Top 3 Tips To Buying Your First Paddle Board

Purchasing your first stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is a thrilling step towards adventures on the water, a fantastic form of exercise, and a unique way to connect with nature. As summer approaches, here are three essential tips to guide you in choosing the right paddle board to ensure countless enjoyable moments on the water. Don't forget, safety comes first, so including a good Personal Flotation Device (PFD) in your budget is a must, and wearing it while on the water is non-negotiable for your safety.

Key Highlights:

  1. Choosing Between Hard and Inflatable SUPs: Consider your storage space, access to water, and transportation options. Inflatable boards offer portability and ease of storage, closing the performance gap with hard boards thanks to technological advances.
  2. Invest in Quality: Avoid budget models prone to damage and opt for SUPs with woven drop stitch cores, full deck pads, multiple D-rings, and quality accessories for durability and better performance.
  3. Selecting the Right Shape: Beginners should opt for an all-around board, which is stable, versatile, and suitable for various activities, ensuring a great start to paddle boarding.

Tip 1: Hard or Inflatable Board

Deciding between a hard SUP and an inflatable SUP (iSUP) is your first step.

  • Hard Paddle Boards are ready to go; just bring them to the water. They're ideal if you have storage space and easy access to water. However, their size can be a challenge for transport and storage if you're short on space or live away from the water.

  • Inflatable Paddle Boards offer incredible convenience. They roll up into a carry bag, making storage and transport easy, even in compact cars or on public transport. With advancements in technology, the performance gap between hard boards and iSUPs has significantly narrowed, making iSUPs a fantastic choice for those valuing portability without wanting to compromise on performance.

You can learn more about the differences between hard paddle boards vs inflatable paddle boards here.

So what should you get? I tend to lean more towards inflatable paddle boards now because of the advantages of being able to store my board easily and the ability to take it with me everywhere I go.

hard paddle boards

Tip 2: Buy a Quality SUP Board

While paddle boards can range from $299 budget models to $3500 full carbon fiber race boards, the investment in quality pays off in durability, performance, and overall enjoyment. For iSUPs, avoid single-layer boards under $450; they're prone to issues like twisting and valve failures. Quality features to look for include:

  • Woven Drop Stitch Core: Offers advanced core technology for superior rigidity and performance.
  • Full Deck Pad: Provides comfort and stability, essential for longer sessions or SUP yoga.
  • Multiple D-Rings: For versatile gear storage and securing essential items.
  • USA Fin Box: Ensures compatibility with a wide range of fins for easy replacement or upgrades.
  • Quality Accessories: Ensure your board comes with essential accessories like a pump, paddle, and repair kit.
  • 6" Board Thickness: Balances stiffness and performance, supporting your weight without compromising glide and speed.
carrying an inflatable stand up paddle board

Tip 3: What Shape of Board Should I Get?

For beginners and versatile paddlers, an all-around board is the best choice. It suits a wide range of activities, from flatwater paddling to catching waves, making it the perfect starter board. Look for boards around 10-11 feet long and 32-34 inches wide to ensure stability and ease of use for all skill levels.

This is the most common question we get, is "What board should I get, and what are the different shapes for"? And our expert advice is always to get an all-around paddleboard like the O2 Retro.


family on inflatable paddle boards


Choosing your first SUP is an exciting journey with many options to consider. By focusing on the type of board that suits your lifestyle, investing in quality, and selecting a versatile shape, you'll be set for countless adventures on the water. Remember, the Glide team is always here to help answer your questions and guide you to the perfect board for your needs. Welcome to the wonderful world of paddleboarding!


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