So you’re looking for an inflatable stand up paddle board. You probably decided that paddle boarding looks fun since you can go all sorts of places on the board that you couldn’t get by swimming.
The board and paddle allow you to really maneuver in ways that you couldn’t with such boats like kayaks. Not only do paddle boards go out on the ocean like surfboards and boats, but can be used on lakes, rivers, and almost any other body of water.
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Top 5 Best Inflatable SUPs (Summary)
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For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
Since paddle boarding has started to become more popular in recent years, people have started looking for cheaper and more compact paddleboards. Fiberglass boards, while performing well, take up a lot of space. Space is something that a lot of people need for other important things in our lives.
Hopefully, at the end of this article, you will be able to pick out an inflatable paddle board that will do everything that you need it to and still fit into a compact space.
How To Pick the Best Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The hardest part about picking out a paddle board is knowing what you need to be keeping an eye out. There are certain qualities that you really need to look for in a board to know if it will do well for your purposes. Those purposes change from person to person, so we’ll talk about what purposes can influence the type of board that you look for. In addition, we’ll even go over what you should be avoiding in your paddle board to make sure that you find a board that will last you a long time.
1. The Qualities To Look For
When you’re looking at a board, there are several key factors to keep in mind. Some of these can make or break a board. Of course, what you want out of a board will depend on your purpose, but we’ll be going over the positives and negatives of each section that we look at.
Now, there are two parts to the discussion on weight. There is the weight of the board and the weight that the board can carry. Both of these can be extremely important when you’re looking to make a purchase.
The actual weight of the board can mean several things for a paddle boarder. A heavier board may be made of a better material or have sturdy extra parts. It also means that traveling with the board can be more difficult. Paddleboards that are lighter can also be shorter than longer paddleboards. When it comes to the weight, you may need the lightest one physically possible because you are constantly on the road and cannot make extra space in your bag for the larger, bulkier boards. But if you’re looking for an inflatable board that will be able to withstand more, then you may be willing to look for a heavier one. So remember that weight is a big trade off.
When it comes to how much a board can carry, this will matter to parents of kids that want to use a paddle board and dog owners that want to take their dogs with them out on the water. Here are boards specially designed for kids that will be ideal for children. However, this means that you will have to purchase them a new board when they get older and taller and aren’t quite as small. For dog owners, you’ll be looking for boards that are going to be able to support you and your dog. The matter of weight can also matter when it comes to those that want to fish off of their boards. You will want a board that will be capable of holding you, your equipment, and all of the fish that you catch.
Thickness has been a big deal in the world of inflatable SUP boards. For a long time when iSUPs were just starting to come out, it was typical to see only 4” boards available. In a couple years, they started offering 6” boards. Now, there is a range of board types that you will see. There are pros and cons to thick and thin boards.
Thick boards, when inflated to the same PSI (pounds per square inch) as a thinner board, are actually going to be stiffer than a thin board. There are people that prefer a stiff board, but you can achieve a stiffer board by upping the PSI of a board. You’ll have to check to make sure that you are not over inflating your board though. A thick board will also ensure that your iSUP board stays a little bit drier. The extra thickness will keep the top of the board further out of the water. This can mean that you will experience less slippery surfaces or water all over your feet. A thicker board will be heavier and bulkier than a thinner version of a board. This can make it difficult to pull around on the beach, but it also means that it can be harder to use in the surf. If you’re looking for a board that you can use on waves, you’ll actually want to avoid a thick board because of the difficulties they will have. The thickness means you can’t dig into the wave as much as you would normally like to. Thicker boards are usually for heavier riders and might be useful for riders that want to bring dogs with them on their adventures.
Thin boards are appropriate for lighter riders and those that really want to feel the experience of stand up paddle boarding. Because you’re closer to the water, you’ll feel the water around you. A lighter board will also allow you to cut through most waves more easily. Not only is this board better for surfing, but it is a typically lighter board and less bulky when you’re carrying it around.
When it comes to thickness, you’ll have to base what you want on what you’re going to do with your board. While 4” and 6” boards were the way a couple years ago, companies are offering more board thicknesses to help those that do all sorts of things with their boards. You will also want to keep in mind that a thicker board will take a lot more time to inflate than the thinner board, but hopefully, you’ll have plenty of time when you’re looking to go paddle boarding.
I have put length and width together because you really have to keep both of them in mind when you’re considering a board. The two can work together to create a more stable but slow ride or a faster but less stable ride.
If you want a more stable ride, then you are going to look for a wider board. The width of a board can affect the stability with just a few inches and not really impact the speed of the ride. Being able to balance easily while on the water can really impact whether you feel comfortable or not on the water. It’s especially crucial if you want to also introduce someone else to paddle boarding. If they aren’t able to be stable, then they might feel a little uncomfortable.
A narrow ride will make the board a little unstable, but it can also improve your speed. So if you’re looking for speed, then you should look into a narrow board. The length of a board will also help in this regard. If you have a longer board, you will find that it’s much more capable of going straight and quickly. A shorter board, while it will go as straight or as fast, is much better for those that need to turn quickly for surfing or such activities.
