After personally paddling, weighing, and thoroughly testing 110+ boards, our expert staff has selected the best beginner stand up paddle board 2018 models. These are designated by the "A" grade and organized by categories (inflatable, all-around, touring, etc). The Supconnect team traveled across 3 states and spent 8 months individually assessing each one of the inflatable SUP boards below, counting a total of 23 metrics per board and consistently applying them across all products. The end result: simply the most comprehensive, consumer-friendly, value-added review platform in the standup paddle world. Click through each one of the reviews and find a consistent, in-depth assessment of each product listed.
The Best Beginner SUP Boards 2018
- Surftech Generator
- Pau Hana Navio
- Surftech Aleka
- NSP Cocomat Performance Touring
- SIC Maui Feel Good
- Pelican Saona
- Pau Hana Endurance
- Pau Hana Malibu Touring
- NSP Cocomat Allrounder
- Boardworks Shubu Kraken
- Surftech Alta
- Pelican Antigua
The Best Beginner Paddle Boards 2018
|Surftech Generator||25.1 lbs||$1,349||All Around||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||32 inches|
|Pau Hana Navio||28.3 lbs||$||Touring||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||30 inches|
|24.4 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||30 inches|
|NSP Cocomat Performance Touring||32.3 lbs||$||Touring||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||32 inches|
|SIC Maui Feel Good||27.2 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||32 inches|
|Pelican Saona||22.8 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||31inches|
|Pau Hana Endurance||31.3 lbs||$||Touring||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||30 inches|
|Pau Hana Malibu Touring||32.1 lbs||$||Touring||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||30 inches|
|NSP Cocomat Allrounder||24.2 lbs||$||All Around / Surf||Beginner||Non-Inflatable||32 inches|
|Boardworks Shubu Kraken||20.1 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Inflatable||34 inches|
|Surftech Alta||30.5 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Inflatable||32 inches|
|Pelican Antigua||23.4 lbs||$||All Around||Beginner||Inflatable||32 inches|
Beginner Paddle Boards 101
3 Things to Consider to Find the Best Beginner Paddle Board
1. FLOTATION & STABILITY
General Rule: First and foremost, you need a stable board. For most people, a board 11-foot in length and 30-inches wide will offer plenty of stability. Now there are features of the board that can make it more or less stable, even if having the dimensions above. Nonetheless, most boards with those dimensions should fit the bill. The goal of your first paddle session is to have fun. And for that, you can’t be struggling to keep the board stable.
More Precisely: For a beginner SUP board more tailored to your weight, use the volume of the standup paddle board as the guide. The board's volume should be about 2x your weight in kilos. Find your weight in KILOS, multiple it by 2, and replace the unit with LITERS. Say that I weigh 180 lbs (82 kg). Multiple it by 2 (82 x 2 = 164) and replace the unit with LITERS (164L). Your beginner board should be 164L minimum. Keep in mind, though, that simply using volume as a guide is not enough to get you the right board. The board may have enough volume to float you but it could be highly unstable if less than 30 inches wide. Chose the correct volume together with a minimum width of 30 inches, so you have a board that floats you but which also offers ample stability.
The beauty of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is that there are so many ways and situations where you can participate. Here at Supconnect we break down the different uses of a paddle board into 7 categories: All Around, Touring, Yoga, Fishing, Race, Surf and River. Each category has their own specific purpose and thus, a different shape/design is necessary for each. There are boards that fit into multiple SUP disciplines and can be used in a variety of ways. A brief breakdown of each category is as follows:
- All Around: For multiple purposes but primarily for recreation
- Touring: For cruising paddles beyond the shoreline and for expedition paddling
- Yoga: For optimal stability as a floating yoga mat
- Fishing: For stability to cast the line, with plenty of accessories
- Race: For speed, coming with lightweight build
- Surf: For maneuverability and wave handling
- River: For rapids, river eddies and river wave riding
3. ADD ONS
Add-on’s are accessories for a paddle board that add to your experience on/off the water. The quality of the bag/backpack and the air pump tend to be directly related to the board’s price points. Aside from your paddle, bags and pumps are the most important add-on’s to your board and can drastically improve your overall experience with the board, such as helping you more easily carry the board and/or pump it up more quickly. Other popular add on’s include bungee cords, a minimalist way to haul things; Connexsup, which allows for all sorts of attachments, even fishing rods; and FCS II/Connect, for easy fin instal. Other add on’s could be upgraded handles like the Liftsup & EZgrab and paddle holders for when you aren’t using your paddle.
