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2017 Inflatable SUP Buyer's Guide Review

 Our 2017 Inflatable Paddle Board Buyer's Guide identifies the best inflatable SUPs on the market based on their primary class and use while providing select picks of boards that we believe stand out in their class. 

Every product sold at Pumped Up SUP has been used by a member of our team and we only stock boards and brands that make the cut.

Many factors will influence which board is best for you. Most riders should consider the primary use of their board (flat water paddling, training, racing, yoga, whitewater, surfing, etc) but you should also think about how much time you will spend using it for other types of paddling. This allows you to identify a board that will be ideal for what you spend the most time doing, while not limiting you when you want to do other kinds of paddling.

Other factors to consider are volume, weight capacity, board weight, fin systems. board features, included accessories, and portability. These factors will be mostly rider-specific preferences, but are often tied to aspects of a board's primary strengths, shape, and intended paddling environment. 

Use this guide to get you started on narrowing down your choices.  If you still have questions and need a specific recommendation, contact us at  1-877-777-1769 or email usto go over your needs in more detail and get a final recommendation.

 

ALL AROUND Inflatable SUP Boards

 

These are boards that perform well in a variety of setting for paddlers of different skill levels. All around boards are generally Between 10 and 12 feet long and have a rounded shape similar to a surfboard. Attributes we look for in this category include adequate stability, speed, and portability. The Red Paddle 10'6 RIDE is a versatile and well-made board that has been around for a number of years and has become a bit of a classic. It strikes a very workable balance between speed, stability, and capacity and comes with Red's fast inflating Titan Pump and a nice rolling travel case. The Earth River SUP 11-0 has come on the scene more recently and is proving to be a formidable all arounder board due to its enhanced stability, paddling speed, and choice of advanced fin systems.

 

YOGA Inflatable SUP Boards

 

SUP Yoga has become a favorite paddle boarding activity, and some boards are particularly well suited for paddleboard Yoga.  Yoga boards should be relatively stable and have a comfortable deck pad that doubles as a Yoga mat.  Inflatables work especially well for yoga because they are softer than epoxy boards and easier on the body. The Starboard Yoga Dashama adds a full length deck pad, off center handle, and a paddle holder to Starboard's Astro Whopper, transforming it into a stable platform for SUP Yoga.  In a similar vein, Red Paddle Co repurposes its stability board, the 10'8 Ride, with a full length deck pad and modified handle positioning to create the Red Paddle Co 10'8 Activ.  The Activ is an inch narrower than the Dashama, which we think is more than adequate stability for SUP Yoga.  If you want a more versatile and reasonably priced board that can also be used for SUP Yoga, the Earth River SUP 11-0 Skylake provides plenty of stability for yoga, a plush, elongated deck pad, and flat handle with removable gripo, but is also a great all around board to use between yoga sessions.

 

TOURING CLASS Inflatable SUP Boards

 

Touring boards are designed to make it easy and enjoyable to cover longer distances for day trips or even overnight excursions. In the touring inflatable paddle board class, we look for a mix of speed, straight tracking, cargo capacity, and stability.  We have been on just about every 12'6 inflatable that exists and have come to the conclusion that touring boards works best at 32 inch width.  That winnows down the field quite a bit and leads us to the Earth River SUP 12'6 Touring (also available in a lighter and lower priced Skylake  model) and the Red Paddle Co 12'6 Explorer.  The Earth River SUP 12'6 is fast and stable - key attributes for a touring inflatable - and has a contoured tail pad that comes in handle when you want to depress the tail of the board for more responsive turning.  The Red Paddle Co 12'6 Explorer keeps the deck pad simple but adds low profile side fins to help the board track straighter. A previous offering, the  Naish One Air has been removed from our 2017 line due to inconsistent quality.

 

WHITEWATER Inflatable SUP Boards

 

River rapids present unique challenges and recreational opportunities for stand up paddle boarders.  Whitewater paddlers generally want ample width for stability, rugged construction, nose rocker, and convenient tie down points for a leash and other accessories. The Hala Atcha is a special purpose board built for running rapids.  It is a whopping 36 inches wide, which gives stability needed for advance whitewater paddling and its 9'6 length makes it a fast turning board, but at the expense of speed.  Hala has equipped the Atcha with five removable fins so that it can be adapted for various whitewater situations.  The Starboard Astro Stream has almost identical specifications and a similarly elaborate fin system, so choosing between the two is more a matter of personal taste, though we feel the Hala has a more rugged construction.  Other options for whitewater include the Earth River SUP 10-0 Crossover which is designed to excel on both whitewater and flat water and also surfs surprisingly well. 

 

SURF Inflatable SUP Boards

 

Paddle board surfing demands a board that is highly manoeuvrable, has enough nose rocker to keep the nose above water, but is fast enough to catch waves easily.   Surfing paddle boards are generally not as long as touring or all-around boards and are often narrower than whitewater boards. The Red Paddle Co Whip is an inflatable made for ocean paddle surfing, and we recommend it highly if that will be the board's primary use.  It has an innovative rail stiffening batten system that is designed to make this relatively thin board stiffer than it would otherwise be.  If surfing will be more of an occasional thing for you, the more versatile Earth River SUP 9-6 and the faster Earth River SUP 10-0 Crossover will catch plenty of waves without gathering dust between surfing sessions as its design lends itself to more varied SUP pursuits. 
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