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Grabbing the Right Board as a Beginner [ Size & More ]

As a beginner, choosing the right kind of surfing board is quite a daunting decision. You have to be extremely cautious, as surfing sounds fun, but can also be incredibly dangerous. So, choosing the right board according to your needs is extremely important. It can be quite a challenge for beginners to choose which paddleboard to buy given that there are so many options available.

The right board for a beginner should be long, wide, and thick in volume. These features provide the best possible safety for a novice. Furthermore, it simplifies the learning process of surfing. There are also some practical and essential features that you should look for, such as a paddle and a leash. Longboards and paddleboards are great choices for beginners.

Surfing professionals often provide their new students with inflatable surfboards or SUPs. So, many people wonder- are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners? What are the advantages of using them?

In the rest of the article, I talk about the answer to these questions and more. You’ll also find a guide on how to pick the right-sized board for your height and weight!

What To Look for In a Paddle Board for Beginners

Paddleboards have evolved over the years. The board once topped the charts for most popular surfing boards, and it is back in style again. Apart from that, there are some things you must consider before purchasing one for yourself as a beginner.

The ocean is a mesmerizing place but safety comes first! Don’t forget to take these points into account when making decisions!

Long Body

The advantage of a long body is to be able to ride the waves more effectively. Moreover, the extra space provides enough room to stand and paddle.

Longboards are the perfect choice for beginners because they allow you to float at a slower pace. However, don’t buy something too big for your body. Otherwise, it can be difficult to control the board.

As opposed to a longboard, a shortboard often picks up speed very quickly with the waves. As a beginner, it should not be the ideal choice.

In case you decide to buy one, please make sure you are in an area where the waves are not too big and wear life jackets.

In cases like this, it is recommended to surf under supervision.

Wide Surface

It is possible to make learning fun and engaging by selecting a board of the right size and shape. Wide boards are easier to control, as waves can’t move them too much from side to side.

It is, therefore, easier to handle than a thin board for beginners. Also, a wide board is more prone to survive the steepest part of the wave, which is known as ‘pocket area’ or breaking waves.

When surfing aggressive waves, a larger board will generally offer more stability. Therefore, it is an ideal option for a beginner. It is important to avoid going too far, since the farther you go, the more intense the waves will become at the sea.

Thick Volume

Paddleboards made of thicker materials are ideal for both beginners and intermediate paddlers. They are stronger and don’t break when the waves crash on them.

Many professional surfers add extra volume to the middle part of their boards for added protection. In addition, thick boards paddle faster than thinner ones, since they are heavier.

Adding more volume to the nose or the front part of the board will ensure more speed in small waves.

Beginners will benefit greatly from this situation. On the other hand, a thin volume nose will limit your ways to control the direction of the paddleboard.

Board Material

One of the most important aspects beginners should consider. The paddle boards’ material should be something that keeps the surfers afloat.

Beginners can choose from two types of boards that are user-friendly, including solid paddleboards and inflatable paddleboards. The solid ones are usually made with foam and are covered with epoxy and fiberglass.

Inflatables usually use PVC exterior and the core of it is air. It’s great for traveling and if you have storage limitations. As soon as they can fully expand, inflatables become very rigid.

Beginners can try their luck with them, as they are quite easy to control with paddles. Besides being great for surfing, these are perfect for taking a boat out in the ocean or lakes too.

Standup Paddles

It may seem simple, but choosing a paddle requires more consideration than one might imagine. There are different sizes available for paddles and you have to pick the one that suits your stature.

You may think that the bigger the paddle, the better the water displacement. The statement may be true, but for a beginner, this may not be the best situation.

Choose a small blade, because it is the right size for everyone new to paddle surfing. It will sustain all water types; be it an ocean or a calm lake. Bigger blades are better for strong waves at the sea, and for experts who are familiar with paddling SUPs.

In contrast, the second kind of SUP blade is long and narrow and used exclusively for high-speed touring or racing.

SUP Leash

A leash is another essential item for a beginner. If you’re not familiar with leashes, they’re the chain-type rails you connect to your ankle to secure your board. In case while surfing you fall from the SUP, this attachment will make sure your board doesn’t drift away with the shores.

A SUP leash is one of the most important safety devices when you are in the water.

Leashes are classified into different types, such as coil, chain, straight, and waist cord. A coiled cord made of plastic or nylon is the most common type.

The best safety would be guaranteed with the waist leash, because your entire body would be attached to it, with a simple push-button. Therefore, you would have better control over your SUP.

Additional Accessories

For inflatable paddle boards, you have to buy a pump. For beginners, it can be a small and portable one. So you can carry it with you everywhere you practice surfing. Another thing you should look for when buying a SUP is fins.

These small attachments will allow you to have better control over the waves, by providing stability throughout the board.

Likewise, get SUP bags, so you can easily move the board to places when you go for practice. You need to get a material which is waterproof as well. You should invest in life jackets, as you are a beginner.

As you watch the waves get bigger and stronger, you won’t realize when they will crash against you. Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook them!

Types of Boards That Are Beginner-friendly

In terms of boards for beginners, there are several types to choose from. Using and maintaining each one is very straightforward. This list shows you the top 3 types that you can choose from.

Take a moment to read through the description to get a sense of what to expect when surfing with them!

SUP or Inflatable Boats

SUPs are the best for beginners. Safe and comfortable, they provide the best floating experience from the rest of the other ones. For it to stay afloat, a low to no amount of pressure is needed.

This makes it very easy for beginners to learn the other aspects of surfing, which are balancing and paddling. In the ocean, they are also perfect for standup paddleboarding.

