The Ultimate Paddleboard Guide: The 9 Best Picks for Every Need

Looking for the best paddleboard to buy? Here are the best inflatable and hard paddleboards you can buy in 2024. 

This post is a collaborative effort between myself and expert paddleboarders. We share what the best boards are and why and tell you about the boards we have been using for years. 

There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to paddleboards, but I’ve narrowed it down to 8 of the best! Keep reading to see if you agree. 

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Table of Contents

About My Review Process

You might be wondering how I know so much about paddleboards. Have I tried them all? How can I rank the best?

Well, I haven’t personally used all these boards, but I know paddleboard experts who have used various paddleboards. I reached out to them and asked them which paddleboards they think are best and why. 

My experts: Jessica McNeil (not me 🙂), May Collings, Sonya Schweitzer, and Ella Ran.

I also researched Facebook groups, scoured expert interviews, and read product reviews, and I looked back on the research my husband and I did when we were looking to make our own purchases. I included the information that I have learned over the years about the best boards and the most important factors for various paddleboarders.

Evolve Paddleboards at Camp Joy kayak, canoe, and paddleboard launch point at Rock Spring Runs, Apopka, Florida.
Our Evolve paddleboards at the launch at Camp Joy in Apopka, Florida.

Best Paddleboard for Beginners

Hi, my name is Jessica McNeil, and I’m a kayak guide and SUP instructor from coastal Maine, now residing and guiding in Florida’s Space Coast and doing most of my paddling on the Indian River Lagoon. 

I work for a couple of different local companies, but my favorite gig is partnering with a Brevard County SUP company called A Paddle in Paradise. We do a lot of different types of tours, but my favorites, by a long shot, are the bioluminescent tours in the summertime!

Boté Paddleboards

I have a lot of experience with different equipment, and I’m happy to share my thoughts on what I think is one of the best paddleboards for beginner adventurers. My vote is for Boté inflatable paddleboards, and this is what we primarily use at A Paddle in Paradise. 

One thing I really love about Boté boards is that they are a Florida-based company. I value supporting local small businesses. 

For beginner paddleboarders eager to explore the waterways confidently, Boté offers a range of inflatables tailored to the needs of both experienced and novice adventurers. 

I am a fan of them all, but the Boté Breeze is an affordable and lighter option for the beginner. We have lots of first-time paddlers who come and tour with us, and they usually leave with a newfound love for the SUP’s versatility.

Multiple views of a teal, white, and brown Boté Breeze iSUP with paddle and carrying bag.
Boté Breeze

Stability

As a beginner, the most important thing to look for, in my opinion, is stability. Boté inflatable paddleboards are engineered with stability and durability in mind, and their wide and thick design provides unmatched stability on the water, allowing beginners to find their balance with ease.

Light-weight and Comfortable

These boards are extremely light and easy to inflate and lug around. I find inflatables so cool because the right ones are made so strong that they easily rival a hard board. They can be carted around by anyone, even with a small car; no racks are required. 

Another bonus is that they also come with integrated latch points that you can use for lots of things. At A Paddle in Paradise, we use them to hook down some super comfy chairs. These give you the option of sitting and paddling like a kayak or standing and paddling traditionally. 

Sitting and paddling is especially important if:

  • the wind picks up
  • you want to paddle longer distances
  • you start feeling a little tired

All in all, Boté might not be the cheapest option, but you get what you pay for, and they are built to last.

Specifications for Bote Breeze iSUP*

Dimensions:10′8″ L × 33″ W × 6″ D
Weight Capacity:315 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here!
*Includes hand pump, 3-piece adjustable paddle, travel bag

Jessica McNeil tour guide A Paddle in Paradise standing on the shore with Boté inflatable paddleboards lined up on the water.

Jessica McNeil is a free-thinking mama whose happy place is on the water. Jessica is a minister, yoga teacher, kayak guide, and SUP instructor who loves to share the magic of the water with others. 

Best Paddleboard for Yoga and Fishing

iRocker Blackfin Model X Paddleboard

Hi! I’m May Collings, the creator of the iSUP Owner’s Club Facebook Community. My paddle style leans towards casual touring, fishing, and SUP yoga. 

