I’ve been an avid paddle boarder for long as I can remember, and over the years, I’ve witnessed tremendous changes in the industry.
For instance, when I first dipped my feet into the industry, there were only a handful of SUP manufacturers available, and the existing range of SUP was quite limited.
And that’s not all…
Inflatables were still a novel creation by then and weren’t to be trusted as reliable watercrafts. By then, the inflatables were marred with quality inconsistencies and often deflated unceremoniously into an inefficient “taco shape” because of the unreliable closures and flimsy seals.
Thankfully, those days are behind us, and today, the modern-day inflatables rival the durability of the hard-top SUPS.
Some of the premium inflatables even have some huge benefits over the traditional hardtop SUP boards, and their convenience is hard to overstate.
For instance, I don’t have to worry about the lack of a carrier on my Honda Accord since I can easily deflate my inflatable and stash it into the trunk when heading out to the waters-something that would have been impossible with a hardtop SUP.
The inflatables are also inexpensive, and for their lightness, convenience and performance, you’ll easily see why they’re giving the hardtops a run for their money.
That said, the market is flooded with inflatables, which may make the selection more challenging.
Fortunately, we’ve prepared a guide reviewing the top 5 inflatable SUPs in the market.
Table of Contents
The Best Inflatable SUPs For The Money
#1 iROCKER Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board - Entry Level Option
The Nautical 10’6″ is part of a brand new budget range launched in 202 by iRocker.
It’s an entry-level, sub $500 inflatable designed for paddlers searching for a lower-cost inflatable SUP.
There’s plenty to love about the features on this SUP, which offers more than expected at its entry-level tag.
But is it the right inflatable for your paddling needs?
Features and Benefits
I got the Nautical 10’6″ to bring both of my dogs out on the water with me, so durability was essential for me as I didn’t want the dog’s nails to damage the board.
Thankfully, the foam deck on this board is super sturdy and will stand up to the scratching of my dog’s nails.
And that’s not all…
The PVC Composite & drop stitch core is durable against most rocks, sticks, and other objects you might encounter during your time on the water.
While not quite as rigid as the iRocker line, it offers so much more than you would expect from an entry-level and budget inflatable.
The Nautical SUP has largely the same classic shape used by most all-around SUP.
With a length of 10’6′, a 32″ width, 6″ thickness, and a slight taper on both the rear and the end, it makes for a good all-around SUP.
You’ll love how it maneuvers and performs in flat water conditions. The slight rocker at the front also makes it possible to maneuver through the small chop, though you might struggle with cross-winds.
Stability is one of the essential features beginners should always be on the lookout for because constant falling in the water after every few seconds gets old fast.
Fortunately, the Nautical SUP doesn’t fail in this department with 32″ width. Most users find the board stable enough even in the small choppy waters.
It also delivers big time for users with dogs, curtailing the wobbliness of the jittery dogs.
Nautical 10’6″ length is a fun board to play around with. While the board won’t allow you to perform many tricks, turning the board is a breeze.
Plus, the generous length creates more wiggle room and offers more space to spread out, stretch and even do some yoga if they’re so inclined.
We like that the brand has brought the same triple fin system from its Blackfin line.
Nautical Inflatable has good tracking and can glide across most flat water rather well.
Maneuverability is excellent, particularly when paddling on the tight spots, as it’s easier to change course and avoid obstacles or collisions in the nick of time.
Out of the box, the Nautical SUP comes with everything you would need for the sport.
It was quite surprising that you get a leash, fiberglass paddle, carry bag, and a pump for a budget watercraft.
#2 ISLE Explorer Inflatable SUP - Perfect For Any Skill Level
Our second option, the Isle Explorer, is a great inflatable SUP, fit for any skill level- simply choose your paddling conditions, and you’ll be ready to adventure on the Explorer.
Beginner paddlers may choose to use the SUP on the still water or long rides, while the more expert paddle boarders will find the SUP perfect for the fast-paced, challenging conditions.
Features and Benefits
You don’t need a hardtop when accessing the rowdy waters with the Isle Explorer.
See, I’m usually careful around structures in the water especially if there’re a lot of barnacles. Occasionally, however, I accidentally bump into obstacles, and other than minor scratches, there doesn’t seem to be any significant damage on the board.
