Best inflatable paddleboards

Gear

If you’re new to paddleboarding, you may be confused by the term SUP. This an abbreviation that stands for “stand up paddleboard.”

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Where to find an inflatable paddleboard

An inflatable paddleboard is essentially a surfboard that you paddle from a standing position. Depending on the type purchased, you can use it for various activities ranging from yoga to surfing. 

The best paddleboard is the one that fits all your needs. For instance, the Badfish Flyweight Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard is a top-quality inflatable paddleboard made for flatwater paddling and can support up to 230 pounds.

What to know before you buy an inflatable paddleboard

What is a paddleboard?

A paddleboard provides the operator with a long and sometimes narrow floating platform that is often best for paddling on top of tranquil waters. It is easy to use and designed to operate from a standing position.

Solid paddleboard vs. inflatable paddleboard

Paddleboards primarily come in solid and inflatable types.

Solid paddleboard: A solid paddleboard is rigid and provides greater stability, speed and maneuverability than an inflatable paddleboard. Solid paddleboards are available in a broader range of shapes and sizes, but they are difficult to transport and store.

Inflatable paddleboard: While an inflatable paddleboard isn’t quite as maneuverable in the water, it does endure minor bumps and collisions better than a solid board, especially in whitewater. Additionally, it is lightweight and easy to transport and store, making it ideal for hiking and camping trips.

What can you do on an inflatable paddleboard?

Inflatable paddleboards are versatile crafts you can use in various water activities. The type of activity you do determines the kind of inflatable paddleboard that is best. You can use inflatable paddleboards for touring, racing, surfing, fishing, relaxing, snorkeling and even yoga.

What to look for in a quality inflatable paddleboard

Adequate weight capacity

One of the most important aspects to consider when shopping for an inflatable paddleboard is how much weight it can safely carry. Do not forget to count any gear you will be taking with you, including food, water, fishing supplies and more. If the inflatable paddleboard you are considering cannot support the weight of you and your gear, it will not be safe to operate.

Size and shape 

An inflatable paddleboard may not look like there’s much to the design, but the shape of the hull, the width and the length are all important factors that affect how the vessel handles the water.

Shape of the hull: A planing hull, which is flat, sits on top of the water and is best for activities that require stability or greater maneuverability, such as yoga, surfing and whitewater paddling. Inflatable paddleboards that feature a displacement hull move faster through the water and require less effort to operate, but they are not as agile as paddleboards with planing hulls.

Width: Wider inflatable paddleboards, ones over 30 inches wide, are more stable and provide more room to bring gear, making them suitable for activities such as yoga or fishing.

Length: Shorter inflatable paddleboards, ones under 10 feet long, are easier to maneuver, making them best for surfing. Paddleboards over 12 feet long are faster and tend to travel straighter, making them best for long-distance touring. Inflatable paddleboards in the middle are the most versatile, able to be used in a variety of activities.

Removable fins

You can have one or three fins that attach to the bottom of your inflatable paddleboard. The critical thing to remember is the larger fins provide greater stability and straight tracking while the smaller fins offer greater maneuverability. In general, larger fins are best for flat water and smaller fins are best for surfing.

Extras

It’s best to get an inflatable paddleboard that comes with everything you need to get started. The essentials are a pump (preferably double-action), a paddle, a leash, a patch kit and a carrying bag.

How much you can expect to spend on an inflatable paddleboard

You can get a low-end inflatable paddleboard for around $200. At the top of the price range, you can spend over $1,000. Between $300-$500 is where you will typically find good quality at a reasonable price.

Inflatable paddleboard FAQ

Do I need to wear a PFD while using my inflatable paddleboard?

A. Yes. When operating an inflatable paddleboard, the Coast Guard requires you to wear a personal floatation device. When paddling after sunset, you must also bring a light and a safety whistle.

Do I need to deflate my paddleboard for storage?

A. If you have space, you do not need to deflate your paddleboard when storing. You should store an inflated paddleboard in a cool, dry area that is away from direct sunlight. However, if the area gets warm or hot, that may cause the air inside your paddleboard to expand and damage the paddleboard. It is best to deflate the paddleboard a little to keep this from happening.

What’s the best inflatable paddleboard to buy?

Top inflatable paddleboard

Badfish Flyweight Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard

Badfish Flyweight Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard

What you need to know: This is a versatile, high-end inflatable paddleboard that is great for beginners and experienced users.

What you’ll love: With its removable tri-fin tracking, stable construction, pointed nose and POV camera mount, this paddleboard is suitable for both tranquil flatwater paddling and speed. This option includes a double-action pump, a 3-piece paddle, a leash and a carrying bag.

What you should consider: This is the highest priced option on our shortlist, making it best for the serious user.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

Top inflatable paddleboard for the money

SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

What you need to know: For individuals who place budget as the top priority, this beginner board is an excellent entry-level board.

What you’ll love: This inflatable paddleboard is over 10 feet long and 32 inches wide. It features an anti-slip deck and reinforced stitching for durability. Thischoice includes everything you need to get paddling.

What you should consider: According to many customers, the weak point in SereneLife’s business plan is the company’s lack of quality customer service.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Lifetime Vista Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board

Lifetime Vista Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board

What you need to know: If you are looking for a quality beginner board that is better for stability than surfing, this is a solid option.

What you’ll love: The sturdy design and textured surface make this paddleboard easy to use. It has a removable fin, heavy-duty PVC stitching and it comes with everything you need to get started, including a repair kit.

What you should consider: This model is best for flatwater or light surf.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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