How To Choose A Paddle Board: A Guide For Beginners | Maddle
Paddleboarding is a fun and adventurous outdoor activity that can be enjoyed in almost any season. Though most types of paddle boarding take place in the warmer months, enjoying SUP paddleboarding in the winter is also becoming increasingly popular in Canada, so long as there is no ice, which could scrape the fins!
With stand-up paddle sports becoming increasingly popular year-round, more and more Canadians are looking for the right board for their needs.
As a beginner, we recommend getting a board that can do a little bit of everything so you can figure out what you like doing on the water. In this guide, we will provide you with our recommendations to find the best all-around board.
What Is Paddle Boarding And Why Should I Do It?
As a beginner, your first question is probably, “What is Paddle boarding?” To give you a quick introduction, paddle boarding is a physical activity that involves either standing or sitting on a board, and is used for activities such as riding waves, floating around, surfing, or yoga.
Now, based on our experience, the second question beginners ask is “Is paddle boarding is hard?” The TLDR is that no, paddleboarding is as hard as you make it.
For example, trying to start SUP racing will be hard. However, SUP yoga is a great starting point because it allows you to get out on the water and familiarize yourself with the different motions involved in paddling.
With enough practice and enjoyment, you will become a seasoned pro in no time!
Still unsure about whether you want to give paddleboarding a try? Explore 15 benefits of paddle boarding that you can’t get with any other workout!
What Can I Do On A Stand-Up Paddle Board?
There are so many different ways you can put your paddle boards to good use, from SUP Yoga to workouts, and general activities.
Sup Yoga is pretty much what it sounds like, yoga on a stand-up paddle board. But this activity is not just reserved for super fit yogis, anyone can give it a try! Just like regular yoga, there are levels, from beginner to expert.
Take whatever kind of yoga you like to do in a studio, and do it on your inflatable board! SUP yoga can be done on most boards, just make sure you choose one with the right weight capacity for the moves you’ll be doing.
In addition to Yoga, all kinds of workouts can be done on a stand-up paddle board. From wave riding to touring around scenic waters, SUPs are perfect for so many water-based workouts.
Not into the whole workout part, but still want to partake in a beautiful and scenic outdoor activity? Grab your paddle board and set out on the perfect flatwater paddling adventure.
Want more ideas for your paddle board experience? Check out 5 Activities To Do On An SUP.
Should I Choose An Inflatable Or Solid Paddle Board?
So what are the differences between an Inflatable vs Solid SUP board?
We’ve put together a list of what you need to consider when choosing between a solid board or an inflatable sup, to help you choose the right board for you.
Easier to Store- can be deflated and folded
Comes in a variety of designs
No need for a roof rack when transporting via car
Save on airplane luggage fees when transporting via airplane
Best for long long distance paddleboarding
Overall, there are benefits of both types of boards such as:
Both boards are durable and perform well for years if cared for properly.
Both boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from a rounded nose vs pointed nose, wide board vs narrow board, hull shape, and shorter vs longer board.
Even though a solid or epoxy board may be preferable for long-distance paddleboarding, inflatable sups are preferable in terms of transportation. This makes them perfect for fitting in airplanes, cars, or apartment storage lockers.
They also have the added benefit of being dog friendly - if your furry friend likes joining you they won’t slip off the deck pad due to the grippy material.
After comparing the pros and cons, we think that inflatable sups are definitely the way to go for a beginner board.
What Size Paddle Board Should I Get?
When it comes to paddle boards, the main decisions regarding size have to be made with length, width, and height in mind.
Most paddle boards come between 10-12 feet in length, which are ideal for a good all-around paddle board.
If paddle boards are under 10 feet, these are typically made for children
If the board length is between 10-11 feet, it is great for yoga, cruising, and general paddling
If the board is above 11 feet, it is great for speed, racing, touring, and long-distance paddle boarding.
Next comes board width, which determines how stable a stand-up paddle board is. This is divided into two categories:
Narrow paddle boards (smaller than 31 inches)
Wide paddle boards (larger than 31 inches).
Wide paddle boards are better for balance and have a higher weight capacity as they distribute weight easier.
