inflatable stand up paddle board

Stand up paddle boarding is a sport that has been practiced for thousands of years, but it is in the last few decades that the sport has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. And now, the rising popularity of standup paddling has led to more innovation. One of the greatest advancement being production of inflatable SUPs.

Whether you want to catch waves in the ocean, go for face-paced paddling for exercises, do SUP yoga, or just want to relax on calm waters, an inflatable stand up paddle board is all you need.

However, for you to enjoy your stay on the waters, you need the right board, which is why we are here to educate you more on how to choose the best inflatable stand up paddle board (SUP board) for your needs.

The truth is that the market is flooded with hundreds of inflatable paddle boards, and it can be hard to choose the best board for you. However, after reading our comprehensive guide, you will be more than ready to choose the right paddle board.

Inflatable SUPs vs. Solid SUPs

Whether to go with an inflatable SUP or a solid SUP is one of the first decisions you will need to make before you start comparing different paddleboard. And to help you come to a conclusion on which is the best option for you, here is how the two compare.

Since their invention, inflatable stand up paddle boards have evolved and are now the new normal for paddling enthusiasts and beginners.

Here is how inflatable SUP compares to hardboard;

· Inflatable paddleboard are more durable than solid SUPs

Quality inflatable paddleboard are made from military-grade materials that withstand wear and tear- it is rare to see dings and holes on inflatables as opposed to epoxy SUPs, which tend to experience these problems with time. This is why you will find experienced paddlers using inflatables on rivers, where rocks and ridges are common. Also, rental agencies are increasingly leaning towards inflatable SUPs so as to minimize damages caused by careless handling by renters and learners.

· Inflatable are easier on rider’s body

Falling onto a board is common, especially when you are riding against a wave. This can hurt if you fall on a hard board. An inflatable paddle board is less likely to injure you.

What’s more? Inflatables are also easier on your feet. Standing on them feels like standing on those premium rubber mats used in massage parlors to reduce fatigue and pressure. Your feet will feel more relaxed on inflatable paddle boards than on hard SUPs due to reduced pressure, and this will help you enjoy your rides.

· Inflatables are easier to store and can even be checked in on an airplane

An inflatable SUP, when deflated, can be rolled up and fitted in a bag. This makes it easier to travel with it in the trunk of your car. It can also be checked in an airplane for travel, which means you can carry your SUP board when going on a vacation. This will help save you a lot in rental costs.

Hard boards, on the other hand, cannot be sized down. You will have to store them on a high ceiling, which is quite inconveniencing.

· Inflatables are versatile

Advances in technology has resulted in invention of inflatable SUP boards that have materials and design that can rival a hard board, while still providing an advantage in terms of performances. A quality inflatable board will fit both a enthusiast and beginner rider as they can be used virtually anywhere- on flat water, whitewater, or small waves. Their stability and the support they give to a rider are some of the reasons they are becoming a preferable options for casual and professional SUP racers.

Overall, for all-rounded leisure paddling, an inflatable SUPs will suit you more than hardboard thanks to its stability, durability, portability, comfort, injury prevention, and versatility. However, if you are buying a board mainly for SUP racing or surfing, then certain attributes of solid SUPs boards can appeal to you more.

Assuming that now you have made a decision to go with inflatable SUP boards, then let’s discuss how you can choose the right board for your needs.

How to Choose the Right Inflatable Stand up Paddle Board

Here are the things you need to consider when choosing an inflatable SUP board;

1. Type of SUP Board

There are three main types of stand-up paddle boards- all-round, surf, and flat-water boards

· All-round boards

All-round stand up paddle boards tends to be wider, thicker, and longer than surf boards. They are known to be versatile and thus great for beginner riders who would like to explore different aspects of this sport without having to invest in different boards.

Their wideness makes them very stable and also enable them to have decent tracking when paddling on flat water. What’s more? They are provide decent surf performance, with some even having windsurf option. Those with windsurf sailing option feature a mast foot fitting on the deck of the board where the rig is mounted. This makes all-round boards highly versatile.

