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Are you ready to take your stand up paddleboard skills to wide open water? If so, there are a few things you should know. Although I learned the hard way, I am happy to share the knowledge I gained in the process.
Keep in mind that finding the path to the best inflatable SUP for the ocean is different for each person. There are certain board characteristics that will appeal to different people, depending on what kind of water you want to take on: choppy or flat, or surfable waves. It’ll be important to keep these differences in mind while doing your research.
- 1 Best Inflatable SUP for Ocean Water: 4 Considerations
- 2 Differences Between iSUPs
- 3 The 3 Best Inflatable SUPs for Ocean Use
Best Inflatable SUP for Ocean Water: 4 Considerations
The more pointed the nose, the less surface area. These are referred to as displacement hulls and move the water away from your board as you glide through. This is good for increased maneuverability and speed, as well as less drag and stability. We recommend displacement hulls for choppy open ocean.
The second type of nose is referred to as the planing hull. It is fuller and has more surface area. Planing noses are better for increased stability, drag, and longboard style surfing. They aren’t the best at speed or response. We recommend planing noses for flatter waters.
Tails are similar to noses. The surface area is key to deciding what design will best fit your needs. The fuller the tail, the faster you can power through the water. The more tapered, the easier it is to maneuver and turn tightly in a pocket.
Here is the best tail type for different ocean conditions:
- Small Waves: If you plan to tackle wave pool sized surf, you want a slightly thinner tail than for flat water and a slightly fuller tail than for big waves. This design will help you turn with less effort while maintaining speed. A great iSUP for small waves is the THURSO Surf Waterwalker.
- Big Waves: The bigger the waves you want to paddle, the higher performance the tail you need. Minimal surface area will allow you to show off your skills in the larger waves. You can also eat your way to skill improvement for catching those big waves!
- Flat Water and Racing: If you have learned anything by now, it should be that the tail shape you want depends on the type of water you will encounter. Tails with a greater surface area best for flat water and racing.
Before you take your stand up paddleboard into the ocean, watch this video for tips from expert SUP designer Peter Pan.
#3. Rocker Line
The rocker line is something many surf SUPers may not even know about. I found out it’s one of the most overlooked and important factors in choosing the best inflatable board for waves. Why is it so vital to know about?
The rocker line actually influences the speed and agility of the paddleboard. Generally, the flatter the board is the faster it will go. We recommend this type for those racing and moving in relatively flat water. Later, we will review an iSUP that fits this criteria perfectly: the Pexmor Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board.
The more curved the stand up, the better it will be able to navigate the waves. The more exaggerated the rocker line the better the board is at high-performance surf. Those that regularly use their paddleboard in the ocean swear this factor influences performance as much as any other. Our pick for the best in this category is the Aqua Marine Vapor.
The design of the rails can tell you a lot about what type of water the stand up was created for. You can best identify the rail by looking at the standing area of the board. Is it thick and boxy? Thin and tapered? Somewhere in between? This can determine a lot of significant things.
The thinner the rail, the better you are able to control yourself on the surf. It increases performance and maneuverability while decreasing speed and volume. If surfing on a stand up paddleboard appeals to you, go with a this type of rail.
A boxier rail affords more stability and would be the best type for beginners to learn on. The volume and glide are also increased when using a thicker board. If you are more interested in racing or touring on flat ocean, you should go for this kind of rail.
Differences Between iSUPs
Still undecided? Think you might not want to get out in the ocean? Here’s some more information to help you understand the difference between types of stand up paddle boards.
The 3 Best Inflatable SUPs for Ocean Use
1. Best Displacement Hull: Pexmor Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Are you looking for a stand up paddleboard you can take on both calm and choppy waters? The pointy nose of the Pexmor Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board makes it perfect to take on the ocean. This feature alone contributes to increased maneuverability, greater speed, and less drag.
On the other hand, the smaller nose and moderately thick tail contribute to less stability. Even though this is a longer board, 11 feet and 12 feet, the tail keeps the maneuverability and speed stable. The rocker line is relatively flat and that also contributes to faster gliding.
The material is a high-quality PVC with drop stitch construction and the front of the deck has bungees for your gear. Deflated, the whole thing weighs only 26 pounds. You also get a PSI gauge in the hand pump, repair kit, lightweight paddle, and one fin.
2. Best All Around Hull: Aqua Marine Vapor Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
The Aqua Marine Vapor iSUP is a 10-foot and 8-inch surfer’s dream. It’s great for taking on the bigger waves! Why? It has to do with the tail, rails, nose, and rocker line. All are optimized to create the best ocean experience when performance is key.
The tail is very narrow with little surface area, allowing paddlers to maneuver in and out of pockets. The nose is a nice combination of planing and displacement so that the Vapor gets the best of both worlds: maneuverability, speed, and a moderate amount of drag.
The rocker line is more curved than the other paddleboards on our list, and Aqua Marine engineered it into the bottom hull shape. Finally, the rails are thinner than most on this list and are held up by 500D PVC. Just be aware it is only 4 inches thick.
3. Best Planing Hull: Gold Coast Surfboards SBBC Inflatable Paddle Board
At 10 feet and 6 inches long, the Gold Coast Surfboards SBBC Inflatable Paddle Board is great for flatter waters. We recommend staying in calmer ocean waters with this iSUP because of its design. However, it can take on small chop if necessary.
The larger nose contributes to increased stability and drag, and you can use this SUP for longboard style surfing. The tail doesn’t have as much surface area as the nose, making it easier to maneuver in any smaller surf.
The rocker line is quite flat, so the Gold Coast board can pick up some more speed and even greater stability. The rails are on the wider side, solidifying this paddleboard’s place as the most stable and beginner friendly on our list.
What do you use?
Have a favorite we should know about?
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I am an avid adventurer. I have canoed and kayaked through the Southwest, and lately have been on the water in Maine. I am the sole planner of group kayaking trips. As an active woman, I go through clothing and equipment frequently. I am constantly researching and purchasing gear and love to write about my time outside on the water.