An inflatable SUP is all the equipment you need for stand up paddle boarding. The best inflatable sup can fit perfectly in cozy spaces and can be folded up into a small neat size ideal for travelling.
What is an inflatable SUP?
Standup Paddle boarding is a relatively new craze in watersports. That explains why there is still a rising obsession with Stand up Paddleboards (SUPs) as compared to surf boards. Many people want to get swept up in the wave, literally and figuratively, and to excel while at it.
Surfing vs Stand up Paddle boarding
The difference between surfing and paddle boarding is that for the latter, a paddle is added to a board for floatation. It is generally considered less challenging than surfing but the thrill derived is almost the same.
Stand up paddle boarders do not always need waves like surfers do. That means whether the waters are calm like on a still river, you can still float gently like a swan downstream. If you choose to go out into the wild waters, with a personal floatation device (pfd), you should be just as fine. Since paddleboards are regarded as vessels because of their size, pfds should always be on hand.
Stand up paddleboards are used for paddling and are generally longer than surfboards, with some measuring up to 14 feet long. Traditional hard boards have dominated the industry for long but lately, inflatable SUPs are catching up in terms of structure and functionality.
Why you should love an inflatable sup
Compared to hard SUPs, inflatable SUPs can be
- Rolled up neatly,
- Packed away quickly
- Carried around easily.
The biggest advantage is that you can carry them on a plane without having to pay excess baggage fees. That way, you can look forward to a full vacation-complete with your favorite activity. Transporting the traditional sup is a nightmare because they need special often bulky packaging.
If you love surfing, then chances are that paddleboard surfing will be equally as enjoyable for you. That’s where an inflatable sup comes in. if you’re paddling for long, they will prove to be equally and sometimes more comfortable than the traditional rigid fiberglass board.
Consider the space they will save you. You need a lot of vertical or horizontal room to store a hard board. With an inflatable sup, all you need to do is deflate it, roll it up and put it away in a corner.
Apart from sport, here’s a list of what you can do with your board;
- Convert one of these versatile boards and use it for fishing because of its incredible stability. Their size is another huge plus.
- You can be two or more people plus your pet dog on one board, if it enjoys getting into the water with you.
- Apart from paddle boarding, you can attach coolers and go fishing.
- You can get D ring attachments, attach kayak seats and you have yourself yet another incredible hobby to indulge in.
- At maximum or near maximum rigidity, you can even use it to surf.
- To crown it all, stand up paddle boarding can be used as a full body workout. Why wouldn’t you want that?
Even if you dread the pumping, there’s an easy solution. Make your work easy and get a powered pump to replace the manual hand pumping. Only if you mind the 5-10 minute workout, that is. Make sure your inflatable board can handle electric pumps first before you use one.
To preserve the integrity of the PVC, after paddling in the ocean, rinse it with fresh water. The compounds in sea water can corrode the rubber and affect its appearance, more than its functions. After rinsing, air it out then store it away. Leaving the paddle in the water can affect its buoyancy when water seeps in.
Moisture can compromise the integrity of the material making up a traditional hardboard, and affect the overall functioning of your paddleboard. You simply cannot take that risk while out riding a high wave. That’s where inflatable sups provide a better alternative.
That is not to say that inflatable sups cannot be damaged. They will hardly get ruined in the way that traditional boards so. If they do however, it could be out of very rough/hard impact. Even then, repairing them is simpler than patching banged up hardboards.
5 Best Inflatable SUPs Reviews 2017
Easy to move
Anti-skid EVA Pads
1. Tower Paddle Boards Inflatable SUP - easy to move
This inflatable sup can support weights above 350lb and is very stable on the water. The weight limit it can support is 400 pounds as prescribed by Tower Paddle Board. That kind of weight limit means you can do tandem paddle boarding. When doing so, stay close together to increase the board’s buoyancy on water.
It can be inflated up to 15 pounds per square inch (psi) to attain maximum rigidity. At that level, it is ideal for beginners and children. One of the best things is that it can still be comfortably be used even at 10 psi, although that should be left to professionals.
Quality and construction
It is made out of military grade PVC, so there will no dents when it hits rocks or other hard surfaces. That is a huge score on the durability index. It has a foam core, and the interior is layered using the drop stitch construction technique which eliminates weight.
The board, pump and adjustable paddle are sold together. You can use a powered deflator to deflate it in under 2 minutes, roll it up quickly and put in a bag to go. It weighs about 24lb when deflated.
