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Over inflating a stand-up paddle board is a very real threat. There is no stop or alarm within the board, or the valve to prevent you from over inflating.
Over inflation is mainly an issue when you use electric pumps that are not designed to be used with SUP. These pumps don’t often have stops or pressure monitors that shut off the pump at the specified pressure. This means that they can and will continue to inflate until you shut it off manually.
The problem with over inflating a SUP board is that you put a lot of strain on the board material. This can cause seams to rip or burst very easily. It also makes your board more susceptible to popping under your weight.
When we talk about over inflating your SUP board, we mean that you are exceeding the stated maximum PSI. This should be found in the operating instructions that come with your SUP board. You should read the instructions before inflating your board for the first time.
To make sure you know when you reach the limit, you should use a pump that has a built-in PSI gauge. This will display the PSI as you inflate.
Over inflating your SUP board serves no real purpose. It will not become more rigid once it’s already inflated. All that will happen is that you’ll find it difficult to shut the valve, and you’ll waste a fair amount of time.
With some SUP pumps, you’ll find it difficult or impossible to over inflate your board. Hand SUP pumps often become impossible to push when the PSI limit has been hit. With electric SUP pumps you can set the PSI limit. This shuts the pump off at the desired PSI.
How Much Do You Inflate a SUP?
There is an element of personal preference to this question. You see, most SUP boards have a PSI range. The is usually only about 2 or 3 pounds of difference between the upper and lower end of the range.
If you are new to SUP boarding, then you’ll want to inflate to the upper limit. This will make the board more rigid which makes it easier to balance on.
You don’t want to go over the upper limit. You won’t see any additional benefit in terms of rigidity after the maximum level. What you will do is put stress and pressure on the seams and the material.
Some people like to stick closer to the lower limit, but you definitely shouldn’t go below the lower limit. Under inflating the boards won’t damage the board in the same way that over inflating does, but it will make it harder to balance. This is because the board is not as rigid when it’s under inflated.
An underinflated board is likely to bend or fold in the middle when you put weight on it. You’ll find that the tail and the nose rise out of the water leaving you sandwiched in the middle. It’s incredibly hard to find your center of gravity when the board keeps flexing and bending underneath you.
When inflating your SUP board, it’s best to use a pump that has a pressure gauge included. This allows you to monitor the air pressure within the SUP as you inflate. You can use the gauge to make sure that you stick within the recommended PSI range.
What PSI Should My SUP Be?
This depends on the size and brand of your SUP board. Each manufacturer will have their own range for their boards.
Before we take a closer look at the different PSI ranges, let’s first clarify what we mean by PSI.
PSI stands for pounds per square inch, and it refers to the amount of air pressure found within a square inch of space.
The average SUP board requires between 10 and 15 PSI to be rigid and ready to ride. Each manufacturer will have their own guidelines, but the majority fall between 10 and 15 PSI.
Some boards are rated for 20 – 25 PSI. These boards tend to be more expensive and higher quality. This is because the materials and seams need to be stronger to cope with the extra pressure. If you own a board that can reach 20 – 25 PSI, you’ll definitely need an electric pump.
You’ll find that using a hand pump gets really difficult after 15 PSI. In fact, unless you’re exceptionally strong, it’ll be almost impossible for you to inflate your board past 15 PSI by hand.
Let’s take a look at some of the top stand-up paddle board manufacturers’ recommendations.
Redpaddleco – They recommend you inflate your SUP board to between 15-22 PSI. They do also stipulate that heavier users should inflate to 25 PSI. This is so that it is rigid enough to support the additional weight.
Bluefin – Bluefin have two ranges with two different PSI recommendations. If you own a Bluefin cruiser you should inflate to between 15 – 18 PSI. If you have an all-round board then you’re looking at 12 – 15 PSI.
iRocker – They recommend that you inflate your board to 15 PSI. The boards have a maximum PSI of 23 but iRocker doesn’t advise you go that high. They state that you won’t actually get any benefit from inflating it past 15 PSI.
Starboard – Starboard’s recommendation is to inflate between 15 – 18 PSI. They suggest that you stick to the lower limit if the temperature is above 70 degrees. This is because heat causes gas to expand.
Roc SUP Co – The recommended PSI for Roc SUP Co boards is 12 – 15 PSI. They do state that it will change depending on your weight and height as well as the ambient temperature.
Twobarefeet – Have a simple one size fits all rating of 15 – 18 PSI. This applies to all of their boards regardless of size or rider.
Itiwit – As a general guide, Itiwit recommends you inflate your board to between 15 – 17 PSI. However, there are specific guidelines for each board that should be consulted.
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I’m an Colorado native, who learned to surf in the Pacific Northwest, and SW Canada. I live inland near the mountains now, and love to get out on my SUP. It’s weird, but I love windy, choppy days as no-one is out and I like the challenge.