What is the best inflatable SUP board and how to choose the correct stand up paddle board for your needs? Let’s read my 2016 reviews, top picks and compare
Stand up paddle boarding is a relatively new water sport, but is full of chills and thrills. With the inclusion of the best inflatable SUP, the sport becomes a lot more exciting. A SUP is not like the regular surfboards you usually see in your day-to-day lives, but it is a special board, which is a bit longer and wider, plus also offers stability to the paddlers. Stand up paddles, or SUPs come in many different forms, but we are going to discuss the ones that will not bend, deflate or get damaged.
If you are fond of paddling, then you need to get one of the top SUPs that are currently available in the world, as the SUPs are rigid, high quality and versatile. With a plethora of options available in the market, people may have some difficulties finding the right stand up paddle for their paddling ventures. If you too haven’t been able to find the right SUP for yourself, then you need to check out my paddle board reviews mentioned below. This will give you a clear perspective as to what you exactly need and at what price it is going to come at.
History of Stand Up Paddling
Like all other water sports, Stand Up Paddling or SUP has a spectacular history, which dates back to 3000 years ago. They seem more like reed boats that have bamboos as paddles. There was a special name given to the paddle boards that were used three millenniums ago, i.e., ‘Caballitos de Totora’, which is given by the Peru natives. Those paddle boards were neither stable nor comfortable. People used to feel as if they were riding horses.
The boats were known by the name of the Spaniards, but the name was changed to Caballito in the 15th century. The name and the condition remained the same until the 17th century, when gondoliers used to float in all the popular cities of Europe such as Venice. The number of gondoliers has reduced from thousands to a few hundred now.
There is a Chinese version of these stand up paddles as well, in which the paddle board is made using bamboo logs that are combined with rattan. We are discussing ancient China, i.e., some 2000 years ago. The length of the board is around 10-32 feet, while the width is around 30-40 inches. The paddle boards were used by the fishermen to catch fish or as a means of transportation.
It is also believed that Hawaiians are the ones who started stand up paddling because the state is surrounded by ocean. Hawaiians may be paddling for the past many centuries, but when it comes to any photographic evidence of the SUP, then it is just 66 years old.
Some people believe that ancient fishermen from Peru have laid the ground for this amazing sport. Those fishermen had used small vessels on which they stand and carry double-bladed paddles that are carved out of wood. But, the evidence that we all are sure about is the one from the Waikiki beach located in Hawaii. The surfers stood up on their regular surf boards along with single bladed paddles.
The modern version of SUP is mostly the Hawaiian version with a blend of the regional modifications. The presence of the SUPs was always there, but it has increased significantly in the past decade or so. The stand up paddle has gone through a series of changes in these years. The paddles, which used to be crafted from wood are now being made through various other materials. There is a huge demand of inflatable stand up paddles in the market because they are formidable, reliable and last for a longer period of time when compared with other SUPs. With a plenty of benefits, inflatable SUPs have become the most recommended product for the paddlers who wish to get into the water for some great fun and excitement. Here are a few disciplines of SUPing.
- Surf SUP.
- White Water.
With a glorious history of the Stand up paddles includes an even spectacular future. Let us check out the different models of inflatable SUPs that you can choose to buy.
Criteria For Evaluating The Best Inflatable SUP
The water doesn’t remain calm all the time, therefore, it is necessary for a paddler to choose the right iSUP, which can provide stability to him/her and prevent the board from flipping upside down. I have placed stability at the top because if the paddle board isn’t stable enough, then there is always a chance of any incident.
Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer iSUP is among the top of the list in terms of stability because of this body, which is 6 inches thick compared to others that only have 4 inches thick body. The thicker the body of the paddle board, the better it can balance on the surface of the water. The weight limit of this inflated stand up paddle is 350 lbs, which is also on the higher side.
Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard is another highly durable paddle, which is 10 feet long and six inches thick, but the weight carrying capacity is only 250 lbs. One person can easily stand/sit on this paddle.
