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WHAT IS A GOOD INFLATABLE PADDLEBOARD FOR BEGINNERS?
Getting into Stand Up Paddleboarding can be daunting due to the variety of options and packages available online. With our experience, we want to help clarify what it is you are after as a beginner.
Firstly, the inflatable option is good for beginners, this is because they are lightweight, easy to store, transport and generally have good volume. Inflatables also are more forgiving when starting out paddleboarding; they have a soft deck pad, are more durable and tend to last longer than composite boards. This is due to composite boards being more prone to chipping/ dents and requiring more professional repairs, whereas if an inflatablesy are a lot simpler and quicker to repair (the package even comes with a handy glue kit!).
Picture- Poole Harbour Watersports SUP Beginner lesson on a Jobe Yarra and STX 10.6.
WHERE TO START –
Size of the board is the best place to start. This determines the stability and volume of the board. For beginners, you generally want an all-rounder SUP – suitable for all conditions and riders, with a rounded nose and tail, statistically between the sizes of 10’2” to 11’2”. An all-rounder is great for flat or choppy water, rivers or the seafront, family days out or even longer distance paddles. A longer length provides better glide and movement through the water so in the middle at 10’6” is ideal.
The width will affect your stability, you generally will want to go for a board around 32” wide – this is a nice stable platform for all adult and junior riders, so you can achieve a stable stance shoulder width apart. If you go slightly wider this is suitable too, but we wouldn’t suggest anything too much wider than 33/34” due to the result of having to paddle wider when on the board, and gradually the over-stretch can affect your lower back.
Thickness contributes to the overall volume, 6” is standard for a beginner board so that you can be sitting above any chop and a larger overall volume results in a more stable board for all weighted riders, generally up to around 110kg.
Essentially, a board that is 10’6” x 32” x 6” is going to be perfect for any beginner, this size will suit all types of paddling as you start out and won’t disappoint, it will ease your transition into the sport and be great for anyone else who wants to try too.
VALUE FOR MONEY –
When starting out paddleboarding, getting value for money seems the sensible idea. With there not much point buying something lower in the market as it won’t give you a proper insight into paddleboarding as the boards tend to make it a lot harder to stand! We also understand if you are uncertain paddleboarding is for you and you just want to get out on the water, you may not want to buy the package with all the best components just yet.
A good board will have a stiff construction, one that doesn’t flex under the rider’s position. Flexion in the board reduces the board’s surface area on the water and ultimately it is harder to balance and glide through the water.
Flexion comes from the quality and number of layers to the board - double layer PVC on top and bottom of the board is a good place to start. We wouldn’t recommend going for a single layer board to start out as they won’t be as stiff. Going for more than two layers then also increases the weight of your board.
Stiffness increases further using dropstitch fibres in the centre of the board, boards are now trying to become as stiff and light as possible through adapting the shape of them; they can be linear || in a vee \/ or in cross-dropstitch X (X being the lightest and stiffest as they reduce number of fibres whilst limiting horizontal movement between top and bottom layers). X-dropstitch can be seen in brands such as STX and Jobe. V-dropstitch seen in Fanatic, JP and Starboard. Linear seen in Storm and Starboard.
The newest technology now also eliminates glue in the board (which is heavy) and they now pre-laminate layers of PVC together and weld the seams. This creates a lighter board that is more durable and stiffer as glue can be a weaker component. (Lamination and welding can be seen in Starboard and Jobe, some other brands have lamination of the layers such as Fanatic and STX).
A board that would be great value would generally be around the £400-£600 mark. The difference in this category is then also dependent on the package components and the quality of these.
PACKAGE PARTS –
Cheaper paddleboard packages don’t just mean a lower quality board, the rest of the paddleboard accessories will be to a lower standard. This may be just what you are after when starting out paddling as you can always upgrade when you get into it!
In a paddleboard package you will receive; board, paddle, pump, bag, fin, leash and repair kit.
Paddles will be 3 pieces so that they can fit nicely in the bag. Beginner packages will include an aluminium paddle – these are durable, strong and easy to replace (stock wise and bank wise!). Upgrades to a paddle are down to the construction again, they become stiffer and lighter with the content of fibreglass or even better, carbon. Having a stiff and light paddle is better for your back when paddling as you continue to alternate sides, and the stiff shaft ensures efficiency in each stroke. (If you want to know more about paddle upgrades, check out our other blog ‘4 Things To Consider When Choosing Your SUP Paddle’).
The pump included can be either a single or double action pump. Double action helps to ease pumping up the board as it can inflate the board when pumping up and down, but single action will only inflate when pushing down.
The latest pump upgrade included in packages around the £700 mark (such as the Jobe Yarra, Duna, and Starboard range) is the double action turbo pump. These feature the tube on the outside so pressure is reduced inside the pump and it is easier and faster to pump up your board. Or you can not pump at all and buy the Stermay or STX electric pump!
Bags also differ, standard boards will come with a rucksack style bag that zips up (Storm, STX, JP). These can progress to more padded bags (Fanatic), bags with wheels for ease of transportation (Fanatic and Starboard), or even the bag can be a dry bag in itself to contain or refuse entry to water (Jobe).
In essence, although there are many options, and each paddler may want to venture into different qualities; we recommend the best use and value out of a package that is:
- 10’6” x 32” x 6”
- Double layered
- Alloy paddle
- Double action pump
- Rucksack bag
This combination will be suitable for everyone and is an all-round great quality package for beginners.
Of course, you can go down the slightly cheaper route, it may just be something for the family and occasional use, or the higher quality to start off with so you won’t find it necessary to upgrade any options of your package later.
Here is a little guide to highlight our range of packages and where they place on the market -
Starting price Great value Top End Package
< Storm, JP Superlight, Fanatic Fly/ Diamond Air, STX, Starboard iGO Zen, Jobe, Fanatic Fly Air Premium, Starboard iGo Deluxe >
Some boards are even able to demo or hire from our school location too – just ask!
All boards and packages we offer have been tried and tested for stiffness and quality, they are boards we recommend for beginners, and from representable brands.