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The Best Paddle Board for a Beginner

October 12, 2021


As with any endeavor in life, being a beginner can be tough. You are often filled with uncertainty, hesitancy, and plenty of questions. This is definitely the case when it comes to stand up paddle boarding.

The process often flows like this…

You see someone paddling on a nearby body of water. It piques your curiosity. It looks interesting and fun. So, you reach out to a nearby outfitter for a lesson. You go on their board and learn how to paddle. You love the activity so much you want a board for yourself.

Shortly after, you go online and see that board prices range from $250 all the way up to thousands of dollars. Not wanting to spend that much on a board right away you find that Amazon has a cheap board for sale. And so does Costco.

You grab one of those boards and head onto the water. Except for this time, unlike your lesson, you’re all over the place. You can’t stand. It’s too slow to paddle even from your knees. And the board doesn’t seem to float your weight.

Then, you give up on paddling and move on to the next thing.

Let’s avoid this story and create a better one. A story filled with the proper knowledge to make your journey into paddle boarding one full of fantastic memories.

In order to do that, we want to arm you with the knowledge you need to purchase the correct board as a beginner.

We are going to cover three main areas: size, shape, and ease of use.

By understanding these three sections, you’ll know what you need to succeed on the water.

Size

Paddle boards come in all types of sizes. From the smallest 7’ boards all the way up to 14’.

As a general rule – the smaller a board is the better it will be for children and SUP surfing. The longer the board is the better it will be for tracking and SUP racing.

In SUP, the term ‘tracking’ means the straighter a board will paddle on each individual stroke. In addition, if the board is longer in length it will also go farther with each paddle stroke due to its increase in surface area.

The mistake most beginners make in their first purchase is in choosing a board that is too short to paddle well.

For your first board, you should always look at lengths ranging from 10’6’’ to 11’4’’. Anything shorter and you’re in for a miserable paddle on flat water. The board won’t glide well with a short base and it won’t track straight either. Anything longer is not necessary unless you want to get into SUP racing or touring long distances.

At Atoll, our board’s size was determined through the simple process of testing.

When we started our company we wanted to create a board that was perfect for the beginner and the experienced alike. In short – we wanted to create a board that would be the only one you would ever need.

After a few initial failures we determined that 11’ was a perfect size. It combined the tracking and glide of a longer board with the maneuverability of a shorter board. We had found the perfect median.

Shape

As in the sizes, paddle boards are made in a variety of shapes. They have rounded noses, pointed noses, square tails, rounds tails, they can be 35” wide or down 25” wide.

Instead of going over the fine details of every shape on the market, we’ll just discuss what is best for a beginner.

A rounded nose on a board will be great for balance, but not great in a headwind. With a rounded nose, you have more surface area in the water which creates a platform-like surface for you to stand on. But when the winds come rolling in (and they always do) this extra surface area will dramatically decrease your speed in the water.

So, if you’re balance challenged, it might be best to grab a board that has a big, rounded nose.

Along these lines, a square tail on your board will be better for balance as it also increases your surface area but will be slower for turning. A rounded tail will move through the water side-to-side at an easier rate.

The thickness of a board will determine how much weight it can hold. The thicker the board is, the more weight you will be able to float.

If you are a large person (190lbs+) we recommend only looking at boards that are 5” thick or more. This will ensure your board will float you in the water (and you won’t be left frustrated by continuously falling in).

In addition, the wider a board is, the easier it will be to immediately stand on it. Again, for beginners, we recommend at least 32” in width.

Our Atoll boards come in at 32” wide and 6” thick. This was done to accommodate paddlers of all shapes and sizes. And sometimes even your pups!

The 32” in width gives the paddler a proper platform to easily stand right away without sacrificing maneuverability and turning. And we purposefully made it thicker than most standard boards so that you can use the board for what it was intended for: adventure.

Pack a cooler, camping gear, rods, and reels, even your dog as you paddle to an unknown location and spend the evening under the stars. An Atoll iSUP can hold up to 400lbs! So you’re covered no matter what you decide to bring along for the ride.

Ease of Use

One last factor to consider as a beginner to paddle boarding is the ease of use.

Before you make your purchase you should ask yourself…

Do you have enough storage space to accommodate a big, hardboard? We’re talking at least 11’ of inside storage space in order to avoid any weather damage when you are storing your board for long periods of time.

Do you have a car or truck with racks that can be used to strap down a paddle board to and from a launch location?

If not, you will find trying to move your board from your home to a lake, bay, or ocean can be quite a burdensome task.

If you don’t have either of these, then the best option for you as a beginner is an inflatable paddle board. With an iSUP like Atoll’s, you can store your board for the winter season (or for however long you need) in its convenient carrying backpack and put it in your closet.

In addition, you can roll it up after use and throw it in your trunk or the backseat. However you need to store and transport your board, it’s much easier with an inflatable paddle board.

Conclusion

We hope this short guide gave you a better idea of the best shape and size board for the beginner. And while we may have mentioned how our Atoll iSUP is the best board on the market for the beginner, the truth is, it’s also great for the experienced paddler as well. As we’ve stated before, it’s truly the only board you will ever need.

If you are brand new to the sport of SUP, then we highly recommend checking out our comprehensive beginner’s guide – How to Paddle Board: Everything You Need to Know to Get on the Water.

Questions? Comments? Let us know! Our inbox is always open.

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