The last deciding factor is board thickness, which is typically between 4-6 inches. Similar to width, the thicker a board is, the more stable it will be. As such, a thicker board is great for beginners.
If you want more info on which paddleboard’s volume, length, and width is right for you, check out this quick read: What Size Paddleboard Should I Get?
Overall, we recommend choosing a board with the following dimensions:
Length: Between 10-11 feet
Width: Larger than 31 inches
Thickness: 6 inches
Altogether this board will provide you with great versatility and will be incredibly stable making it perfect any beginner.
What Is The Best Fin Type For A Beginner?
One important feature of a paddle board that is often overlooked by most beginners is the type of fin on the board. Not to bore you with a scientific explanation, but fins control your speed, maneuverability, and balance.
Single Fin Vs Multiple Design
Typically, the most popular SUPs will have 1-3 fins.
Each fin that you introduce will add additional water resistance, which is why most racing boards only have a single fin. However, the tradeoff of having fewer fins is balance.
For a beginner first learning how to stand up on a paddleboard, we recommend multiple fins as this will offer greater stability and control on the water.
Fixed Vs Removable Fins
The primary difference between these fixed and removable fins, as said in their name, is that one is not removable while one can be removed.
Fixed fins are great as they are easy to use and you don’t have to worry about misplacing or losing them before you go on the water. However, a big issue with these fins is that if damage them, this could severely impact your steering and paddling.
Another downside of fixed fins is that if you damage them, similar to damaging a car, replacing a single fin is a lot more expensive and difficult than you think!
As such, we recommend inflatable paddle boards that have removable fins so that if one gets damaged it can easily be replaced and it makes transportation/storage much easier.
Overall, for a beginner first learning paddle boarding, we recommend three removable fins as this will provide greater stability on the water and easier transportation/storage.
As you become more comfortable on your stand-up paddle board, then you can opt for a single fin as it will provide greater speed.
What Is The Best Type Of Hull For A Beginner?
Similar to fins, the hull of a SUP board can have a large impact on how the board performs in the water. There are two types of hulls, a displacement hull and a planing hull.
While both types of hulls can be used by beginners, from our experience there is a clear winner that most beginners enjoy more.
A displacement hull often features a pointed nose as it is designed to be as streamlined as possible. As a result, these hulls create a smooth ride as they cut through the water.
This makes displacement hulls ideal for long-distance paddling and SUP racing.
On the other hand, a planing hull often features a rounded nose as it is designed to be more stable and maneuverable. As a result, these hulls are great for all-around paddling and relaxing leisure activities.
Overall, for beginner paddlers, we recommend a planing hull as it will provide greater maneuverability and stability for recreational activities such as SUP yoga and flat water paddling.
What Are The Most Important Accessories For Paddle Boards?
Once you’ve nailed down the different features you want in a paddleboard, the next important step is figuring out what accessories you need vs which ones are nice to have for a fun day on the water.
The accessories that you need for an inflatable stand-up paddle board include:
A foldable paddle
A safety leash
Each of these different accessories will ensure that you can efficiently blow up your SUP, easily paddle in the water, and never lose your SUP to a strong current.
A nice day on the water can quickly turn into a nightmare if you have to blow up your paddleboard using your mouth, paddle along the water using your hands as a makeshift paddle, or lose your paddleboard if you fall off.
At Maddle, all of these required accessories come with every single board purchased and we throw in a nice backpack so you can take everything on your next adventure.
Nonetheless, let’s cover a few additional accessories that will make your paddleboarding experience more enjoyable!
A paddleboard anchor is the perfect tool for SUP yoga. It allows you to stop in the middle of a beautiful lake to work on your tree or warrior poses. This anchor is also great for setting up camp with some friends so you can tan or have a couple of drinks without the worry of drifting away.
Waterproof Phone Pouch
I think we can all recall a memory of a friend accidentally bringing their phone into the water and spending the next day hovered over a bag of rice. To prevent this issue we highly recommend a waterproof pouch. This floating pouch is designed to hold not only phones but also cameras so you can capture the amazing scenery from your paddle board.
SUP Cleaning Kit
For anyone that has ever been out on the water you will know that sand, dirt, and other gunk can end up on your pristine board. That’s why it's super important to ensure that your board is not only clean but also protected from harmful UV rays that will cause your board’s colour to fade.
