Stand Up Paddle Boards

A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing a SUP

A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing a SUP

If you’re on hunt for an exciting outdoor activity that combines fitness, relaxation, and adventure, look no further than stand up paddle boarding. This water sport has been captivating outdoor enthusiasts for years, and with good reason. But with so many brands, designs and models available, choosing the perfect paddle board can be super overwhelming for beginners. Don’t worry, we’ll help you determine which board is best for you and your SUP style. 

The essential factors to consider when buying your first paddle board include weight and size, your skill level, how you’ll use your board, and quality. Let’s take a look at each in more detail or shop all SUPs here.

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Weight & Size  

Your height and weight are key factors in determining the size of the board that’s best for you. A paddle board should support your weight, and it should be stable enough for you to stand on it without feeling unsteady. A longer and wider paddle board can be the ideal choice for taller or heavier paddlers. But note that the wider a paddle board is, the slower it is on the water. 

It's also good to think about whether it will be just you on your board, or if you plan to paddle with another rider, child, or additional cargo. This will help determine the weight capacity of the board you need. Our BLACKFIN boards, for example, offer the highest weight capacity of any SUPs on the market, perfect for those bringing along additional paddle board fishing accessories or camping gear.  

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Skill Level 

Your skill level and comfortability will also help determine what paddle board will bring you the most enjoyment on the water. As a beginner, you’ll want to choose a board that is stable and easy to balance on. A wider board with more volume will provide better stability and make it easier to stand up and balance. As you progress, you can choose a narrower board with less volume for better speed and maneuverability. 

One of our most stable boards, the CRUISER features an extra-wide 33-34” base, broad tail, and additional stability features, making it perfect for beginners looking to feel steady and secure.  

How You’ll Use It 

Paddle boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes designed for different activities such as racing, touring, surfing, and even SUP yoga. For instance, touring boards are designed for long-distance paddling and are longer and narrower, while boards like the CRUISER ULTRA are wider and more stable for better balance during SUP yoga. Think about what activities you’d like to do on your board, as well as where you’ll be using it. A broader board might be beneficial for stability if you intend to paddle in calm waters. However, a narrower board might be easier to maneuver if you intend to surf or paddle in choppy water conditions. 

In addition to how you’ll use it, think about where you’ll use your board. Are you paddling locally? Or do you plan to travel with your SUP? If your paddle destination requires a plane ride or even a road trip, a board from our ULTRA Series may be the way to go! Ultra-compact by design, these incredibly lightweight boards pack down into a streamlined backpack perfect for travel. 

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Originally, hard paddle boards were the only available choice for those looking to SUP. However, as technology has evolved, lighter weight inflatable paddle boards have come to dominate the space, loved for their convenient portability. When inflated, these boards are just as rigid, stiff, and durable as their predecessors. Some paddlers have a hard time even distinguishing between a solid board and a quality inflatable!  

When choosing a paddle board, select a high-quality board that will last longer, provide better performance, and be more resistant to wear and tear. Materials like epoxy, fiberglass, and carbon fiber are popular for their strength and durability, while PVC boards such as our NAUTICAL line are lightweight and affordable. With any iROCKER board, you’re getting top-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of paddle boarding. But if you want the most rigid and durable board out there, BLACKFIN is your answer with triple-layer PVC composite and a built-in carbon rail. Regardless of which board you end up with, be sure to maintain it with proper storage and regular cleaning for years of on-the-water adventures. 

With so many great boards available, narrowing down your choices can seem daunting. But think about what your ideal SUP session looks like. Where are you paddling and what are the conditions? Are you solo or with a friend on board? Will you be bringing extra cargo along? These questions, along with your body type, will help you determine the perfect board for you.  

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If you are completely new to the sport and testing whether paddle boarding is for you, we recommend starting with our affordable, entry-level NAUTICAL line. These reliable boards deliver fun on the water without breaking the bank. 

  •  For light to medium weight paddlers, we recommend choosing between NAUTICAL and ULTRA. 
  • For medium to higher weight paddlers or those looking to bring extra cargo, we recommend choosing between iROCKER and BLACKFIN. 
  • For paddlers looking for the convenience of a lightweight board in a smaller package, select ULTRA. 
  • For paddlers seeking a premium option with maximum versatility, speed, and stability no matter your skill level, select BLACKFIN.  

The best news is you can never have too many paddle boards. So, as you grow more confident and progress your skills, you can take on new challenges with different sizes and shapes of boards.  

Happy paddling! 


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Looking to make a SUP buddy for life? From the perfect beginner’s board to all the sweet accessories, check out our Beginner Collection!