Inflatable paddle boards are a great option for paddlers of all skill levels. They’re becoming very popular these days, mainly because they’re so easy to use and transport. Do you have a compact car, or a small apartment? The best inflatable paddle boards can be quickly deflated, rolled up, and stored in your hall closet or the trunk of your car.
These paddleboards essentially open the door for people who are new to watersports and those who have experience but cannot store or transport a hardboard.
Five years ago, a paddle boarder wouldn’t have given an inflatable board a second look. They weren’t very easy to maneuver, and their tracking was poor. But these days, some models of inflatable stand up paddle boards can even rival the performance of fiberglass models.
They’re also priced more affordably, which is a huge plus for any paddler on a budget.
Since their rise in popularity, many manufacturers who primarily produced hardboards have begun to introduce their own lines of inflatable models. Now, you can find an inflatable SUP from many major brands, many of which come equipped with some great features including tri-fin systems, extensive bungee systems, and paddles.
Looking for SUPs in all the Right Places
So, you’ve heard about SUPs and now you want to find the top inflatable SUP to take to the river or the beach. But how do you go about finding a model that’s not going to leak or dip in the middle?
That’s where we come in. When it comes to SUPs, we’re the experts. Since there has been a boom in the market, narrowing down the choices to the top five wasn’t easy. So, we broke it into categories to help buyers find the right type of SUP based on their boarding needs, budget, and skill level.
First, we looked at the boards with a reputation for speed. These boards are often more expensive, but they’re the type of board that can closely match the riding experience of the fiberglass SUP.
Next, we searched for boards with a top rating for stability. These boards are easier to use, more affordable than the racing style SUPs, and perfect for both beginners and experienced boarders.
We also checked out boards designed for yoga enthusiasts and touring. These boards are also more affordable, incredibly stable, and easy to use.
Budget-friendly boards aren’t equipped with any fancy features and their storage options are minimal at best, but they’re perfect for beginners. We made sure our low-priced SUP was stable, easy to use, and durable.
We’ve made it our mission to help you find the top inflatable paddle board, whether you’re into surfing, racing, yoga, or touring. We’ve got the board for you.
Our top-rated choice is a great model by ISLE Surf. The Explorer is a board to be reckoned with. Loaded with features, impressively fast, this is a board that doesn’t just float, it simply glides. Now, let’s begin with a summary of why you’ll want to give this SUP a second look.
|ISLE Airtech||11 ft.||275 lbs||$$$$$|
|Atoll Inflatable SUP||11ft||350lbs||$$$$$|
|Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer||9 ft. 10 inches||400lbs||$$$|
|iROCKER CRUISER||10 ft. 6||400lbs||$$$$$|
|Roc Inflatable SUP||10 ft, 6 inches||350 lbs||$$|
Best All-around model – ISLE Airtech Inflatable Explorer Stand Up Paddle Board
The Explorer inflatable SUP by ISLE Airtech is our top-rated model for a number of reasons. This board is the perfect combination of stability and speed. The board glides over the water, allowing the rider to effortlessly guide it. It can also handle both flatwater and whitewater conditions, which is a huge bonus for both beginners and seasoned boarders. We love how truly versatile and solid this board is, making it apparent that inflatable models can easily outperform hardboards.
Top-Rated Lightweight SUP – Atoll Inflatable Stand up Paddle Board
This stand-up paddle board by Atoll is made from military grade PVC and features a lightweight design and excellent tracking ability. The board is easy to guide, fun to ride, and offers a stable performance that makes it perfect for rough waters. The overall design of the board really gives it some speed, but the board’s volume also focuses on stability. It’s also equipped with plenty of storage space and extra features boarders of all skill levels will love.
Best for Yoga – The Adventurer By Tower Paddle Boards
The Adventurer is a great little board that’s very stable and durable. It features a shorter design, compared to other leading models we reviewed, but it’s compact design only works to further increase its stability. This board is perfect for beginners, or seasoned boarders in search of a board that’s perfect for yoga workouts. Beginners will appreciate how easy this SUP is to use, however, seasoned riders may want to look elsewhere if they’re looking for a board that’s packing some speed.
Best SUP for Beginners – iROCKER CRUISER Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
iRocker is a popular brand known for their reasonably priced Sups. Their model the Cruiser is an affordable inflatable SUP that has a basic, lightweight design, a high max user weight, and decent tracking ability. It’s a great choice for buyers who are in need of a board they can take to the local lake and river however, the board tends to struggle in strong currents and choppy waters. Overall, beginners will appreciate the board’s durability and stability.
