Your First Inflatable SUP: For the Beginner and Beyond?

Questions to Consider When Shopping for an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board.

The Lakeshore Heavenly Air Inflatable 12’6” SUP has been touted as the most versatile flat water stand up paddle board on the market. And to its credit, it is one board you should consider because of its design, who designed it, and the board it is based on. This SUP has some lineage. But is it the right board for you? Does this inflatable SUP forgive the beginner and please the more experienced stand up paddle boarder? If you were to buy just one SUP, is an inflatable SUP the right choice?

Lakeshore Paddle Company Heavenly Air 12'6" Inflatable SUP

Lakeshore Paddle Company Heavenly Air 12’6″ Inflatable SUP – an incredibly versatile flat water SUP

The key features to any SUP boil down to four considerations: length, width, thickness, and stability. The Lakeshore Heavenly Air falls right into the Goldilocks zone for SUPs on the market: Not too long and not too short and probably as good a length as any beginner might need but it will not compromise the more experienced SUPers enjoyment. The width is also about average as well and certainly will give the less experienced paddle boarder some peace of mind when they first board. The thickness also plays a factor but at six inches, it’s design is more for a flatwater experience than open ocean.

Stability although, is probably one of the more serious considerations when buying an inflatable paddle board. It is the interpretation of the three other measurements (length, width, thickness) with the added consideration of how likely the board is to forgive you if your balance is not as good as a more experienced paddle boarder or how the board will react should you encounter boat wakes, wind, and even choppy conditions. In most instances, this is measured by simply standing on the board without making any motion.

So is an inflatable board the right board for you? This board may very well be close. It’s construction is standard and the board will perform best when it hits the manufacturers PSI (pounds per square inch). Unfortunately, many inflatable paddle board manufacturers do not give you the best pump on the market. You will struggle after 10 PSI but this board needs to be fully inflated. After you get it to 15 PSI, you will have a difficult time telling this board between it’s namesake conventional board, the Lakeshore Heavenly. If it is inflated properly, this board will easily handle a 230 pounder.

Is this board right for the more experienced paddle boarder? It will be if, and this is a big if, you are looking for convenience (getting it to where you want to paddle is much easier than conventional boards) and care (all you really need to do is be sure it is kept and stored clean and dry – perfect for apartment dwellers). In terms of performance, it might lack somewhat from boards of similar length and width but inflated correctly, you might be hard pressed to distinguish between the two.

If this is your one and only board, should you opt for the inflatable? In my opinion, yes. This particular board can be a real work horse, able to pack lots of gear and get to places that might otherwise be more trouble than it is worth with a conventional board. Think alpine lakes, distant camping spots, or when you are driving past a stretch of water and you just need to get out of the car and paddle.

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