Paddleboarding is a great sport with lots of benefits, but the equipment is not cheap. When shopping for an SUP (stand up paddleboard), most people will typically try to find the best board, since they will be investing a good amount of money in it.
The same goes for inflatable boards, as they can cost just as much, if not more than a traditional epoxy or fiberglass board. What you want to keep in mind when comparing equipment is what you plan to use your gear for. That is how you will find the best inflatable SUP for you.
What You May Notice When You Comparison Shop…
When comparing different styles and models of SUPs, you may notice that they are very similar. They are generally four to six inches thick, 30 to 36 inches wide, and about 10 feet long. Most are made of similar materials and have a foam traction pad to stand on when paddling. Boards usually also come with a carrying handle and d-rings or straps for carrying cargo.
So How Do You Choose?
Most likely you are purchasing a paddleboard so that you can paddle, right? That’s obvious. But let’s look as some other factors that will make your shopping process a whole lot easier. Once you answer these questions, you will know exactly which features to look for. Then you can easily eliminate styles that don’t suit your needs and find the best inflatable sup for you.
1. Will you use your SUP for surfing?
If you want to take up paddlesurfing or plan to spend a majority of your time in rough water, it’s a good idea to stick with a firm board that has less bounce. Look for a board that inflates to a higher psi. If the board advertises a “progressive rocker,” this is good for surfing as well. The C4 Waterman is an example of an inflatable SUP with a progressive rocker.
2. Do you want to fish from your SUP?
Believe it or not, some people purchase an SUP for fishing instead of paddling. SUPs can be a great alternative to expensive fishing boats because they cost less, plus they are easier to transport. Inflatable paddleboards designed for fishing will typically be wider and longer for more space and increased stability. They also usually include a greater number of rings and straps for attaching fishing gear. Badfish is a company that is known for making these types of SUPs.
3. Will you be traveling with your board?
Of course, many iSUP owners get their boards for easier travel. However, there are some features, like paddles that break down into multiple pieces, heavy-duty backpack style carrying bags and fins that detach from the boards than simply add to the convenience. Keep these features in mind if you plan to travel regularly with your board.
4. Will you be taking your board down river rapids?
If you plan on using your paddleboard in white water rapids, you will want a firm board similar to what you would look for in a paddlesurfing board. It also doesn’t hurt to look for extra durable material just in case you run over some rocks. In addition, narrower boards can be easier to navigate, which can be helpful if you need to quickly paddle around tight turns in fast currents.
5. Will your SUP be used by several different people?
Larger boards will accommodate more weight, so if you are getting an iSUP to share, consider a longer, wider board that can be used by more people. Most models will tell you how much weight they are designed to carry, which makes this easy. The airSUP is one of the longer styles and can carry up to 400 pounds.
6. Will multiple people be using the SUP at one time?
If you are getting an SUP for recreation like family camping trips or for kids to play on, a wider, longer board can hold more weight and offer greater stability. They also can be useful for parents who want to paddle with their children on the same board.
7. Would you rather pay less so you can buy multiple boards?
Something you may not think about until after you buy your board is – would you rather have one board or two? Some people want to use their equipment mainly for recreation and would prefer to have two SUPs so they can invite friends to paddle with them. In this case, you may be better off buying 2 boards at $600 each rather than one board at $1200. Boards like the Sevylor Samoa are ideal for this situation.
As you can see, there are specific features you want to look for in a board, but not so many that shopping has to be a chore. Make it as painless as possible and then go out and have some fun!