangeable three-fin design on the bottom, so it’s a good all-around board for stability and steering. The PVC board has a maximum capacity of 330 pounds, and it comes with an adjustable aluminum paddle, a manual pump, a leash, and a backpack-style carrying bag for easy transport. The EVA deck-pad is comfortable to sit or stand on, and there are convenient bungees with D-rings and a carrying handle. It can be used in the ocean as well as on flat water.