Paddle boarding

Best Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards

If you’re reading this article then you’ve probably realized 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 flexible and easier to carry than their fibreglass competitors, but their durable airtight construction, streamline shaping, and additional features skimp on neither practicality nor functionality.

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 2018.

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.

ProductBest forLengthWidthCost
iRocker CruiserBeginners10' 6"33"$$
Tower Inflatable Stand Up Paddle BoardBeginners9' 10"32"$$
Pathfinder Inflatable SUPExploring9' 9"30"$
Red Paddle Co. Activ MSLYoga10' 8"34"$$$$$
Hala Playa Inflatable SUP BoardSurf10' 11"30"$$$$$
Sea Eagle NeedleNoseTouring14'30"$$$$
Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle BoardAll-round use11'32"$$
Red Paddle Co Voyager Tandem InflatableTandem paddline15'38"$$$$$$

The best inflatable paddle boards in 2018

iRocker Cruiser

iRocker Cruiser

Best for: beginners

The iRocker Cruiser offers a stable platform for beginners to get to grips with the sport. This wide 33″ board is almost impossible to flip and its large diamond grip pad will keep your feet firmly planted whilst you find your balance. The wider tail and built-in skeg also mean that the iRocker can take to the sea and handle just like a hardboard.

Although the iRocker is best for beginners, its bungee cargo straps and D-ring attachments make it a comfortable option for touring, too. Its quad layer construction gives paddlers 4 layers of extremely durable PVC to protect from scraping on rocks or water debris. This, combined with dual fusion, heat welded seams and high-density drop stitch internal core, makes the iRocker cruiser practically indestructible. 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 2-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 handpump, and adjustable fibreglass paddle, we think it’s worthy of its price tag.

Pros

  • Very stable design
  • Lightweight
  • Reasonable Price
  • 2 Year Warranty

Cons

  • Side fins are not removable

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Tower Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Tower Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Best for: beginners

The Tower Adventure 1 is a reasonably priced option for those who are new to stand up paddle boarding. Unlike most budget SUPs in this price range, the Tower Universal SUP can hold a weight of up to 350 pounds. Its shell features a drop-stitch construction and sturdy military grade PVC which inflates to a thickness of 6”. This solid base which won’t dip under your feet. Likewise, the Tower Universal SUP offers a wide 32” stance making it a stable choice for beginners or children.

For use on choppy waters, the Adventure 1’s diamond groove deck offers excellent grip at times when you need it most. Although the shorter length of 9’10” is not ideal for touring it does make the Tower inflatable paddle board very easy to manoeuvre while the removable centre fin improves the overall handling. Like most iSUPs, the Tower Adventure 1 comes with a 3-piece fibreglass paddle, hand pump, and a carry strap. Our only gripes with this budget-friendly inflatable SUP is the lack of attachments for carrying gear, and that the product doesn’t come with a carry bag or backpack.

Pros

  • Wide base and easy manoeuvrability
  • Great value for money
  • Made from high quality materials
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • Nowhere to attach stuff sack or seat
  • Package does not include a carry bag

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Pathfinder Inflatable SUP

Pathfinder Inflatable SUP

Best for: exploring

The 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.

Pros

  • Easy manoeuvrability
  • Comfortable Eva gripping pad
  • Low price

Cons

  • The heavier design makes it slower on the water

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Red Paddle Co. Activ MSL

Red Paddle Co. Activ MSL

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.

Pros

  • Wide base and thickness make it very stable
  • Full-length EVA pad for improved grip
  • Sturdy airtight construction

Cons

  • Best suited for use on flat water
  • Paddle not included

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Hala Playa Inflatable SUP Board

Hala Playa Inflatable SUP Board

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, and it’s slightly disappointing that a paddle is not included in the package. 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.

Pros

  • Streamline design for fast paddling
  • Quality build and materials
  • Plenty of attachments
  • Includes a 12V car pump and repair kit
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Paddle not included

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Sea Eagle NeedleNose

Sea Eagle Needle Nose Inflatable SUP

Best for: touring

The Needle Nose 14 foot Inflatable SUP is a mid-priced option for serious stand-up paddlers. It features a versatile design with a sharp bow which breaks through waves, as well as a curved shape and custom kickboard. These features, combined with its reinforced drop stitch seams and 1000 denier fabric, provide a rigid 6 inch thick base which makes the NN14 suitable for touring in almost all conditions.

Additionally, the NN14 has a full-length diamond deck pad for extra grip and comfort whilst kneeling or standing on longer journeys. The entry-level package comes with a 3-piece fibreglass paddle, as well as a repair kit, carry backpack, detachable skeg, and hand pump, making it a very competitively priced product. A key feature of the NN14 from Sea Eagle is its straight-line hull which offers paddlers improved speed and stability with no upturn.

Pros

  • Excellent tracking
  • Wave piercing bow
  • Versatile usage
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Not the best option for beginners due to its narrower width.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Peak Expedition Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

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.

Pros

  • Versatile usage
  • Sturdy and lightweight
  • Comes with a comprehensive package
  • 1-year warranty and 30-day return guarantee

Cons

  • Not the fastest SUP board

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Red Paddle Co Voyager Tandem Inflatable

Red Paddle Co Voyager Tandem Inflatable

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.

Pros

  • Large volume
  • Ridged design with high a weight limit
  • Durable construction
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • High price tag

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


What to look for when choosing the best inflatable stand up paddle boards

01Uses

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:

  • The best inflatable stand up paddle board for touring

    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.
    Desirable features:

    • Long (12+ feet)
    • Wide (31+ inches)
    • Gear tie downs
    • Space for gear
    • Thick
  • Woman doing Yoga on SUP

    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.
    Desirable features:

    • Wide (32-35+ inches)
    • Thick
    • Flat bottom and top
    • Medium length (10-12 feet)
    • Comfortable deck pad
    • Paddle tie downs
  • Woman surfing on an SUP

    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!
    Desirable features:

    • 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

02Width

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:

Your size

  • 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.

03Length

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

04Weight capacity

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.

05Fins

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.

06Drop stitching

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.

07Carry bag

A carry bag is an essential accessories 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.

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