How To Buy An Inflatable Paddle Board

Chris King

Looking to take to the water? Here is everything you need to know about how to choose and buy your first inflatable paddle board perfect for kids and adults.

How To Buy An Inflatable Paddle Board

Though they all come with these benefits, they offer varying features and specifications to meet the different wants and preferences of different individuals.

The following guide will help you find the ideal inflatable stand up paddle board to meet your needs. You will need to identify the different types of boards offered and then the right size for you before narrowing down other factors of consideration.

Buying An Inflatable Paddle Board

Before you can select and buy your ideal board, you need to understand the different types of SUP boards available in the market that meet similar key objectives. Different types of SUP boards

Different types of SUP boards

There are four major types of inflatable SUP boards for sale, which include:

Surf This type of iSUP board is shorter and has a narrower nose and tail as compared to the other two types below. These features make it easy to maneuver on a wave. However, you will realize that they are also slow and will have problems tracking in a straight line when on flat water therefore, contributing to instability.

Allround In comparison to surfboard types, these SUP boards are thicker, wider, as well as longer. It is recommended for first timers in the sport. This is because it allows for diversity where you can try out different aspects of the sport without investing in different boards thus the term “Allround.” The width boosts stability and boosts easy tracking for flat-water paddling. Their added advantage remains to be their versatility.

Flatwater/race These SUP type of boards are specifically designed to meet flat-water, open ocean paddling, as well as down winding. In comparison to allround boards, they are longer and come with a pointed nose.

This increases the glide and makes it easy and faster to get through the waters. In addition, they allow it to move straight thus easy control of the board. Race boards which are under this category are however narrower to help increase on speed and beginners are not recommended to use them.

Yoga Yoga paddle boards are slightly longer and wider than you all round type board, this makes them more stable on the water. They usually have a softer top and have places to clip and store fitness equipment and bands for using on the board when doing your yoga.

Considering the Different Sizes of Inflatable SUP Boards

When looking at the available inflatable SUP boards in the market, you will realize that they come with different volume and length. These two factors determine the size of the board. In turn, it contributes a great deal towards what you can handle without causing any inconvenience. Also, keep in mind that you the size to consider is also dependent on your level of expertise as well as the type of board you intend purchasing.


Each board comes with a weight limit capacity and as you shop, enquire on this, and check it against your weight. You do not what to sink through the waters or prevent mobility.

– The length, width, and thickness are important considerations in determining your board’s stability. While longer board allows you to easily stand on it, it also makes it difficult to retain stability and control. Beginners should avoid very long boards.

– Wider boards offer a wide surface area thus promoting a better grip even in strong tides. This works great for beginners who are still perfecting their balance technique.

Beginners should seek the help of an expert to help them identify the best option. They will calculate the average volume you require. More volume translates to more stability.

Factors to Consider When Buying Inflatable SUP boards come with varying features and specifications. In an effort to meet your specific needs, wants, and preferences, the following are factors to consider when looking to buy the best SUP.

Choice of paddle Many a times, you will get to choose the paddle you will use with your inflatable SUP board. The handle coms with either an ergonomic handle design or a T-bar grip. Choosing this is purely based on your comfort.

An important part of the paddle is the shaft. This comes in different materials ranging from aluminum, glass fibre, carbon, to Kevlar. However, carbon is the most popular material as it is stiff making it easier to handle.

The last part is the blade and this part is used to displace water for better motion. Smaller blades are recommended for starters and for those looking to have fun as they are gentle and will cause less damage. Larger blades are ideal for advanced users looking to cover wider areas faster and for downwind paddling as they displace more water with a stroke.

The brand in question There are different brands of inflatable SUP boards in the market. When looking to buy one, it is best that you search through what other users have to say about the different brands. Lean towards brands that have gained favor with users. Look at the unique features and/or specifications that stand out with the various brands. Bottom line is that you must not compromise on quality.

Popular SUP brands and companies include: Red Paddle Co, Tower, Ten Toes, ISLE, Hala Gear and iRocker.

Accessories to include With a board and paddle, many assume that they have a complete set. There are other accessories you can purchase to ease the use of your boards. While different brands offer different accessories, look to invest in a leash and a buoyancy aid.

A SUP leash comes in handy in ensuring that you remain attached to your board in the event you fall off. There are two types of leashes, coil and standard leashes. Buoyancy Aids depending on your state may be a necessity. Ensure that it is coast guard approved.


iSUP’s are great! They are well priced, they are strong and durable, as they are inflated they are compact and easy to store when not in use, no need for a roof rack to transport or lots of space to store at home in the garage for example. Read our full article ‘Are Inflatable SUP Boards any Good?‘.


