What to Know about Buying an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Whether you’ve already decided that an inflatable stand up paddle board is the best value for your money, there are some important decisions you need to make about the purchase before you lay down your hard-earned cash. Not all inflatable paddle boards are created the same. Here’s what you need to know.

Who will be using the board?

Inflatable stand up boards are most often purchased with families in mind. But these boards are often excellent choices for women and smaller framed enthusiasts. These also make great second boards for paddle boarders who might need to travel some distance to get the experience and find transporting a rigid board too difficult. Most boards are suitable for weights up to 210 lbs. But some are weight tested to 250 lbs.

Where will you be using the board?

Inflatable stand up paddle boards are good boards for most waters. You can use them in both rivers and surf as well as on flat waters. They do tend to be shorter which could make them a little less stable than your rigid board. Inflatable boards are available in narrower, race-length styles. If your favorite spot requires some portage, inflatable paddle boards make the journey a lot easier, weighing in at around 20-30 lbs, pump included.

What sort of features should you consider?

You will want your inflatable paddle board to be rigid. Keep in mind, rigidity doesn’t necessarily mean more maneuverability but it does add stability. You also have to keep in mind and inflatable paddle board is not a raft. The construction should consist of layers of heavy duty pvc, polymers, urethane and UV protection. This should also be dropstitched as well.

The board should come with a detachable fin. You’ll be putting this on and off under a variety of conditions so consider how the manufacturer wants this done. If you are planning on doing some surfing, a tri-fin configuration will give the right skegs to track in varying conditions.

You might also consider the number of built in handles, how many ties downs the board comes with (the more you have, the more you can haul), and lastly, how comfortable the diamond deck is.

How will you be using the board?

Inflatable stand up paddle boards make for a whole family experience. In fact, many people use these boards as way to get their family around once they arrive by boat. If the board is able to handle a larger paddler, it can easily accommodate tandem paddlers and sometimes their gear. But one of the best uses for these boards is in conjunction with yoga or pilates. They help increase balance and intensify the workout.

What length is best?

Length has a great deal to do with speed and water conditions. The longer boards, up to eleven feet are good for surfing and speed. But some some shorter boards of narrow construction can be quite fast.

Any other considerations?

Most people buy inflatable paddle boards for the simple pleasures that come from standing on liquid. But some inflatable board manufacturers have begun constructing boards that address some of the more serious needs of the more experienced paddle boards. The length of the side rail also helps with tracking, something a more experienced boarder might notice. You might also be looking for an improved, turn-on-a-dime response. If so, some boards are designed with a swallow-tail might worth considering. A wider board with a narrow nose and tail will move quickly and provide additional stability. Unfortunately, you won’t get the same choices of rocker line, bottom profiles or even rail shape that you might find in rigid boards.

Why this type of board is a first and second choice.

I mentioned affordability earlier. This might be the primary consideration for most people. You don’t need a roof rack to get the board where it needs to go. You don’t need to have the right cool, dry storage space and rack to hang the board.  You don’t need to buy a protective bag for your board. Each of those items add to the overall cost of owning the board.

You can toss an inflatable stand up paddle board in the trunk or check it as baggage on a plane. You can throw it in the closet when not in use. And it comes with its own bag and pump. It requires less maintenance and because it can go more places, do more things and is well suited to all skill levels, it will be used more often.

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