Pumping up a SUP is fun but this can quickly wear off when you have to pump up more than 1 board. That in itself is enough of a workout! If you want to save yourself some extra time, we recommend a portable electric pump that can pump up 2 Maddle boards while simultaneously charging your phone.
Or, if you are pumping up boards for the whole family, then we recommend a stronger electric pump that plugs directly into your car to easily inflate everyone’s SUP board.
Kayak Conversion Kit
Are you interested in both kayaking and a stand-up paddle board but don’t know which one is better for you? Well then, we recommend this kayak seat that can instantly turn any Maddle board into a fun kayaking day on the water.
Instead of trying to figure out which one you want to do, just do both!
What Paddle Board Should I Get Based On My Personality?
On a more fun note, an inflatable SUP board is not all about its different features. Another important aspect to consider is the design of the board and whether it reflects your personality.
Adventurous, Determined & Looking For Physical Challenges
You are likely a courageous and resilient person that has a strong interest in maintaining both your physical and mental health. This makes you an expert thrill-seeker that is always looking for your next great adventure.
You understand that with every challenge there will be setbacks but your determined nature knows that with every great obstacle comes an even greater feeling of accomplishment when you inevitably conquer it.
You likely have a strong connection with nature as you find peacefulness and solitude in outdoor activities. Whether it's hiking up a mountain, canoeing down a river, or camping you are drawn to the rugged beauty of mountain landscapes and dense forests.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Stargazer as it matches your love of outdoor adventures.
Learn More About The Person Behind The Design
Since about 3yrs of age Katherine of SpaceFrog Designs found that drawing came naturally as well as enjoying experimenting with different mediums. She is an avid traveler and has lived in several different countries which directly inspires her work. When not creating you can find Katherine outdoors either mountain biking, hiking, camping or paddle boarding.
Curious, Intuitive With A Sense Of Wonder
You are likely an open-minded, inquisitive person that follows a sense of wonder as you explore the world. This makes you an expert at cultivating creative hobbies that explore your connection with the world around you.
The result is that you likely appreciate the beauty and mystery of the unknown and want to better understand forces outside of your control.
Your observant and keen attention to detail allows you to pick up subtle patterns and nuanced details in your environment that many people miss.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Cruiser because of your emotional depth and curiosity to explore the unknown.
Learn More About The Person Behind The Design
Lilian was born and raised in Jakarta, and spent her teenage years in Singapore. She now lives permanently in Melbourne, but has also lived in London and Sydney. She started her career as a print and motion designer, before switching to becoming a full-time illustrator.
Rebellious, Independent With A Strong Sense Of Personal Style
Your non-confirmative personality makes you confident in your own opinions and draws you to creative passions of self-expression such as fashion.
This makes you an expert at challenging the status quo and rejecting mainstream values. The result is that you are able to cultivate a personal aesthetic that acts as a unique form of creative expression.
You never want to feel like you are trapped in a box and are always looking for new ways to express your individuality through passionate music, culture, and energy.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Stunner as its bold colour and designs resonate with your creative aesthetic.
Learn More About The People Behind The Design
This board was designed collaboratively by the Maddle Collective, combining outside & in-house talent. The objective was to create a aesthetic that reflects the bold & energetic nature of Maddle, with an emphasis on creativity & self-expression.
Innovative, Creative & Interested In Technology
Your innovative and imaginative personality makes you appreciate the idea of using technology to enhance your outdoor experience.
You’re always trying to find new ways to explore the boundaries between the human-built and natural world. The result is that you have a rich imagination where you try to explore different combinations of technology and art to create truly unique experiences.
While you may come off as very detail oriented and technologically savvy, there is a hidden side to your personality that is looking to explore the depths of your own psyche to gain insight and a better understanding of the human experience.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Free Spirit as the design incorporates bright colours and intricate patterns that evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, as well as the cutting-edge technology of a light show.
Learn More About The People Behind The Design
Sonny & Biddy is Sonny Day & Biddy Maroney. Their work is a conversation between two individuals played out in colour, shape, texture and drawing from their shared influences – comic books, skateboarding, music and film.