· Surf boards

Surf-specific SUP boards are designed to help riders maneuver through waves when surfing. They are designed to have a shorter, narrower nose and tail and are curvier than all-round boards and flat-water boards. This makes them idea for riders who likes surfing a lot. However, it is important to mention that although their narrow shapes makes them maneuverable through waves, they tend to be slower and less stable. Also, they don’t track well in straight line on flat water.

· Flat-water boards

As the name indicates, flat-water boards are optimized for open ocean paddling, flat water, and wind surfing. They are designed to be longer than all-round boards and often feature a pointed nose area to help the board sail through water bodies with ease and help one track in a straight line.

Many flat water boards have enough width to allow beginners to ride in stable, straight manner. However, their narrow nose makes them hard to be used for racing by beginner paddlers, although they go at significant speeds.

We do hope this explanation helps you choose the right type of SUP board for your needs.

2. What You Intend to Do With Board

As we have just discussed, most SUPs are categorized based on where they are best suited for. If you want to go racing, there are racing board, if you are interested in surfing, you can find surfing boards, if you are into yoga, then yoga boards will fit you.

In other words, it is not difficult to know the right type that best suit your favorite sport activity. However, in case you are unsure of what you want to do with your inflatable SUP, we would recommend that you go for an all-round board. All-round boards might not be suited for a single activity, but they are versatile and come pretty close in terms of performances to specialized board irrespective of the sport you engage in.

To help you further narrow down your choice, here are a few things to note;

· Longer boards have better gliding and tracking

· Shorter boards are easier to maneuver

· Wider boards are more stable

· Thinner boards are faster

These pointers should help you quickly know the right type of iSUP board that suits your needs.

3. Length of the SUP board

Another thing you need to consider in a board is its length. Generally, the longer the board, the faster it goes and vice versa. However, in terms of maneuverability, shorter boards are easier to maneuver.

Here are a few pointers to help you choose a board with the right length;

· Short boards are great for surfing and for kids. Boards under 10” are more maneuverable than longer boards, which makes them ideal for surfing through waves. Boards designed for kids have lengths under 8”

· Medium boards with lengths of 10”-12” are great for people looking for versatility. They are great for different activities including yoga and racing

· Long boards with lengths over 12.6” are great for people looking for racing boards as they are faster than medium boards and tend to track in straighter manner. Therefore, for people interested in touring long distances and paddling fast, then longer boards might appeal to you.

When considering the length of a board, it is good to understand how length relates to weight capacity and volume. For instance, longer boards tend to have more weight capacity and volume. This makes enables them to carry more, and feel more stable.

4. The Width of SUP Board

Width also affect how a board maneuvers, which is why it is another important factor you should consider. A wider board will feel more stable than a thin board, but keep in mind that width affects the speed of the board. If the board is too wide, it tends to be slower and difficult to maneuver. Many stand up SUPs have widths ranging from 25-36 inches.

Keep these pointers when considering the width of a SUP board;

· Your needs. If you are planning on going for long tours that involves you carrying extra gear such as a tent, then a wider board will be ideal as it offers more storage space. The same applies for those looking for a board to help them do yoga. A board with 30”+ will give you the space and stability you need to do different poses and carry your belongings for long tours. Conversely, narrower boards tend to be faster and easy to maneuver, and thus great for surfers and racers

· Skill level. If you are a skilled paddler, then a narrower SUP board might appeal to you more. Beginners will feel more confident in a wider board that offers more stability

· Your weight. In general, if you have a relatively smaller body, a narrower board may suit you more. People with more weight will find wider boards more suitable.

Length and width of the boards affects its overall weight capacity and volume, and thus you need to keep this in mind when considering these two aspects. Therefore, if length is of great importance to you, maybe because of weight capacity and volume, then choose a width and thickness that compliments this length.

5. Thickness of the Board

Once you get to know the ideal length and width of your board, the other factor to consider is the board thickness. The thickness of the stand-up paddle board affects its overall weight capacity and volume.

