The Best Inflatable Paddle Boards for Beginners, According to Tests

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These paddle boards offer stellar stability and a simple setup for beginners.

While there are tons of ways to get out and enjoy the water, one of the most fun options (in our opinion) is with an inflatable paddle board. Easy to travel with and store in the off-season, inflatable paddle boards are ideal for a relaxing lake day or paddling down the river. It can be intimidating to get started with a new water activity, so we expertly tested 22 inflatable paddle boards to recommend the best ones for beginners.

Testing a variety of paddle board sizes and designs, we analyzed the ease of use, portability, quality, and overall performance of each paddle board. The best ones for beginners offer superb stability, seamless steering, and hassle-free setup and breakdown to give you the confidence you need to become a pro. Keep reading to learn more about our favorite boards for new paddlers.

Best Overall: SereneLife Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board With Accessories & Carry Bag

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Why We Love It

  • From setup to paddling, everything about this board is intuitive and stress-free.

What to Consider

  • It takes some extra elbow grease to get the board back into the carrying case.

SereneLife’s inflatable paddle board has every trait we look for in a high-quality board, especially for those new to paddling. It comes with a board, paddle, ankle strap, manual pump, removable fin, and patch kit that all fits into the backpack carrying case. The smaller carrying case makes it slightly difficult to squeeze in the deflated board and accessories, but it’s easier to store and carry in the compact bag, which is a huge plus for portability. Out on the water, the board is exceptionally stable and easy to maneuver whether you’re paddling on a swift river, calm lake, or choppy shore. Best of all, the paddle board weighs just shy of 14 pounds, making it the most lightweight board we tested and the easiest to carry around with the middle handle strap. And the board itself is made with drop-stitch reinforced PVC, so we feel confident in the board’s durability for plenty of years to come.

Price at time of publish: $240

The Details: PVC | 126 x 32 x 6 inches | 13.9 pounds

Best Stability: Atoll 11' Inflatable SUP

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Buy at

Why We Love It

  • The longer length of this board helps with stability and weight distribution.

What to Consider

  • It can be a bit awkward to carry the inflated board due to the length.

It’s important to buy a board that fits your weight and height so if multiple people will be using yours, it’s best to opt for a longer one like this 11-foot option from Atoll. The longer length makes the board more stable and better for weight distribution, especially if you’re tall. While some longer boards can be more difficult to maneuver, the extra few inches on this Atoll model didn’t affect our ability to turn and maneuver as needed when we were in both smooth and choppy water. The carrying bag is big enough to fit in deflated board and accessories (paddle, pump, leash, fin), and it’s not cumbersome to transport when packed up. The longer length does make it a bit more awkward to carry after it’s inflated, but it only took nine minutes to inflate, so it’s a breeze to carry in the bag and manually pump it up waterside for better portability.

Price at time of publish: $626

The Details: PVC | 132 x 32 x 6 inches | 21 pounds

Best Portability: Bote Breeze Aero Classic Cypress Inflatable Paddle Board

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Buy at

Why We Love It

  • The board fits perfectly into the compact carrying case and can be stored in small spaces.

What to Consider

  • It doesn’t come with an ankle strap.

This paddle board truly lives up to its name for being a breeze to set up and use in and out of the water. For those without a lot of storage space, this Bote paddle board is ideal for fitting under a bed or in a coat closet thanks to its compact size. The board itself is 10 feet and 6 inches long and rolls up to fit into its backpack carrying case with room left over for the included pump, paddle, and patch kit. The only downside we found is that it doesn’t come with an ankle leash. As for setup, it takes about 10 minutes to inflate the board with a manual pump. It’s not too cumbersome to carry it out to the water with the padded handle, but it does weigh a slightly hefty 20 pounds. No matter what body of water you use this board on, it’s plenty stable and turns easily with the help of the adjustable paddle.

