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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- Length: Paddleboards range from around 9 to 13 feet long. Longer boards are faster but shorter boards offer more stability.
- 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.
- Thickness: The last measurement to consider is the board’s thickness. Thin boards are faster but thick boards are easier to maneuver.
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.
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.)
- EXTRA WIDE FOR BETTER BALANCE: Measuring 10’6 feet long & 32 inches wide, balancing & stabilizing on top of our SUP board is a breeze.
- SOFT, STABLE & ANTI-SLIP TOP DECK: Perfect for beginners, we've upgraded this inflatable paddle board with a no-slip soft top that cushions your fall when slips or accidents occur. They happen to the best of us, so might as well be prepared
- BEST PADDLING MANEUVERABILITY: Outfitted with triple bottom panel fins, steering & handling the stand up inflatable paddle boards is incredibly easy. Offering exceptional surf control, you'll be gliding & skimming the water like a sea creature
- PORTABLE & INFLATABLE SUP BOARD: 100% travel-friendly, this unique SUP inflatable paddle board is preferred by those who have a knack for adventure. Take it with you on surfing excursions or keep it in your car for those times you want to explore.
- ALL-IN-1 BLOW UP PADDLE BOARD KIT: Complete with must-have paddle board accessories, our SUP paddle board will have you ready to hit the waves. Includes 10' board, coiled ankle cuff safety leash, Upgraded Aluminum paddle, manual air pump & storage bag.
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.
- Roc’s Paddle Boards are now made with the highest-grade material that is 50% stronger than competitors boards. Find out why Roc is the top-rated paddle board sold on Amazon and around the world.
- With an industry leading 350lbs weight limit. You can see why Roc is committed to manufacturing the safest most reliable paddle board on the market.
- Our extra wide design creates an incredible all-around board for all skill levels. Making it the perfect board for all.
- All boards come complete with premium accessories that are superior to other board packs
- Roc is proud to provide an industry leading 2 Year manufacturer’s warranty
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.
- AIRTECH CONSTRUCTION - 11' x 32" x 6" | 238 Liters | Max Rider Weight 275 Lbs | Board Weight 22 Lbs | 5 Minutes to Inflate/Deflate
- GREAT FOR ADVENTURE - Extra gear storage for those who like to paddle off the beaten path
- ULTRA DURABLE - Constructed with Military Grade PVC | 6" thick - No more dings or damage
- INCLUDES iSUP ACCESSORY BUNDLE - Adjustable Carbon Shaft / Nylon Blade Paddle, Carry backpack, High Pressure Pump, Coil Leash, ISLE Sticker Pack & Manual, and Snap In Travel Fin
- 60 DAY GUARANTEE + 1 YEAR WARRANTY ON MATERIALS - Risk free returns within 30 days
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.
- SPECS – 12’6” x 31” x 6” | 325 liters of volume to support beginner paddlers up to 275 pounds | Board weight of 20.5 pounds.
- STABILITY FOR FITNESS – Wide nose and tail outline offer an ultra-stable platform for SUP yoga and other forms of on-the-water exercise.
- ULTRA-DURABLE CONSTRUCTION – Built with Military-Grade PVC -- 6" thick when fully inflated. Forget about dings or blown seams thanks to our AIRTECH FUSION LITE manufacturing process that’s durable and lightweight with a unique bond that can't be achieved via traditional hand-gluing.
- INCLUDES iSUP ACCESSORY BUNDLE – All inflatable stand up paddle boards come with a complete package that includes: Hybrid 3-Piece Adjustable SUP Travel Paddle, Carry Backpack, High-Pressure Pump, 8’ Coil Leash, ISLE Sticker Pack & Manual, and Nylon Touring Center Fin.
- 60 DAY RIDE AND LOVE IT GUARANTEE – Ride it and love it or return it! If you don’t love your Discovery inflatable paddle board, we will take it back. We stand behind every product we make!
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.
- BUILT FOR EXPLORATION: Designed for the paddle board warrior, the inflatable SUP board features a hybrid nose for fishing, touring, snorkeling, spear fishing, or recreational paddling in all weather conditions
- 35% LIGHTER CONSTRUCTION: Weighs only 19.5 lbs when inflated and the extra wide stance ensures a stable and sturdy stand up paddleboard; soft EVA deck pad adds comfort for additional rider or dog, plus room for equipment; Up to 275 lb. weight capacity. Variety of color choices.
- READY TO SURF iSUP ACCESSORY BUNDLE: Ideal for all skill levels and water conditions, the set includes a PEAK inflatable paddle board, paddle, coil leash, high pressure pump, and fin; all fits in the included carry backpack. Quick to inflate and store.
- TOUGH 6” MILITARY GRADE PVC CONSTRUCTION: Puncture-resistant tough outer shell means no worrying about dings or damage; lightweight design with nose and tail carry handle for easy transport; front and rear bungee cord secures water bottle and gear.
- USA-DESIGNED AND RISK FREE RETURN: 30 day guarantee and 1 year warranty on materials. USA-based company with USA customer service. Affordable, authentic, and built for convenience.