Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best inflatable paddle board 2021: The best inflatable SUPs from £250

Nicole Kobie
1 Dec 2021
Advertisement

Go for a paddle without breaking the budget: the best inflatable paddle boards you can buy

Stand-up paddle boarding has taken off in the UK, and that’s helped by inflatable designs that make it easier to hit the water for a serene paddle without having to find a way to transport, store and carry a massive 10ft board.

Inflatable paddle boards are not only easy to carry (many come with backpacks for even easier carrying), they’re also cheaper than solid models and ideal for beginners, as they’re softer to stand on and highly stable. While they’ve traditionally been seen as limited for recreational use, the increasingly fast designs of inflatable SUPs mean they’re even being used in races, highlighting how high performance they’ve become.

For a few hundred pounds, you can take a relaxing tour around a calm lake, carve through waves at the beach, or even add a challenge to your yoga practice. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the perfect inflatable SUP for you, regardless of budget.


Best inflatable stand-up paddleboards: At a glance


How to choose the best inflatable paddle board for you

Why choose an inflatable stand-up paddle board?

Stand-up paddle boards have traditionally been made with a hard body, like a surfboard, and the sport has its origins with Hawaiian surfers pairing their boards with a paddle. The arrival of dropstitch material – fabric that’s tied together by thousands of short threads that hold it in place for more rigidity when inflated – coated with PVC allowed for the creation of inflatable products with a high enough air pressure to support a paddler.

Inflatable boards, also called iSUPs, have a few benefits over hard paddle boards. To start with, they’re usually significantly lighter and can be carried in a bag or backpack, making storage and transport much easier than a 10ft or longer hard paddle board. They’re also softer on the feet – or hands, if you’re into SUP yoga – and more stable, making inflatable boards ideal for beginners or those looking for an easy, reliable paddle rather than speed. Generally, inflatable paddle boards can carry more weight. Traditionally, inflatable models have been slower and harder to paddle than hard-body rivals, but improvements in designs mean they’re even used in racing now.

READ NEXT: The best towels for taking to the beach

What to look for in an inflatable paddle board

There are a few key characteristics that differentiate a budget, beginners’ iSUP from a model designed for better performance. Lower-end inflatable paddle boards are made using single-layer dropstitch, which require a thicker board and more inflation to have sufficiently good performance. One solution is double layers of dropstitch, which will have better performance but will be heavier and harder to pack away into your bag.

To address those challenges, inflatable paddle board makers add extra materials and support rods to strengthen single-layer dropstitch, giving a tougher, more stable board without adding the extra weight of a second level of dropstitch.

What else should you consider?

Size and air pressure (referred to as PSI) will contribute to how much weight the paddle board can easily support. Make sure you consider potential passengers, not just yourself.

Also consider how quickly the SUP inflates and deflates (check video reviews online to get an honest take), as well as the type of deflation valve it uses. Other key features include bungee cords to hold supplies in place and handles for carrying and getting back on the board in case of an unexpected dismount.

READ NEXT: Our favourite swimming headphones

What other equipment do you need?

Many beginner paddle board sets come with everything you need to get started: a pump, a paddle, a bag, a fin and a leash for safety. Paddles can be adjustable, but should be about 15cm to 30cm taller than you. Some iSUPs also come with drybags and a seat to convert into a kayak-style contraption, and others feature a built-in action camera holder. An ankle leash and personal flotation device are key safety equipment for any paddle boarder, while waterproof lights are necessary if you’ll be hitting the water at night.

The best inflatable paddle boards to buy

1. Goosehill Sailor Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board: the best all-round inflatable SUP

Price: £330 | Buy now from Amazon

The Goosehill Sailor features an extra layer of lamination that the company calls Super Construction Enhancement Technology, which gives additional strength to the single dropstitch layer without much extra weight. That means this all-rounder works for everyone: it’s light enough for a child to carry, stable and easy to manoeuvre, and solidly supports up to 200kg in weight.

The company says it works well on lakes, calm rivers and even in waves at the beach, but for more advanced conditions, it may not be suitable. Handily, the paddle board comes with all the key accessories you need to hit the water, including an adjustable paddle.

Key specs – Total weight: 9kg; Length: 323cm; Width: 81cm; Height: 15cm; Air pressure: 12-15PSI; Volume: 300L; How much can it carry? 200kg; Accessories? Includes adjustable paddle, pump, leash, fin and carrying bag

2. Portofino 10ft SUP Inflatable: the best inflatable SUP for families

Price: £300 | Buy now from Amazon

The Portofino is super lightweight, but adds stability with a bit of extra width. It’s a bit thinner than budget rivals, which not only slashes the weight but should make it faster to inflate, with the company claiming you’ll be ready to hit the water in less than five minutes. Made of a single dropstitch layer, the Portofino is strengthened by a toughened external shell and internal rails.

All that makes it particularly good for children to use, as it’s easy to manoeuvre and paddle, while still remaining suitable for adults weighing less than 120kg. The adjustable paddle, kayak conversion seat and suitability for a range of people of all shapes and sizes mean this kayak is a good flexible option for families: let the kids play on it at the beach, and take it out yourself for a sunset paddle when they’ve gone to bed.

