The 10 Best Inflatable SUPs
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in September of 2015. If you enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, but you don't want to endure the hassle of transporting a rigid model to your favorite lake, river, or beach, try one of these lightweight and easily portable inflatable SUPs. They come in a variety of styles, from those suited for beginners through to high performance options perfect for experienced riders. You'll find a range of price points here, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best inflatable sup on Amazon.
April 11, 2019:
Choosing a paddleboard is all about your riding style. If you prefer to go faster and have better straight tracking, a longer model will be best for you. Shorter models are generally more maneuver and easier to turn. When it comes to stability, width makes all the difference. The wider a board is, the more stable it will be. For those who enjoy speed and long-distance touring, we have included the Tower iRace and Hala Carbon Nass, both of which are 12.6 feet long. The Isle Surf and SUP Airtech Yoga, Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer 2, and iRocker All-Around, which all measure in the 10-foot range, are ideal choices for people who want a little more maneuverability, but aren't as concerned about speed. Sitting right in the between the 10- and 12-foot models, we have the Atoll 11-Foot and Peak Expedition, which are great all-around boards that many will find offer the perfect balance of speed and responsiveness. We found the Peak Titan to be an interesting option. It is designed to comfortably accommodate up to three riders. Along with the Isle Surf and SUP Airtech Yoga, it is also a great option for a single person to perform stretches while floating.
What Separates a Good Inflatable Paddle Board From a Great One?
Along those lines, a paddle board should measure at least 8.5 ft. in length.
But the foot pad should be designed with functional grooves that provide your heels with traction.
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.
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.
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.
It started in Hawaii, where 1950s surfers would use paddle boards to stay in shape throughout the down season.
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.
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