It comes with a pressure gauge fitted on the pump that starts functioning when you inflate the board to 10 psi. Regarding compatibility with other pumps-it has a special valve. If you can find the right adapter, then you can use a tire pump safely. On average, it takes about 10 minutes to inflate. If you use a tire pump, it might take longer to inflate.
You can also buy seat attachments and separate cords to strap on a lifesaving jacket
Though not for pros, it will work well on lakes and rivers. Ocean currents on the lake and current on the river might affect your paddling but with time, you learn to navigate.
- It is easy to move around seeing as it is only 9 “10”.
- The board is Relatively light at 24lbs
- It has a rounded tip, which does not work well for speed paddlers.
2. SportsStuff Inflatable SUP - anti-skid EVA Pads
It measures 10'6" x 30" x 4" inflated and the board itself weighs about 27lbs.The total weight in the backpack when all accessories are included is 50lbs.
The accessories include a paddle, a removable seat, stainless steel tow rings, a high pressure hand pump, a pressure gauge, a valve a wrench, a fin and board leash.
Because of how thin it is, slightly experienced paddlers would find it ideal for paddle boarding because balancing is not a problem for them. It is also convertible and can be used like a kayak.
You should not use an electric pump to inflate it. Besides, it is quite easy to pump up manually- it can be done in 10-15 minutes and it takes about 200-250 pumps to get it to the best psi for paddle boarding.
That being said, it is best used by leisure paddlers. The bright funky color variant is also very ideal for kids.
- Has Anti-skid EVA Pads for secure footing.
- Well designed with an automatic lock valve at the front of the board.
- Maximum capacity is 250 lbs.
3. ISLE Surf and SUP Inflatable SUP - compatible
This is a robust board that measures 126 x 31 x 6-Inches and comes with a pump, an adjustable paddle, a travel backpack and a coil Leash. The board weighs 23lbs and supports a maximum weight of 200lbs.
The width is ideal for beginners and for handling rough waters although it can be used comfortably on all conditions- through rough waves and gentle current by both beginners and pros.
The paddle is of good quality-the top layer is military grade PVC so it won’t bend or get scratched easily. It floats because of the foam in the shaft. To install the fin, slide it into the groove and secure it with the latch at the back.
A little tip on caring for this board- you can leave it inflated for days as long as it is stored indoors. If it is to stay outside, either deflate it completely or a little bit so that the board has room for safe expansion. To deflate, push the lock inside the valve downwards.
The gauge begins to responds when it gets to 7 psi while inflating. When it gets to around 12, it will get hard to pump but that’s normal. That is the ideal figure for rigidity.
The board can be cleaned safely using dish soap and rolled out in the sun to dry.
- It comes with a repair kit.
- Spring loaded lock inside the vale keeps it inflated.
- Compatible with kayak seats.
- When inflated to the maximum, it can blow at the seams easily.
- The air leaks when left inflated.
4. Tower Paddle Boards Inflatable SUP - compressible paddle
The new design of the Adventurer 2 includes a front bungee with 4 rings to attach the bungee cord, a cooler for fishing or weights to stabilize the board. It also has 3 handles on the nose, tail, and center of board for carrying. It is 6” thick, weighs 24lbs when inflated and has a weight limit of 400lb.
Also part of the package is a 3 piece fiberglass paddle, a fin that is easy to connect and a single stage pump. The paddle adjusts from 65"-85" and weighs 34lbs. It breaks down to 34.5" which fit the dimensions needed in order to check a bag on airplane.
The soft deck pad is soft on the feet, the drop stitch construction makes the board even lighter and the military grade PVC protects the board from dents and scratches.
The board has an H3 valve and it can be safely inflated in 5-10 minutes to 20 psi although manufacturer recommends a psi of 15.
- It can take up to 20psi.
- Compressible paddle.
- Manual pump is hard to operate.
- The paddle falls off easily.
5. ISLE Surf and SUP Inflatable SUP - lightweight
This is one of the lightest and most beautiful boards in the market, weighing only 18.2lbs. It however can carry a maximum weight of 255 lbs. It measures 10’4” x 31” x 6” and has a wide nose and tail, perfectly constructed for beginners and pros alike.
There is a women’s version of the same that is 6 inches longer, weighs 27lbs and is wider at the tail. It is adapted for yoga and flat water and comes with the d rings for attaching kayak seats.
It is easy to pump up to the maximum, and that should take you 5-10 minutes. The gauge might appear not to work but the instructions guide you on when to look out for readings on it.