Best Value SUP – Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board by Roc Paddle boards
A low-priced inflatable SUP that doesn’t come loaded with features, what the board does offer is a solid performance in flatwater conditions and a stable foundation that’s perfect for beginners. The board can handle calmer waters well and is relatively easy to guide and maneuver. While it may not be designed for speed or rough water, it does feature a well-built design in a board that’s made out of military grade PVC material. This budget-friendly board is perfect for casual boarders, yoga enthusiasts, and beginners.
Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards Buyer’s Guide
If you’re looking for the best inflatable paddleboard that you can take anywhere you go, then you’ve come to the right place. An inflatable paddleboard can fit into a backpack, inflate in seconds, and can provide all the fun that a traditional paddleboard can, but without the hassle that comes from transporting and storing a hardboard.
Transporting a regular paddleboard can require a lot of planning, especially if you’re going with a large group of friends. If you don’t have a large SUV or a roof rack, then finding a way to transport your board can be a major pain. Issues with transportation are usually the number one reason why boarders turn to inflatable models. With an inflatable model, you don’t have to buy a large trailer or roof rack to carry your board or find a large storage space to hold your equipment.
Inflatable boards aren’t as delicate as some people think. A collision with a regular hardboard can cause serious damage that can cost a lot of cash to repair, which is another reason why an inflatable board is a more cost-effective option. Repairing an inflatable board is as easy as cleaning the surface, using an adhesive and sealing the spot using a patch. That’s it.
Additionally, their durable design and lightweight construction also make them very maneuverable in open fast waters. Obviously, durability is always a major concern for beginners or people who normally use hard paddle boards.
But you can rest assured that inflatable paddle boards are actually pretty durable. Many models use special woven fabric that’s designed to withstand harmful UV rays, without breaking down. They can also take a serious beating if you’re paddling around in rough waters. If you care for your board properly, it can easily last for years.
Patching a board is easy, so getting a puncture isn’t really an issue. Most models will come with their own puncture repair kits, or you can order one for under ten dollars.
When it comes to choosing the right board, it’s usually a matter of personal preference. Just like when you’re shopping for a traditional paddleboard, go with a model that best suits your paddling style, the water conditions you usually find yourself in, and your budget.
Before you buy, pay close attention to the spec sheet and the user weight limit. You’ll need to choose a board that can easily hold your weight, otherwise, you can compromise the board’s performance.
The length of the board also matters. A longer board is designed for distance and speed and can require a larger turning circle, while a shorter board will be easier to turn but isn’t quite as fast. For beginners, we recommend a board in the ten to twelve feet range.
The width of a paddleboard is what will determine the board’s stability and balance in the water. With a wider board, you’ll enjoy a more stable ride. A narrow board is more designed for seasoned boarders who are used to balancing on rough waters. Usually, the wider the board is, the more stable. While this tends to make a board slower, beginners will appreciate the improved maneuverability and handling.
How thick or thin a paddleboard is will usually indicate how buoyant it is. Typically, if an inflatable board is less than five inches thick it doesn’t have a very stable feel and is less suitable for heavier paddlers.
A board with a set of removable fins can provide the rider with more options. If you’re using the board for your workouts, then a removable fin system will provide you with more control and can also allow you to turn the board faster and easily. If you’re paddling long distances or racing, then using the fins can also help with tracking
Nose rocker involves how far the front portion of the board pulls up. It’s an important spec to pay attention to if you plan on taking your board in rougher waters, in which case you’ll want to go with a board that has a lot of rocker.
Faster boards have a displacement hull that features a similar design to that of a sailboat. Most models of paddle boards feature a flat bottom. With a flat bottom, the board will have a more stable feel to it and it’ll also be easier to turn. Displacement hulls feature a narrower nose, which cuts through the water and makes them faster than planing hull boards.
A displacement hull is more efficient but isn’t as stable as a planing hull board. The price for being faster is that displacement hulls can increase your chances of tipping over.
The planing hull has a wider, rounder nose, which makes them better for beginners and an all-around more stable board.
Paddle Board Types
There are many types of paddle boards to choose from, each offering their own pros and cons.
Racing Paddle Board for Flat Water
These SUPs usually measure in at twelve to fourteen feet in length. They’re also very narrow and typically have a width less than twenty-seven inches. The displacement hull allows the board to cleanly slice through the water. Because they aren’t very stable we don’t recommend them for beginners.
These are very versatile boards. Most models are pretty stable, wide, and measure in at ten to twelve feet in length. These boards are also the best choice for choppy waters. While they aren’t very fast compared to racing paddle boards, they’re still much faster than a paddle board that’s designed for surfing.
