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Best Inflatable Paddle Boards

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 18 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 334 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best inflatable paddle boards

    Last Updated December 2018

    Are you looking for a fun activity to add to your summer vacation? Try stand up paddling (SUP). SUP, or simply paddle boarding, is paddling while standing up on a sturdy floating board. An inflatable paddle board is the perfect entry point for this water sport.

    Inflatable paddle boards are cheaper than traditional fiberglass boards. Some models are even built for long-distance water travel, so you can comfortably spend a day paddling away. But with so many of these popular boards on the market, how do you find the right one for your warm weather needs?

    At BestReviews, we put in the research hours so you don’t have to. Our goal is to make your shopping decisions easy. If you’re ready to purchase an inflatable paddle board, you’ll find our top picks here. For everything you need to know before you buy, keep reading our shopping guide.

    Don’t forget to purchase a paddle for your inflatable paddle board. Many boards come with one, but if yours doesn’t, opt for a paddle that’s lightweight.

    What is an inflatable paddle board?

    An inflatable paddle board is a type of paddle board that is inflated. They’re simpler to store than traditional paddle boards since they easily deflate, too. This makes traveling with an inflatable paddle board easy. Inflatable models are an excellent choice for road trips, vacation rentals, and camping.

    Inflatable paddle boards are easier to carry because they’re lighter than fiberglass paddle boards. They’re easier on the body should you fall because the inflatable surface is softer than traditional boards. They’re also typically less expensive than traditional paddle boards, which makes them great for beginners, families, or couples who want to enjoy the sport.

    However, there are some downsides to choosing an inflatable paddle board. Since they’re usually thick and wide, they don’t cut through water as quickly as traditional paddle boards. While some inflatable models are designed for surf-specific scenarios, overall they don’t perform as well in wave-filled ocean environments. Because they’re inflatable, they’re not as rigid as regular paddle boards. Most inflatables work best in calm water. Finally, inflatable paddle boards must be inflated. This is an extra step that requires a pump, which may mean an additional expense.

    EXPERT TIP

    You’ll need a pump to inflate your inflatable paddle board. Some models come with pumps, but they may not be high-quality.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Benefits of inflatable paddle boards

    Why choose an inflatable paddle board to be part of your summer fun? Let’s take a look at a few compelling reasons.

    • Great total body workout: Using an inflatable paddle board requires balance as well as upper and lower body strength.

    • Easy to use: With few parts and accessories, all it takes is a bit of practice to get the hang of an inflatable paddle board.

    • Safe: As long as you take the necessary safety precautions, paddle boarding is an extremely safe activity. It’s difficult to get injured when using an inflatable paddle board.

    • Family-friendly group activity: If you want something fun to do with the whole family while on vacation, inflatable paddle boards fit the bill.
    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Safety first: remember to wear a life jacket when heading out on the water, even if you’re taking your inflatable paddle board into calm water.

    Types of paddle boards

    There are different types of paddle boards for different uses and ability levels.

    Touring

    Touring paddle boards are a good versatile option for flat and choppy waters. They are usually wide and between 10 and 12 feet long. Good for long distance, touring paddle boards are a great choice for beginners.

    Surfing

    Surfing paddle boards are thick, narrow boards with rails for cutting into waves. These paddle boards lack stability and are not good for beginners.

    Racing

    Long and narrow, racing paddle boards have V-shaped hulls for fast movement through water. They are not for beginners. Fiberglass racing boards are tough to store because of their long shape. Racing paddle boards are best for flat water conditions.

    Fishing

    Fishing paddle boards are thicker and more buoyant and feature a mount for rods. They are also much cheaper than buying a boat!

    A leash is another essential accessory for paddle boarding. Attach it to your lower leg to ensure you don’t lose your inflatable paddle board in the event of a fall. Longer leashes are best for choppy ocean waters to prevent your board from hitting you should a wave come by.

    Features to consider

    Here’s what to consider when shopping for an inflatable paddle board.

    Activity and ability level

    Do you want to ride waves in the ocean? You’ll need a short paddle board that’s easy to maneuver. If you want to go fast, choose a long, narrow board. For yoga and other water workouts, a wide paddle board is best for maximum stability.

