Choosing The Right Inflatable Paddle Board For You

Choosing the right inflatable paddle board for you


What sort of paddler are you?

This is an important question as it will help you decide on the shape, construction and size board you need. If you are new to paddling, we will always suggest you take a lesson so that you have the basic skills you need, it will also help you decide where you want to go with the sport. At Poole Harbour Watersports we take the price of your lesson with us off your purchase if you decide to buy with us.


If you want to explore but also try your hand at a bit of surfing, or maybe you want a board that the whole family can enjoy but you are all different rider weight, then an all-round aboard might be for you.

Don’t be fooled by the name of these boards. You might think ‘great, this will cover all options’ but have you heard of the saying ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’? Well if you are not careful this might apply and you will find yourself wishing you had made a different purchase. An ‘all-round board’ can be anywhere between 9’6 and 11’2 long and between 30’ and 36’ wide. The simplest way of looking at this is length= glide, and width = stability, but this is not the whole story. We go into more details when we ask ‘What size board do you need?’


These boards are more or less what it says on the tin. If you want to go places and explore whether, it’s on a river or on the sea then you want to be looking in the touring category. Touring boards are normally between 11’2 -14’ in length and 32’-36’ wide which means there is something for everyone no matter what your rider weight. If you want to go exploring with a dog or child onboard then a touring board might also be for you as the length of the board provides more space.

Race, Surf or Whitewater

These boards are for people that really want to get into a discipline. You might what to check out our blog about the differences between inflatable and hard paddle boards if you are looking at these boards.

Paddleboard Shapes - Poole Harbour Watersports


What size board do you need?

To answer this question, we need to look into the length and width of the boards in more detail.


The longer the board the better the glide therefore if you want to get in some distance then a longer board will help you paddle for longer easier. A shorter board provides more movability so if you want a board that is fun in the surf or you are a child getting into the sport for example then you might want to look at a shorter board. It is important to remember the length of the board has nothing to do with the rider’s size, for example you might have a 5ft rider touring on a 14ft board and a 6ft person riding a 10ft surf board or vice versa. The length of your board depends on what it is designed to do.


The width can affect your paddle technique, if you are a smaller rider then a board that is too wide for you will cause you to have to twist to get your paddle in the water. This can mean two things; you will find it harder to go in a straight line due to the angle your paddle is entering the water and it may cause back pain due to the twist in your lower back.

The wider the board the more stable it feels but it is not the only factor. Construction has more of an impact than width in the stability of the board. In a board with a lower quality construction the width becomes more important to support a riders weight which we explain in more detail in our blog ‘Why is construction so important’ blog.

It’s important to remember the width also has an effect on glide, the wider the board the more drag in the water it will have, that is why when you start looking at race style boards the width is normally around 26’ for an inflatable board.

Top Tip: The overall shape of the board will also make a big difference, don’t just look at the dimensions of the board always look at is overall shape.

Stand Up Paddleboard Length - Poole Harbour Watersports


What is rider weight?

Your rider weight is how much you weigh. If you were to buy a surf board or composite paddle board we would talk about volume, how much volume (liters) you need depends on your body weight. As a general rule, a beginner should be riding the equivalent of 100% of their body weight in volume. I.e. A beginner weighing 80kg should be riding a surfboard around 80 litres in volume. Alternatively, an experienced surfer can ride a surfboard that's 35% - 40% of their body weight in volume. This doesn’t apply when we look at inflatable boards in the same way as the volume of a board can not take into account the shape of the board, instead we need to look into the construction and stiffness of the board as well as the volume of a board. This is largely to do with all inflatable boards having so much volume (over 185L). The manufacture will provide a max rider weight this is a good indicator of the quality of a board which we explain in more detail in our blog ‘Why is construction so important’.

Top tip- always check the manufactures suggested rider weight but if the board is a good construction then an all-round board should support a rider weight up to around 90KG.


What is your budget?

Everyone likes a good deal and its important to get your money’s worth, but you must look at your purchase as an investment. Buy right and buy once. It is so easy to get in the mind set of not wanting to spend the money but we would suggest you hire a good quality board until you are ready to invest rather than buying a poor-quality board or a board that is not right for you just because its cheap. Buying the wrong board can totally put you off the sport so we are here to help you get the best board for your money. We only sell good quality boards from brands we can trust. When looking online we suggest you never buy a new board package for less than £350 because if it sounds like its too good to be true it properly is. Take a look at our blog ‘What is a good inflatable paddleboard for beginners?’  to give you a good idea on what you can get for your money. Another good way to get a good deal is to look at what you get in the package, most inflatable board packages include:


A rucksack, wheely case or drybag


There are three main pumps that might come with a package;

Single chamber, single action – lightweight but slow

Single chamber double action -works on the up and down stroke so faster but still lightweight

Double chamber, single action – fast with more air per pump but only on the down stroke


There are a few different fin box options which we cover in our ‘Why is construction so important’ blog


A paddle may come with your board package but some brands opt for not including them to keep the price down and to give you the option to pick your paddle. At Poole Harbour Watersports we offer a deal on a upgraded paddle when you buy with a package. To find out more about paddles check out our ‘Paddle choice’ blog

Repair kit –

Most boards come with a repair kit but best to check in the product details before purchasing.

 Jobe Paddleboard Package - Poole Harbour Watersports

Jobe Yarra SUP 10.6 Package

We hope this blog has answered some of your questions. We are working on our blog ‘Why is construction so important’ which will cover volume, stiffness, width, cost, fin and shape in more detail. Why not also take a look at our blog 'What is a good paddleboard for beginners?'  to help you breakdown what you may be after further.

We love hearing your feed back so if you have a question, you would like us to look into in a blog, please let us know. Don’t forget that we are only a live chat, call, email or a visit away and are always happy to help you.

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1 comment

This is such an informative article on choosing the right inflatable paddleboard! I love how Poole Harbour Watersports breaks down the key factors like the type of paddler, size, desired locations, and budget. It’s great to see their emphasis on taking a lesson to gain basic skills and explore the sport before making a purchase. Plus, the fact that they subtract the lesson cost if you decide to buy from them shows their dedication to customer satisfaction.

I find the distinction between all-round, touring, race/surf/whitewater boards fascinating. It really helps narrow down the options based on specific interests and preferences. The explanation of how length affects glide and width affects stability provides valuable insights for choosing the right board.SUP Boad Gear

I’m curious to hear from other paddlers out there! Which type of board do you prefer and why? Have you experienced any unexpected benefits or challenges with your paddleboard that others can learn from? Let’s keep the conversation going and share our knowledge to help each other make the best paddleboard choices!

SUP Board Gear

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