Are you looking for an inflatable stand up paddle board? If so, you’re in the right place! For many, paddle boarding means having fun, relaxing, and enjoying the sea, as well as exercising every part of your body, improving balance, and calming your mind.
Lately, this activity has become quite popular, and it’s no longer uncommon to see people paddle boarding on almost every beach in the world. Keep in mind that there are different types of boards depending on the intended use, skills, water conditions, etc.
In this article, I’m going to talk about materials, board shapes, dimensions, inflation systems, and other important features of paddle boards. In addition, I’ll review the best models of the year so that you can find the one that suits your style.
THE BEST INFLATABLE STAND UP PADDLE BOARDS
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CAPACITY: 300 lbs.
WEIGHT: 30 lbs.
The Bluefin Board tops the list because it offers great features at a great price. Featuring a 1000D laminated PVC construction, Drop Stitch Pro Weave technology, and a nose rocker, this board is most suitable for calm water and mild waves.
It can hold up to 28 PSI, which means that it gets really rigid when fully inflated. It includes a removable padded seat so you can transform the board into a kayak, as well as an adjustable paddle with a fiberglass blade. It’s probably the best value for the money on the list.
CAPACITY: 275 lbs.
WEIGHT: 19.6 lbs.
This board provides great stability when fully inflated to 15 PSI (pounds per square inch). Thanks to its aerodynamic design and solid construction, it performs surprisingly well, and it feels pretty close to a rigid SUP board.
It’s perfect for paddling along rivers, lakes, and flat water, as well as doing yoga. You can bring your dog or a friend (not someone heavy, though) on board and enjoy a paddling day with good company.
AQUA MARINA BEAST
USE: Flat water
CAPACITY: 308 lbs.
WEIGHT: 20.5 lbs.
The Aqua Marina Beast is an all-around board, although it’s best suited for paddling in flat water. It features the SuperTough DualStringer technology, which increases stiffness, control, and balance. In addition, it has a central fin that provides optimal tracking, a spacious deck, and a reasonably lightweight design.
ROCK INFLATABLE SUP BOARD
CAPACITY: 300 lbs.
WEIGHT: 17.5 lbs.
Built with strong, durable, lightweight materials, the Rock Inflatable SUP Board is designed for all types of paddlers, from kids to adults, and for different water conditions, from lakes and rivers to the sea. The central fin is larger than the side fins, which provides great maneuverability. It’s available in various colors.
USE: All-around, Yoga
CAPACITY: 287 lbs.
WEIGHT: 35.5 lbs.
The Bestway Oceana features a Drop Stitch structure for increased stability, resistance, and durability. It’s designed mainly for calm water, small waves, SUP yoga, and recreational use, and it includes a removable seat to turn it into a kayak. It’s one of the most popular models on the market due to its great price.
CAPACITY: 240 lbs.
WEIGHT: 20 lbs.
Generously sized, the Irocker Nautical board has a fairly stiff structure, which makes it perfect for beginners who want to improve their skills and go faster.
This all-around board is equipped with three fins, so you can use it for paddling in a mild sea, calm rivers, lakes, and other spots. Of course, it comes with an adjustable paddle, a pump, a leash, and a carry/storage bag.
USE: All-around, Surf, Touring
CAPACITY: 280 lbs.
WEIGHT: 22 lbs.
The FBSPORT is an all-around board that provides great stability for activities such as yoga, touring, and recreational use, while having a slightly shorter design and a 2 + 1 fin system that provides greater maneuverability in moderate waves. In addition, it’s reinforced with a 1.2 mm PVC layer that significantly increases its strength and durability.
BESTWAY HF AQUAJOURNEY
USE: All-around, Yoga
CAPACITY: 242 lbs.
WEIGHT: 27.7 lbs.
The Bestway HF Aquajourney is one of the most popular options within the budget range. It’s a bit more basic than higher-end models, but it features a heavy-duty, reinforced Dropstitch construction, great stability, and pretty good overall performance. It’s perfect for those who want to paddle through calm water.
USE: All-around, yoga
CAPACITY: 300 lbs.
WEIGHT: 17.6 lbs.
This is another inexpensive board that sells very well. One of its advantages is that it’s built with military-grade PVC and reinforced seams for greater rigidity and durability while maintaining a very light weight. If you’re looking for a high-performing board but don’t want to break the bank, this could be your best option.
THINGS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT BEFORE CHOOSING YOUR INFLATABLE STAND UP PADDLE BOARD
INFLATABLE BOARDS vs RIGID BOARDS
In general, you could say that solid boards perform better on the water, as they tend to be faster and lighter. However, the differences are not always that big. If you are using your board for recreation, either type could give you good results.
Advantages of inflatable SUP boards:
Value for the money: You can find high-quality inflatable boards at very attractive prices.
Storage: Once you have deflated the board, you can pack it inside a bag or backpack (almost all models come with a storage bag) and store it in your closet or garage.
Transport: Inflatable boards are perfect for traveling. You can carry them in the car trunk, or even get them on a plane and go paddle boarding during your holidays.
If you want to paddle in a remote lake that is accessible only by foot, you’ll be able to bring your inflatable board inside its carry bag. Keep in mind that it can be a bit heavy, but it’s still easier to transport than a solid board.
Durability: Most of these boards are built with military-grade PVC, which makes them really resistant and durable. A high-quality model shouldn’t puncture when it hits rocks or coral reefs.
Beginner-friendly: If you lose your balance and fall on a solid board, you could hurt yourself. Inflatable models, on the other hand, are soft, which makes them perfect for learning.
Yoga: You can practice yoga and meditation on both types of boards. However, doing yoga on inflatable boards is more comfortable because they are softer and more cushioned.
