Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Reviewed & Rated
So, summer is upon us, and you want to commemorate this yearly occasion by getting into the hot new sport all the kids are talking about. Okay, not all kids are talking about it, but they should, because paddleboarding is one of the most fun sports you can do on the water. It’s like surfing, only requiring fewer years of practice (though practice is all the same, make no mistake) so more people can get into it. When choosing between paddle boards, you can either go for the solid core option or in this list’s case, inflatable. You get three guesses as to which of those two this list is recommending.
- Three fin design
- Great for yoga
- Great for heavier people
Inflatable paddle boards are highly recommended over a solid core. While solid core is the more durable option, they’re also cumbersome, impossible to transport without a headache, not to mention an incredibly expensive option. So we’re counting down the top 10 best inflatable paddle boards here today. So strap yourself in, grab your favorite paddle, and prepare to catch some sick waves, because we’re counting down.
10 Best Inflatable Paddle Boards
Fins are generally a good thing to have on your paddle board, as they help maneuverability and speed by moving more water out of the way of the board. This design is, in fact, so nice, that the SereneLife board does it thrice. The board’s three fin design triples the effect of having one fin, making for excellent maneuverability and speed.
The biggest boon the three fin design offers, however, is the stability of this board, which outclasses every other entry on this list. Whether in calm, flat, or even choppy waters, this board manages to stay flat as a cutting board.
Cost and value
The average cost of these paddle boards is typically quite high. However, because this paddle board only includes the bare essentials for accessories, that price come down, which is a much better deal.
Three fin design adds speed, maneuverability, and stability
Paddle could be better
One advantage this board has is that it’s useful even when not on the water. Its soft surface, which remains comfortable to sit and stand on, even while flat and airless, is perfect for other activities like yoga or pilates. Or if you’re a fisher, you can lay it out on the ground so you don’t have to sit in the dirt while you fish.
While this does raise the price, of course, the fact that every needed accessory is included in this paddle board is definitely a mark in its favor. From pumps, to bags, to paddles, this board brings with it everything essential to getting the most out of its use.
Cost and value
Depending on the retailer you consult, the price of this paddle board could range anywhere between $200-400, which either way is a very good price for a paddle board, especially in the summer when they’re in high demand.
Great for yoga and other activities
Affordable price range
People over 230lbs will have trouble with this
When choosing what weight you want your paddle board to be, relate the hypothetical weight of your ideal paddle board with your own weight, as that will decide the stability and buoyancy of the board you pick. And if you’re a heavier person, perhaps over 230 lbs, then the best choice for you is a Tower paddle board, which support up to 350 lbs.
Made from military grade materials, this inflatable paddle board can take quite a bit of damage before showing even the smallest sign of lasting effect. Which is a definite bonus when you’re a beginner and don’t quite know what you’re doing.
Cost and value
The tower inflatable paddle board is a little below the average, and while not the most reasonable price on the list, it’s still more than reasonable given what’s offered.
Added weight support makes this a great board for heavier folks
Durable for that beginner who’s still learning
Reasonable given the quality
Longevity may be a problem depending on how often you use it
The durability of this board is due almost entirely to the material it’s made out of: high-quality PVC bound together with drop stitch construction to make a strong but flexible shell. Strong enough to take any hit when on the water, but flexible enough to fold neatly into a bag when deflated.
Like the #3 spot, this board is a great choice for beginners, but this board is especially a good choice for early beginners, who may have never touched a paddle board before in their lives. It’s always important to make sure new boarders have the best entry into the sport possible, and this board is a great pick for just that.
Cost and value
Sitting pretty at a solid $300, this board is not only up to snuff with the leading brand of paddle boards, but is also less than half of the average cost of those boards.
Incredibly user and beginner friendly
High quality PVC material
Complaints have been made about the quality of the accessories
5. ISLE Airtech Explorer
It doesn’t have to be storming for your paddle boarding fun to be interrupted by the cruel whims of mother nature. Even particularly strong winds, which get more and more common (as well as harder and harder) the further out you go to sea. Fortunately, the Airtech earns its name by performing remarkably well in high winds.