It comes with an adjustable travel paddle, a carrying bag and a pump. Overally, it is very sturdy and stable and floats very nicely on flat water.
- The thickness is appropriate to beat drag.
- Lighter than a fiberglass board.
- No attached D rings.
- The paddle sinks easily.
Factors to consider when buying an inflatable sup
- The type of paddler you are.
All paddlers need sturdy boards. Amateurs need sturdier ones even more because they have to get the balancing right. As a professional paddler, you should be looking for iSUPs that can achieve a psi of 15 at least. Amateurs can do with a psi of up to 20 because of the extra rigidity.
The higher the psi, the sturdier the board will be. Most hard boards are made out of carbon and because of that stiffness, they help professionals maintain high speeds during competitions. They are more responsive to turns and such body movements made to navigate waves.
Those who paddle for leisure can do perfectly with iSUPs. With low psi, boards loses their rigidity. They are slower and are likely to create more drag and therefore they will be harder to paddle. To enjoy your ‘cruise’, inflate your board to near maximum rigidity.
Beginners need thick, wide boards for stability. They should also remember to wear personal floatation devices especially when they are on rough waters. Paddling against the wind is tough enough. That’s why you must remember that needle nosed boards work better in navigation than round tipped boards. Professionals can work excellently with slim, narrow boards-not only for the challenge, but for the thrill of it.
- The construction of the board
A traditional sup has a core made out of foam and layers of fiberglass, wood, carbon or bamboo. Carbon has the unique ability to slice through water sharply and create torque with every motion. These traditional boards are typically voluminous so they can support heavy persons.
Inflatable sups are these days made to be up to 90% as rigid as traditional boards. Strands of strong fiber are woven into the structure of the board a sturdy frame when blown up. Since the inflatable boards don’t have the advantage of volume, they rely on air and the fiber to create a solid base.
Hard boards have variety in terms of the shape of the bottoms or the rails. These are carved out at the time of manufacturing. ISUPs cannot be carved. They take on one shape when blown up and in that regard, may fall short in a comparison between the two. However, the absence of that shaping does not affect the functioning of iSUPs grossly.
The exterior surface on which the feet rest on most boards is made of hardened rubber. Consider getting boards whose surface have an anti-skid surface.
Still on construction, boards are sold as 'Single Layer' or Double Layer. Single layer means that only one layer of PVC can be found on the board, both at the top or bottom of the board. In effect, the board becomes slightly less rigid than a double layered board.
A Double layered iSUP board is about 30% lighter than a single PVC layered board. It is however more rigid and more durable in the long run. It works just like a traditional SUP. Despite that difference in structure, both types of inflatable boards are perfectly suited for certain situations.
A board that is too thin does not feel very firm in the middle creating unnecessary drag. The thicker the board, the more rigid the board will be and stronger to handle challenging factors like wind chop.
- Your height and weight
The taller and heavier the person, the longer the board needs to be. Taller people might find it hard to find their center of gravity and maintain stability the first time they hop onto an inflatable SUP.
The heavier you are, the more you need a solid board to support you. If you don’t pump up a board properly there’ll be a bouncy trampoline like feel. Some people might find that uncomfortable.
The rule then becomes that the taller the person, the thicker the board should be. More thickness equals more stability. If, however, a board supports any weight above the recommended limit, it will slow down and you might even sink if you’re not a professional.
Your height also influences the length of the paddle you use. A 6 “4” person for example, would need a paddle that is about 85” on average. The taller you are, the longer the paddles on your board need to be and vice versa.
- The size of the paddle
The general rule is that your paddle should be between 6” to 10” taller than you for maximum efficiency.
Everyone who loves being out in the water must get themselves the best inflatable SUP and try stand up paddle boarding. It’s fun, relaxing and thrilling at the same time. You don’t want to miss out on the freeing and thrilling sensation of gliding in the waves.
Have you ever thought that you could work out on water? With an inflatable SUP, there’s practically nothing you can’t do.
Taking into account all of the above and the necessary features of an inflatable SUP, the Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9'10" SUP Package stands out and beats the rest of them. It should be a number one pick for a number of reasons.
It is among the lightest boards, weighing only 24”-teenagers and adults should be able to carry it around without much trouble. Its height also makes carrying it around safe and easy. Despite its lightness, it can accommodate a lot of weight, more than most other boards, at 400lbs. That means you and your kids can comfortably join you for a relaxing glide on the lake on a warm weekend afternoon every now and then.