ISLE Airtech 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle is also extremely durable in the rough waters. The thickness of the paddle is same at 6 inches, but the weight carrying capacity further reduces to 200 lbs. The body is made up of military grade material, but due to its inability to accommodate more than one person, it is only good for the beginners.
Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard with Paddle is a medium range paddleboard with a carrying capacity of around 220 lbs. The multi-layer drop stitched construction makes this paddleboard durable. But, the body is only 4 inches thick, creating doubts regarding its stability.
iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP is among the top quality paddleboards in the world today. With 6 inches thick body and a weight carrying capacity of 350 lbs, this is definitely a product to consider.
Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard SUP remains totally stable in the water because of its construction that involves military grade materials and a body that is 6 inches thick. Though the weight carrying capacity could be higher, since it is lingering around 250 lbs.
The stability of an inflatable SUP depends upon the wideness and thickness of the paddle board. SUPs with longer lengths are the least stable boards because their emphasis is on getting the speed. The construction and design also play a vital role in determining the stability of the paddle board.
Though the performance of these inflatable stand up paddles can’t be compared with non-inflatable ones, yet there are a few models, which are known for providing excellent glide performance. The performance of Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer iSUP is not that great because of its relatively slow speed. The body and the construction style focus more on the stability than the performance.
Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard is best known for its high performance, which comes from tri-fin design. Unique construction using quality materials makes this paddleboard ideal for a variety of water conditions. A non-slip EVA traction has been added that provides a good amount of grip to the paddlers. ISLE Airtech® 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board has a decent amount of nose rocker, therefore it can easily handle rough water. It has got three fins that allow excellent tracking. The diamond groove pattern on the paddleboard’s deck allows maximum traction.
Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard may not have the same glide performance as the above-mentioned paddleboards, but still, it is quite easy to paddle this SUP and manoeuvre in calm waters. It can be used in running water, but normally, it is used in flat water only. iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP definitely makes its way into the high performance paddle boards with its large size, unique construction and quality materials. This paddle board is perfect for both, calm and rough waters.
Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard SUP is created using a simple design, which is the reason for its decent performance on the water. Though, it may not have the best glide performance, but it certainly isn’t the worst either. The manoeuvring of the water is done quite efficiently by this paddle board.
Glide performance depends upon the conditions you want to paddle in. If you are paddling in choppy conditions, then you need the paddle boards with bigger fins, as those will provide an increased grip and drive to you. If you are looking for a skate style SUP performance, then you will have to prefer SUP with smaller fins.
Easy To Transport
The reason why people choose an inflatable paddle board is that they are relatively easier to transport than the non-inflatable ones. Though, their water cutting abilities may not be as good, but when it comes to transportation, then they can be easily transported without the need of any roof rack or creating a special space.
It is a lot easier to transport Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer iSUP. The size of this paddle board is similar to that of a sleeping bag. You can strap this onto your motorcycle or bicycle as well. Moreover, it easily fits into any car, boat or can be taken on an airplane as well. Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard is a lightweight paddleboard that gets easily fit into any car. A carry bag is given along with the paddleboard, so you can roll the paddleboard, drag it inside the bag and hop the bag on your back.
ISLE Airtech® 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board despite its big size can be easily deflated, folded and wrapped. Then, you can easily put it in a bag and hop it on your back. Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard with Paddle is a light inflatable SUP, which can be deflated quickly and can be put inside a bag. The paddle board can also be carried in the inflated mode with that centre carry-handle.
iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP deflates quickly and with an adjustable aluminium paddle, it can be easily rolled in and put inside the carry bag. The paddle board can be taken in a car without having roof rack. Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard SUP is another easy to carry SUP, which can be quickly deflated and rolled. You can even carry it along putting the paddle board on your back after putting it in a bag.