Great for beginners and pros
While some boards may be best for beginners, pros may find them boring or not as challenging or rewarding. But the Airtech is perfect, not just for beginners, but for seasoned pros as well. Its stability in the face of harsh climates and water, as well as its 15 PSI inflation rate and the weight it can take because of that, make it perfect, both for someone just starting out, as well as a seasoned professional.
Cost and value
The big drawback to this board is the cost. Though it isn’t the highest-costing on this list, this board will cost you a pretty penny.
Stability makes it perfect for windy weather
Great for both beginners and pros
Just a bit slower than other boards
6. Ten Toes 10’ Weekender
Your first instinct may not be to assume this board would be good for travel, due to how heavy the materials it’s made from make it. However, weight does not decide how suited a board is for travel, how compact it is does. And in that sense, the Weekender is perfect for traveling, since it can fold down far enough to fit in a suitcase and be brought as a carry on bag on a plane. Not many inflatable boards can attest to that.
Stable for most waters
Since this board manages to balance weight and compactness, that means it can reap the benefits that more weight gives it. Besides the durability that comes from heavier materials, there’s also the added bonus of stability, as the Weekender is stable enough to take on most kinds of water, from flat to choppy.
Cost and value
The price for this board is a bit below the average, but close enough to remark is as a very average price for a paddle board.
Compact, perfect for travel
Stable enough for any kind of water
Pumps have been reported to not fit on occasion
7. Vilano Journey
Like with the other particularly durable entries on this list, this board is made from high-grade PVC material, which is then sewn together with a Korean drop-stitch construction. This combo makes the board incredibly durable and resistant to the ravages of the water.
Despite how big this board is, when you deflate it and roll it up, you’ll find that it rolls to little more than a 1’ by 35” diameter, which is much more convenient than other boards, even while deflated.
Cost and value
The Vilano Journey is easily one of the most affordable inflatable paddle boards of such high quality on the market right now. This is one of the best deals you can find for an inflatable paddle board.
Durable, with high grade materials and expert stitching construction
Compact, perfect for travelling
Pump leaves much to be desired
8. XTerra Boards
When you’re standing on a board that’s eventually going to get stuck under the water, how well you can stay on that board is a very important priority. Luckily, the desk of this board is made from materials that provide excellent traction for your feet, even when wet, ensuring that you will not slip off.
While other inflatable boards certainly have D-rings, this is one of the only ones out there right now to have a head D-ring, that is to say a D-ring located at the very head of the board. Making this board perfect for towing behind a jet ski.
Cost and value
It would be perfectly reasonable, for all its innovations, that this board be worth at least the average price of $650. However, Xterra’s board will instead cost you no more than $500 on the retail market, which is much more reasonable.
Non Slip Board
Head D-ring makes this board perfect for jet ski fun
Included pump isn’t the best
There’s always a fear associated with buying more lightweight boards. People tend to assume that the board won’t be as durable as the trade-off, but with the Saturn, that just isn’t true. The durability of this board is remarkable, thanks in large part to the stitch work done on the material keeping it nice and tight together.
This isn’t the fastest board in the world, despite how lightweight it is. However, it is very smooth, providing excellent stability and keeping you level all throughout your journey. So if you’re just looking for a smooth glide across the waves, this is the board for you.
Cost and value
The price of this paddle board is a very good deal for an inflatable paddle board.
Lightweight yet durable
Smooth experience while riding
No D-ring in the back
10. ISLE Peak
People use their paddle boards for more than just paddle boarding, they’re also known for using them as mats they can sit on while fishing or do yoga on. As such, this board makes sure to have the stability necessary to both all kinds of activities on top of without having to worry about the board below you.
Using the same military grade, high quality PVC material and drop stitch stitching that we’ve seen in our other durable boards on this list, this board can take all kinds of grief from the elements.
Cost and value
This inflatable paddle board is actually rather affordable, considering all that it’s offering was cause for other boards to charge more.
