Stand up paddle boarding is addictive and such a fun activity for people of all ages. It targets almost every muscle in your body and provides a great workout while having a total blast spending time outdoors on the water.
My first time paddle boarding was in the Cook Islands and it happened to be on a Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP. I was hooked almost immediately and knew I needed to get a board.
I was not interested in a conventional composite board for two reasons:
- I love to travel and when I realized how easily an ISUP could be transported anywhere, that just seemed awesome to me. Renting paddle boards while vacationing is pricey. If I could bring my board along with me whether traveling by air or by car that suited me perfectly.
- Also I didn’t want to have to bother with securing a board to the roof rack on my car. I had already switched from a hard-shell kayak to an inflatable kayak years ago for the same convenience and an inflatable paddle board made sense to me and suited my lifestyle.
Also I was kind of lucky in that after using the Red Paddle Co ISUP’s in the Cook Islands I felt confident in their durability, stability and performance.
5 Key Benefits
If you are considering an inflatable then you are already looking for a more convenient option to a hard board.
If you are wondering why ISUP’s are gaining in popularity very quickly all over the world here are 5 of the top reasons:
1. They are very compact and convenient.
They can be deflated and stored in their carry bag. They can then be easily transported in the trunk of your vehicle, taken on an airplane, boat or RV and even carried on your back while riding your bicycle (although I haven’t tried this).
Also worth noting that they can easily be stored in a small space such as in a closet. This is ideal for those who live in apartments or who don’t want to deal with storing a big board somewhere.
2. They are lightweight.
The majority of inflatable SUP’s can easily be carried by one person using only one arm. For this reason they are so easy to take anywhere.
They vary in weight but depending on size and construction can weigh anywhere from 15 lbs. to 35 lbs.
Most come with a backpack carry bag. Some bags are better than others and there are some I wouldn’t personally want to carry too much further than down the path from my car to the water.
However the backpack is nice to have and it is very doable for most people to use. Some bags come with wheels and can be rolled like a suitcase. Admittedly the wheels are pretty awesome but not critical.
3. They are very rigid.
In my experience most people are very surprised at how hard an inflatable SUP feels when it is inflated to its maximum PSI level.
In fact I can’t even count how many times people have asked me when I have been out paddling if my board is really an inflatable because it simply does not look like one.
Yet even though they are very rigid and strong, they are also a little more forgiving if you should fall and hit the board.
The traction pad on top provides a little more cushioning and helps with grip. It also provides a nice soft surface for kneeling or doing stretches or yoga.
They are rigid so that they perform well, yet the surface is soft enough to protect you from getting hurt. I find they are much more forgiving if you fall and hit the board.
4. They are durable and strong.
You may be surprised at how rugged and strong these boards are. They are nearly indestructible and totally ding proof.
Tears and leaks can happen but if you are conscious of not dropping your board on a nail or paddling over sharp objects, then it should last you a very long time with little wear and tear.
I have actually never had a leak or a tear on any of my main paddle boards that I use most often.
I have had a leak in a couple boards that I have reviewed. One was my fault as I put the board down too hard on a dock that had a sharp object sticking up. I didn’t see it and should have been more careful.
The second time the board I was reviewing had a valve issue and it leaked air. The valve needed tightening, which solved the problem.
I have heard about some boards that leak from weak seams where the glue comes apart but in general if you get a good quality SUP there isn’t much to worry about. Just take the proper care and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
I paddle on a weekly basis and my boards get well used. They are still as good as new even with my dogs often riding along with me.
5. They are versatile.
The inflatable SUP industry is growing rapidly and consequently there are a lot of different types of boards available from all-around versatile SUP’s that can be used in any type of water to fast touring boards to whitewater and surf paddle boards and even race specific ISUP’s.
Regardless of what type of board you choose (unless you choose a race specific board) I find they are quite versatile meaning they can be used by any person of any age.
Many ISUP’s are 6″ thick making them quite stable. They are great for paddling with kids as well as dogs. They are definitely something the whole family can enjoy and can be used on flat water lakes, winding rivers, whitewater rapids as well as on ocean bays and surf.
Simply put they are awesome! I have always been into paddle sports, mainly kayaking and now stand up paddling.
I learned a long time ago the benefits of using an inflatable kayak and now I am totally hooked on the benefits of inflatable SUP’s.
There is one main con that is associated with an inflatable paddle board. Of course you have to put a little bit of work in to get it inflated.
However don’t let that deter you. Most of them can be inflated in roughly 5-8 minutes with a hand pump and it is not such a big deal.
To make the process a little easier there are also electric pumps that will get the job done in 5 minutes without you having to break a sweat.
If you are just inflating one board then the manual hand pumping is not a big deal and it is easy enough to do. If you have multiple boards that need to be inflated (and you are doing them all yourself) then I would suggest investing in an electric pump at some point.
I have inflated a LOT of boards over the years and granted it is a bit of a workout before getting on the water but it really only takes about 5 minutes if you are just doing your own board.
Choosing Your Board
In order to help you choose the right board that will suit your needs best we have separated our reviews into categories.
- Our top 5 that we like the most.
- Allround paddle boards that offer the ultimate in versatility.
- Touring paddle boards that offer long distance speed and good tracking.
- Inflatable SUP’s that are most ideal for surf or whitewater.
- Lightest boards for those who want the absolute lightest weight possible.
- ISUP’s that are best suited for paddling with your dog – we have a lot of experience in this area.
- Paddle boards for kids. Stand-up paddling is fantastic for kids!