Best Inflatable Paddleboards

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best inflatable paddleboards

Last Updated August 2019

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

Inflatable paddleboards 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 paddleboard, 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 paddleboard. Many boards come with one, but if yours doesn’t, opt for a paddle that’s lightweight.

What is an inflatable paddleboard?

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

Inflatable paddleboards are easier to carry because they’re lighter than fiberglass paddleboards. 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 paddleboards, which makes them great for beginners, families, or couples who want to enjoy the sport.

However, there are some downsides to choosing an inflatable paddleboard. Since they’re usually thick and wide, they don’t cut through water as quickly as traditional paddleboards. 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 paddleboards. Most inflatables work best in calm water. Finally, inflatable paddleboards 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 paddleboard. Some models come with pumps, but they may not be high-quality.


Staff  | BestReviews

Benefits of inflatable paddleboards

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

  • Great total body workout: Using an inflatable paddleboard 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 paddleboard.

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

  • Family-friendly group activity: If you want something fun to do with the whole family while on vacation, inflatablepaddleboards 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 paddleboard into calm water.

Types of paddleboards

There are different types of paddleboards for different uses and ability levels.

Touring

Touring paddleboards 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 paddleboards are a great choice for beginners.

Surfing

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

Racing

Long and narrow, racing paddleboards 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 paddleboards are best for flat water conditions.

Fishing

Fishing paddleboards 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 paddleboarding. Attach it to your lower leg to ensure you don’t lose your inflatable paddleboard 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 paddleboard.

Activity and ability level

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

If you’re new to paddleboarding, 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 paddleboards. Short individuals should avoid paddleboards 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 paddleboard’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 paddleboard with a width of at least 32 inches. Wider boards offer better stability and balance. Narrower paddleboards 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 paddleboards 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 paddleboard for touring and full-day excursions, opt for a larger model to ensure you have enough cargo space. Inflatable paddleboards can be easily deflated and squished down to fit almost anywhere. Most inflatable paddleboards come with carrying bags for transport and storage.

Shape

Paddleboards 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 paddleboard and help with board maneuvering. Different fin positions are better suited for different activities. You can attach additional fins to an inflatable paddleboard, 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 paddleboards 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 paddleboard, a full-length textured pad is ideal.

Padding

For extra comfort, look for an inflatable paddleboard 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 paddleboards are made of PVC. The most durable models have reinforced seams. The higher the inflatable paddleboard’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 paddleboard? 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 paddleboard with people of different heights.

Price

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

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

FAQ

Q. Are there inflatable paddleboards specifically for children?

A. Yes. Inflatable paddleboards 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 paddleboard?

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 paddleboard?

A. Clean it regularly, and wipe or rinse it each time you’re done using it. Don’t leave your inflatable paddleboard in the sun, and avoid leaving it outdoors unprotected. Be careful when handling your paddleboard, 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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