If you are struggling to decide on the best inflatable paddle board to buy, then you have come to the right place.
An depth look at what you need to consider when looking for the best inflatable paddle board
In this article you will find all the necessary things you need to know before buying an Inflatable Paddle Board.
There are a huge amount of options, ranging in lengths, widths, colors, thicknesses. You name it, it’s out there. Selecting the right one can become overwhelming extremely quick. In this article we will help you to refine your search and figure out what board is going to work the best for you, where you paddle, how you paddle and what your desires are as a paddler.
You may also need a wetsuit depending on where you take your new paddleboard. Wetsuits used for surfing are perfect for paddle boarding as well. This surf wetsuit guide will help you get the right wesuit for the right environement.
Every Inflatable Paddle board comes with some standard features. These features would be the same in almost all the Paddle Boards available in the market. These include:
- Traction Pad
The handle is going to help you in and out of the water. This handle is located typically in the center to maintain a nice balance point so that you are not dragging the nose or the tail.
Inflatable paddle boards may have multiple fins or they may have a single fin but the board must have fins. Fins are used to add tracking stability to a paddle board. Smaller fins let you maneuver more easily as compared to fins that are longer and wider that help you to get more stability and straight tracking. Most fins are removeable.
The traction pad is where you stand. It has to be nice and comfortable and have grip which helps you remain in contact and stable on your paddle board. Unless you fall off! But you don’t need to worry, it’s a water sport and you are going to get wet and its fine.
Inflatable SUP Board size chart
You are going to see boards of various lengths in the market. You have to figure out what board length you want to use. If you want to have a board that is agile and easy to turn, a shorter board is going to enable you to do that. However, if you want to be more efficient and go straight then a longer board would be the answer. Looking for a paddle surf? then you want something shorter with planing hull and if you want to paddle into flat waters, lakes, bays and go straight then a longer board with displacement hull would be a better option.
Use this size chart to determine the size of the inflatable paddle board you need depending on your weight
|Weight Of Person (Lbs)||Length in feet 9--10'6||Length in feet 10'6-11'6||Length in feet 11'6-12'6|
Paddling Boards: HULL Shapes
The body or the hull of the paddling board determines the kind of performance you are going to get in the water. Its wiser to choose hull design depending on how you are going to use your board. There are basically two distinct shapes of paddle boards out in the market.
- Displacement Hull
- Planing Hull
The V-Shape nose allows the board and yourself to pierce through the water if you’re going through the current. To go upstream it is really efficient and it maintains a good consistent speed as you paddle. These boards track straight but maneuvering is not easy on them.
Boards with planing hulls have more of a traditionally rounded shaped nose. These boards are similar to surfboards with a flat and wide surface. They are very good at maneuvering and to stay at the top of the water. Perfect for beginners.
Length of SUP:
As you can tell there are many factors determining the best inflatable paddle board for your needs.
The size of the board helps you determine how a board will handle in the water. The boards with a longer length are usually faster and go straighter than a shorter board. On the other hand shorter boards are more maneuverable than longer boards. Inflatable paddle boards can be categorized in three types.
- Shorter boards: These paddle boards are less than 10 feet and have planing hulls. They are great for kids and they are easy to turn around making them a good option for sup surfing.
- Medium boards: Medium paddle boards are usually 10 to 12 feet longer. They usually have planing hulls.
- Longer boards: These boards are above 12 feet and they are perfect for fast and straight paddling with efficiency. If you want to paddle for long distance than longer boards should be your choice. They are displacement hull paddle boards.
Width of inflatable SUP:
Just like length, determining the width of the board is also very important. To attain stability a wider board is always a good option but it also effects the speed. A wider board might not give you the desired speed and become difficult to handle as well. It would also require more storage space. SUPs are available from 25 inches wide to 36 inches wide boards.
Thickness of inflatable paddle board:
After selecting the right length and width of your paddle board you also need to keep in mind another important factor. This is the thickness of the board. The reason why we need to consider this is because of its ability to affect the volume and weight capacity of the paddle board. Two boards with similar lengths and widths but different thickness’s will carry different weights. The board with greater thickness would have greater volume thus can carry a bigger paddler with ease and efficiency.
Inflatable SUP Volume:
The most important feature aside from length and width when looking for the best inflatable paddleboard is its volume. Volume is the calculation between the length, width and the thickness of the board. You don’t want to be on a board that doesn’t have enough volume to float you. The question “what size paddle board do i need for my weight” is answered by the volume of a board. You cannot put a heavy paddler on a SUP that has a low volume. Because the board is going to be very low in the water, and thus not function properly.
How do Inflatable SUP’s work:
The best Inflatable paddle board are construced using PVC. The air is added to the paddle board via an air pump. As you add more and more air the board gets stiffer and stiffer eventually getting to its perfect shape. In the end the stiffness depends on the quality of the material. Better the quality, the stiffer it gets.
How to Pump up your inflatable SUP:
Once you have found the best inflatable paddle board then you can take it out on the water
Inflating a SUP is quite straight forward and doesn’t require much time. Usually a good inflatable SUP comes with an air pump which looks much like a large bicycle pump. JUst attach the hose of the pump to the valve on the board and away you go
However, some elite inflatable SUPs a come with a Dual Bravo Action Pump. Some Low-cost SUP might also come with a foot pump which makes inflating process very time consuming, hectic and awkward. A good quality pump would get you board inflated quickly and easily as compared to a low-quality pump.
Inflatable Paddle Board vs hard Paddle Board:
Here we are going to address the difference between an inflatable paddle board and a hard or rigid paddle board.
Once you have bought your best inflatable paddle board then you need to store it. Paddle boards are big objects which can occupy a large amount of space. If you don’t have a garage that can store a 10z to 14 feet long paddle board then definitely rigid paddle boards are not a good idea. This is where the inflatable paddle boards come into action. You can use your inflatable paddle board on a nice sunny day and then deflate it and put it anywhere in your house, put it in a bag, put in a corner of the garage, throw it in closet in the house. Storage is not a problem at all.
Deflate the board, put it in a backpack, throw it in the trunk, you can strap them on your back, can check in on an airplane and when you reach your desired destination, you know you’ve got a board that suits your needs. Its a great alternative to having to find a place to rent a board.
Performance wise hard paddle boards have a little bit of edge. Hard paddle boards are natural, they are rigid and stiff. So, when you are in turbulent choppy waters, they are going give a really rigid base.
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money then finding the best inflatable paddle board is a great option. The are esily good enough to do most things you would want to do with a paddle board.
How long do inflatable paddle boards last?
There is a myth that inflatable paddle boards are not as much durable as hard paddle boards. This is totally wrong. Infact inflatable paddle boards are more durable than hard boards. The new inflatable boards are super robust and can take a serious beating without receiving any major damage. .
The inflatable boards come with different warranties depending upon the manufacturer. Normally the warranty varies somewhere between 1 to 3 years. They are as reliable as a rigid paddle board or maybe more reliable because of their ability to absorb more of a beating.
Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Worth It?
YES! Inflatable paddle boards are definitely worth it. These boards are ideal for most recreational paddlers that paddling for fun. As far as the Durability is concerned they are as durable as hard paddle boards. An Inflatable board will not disappoint you. Whether you are concerned about the transportation or storage, Inflatable boards are the best option. They are light weight, portable and can be stored most places
They might be a little behind the rigid boards as far as the high performance racing or larger surfing is concerned. But that doesn’t mean they are inferior to them.
We hope this article has helped in your search for the best inflatable paddle board