  • Compact – The biggest benefit is also the smallest, when not in use they can be deflated and rolled up taking up a lot less space than a solid board.
  • Lightweight – These boards are lighter making them easy to carry and great for kids, beginners and families.
  • Convenient – As they can be deflated and rolled up they are easy to store and take with you in your car, no need for a roof rack or large space to store.
  • Rigid – Once inflated they really are very rigid and robust, they will also bounce off rocks and won’t chip like solid boards.
  • Robust – They are tough to damage and designed cope with bumps and rocks.
  • Price – Inflatable boards are no more expensive then solid boards and can be cheaper in many cases.

Choosing the Right SUP Board

This is a really useful video on choosing the right SUP board, it talks you through the different choices and what you should consider when buying.

The above guide seeks to help you buy the right inflatable stand up paddle board that will meet your needs, wants, and preferences. You have no reason to end up with the wrong board. Identify the different types of boards, what size best suits you, the purpose of buying one, and narrow down by outlining your preferences.

The Different Uses of Inflatable SUP Boards

Inflatable SUP paddle boards come in handy for individuals looking to race, go out fishing, surfing or simple cruising. However, you must put into consideration that not every inflatable boards meets all the above activities. The different designs offered allow you to perform different activities.

On the other hand, it is recommended that you avoid very rocky terrains to ensure that you do not damage your board or injure yourself.

Self-Inflating, Self-Propelled iSUP

Inflatable paddle boards have come on a long way and are very popular, the benefits of being able to take your SUP with your where ever you go with it deflated and packed down into a ruck sack is a huge benefit. SipaBoards have sorted out the one negative of inflatable SUP boards, the inflating part and have come up with a clever self inflating board so you don’t have to do a thing.

Started and backed on the funding site Kickstarter this clever design has become reality. Each Sipa SUP has a built-in air compressor that automatically inflates the board, no need for any manual pumping saving energy for the best bit, being out on the board.

The boards themselves look great, a stylish design that has rubber panels to the top for grip, a section on the front to store flip flops. Self inflating in just 5 minutes gives you time to get your paddles sorted and ready to hit the water.

In the self inflating air collection from Sipa there are 4 boards, the entry level Neo Air, then there is the all rounder, and cruiser air boards, and then the top end board is the balance air. As well as the Air collection there is also the Drive collection is their eco-friendly, electric self-propelled SUP line, and the current boards offered are the All-Rounder, Cruiser, and Fisherman.


We have rounded up some commonly asked questions with regards to stand up paddle boards and shall add to this section to keep it up to date. If you have a question not answered then do get in touch.

What does ‘SUP’ stand for?

SUP stands for “stand up paddle board” or “stand up paddle boarding”. iSUP stands for “inflatable stand up paddle board”

What actually is a stand up paddle board?

Think of a slightly larger surf board which is easy to stand on which you can then use a paddle to move you along with. They are great for exploring on still water or even on the coast, if you like yoga then an SUP for yoga is a fantastic way to relax and perform these exercise.

What should I wear for stand up paddle boarding?

If the weather is good then swimwear or shorts is perfect. If it is cooler and the water maybe colder then you may consider a wet suit.

How much does a stand up paddle board weigh? Traditional solid paddle board can weigh around 30 pounds plus or minus, some can be heavier depending on size and some can be lighter. In comparison inflatable paddle boards are usually lighter than solid SUP boards.Do I need to wax the top of a inflatable paddle board?

The answer is usually no, the majority of inflatable paddle boards come with a rubber traction top layer where you stand providing excellent grip for standing or doing yoga on.

Where can I stand up paddle board?

If there is water then your need your SUP. Still lakes, moving rivers or out in the sea an inflatable stand up paddle board is perfect for getting out on.

Do I need waves in order to paddle board?

If you are surfing then yes you need waves, however with a paddle board you can adventure out on still lakes and use your paddle to move you along and seek out hidden little hide aways.

How durable is an inflatable paddle board?

Inflatable SUP’s have come a long way and are almost indestructible, designed for wear and tear they are very robust. Cheaper SUP boards will be made from cheaper materials and the more expensive the better quality boards you will find that are better constructed.

Should I buy a Solid board or an Inflatable SUP?

There are pros and cons to both, depending on what is important to you will help you decide which is the better option. We have a article here on Solid Vs inflatable SUP Boards.

About the author: Chris loves the outdoors and has developed a love of gadgets and inflatable toys, from kayaking and paddle boarding to relaxing in his hot tub at home. The founder of WhichInflatable and has been the editor for 7 years.

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