Their durability is also outstanding. It doesn’t matter how long you spend on them every day, they will serve you well for years. On the other hand, they are very safe. In the event of a wave sweeping you away, you can fall onto the paddleboard for protection.

In spite of the rigidity of the board, it is filled with air. As a result, it won’t cause you much pain.

Funboards

Funboards are also known as mini tankers and mini-malls. These are specially designed for beginners who are willing to take on challenges with strong waves. They are easy to manage and carry around, as they are relatively lightweight.

Due to this, these boards are also quite effective for floating. So, learners can enjoy the waves, practicing how to keep the board stable.

Boards of this type are also long enough for great paddle speeds, and short enough for turning against the waves. That is why beginners will benefit from funboards. They also have added fins and rails which will make the surfing experience easier for beginners as well.

However, if you lose your footing while surfing, it might be difficult to get your balance back.

Longboards

Longboards normally add on at least 8 to 10 inches in length. Additionally, they are wide and made of thick materials. These features make longboards beginner-friendly.

These boards perform best during periods of high waves or when the waves are at least waist-high. Their long bodies provide stable standing space, and they are easy to paddle due to their wide area.

Furthermore, these boards are equipped with long fins. So, when the winds are strong, they offer a stable riding experience. Today’s longboards are extremely stylish, as manufacturers are redesigning them in the style of the 1960s and 1970s.

They have either round or square-shaped tails, so they have the advantage of being great in the water.

Paddle Board Size Guide

‘What is the best size SUP for a beginner?’ and ‘What size paddleboard should I get for my height?’ are some of the common confusions around beginners who are buying paddleboards.

There is simple math behind it, and it’s very easy to understand. However, if you just want to buy whatever you see in a store, then go for 10-11 feet length ones.

The most standard width for SUPs is between 32-36 inches. This measurement ensures there is enough stability for beginners. You can of course choose wider and longer ones than these, but it might get difficult and heavy to control. Thus, if you don’t know what size would work best for you, buy the standard size!

A paddler who is under 125 lbs. or 56 kg should get a SUP that is 9-11 feet tall, 32-34 inches wide and 5 inches thick. If you are 56-58 kg or 125-150 lbs., you should be able to purchase the same size. It is also possible to upgrade this to an additional 2-5 inches.

Then, if the person weighs somewhere between 150-175 lbs. or 68-79kg, they can go for a board that is 10-13 feet tall and 34-36 inches wide. Ideally, beginners should stick to a thickness of 5 inches. This unit of measurement is good for all statures.

Again, for people who are 175-225 lbs or 80-105 kg, they can also easily go for the previous measurement, with slight adjustments here and there. The width can vary depending on the user’s stature. However, 38 inches should be the limit here. A board wider than that would become very difficult to control.

For height, make sure your board is 1.5 – 2 feet longer than you. That’s all you need to calculate. Here’s a chart to make things easier for you. Most people can use this as a guide. In some cases, you might need to adjust the sizes due to exceptional circumstances.

Paddler WeightSUP LengthSUP WidthSUP Volume
< 125 lbs or 56 kg9-11 feet32-32 inches5 inches
150-175 lbs or 68-79 kg10-13 feet32-36 inches5 inches
175-225 lbs or 80-102 kg10-14 feet32-38 inches5 inches
225+ lbs or 102+ kg12-14 feet35-38 inches5 inches

The chart can change depending on your boards’ shapes and materials, which is considered as exceptional circumstances.

For instance, if you look at the chart, you will see the SUP width does not change too much in the rows. This is because, for beginners, one of the important things is stability. So, the lengths vary based on the user’s weight, but not the width. 

If you look at the shapes, you’ll see some boards are long and not very wide. In that case, it wouldn’t match the chart. The reason for this is, those boards are designed for specific purposes and waves that differ from the basic rule of these size guides.

Boards that are wider, but not very long in size, are used for bigger waves, and by professionals. So, try to stick to this guide for beginner-friendly sizes of SUPs.

Tips For Buying Your First Paddle Board

As mentioned previously, length, volume, and width are the most important aspects when you buy a paddleboard or surfing board. However, apart from these, there are some other things you should check before you buy one.

To begin with, know your water! Decide where you will be surfing the most, and then you should purchase one according to that.

If you are planning to surf in the ocean, then make sure you have the right kind of paddleboard, which can sustain strong waves. It is also important that the paddles are strong enough to glide through the water. In other words, check the materials and make sure that they can withstand water pressure properly.

The next important step is to buy the right kind of SUP. Yes, there are many kinds to choose from. But, as this guide is for beginners, I highly suggest buying an all-rounder cruising board.

Generally, they are the best for beginners and are very versatile. It is also a good choice for novice surfers who are comfortable with small waves.

As the next step, check the grip pad on the board. It can sometimes peel easily when exposed to water. As a result, it is difficult to maintain balance when the grip sticker is not stable.

Then check if the board you like has fins attached. They are usually made of plastic and measure approximately 3-4 inches in length. This is okay for a beginner, but you can request longer fins.

Lastly, always check prices. Paddleboards can be pretty expensive in general, but do not buy something that is highly priced for no good reason. So, do your homework, and decide on what you want on your board. A cost comparison is a next step.

Check out different websites for prices and get an idea of what you can expect. Hope you make the right decision!

Conclusion

There are so many things to keep in mind when you want to buy a paddleboard. It can be such a task if you don’t know what to look for. Therefore, I hope this article was informative enough for you to understand which board to get, whether or not are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners, and more.

If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding we have a wide selection of guides to help assist you in finding the best option to suit your needs, check them out here!

By following the guidelines provided here, I am sure you will be able to find the perfect board.  Thank you for taking the time to read this. See you soon!

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Written by Water Diversions

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