The ultra-durable military-grade PVC material with drop-stitch construction is as durable as it gets and will survive the abuses of Mother Nature, including extended exposure to sunlight or even paddling on the rocky jetties.
The dimensions of any paddleboard are a cornerstone to the purchase because they determine what the board can use.
As you can already tell, the Isle Explorer, with an astounding length of 11 feet and a 32″ width, is a solid size board for almost everybody.
The board’s length will accommodate almost everybody from teens, to adults while the generous width offers a stable paddling experience.
Additionally, the slightly tapered front and end allow the board to handle small chop and waves in the ocean.
Isle Explorer far exceeded our expectations when it came to the overall stability.
With 32 inches in width, the Isle Explorer is the perfect board for beginners who are still working on their wobbliness.
We love how it keeps users still and balanced even on choppy waters. Plus, it will even allow you to bring your furry friend with you without the worry of both of you losing control.
Lengthwise, we would have expected the 11 feet length to offer less maneuverability. To our surprise, the board is easy to turn and maneuver through the water.
It also offers a large platform to hold your paddling equipment and accessories. And while at it, you can be less worried your goods will fall into the water, thanks to the grooved EVA padding.
The 6″ inches thickness also contributes to the performance, ensuring that your feet are kept high and dry and that you never have to come into contact with water.
While still on the thickness, it is also worthy to point out that the board gets stiff when inflated and perfectly capable of supporting a generous weight limit of 300 pounds. So, yes, you can tag along with your kid or furry friend without the worry of falling into the water.
If you plan to take your experiences on a rowdy river, the two stubby side fins with help with stability and tracking. Yet, the fins are short enough to prevent bucking when accessing the shallow waters.
But when you’re on the deep waters, you can also snap the larger center fin to help with tracking.
Like a true premium purchase, Isle’s accessory bundle comes complete with a nylon blade, carbon shaft, carry backpack, coil leash, manual, and a fin.
#3 Tower Inflatable SUP - Best for Yoga
The Tower SUP is a great little board that’s very stable and durable.
It comes with a shorter design, especially compared to the previously reviewed models, but the compact design only works further to increase its stability.
The board is marketed towards the borders on a budget, but considering it excels at stability, we find it a good option for beginners. Its solid and stable foundation also makes it an inspiring option for yoga enthusiasts.
Features and Benefits
Whenever paddlers internalize inflatables, they think of something like the cheap raft your kids use in a pool.
This is further from the truth on the Tower Inflatable.
The SUP is almost like a zodiac rubber material or white water river raft that will stand up to anything you throw at it.
It survives the accidental brushes with the rocks & sharpies and won’t break down even when exposed to elements.
The solid PVC construction with drop-stitch technology will also survive nail digging by even a 90 pound Adelaide Terrier.
Tower Inflatable SUP is short, compact, and stout.
With a shortened length of 9 feet and a width deck, this board’s dimensions don’t point out to an inflatable suited for touring or cruising.
Instead, it offers unmatched stability, which might be a great offering for beginners working on their wobbliness or yoga enthusiasts.
With a length of 9 feet, the Tower SUP isn’t going to win you medals anytime soon. It’s a clunky piece of watercraft with limited maneuverability.
For the thickness, however, the 6 inches thickness adds to the overall buoyancy of the board. It floats higher and is stiff, and won’t bend when performing your poses.
The board also has a longer width, a critical factor for a yoga board. Coming with a 32″ wide deck, Tower Inflatable offers much stability and fewer falls.
At the same time, it also gives you plenty of room for the yoga poses you might have in mind, from the simpler to the more challenging.
Keep in mind the wider board comes at the expense of speed.
Another critical feature to the success of your SUP yoga is a deck.
With the Tower SUP, you get a plush and sturdy deck.
The deck is soft on your knees and body and won’t leave any marks even after prolonged kneeling. More importantly, it provides the much-needed traction and a sure-foot to keep your legs from slipping when performing the complex yoga poses.
Tracking isn’t the best feature for the board, but it’s not a surprise considering it’s a dedicated yoga option.
Nonetheless, it comes with a single center-fin that will help you navigate the perfect location for yoga practices.