Price at time of publish: $595

The Details: PVC | 128 x 33 x 6 inches | 20 pounds

Related: Oru Kayak Review: The Lake+ Foldable Kayak Is Perfect for Traveling Paddlers

Easiest to Set Up: Isle Pioneer 2.0

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Buy at

Why We Love It

  • The board and accessories are thoughtfully designed to make setting up and breaking down a breeze for beginners.

What to Consider

  • It’s quite heavy at 24 pounds.

Isle is one of the most notable paddle board brands in the industry for quality and design, so you can’t go wrong with the Pioneer 2.0 board as a first-timer. Right off the bat, the paddle board has an intuitive setup, and it comes with all of the necessities to get out on the water, including easy-to-read instructions. Besides the basic necessities like a carrying case, the board itself, a fin, ankle strap, and patch kit, it also comes with a dry bag that we thought was a thoughtful touch for keeping items dry in the event that you fall off the board (which will likely happen as a beginner). The oversized backpack makes it easy to place the deflated board with tons of extra room to fit the rest of the accessories. We also love the nautical designs of the boards that come in four color-blocking patterns. The only downside to this easy-to-use board is that it weighs a hefty 24 pounds, which is noticeably heavier compared to other boards we tried.

Price at time of publish: $495

The Details: PVC | 126 x 34 x 6 inches | 24 pounds

Best for Kids: iROCKER Nautical Kids Stand Up Paddle Board

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Why We Love It

  • It’s quick and seamless to pump up the smaller board.

What to Consider

  • It weighs over 17 pounds, which could be heavy for a child to carry.

Designed to get kids out enjoying the water, iRocker’s kid-size paddle board is a great option for a family paddle sesh. It has the width and height of an adult-size board, but it’s quite a bit shorter in length to make it easier for a child to paddle around. In just a few minutes, the board can be inflated with the included pump, and it also comes with a carrying case, paddle, fin, ankle leash, and repair kit. The PVC material feels high-quality and durable. We didn’t notice any damage to the material after testing it in a pool and marina with both kids and small adults. The only small issue we ran into is that the board weighs 17.2 pounds, which could be too heavy for a child to carry long distances. However, the case makes it easier to transport, and it inflates quickly with the pump, so it could be a non-issue for most families.

Price at time of publish: $400

The Details: PVC | 108 x 32 x 6 inches | 17.2 pounds

Best Design: Gili Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package

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Why We Love It

  • The board is thoughtfully designed with helpful features for beginner to advanced paddlers.

What to Consider

  • It can be difficult to place the fins.

This paddle board not only looks premium, but it’s packed full of thoughtful features and designs that make it an A-plus paddle board for beginners. It comes with all of the necessities to get out on the water quickly, and we were able to inflate it in just four minutes with the manual pump included in the kit. While the width is a bit shorter than other boards we tried, the board impressed us by being super stable out on the water thanks to not one, but three fins that attach to the bottom for extra stability. The fins can be a bit difficult to snap into place, but it gets easier to get them in and out after several tries. Besides that slight inconvenience, the board itself is easy to carry with the middle handles for one person or handles on either end for two people. Plus, the spacious carrying bag can be worn as a backpack and fits all of the contents without any issues. Best of all, the board has a large traction pad for extra stability while standing or with a dog on board.

Price at time of publish: $400

The Details: PVC | 126 x 31 x 6 inches | 19 pounds

Related: The Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2023

Best Hybrid: ROC Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard Pack

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Why We Love It

  • It comes with a kayak paddle so you can sit on the board and paddle.

What to Consider

  • It can be difficult to get the deflated board and accessories back into the carrying case. 

For beginners that are still getting the hang of standing up on a paddle board, this comes with a paddle that can be converted into a kayak paddle to use while sitting or kneeling. The 10-foot board comes with other helpful accessories like an ankle leash, fin, dry bag, and regular paddle to use once you get the hang of standing up. The 33-inch width and 6-inch height make the board feel exceptionally sturdy in all types of water, and the shorter board is very easy to turn using either paddles for maneuvering. When it comes to transporting the paddle board, we found that it’s not too heavy to carry while inflated and the lightweight backpack makes it easy to carry and store deflated. We had some slight difficulty getting the board and accessories to fit in the backpack, so it may take some extra time to pack everything up.