For transportation, the smaller the SUP, the better it is for you to transport it from one place to another. A small-sized SUP is easy to roll up and can be put inside the bag in seconds. Whereas, big SUPs may give you some hard time.
Ease Of Inflation
Quick inflation of the SUP will allow you to get in the water quickly and start the adventure. The size, weight and design of the SUP are the three factors that will decide how quickly and easily will the SUP inflates.
When it comes to the inflation of the paddle board, then Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard SUP wins the battle because it can be inflated in the least amount of time due to its low weight (around 2 Lbs). Apart from this paddle board, I also found Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard with Paddle to be easily inflated. I think it’s the construction of the paddle board that makes air to circulate much faster. ISLE Airtech® 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board despite its large size can be easily inflated due to its high pressure pump that fills air to 15 PSI. When I tried to inflate Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer iSUP, I found that it can be inflated up to 15 PSI as well, but the paddle board becomes extremely stiff, so I’d recommend to ride at 10 PSI. Inflating iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP could be a lot easier, as the high capacity dual action hand pump is good, but not good enough. At the last spot, I will place Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard because of the incompetent pump that comes along with it, as it takes a lot of time to inflate the paddle board. I would suggest that you should take a look at the pressure gauges that are provided along the pumps to check the pressure and the amount of air in the paddle boards.
On an average, each inflatable stand up paddle board that I have tested takes around 5-7 minutes to fully inflate. But, the time way vary according to the size of the paddle board, as bigger boards may take up to 10 minutes. It is not necessary to remove the fins of the paddle boards, which have inflation nozzles at the rear end.
SUP Fin Setup
Adding fins in the SUP will help you get the stability and glide performance on different water conditions. Most SUPs come with 2+1 fins where two fins are added on the sides of the SUP and one in the centre. This configuration is best for the majority of conditions.
Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9’10” SUP has a 2+1 fin configuration that comes with a detachable center fin, a roll up carrying strap, a hand hold strap, a leash attachment ring on the tail and a towing ring on the nose.
The fin setup of Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard (10-Feet 8-Inch) can be done using a fastener in a plastic basket and with a patch kit. To screw and unscrew it, you need to use a screwdriver.
ISLE Airtech 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board features 2+1 fin configuration in which the larger centre fin is detachable and the side fins are attached to the board.
The fin setup of Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard is similar to that of ISLE Airtech 10 inches SUP and Tower Paddle boards Adventurer inflatable SUP, as this is the most advanced way of setting up the fin.
iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP has a centre fin that you can attach and remove along with two other fins that will remain attached to the paddle board.
Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Stand up Paddleboard SUP comes with three tie-down removable fins that can be easily attached and removed.
Easy attachment and removal of the fins will reduce the time of setup, thus allowing you have more fun in the water. Companies these days have given slots along with instructions on how to setup fins in the SUPs.
Surfing is all about cutting the waves and move ahead. If the trails of the paddle board are rounded, then it will be hard for it to cut the waves, so paddle boards with sharp edged trails are the ones that are considered the best for surfing. Here is my ranking to all the top paddle boards that we’ve been discussing in this article.
- iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP.
- Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard (10-Feet 8-Inch).
- Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard.
- Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Standup Paddleboard SUP.
- Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9’10” SUP.
- ISLE Airtech 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board.
The price of SUPs or how it costs?
The price depends upon the qualities, features and accessories that you are getting with the main product. Since all the SUPs that we have discussed are excellent, but to make the final decision, you have to consider things like, will you be getting paddles and a carry bag along the SUP or not. There is a significant price difference between the paddle boards that are made of PVC materials to that of the carbon fibre paddle boards. As Carbon fibre paddle boards are more rigid and more durable, so their price is also going to be more expensive. So, everything now lies upon your requirement and budget.
Paddle Board, Stand Up Paddle Board And Inflatable SUP? What Are These Anyways?