Like most of our previously reviewed items, the Tower Inflatable package comes complete with a host of accessories, including a leash, paddle, pump, and strap.
#4 Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board - Lightest Option
Roc inflatable is yet another low-priced SUP that doesn’t come loaded with features.
It’s a simple, frill-free model, yet it offers solid performance, especially in flatwater conditions, and a stable foundation, perfect for beginners.
The board is also ultra-light, and packing a measly 17 pounds, it’s portable and won’t fatigue you even when backpacking it for long distances.
Features and Benefits
You’ll be glad you invested in the Roc SUP because it doesn’t wear down easily.
With a military-grade PVC construction, this board won’t tear or scuff even when it ends up getting scuffed against the rocks or even grounded on shallow waters.
With such durability, this board is perfect for various water bodies, including the rough rivers and lakes.
Also, an encounter with rocks, sharpies, or other barnacles does little harm to the board as they won’t be able to penetrate the board’s puncture-proof material.
Roc Inflatable doesn’t have many features, but it’s easy to see the board is perfect for casual riding and more oriented towards an all-around board from the little it has.
With a length of 10 feet and a width of 32 inches, it falls within the range of most of the standard boards and is perfect for both beginners and intermediate paddlers.
Performance is decent and will satiate the paddling needs of most users.
The ROC SUP is stable in flat waters, and with the right navigational skills, it’s steady as ever.
Even if you’re a beginner rider, the 32 inches wide deck will give you an easy time learning how to SUP with the board.
Plus, the extensive deck gives you sufficient room to plant your legs.
When it comes to the length, the board offers the right length that will let you dodge obstacles on the lake without much of a hassle. While it’s by means fast, the 10 feet long will let you zip and twist around the water with ease.
It won’t support navigation in fast-moving waters or other difficult waters, but the ROC is perfectly fine for recreational and paddling around the lake.
Need to explore the uncharted waters?
The double fins and a large center fin provide additional stability and improve tracking.
We found it easier to turn and correct our path when drifting, of course. It’s also easier to evade obstacles with relative ease.
That said, we recommend sticking to paddling in calm water environments as the board doesn’t handle the windy weather and choppy waters.
Another draw for the Roc SUP is the ultra-lightness.
Weighing at a measly 17 pounds, it’s easy to get tempted to backpack with the board.
It feels light and doesn’t wear you down even after carrying it for extended periods.
#5 Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12 - Premium Pick
The 2020 version of the Bluefin Cruise Carbon is a pretty board designed for paddling long distances at high speeds.
That because it is.
And there’s no catch-the board’s carbon construction, along the duo air chamber, makes the board ultra-rigid to face any water conditions.
Features and Benefits
Like our previously reviewed items, Bluefin features a PVC construction with drop-stitching technology to guarantee a board that can last a lifetime.
The Exo-Surface Laminate, coated with a UV-protective layer, will survive the scratches, bumps, and scratches without giving in or leaking.
Overall, the board is one hell of a beast that doesn’t tear or wear even when dragged on a rocky beach or even when it comes across sharpies and other barnacles.
Although at 12 feet length, it would only be fair to consider this board an all-around watercraft. After all, most of the Cruise Carbon series boards are all-around paddle boards.
That said, this board is well balanced and will offer extra stability to ensure heavier riders can comfortably paddle the board.
And as an all-around board, you get a sample of everything in the world of SUP water sports.
All-around are known for their stability, and the Bluefin Cruise is no different. It’s a great learning board for beginners trying to stand on a board.
The dual inflation chambers and carbon fiber rails offer support to adults and even your kids and pets.
The 12 feet length also delivers epic performance, offering solid maneuverability. It’s easy to turn in the water so you can dodge boats, obstacles, and other paddleboards.
We also found it super easy to access the backwaters and get past the tight corners.
Overall, the typical maneuverability offered by this board is sure to get you anywhere you need to go.
One of the reasons you might want to consider the 12″ version over the 10′ isn’t just for the improved stability and weight support, but also the tracking abilities.
While the Cruise doesn’t come anywhere close to a true turning board, it’s easy to go far before having to turn paddles on this option.
It tracks well, and solid tracking is particularly helpful for beginners as it allows them to maintain a steady line in the water as they improve on their stability.