Gentle, Nurturing With A Love For Nature’s Beauty
Your kind and loving energy make you look for the beauty and simplicity of natural objects and floral designs.
You are naturally drawn to the peacefulness and tranquility of nature and seek to express this appreciation through art and music. The result is that you likely have a talent for poetry, painting, or singing as these creative outlets allow you to explore your inner world and connect with others on a deeper level.
You likely seek deeper emotional bonds with people rather than surface-level interactions and crave being understood for your internal beauty.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Romantic as it symbolizes your calm, nurturing, and deep love of inner beauty.
Learn More About The Person Behind The Design
Lily is an artist based in New York City, originally from Los Angeles. She primarily creates illustrations using fine-line ink to draw minimalistic, delicate, abstract, and floral designs, but also enjoys painting and experimenting with graphic design.
Introspective, Emotional & Grounded
Your introspective and grounded nature allows you to find solace in routine and the natural order of the world around you.
As a result, you likely enjoy taking time to reflect on your life as the seasons change and as the sun rises and sets each day.
You likely enjoy activities that involve capturing the beauty of nature through photography, storytelling, or painting. These creative pursuits allow you to express yourself and connect with others through the emotions you create using your art as a medium.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Wanderer as it represents the cycle of life and the natural world order as with every end there is another beginning.
Learn More About The Person Behind The Design
Melissa Koby is a Jamaican born artist and illustrator living in Tampa, Florida. She is a self taught artist who started painting at the age of 4. Through illustrations and surface design, Melissa focuses on creating warm yet vibrant imagery with peaks and valleys that represent peace and the moments in between.
Youthful, Carefree Spirit Who Enjoys The Simple Pleasures Of Life
Your playful and whimsical personality allows you to find joy in the little things. Whether it's indulging in a simple treat like ice cream or cracking a joke that has everyone in stitches, you appreciate the idea of incorporating fun and lightheartedness into any outdoor activity.
You’re a glass-half-full type of person and are always looking for opportunities to see light in a room full of darkness. The result is that you’re the friend that everyone wants to hang out with as you have a knack for bringing out the best in people.
You treat every day as if it is your last and try to soak up every single drop of life.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Optimist as it's a symbol for your youthful and vibrant personality.
Learn About The Person Behind The Design
Tyler Spangler is a freelance graphic designer from Southern California. He has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach and attended Art Center College of Design for Graphic Design for one year before dropping out to start his own freelance design business.
Philosophical, Visionary With A Love Of Astrology And/Or Mythology
Your inquisitive nature makes you interested in finding meaning and exploring the mysteries of the universe. You likely explore the duality of existence and interconnectedness of all things.
You are drawn to the idea of finding a balance between opposing forces to create harmony within your life and the natural world. The result is you have a strong sense of spirituality and nurture that identity through meditation, yoga, praying, and/or self-reflection.
This makes you naturally drawn to the unknown and different energies as you rely on them to guide you through life.
Based on your personality, we recommend The Daydreamer as the duality of light and darkness symbolizes your pursuit of creating harmony.
Learn About The Person Behind The Design
Kinsey Hotchkiss is the designer and creative designer behind Kinsey H. Designs. She has been working as a freelance illustrator, artist, and graphic designer since 2017. She originally obtained a degree in Chinese Language from the University of Vermont in 2014, which took her to living in Shenzhen, China for two years. There she solo backpacking through southeast and eastern Asia where she taught English.
What Paddle Board Should I Get Based On My Zodiac Sign?
With so many paddle board designs and colours to choose from, it can be hard to decide exactly which board is right for you (we’re talking about you, indecisive libras…).
Why not let the stars decide for you, with our astrological recommendations based on your zodiac sign!
The 12 zodiac signs are divided into 4 elements, earth, water, air and fire.
We’ve let the stars help us pick out two of our incredible inflatable paddle board designs per element, so whether this is your first board, or you’re looking to grow your stand up paddle board collection, we’ve got the design for you.
The different zodiac earth signs include:
Taurus (April 20th - May 20th)
Virgo (August 23rd - September 22nd)
Capricorn (December 22nd - January 19th)
Just like the name implies, earth signs are literally known for being down to earth. These signs are dependable, practical, and grounded.