Obviously, length and width can also have an impact on the weight that a board can hold with longer and wider boards holding more. They can also impact the overall weight of the board itself. You’ll want to find a balance to all of this that matches your needs.
The material of a board isn’t just about the actual material of the entire thing as well as specific parts. While we will talk more about fins in the next section, it’s important to note what they are made of. You’ll want a more flexible fin material if your time with the board is spent on shallower bodies of water and not in the surf.
As for the material of the actual board, most boards are made out of sturdier stuff than inflatable pool toys because they’re expected to get a little abused and stand up to PSIs around 12 PSI. This means that your board will be sturdy. However, you should still remember to take care of your board. Try not to drag your board. Make sure that the board is dry before you roll it up and store it. Keep the board stored in a place where it won’t see a lot of direct sunlight. Regardless of the material, if you take care of your board right, it can last for an incredibly long time.
When it comes to your board, you might a few extras to make sure that you’re able to really use your board for everything that you want. Some boards have the fins as an attachment that you put on after you inflate the board. There are boards that include either bungee cords or the ability to attach a bungee cord. The kind and quality of the attachments or areas to attach to will depend on the board and the purpose of the board that you’re looking for.
If you want a board that’s for touring, you’re going to want some spots to attach bungee cords to keep the things you need to be tied down. You’ll also maybe an area that will allow you to safely stow anything you need for a long day on the water.
One of the most important attachments is fins. Some boards have fins that are attached to the body of the board, but there are others that have fins that are detachable. This usually just deals with the fact that it might be easier or harder to fold up the board when it’s not in use.
When it comes to price, you will typically see better quality boards for higher prices. This doesn’t mean that a more expensive board will do everything that you want it to, but that it will be better quality, probably last longer, and hold up better.
You will find that boards for children are usually cheaper because of their smaller size and the fact that they don’t need that many extra parts on them. A longer board is going to cost more just because it is a longer board. So if you’re stuck between two sizes and really can’t see a benefit from getting a longer board, then you would be better off purchasing a cheaper board.
2. The Purpose Of The Board
Now you know some of the basics to look for, but we need to discuss what you want out of an inflatable stand up paddle board. These boards are made for a variety of different uses from fishing, to touring, to surfing, to just taking a lazy paddle around a local lake. The kind of extras that you need or the shape and size of the board will depend on why you’re using it.
If you want to do more touring, then you’re going to be looking at a board that is a little bit narrower, but longer than a typical board. This will mean that you can go fairly fast, but keep in a straight line.
On the other hand, you’ll want a board with multiple fins, shorter length, and a bit wider when you’re using a board for surfing.
I will be going into more specifics in the reviews about the specific kinds of things that make a board good or bad for a certain purpose in the reviews. But you should keep in mind what purpose you’re looking for. A board that’s great all around won’t be great for racing or as good as a board designed for surfing. So when you’re looking at a board, keep in mind what you want to do.
6 Best Inflatable SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Board Reviews 2020
1. Sea Eagle LongBoard 11 – Best for Surfing
When it comes to getting a paddle board that you can use on ocean surf and even whitewater, this board will be a nice sturdy solution. This is the shorter of Sea Eagle’s Longboards, which is why I have included it for surfing.
While you might want a slightly shorter board for use on just surfing, this board will also be safe and sturdy while you’re getting to those waves. The board is 11 feet long, 6 inches thick, and 30 inches wide. The narrower build of this board might make it feel a little more unstable than a 32-inch wide board, but you are likely going to get used to it as you test it out. While most people find that a board that is 6 inches thick isn’t the most conducive to surf, this board is really capable of handling everything that comes at it. In fact, the extra thickness can help some stability when the conditions get a little bit rough. Having a little more trouble biting into the waves may be worth the extra stability when you’re trying to get through windy waters.
The board is only 22 pounds, which means that it will be nice and easy to carry to the beach in a car or packed into a bag on the plane.
- Lighter weight makes it easy to travel with
- Three fins is perfect for helping maneuverability
- Sturdy kick board to allow you to move the board when you need
- Built more like an overall board
- A little too thick for using only on surf
2. AIRHEAD Popsicle 730 ISUP Paddleboard – Best for Kids
If you’re already in paddle boarding and have been looking for a board for a child, then look no further. The Airhead Popsicle is a great solution. The board is built for kids that weigh anywhere between 30 and 120 pounds, which means that this board can actually last quite a while for a growing kid. The board itself is much shorter than others you will find at 7 feet long. It is 30 inches wide and 6 inches thick. The combination of width, length, and thickness means that this board will be perfect for a rider that’s just learning.
The board isn’t as quick as the larger models meant for adults which may mean that an adult will have to go a little bit slower with them, but it can still go fairly well through the water. If you’re going paddle boarding and your child needs some gear (like a water bottle and a small bag), then you may need to put their gear on your board. This shorter board doesn’t have the D-rings or bungee set up for gear, which is understandable with the length.
This board is lighter at 19 pounds, which means that your child should be able to carry the board without too much trouble.
