Generally, inflatables are cheap, low quality, garish, and reserved for kids’ toys, novelty items, and family fun at the beach. When you think of an inflatable alternative to a solid wood or carbon fiber product, quality and durability aren’t the first things that spring to mind.
But is the same true for inflatable stand up paddle boards? These boards are often hailed as the perfect option for beginners seeking a low-cost solution, but is that true, and are inflatables actually worth the cost?
Are Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards Any Good?
Inflatable SUP boards are generally of a much higher quality than they get credit for. They are not blow-up toys and they are definitely not cheap and nasty.
It’s often assumed that inflatables are not very rigid or durable, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of technology goes into the creation of an inflatable paddle board and they are designed to provide all of the benefits that you need in a quality SUP board.
As with anything else, the quality can differ greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the highest quality inflatable boards are made from military-grade, high-density layers of PVC on the outside with the inflatable aspect on the inside. The result is that inflatable paddle boards are often very rigid while also being lightweight and easy to transport.
In simple terms, yes, inflatable paddle boards are definitely worth it. In fact, while they are often dismissed as mere “beginner boards”, intermediate and even advanced paddle boarders are increasingly discovering the benefits of these boards and adding them to their quivers.
Benefits of an Inflatable Paddle Board
- It is often a more affordable option (although that’s not always the case)
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Durable and rigid
- Easy to travel with
- Easy to store in the home and on the road
How To Choose An Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
It’s easy to get caught up in the specifics when you’re looking for an inflatable SUP board. What really matters, however, is that you hit all of the following points:
- Volume: Often expressed in liters, the volume dictates how much water will be displaced and, as a result, how much weight the board can support.
- Weight Capacity: The maximum rider weight that the board can support.
- Length: Short boards are designed for children and much shorter adults. Medium boards and long boards are where most adults should focus their attentions. Medium is often best for SUP yoga while long boards are suitable for touring.
- Price: Find an inflatable SUP that suits your budget. Remember that paying more doesn’t always mean you’re getting more, and if you’re new, it’s best to stick with a low-cost option and then upgrade if you determine that it’s the right sport for you.
SUP Surfing on an Inflatable Board
To make sure you have the best experience possible on your SUP board, take a look at the following FAQs, covering some of the most commonly asked questions about inflatable paddle boards.
How To Inflate A Stand Up Paddle Board
It’s not difficult to inflate an inflatable SUP board, but it will take some practice before you get used to it.
The first step is to remove the SUP board from your bag and lay it out flat. Remove the valve cap and make sure that the pin is upright, as it means that the valve is closed and won’t leak.
Insert the pump, lock it in place, and start pumping. All boards should come with a recommended PSI, and you will need to stop when your board reaches this amount.
When you have finished, remove the hose, and replace the cap. You are now ready to take your board onto the water!
How Long Does it Take to Inflate?
It depends on the board and the pump, but it usually takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes and will typically be a little quicker if you are using a tailormade SUP electric pump.
How To Clean An Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
An inflatable SUP is very easy to clean and you don’t need any special tools or detergents. A little warm soapy water will suffice for removing stubborn dirt and stains, and the rest of the time you can just turn your garden hose on the board.
Once it has been thoroughly cleaned, just dry it, and store it.
Clean your board after every session to remove dirt, sand, salt, and other debris and to extend its life.
How Long Do Inflatable Stand up Paddle Boards Last?
If you keep it in good condition, an inflatable SUP board should last more than 5 years and could stay intact for over 10 years. It all depends on how often you clean it and how well you treat it.
Remove dirt and debris before you store it away. Don’t force it into drawers or place heavy objects on top of it when it has been deflated and fix it when you notice leaks and damage.
Are Inflatable Stand up Paddle Boards Good for Beginners?
An inflatable SUP board is a great option for a first-time paddle boarder. You can carry it around in your backpack, don’t need a lot of space to store it at home, and it’s very lightweight, durable, and affordable.
How To Find Holes In Your Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Are you worried that your inflatable SUP board has a leak? The easiest way to find the hole is to brush your board with soapy water. If there is a hole, the air will force bubbles through the soap and make its location known.
How To Fix Or Patch A Leaking Stand Up Inflatable Paddle Board
You can fix a punctured inflatable paddle board using some basic tools and a little knowledge.
The easiest way is to buy a repair kit made for an inflatable SUP board. It will include patches that you can cut and stick to the board, as well as glue and paintbrushes.
If that’s not an option and you don’t have a patch, adhesive and a brush will work just as well.
Simply deflate the board, make sure it’s dry, and lie it flat. Brush a thin layer of glue over the damaged area and wait for it to dry before applying another layer. Once you have done this a few times, it should be strong enough to get back on the water.
However, the proper repair process (using patches and/or an SUP repair kit) is the best way to fix your board.
Summary: Buying an Inflatable SUP Board
As you can see, an inflatable SUP is definitely worth the purchase, and that’s true whether you’re a complete novice buying a first-time board or an experienced rider looking for something more convenient.
Take a look around, see what inflatable SUP boards are available, and don’t let the name put you off. These are definitely not toys and while they are affordable and inexpensive, they are not “cheap”!