If you’re reading this article then you’ve probably realised that stand up paddle boards are one of the most versatile and fun way of exploring rivers, lakes, and oceans. Like us, you’ve probably also noticed that a 9 to 11-foot hardboard is a little too bulky to take on your travels. Fortunately, there’s no need to rush out and buy a 4×4 to transport your new paddle board because inflatable SUP boards are the future of this recreational water sport. The best inflatable paddle boards offer a lightweight and portable alternative which are giving hardboards a good run for their money. Not only are they considerably more lightweight and easier to carry than their fibreglass competitors, but their durable airtight construction, streamline shaping, and additional features skimp on neither practicality nor functionality.
- The best inflatable paddle boards in 2021
- What to look for when choosing the best inflatable stand up paddle boards
Here at Cool of the Wild, we understand that you’re far too busy catching waves and exploring coves to research every single inflatable paddle board on the market. That’s why we’ve put down our own paddles to do the research and create this list of the best inflatable SUP boards of 2021.
And if you’re not really sure what stand up paddle boarding is all about, then be sure to read our Try Something New guide.
Summary of the best inflatable stand up paddle boards in 2021
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|Bluefin Cruise 10.8 SUP||All-round use||10' 8"||33"||$$|
|Red Paddle Co Voyager 13.2 Paddle Board||Touring and camping||13' 2"||30"||$$$$$|
|iRocker Nautical||Beginners||10' 6"||32"||$$|
|Pathfinder Inflatable SUP||Exploring||9' 9"||30"||$|
|Red Paddle Co. Activ MSL||Yoga||10' 8"||34"||$$$$$|
|Hala Carbon Playa Paddle Board||Surf||10' 11"||30"||$$$$$|
|Bluefin SUP Sprint 14 Paddle Board||Touring||14'||30"||$$$|
|Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board||All-round use||11'||32"||$$|
|Red Paddle Co Voyager Tandem Inflatable||Tandem paddline||15'||38"||$$$$$$|
The best inflatable paddle boards in 2021
Best for: All round use
The newly improved Bluefin Cruise 10.8 SUP is one of the most versatile SUP packages on the market. With enough storage for overnight camping, superb tracking and stability in even the most tricky conditions, and the ability to turn on a dime, it’s an ideal option for a variety of paddling adventures. Beginner and advanced paddlers alike will love how easy it is to set up and use, and because it’s so lightweight for its size, it’s easy to take to far off places too.
But what really sets the Cruise apart from the other options on our list, is its ability to be paddled like a kayak. The kayak conversion kit is a doddle to clip onto the top of the board for an alternative paddling position – especially useful in windy conditions. Additionally, the board is super durable with a 5 year warranty, and the package includes a backpack carry case, pump, a second paddle to convert to a kayak paddle, a repair kit, coiled leash and a removable fin. All in all, a highly appealing option for years of paddle-powered fun.
For more information read our full review of the Bluefin Cruise 10.8 SUP.
- Good value
- Easy to turn
- Includes kayak conversion kit
- Very stable
- We’re still looking!
Best for: touring and camping
At 13.2 feet long and 30 inches wide, the Voyager 13.2 is the longest high-end inflatable paddle board on our list. Boasting a ton of gear attachment points and enhanced stability, this premium SUP is ideal for multi-day SUP camping trips and touring. Though it is one of the more pricey options, the Voyager offers features that you just won’t find on lower-end SUPS. Features that are well worth the extra spend if you intend on spending days at a time negotiating on the water. These include the Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) that is unique to Red Paddle Co. Battens are inserted into the 5.9 inch side walls of the SUP to increase the stiffness of the board by up to 40%. This enables heavier loads and/or people (up to 150kgs / 330lbs) to be carried on the board without compromising speed and stability.
Performance-wise, the Voyager soars superbly through flat waters – cruising with easy and speed that fiercely compete with sea kayaks. On choppy water it still cuts through with surprising ease, even when the board is fully loaded with gear.
Additionally, the Voyager comes with a paddle, pump, removable fin, repair kit, leash and a highly useful backpack that also has roller wheels!
For more information see our full review of the Red Paddle Co Voyager 13.2 Paddle Board
- Loads of gear attachment points
- Highly stable when loaded with weight
- Very speedy on flat water
- 5 year warranty
Best for: beginners
The iROCKER Nautical offers a stable platform for beginners to get to grips with the sport. This wide 32″ board is almost impossible to flip and its large grip pad will keep your feet firmly planted whilst you find your balance. Plus, the three flip-lock fins mean that it is adaptable to various water conditions. The Nautical really shines when it comes to maneuverabilty making it a versatile board for slow moving rivers, lakes or calm seas.
Although the iRocker is best suited to beginners, its bungee cargo straps and D-ring attachments also make it a comfortable option for touring. Its dual layer military grade drop stitch construction makes the iRocker Nautical super durable. But if something aside from normal wear and tear does happen to make it through the iRocker’s tough shell then don’t panic — the product is covered by a 1-year warranty.