- Shorter and wider to make a more stable ride
- Fins that are small and attached already, so that there is no extra assembly
- Nice kicktail to practice maneuvers with
- No bungee cords to secure gear
- A little harder to maneuver
- Slower than adult boards
3. ISLE Airtech Inflatable 11′ Explorer Stand Up Paddle Board – Best for Carrying Dogs
When we want to go outdoors, we want to be able to take our furry pals with us. Finding a board that will fit your favorite canine as well as you can be a little bit of a challenge. The 11-foot long board of the Explorer is perfect for making sure that your dog has enough room to sit while you’re paddling across the water.
This board is 32 inches wide for extra stability and 6 inches thick for stability and the ability to carry more weight. In fact, this board is capable of holding up to 275 pounds, which should be enough for you and a furry friend (or two).
This board is made to be stable even without a dog on it. You’ll be able to go for a nice leisurely time on the water and really enjoy the world around you. This board is great for dogs because of how long it is and also the bungees. You’ll be able to secure not only your gear but anything that your dog will need as well. This board won’t go as fast as others, but hopefully, a little extra time with your dog will make up for that.
- Plenty of bungee cords
- Weighs 19 lbs
- Extremely stable
- Could use one or two more D-rings
- A little bit slower than other boards
4. Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9’10” SUP – Best for Price
If you’re looking to get into paddle boarding, then often you’ll find boards at $800-$1,000. This price point can be quite terrifying for someone who isn’t sure if they’re going to like paddle boarding. However, there are a number of boards out there that are available at much lower prices.
This Tower board is one of them. It’s shorter than many other boards at 9 feet and 10 inches. This means that it’ll be easier to maneuver and that you won’t have to pay more money for more fabric. The board is 32 inches and wide and 6 inches thick, which will make sure that your ride is a smooth and stable one.
Like many thicker boards, this one is quite rigid and won’t bend easily when you’re standing on it. This board can actually hold up to 400 pounds which is pretty incredible when you think about the lower price point. Typically boards that are closer to $500 like this one aren’t going to be able to handle a ton.
However, even though it is on the cheaper side, this board is pretty capable. It may not be the fastest, but despite its shorter length, it is pretty stable. This would be a good board for someone that wants to dabble in stand up paddle boarding or just ones a cheap one to take with when traveling.
- Low price
- Quick to inflate
- Rigid when inflated
- Doesn’t come with its own carry bag
- No D-rings
- No bungee cords
5. Ten Toes Board Emporium Weekender Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board – Best for Traveling
While you would think that the best paddle board for traveling would be the lightest one, that isn’t true. You need a board that can do a little bit more than easily roll up. This board is 10 feet long, 30 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. It’s a stable ride and a little bit shorter than other. The board is easy to maneuver.
The reason why this board is perfect for travel is because of how compact it can be. It can easily be a second carry on for a plane trip and will store nicely in the car for long drives. One of the options for a bag actually has wheels on it, which makes it even easier to transport when you’re getting to your destination. This board is a great quality one and perfect for riders of all kinds. Because of its stability, you should be able to take it a number of places without many problems.
There are people that would prefer a much lighter board for traveling, but they might lack the stability and quality of this Ten Toes board. The board is going to be a bit slower than others, but it’s still a great board that can do a lot. It’ll be a nice companion on the road.
- Bag is perfect for travel
- Fairly versatile board
- Can hold up to 275 pounds
- On the heavier side
- Not the fastest
- Could use a couple more D-rings
6. Sea Eagle FishSUP 126 – Best for Fishing
This board is quite a bit different than anything on this list because what you need for fishing is a little bit different than the kind of board that you need for touring. This board is 12 feet and 6 inches long, 40 inches wide, and 6 inches thick.
This much longer and wider than many other paddle boards on this list, but there’s reason for that. This board is actually made for a fisherman. With all of the D-rings, there’s plenty of attachment points to lock down equipment or even a chair if you want one. Because it is thick and wide, the board is extremely stable. It can also carry 350 pounds on it, which means that you should be able to carry back plenty of fish.
This board does allow for someone to use a motor, which just means that you get out to the deeper water to fish faster and use the paddle to move just a little bit while you’re out there. Because it needs to be stable and rigid, this board has a hull. This means that unlike the other boards on this list, this board is going to be harder to store like a non-inflatable paddle board and that it might take a little extra time to get set up. The hull also adds some weight that you don’t typically see on a paddle board.
However, with these negatives, you have to keep in mind that this board is perfect for fishing. The hull makes sure that the board is rigid, even when you’re using a motor. The dimensions of the board ensure that it will be stable while you’re fishing. The build of this board is to help you set up your ideal fishing equipment and really make the most out of a day of fishing.
- A lot of D-rings
- Mount for motor
- Built in fish ruler
- Much heavier than typical inflatable stand up paddle boards
- Harder to store because of its hull
- Takes a little bit longer to set up
Regardless of what you will do with your paddleboard, there is a board that will fit your lifestyle out there. Hopefully, the advice and boards in this article will give you a place to begin looking. Even if the boards on this list aren’t exactly what you want, you’ll know where to start looking for a board that will do everything you need it to and maybe a little more.