A paddle board is like surf board only, but there are certain changes done in the paddle board so that a person can firmly stand on it. A standard paddle board are divided into three classes; Stock paddle boards, Fourteen foot and unlimited. Stock boards are approximately 12 feet long and are ideal for beginners. Whereas, 14 foot boards are extremely popular because they possess the characteristics of both, stock boards and unlimited class boards. Lastly, unlimited boards are 17-18 feet long and are also the fastest boards among all three.
Now, coming to the Stand up paddle boards, these are surf style boards in which the water in manoeuvred with a long paddle. Stand up paddle boarding can be called a cross between surfing and canoeing. The sport was originated in Hawaii in 1960s, and since then, it has been one of the most popular water sports in the world.
What Are The Key Components Of The Best Inflatable SUP?
- Length: The speed of the SUP is directly proportional to its length. The longer the length will be, the faster an SUP will go. But, long length has a drawback as well, i.e., it becomes harder to turn the SUP. For beginners, it is better to choose shorter board as they are much easier to manoeuvre and control. Experienced paddlers can opt for longer paddle boards.
- Width: The width determines stability of the paddle board. A wider paddle board will remain more stable, but the speed is affected. Beginners can go for the paddle boards with larger width, whereas experience contenders can choose short width paddle boards.
- Thickness: To accommodate more and more people on the paddle board, the thickness of the paddle board should be more. A thicker inflatable SUP will also be more rigid. The drawback of a thicker paddle board is that it will be easily tip over due to higher centre of gravity. These days, paddle boards are usually four to six inches thick.
- Hull Shape: If the paddle board has a flat bottom, then it will have much more stability and can be easily manoeuvred, but the speed of the paddle board will be less. One of the fastest designs is the displacement hull because it cuts water more efficiently than any other hull designs. If the hull shape is round, then the paddle board will move a lot faster, but the chances of the flipping over will also increase.
- Nose Rocker: Do you know that the angled front of the paddle board is also quite important. If the nose is not enough rocker, then the paddle board will dive or submerge under the water.
- Rails: Last but not the least, you need to consider rails if you are planning to surf with your paddle board. With rails, you will be in a better position to carve into the rough waves.
Different Types Of Stand Up Paddle Boards?
- Surfing Paddle Board: These are short paddle boards that have a narrow nose and tail. When it comes to nose rocker, it is also curved than flatwater and allround paddle boards. Those who like to surf prefer this paddle board. It is a lot easier to manoeuvre the wave with this surfing paddle board, but the speed will be slower than its counterparts.
- Allround Paddle Board: These are longer, wider and thicker boards. These boards are great for beginners because they tend to remain more stable than any other type of paddle boards. These boards have a fantastic glide and tracking for Open Ocean touring and flatwater paddling. These can also be used for surfing. These paddle boards are highly versatile as the deck of the paddle boards includes a mast foot fitting, which can be used to mount windsurf sailing rig.
- Flatwater paddle board: These boards can be modified to be used for multiple types of paddling. These paddle boards are typically longer and have a pointed nose area that cuts water more efficiently. These boards have rounded sides that provide greater speed to the boards. The only drawback in the board is the higher chances of the flipping over.
- White Water Paddle Boards: These are the most extreme boards that can be used in rough waters. These boards are not for the beginners because they are only effective in the waters where sharp waves are prevalent.
- Racing Paddle Boards: These boards are used where sprint races are to be done to long distances. These boards are usually longer and narrower. The increased water length of the paddle boards ensures more glide.
- Inflatable Paddle Boards: These paddle boards solves multiple issues for paddlers. Those who can’t afford non-inflatable paddle boards can have these. Though, the performance will suffer a bit, but the convenience of carrying the SUP is definitely something to make that up.
Why You Should Choose An Inflatable SUP As Your First Paddle Board? Here Are The Top Reasons:
- Easy travel and Transport: An inflatable stand up paddle lets you travel easily because you can simply roll the paddle board and place it in a bag, which you can carry on your back. This is not possible with non-inflatable stand up paddle board.
