Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Inflatable Paddle Board for You

There are quite a few factors to consider before purchasing the perfect inflatable paddle board for you.  We discuss them here.


inflatable stand up paddle board with carbon fiber fin systems

When buying an inflatable paddle board, there are several factors that you should consider to ensure that you get a board that meets your needs. There are quite a few things to keep in mind such as: the use of the paddle board, the size and shape, thickness of the board and accessories that are included. Most inflatable boards from quality manufacturers perform almost as well as a solid board but they don't require roof racks like rigid boards do.

Intended Use for your SUP board

stand up paddle boarding on flat water deck pads

What is your primary intended use for the board? Are you looking for a board for SUP yoga, touring, surf SUP, or racing? Each of these activities has different requirements for length, width, thickness, and shape of the board.

SUP Yoga

inflatable sup board for flat water and hard boards

If you plan to use the board for yoga, you'll want to look for a wide board with a non-slip deck pad for stability and comfort. You will want ample room on the paddle board so that your poses aren't cramped. You will also want a place to store your sup paddle.


You want a displacement hull not a planing hull on a touring board

If you plan to use the board for touring or paddling long distances, you'll want to look for along board with a hull shape that is pointed for efficiency and speed. The displacement hull which is found on most touring boards, cuts through chop and sheds the water efficiently down the rails of the paddle board. Yoga paddle boards are typically lighter boards that are quite stable.

Surf SUP

rigid board on a roof rack

If you plan to use the board for surfing, you'll want to look for a shorter board with a rounder nose, a planing hull and pronounced rocker shape for maneuverability and wave performance. You will also want a configurable fin system, which will have several fin boxes. Some of these boards have permanent fins on the sides but this isn't typically recommended.


rigid boards are a good size paddle board

If you plan to use the board for racing, you'll want to look for a longer, narrower board with a displacement hull and a sleek design for speed and efficiency. The idea here is that you want a less stable board shape that will take you long distances in a straight line very quickly.

All around use

hard boards with personal flotation device and paddle stroke

If you plan to use the board for general recreation, you'll want to look for a board that is versatile and well-rounded, with a stable base and is a moderate size board. An all around board can typically be used in most of the stand up paddle board disciplines mentioned above.

Paddle Board Size

inflatable board with epoxy paddle boards

Inflatable paddle boards come in various sizes, typically ranging from 8 feet to 14 feet in length. The size of the board you choose should be based on your skill level, weight, height, and the intended use of the board. A shorter board is generally more maneuverable, while a longer board is faster and more stable.

Inflatable paddle boards come in different shapes

inflatable boards on roof racks

The shape of the board can greatly impact the performance of the board. A wider board will be more stable, while a narrower board will be faster. A rounder nose will provide more stability, while a pointed nose will be more efficient in cutting through the water.

Board Thickness

most inflatable paddle boards or a particular board

The thickness of the paddle board affects its buoyancy and stability. A thicker board will be more stable, but also slower. Thinner boards will be lighter but tend to be bouncier and less rigid than a thicker inflatable paddle board. An inflatable board that paddles more like epoxy paddle boards will make your paddling and maneuvering much easier.

Paddle board material

inflatable sup boards give a smooth ride

Inflatable paddle boards can be made from different materials, such as PVC and drop stitch material. PVC is quite durable, especially if the manufacturer fused several layers of it together. It is used on the outer shell of the stand up paddle board.

The core of inflatable boards is made up of thousands of thin strings. This is known at drop stitch material. Many boards from high end SUP board manufacturers use woven drop stitch which is a much tighter weave and makes sure the inflatable paddle board performs like a rigid board.

Weight Capacity of inflatable SUP board

stand up paddle boards tend to have an eps foam core

Make sure to choose a board with a weight capacity that is appropriate for your weight, plus the weight of any gear you plan to bring along.


race boards and sup yoga boards

Consider the type of pump that comes with the board. Some pumps have a single chamber which means that air only enters the board as you push the handle down. A dual chamber pump means that you are adding air to the SUP boards on the upswing as well as the downswing.


best paddle boards and inflatable sups with deck pad features

Look for inflatable paddle boards that come with accessories such as a SUP paddle, leash, carry strap, kayak seat and paddle board bag. These accessories can save you money and make it easier to transport and use the board.


flat bottom board shape and best board volume

By considering these factors, you can choose the best inflatable paddle board for your needs and ensure that you have an enjoyable experience on the water. Seek out a quality manufacturer to get the right board for your needs. The extra leg work will be well worth the effort as a well made inflatable paddle board will last you many years.