Best Beginner Paddle Board Reviews
If you’re looking for a best in class all around board look no further because the Supconnect Award-winning Surftech Generator is it. The flatter rocker makes it a pleasure to paddle and it has stunning graphics, with a beautiful bamboo layout on both the deck and the bottom. The board is just a really good combination of color coordination between the traction pad and the color on the board, rails, and graphics up on the nose. It’s an excellent all around board, something that you can even put up on a wall to display.
|Price: $1,349||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 25.1 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'6"|
PAU HANA NAVIO
The Navio is not clearly a flat water board, it’s not clearly a touring board, it’s a combination of both. It comes with the best in class of everything you can think of. It has a beautiful deck, and just beautiful graphics all around. It has a lot of add ons too, so if you want to have your iPad mounted on it, a GoPro, maybe a gps, a fishing pole, a cooler, you name it, you can strap it onto this board. It is highly stable and also tracks really well. It is fairly lightweight for the type of board it is, so phenomenal job by Pau Hana. If you are looking for a primarily touring board that can be very comfortable paddling on flat water, maybe to play around with your family and have kids on the board or some gear for the expedition, the Navio is a great choice.
|Price: $1,295||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 28.3 lbs|
|Use: Touring||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 11'|
In a collaboration with Prana, the Aleka boards from Surftech are gorgeous, in fact the women can’t control themselves raving about it. That’s enough to earn an A-grade. The board does come in two sizes with each size having a different set of graphics, both equally stunning. If you’re concerned about floatation you’ll definitely want to get the larger one. The bigger size will float you better. It’s a fairly lightweight board to carry, which is great for the women’s market and in terms of graphics it has beautiful color coordination with the paddle and the leash so it’s just an all around gorgeous package. If you want to make a fashion statement and have a nice board that is touring with a touch of all around to it, than this is the board to get.
|Price: $1,349||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 24.4 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'4"|
NSP COCOMAT PERFORMANCE TOURING
The NSP Cocomat Performance Touring is the ultimate board for a heavy guy or big gal. It’s incredibly stable with the traction pad making it feel very comfortable on the feet. It has some lips towards the rails, that really sort of tuck you in inside of the deck. There’s lots of accessories with bungees on the nose and tail and the flat rocker makes it a real pleasure to paddle. If you are heavy weight and looking for something that will float you without hesitation, maybe put your kids on it, or go for a long touring expedition, this is the board. One of the things that got us to notice this model more closely this year is that there were major upgrades to the graphics making the board all the more attractive.
|Price: $1,599||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 32.3 lbs|
|Use: Touring ||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 12'6", 14'|
SIC MAUI FEEL GOOD
If you want to ‘feel good’ about the board you own then the Feel Good from SIC Maui is a great choice. The board looks stunning and has a really beautiful coordination of graphics, from the traction pad to the color on the back rails and bottom. It’s a really nice all around board that can also be used for surfing. The board paddles really well and is quite easy to carry using SIC’s signature EZ grab handle. If you want something that you want to use to cruise short distances and dabble in the surf and look good for your friends this is something that you should look very closely at and consider having in your quiver.
|Price: $1,499||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 27.2 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 11' |
At $499 it’s tough to beat this deal. The Pelican Saona is a paddle board with a foam construction and has classy graphics, better than any foam board that we’ve seen on the market. It paddles fairly well and with its foamy construction it can definitely take a beating both in and out of the water. If you’re looking for something that won’t cost you a lot, and can be used by the entire family this is something that you should be looking at. The folks at Pelican have done a phenomenal job on this one.