Price at time of publish: $250

The Details: PVC | 120 x 33 x 6 inches | 17.5 pounds

Other Inflatable Paddle Boards We Liked

There were several paddle boards we tested that are excellent boards overall but might lack a few traits some beginners would find helpful.

FunWater Stand-up Paddle Board: This board is made with high-quality materials and is easy to transport, but we had some slight issues with the stability and maneuvering that might make it challenging for some beginners.

High Society Wolf Package: It’s a breeze to set up and take down this paddle board, and it was easy to maneuver out on the water. However, it does come at a much higher price and is more of an investment board suited for those who know they’ll continue with the sport.

Decathlon Itiwit Adult Ultra Compact Paddle Board: This wide board is one of the most stable and portable options we tested, but it doesn’t come with a paddle, pump, or any accessories and you would have to buy it all separately.

Our Testing Process

We tested 22 inflatable paddle boards with options designed for beginner, intermediate, and advanced paddlers to recommend the best ones no matter your skill level. We evaluate each board based on traits like ease of use, portability, quality, and overall performance out on the water.

In recommending the best beginner paddle boards, we selected the boards that scored highest for ease of use and performance since they're the two most important factors for those new to paddle boarding. Our top-performing paddle boards for beginners offer an intuitive setup, come with all of the accessories needed to get out on the water safely, and provide superior stability and maneuverability out on the water.

Tips for Buying an Inflatable Paddle Board

Choose the right size

When it comes to picking a paddle board size, the key specs to look out for are length, width, height, and weight capacity. Beginners should opt for boards with widths between 32 and 36 inches since you get more stability with a wider board. Most paddle boards are anywhere from 10 to 12 feet, and while a longer board can go faster, a shorter board will be a bit easier to maneuver, so those new to paddle boarding should aim for a 10 to 11-foot board at first. If you’re planning to paddle with others on board (kids, dogs, etc.) be sure to choose a board that has a weight capacity to safely accommodate yourself or extra passengers.

Pick a board that comes with the right accessories

The last thing you want to do as a beginner is get out to the water and realize you’re missing key items for paddle boarding. Buying a paddle board that comes in a kit is ideal since it should include items like a paddle, carrying case, pump, patch kit, fin, and ankle strap, which are necessary to get started. Other accessories you may want to purchase separately include bungee cords, dry bags, extra paddles, seats, and life jackets. 

Consider less expensive boards at first

If you’re new to paddle boarding, it might be smart to invest in a less expensive board before committing to the water sport. Inflatable paddle boards can cost a pretty penny, so purchasing a board that is less expensive might be a better way to dip your toes in the water (figuratively and literally). Based on our testing, some of the best boards for stability and quality are the less expensive ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an inflatable or solid paddle board better?

Inflatable paddle boards are more convenient for a variety of reasons compared to their solid-wood counterparts. Inflatable paddle boards are easier to store and travel with since they compress down into a carrying bag that can fit in small spaces with ease. They are generally less expensive than wooden boards, but inflatable boards can have more costly damages if there is a hole or if the inflatable pops. Inflatable paddle boards are better suited for beginners and travelers alike, and you can always invest in a wooden one down the road.

How much should a beginner paddle board cost?

Inflatable paddle boards can vary in price depending on a variety of factors like brand, size, accessories, and features. Prices can be anywhere from $200 to $800, and you would be hard-pressed to find a paddle board for less than $200. While the amount you choose to spend is personal, it’s important to do some research before purchasing a paddle board and checking the specifications to make sure it’s a good board for beginners.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T + L Commerce Writer Anna Popp grew up on the rivers and lakes that surround Bend, Oregon where she began white-water rafting as a child. Anna participated in this test by trying three paddle boards in the ocean, lakes, and rivers to help recommend the best options for all types of paddlers, especially those just starting out. She also combed through testing insights from other boards we tried to select the most stable paddle boards for beginners.

Related: The 13 Best Inflatable Paddle Boards of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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