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Choosing the right Inflatable Standup Paddleboard can seem intimidating at first, but it’s a choice that can be quite simple once explained. As with most sports, there are different tools for different jobs, and no single board is the perfect solution for all types of paddling. However, most people build up their quiver one at a time, and you’ve got to start somewhere right!? One of the larger decisions to be made is between a hard board and an inflatable board. Below we’ve broken down a couple of the more common types of boards for you:
- Race boards– Standup paddleboard racing is considered one of the fastest growing water sport these days. With the World Paddle Association (WPA)(http://worldpaddleassociation.com) as the governing body of SUP racing, SUP is a hopeful Olympic Sport this year. With race boards, it is really a matter of personal choice. There are various shaped displacement-hulls and tails-square for more stability racing in the pintails and surf for flat-water. When buying standup paddle board, make sure to try it first before you buy. Many SUP companies have demos galore to opt from. These boards are almost always rigid fiberglass, epoxy, or some combination.
- Surf paddleboards – By this we mean Standup Paddleboards for surfing, not the typical surfboard you paddle out on laying down on your belly. Surf Paddleboards are built for speed, maneuverability, lightness, and overall performance. These boards are generally hard boards, but there are a number of people who don’t hesitate to use their Inflatable Standup Paddleboard out in the surf. For an example check out this video: https://youtu.be/GsmwOCGBRwA
- Flat Water Touring or Paddling– If you reside near a calm river or lake, a flat-water style paddle board is perfect for you. It is true that flat-water paddleboards are perfect for all ages and at the same time they are an excellent option when there are many people in the same family and can only afford to buy one SUP. Minimal rocker and high volume are a must when stand up paddling in flat water. Flat water paddle boards can range from the 10’6” range (Isle Airtech 10) for the smaller person, all the way to 14’ touring paddle boards (Tower Xplorer 14′). If touring around, or exploring, sounds good to you, then either a rigid board or an Inflatable Standup Paddleboard (iSUP) will do the trick. We personally like the iSUPs better, as they are easier to store, transport, and carry on longer approaches to tucked away spots.
Volume is Equivalent to Stability
Thickness, length, and width are all of utmost importance. Your standup paddle instructor should be able to dial you into the perfect size board while considering your goals, skill level, height and weight. Longer paddle boards will usually feel more stable while you are paddling straight, but, will be difficult to turn. Paddlers with ocean craft experience will opt for lower and smaller volume paddle boards. Beginners who are planning to spend most of their time in flat water prefer longer and wider paddle boards with extra volume.
Inflatable Standup Paddleboards are usually made of drop-stitched fabric using tiny threads that run through the middle of the paddleboard connecting the bottom and top layers. As you inflate the board, the threads hold tight and more air can be pumped in. One of the best things about inflatable paddleboards are the size. Once deflated, all you need to do is to roll it up and store it in a (largish) backpack.
Paddles (Link) can often be split into 3 pieces and stored in your bag as well. An iSUP can be a perfect Birthday gift for that loved one with a spring or summer birthday. If you want to escape the crowds, hop on an iSUP in the fall and winter with the proper safety gear. Inflatable standup paddleboards are widely available online with lots of great choices in color, style and price on the market. If you’re ready to get into one of the chiller ways to get away this summer, then check out our reviews of Amazon’s best Inflatable Standup Paddleboards and get one or two ordered now! Many are offered on Prime, and can arrive on your doorstep within the next few days.
See our Comparison Table for more options, and as always have fun out on the water!
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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.