Each activity demands a unique blend of stability, durability, and versatility from my board. That’s where the iRocker Blackfin Model X, a favorite among inflatable paddleboards, shines as my top recommendation. 

Features

From lazy summer floats in Maine to exploring secret fishing holes in Florida, my Model X is my vessel for adventure. 

It features:

  • multiple action mounts
  • stem-to-stern D-rings
  • optional fishing rod holders

I love the full-length deck pad that offers comfort and a grippy surface, which is super helpful for maintaining poses during SUP yoga or battling a catch during a fishing trip! This adaptability makes it ideal for paddlers like myself who need a board that can excel in multiple realms of their outdoor adventures. 

View of the teal and black iROCKER Blackfin Model X iSUP from the top, bottom, and side.
iRocker Blackfin Model X

Why Inflatable?

Inflatable paddleboards are also convenient to transport and can be stored in a tight space without compromising on performance or longevity. 

I can easily transport my inflatable board in the trunk of a car and store it in my camper. It only takes a few minutes to inflate with a manual or electric pump, and I’m on the water. 

By choosing an inflatable paddleboard like the Blackfin Model X, you’re not just acquiring a paddleboard; you’re joining a community of passionate paddlers and gaining access to a wealth of resources. 

The iSUP Owners Club offers a supportive space for paddlers of all levels. This active Facebook Community features tutorials, beginner’s tips, local meet-ups, and inspiring stories from fellow adventurers.

Specifications for iRocker Blackfin Model X*

Dimensions:10′6″ L × 35″ W × 6″ D
Weight Capacity:450 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here!
*Includes fins and repair kit.

May Collings, founder of the iSup Owner's Club smiling while standing on her iRocker Blackfin Model X at sunset.

May Collings, founder of the iSup Owner’s Club, enjoys year-round paddling, fishing, touring, and SUP yoga in Florida and Maine. Boards: 2019 Blackfin Model X, 2023 Isle Cruiser, 2023 Boté Aero Rover 

Best Paddleboards for High-Weight Capacity

My [Sonya Schweitzer from Girl Padders] journey from kayaking to paddleboarding began with extensive research. I had long been interested in stand-up paddleboarding, but I was hesitant to take the plunge and invest in the equipment. 

As someone who loves fishing and paddling just for the joy of being on the water, switching to an inflatable paddleboard felt like the smart choice for me. It allows me to change positions on long paddles and takes up less storage space than my kayak.

GILI Meno Paddleboard

I chose the 10’6” GILI Meno because it’s lightweight, durable, and has options for all my fishing gear with its built-in Scotty mounts. GILI has great reviews, a solid brand reputation, and they have gorgeous boards! The beautiful turtle artwork on the bottom of my paddleboard makes me smile every time I hit the water! 

Green, white, and black GILI Meno iSUP with paddle, fins, carrying pack, and hand pump.

Nothing is ever perfect

Despite the excellent quality of my Meno, inflatable paddleboards can have issues. I experienced this firsthand when my board had a manufacturing defect, but GILI replaced it without hesitation. 

Not long after, during a voluntary recall, they stepped up again to replace my new board to ensure I didn’t have further problems. This level of customer service has not only impressed me but also solidified my trust in GILI. 

Conservation is Important

Plus, for every GILI Meno that is sold, GILI contributes to ocean and marine life conservation. 

Specifications for GILI Meno*

Dimensions:10′6″ L × 35″ W × 6″ D
Weight Capacity:458 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here!
*Includes coil leash, backpack, repair kit, 3-piece paddle, fin kit, and hand pump.

Sonya Schweitzer founder GirlPaddlers.com on her GILI Meno iSUP.

Sonya Schweitzer is a dog Mum, avid paddler, and founder of GirlPaddlers.com, a community of female paddlers dedicated to empowering women to pursue their passion for paddling. Traveling the world full-time, Sonya paddles everywhere, from the Great White North of Canada to Down Under in Australia! 

The Best Paddleboard Is a Personal Choice

Hi! I’m Ella Ran, co-owner of Outsiders USA and owner/teacher at the Yoga Shed. 

