Benefits of an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board or ISUP

by WalkOnWater

Need help deciding which type of stand up paddle board to buy? Here's a look at the benefits on an inflatable paddle board and why they're great for beginners.

Trying to choose the best SUP board to get started? There are seemingly endless styles and sizes of boards on the market today, including inflatable paddle boards. If you're just getting started with this awesome sport, an inflatable stand up paddle board, or iSUP, offers many advantages over a regular board. Here's a look.

Image: Paka808

The Durability of Inflatable Paddle Boards

If you think inflatable paddle boards are little more than cheap pool toys, think again. Many use the same high-grade materials used to make US Coast Guard inflatable boats and withstand a lot of abuse without puncturing or becoming damaged.

Portability & Storage Issues

Do you live in an apartment or a home without a garage? Do you lack the space to store a 12-foot board? If so, inflatable stand up paddle boards allow you to enjoy paddle sports with ease. Inflatable boards deflate easily to store in a closet or a car trunk and typically include a storage backpack. With this backpack, you can even take your board along on a hike if you have a great spot to paddle but you can't reach it by car. This also means you won't need to buy a car rack to take your board to the beach.

If you like to travel to competitions or great surf locations, you'll find it easier to travel with an inflatable board as well because they can be deflated to fit in a carry-on bag for an airplane. It's much easier than lugging a huge board around when you travel! Some paddlers even choose a back-up inflatable to use just when they're traveling.

Great for Beginners

ISUP boards also tend to be a good choice for beginners to paddle sports because they're more stable. They're often thicker than a hard board and less streamlined, which makes them the perfect learning tool. You'll find inflatable paddle boards are a bit slower than hard boards, but this can be a good thing while you're still mastering your balance and technique. Many include textured tops and mats as well, which are great to help you get your balance and stance just right. If you're trying to get your kids involved, try buying them a smaller iSUP board for learning as they'll have no trouble controlling these lightweight boards on the water.

Tip: Fully Inflate Your Paddle Board!

The technology behind inflatable boats, kayaks and paddle boards has advanced a lot of the past decade and now iSUPs are indistinguishable from regular hard boards for many people. They offer the same performance as well as they're constructed from thousands of fibers that connect the top and bottom when inflated. Typically, when people say inflatable paddle boards aren't rigid enough, the problem is they're not inflating them to proper psi. When an iSUP board is inflated to 15 to 20 psi it's incredibly rigid. This rigidity is the key to good performance as well, so always look for an inflatable board that can be inflated to at least 15 psi.

C4 Waterman iSUP Boards
C4 Waterman iSUP Boards

Two brands that offer iSUPs inflatable to at least 15 psi are C4 Waterman (pictured above) and ULI. Both are known for their great quality and durability as well so you shouldn't run into any issue.

If you're not sure if an inflatable paddle board is right for you, try renting one for a few hours from a paddle shop. You'll get a feel for the board and get the chance to find out if it offers the performance and rigidity you're looking for.

Updated: 09/19/2012, WalkOnWater
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