The best inflatable paddleboard
Paddleboarding is a fun water sport for people of all ages and abilities, but storing a solid paddleboard isn't always practical. You can fold up inflatable paddleboards when not in use, making them ideal for traveling or storing in tight spaces. But how do you find the best inflatable paddleboard for your summer fun? This guide will tell you more about what to look for when shopping, and it includes our picks for the best inflatable boards on the market. Our top inflatable paddleboard is made by Atoll. It's a rugged choice that suits paddleboarders of all levels.
Considerations when choosing inflatable paddleboards
You should choose the length of an inflatable paddleboard based on your own bodyweight. Heavier riders will need a longer board to provide more stability on the water, whereas lighter folks will find a long paddleboard hard to control, so a shorter option is best. If you weigh less than 140 pounds, choose a paddleboard that's 9'6" or less. If you weigh between 140 and 200 pounds, choose a board between 9'6" and 10'6". If you weigh 200 pounds or more, choose a paddleboard that measures around 11 feet.
The wider an inflatable paddleboard, the more stable it will be. Beginning paddleboarders should look for a model that measures at least 32 inches wide.
Inflatable paddleboards with V-shaped hulls tend to move quickly through the water and are easy to maneuver in tight spaces, but they aren't especially stable. Paddleboards with flat hulls are nicely stable but not particularly quick and won't turn on a dime. Flat hulls are great for beginners, but more advanced riders tend to favor V-shaped hulls.
The majority of inflatable paddleboards are made from PVC, but the quality varies. Double-layered PVC is far more durable than single-layered, creating a rigid board, but the added weight is a turn-off for some. Reinforced or double-layered stitching can improve the overall durability of a paddleboard.
The majority of inflatable paddleboards include at least one fin, which is usually removable. You don't need to use a fin on a paddleboard, but it can help you maneuver and keep straight.
Although not all inflatable paddleboards include a pump, the majority do. This is usually a hand pump, but you can buy battery-powered pumps that are compatible with inflatable paddleboards, making inflation easier.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, you can find basic inflatable paddleboards from $200 to $300. These aren't incredibly durable, but they're great for occasional use, such as only on vacation. Mid-range inflatable paddleboards cost about $300 to $600 and will suffice for most beginners and intermediate boarders. High-end models are priced between $600 and $900. They're rugged, reliable, and ideal for experienced riders.
Q. Are different types of inflatable paddleboards better suited to certain activities?
A. Yes, some inflatable paddleboards are particularly suited to certain activities. For instance, all-around paddleboards are good for most activities but masters of none. Touring paddleboards are great for long-distance paddling but not necessarily quick or highly maneuverable. Surfing paddleboards are ideal for cutting into waves, while racing paddleboards are fast and maneuverable for use in races.
Q. What does PSI mean in relation to inflatable paddleboards?
A. Pounds per square inch (PSI) is a measurement of pressure. In the world of inflatable paddleboards, this refers to the pressure of the air inside the board. Paddleboards generally have a maximum PSI between 10 and 25, though you don't have to fill your board up to its maximum pressure. The higher the PSI, the sturdier and more rigid your paddleboard will feel.
Inflatable paddle boards we recommend
Best of the best: Atoll 11' Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
Our take: Made from military-grade PVC, this inflatable paddleboard is both lightweight and incredibly durable.
What we like: Paddle, paddle leash, fin, hand pump, and carrying bag all included. Excellent stability. Plenty of D-rings and a bungee system.
What we dislike: Too long for lighter users.
Best bang for your buck: Pathfinder 9'9" Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
Our take: An inexpensive inflatable paddleboard that's perfect for occasional use. The short length is best for lighter riders.
What we like: Kit includes all the accessories you need to get started. Reasonable stability and maneuverability. Great quality overall, considering the price point.
What we dislike: Can be tricky to inflate with included hand pump.
Our take: With its V-shaped design, this rugged inflatable paddleboard is quick through the water but stable, too. Best for intermediate and advanced riders.
What we like: The six-inch thickness gives this board a solid, rigid feel. Well-padded, non-slip deck. Single fin is great for maneuverability.
What we dislike: Poor-quality pump.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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