Stand up paddle boards, often referred to as SUP paddle boards or in this case inflatable sup paddle board’s, are an exciting way to have fun in the open seas. While being very close to surfing, paddle boards are larger than surf boards and often come with a paddle resembling kayak paddles.
While traditional paddle boarding is done by lying prone, kneeling or straddling on the paddle board, it can also be done standing up on the board. Inflatable paddle boards, a relatively new invention in the centuries-old history of paddle boarding, are great because they make the paddle board length irrelevant when it comes to storage or transportation.
Most inflatable stand up paddle boards are made of hardened rubber polymers, heavy duty PVC, and urethane, making them light weight and flexible without compromising on rigidity or strength. Some paddle boards also come with built-in backrests to make you comfortable when paddling over long distances.
Before buying an inflatable SUP paddle board, there are a few things that you should keep in mind that will help you discern the board that is best suited for you. There is no perfect paddle board that excels at all attributes. The board that is best for you depends on how you intend to use it.
What to look for in the best inflatable sup
Let’s begin at the board’s physical dimensions. The board width is related to how stable the board is. However, this stability comes at the cost of speed. Typically, a board that is narrow and long is good for speed. If you are going to spend most of your time standing up on the board, go for a wide board in the 31 in. range and length between 8 ft. to 10 ft. Beginners are better off with a board of length 10 ft. to 12 ft. because it also provides some additional stability at the expense of maneuverability.
Also consider the thickness of the board; a thicker board floats higher. In case of inflatables, go for a board that is at least 6 in. thick. Anything less and the flex makes standing up really uncomfortable.
The slight curve of the board at the front is called nose rocker or simply rocker. This controls how well the board wants to dive under the water surface. Because inflatable SUP paddle boards float by nature, the rocker is not much of an issue as long as you are not planning to tackle rough waters. For those cases, you would want a board with a pretty substantial amount of rocker.
The shape of the base also affects how the board behaves. A flat bottom, also called a planning hull, is stable and can be turned easily. Curved displacement hulls are better at reducing water resistance and can reach good speeds, at the cost of stability. Displacement hulls also have a much sharper nose while planning hulls are wider and more rounded. For most beginners and casual users whose chief concern is recreational value, a flat bottom is definitely the way to go.
Inflatable sup paddle board vs traditional
Apart from these, there are also some quite significant advantages of going for an inflatable SUP paddle board over more traditional materials like wood, fiberglass, or epoxy. In addition to being easy to transport, inflatable boards are also extremely durable. The urethane material used in the construction of these boards is also used in making river rafts, so they resist rocks and scratches very well. The soft surface is also good in case you fall down on the surface as a beginner.
Inflatable SUP paddle boards are a lot less expensive than non-inflatables. Traditional paddle boards often start at the USD 1000 mark and go much higher depending on the materials and other factors. In contrast, good inflatable SUP paddle boards can be had for as little as USD 300 and you can get an excellent quality product in the USD 500 to USD 800 range.
Watch out for this
Inflatable boards do however carry one significant caveat: they are inflatables. While traditional boards are ready to go the moment you are within running distance of the water, inflatable boards take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes to fully pump up. Depending on the strength of the person pumping, it can take even longer. You can get around this by carrying an electric inflatable sup pump with a car attachment.
Additionally, inflatable boards are far too wide and thick to efficiently glide over water as a fiberglass board can. As a result, inflatables are quite slow.
Lets look at the best inflatable sup options:
Now that you know what to look for when buying an inflatable SUP paddle board, we are going to take a look at some of the best options on the market: The Sportstuff 1030 Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board, the PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board, and the PEAK Inflatable Stand Up paddle Board. Let’s get this review started.
- The Sportstuff 1030 Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board
- The PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board, and
- The PEAK Inflatable Stand Up paddle Board
Sportstuff 1030 Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board
The SportStuff 1030 Adventure Stand Up Paddle Board comes with the company’s leading iSUP advantage. The board has anti-skid EVA pads that increase grip and provide secure footing when standing up, even in wet conditions.
It comes with an included paddle, removable seat attachment, a removable fin attachment, and a board leash that keeps your board from drifting away if you happen to fall. The aluminum paddle is heavy though, and will sink if you drop it.
The board measures 10 ft. 6 in. x 2 ft. 6 in. x 4 in. and can carry a maximum load of 250 lbs. it has bungee cord attachments for storage and stainless steel tow rings as well. A pressure gage, hose, valves, and hand pump are also included in the package. The total set, including accessories, weighs around 50 lbs. in the included backpack, making it extremely portable.
The product sells for USD 286.42 on Amazon and has a rating of 4.6 / 5 from 29 customer reviews. People appreciate the sturdy build quality and portability of this board.
Comes with a ton of accessories
Removable backrest is a good choice
Tow ring makes boat attachment really easy
Paddles are made of aluminum and will sink
Removable fin can come lose so make some DIY arrangements
4 in. thickness is not for beginners
PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The PathFinder is a great option for people who want to paddle board in a variety of water conditions. The PVC material and strong drop stitching makes it extremely reliable and sturdy.
The large deck pad provides ample grip when standing up in wet conditions, and a bungee cord attachment allows you to keep some light storage as well. There is also a D ring attachment for a board leash.
The board itself measures 9 ft. 9 in. x 30 in. x 5 in. While we would have liked the thickness to be more, the weight capacity of 240 lbs. suggests that it should work just fine in the water. The included aluminum paddles are adjustable.
Selling for USD 329 on Amazon, the PathFinder is a great purchase for people looking for a versatile inflatable SUP paddle board. It has a rating of 4.3 / 5 from 63 reviews and most of them are extremely positive.
Sturdy build quality
Great value for money
Lightweight at around 35 lbs. inclusive of accessories
Adjustable paddles included
Pump valve does not support bike pumps
D ring is too small
PEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The PEAK Inflatable SUP Paddle Board is one of the more premium brands. The inflatable design weighs around 23 lbs. and measures 10 ft. 6 in. x 31 in. x 6 in., which is perfect for beginners as well as experienced users alike.
Built from military grade PVS, the structure is extremely durable and rigid when inflated, and the 6 in. thickness gives it great strength as well as stability. With a maximum weight limit of 300 lbs., the PEAK can easily handle most riders very easily.The included aluminum paddle comes apart in 3 pieces, making it easy to transport and store. The paddle can be adjusted from 65 in. to 86 in.
It also comes with an ankle leash, dual action high pressure pump for rapid inflation, and a removable fin attachment that does not require any tools. A repair kit is also included that should be adequate to handle small repairs.
The included aluminum paddle comes apart in 3 pieces, making it easy to transport and store. The paddle can be adjusted from 65 in. to 86 in. It also comes with an ankle leash, dual action high pressure pump for rapid inflation, and a removable fin attachment that does not require any tools. A repair kit is also included that should be adequate to handle small repairs.
Selling for USD 595, the PEAK Inflatable SUP Paddle Board has a rating of 4.6 / 5 from 65 reviews on Amazon. It also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and a 1-year manufacturer warranty for complete peace of mind.
Great build quality
Accessories are of high quality
Extremely light weight and portable
Break apart paddle is a nice touch
Expensive (but still value for money)
Pumping is tiring; splurge on an electric pump for a board this sizeOver
Over to you
So there you have it. A comprehensive look at some of the best inflatable SUP paddle boards available on the market. Remember, decide on what you are going to be doing, and then compromise (or not) depending on that and your budget. You will definitely find one that is just right for you.