The iRocker inflatable paddle board is not the cheapest item on our list but for the quality of materials and additional features, such as a carry backpack, dual action hand pump, and adjustable fibreglass paddle, we think it’s worthy of its price tag.
- Very stable design
- Highly manueverable
- Reasonable Price
- 1 Year Warranty
- The pump can be a little temperamental
Best for: exploringThe Pathfinder is a well-made budget inflatable SUP for seas, rivers or lakes. Its short 9’9” length and narrower 30” width give it the tight turning circle that you need for exploring small coves or ocean caves. The Pathfinder doesn’t compromise on materials either. Though the adjustable paddle is aluminium rather than fibreglass, the board itself is made with drop stitch construction and durable multilayer PVC.
Despite its low price tag, the Pathfinder Inflatable SUP comes as a full package. This includes a carry bag, handpump, removable centre fin, adjustable aluminium paddle, and valve wrench, as well as a built-in Eva gripping pad and bungee cord attachments. The key difference between this budget inflatable SUP and its higher-priced competitors is the weight and thickness. At a hefty 25 lbs it’s certainly not the fastest board on the market and while it’s 5” thickness does provide a rigid base, its weight limit is restricted to 240 lbs.
- Easy manoeuvrability
- Comfortable Eva gripping pad
- Low price
- The heavier design makes it slower on the water
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Best for: yoga
The Activ MSL Stand Up Paddle Board from Red Paddle Co. is designed for yogi’s looking for a full body workout on the water. Not only does the 34″ width and 10’8” length provide superior stability, but it also creates a larger space for poses.
The board features a full-length EVA deck pad which offers extra comfort as well as the sticky surface necessary for keeping you’re downward-dog out of the water. Furthermore, the central line will help to keep your peaceful warrior in alignment. The Activ MSL Stand Up Paddle Board is fitted with carry handles which are placed on the outer edge of the board, rather than the centre, so that they don’t disrupt your flow.
When it comes to rigidity, the Activ MSL features a drop-stitch construction and air-tight laminated coating which is inflatable to 5”. For ease of use Red Paddle Co. have also included a storage backpack, dual-chamber pump, and a water-resistant phone case for listening to calming mantras whilst out floating in savasana.
- Wide base and thickness make it very stable
- Full-length EVA pad for improved grip
- Sturdy airtight construction
- Best suited for use on flat water
- Paddle not included
Best for: surf
The streamlined Playa Inflatable SUP Board from Hala is the best inflatable SUP for surfing or touring on our list. Its shorter length is countered by its low rails and elevated bow and tail. This allows surfers to catch the waves more easily, and also makes the Hala Playa very easy to manoeuvre. Surfers can feel confident standing on the Hala Playa, too, due to its diamond groove EVA deck pad.
The board comes with three click-to-remove fins: two 4” fins and one large 8” centre flex fin. This makes the board extremely versatile as users can adjust the fin set up to suit the paddling conditions. Speaking of versatility, the Hala Playa is fitted with multiple D-rings and front bungee cords for attaching gear or even a kayak seat.
The only downside is that the Hala Playa Inflatable SUP comes with a premium price tag. However, Hala is known for producing top quality inflatable paddle boards and the Playa iSUP is no exception. The board is made from a fusion of carbon and drop stitch construction which gives a similar look, feel, and durability to a hardboard.
- Streamline design for fast paddling
- Quality build and materials
- Plenty of attachments
- Includes backpack, paddle, pump and repair kit
- 5-year warranty
- Very expensive
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Best for: Touring and racing
The Bluefin SUP Sprint 14 Paddle Board is the longest single person SUP on our list. It boasts a 14 foot inflated platform from which to take on longer and more committed watery adventures. Designed with speed and distance in mind, the Sprint is similar to the Red Voyager, offering lots of gear storage and a slender, pointed shape. However, the extra length of the Sprint provides more space on the deck to spread out and adds a little more glide to the board. Additionally, the curved nose of the Sprint adds a degree of resilience against choppy and windy conditions.
The Sprint is also an excellent option if you don’t want to take out a second mortgage to buy your board! Bluefin sells their SUPs as whole packages to include a backpack, paddle, pump, leash and repair kit. And though their prices are much lower than Red Paddle Co boards, they still manage to create very good quality products.
The Sprint offers a surprising amount of stability, for its length, and is a superb value option for intermediate paddlers looking to take their adventures a little further afield.
For more information read our full review of the Bluefin SUP Sprint 14 Paddle Board.
- Superb value without compromising on quality
- Stable for its length
- Loads of storage options
- Excellent tracking
- 5-year warranty
- Not great for beginner paddlers
- Heavy compared with allrounder iSUPs
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Best for: all-around use
The Peak Expedition Inflatable SUP is the best inflatable SUP on our list for all-around use. Its 32 inch width and ridged 6 inch thickness, combined with a non-slip EVA deck pad, make it a very stable SUP board for beginners. Meanwhile, the hybrid nose can cut through ocean waves, river current or flat lakes with ease. The 6-point bungee system, tail-mounted D-rings, and 350-pound weight limit mean that you’ll have no problems carrying your kit, pet, or even another person.
