Updated on

There was a day when inflatable standup paddle boards (and kayaks for that matter) were not to be trusted as reliable paddle craft. Many seemed to deflate into an inefficient “taco shape” due to poor seals or unreliable closures. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the best inflatable SUP on today’s market performs very similarly (and in some cases better!) to their hard-top counterparts. 

Many travelers actually prefer an inflatable SUP because of the ease of transporting them. They also deflate to very compact dimensions if you need to store it underneath an RV, camper van, or if you simply have limited space in your home or garage. In this article, we’re going to detail several choices for the best inflatable SUP from a few great SUP providers.

For more of our top paddle boarding gear recommendations, check out the Best SUP Boards

 

Quick Answer - The Best Inflatable SUP Boards

  1. Pau Hana Endurance Air
  2. Red Paddle Co. Ride
  3. Surftech + Prana Alta Air-Travel
  4. Bote Flood Aero
  5. Hobie Adventure
  6. NRS Thrive
  7. Bote Traveller Aero
  8. Advanced Elements Lotus YSUP
  9. Boardworks Shubu Kraken
  10. BIC Sport Performer Air

 

Comparison Table - Best Inflatable SUP Boards

PictureNameLengthWidthCapacityPriceRating
Pau Hana Endurance AirPau Hana Endurance Air12’30"200 pounds$$$4.8
Red Paddle Co. Ride10’6”32”220 pounds$$$4.9
Surftech + Prana Alta Air-Travel10’2"32”250 pounds$$4.8
Bote Flood Aero11'32"200 pounds$$$3.5
Hobie AdventureHobie Adventure10’6”32”200 pounds$$$4.5
NRS Thrive10’8”34”200 pounds$$$4.6
Bote Traveller Aero12’6”30"200 pounds$$$4.2
Advanced Elements Lotus YSUP10'32"200 pounds$4.5
Boardworks Shubu Kraken11’33”250 pounds$4.0
BIC Sport Performer Air10’6”33”200 pounds$4.3
PictureNameLengthWidthCapacityPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Inflatable SUP Boards

Pau Hana Endurance Air

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 12’
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 30"
Features
  • 19 Anchor Points For Attaching Gear
  • Extra-Soft Foam Deck Pad Can Double As A Sleeping Platform
  • Extra Handles For Easier “Team-Carrying”
  • Comes With Travel Bag That Doubles As A Gear Hauler
Pau Hana Endurance Air

BEST FOR: OFF-THE-GRID ADVENTURES

The Pau Hana Endurance Air will go as far as you’re willing to take it. It deflates into a compact travel bag that features full-suspension shoulder straps, high-end wheels, and multiple exterior storage pockets. When you’re out on the water, the travel bag can double as a gear hauler to help you bring along the equipment you’d need for an overnight camping adventure. The board itself boasts 19 separate anchor points for attaching all the gear you’d need for a multi-day adventure. It also includes extra carry handles to make carrying it with another person (or two!) a breeze. Finally, this board’s extra-soft foam deck pad can double as a comfortable sleeping platform for a quick snooze on the beach after your paddle!

Red Paddle Co. Ride

Specs
  • Capacity: 220 pounds
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Weight: 21 pounds, 12 ounces
  • Thickness: 4.7”
  • Width: 32”
Features
  • Diamond-Cut Deck Pad (Rear Section Only) Improves Traction
  • Lightweight Construction That Improves Board Stiffness At Lower Pressures
  • Multiple Cargo Tie-Downs For Gear Storage
  • Comes With Pump, Repair Kit, Storage Backpack, And Phone Case

BEST FOR: HARD-TOP PERFORMANCE IN DEFLATABLE PACKAGE

This SUP from Red Paddle Company is thin and rigid so that it performs like a comparable hard-top model. The rear section of the board is outfitted with a diamond-cut pad that helps to improve traction and make it easier for you to stay balanced. The board’s lightweight construction makes it easy to transport and also improves its stiffness (and, therefore, performance) when inflated to lower pressures. Multiple tie-downs give you plenty of options for storing gear on the deck and this board comes with a high-flow hand pump, patch kit, all-terrain backpack, and water-resistant phone case so you can capture epic selfies from your new SUP.

Surftech + Prana Alta Air-Travel

Specs
  • Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Length: 10’2"
  • Weight: 25 pounds, 15.4 ounces
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 32”
Features
  • UV Resistant Finish For Reduced Sun Damage
  • Padded Carry Handle For Comfortable Transportation
  • D-Ring On Nose For Tie-Down Point
  • Eco-Friendly Deck Pad Made Of BLOOM Foam

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY FOR YOGA

This SUP is the result of a great partnership between Surftech (a well-known and respected board maker) and prAna (purveyor of excellent yoga attire and accessories). The board is a great all-around performer and a stable platform for advanced SUP yoga enthusiasts. The deck is finished with a UV-resistant material that reduces sun damage. The board features a D-ring located on the nose (front) that allows you to secure the board to a buoy or other attachment point. The deck of this board is made of eco-friendly BLOOM foam, which helps to offset the use of nonrenewable petrochemical ingredients in other areas of the board’s construction.