Stable, both in the water and on land
Has been reported to leak under certain circumstances
Inflatable paddle boards are generally regarded as the way to go when it comes to paddle boards these days, increasingly winning out over their solid core cousins. And it isn’t hard to see why, seeing as they’re generally more affordable, lighter, easier to carry, and all around have more advantages going for them than a solid core paddle board. Obviously, they aren’t perfect, solid core paddle boards will always be more durable, for one thing, simply due to their nature, but people have more and more been fine with that trade-off.
There are plenty of other inflatable paddle boards out there, some may even top every entry on this list by a country mile. However, from what we found, these 10 were the cream of the crop, the very best like no other ever was. They were the most durable, the easiest to carry, the most stable on the water and out, and overall the most fun of them all. Despite the nature of being a numbered list, it should be stated that none of these are bad whatsoever. If one interested you more than the other, even if it’s #10 over #1, then there’s nothing wrong with that. But when we ran the numbers, these were the 10 best. Pick one that you like, and enjoy the waves.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Inflatable Paddle Boards
Since this is about inflatable paddle boards specifically, writing about the criteria for what makes it on this list is a bit different from writing about paddle boards in general. Rather than explain why, though, let’s just get right to it.
Considering the main reason that people buy these paddle boards is that they are easier to transport than solid core paddle boards, it stands to reason that the most important factor of any inflatable paddleboard would be how well it fits into a bag or other storage device, how compact it is, essentially. A regular solid core paddle board is between 7-12 ft. long, and are generally impossible to fit into a typical car, rather, they have to be stored on top. Meaning you will have to spend even more money on a roof rack for that board if it isn’t already included.
And then you have inflatable paddle boards, which are designed from the beginning to be as compact as they can possibly make them. Despite being as long and wide as a typical hardboard when blown up, these boards become barely a foot wide when you deflate them and roll them up. Which is entirely the point. So when you look for an inflatable paddle board, try to make sure that the compactness of the board is up to snuff.
Ease to carry
A regular hardboard is also extremely cumbersome. You see surfer dudes all the time carrying their big surfboards, and if it looks awkward to carry on your end, go ahead and ask them and they will tell you that yes, yes it is. Fortunately, inflatable paddle boards don’t have this issue, as their bodies are, by their very nature, much lighter than your typical hardboard. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you find a paddle board that’s at least decently easy to carry, both when it’s deflated, and when it’s completely inflated. Because, put bluntly, you can’t just blow it up in the water, you have to blow it up first, then take it out across the beach to the water, which may be harder than you think. On top of that, an inflatable paddle board is significantly less likely to bonk someone in the back of the head in a comedic fashion just because you had the audacity to turn around while someone was in the same timezone as you.
When you get right down to it, what decides the weight of the paddleboard is, above all else, design. Inflatable or solid core is technically part of that design, and in general, solid core boards are much heavier than inflatables. This isn’t exactly world-shattering news–of course the denser object is heavier than the one meant to be filled with air. However, there are other reasons as well, like how inflatable boards are made out of PVC or epoxy foam, much lighter materials than that which is put into making solid core boards. Because of this, you’d be hard pressed to find an inflatable paddle board that weighs more than 30 pounds. You’d be hard pressed, in fact, to find an iSUP that weighs more than 20 pounds.
The major advantage to your board being lightweight, as it relates to the water, is that a lightweight board is much easier to handle on the water. A lighter board doesn’t put up as much resistance when you tell it to go a certain direction and the water is trying to make it go another direction. Even just 5-10 pounds of difference can be all the difference in the world for some paddle boarders, especially pros who can feel out that kind of stuff while using the board.
Outsiders looking in would see inflatable paddle boards and just see balloons on the water, wondering how you were expected to stand on top of them. However, the reality is much different. The thing about being made out of military grade PVC is that, unlike other inflatables, you can just keep pumping in air until it’s as solid as a rock. And you need to, because there are some sharp objects on the water, whether it be trash, rocks, what have you. Another reason is that the water will not be kind to an inflatable paddle board that isn’t blown up to completion, especially when you really get out into the water away from the coast. But there’s another advantage that inflatable boards have over solid ones: the fact that they’re filled with air. This gives them a flexibility that solid boards don’t have. Where solid boards would shatter, an inflatable board bounces.
