Like many young adults who love watersports, I’ll hop in the car and drive down to the shore at a moment’s notice for some time in the water with friends and family.
When I want to go stand up paddle boarding anywhere at any time, there are some hurdles to deal with, like the large size of the boards.
While I can transport my hard stand up board locally, it becomes more of a hassle on a long trip, and I certainly can’t easily take it on an overseas vacation.
That’s where inflatable stand up paddle boards, abbreviated as inflatable SUPs, come into play. Simple to take in any car or even across the world on your next flight, an inflatable board is extremely convenient for both obsessed paddle boarders and beginners alike.
What’s more, today’s inflatable stand up paddleboards keep improving in quality to where interested buyers have many great options.
Read on and I’ll guide you through how you can benefit from an inflatable SUP, examine the improving features of modern boards, and offer some suggestions to up your paddle boarding skills.
How I’ve Taken Advantage of Using an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
There’s probably some bias by certain people against those who use an inflatable SUP. Personally, I’ve heard grumbles from some friends that inflatable boards are cheap or lack performance.
With these complaints, people end up blinded to how unique the advantages are, as well as the improvements made in modern inflatable stand up paddle boards.
In my experience, transporting around an inflatable paddle board is a breeze, as the lighter weight is a break from my heavy, solid SUP. Not only can I simply roll up the inflatable board for storage or throw it in my car, there’s no risk of damage to the board while I travel.
That is a major relief for frequent travelers who stress about protecting their costly equipment.
I’ve been worry free when traveling with my inflatable stand up paddle board, and it feels great.
But even better, my inflatable board can compete with many solid boards on the market. If you know what to look for and are willing to pay for performance, you too will end up with a board that can satisfy even the most selective paddleboarders.
I love to take my board wherever I go. Whether I’m taking a quick ride to my local shore or flying to Hawaii for some action in the birthplace of the inflatable SUP, the freedom is something else.
The Features—Where Modern Inflatable SUPs Succeed
As technology has advanced, inflatable SUPs have become viable primary boards for all kinds of people. In build quality, performance, and accessories, today’s inflatable SUPs have pumped up (ha!) expectations in new and exciting ways.
Modern inflatable SUPs are constructed to withstand the rigors of frequent surfing.
In addition to their natural durability, thanks to safer transportation and storage, inflatable SUPs also use high-grade synthetic materials that should last through thousands of inflation and deflation.
This material is several inches thick as well, which is important for inflatable boards and makes them nice and buoyant.
These inflatable boards often come with non-slip decks, which makes them even better choices for families, beginners, or those who want to practice yoga while on the water.
And of course, you’ll be saved many headaches because board scratches, dings, and other surface damages are not really a thing with inflatable SUPs. The less time and expense you spend for repairs, the better off you’ll be.
Here’s a surprise:
In certain speed tests, modern inflatable SUPs have been able to remain within percentage points of speed output compared to standard solid boards.
With this tightened gap, inflatable SUPs have improved and can glide swiftly rather than plod along behind the pack.
Today’s inflatable SUPs are also plenty wide to allow for stability, and offer quality bottom fins for control and adjustable paddles for universal use.
When I take my inflatable SUP out on the water, it’s a joy to know that performance doesn’t lack far behind.
When you purchase a good inflatable SUP, you also normally get a full-fledged kit of necessary and complimentary accessories.
This might include things like a manual pump, safety cuff leash, adjustable paddles, repair tools, removable fins, and a carrying bag to keep everything together.
Right out of the box, today’s inflatable SUPs make it simple to get started right away.
By keeping everything in your carrying bag and rolling up your inflatable SUP, you won’t require much storage space between uses and you’ll be able to transport everything easily.
Tips and Things to Try on Your SUP so You can get Better
The basic SUP stroke pattern has you holding one hand on the grip of the paddle and one hand on the shaft with feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure the paddle is fully in the water as you start to paddle, then pull it back towards your feet and lift.
Now repeat that on the other side and try to find a rhythm and stroke length that works best for you; it’s recommended you maintain shorter strokes.
Apply your whole upper body into your strokes, and you’ll start to feel the great workout that your abs receive.
If you want to pick up speed in your paddle boarding, remember that you can gain more power in your strokes by reaching further forward.
Finally, inflatable SUPs are perfect for outside of the box use, like the relaxing practice of yoga.
SUP yoga is becoming more popular, and it adds further serenity to the experience by being closer to nature and one with the water.
There are many poses to try that work perfectly with a SUP, and you can find a whole slew of beginner poses online.
Some people even like to go fishing on their inflatable SUPs, and some boards add rod holders to make it easier. This is something to try if you enjoy fishing and want to try it while riding right on top of the water on your own paddle board.
Otherwise, with how spacious these boards are you can always lay back, relax, and take a nap on your board. Naps are good.
Reviews of the Best Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards
1. Atoll 11’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Robust in its practicality and appearance, this inflatable SUP stands as an example of how to accommodate paddle boarders at every step. At 11’ long and 32’’ wide, this board is long enough to reach good speeds while offering a wide space for balance.
