Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards
Stand up paddle boards (also called SUPs) have actually been around, in some variation, for thousands of years. As far back as 1,000 B.C., people in places like Peru, Israel, Italy and China would stand or kneel on some sort of floating platform and propel themselves across the water by using a paddle or a pole.
What we know today as stand up paddle boarding is a sport that began in Hawaii in the 1900’s. It was probably developed as an alternative to surfing when the wave action was less than desirable for ‘hanging ten’. For many, many years, Hawaii was the only place you would even see a stand up paddle board.
By the mid 2000’s, the sport began to expand it’s borders and creep across the world. I was at the ‘Outdoor Retail Show’ (ORS) in Salt Lake City in the Summer of 2008. By then, standup paddle boards were taking the paddling world by storm. It was the hottest product at the show! Just 5 short years later, in 2012, stand up paddling was reported as “the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants in the United States.” It remains a major part of the paddling waterscape.
Today, people use SUPs for flat water paddling for outdoor recreation, fitness, sightseeing, racing on lakes, large rivers and canals, surfing on ocean waves, paddling in river rapids (whitewater SUP), paddle board yoga and even fishing. Stand up paddleboarding offers a great exercise for the body’s core. That’s why it is a popular cross-training tool. And … When you are standing on a paddle board, you’ll be able to see into the water below much easier than in a boat or kayak. An SUP also gives you a better view of the horizon.
Is an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board any good?
Since we are all about “portable”, we’re going to talk about inflatable SUPs that can be rolled up and stored in a closet and transported in the trunk of your car. If you are not familiar with inflatable SUPs, you may wonder if they are any good. How do they stack up to fiberglass boards?
When I first saw an SUP at ‘ORS’, I was under the impression that it was not a product that we would sell. I couldn’t imagine that an inflatable could hold enough PSI (pounds per square inch) to become hard enough to support a standing person. I decided to take a break and enjoy a free ice cream cone at a complimentary rest area. It was there, along with some fellow attendees, that I was educated about drop-stitch technology, a process that can make an inflatable SUP nearly as hard as any fiberglass paddle board. In turn, these drop-stitch, inflatable stand up paddle boards can perform every bit as well as a fiber board. When you see them lined up along the beach, it’s very difficult to tell them apart from a distance.
As I mentioned earlier, here at PortableKayaks.com, we sold inflatable kayaks, boats, etc. because of their ease of storage and transportation. We feel that also applies to the SUP, so, that’s why we recommend buying an inflatable. The really difficult aspect of our recommendations is that, unlike inflatable kayaks and boats, the differences between stand up paddle boards is much more minimal. Styling from one brand to another is, often, more cosmetic than performance related. If you think about it, except for dimensions and material, there isn’t much else you can do to make one SUP that much different from another. So, in our opinion, the main consideration is to buy from a quality, trusted manufacturer.
How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board
Before we make any recommendations, you might want to click this link and watch a Sea Eagle video about “How To Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board“. Larry Froley (not a Sea Eagle employee) talks about the differences between the type of SUP you might need based on how you intend to use it. First and foremost, that’s what you need to know before even thinking about purchasing a standup paddleboard.
Recommended SUP’s: Sea Eagle
Most of our experience has been with Sea Eagle. Their LongBoard and NeedleNose lines cover most of the bases when looking for a quality SUP. The SeaEagle graphics are sharp, but not necessarily eye catching. Their packages include paddles, pumps, carry bags and repair kits. And, it’s hard to beat Sea Eagle’s 180 day return policy and their 3 year warranty!
* The Longboard comes in one size (11′ long, 30″ wide, and 6″ thick). Whether you plan to use the Longboard while sitting, standing, surfing, fishing, touring or performing yoga this SUP will provide you with plenty of stability.
* Packages include choices for a kayak seat and paddle so it can be used like a kayak, a swivel fishing seat, an electric pump package and a rowing option.
* There are two sizes of NeedleNose SUP’s (12′ 6″ and 14′). This SUP features a sleekly designed, wave piercing bow that enables paddlers to paddle faster.
* Packages include choices for a kayak seat and paddle (shown in photo) so it can be used like a kayak, a swivel fishing seat, an electric pump package and a rowing option.
Recommended SUP’s: BOTE Boards
BOTE Boards – One of the highest rated and best reviewed inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards and, in our opinion, one of the most stylish.
BOTE Boards are designed to look like hard shell SUPs. The graphics are really nice! Their packages include paddles, pumps, carry bags and repair kits. Their entry level SUP package starts at $529.00. Their 8′ Native Stripes Kids Inflatable Paddle Board package is $497.00. BOTE‘s complete line of inflatable SUPs consists of 24 different SUP packages to fit any level of experience or activity. They also offer a Two Year limited warranty on ‘Aero’ material related products, which include most of their Stand Up Paddleboards. Click here to check out BOTE Boards!
Recommended SUP’s: Red Paddle
Red Paddle says it best … “Performance is at the heart of what we do. We create boards that perform for everybody, regardless of age or ability. We want to get as many people out on the water as we can, in the safest and most reliable way.” At Red Paddle, their aim is to make the very best products and to support the paddleboarding community in any way they can. Red Paddle is the only paddleboarding company that operates from its own private facility. They don’t simply make cookie-cutter boards and slap on a logo. They “sweat over the small stuff”, striving to deliver a high performance SUP to your door. This ‘quality first’ concept is why Red Paddle has an extremely low 0.5% return rate. They also offer a 5 Year Warranty on their boards. Although Red Paddle may be a slightly higher priced line of inflatable stand up paddle boards, we recommend that you give them a look before you buy.
There are two features on the Red Paddle web site that are very helpful when deciding which SUP is right for you ….
- Paddle Board Selector – How to Choose an SUP based on Your Weight, Style & Experience.
- How To Choose The Right “Red Paddle” SUP For You
Additional Brands of Stand Up Paddle Boards
You can find other brands of SUPs at a variety of sources on the internet. We recommend the following reliable and trusted sources …
REI.com – Because they are a trustworthy dealer and they carry reputable brands like NRS, BOTE, BIC Sport, Hala and Advanced Elements, we also recommend that you shop at REI.com.
Low End Knock-Around SUP’s – Most quality inflatable stand up paddle boards are priced above $600. However, if you’re looking for something to use sparingly or do not wish to invest much, you can always visit Amazon.com. Just remember, in general, when buying good sporting gear, you “get what you pay for”.