Being such a stable and reliable element, earth signs will love that all our boards have double-layer MSL fusion construction to ensure the best stability.
When it comes to the details, you could call us perfectionists, which we know you Virgos will appreciate. These specs also make our inflatable paddle boards great for stand-up paddle boarding activities, like stand-up yoga, which is a great way to center yourself and take a break from your busy schedule if you’re a workaholic Capricorn.
We recommend either The Stargazer or The Romantic.
The equal parts earthy and adventurous vibes of the mountain design make this inflatable sup perfect for any earth placement, but especially for go-getters like Capricorns and Virgos.
Meanwhile, the floral and face outline of the purple board are perfect for Taurus, who truly have an appreciation for the finer things in life.
The different zodiac water signs include:
Cancer (June 22nd - July 21st)
Scorpio (October 23rd - November 21st)
Pisces (February 19th - March 20th)
Water signs are known to be the sensitive signs of the zodiac. They love connecting with people on a deeper level, and tend to be able to read people easily.
We think water signs will love our Daydreamer & Cruiser designs.
As water signs, they may feel a deep connection to the moon, just as the tides do. Therefore, this celestial design is perfect for signs like Cancer and Scorpio.
The fish is a symbol of the last water sign, Pisces. As such, we know our fish inflatable sup, with its beautiful underwire scene, will be the perfect paddle board for this sign.
In addition to their beautiful designs, all of our inflatable boards use 2-Layer MSL technology and an EPS foam core to create a stable experience as you glide along the water, making these water signs feel right at home.
The different zodiac air signs include:
Gemini (May 21st - June 20th)
Libra (September 23rd - October 22nd)
Aquarius (January 20th - February 18th)
Air signs are known to be open-minded, sociable, and free-spirited. Therefore, we know they’ll love our Stunner and Free Spirit paddle boards.
As air signs tend to be rebellious, we think they’ll love our Teen Punk inflatable sups, which feature a bold and rebellious motif. Air signs, especially Aquarians appreciate expressing their individuality and separating themselves from the pack.
Our Lightshow Cyber design inflatable paddle boards feature a futuristic and otherworldly motif, making it perfect for air signs who seek to push the boundaries of what is possible and explore the limits of the human imagination, like multifaceted Geminis, and creative Libras.
The different zodiac fire signs include:
Aries (March 19th - April 19th)
Leo (July 23rd - August 22nd)
Sagittarius (November 22nd - December 21st)
Fire signs are bold, adventurous, and daring. If you’re a fire sign, satisfy your need for adventure with an epic paddle-boarding experience on our Optimist or Wanderer design.
Fire signs like Aries, who are known as the child of the zodiac, will appreciate the opportunity to express their youthful spirit and sense of adventure, with the Ice Cream Cone design.
Bold and confident fire signs have no problem trying new things. Connecting with nature while paddling on the water with our lush sunset paddle board plays right into a Leo’s love for beauty, and the wanderlust aura of a Saggitarius.
So whether this is your first board, or you’re adding a new one to your ever-growing collection, these designs are perfect for fire signs.
Our sup boards are great all-around boards that are both light and durable, with a versatile volume and weight capacity of up to 350 lbs. The handles make it easy to transport on all terrain, which adventurous, fun-loving fire signs will love.
Beginner Paddle Board Purchasing FAQs
1. What type of paddleboard is best for beginners?
The best type of paddleboard for beginners is an all-around inflatable paddleboard with the following dimensions:
Length: Between 10 and 11 feet
Width: Above 31’’
This will allow you to try anything from flatwater paddling, SUP surfing, SUP yoga or even long-distance paddling.
2. How do I know what paddle board is right for me?
In order to find the right paddle board you should consider what you want to do in the water and how it fits your body. The hull shape, dimensions, and weight capacity are features that will impact your paddle board experience the most.
A Final Verdict:
As a beginner, we recommend getting a good quality all-around paddle board that allows you to do a little bit of everything on the water.
Once you catch the SUP bug and find yourself out on the water every possible chance you have, then you should start to consider getting more specialized boards.
In the meantime, there is no better place to start with one of Maddle’s boards. Our 2023 collection features new designs that we think you will love!