Surfing Paddle Board
This style is obviously closely modeled after a traditional surfboard, it’s just thicker, longer, and wider. This style of paddle board is going to be expensive. While an inflatable paddle board is definitely not as expensive as a fiberglass paddle board or surfboard, you can expect to pay more for a SUP that can offer this type of performance.
The size of a board is much more than just the width and length. A board also has to have a certain level of thickness in order to prevent it from dipping in the middle and taking on water. Learning how to calculate the volume is important to ensure you get the right size board for you. You can learn more about SUP board sizing by reading our article on what size stand up paddle board is right for you.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Inflatable Paddle Board
As we’ve already touched on, these boards are easy to transport. They’re also incredibly durable. Most are made out of the same type of urethane material used for river rafts. While most other types of hardboards tend to get dented and chipped, the paddle board can easily withstand getting scraped up against rocks and tossed around in waves. They’re also the best option for river use because they can easily handle paddling over rocks in shallow areas and won’t suffer any damage.
The softer surface of the board also makes them more suitable for kids, who may otherwise get hurt if they fall down on the hard surface of a fiberglass board. The flexible soft surface of an inflatable board means it’s less likely for a child to injure their knees, elbows, face, and head while paddling.
These boards are also more affordable compared to fiberglass models.
Storage is also forgiving compared to fiberglass boards. Aside from the lower price tag, the ability to simply deflate the board and store it in a closet or trunk when not in use is one of the main reasons people choose inflatable over hardboards. Most inflatable SUPs can easily roll up into a very small package, making them very apartment-friendly. So, if your home is short on space, an inflatable SUP may be right up your alley.
So, what are the downsides to owning an inflatable paddle board?
Most models can’t provide the type of speed that a fiberglass board can, not even the racing style inflatable boards. The boards are just too wide to glide as efficiently as a hardboard.
They can also be poor performers when it comes to surfing since their rails are usually too fat.
The inflation time can be a drawback for some boarders. With an electric pump, a board can be inflated in approximately five minutes while using a hand pump can take about ten minutes. It can also be difficult to find the right pressure level because some pump gauges don’t register under ten PSI. Fortunately, many higher priced models must be inflated at fifteen PSI, which will make it easier to gauge whether or not the board has been inflated properly.
Optional SUP Seats
Obviously, where you go to paddle board often has to do with where you live. Which is why we heavily recommend paying close attention to our section on the styles of boards and what type of water conditions each style excels in.
If you want to add some versatility to your paddling experience, some models of paddle boards come with a D-ring system located in the middle of the board, designed for a removable seat. Many manufacturers sell paddle board seats, allowing you to choose a model that’s the right size for you. This can allow you to hang out, paddling around on the water for a longer period of time. It also makes your paddle board more like a kayak, which offers beginners more stability and an easier workout.
SUPs for Beginners
New to paddle boarding? Learning about this booming watersport can be exciting. You don’t have to be in amazing shape to use a paddle board, although, with consistent use, paddle boarding can actually help you lose weight, can boost your metabolism, and increase your stamina.
Beginners have some things to learn before they hit the water with their new board, but this is a sport that can be picked up quickly and enjoyed for a lifetime.
We’ve included information in our buyer’s guide designed to explain what makes for the best paddle board, the features to look for, and why the length and width really matter. If you’re new to paddle boarding and you’d like to learn more, you can read our article on stand up paddle boarding tips, which includes some great basic tips that every beginner needs to know, before they hit the water.
Working Out on Paddle Boards
Did you know many people choose paddle boards, not just because they’re fun to paddle around with on the lake but because you can also get a great workout? Paddling can burn hundreds of calories per hour, depending on the user’s weight, fitness level, and the water conditions. Some people will go a step further and use a paddle board for intense yoga workouts on the water. Because yoga focuses on balance and flexibility, learning how to strike a pose while balancing on the water can make for one effective workout. It also offers a more peaceful experience, working out on a calm lake in the middle of nature.
Most pros recommend a shorter, more stable SUP for this purpose. A longer, narrower board will be difficult to balance on. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for a yoga-worthy model.
We hope our buyer’s guide has taught you what important specs to look for, before you hit that buy now button. Remember, the type of board you buy should heavily depend on where you plan to use it and why. If you’re looking for a board that can handle speed and tough water conditions, a longer, narrower board is the best choice. Beginners, younger boarders, and yoga enthusiasts will need a board that’s shorter and more stable. We’ve included boards designed for a variety of water types and applications. We’re confident that you’ll find a board that’s perfect for you and your boarding needs, fitness goals, and budget, in our best inflatable paddle boards reviews.