In terms of thickness, most boards tend to have a thickness of 6” or 5”. Generally, if all other features and dimension remains the same, a 5” inflatable SUP will offer more stability and better performance than a 6” SUP in calm waters. However, in terms of weight capacity, a 5” SUP suffers when the paddler is closer to its weight limit. That’s why you are advised to go for boards that have more weight capacity than your weight for best and more stable paddling experience.

For beginners, sometimes you will be forced to try different iSUP boards with varying thickness before you know which one best suits you.

It is important to mention that weight capacity can be a good indicator of the stability of a board. That’s why boards with higher weight capacity tend to be larger and more stable. However, they tend to be slower and more challenging to maneuver, especially in bubbly waters.

On the other hand, lighter boards tend to be thinner and will paddle faster, but may not support many riders or riders with extra body weight.

For beginners, we would recommend that you go for a larger board with more weight capacity as these offer more stability.

Here is a quick guide on the three things

6. Accessories

Do you often carry a GoPro camera when going for your rides? If so, then you will want an inflatable stand-up paddle board with a pre-installed action-mount.

Do you want a board that can accommodate several coolers? Then a paddleboard with bungee cargo areas will be more suitable for you.

If you like to carry fishing gear with you, then a board with pre-installed Scotty mounts will appeal to you.

Another great feature you need to check in an inflatable paddle board are the D-rings action mounts, bungee cords, scotty mounts, and other hooks that allows you to carry your gear.

However, it is important to mention that not all paddle boards come with all these accessories as some, especially narrow ones, are meant for racing.

7. Type of Paddle Your Bard Comes With

The best paddles are made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber paddles are the lightest, but also the most expensive. You can consider carbon fiber blend paddles if you want a cheaper option to carbon fiber paddles.

Fiberglass paddles are another good option and tend to be more affordable. However, they are heavier than and not as strong as carbon fiber paddles.

Aluminum paddle shafts are the least expensive and the heaviest, and many entry-level boards come with these paddles.

However, the type of paddle should not be a deal breaker when comparing boards as you can upgrade your paddle.

If you are beginner in paddling, you will not notice a different between paddles. However, as you get used to paddling, you will feel the need to invest in a full carbon fiber paddle as speed and performance starts to be of priority for you.

8. Type of Pump

As the name suggests, inflatable paddleboards have to be inflated. Most of them come with kits with a single or dual-chamber pump. Dual-chamber pumps tend to inflate faster as compared to single chamber pumps, but they are heavier. However, both options allows you to inflate your inflatable paddle board in 5-10 minutes.

For convenience, we would recommend that you god for an electric pump as an alternative to a manual pump. You can plug the pump into a car or carry a travel battery. Electric pumps inflates and deflates paddleboards with ease and at a faster rate. Therefore, invest in one.

9. Type of Fin System

Fins have a major impact on the versatility and performance of an inflatable SUP board, and thus are another area you should consider.

Here are the different types of fin systems;

10. Configurable fin system

This type of fin system suit paddlers who want to modify their boards to increase their performance. A configurable fin system has interchangeable fins in the side and center position. Removable fins gives you a lot of possibilities. For instance, when you want speed, you remove fins in the side position and only ride with a tall center fin. For extra lateral stability, you can use a large center fin and two smaller fins on the sides. If you are paddling in shallow waters, you can use a shorter center fin. Configurable fin system appeal most to skilled paddlers.

11. Permanent fin system

These appeal most to paddlers who are carefree as long their equipment serves them well. A permanent fin system often feature three unbreakable fins that permanently attaches to the board. A board with a permanent fin system eliminates the possibility of forgetting to bring your fin to your rides.

12. Entry-level basic fin system

This fin set up has two shallow fixed fin on the sides and one large removable center fin. Boards with this fin setup are great for calm water bodies with ample depth.


There is a lot to consider before buying an inflatable SUP, which is why we made this guide comprehensive. It is important to arm yourself with enough information as this will help you choose the right board for your needs.

We hope that these tips will help you narrow down your choice when choosing the best inflatable paddle board for your needs.


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