    If you’re new to paddle boarding, stick with wide, stable boards. If you’re a total beginner, you might also prefer a thick board so you’re higher above the water.

    Your measurements

    Your height and weight matter with inflatable paddle boards. Short individuals should avoid paddle boards that are too wide. Too much room width-wise could make it hard to paddle comfortably, which may strain your back and shoulder muscles.

    Check an inflatable paddle board’s maximum weight limit to make sure you fall within the recommended range. Ignoring these guidelines will result in a seriously wobbly ride and not much fun on the water.

    Size

    Beginners should opt for an inflatable paddle board with a width of at least 32 inches. Wider boards offer better stability and balance. Narrower paddle boards are best for speed. A thicker board lifts you higher above the water, while a thinner boards allows you to better connect with the movement of the lake, river, or ocean.

    Shorter paddle boards are typically better at quick, agile turns. Longer boards are harder to maneuver but faster. Typically, long boards are between 12 and 14 feet, while short models are between nine and 12 feet.

    If you’re looking for an inflatable paddle board for touring and full-day excursions, opt for a larger model to ensure you have enough cargo space. Inflatable paddle boards can be easily deflated and squished down to fit almost anywhere. Most inflatable paddle boards come with carrying bags for transport and storage.

    Shape

    Paddle boards feature one of two distinct hull shapes: a V-shaped hull or a flat hull. Also known as a displacement hull, a V-shaped hull is designed to move water out of the way. A flat hull, or planing hull, is versatile, suitable for all conditions, and an excellent option for surfing.

    Fins

    Fins are located at the rear of a paddle board and help with board maneuvering. Different fin positions are better suited for different activities. You can attach additional fins to an inflatable paddle board, and fins may also be removed. For calm water paddling, a single large fin is best. A three-fin design is a versatile choice for both tackling calmer waters and surfing in the ocean.

    Traction

    Most paddle boards are equipped with some form of deck traction. If you want improved traction, you can purchase additional traction pads for extra grip. For practicing yoga on an inflatable paddle board, a full-length textured pad is ideal.

    Padding

    For extra comfort, look for an inflatable paddle board with a padded deck. Inflatable boards already tend to be softer than traditional boards, however, so they’re an excellent choice for kids.

    Construction

    Most inflatable paddle boards are made of PVC. The most durable models have reinforced seams. The higher the inflatable paddle board’s PSI, the more durable it will be. Look for a model with a PSI between 15 and 25. A higher PSI also provides a sturdier, more rigid platform.

    Users

    How many people will use the inflatable paddle board? If you’re sharing it, get a board that fits the needs of multiple users. Also, think about getting an adjustable paddle if you’ll be sharing your inflatable paddle board with people of different heights.

    Price

    Inflatable paddle boards are less expensive than traditional paddle boards. They typically fall in the range of $500 to $800.

    For longer excursions out on the water, look for an inflatable paddle board with a bungee system for strapping down gear.

    FAQ

    Q. Are there inflatable paddle boards specifically for children?

    A. Yes. Inflatable paddle boards are a great choice for kids since they offer a softer, gentler surface in case of falls. Children’s boards are typically shorter and lighter than adult models. But be careful when buying kids’ boards as kids can quickly outgrow youth-sized boards.

    Q. What size paddle should I get to use with my inflatable paddle board?

    A. To determine paddle length, you need to factor in your height and the kind of paddling you’ll be doing most of the time. Surfing paddles are the smallest and measure between six and eight feet. For touring and calm water paddling, opt for a paddle between eight and 10 feet. For racing, you’ll need a longer paddle of 10 to 12 feet in length.

    Q. How should I take care of my inflatable paddle board?

    A. Clean it regularly, and wipe or rinse it each time you’re done using it. Don’t leave your inflatable paddle board in the sun, and avoid leaving it outdoors unprotected. Be careful when handling your paddle board, too. Avoid bumping or knocking it against hard objects and surfaces.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Erica
      Erica
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Steph
      Steph
      Writer

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