The board’s length also allows easy gliding, and you’ll love how it deftly crosses over the moderate chop.
Best Inflatable SUPs Buying Guide
There’s a lot of variation within inflatable SUP makes and models.
Fortunately, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to help you narrow down the selection process.
Here’s a list of factors or rather the criteria to follow when selecting an inflatable SUP.
Factors to Consider When Selecting an Inflatable SUP
With an inflatable, it would only be right if you choose to consider the overall durability.
Generally, most of the inflatables are designed using Drop stitch construction, consisting of two layers held together by many threads.
However, the layers aren’t airtight, so a PVC layer has to be added to prevent air leakage.
Some models have a single PVC layer, while others have double, triple, and even quad-layers. The more the layers, the stronger and rigid the board is.
Another thing worth mentioning is the PVC layers are virtually indestructible, and contrary to public opinion, they don’t tear or leak easily. They can even last for years, making the perfect board to pass from generation to generation.
The second critical element to consider when selecting and the inflatable is the type of hull.
The type of hull affects the paddleboarding activities, and it’s wise to consider an option based on your usage.
Two of the popular types of hulls for SUP are the planning hull and the displacement hull.
A planing hull is horizontal and broad and is designed to ride over water with greater maneuverability. It’s the perfect piton for casual-paddling, surfing, yoga and whitewater paddling,
On the other hand, SUPs with displacement hulls have a pointy nose, similar to a kayak. The pointy design slices through the water with greater ease, permitting you to paddle swiftly.
Some of the applications for these boards include fitness paddling, racing, and touring.
Volume and Weight Capacity
If the board doesn’t move the right amount of water matching your weight, it won’t support you, and the board might feel unbalanced.
So, when choosing a board, it’s a good idea to consider the board’s volume. The greater the volume, the more weight a board can support.
Each paddle board has a rider’s weight capacity in pounds, and it determines the weight it can hold.
Length plays a critical role in your board’s handling.
While the longer boards are swifter than smaller boards, the shorter board offers greater maneuverability.
Here’s a breakdown of the length and its impact on board handling:
- Shirt boards: These are less than 10 feet and usually ideal for surfing or kids. Most of these boards come with a planing hull.
- Medium Boards: They range from 10 to 12 feet and are considered the most versatile options.
- LongBoard: They’ve above 12 feet and are suitable for swift paddling and long-distance paddling. A majority of boards in this category feature displacement hulls. The boards are suitable for users fascinated by fast paddling or touring extended distances.
The width of a board also determines the board handling. A broader board is steadier than a skinny board, though wider boards can be slow and tough to paddle.
The board’s width varies from 24 inches to 36 inches to accommodate every need.
Here’s what to consider when selecting the right width for your board:
- Type paddling: If you’ll be paddling for extended tours and with plenty of gear, you need to select a wider board for more storage space. For SUP yoga, consider a board with at least a width of 31 inches to offer poses stability.
- Body Type: Always match the width to body type. If you’re a heavy guy, consider a wider board. On the other hand, if you’re petite, buy a narrower board to find balance.
- Ability Level: If you’re a seasoned paddle boarder, you might be comfortable on a slimmer and faster paddleboard.
A key benefit of inflatable SUPs lies in their portability; still, some options are considered more portable than others.
The ideal SUP board should easily fit into a small suitcase, and it should also be light enough to travel with.
When choosing an inflatable, it’s also a good idea to consider overall stability, particularly for beginners.
Here, the thickness of the board determines the overall stability. The thicker the board, the more stable it is.
Keep in mind that thin boards are also useful, especially for choppy water paddleboarding. The thin boards allow the riders to dig in and “ride” the wave rather than get tossed around as a heavy board would. However, these boards are for the more advanced riders.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
If you’re still undecided on what option to go with, I would happily recommend the iROCKER Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board.
It’s an all-around option, perfect for various skill levels and recreational practices. Whether you need an inflatable cruising, touring, or casual riding, you can’t beat the iROCKER Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board.
Additionally, it forgives to the beginners, with the wide width adding more stability and balance.
Using the board is also a delight, and we love how it tracks and glides over the water with little resistance.
Finally, the board comes at a friendly price and will fall within the budget of most paddlers.