Bote Flood Aero

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 11'
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Thickness: 6"
  • Width: 32"
Features
  • Adjustable Bungee Straps For Quick And Easy Storage
  • Bungee For Paddle Storage When Not In Use
  • Integrated Attachment Points For Carrying With Sling (Sold Separately)
  • Comfortable Carry Handle For Easy Transport

BEST FOR: FULL-DAY SUP EXCURSIONS

This SUP is a great option for paddlers that want to spend full days out on their favorite body of water. It comes with a variety of adjustable bungee straps so that you can secure all of your essential items on-board. This board is also compatible with additional attachment systems (sold separately) that allow you to secure fishing gear and other recreational items. It features integrated attachment points that give you the ability to attach a sling for easier, over-the-shoulder carrying, but it also comes with a comfortable carry handle for getting it from your car down to the water.

Hobie Adventure

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 32”
Features
  • Higher Density Thread Distribution For Higher Inflation Pressure
  • Rigid Control Plates For Additional Stability In Key Areas
  • High-Pressure Spring Valve For Easy Inflation/Deflation
  • Reinforced Construction For Added Rigidity
Hobie Adventure

BEST FOR: FAMILIES OR JET-SET PADDLERS

The Hobie Adventure SUP is designed with a denser thread distribution that allows the board to be inflated to higher pressures. In conjunction with rigid control plates and PVC-reinforced materials, this makes the board more rigid, stable, and able to perform better in variable conditions. It features a high-pressure spring valve that makes it easy to inflate and deflate this board in a matter of minutes. It also offers a removable fin and built-in carry handle to assist with transportation.

NRS Thrive

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 10’8”
  • Weight: 29 pounds
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 34”
Features
  • Double Sidewalls For Improved Abrasion Resistance
  • Removable Plastic Fins For Customizing Your Setup
  • Pressure-Relief Valve To Prevent Over-Inflation
  • Three Sturdy Carry Handles

BEST FOR: TOURING OR LIGHT RIVER-RUNNING

From the fine folks at Northwest River Supplies (NRS), the Thrive SUP is designed for flatwater touring on lakes or calm ocean bays. But it can also perform well for light river-running. It is designed with double sidewalls that are reinforced with PVC construction to provide added resistance to abrasions and punctures. The fins on this board are removable to allow you to customize your setup (or go without altogether if you’re river-running). It features three sturdy carry handles (one on the tail and nose and one in the center of the deck) and includes a pressure-relief valve that helps to prevent accidental over-inflation if you’re relatively new to inflatable SUPs.

Bote Traveller Aero

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 12’6”
  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 30"
Features
  • Multi-Textured, Heat-Sealed Deck Pad Improves Traction And Sheds Water
  • Paddle Storage ‘Sheath’ In The Bow (Front)
  • Comfortable Grab Handle
  • Adjustable Bungee Straps And Multiple Tie-Down Points

BEST FOR: OPEN WATER ADVENTURES 

The Bote Traveller Aero SUP features a longer design that gives it the ability to slice through larger waves in open water. The board’s multi-textured and heat-sealed deck pad helps to improve grip and traction while also shedding water more quickly. The board has a sheath (like for a sword) in the front that you can slide the blade of your paddle into for hands-free storage while you lounge on your SUP. The comfortable grab handle eliminates lack of leverage when transporting your board and the variety of bungee straps and tie-down points give you plenty of ability to store all your preferred gear on board.

Advanced Elements Lotus YSUP

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 10'
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Thickness: 6"
  • Width: 32"
Features
  • Extra Wide Design For Added Stability
  • Large, Soft Traction Pad On Deck For Better Grip When Wet
  • Three Tracking Fins For Easier Maneuverability
  • Double-Layer Construction For Improved Durability

BEST FOR: SUP YOGA

This extra-wide SUP is primarily designed to provide an extra stable platform for practicing SUP yoga. But it also offers great performance for casual paddle excursions and can also be a great SUP for larger paddlers to learn on. It features a large traction pad on the deck that is soft underfoot and improves grip when the board gets wet. On the bottom, you’ll find three tracking fins that make this board easy to turn on a dime. The exterior of this SUP is finished with a double-layer outer skin that improves durability and resistance to the effects of rocks, barnacles, and other paddle hazards.

Boardworks Shubu Kraken

Specs
  • Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Length: 11’
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Width: 33”
Features
  • Laminate Construction For Improved Durability And Resilience
  • Comfortable Carrying Handles
  • Multiple Tie-Downs And Bungee Storage System
  • Comfortable Foam Deck Pad For Foot Comfort

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND WATER ACTIVITIES

The Boardworks Shubu Kraken is an 11-foot SUP designed to tackle a wide variety of water activities. It can handle a day-long paddle on flatwater or become a floating island for the kids at your next beach day. The board’s laminate construction makes it extra durable and resilient to scrapes or punctures. It offers multiple comfortable handles for transporting it easily and features multiple tie-downs and bungee rigging for on-deck gear storage. The deck (or top) of this SUP is finished with a foam pad that helps to keep your feet comfortable on longer paddle adventures.