The Peak Expedition is made from super hard-wearing dual layer military grade PVC. Despite this, it’s still one of the lightest iSUPs on the market, weighing in at only 19.5 lbs. When it comes to portability, the Peak Expedition features both nose and tail carry handles and packs neatly away into a carry backpack. Like most paddle boards in this price range, the Peak Expedition comes with a pump, pressure gauge, ankle leash, detachable centre fin, and collapsible paddle. The package also includes a waterproof phone case.
- Versatile usage
- Sturdy and lightweight
- Comes with a comprehensive package
- 1-year warranty and 30-day return guarantee
- Not the fastest SUP board
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Best for: tandem paddling
Like to paddle with a friend? The 15 foot Voyager Tandem Inflatable SUP is a large sized paddle board which caters to the needs of tandem paddlers. It features a wide 38 inch base, longer than average length and a 700-pound weight limit. And with front and centre bungee cords it can certainly carry enough gear for a full day on the water. The 8 inch thickness improves flotation and keeps the board from bending in the middle whilst fully loaded.
The Voyager Tandem iSUP even includes two special fixtures, compatible with Railblaza and Ram Mounts, for attaching an action camera or mobile phone. Despite its size, the Red Paddle Co Voyager Tandem is reasonably lightweight and highly durable due to its polyester/PVC/nylon fusion, airtight coating and drop stitch construction.
The Voyager Tandem Inflatable SUP from Red Paddle Co may be the priciest item on our list, however, it does come with a very comprehensive package including a 2-year manufacturers warranty, titan pump, hand pump, repair kit, water-resistant phone case, and carry backpack.
- Large volume
- Ridged design with high a weight limit
- Durable construction
- 2-year warranty
- High price tag
What to look for when choosing the best inflatable stand up paddle boards
The first thing to consider when looking choosing an inflatable paddle board is what you will be using it for and where you will be taking it. Believe it or not, SUPs are used for more than just pootling round the bay in calm conditions:
Stand up paddle boards for touring
These are usually used for journeys on slow moving rivers, lakes and calm seas. They should be easy to maneuver and move quickly through the water with enough stability and volume to store gear.
- Long (12+ feet)
- Wide (31+ inches)
- Gear tie downs
- Space for gear
Stand up paddle boards for yoga
If practicing yoga on solid ground doesn’t float your boat, then hop on a SUP and see how you get on! SUPs for yoga are used only on calm, flat water and provide a very stable, large base for yogis to float away on.
- Wide (32-35+ inches)
- Flat bottom and top
- Medium length (10-12 feet)
- Comfortable deck pad
- Paddle tie downs
Stand up paddle boards for surfing
When waves are a little on the small side or if they form in such a way that make them hard to catch on a regular surfboard, then surf them on a paddleboard instead!
- Short to medium length (8-12 feet)
- Narrow (under 32 inches)
- Thin rails
- Extra nose rocker (curled up slightly at the front)
- No tie downs
The width of an inflatable paddle boards range from around 28 inches to as much as 38 inches. The width that you choose depends on a number of things, include:
- Big people need a wider board for greater stability.
- Small people need something narrow to be able to manoeuvre the board more easily.
The type of paddling you will be doing
- Narrow boards are good for speed and manoeuvrability (touring and surfing)
- Wide boards are good for stability and if you are carrying lots of stuff (yoga and exploring)
Your skill level
- Beginners generally do better on wider boards as they are more stable.
- Experienced paddlers should be comfortable on narrower boards, although this depends on the type of stand up paddle boarding they are doing.
The length of an inflatable paddle board effects how the board will handle in the water. In general, long boards go faster, short boards are more easily manoeuvrable and medium length boards are good all-rounders.
- Long — 12+ feet
- Medium — 10-12 feet
- Short — under 10 feet
Each paddleboard comes with a recommended weight capacity. This is effected by the volume of the board. The greater the volume, the more it can carry. So be sure to check that the board you choose has the capacity to carry you and whatever gear you intend carrying onboard.
All paddleboards come with fins on the base of the board. They provide stability and tracking. Without them the board is more likely to be affected by wind, currents or waves, taking you off course.
Fins on inflatable paddleboards are usually detachable, although some are attached but flexible.
Drop stitching is a design feature of many inflatable products that enables them to be inflated until they are completely rigid. Tens of thousands of tiny fine threads internally join the top and the bottom of the board. All high quality inflatable paddle boards will have a drop stitch construction.
A carry bag is an essential accessory for paddlers that opt for an inflatable board over a hard board. The bag should ideally be a padded backpack that can easily carry your deflated board to the water without the need for a vehicle.