My passion for paddleboarding started years ago, mainly by dragging my friends, family, and dogs to go on adventures on the water. 

The first stand up paddleboard I owned was an inflatable. I remember hauling my toddler, the 12’ inflatable board (eek! So big), paddle, life jackets, water, and bag down to the launch. Just getting into the water was a workout! I eventually switched to a hard board, and rarely have I brought out the inflatable since. 

Maybe There’s Not Just One

Countless people have asked me over the years which board I recommend and why. It depends on many factors including access to storage, weight, physical capabilities, comfortability on the water, and more. 

Inflatable Paddleboards

An inflatable is easy to store and transport. You can quickly and easily load it into the trunk of your car or store it in your garage. They are a good choice for anyone paddling with lots of gear or taking dogs/kids along with them. 

Pumping up the board manually takes just 10 min and is a good warm-up! There are electric pumps in the $50-$100 range, but they almost always crap out after about a year. 

Don’t leave your inflatable in the sun while fully inflated, and take care to not overfill. A double-walled inflatable is a must and will be less likely to pop (I do have friends who’ve had them pop!). 

Hard Paddleboards

Hard boards are the best way to go, and with sleek wall mounts and inexpensive roof racks like the ones we carry, you won’t complain about storage or loading the boards on and off the car. 

You may have to repair your hard board for dings occasionally, but overall they cut through, chop better, and offer more stability and comfort – especially for longer paddles. 

Evolve Paddleboards

If you need specific brands, Outsiders USA carries the following boards in their shop and uses them for tour group rentals. 

Specifications for Evolve Movement Simple Inflatable SUP*

Dimensions:10′6″ L × 33″ W × 6″ D
Weight Capacity:240 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here!
*Includes luggage-style backpack with rollers, 3-piece adjustable paddle, and hand pump.

Specifications for Evolve Good Buddy Paddleboard*

Dimensions:10′4″ L × 30″ W × 4.5″ D
Weight Capacity:205 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here!
*This is my personal board that I purchased used from Outsiders USA.

Jessica Meinhofer, owner of Walk and Paddle, standing on her Evolve Good Buddy Paddleboard on Callalisa Creek.
Evolve Good Buddy Paddleboard

Specifications for Evolve Movement Paddleboard*

Dimensions:10′6″ L × 32″ W**
Weight Capacity:230 LBS
Ready to buy:Click here or here!
*This is my husband’s personal board that I purchased used from Outsiders USA
**I wasn’t able to find the depth anywhere

Ella Ran, co-owner of Outsiders USA, and her dog Andy lounging on an Evolve Movement Paddleboard on a sunny Florida day.

When Ella Ran isn’t prancing through an alleyway in an afternoon FL rainstorm, doing yoga, or paddling with the family, she’s gettin’ sh*t done. Ella has held several titles in media and marketing, including writer, editor, event organizer, project coordinator, and product developer. She is passionate about extreme sports, leading an adventurous life, and having a positive impact on others.

Best Paddleboard for Those with Mobility Needs

Paddling is for everyone, even those with specific mobility needs. Look for paddleboards with high capacity to allow the person who needs help to be on the board with another individual or more and whatever gear they need for their mobility needs. High-capability boards can handle wheelchairs, sitting chairs, bean bags, and other supports.

When you need to bring extra gear to paddle safely, bigger tends to be better. Bigger not only gives everyone plenty of space and a high carry capacity, but it also provides more stability. 

Red Paddleboards

If you absolutely need a brand, the Red 17’0″ Ride XL MSL Inflatable Paddle Board is a great option. It has a huge capacity, with the ability to hold 8 people and all kinds of gear. It’s 60” wide! 

Specifications for Red 17’0″ Ride XL MSL Inflatable Paddle Board

Dimensions:17’ L × 60″ W × 8″ D
Weight Capacity:around 1350 lbs (8 people)
Ready to buy:Click here to buy!
Recommendation from an interview with Danny Godridge, owner of SUP Active Yorkshire.