Key specs – Total weight: 8kg; Length: 305cm; Width: 84cm; Height: 12cm; Air pressure: 15PSI; Volume: 300L; How much can it carry? 120kg; Accessories? Includes adjustable paddle, pump, leash, fin, and carrying bag; kayak conversion seat available at extra cost

3. Itiwit Beginner’s Inflatable Touring Stand-up Paddle board: the best lightweight inflatable SUP

Price: £250 | Buy now from Decathlon

If you’re going to have to carry your SUP, this is the one to get: it weighs just 6kg and folds up incredibly small into the included backpack, making it easy to take on your travels or to access more remote lakes and rivers. Because it’s so tiny, the Itiwit has a more restrictive weight limit, although larger – and therefore heavier – models are available.

This is unquestionably a beginner’s board for calm water, but if you’re looking for a small, lightweight iSUP to get started with, the Itiwit could be the one for you. Paddling gets harder the closer you are to the weight limit, so beginners may want to upgrade to the 10ft model for an extra £50 to ensure easy manoeuvrability.

Key specs – Total weight: 6kg; Length: 244cm; Width: 76cm; Height: 12cm Air pressure: 15PSI; Volume: 187L; How much can it carry? 60kg; upgrade to the larger models for higher weight limits; Accessories? No paddles or pump, but includes backpack, fins and leash

Buy now from Decathlon


4. Bluefin SUP Voyage: the best inflatable SUP for everything else

Price: £699 | Buy now from Amazon

Bluefin has a wide range of specialist boards: there’s the Aura for yoga, the Tandem for two paddlers, and the Mammoth to carry all your friends and family, alongside SUPs focused on touring and beginners. The Voyage piles together everything into one board, making it a water-based platform for all your lake activities.

The board itself is 20% wider than standard, so it’s more stable for paddling and yoga. But that also means there’s more space for all your kit, including an attachable cooler box that features a seat back, and mounts for kayak seat, fishing rods, and an action camera. Paddle this board out to the lake for fishing, practise a bit of yoga, take the kids or dog out for a spin, use it as a base to keep your drinks cold: the Voyage is the ultimate all-rounder, but all that comes with extra weight and size, so it might be difficult for children to paddle themselves.

Key specs – Total weight: 17kg; Length: 330cm; Width: 99cm; Height: 16cm; Air pressure: Two chambers at 3.5PSI each; Volume: 382L; How much can it carry? 130kg; Accessories? Comes with pump, two paddles, carry bag mount, fin, leash, cool box and more

5. Red Paddle Co Compact: The best inflatable SUP if you’re taking the bus

Price: £1,299 | Buy now from John Lewis

Red Paddle Co has a wide range of inflatable boards, but the “Compact” range is particularly intriguing as a portable solution for those without a car to ferry about their kit. The Devon-based company says it’s been working on the “Pact” technology for more than a decade, creating a new weaving process that’s strong but easy to pack away.

The board is just 7.4kg in weight, making it the second lightest on this list, but it also folds down to 50% of its total size, making it ideal to take on the bus, bike or even your back. To help lug the board, Red Paddle Co has developed a specialist backpack that’s adjustable for people of different heights, and which is handily included in the price.

Of course, you don’t want to carry a board on your back only to find it’s not much use on the water. Here, Red Paddle Co knows what it’s about: this model may have special compact features, but it’s based on the company's “Ride” paddle board, well respected for its versatility and ease of use. That makes this inflatable paddle board an all-rounder that’s ideal for beginners – especially those taking the bus to the beach.

Key specs – Total weight: 7.4kg; Length: 290cm; Width: 81cm; Height: 12cm; Air pressure: 16 to 22PSI; Volume: 160L; How much can it carry? 95kg, though there is a larger model if necessary; Accessories? Comes with backpack, pump, leash, paddle and fin

Buy now from John Lewis


6. Redder Zen iSUP: The best inflatable paddle board for yoga

Price: £329 | Buy now from Amazon

You don’t necessarily need a special SUP to practise your yoga on the water, but there are a few key features to consider, namely the board’s width and surface – wider boards will be more stable and give you room to stretch, while a softer, slip-free surface will keep you from wiping out in the middle of your sun salutations.

The Redder Zen Yoga iSUP nails both features, with an 82cm width offering plenty of stability as well as space for your downward-facing dog, as well as a non-slip traction pad across the entire length. The bungee cords are kept to the very top of the board, ensuring they won’t get in the way of your poses. Naturally, once you’re done with your daily practice, you can still go for a paddle on this board, which is a solid all-rounder for beginners.

Key specs – Total weight: 12.6kg; Length: 325cm; Width: 86cm; Height: 15cm; Air pressure: 15 to 20PSI; Volume: N/A; How much can it carry? 250kg; Accessories? Comes with adjustable paddle, backpack, pump, leash and fins

Read more

Best Buys