BIC Sport Performer Air

Specs
  • Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Thickness: 4.75”
  • Width: 33”
Features
  • Rigid Bottom And Hard Rails For Added Stability
  • Removable Center Fin
  • Carry Handles In Three Locations
  • Bungee Cord Deck Rigging For Gear Storage

BEST FOR: PADDLERS WITH LITTLE TO NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE

Bic Sport is a great provider of some of the best inflatable SUPS designed to help you get comfortable if you’re new to paddle boarding. The Performer Air is designed with a rigid bottom (also known as the “hull”) and hard rails (the sides of the board) that combine to make it much more stable. The board has carry handles at the nose, tail, and center and a removable center fin that helps you keep it safe and out of the way when transporting the board. As you get more comfortable and want to go out for longer paddles, this SUP has bungee deck rigging that allows you to secure a dry bag (or two!) with your essential gear items.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN INFLATABLE SUP 

LENGTH AND WIDTH

Length and width are going to be the largest factors in determining the stability of a SUP. In general, larger paddlers should seek a SUP that is both longer and wider. In some cases, however, you should be careful to pay attention to width over length. Many SUPs that are designed for racing are much longer, but are also much skinnier. So if you look at length only, you might be sorely surprised. 

Length and width combine to tell you the total surface area of the SUP. But that total surface area can also be determined by the exact design of the specific board in question. A board with a narrower tail, for example, might have a smaller total surface area than a board that is actually narrower at the mid-section. When you’re paying attention to the width of a SUP, make sure you look at the width at the middle of the board as well as at the tail (back) and nose (front) of the board. 

 

VOLUME

The volume of a SUP is determined by multiplying the board’s length by its width by its thickness. This will give you a total volume inside the board when it is fully inflated. In general, a board with a higher volume will displace more water and, in some cases, can be easier to balance on. However, this is not always the case depending on the board’s hull design. The best volume for YOU will depend on a number of factors, but this SUP Volume Calculator is a great place to get started! 

 

PACKED DIMENSIONS

Located in the specs of most SUPs, you’ll find a category called ‘Packed Dimensions.’ This is the total length, width, and height of the SUP when it is deflated and (ideally) stored in its travel bag. Looking at the packed dimensions of a SUP will give you a good idea of how easy (or difficult) it will be to store it in your car, underneath your RV, on top of your camper van, or on a convenient shelf in your garage.  

 

WEIGHT

Fortunately, almost all inflatable SUPs are lighter than hard-top SUPs. However, there can be some large differences in weight between competing inflatable SUP models. The biggest example of weight being a factor will be in transit. You should consider whether you’ll be comfortable carrying the weight of your inflatable SUP without hurting yourself (and never making it on the water, which would be very sad!). 

Weight is also a factor when you get on the SUP and out on the water. In general, heavier boards are more difficult to maneuver, especially for novice or smaller paddlers. For larger, more experienced paddlers, a lighter board can mean improved performance, but can also mean that you have to compromise on stability.   

 

ACCESSORIES

Many of the inflatable SUP options that we’ve listed above also come with added accessories designed to improve your overall experience. These accessories need to be factored in before you make a final purchase decision. A board that comes with a high-flow hand pump, repair kit, travel bag, and collapsible paddle, for example, might be a better deal than a lower priced SUP that doesn’t come with any accessories. Make sure to factor in the added price of a paddle, pump, repair kit, and storage bag (at the very least) when comparing and contrasting which will be the best inflatable SUP for you! 

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

FINS

Fins are located on the bottom of a SUP. They help you maneuver the board. In general, longer fins will give you more ability to make quick maneuvers on the board. In addition, multiple fins will help your board track better and can also improve overall maneuverability. 

 

FIN BOX

The fin box is the area on the bottom (and toward the back) of the SUP where the fin (or fins) attaches. Fin boxes come in different shapes and styles, so it’s important to choose a fin that is compatible with the fin box of your SUP, especially if your desired SUP doesn’t come with an included set of fins.  

 

HULL

The hull is the bottom of the SUP board. There are two main types of hulls in SUP boards. They are the planing hull and the displacement hull. More can be read on the differences of these two hull types here

 

RAILS

Rails are the sides of the SUP board. Harder rails make it easier to turn on your SUP because they’ll dig into the water without bending or being pushed in. With an inflatable SUP, rails are generally higher than on hard-top SUPS because of the added thickness of the board.

 

READ MORE

For more of our top stand up paddle boarding gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

59 Shares
Tweet9
Pin44
Share6
Email
Flip