Best Inflatable Paddle Boards (SUP)

Paddleboards have been around for generations, but the current stand-up inflatable paddle board (SUP) craze traces its origins to the surf community in Hawaii. A paddleboard is basically a surfboard you propel with a long paddle. Stand-up paddleboarding is a sport that’s quickly spread beyond the big waves of the Pacific and is now practiced around the world on oceans, lakes, and rivers.

Part of paddleboarding’s widespread appeal is the range of experiences the sport offers. It can be a leisure activity, an intense cardio workout, or paired with fishing. Or, if stillness is more your style, there’s even SUP yoga.

Though the basic design remains the same, paddle boards are available in a variety of makes and models. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing your first paddleboard:

  1. Solid or inflatable: Solid paddleboards are made from either a foam core wrapped in fiberglass or plastic. Inflatable SUPs are made from PVC and usually come with a pump. (The latter can also be folded up and stored in a large bag between uses.)
  2. Hull type: There are two types of hulls, planing and displacement. Planing hulls have a rounded tip and are slightly raised out of the water. It’s a design that makes the board easier to maneuver. Displacement hulls are pointed and are meant to cut through the water while keeping the board on course. This type of board is better suited to long-distance paddling. No matter the hull style, all boards come with at least one fin on the underside to aid with tracking. On inflatable boards, the fins are removable.
  3. Length: Paddleboards range from around 9 to 13 feet long. Longer boards are faster but shorter boards offer more stability.
  4. Width: Just like board length, width is a factor in a board’s speed and stability. Narrower boards are faster and wider boards are more stable.
  5. Thickness: The last measurement to consider is the board’s thickness. Thin boards are faster but thick boards are easier to maneuver.

best inflatable paddle board - on a lake near the city

In this post, we’re focusing on inflatable stand-up paddleboards. The word “inflatable” might bring to mind a child’s pool toy or a cheap air mattress. Rest assured an inflatable SUP looks nothing like either of those things. Once inflated, it’s sometimes hard to tell an inflatable board from a hard board.

Inflatable paddleboards are great for beginners but they’re also an ideal option for people who don’t have a lot of storage space or don’t have a dependable way to transport their paddleboard. Because they’re deflated and folded up when you’re finished, inflatable paddleboards can easily fit in the trunk of a car. (An inflatable paddleboard is also the softer option if you plan to use it for yoga.) Here are some of top options for both beginners and more experienced paddlers.

The Boards

For Beginners

This board offers good stability for first-timers and a cushioned no-slip surface. The board also comes with some important extras: a safety leash, aluminum paddle, pump, and storage bag. (It’s also an Amazon #1 best seller.)

At 32 inches wide, this board offers a bit more stability than our first option. Like the SereneLife model, this board also comes with a full kit that includes a safety leash, paddle, pump, carrying bag, and bonus dry bag for your phone and keys.

If you’re looking for a shorter board (remember, shorter boards offer greater stability), at 9 feet 9 inches, this board from Pathfinder is the shortest on our list. This board comes with the customary kit of extras.

For Experienced Paddlers

With a displacement hull and longer length, this model from ISLE is made for paddlers looking for a little more adventure. A bungee system allows for extra gear storage and the board comes with three removable fins for increased tracking.

One step up from ISLE’s Explorer model is the Discovery. This model is more than a foot longer and slightly more narrow. Ideal for serious paddlers and touring.

Peak bills this model as a multipurpose board (fishing, touring, or recreation) yet its streamline shape and durable construction make it a great choice for adventure paddling.