|Price: $499||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 22.8 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'6"|
PAU HANA ENDURANCE
Yes, yes, yes! The Pau Hana Endurance is super fun. It’s very stable and is a great board for many uses. The Endurance can be great for touring, racing and all around family fun, making this board incredibly versatile. It’s also offered in Pau Hana’s Ricochet technology which makes the board virtually indestructible, which if you ask us is a huge plus. It has a beautiful finish and is arguably the most durable board around, which is a hard combo to come by. The board does come in at a heavier weight, about 31lbs, but the durability, graphics and fun factor alone easily carry this board into the A-grade tier.
|Price: $1,599||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 31.3 lbs|
|Use: Touring||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 12'|
PAU HANA MALIBU TOURING
The Pau Hana Malibu is a plastic paddle board that has changed the concept of plastic boards. Plastic boards to date have dealt with a number of challenges. One, the graphics tend to be very plain, usually just white boards. Two, they don’t have a really nice finish and tend to have a seam that goes all along the rails on the both sides. Three, they are quite heavy. And four, they also don’t float as well as composite boards, normally. The Malibu changes all of that. In fact, the Malibu is the plastic board that can fool you into thinking you are paddling a composite board and to boot it looks stunning. Pau Hana has done a really great job and at the price point it comes at it is an excellent board and a great buy.
|Price: $999||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 32.1 lbs|
|Use: Touring||Skill: Beginner ||Sizes: 11'6"|
NSP COCOMAT ALLROUNDER
The Cocomat Allrounder from NSP is a great board for SUP surf beginners who might also want to try to do some flat water or touring. While the board is dubbed the ‘Allrounder’ it’s definitely more of a surf shape and is a great, beautiful board for someone who is looking to get into SUP surfing. It will definitely work well as an all around board as well as the board is wide and stable. The graphics on the board are really eye catching with the bright blue colors mixed in with their eco-friendly Cocomat material and the contrast with the lighter blue on the traction pad looks awesome.
|Price: $1,349||Build: Non-Inflatable||Weight: 24.2 lbs|
|Use: All Around/Surf||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'6"|
BOARDWORKS SHUBU KRAKEN
The Shubu Kraken is the inflatable version of the Supconnect award-winning Boardworks Kraken. This one is on the top of the charts when it comes to inflatable paddle boards. As far as graphics go it’s just gorgeous. It's a very lightweight board weighing in at about 20lbs making it incredibly easy to carry for both men and women. At a price point under $1,000 you couldn’t go wrong with this board. It’s super fun to paddle, has a great glide, and is really stable without compromising the glide feeling. One of the best inflatables that we’ve paddled all year so definitely check this one out.
|Price: $949||Build: Inflatable||Weight: 20.1 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'|
The Alta is another board in the Prana collab collection by Surftech that is eye-catching to say the least. The board has a very strong construction and beautiful graphics on the pro side. On the con side, it is a fairly heavy board for an inflatable at 30 lbs which is sort of prohibitive in terms of weight and it didn’t feel as stable as it should have been at 32 inches wide. But, one might make the argument that the graphics trump everything because it is a stunning, beautiful inflatable board which you don’t see all too often. Another cool thing about the Alta is its use of eco-friendly materials.
|Price: $999||Build: Inflatable||Weight: 30.5 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'|
The Antigua is a beginner, inflatable board, offered at some of the lowest price-points in the market, but packing lots of value with beautiful graphics, a nice pump, and an all-around great package. It naturally misses some of the features of intermediate, advanced boards, such as faster glide, reinforced rails, and a more premium bag. But it is an excellent value for that beginner, price-point inflatable board, well deserving of Supconnect’s “A” grade.
|Price: $599||Build: Inflatable||Weight: 23.4 lbs|
|Use: All Around||Skill: Beginner||Sizes: 10'6"|
To look through the 110+ boards reviewed click HERE.
A Look at Imagery from our SUP Reviews
- Best Paddle Boards 2018
- Best All Around Paddle Boards 2018
- Best Beginner Stand Up Paddle Boards 2017
- Best Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards 2017
- Best Stand Up Paddle Boards 2017
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