Obviously, you don’t want your board to randomly capsize on you while you’re in the middle of the water and you’re pretty sure you just saw a shark swim by. Nonslip decks are great, but they become hilariously irrelevant if the whole board flips over. Stability is the board’s ability to stay upright when faced with the turbulent nature of the ocean, and its ability to keep you, the rider, standing on top. Stability is one of the most important factors to look for in any paddle board, not just inflatable.
The average cost for an inflatable paddle board varies depending on what retailer you consult, but the general price range is somewhere around $650, give or take. The price usually climbs in cases where more accessories are included, or better materials are used to make it. Not all the time, as we’ve shown, there are plenty of inflatable paddleboards out there that are both made from strong materials as well as including plenty of accessories that won’t cost you your next house payment in the process. However, on average, that is the status quo. Which is why, of course, you read the box and description of the content, so you have a better clue of what you’re buying and what kind of a deal you’re getting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Just as general paddle boards have different criteria from inflatable paddle boards specifically, so too do they have different frequently asked questions. Here are a few of those questions now, as well as their answers.
Q: What are the various ways in which I can use an inflatable paddle board?
A: There are a surprising multitude of ways in which an inflatable paddle board can be used. In fact, what you plan on doing with your paddle board should be a prerequisite for what kind of board you inevitably go with, because not all inflatable paddle boards are built to do everything that an inflatable paddle board can feasibly do. Some paddle boards excel at a single task, others are jacks of all trades, doing admirably well in all fields. Those fields include:
Yoga: This is a bit interesting, since while you can use dedicated paddle boards for this, really any kind of inflatable paddle board will do in most cases. Because when you’re doing yoga, your paddle board is most likely deflated. Thus as long as it lays completely flat when deflated, any kind of paddle board will do. Still, there are paddle boards designed specifically with doing yoga atop them in mind.
All-around or flat water boards: Some paddle boards are meant more for flat waters than choppy. Nothing wrong with that, of course, since there are times where you don’t want to go paddle boarding on the ocean, and instead want a gentle, quiet paddle boarding session on a pristine lake. It’s also the preferred paddle board type for beginners and children since paddle boarding on a calm flat lake is perfect practice for the real thing in the ocean.
Racing paddleboards: This should only be pursued if you really take this sport seriously and want to put in the work to become a pro. Because it’s going to be a full-time thing when it comes to practice. If you dream of getting the absolute most out of the speed of your paddleboard, then racing paddle boarding is the sport for you. Make no mistake, though, this is a professional sport, and you will have to bring your A material. If you chase after this, then you forfeit paddle boarding as a hobby.
Q: I want to get into paddle boarding, but I’m more familiar with surfing as a sport. Is there any way that those two can intersect with one another?
A: Actually yes! Lots of surfers, in fact, use paddle boards when they surf. However, some caveats need to be met, as you, of course, can’t just use any old paddle board you find lying around the surf shop. For one, it needs to be a shortboard. If you know anything about surfing, then you know that control and maneuverability are key components that cannot be ignored. Shorter paddle boards maneuver and control the best out of any other length of paddle board, so if you want to surf with a paddle board, you need to find one that is less than 10’ in length. This way you can still turn on a dime while maintaining proper balance
Q: I’ve never been inflatable paddle board shopping before, do you have any tips for me?
A: For one, a big difference between how SUPS and iSUPS are sold is that it’s usually optional to get accessories with solid core paddle boards, but inflatable paddle boards are often a package deal, including many of the accessories that would otherwise be sold separately.
Make sure that you give a hard look at the weight limit, and make sure that you weigh yourself before shopping and write that weight down. Because how much you weigh will play a big part in what kind of paddle board you get.
Get a good solid idea on what you’re going to be doing with your paddle board once you have it, and make sure that it’s what you really want to do with it. Because these things are pricey, even in their cheaper renditions, so if you want something of quality, you’ll have to pay the big bucks.
Once you know what you want from your paddle board, make sure to take note of the length and width of your paddle board. Different lengths and widths are suited for different tasks, so also be sure to look up online what lengths and widths are suited to what activity. Typically if the activity you’ve chosen, for instance, involves a lot of speed, then a shorter paddle board will be what you’re looking for.