The 10 Best Inflatable SUPs
10. Vilano Voyager 11
- one-foot in diameter when deflated
- lightweight and sturdy design
- included paddle isn't adjustable
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
9. Blue Wave Sports 10-Foot Stingray
- removable fabric seat and footrest
- z ray soft grip technology
- instructions aren't very helpful
|Brand||Blue Wave Sports|
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
8. Isle Surf and SUP Airtech Yoga
- provides good foot traction
- attractive design
- on the slow and bulky side
|Brand||ISLE Surf and SUP|
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
7. Yolo Board Lime Adventure Kit
- includes bungee systems and d-rings
- built-in carrying handle
- pressure gauge isn't very accurate
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer 2
- three-piece fiberglass paddle
- very rigid when inflated
- pumping it up is a bit too difficult
|Brand||Tower Paddle Boards|
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
5. 2018 Starboard Whopper Zen
- great in choppy waters
- four d-rings with bungee cords
- just under six inches thick
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. iRocker All-Around
- 385-pound capacity
- very easy to store
- bag has lots of room for accessories
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
3. Red Paddle Co. 2018 Red Ride
- titan pump included
- weighs just 21 pounds
- inflates easily
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
2. Atoll 11-Foot
- dual-action pump
- 14 d-ring tie-downs
- 2-year warranty
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
1. Isle Airtech Explorer
- great accessory bundle
- removable tail fin
- convenient carrying backpack
|Brand||ISLE Surf and SUP|
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
What Separates a Good Inflatable Paddle Board From a Great One?
Let's start with some basics. Any top-of-the-line inflatable stand-up paddle board should feature a weight capacity of at least 260 lbs. This may sound like a lot, but it accounts for the fact that some people are built bigger than others, and many people prefer the option of taking a child, pet, or friend on their paddle board, as well. Along those lines, a paddle board should measure at least 8.5 ft. in length. Long boards aren't only good for hydrodynamics, they'll also allow for any user to recline.
Paddle boards tend to cost several hundred dollars, and that being the case, it's worth investing in a model that comes equipped with all of the essentials. This usually means that a board is sold with a matching paddle, a shoulder bag, an air pump, and perhaps a repair kit. Certain boards are sold with detachable fins for cutting the water. These fins are helpful, but they aren't a make-or-break accessory, especially if a board features built-in rivets on its lower side.
Any worthwhile board should be streamlined. But the foot pad should be designed with functional grooves that provide your heels with traction. In addition, you want a board to be durable, which means that the lining should be reinforced, thereby minimizing any risk of a puncture.
As a precaution, it may be worth determining whether any paddle board you happen to be interested in has been designed for recreation, or for competitive racing. Stand-up boards that are built for fitness and recreation provide tremendous stability, which is important for beginners. Racing boards, on the other hand, are designed light and narrow so that they can move through the water with ease and speed.
Inflatable Vs. Traditional Paddle Boards
In many ways, owning an inflatable paddle board makes a great deal more sense than owning a traditional hardboard. A traditional board measures approximately 10 ft., and it may weigh anywhere between 30-60 lbs. This not only means you'd need a vehicle to transport a hardboard, but that you'd probably need some type of a luggage rack, as well. More to the point, you'd need to load and unload a traditional board every time you drive to the water. That, in and of itself, could be a time-consuming process.
An inflatable board is also more convenient than a traditional board in terms of storage. Whereas a traditional board will require a significant amount of space (if not its own shelf) inside a garage or a shed, most inflatable paddle boards come with their own shoulder bags so you can simply store them in a corner. In addition, certain inflatable boards are sold with their own air pumps, which means all you'll need to do is pack your bag, and you can travel to the water by way of subway, bus, bike, or by foot.
Finally, it's worth considering that a lot of the materials that are used to design a traditional paddle board (i.e., polyurethane, polystyrene, aluminum, fiberglass, and maybe even wood) are highly prone to weathering. A few summers - and winters - could cause any board like that to warp, crack, splinter, or bubble. Provided you take proper care of an inflatable board, it is designed to last for a longer time.
A Brief History of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Stand-up paddle boarding was originated by African hunters as a means of sneaking up on their prey as early as the 2nd century B.C. The practice began in canoes, where standing upright allowed for spotting and striking a fish without any splashing, as breaking the water would alert any sea life to move.
SUP remained the express province of hunters until the 16th century, at which point some of the first Hawaiian surfers took to standing up and paddling out to maintain an aerial view of the current. Wooden paddles proved to be an outstanding accessory, especially when it came to guiding long, thick boards into the surf.
SUP evolved into a form of public safety along the coast of Tel Aviv during the 20th century. As people took to swimming in the ocean for recreation, Israeli lifeguards would patrol by way of stand-up boards. These boards kept lifeguards in the water, where they were needed, while also providing an ample vantage of the coast.
The idea of recreational SUP is a fairly recent phenomenon. It started in Hawaii, where 1950s surfers would use paddle boards to stay in shape throughout the down season. SUP has since skyrocketed, arriving at a point where modern-day Americans, in particular, use paddle boards for sunbathing, meditation, yoga, competitive racing, and even fishing. According to an annual study conducted by the Outdoor Foundation, SUP yielded a higher percentage of first-time participants in 2013 than any other outdoor activity or sport.