In terms of material, the military grade PVC helps keep this board going strong through years of use, while also being ultralight for comfort and performance. An extra layer of material adds that firmness that you want in a board and makes it feel more like a solid board.
Also of note are the high-quality adjustable paddles—not only are they lightweight, they come in three pieces for easy assembly and storage, and feature a nylon blade. The fin is removable and doesn’t require any extra tools or hassle to take on and off. 15 d-rings allow you to bring extra personal items on board, and there’s plenty of room on the cargo area.
In addition, you have a high-pressure hand pump, sturdy paddle leash, and a hefty carrying bag that is large enough to fit all of these accessories for storage and transportation. The Atoll Inflatable SUP hits just the right tone of performance, style, and usability.
- Military grade PVC with extra layer is durable and firm
- Tough but lightweight, adjustable 3-piece paddle
- Large carrying bag for no stress storage and transport
- 15 d-rings to bring more stuff on board
- Some minor issues with the hose
2. iROCKER CRUISER Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The iROCKER CRUISER inflatable SUP supplies riders with top quality equipment, from the board itself to the accessories. It can carry up to 400 pounds, so there’s ample support for people of all sizes and for bringing other items on board. The fiberglass paddle is lighter than most standard aluminum paddles, and this one can be adjusted to be very long if needed. It can even be modified to a kayak paddle (an additional purchase).
The included pump is super powered, so you’ll get your board inflated faster with less effort. With triple action dual chambers, this pump works so much more efficiently than the manual hand pumps you usually expect to be included in these packages.
At 10’6” long and 33” wide, the iROCKER is a safe bet for users of various skill levels. In addition, the tail is shaped wider than most competitors for stabilizing your ride. Finally, the backpack has enough space to hold everything safely. Spacious, durable, and with some of the highest quality accessories we’ve seen included in an inflatable SUP package, the iROCKER is a deserving choice.
- Carries weight up to 400 pounds
- Some of the highest quality accessories, including triple action pump
- Wide tail adds even more stability
- Not the fastest inflatable SUP
- Minor issues with fin
3. Goplus 10’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
All about adding value to your purchase, the Goplus 10’ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board has everything we’ve come to expect from an inflatable SUP at a good price for those on a little more of a budget.
You won’t be too skeptical when you see the durable, drop-stitch construction, the included nose handle, and the strong grip surface to prevent slips and falls. The grip also makes this board family-friendly, yoga-friendly, and friendly to your feet.
Despite its dimensions, at 10″ long and 30” wide (a little smaller than most of our picks), the Goplus manages to support weight up to 440 pounds, so you know there’s stability in the design choices. You also have your standard pump and storage bag included. One nice addition is the little repair kit, so you can patch up some of the minor damage that may occur to the board without seeking outside help.
While you won’t get the slickest performance out of the Goplus, you will get a solid workhorse that will always prove reliably fun for you, your friends, and your family members.
- Compact dimensions that still hold up to 440 pounds
- Tons of value in the overall package
- Repair kit included
- The pump can be a little finicky when pumping to higher PSIs
- Solid in most ways, but not many features that stand out compared to others
4. BRIGHT BLUE Enhanced Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
If you feel the need for more speed, you’ve come to the right place with the BRIGHT BLUE Enhanced Inflatable SUP. With bigger dimensions, coming in at a full 11’6” long and 33” wide, than our other picks comes the ability to paddle at a quicker pace. However, even with this added bulk this board still weighs significantly less than other similarly sized boards.
It comes with everything else you need, like a dual action pump with meter, tooless fin, ankle leash, carrying bag, tool kit, and a reinforcement patch. Bungee string on the front and back of the board, along with many d-rings provides room to add more equipment when you go out to paddle.
The ride on this board is fast and smooth thanks to the length and suitable rocker. It can also get rigid enough to provide the support you’ll need on an inflatable ride. All in all, the BRIGHT BLUE Enhanced Inflatable SUP is a capable board that combines the durability and accessibility of an inflatable with the speed you need to wade through the water with ease.
- Bigger dimensions for better speed, but still lightweight
- Tool kit with reinforcement patch for fin included
- Plenty of room to take more things or another person on board
- The manual pump is okay, but not the highest quality
My Top Pick for Best Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
All of the inflatable SUPs I chose have their strengths and weaknesses, but I tried to make sure each selection came with everything you need in a quality package. If you want a little more speed you can go with the longer boards, or perhaps you want to focus on weight capacity. It’s up to you to choose your priorities in an inflatable SUP.
Overall, I believe the Atoll 11’ Stand Up Paddle Board is the frontrunner for best inflatable SUP. With its solid length, it’s a quick board, but it also has a lot of space on board. Its extra layer of material should make it even more durable than competitors, and all of its accessories are of good quality.
Hopefully, this sets you on your way to your next inflatable SUP purchase. They are truly versatile pieces of equipment, as for sport, leisure, lounging, or more, stand up paddle boarding remains a popular watersport.