Red 17'0 Ride XL MSL Inflatable Paddle Board loaded with paddlers out on the open water.
Red 17’0 Ride XL MSL Inflatable Paddle Board

If the Red 17’0” seems a bit much, they also make the 15’0″ Voyager MSL Inflatable tandem Paddle Board, which can carry 3 riders and is 34” wide – large enough for multiple paddlers and gear. 

Specifications for Red 15’0″ Voyager MSL Inflatable tandem Paddle Board

Dimensions:15’ L × 34″ W × 8″ D
Weight Capacity:around 512 lbs (3 people)
Ready to buy:Click here to buy!
Recommendation from an interview with Danny Godridge, owner of SUP Active Yorkshire.

Red 15'0 Voyager MSL Inflatable tandem Paddle Board with two standing riders on a bay.
Red 15’0 Voyager MSL Inflatable tandem Paddle Board

Tips for Less Expensive Mobility-Friendly Paddleboards

If the price tags of the Red paddleboards freaked you out, I’ve got great news for you. You can buy a more budget-friendly board that’s wide and big enough for your needs. The biggest things you need to focus on are stability, a large section of the board covered in padding for grip, and weight capacity.

Then buy accessories: 

  • paddleboard seat
  • inflatable outrigger
  • stabilizer float package

Best Paddleboard for Tight Budgets

For those of you with a tight budget, there are plenty of inexpensive paddleboards out there. Focus on boards around 10’4” or 10’6” long and 30” or more wide. The wider the paddleboard, the more stable it is. 

Always read reviews. Yes, sometimes you can buy an inexpensive paddleboard and it lasts for years, and other times it lasts a lot less. But because they are so inexpensive, it can be easier to replace them. 

After starting with less expensive paddleboards, maybe you can up the budget a little bit more and get something a little nicer. 

When looking at budget boards, make sure to see what’s included. Sometimes the price is great, but you still need to buy paddles, leashes, and pumps. 

Funwater TIKI 10’6” Inflatable Paddleboard

The Funwater TIKI 10’6” Inflatable Paddleboard is a great bargain and includes a lot of gear like an adjustable paddle, pump, coil leash, waterproof bag, and 3 removable fins. It came recommended in Facebook groups and has great reviews.

I actually ran into a family using these boards at King’s Landing this past weekend and asked them what they thought of them. They said (with huge smiles) that they loved them. The family had two boards, each with an adult and a child.

Specifications for Funwater TIKI 10’6″ Inflatable Paddle Board*

Dimensions:10’6” L × 33″ W × 6″ D
Weight Capacity:330 lbs
Ready to buy:Click here to buy!
*adjustable paddle, pump, coil leash, waterproof bag, and 3 removable fins.

Blue and white Funwater TIKI 10'6 Inflatable Paddle Board with paddle, fins, leash, hand pump, bag, and photo case.
Funwater TIKI 10’6 Inflatable Paddle Board

Tips for Buying Discounted Expensive Boards

If you are on a budget but prefer a board that is typically out of your budget:

  • Wait for an amazing sale
  • Buy used

Get on your preferred paddleboard’s email list so you know when they are having sales and special offers.

Buying used can be a great saving. Just do your research and walk away if anything feels off.

Buying Guide

Although there are specific boards and brands listed here, there are only a few things to consider when purchasing.

Budget

The type of board you buy and when you buy it will depend on your budget. Inflatable boards are typically cheaper. If you are looking for a high-end product at a great price, consider buying used or waiting for great sales.  

Purpose

Will you be doing yoga or fishing? Then you will probably want a bigger, wider board for stability and room to move as you need to on the water.

Capacity

Even if you are a smaller person, you need to look at the capacity of your board. If you get one with a smaller weight capacity and then decide to bring a cooler, fishing gear, your dog, or maybe even your kid, you might quickly reach that weight capacity.

A higher capacity usually means you can do more with your board.  

Jessica Meinhofer, owner Walk and Paddle, paddling through the mangroves at Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach, Florida with her husband Robert.
My hubby and I paddling through the mangrove channels in Thousand Islands Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Happy Paddling

I hope you found this helpful and now feel ready to either buy your first board or purchase one that better fits your current needs. 

Need more information about getting started on your paddling life? Check out my blog post, Paddleboarding 101: 13 Things Every New Paddleboarder Needs to Know.

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