Advantages of solid SUP boards:
Performance: Rigid boards can travel faster and smoother on the water, making them the best option for those who want to take things to the next level.
Surfing: If you are an experienced paddler who wants to start surfing big waves, a rigid board will deliver better performance.
Setup: Solid boards don’t require any type of setup. You just need to place the board on the water and enjoy the experience.
If you have an inflatable board, keep in mind that you’ll need about 10 minutes to inflate the board, install the fins, and get everything ready. Afterward, you’ll need to store the pump and the transport bag in their place.
TYPES OF BOARDS
There are several types of SUP boards that you can use depending on the activity, water condition, paddler’s age, and other factors. The most popular types are:
All-around are the most common boards on the market. You’ll easily recognize them because they are relatively wide and have a round nose. They are perfect for beginners and intermediate paddlers who stick to calm-to-moderate water.
Touring boards are typically narrow and have a “pointed nose”. This shape improves speed on the water, but it also makes balancing more difficult. They are a great option for experienced people who want to travel long distances.
These boards are specially designed for kids, so they can learn how to paddle a SUP board and have as much fun as grown-ups. Kids’ boards are generally lighter, wider, and shorter, which helps them stay balanced as they improve their skills.
As I said before, you can practice yoga on pretty much any board. However, some models are specially designed for this activity. Their main characteristics are: they are wider and more stable, they have a soft touch, and they have a large deck pad that covers most of the board.
Thanks to technological advancements, today’s inflatable boards are more solid and resistant than ever.
All inflatable boards feature an inner bladder built with drop stitching fabrics. The drop stitching technology consists of two fabrics connected with thousands of tough polyester threads.
When the inner bladder inflates, the threads limit the movement of the fabrics and the board keeps its shape. This inner core is protected and sealed with a flexible PVC outer layer.
A paddle board’s hull is the bottom or submerged part of the board. As in kayaks, it affects speed, maneuverability, and overall performance.
With a hull similar to that of a surfboard, these models are flat and wide, which makes them a great option for recreational use and SUP yoga.
Displacement hull boards have a pointed nose and a V-shaped hull, which cuts through waves and rides smoothly in choppy water, increasing overall speed and efficiency. These models are ideal for touring because they require less effort to paddle and allow you to cover longer distances in less time.
All models have a maximum weight capacity, and you shouldn’t exceed it. If you put too much weight on your board, it will submerge too much and perform worse than it otherwise would.
Before making a purchase, you must calculate how much weight you will be bringing bring on board. This includes your own weight and that of all the things you want to get on board, like a backpack with food and drinks, fishing gear, your dog, etc.
WIDTH, LENGTH, AND THICKNESS
Dimensions play a huge role in determining the board’s performance, stability, and maneuverability. These factors also affect the board’s volume and weight capacity.
Long boards are generally faster and more efficient for long distances, while shorter boards are easier to turn.
Boards under 3 m long are ideal for kids because they are easy to maneuver. Models from 3 to 3.70 m long are ideal for recreational use, paddling on lakes and the sea, and SUP yoga. Models longer than 3.70 m are most suited for covering long distances and racing.
Width affects speed, too, but mostly it affects stability. Also, when a board is too wide, it can be difficult to paddle. Most beginners prefer wide boards because they are more stable, but keep in mind that they are also slower.
Choose a wide board if:
- You are a big person
- You don’t have much experience paddle boarding
- You want to do SUP yoga
- You need more space to place a backpack or other belongings
Choose a narrow board if:
- You are a small or thin person
- You have experience paddling and want to travel faster
Once you have determined the width and length of your board, you should think about its thickness. Most boards are between 10 and 15 cm thick, and those inches of difference will affect the board’s weight capacity.
To find the right thickness, consider your weight. If you are a big person, you should choose a greater thickness, while if you are thin, you should go for a smaller thickness.
Just like surfboards, SUP boards have fins for increased performance. Large fins improve stability and tracking, while small fins help you make quick turns.
Some models, especially budget boards, have only a central fin, which allows you to move forward in a straight line. This is a good option for paddling in flat water.
Most advanced models have three fins, generally the same size, which work well in both calm water and moderate waves.
If you want to surf, you should get a board with a large central fin and two small fins on the sides. This fin system, known as 2 + 1, increases maneuverability while you’re riding the waves.
Inflatable SUP boards can feature detachable fins or flexible fins connected to the board.
All inflatable boards include a manual pump. These devices are really easy to use and allow you to inflate your board in about five minutes, depending on the board dimensions and the energy you put into the inflation process.
If you don’t feel like inflating your board manually, you can buy an electric pump. This can be a good idea when you need to inflate many boards—for example, if you have a large family.
Obviously, a paddle is essential for practicing this sport. All models on the list include an adjustable aluminum or fiberglass paddle. Aluminum paddles are perfect for beginners because they are inexpensive, resistant, and durable. If you are looking for the best performance, take a look at carbon fiber paddles.
Most models don’t include a life jacket, but I recommend that you wear one when paddle boarding. You’ll see that they’re not too expensive. You can find a good model for less than 50 dollars. Keep in mind that in some countries, it’s mandatory to wear a life jacket while paddle boarding.
When practicing water sports, you must protect yourself from the elements. If it’s cold, I recommend that you wear a wetsuit. In mild weather, you can wear a T-shirt or a rashguard. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on exposed skin.
A leash is a security element that ties your board to one of your ankles, ensuring that you don’t lose your board if you fall.
If you have an inflatable board, you may not need a roof rack, as you can transport it comfortably in the luggage trunk of your car.
However, there are times—for example, if you are going to be paddling in different places on the same day—when you won’t want to inflate and deflate your board over and over again. In that case, it would be helpful to have a roof rack on your car.
Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 10 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.