- Durability and Stability: The material used in the inflatable stand up boards allows you to paddle in harsh waters where waves are strong and challenging. There is no need to bother about their condition because they can withstand all kinds of obstacles.
- Storage: Storing a stand up paddle board is going to take some space, but if you lack space, then inflatable SUPs are the most suitable option for you. They can be quickly deflated and put inside a bag. You don’t need any storage room or board sack or SUP racks.
- Lightweight: There is no doubt that inflatable SUPs are lighter than the non-inflatable SUPs. When the paddle board is not in use, you can just deflate it and store it a safe place.
- Safety: Though, safety is not guaranteed in any paddle board, but when it comes to inflatable paddle boards, the chances of damages are lessened. Still, I would recommend to use safety gear while going in the water.
- Multiple uses: An inflatable SUP can be used as a tent or a sleeping bag as well. You need to buy the best inflatable SUP, so that it remains intact despite how you intend on using it. You can try doing Yoga on the inflatable SUP as well. So, it is up to you that how you want to use your inflatable stand up paddle board.
It wouldn’t be fair to skip mentioning the disadvantages of inflatable SUP. There are some drawbacks as well, such as:
- Inflate/Deflate Time: You need to inflate the paddle board after using it every single time and deflate it while going back home.
- iSUPs are not stable in stronger wind or choppy water when compare with hard boards
- Inflatable SUPs are not as fast and agility as non-inflatable SUPs.
- If you are fond of surfing, then an inflatable SUP is not the product for you.
Which Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Is Best You?
We have discussed six different inflatable SUPs in this article, so based on that info, I can mention that Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer Inflatable 9’10” SUP Package is excellent for beginners because of its large width and smaller thickness. Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard is another product that beginners can opt for as it also has a greater width that offer more stability.
If you are looking for a paddle board that offers both stability and performance, then ISLE Airtech 10′ All Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle is the one to go with. The length of the paddle allows it to cut the water and make the way, and its decent width provides stability to the paddler. I would add Ten Toes iSUP Inflatable Standup Paddleboard SUP in the same category due to its amazing measurements and a reliable design. These paddle boards are well-suited for those who have a mix of experience in this sport.
For high performance and extreme surfing, I would prefer Blue Wave Sports Stingray Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard and iRocker Paddle Boards 10′ (6″ Thick) Inflatable SUP because of their nose rocker and rails design. When I look at both of those aspects, there is only one thing that comes in my mind, i.e., speed and more speed. These paddle boards are for the pros because these glide very smoothly and offer great fun and excitement. Moreover, the fins of these paddle boards can be taken out easily, thus making them ideal to be used multiple times in a week.
How I Took The Test?
After an in-depth research on the top rated inflatable SUP of 2016, I have finally found it. Tower Adventurer 9’10” Inflatable SUP is the one that has been rated number one this year. While testing it, I found that I can easily put the leash using a D ring. Controlling this paddle board is quite easy, as it comes with a handle that is placed at the centre of the board. I tested it out on flat water, so for that, I attached the long fin that comes along with the product.
To be honest, I am usually afraid of standing on the paddle boards despite having years and years of experience, but when I stood on this paddle board, I never felt as if I am going to fall. With this paddle board, I am sure that surfing can be fun too because it comes with a couple of fins that can be attached to the sides of the board. One of my friends also hop on to the paddle board and I thought, it was going to buckle, but no, it stood firm, thus compelling me to tick mark on that ‘stability parameter’. Overall, this is a great paddle board and can be considered by both, beginners and pros.
The main motive of these paddle board reviews is to make you aware that the world of paddle boards is growing with every passing day. With the inclusion of inflatable paddle boards, the sport has taken a new dimension. I have discussed six different inflatable SUPs, which are good enough for people with no or vast experience in the sport. At the end, all that matters is having fun in the water, so grab an inflatable paddle board and go out in the water to have some fun.