BEST Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboards 2018
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to choosing your next inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP)
Written by Ollie Denton – Level 3 ASI Stand Up Paddle Coach
Inflatable stand up paddle boards, otherwise known as iSUP’s, are becoming one of the most popular ways to get out onto the water.
They are easy to pack away, easy to store and you don’t need a roof rack to transport them!
But what boards are best to buy? Our handy guide is here to help
Inflatable stand-up paddleboards reviewed:
What is the best board for me?
First of all you need to know what you are going to use your iSUP for, will it be for surfing, touring/exploring, racing or a mix of everything?
The versatility and popularity of stand-up paddleboarding, has resulted in many different disciplines developing.
It is important to know what board you are looking for as there is such a range of boards out on the market at the moment. If you are reading this and thinking ‘’I have no idea what board I would like!’’ then the best thing to do would be to get yourself an all round board. These boards can be used in most conditions and used by people of all abilities.
Inflatable surf paddle boards are great for paddlers learning to surf. They are lightweight, stable and very easy to turn on the wave.
If you like the idea of doing a long distance paddle along the river with your friends then a touring board is a great choice as they glide beautifully through the water.
You can carry all sorts on these boards… even your dog!
If you are thinking that this all sounds a bit dull and you enjoy going fast then SUP racing is the sport for you.
Paddleboard racing is the fastest growing watersport in the UK and sometimes hundreds of competitors will take to the water to battle it out across a course ranging in distance.
Sometimes races will be around 2 miles long, and other races last up to 35 miles. That’s right 35 miles!
Inflatables have a big part to play in racing, as they bring a totally different aspect to the sport. There has even been a race dedicated to inflatable paddleboards meaning that all competitors will be racing on exactly the same board making it a fair playing field for everyone.
Specialist race paddleboards have been designed which are longer and narrower. This enables the board to have more glide due to its increased water-line length.
There are two sup racing categories – 12’6” and under for sprint races, and 14′ for long distance races.
SUP racing offers fantastic workout as well as a thrilling battle!
SUP Touring and Cruising
SUP cruising is a much more sedate affair than racing. SUPs offer a highly stable platform which allows you to explore inland waters with little chance of falling in.
It can be done anywhere there is flat water including lakes, estuaries, canals, coastal bays; and is a fantastic activity to enjoy on a warm summer’s day.
Touring is a great way to see the world from a different perspective. There is something amazing about packing up your camping gear and going on a paddle board adventure. You just need a nice route to follow with planned stops and away you go.
So why not take friends or family down for a cruise to a pub on the waterfront… try fishing from your board…combine it with an afternoon of snorkelling…try sup yoga…or pack a picnic for a day of exploration.
Kids can have just as much fun jumping off a SUP and paddling along sitting down as they do standing up!
Touring boards are designed to be easy to paddle in all weather conditions and with enough glide for a long distance journey. They offer enough room to carry dry bags and equipment/
A SUP provides a more stable option for learning to surf.
You can catch any sized wave on a paddleboard and experienced SUP surfers can look just as impressive on a wave as an experienced surfer. It’s also easier to catch waves due to the additional speed you can get with the use of a paddle, and the benefit of being able to control your position easier.
Surf paddleboards are made in all shapes and sizes to match the ability and weight of the rider.
Best Surfing Board
Red Paddle – The Whip
Red Paddle are true innovators when it comes to inflatable stand up paddle boards.
Red paddle have produced a brilliant board for stand up paddle board surfing, called ‘The Whip’
It is fair to say that they produce some of the best inflatable boards on the market. They use very intelligent technology to make their boards the stiffest on the market. This is called MSL fusion composite. An airtight coating new for 2016, MSL involves fusing a second layer of hard-wearing polymer to the dropstitch core at the raw material stage removing hand gluing errors.
The high-tech industrial process also saves almost 2kg in weight and makes the boards stiffer at lower pressures.
A very fun board to surf on and easy to take anywhere! With a wide nose, pulled in tail and unique fin setup, it’s designed with iSUP surfing performance at its heart. All of this makes the Whip a super fun and lively iSUP in the surf in all conditions.
- Length – 8ft 10
- Width – 29 inch
- Thickness – 3.93 inch
- Volume – 150 ltrs
- Rider weight – up to 90kg
Best Touring & Exploring Boards
Red Paddle – 13’2 Explorer
The Red Paddle 13’2 Explorer is everything you need in a touring board.
It is designed for a more experienced paddler that is looking to put some miles down on their adventure. It is stiff, ridged and fast!
You can pack a full weekends worth of gear onto this board and still paddle at a good solid speed. We tested this board out on a weekend trip on the Thames and carried an additional 15kg of kit on the board.
To save on weight we packed a lightweight sleeping bag, food, water cooking equipment and some spare clothing.
Don’t worry we didn’t forget the tent, we actually slept on the board over night and used it as a mattress!
This board is one of our favourite boards to paddle purely because of the memories from such an unforgettable trip down the Thames.
- Length – 13ft 2
- Width – 30inch
- Thickness – 5.9inch
- Volume – 360ltrs
- Rider weight – Up to 150kg
Jobe – 10’6 Aero Neva
The Jobe 10’6 Aero Neva is a brilliant board if you are just getting into touring on a stand up paddle board.
You will have no difficulty paddling this board as it is so stable and easy to paddle. But if you put this board in the hands of an experienced paddler, expect to get some great speed going!
This board really likes to glide meaning that you can cover a lot of distance pretty easily.
If you are looking at taking your board on holiday with you then this board is perfect for taking to warmer climates.
It packs, like all other inflatable boards, into a small carry bag where you can fit your pump, leash and paddle in. But this board weighs just 9kg when inflated! So it is easy to carry and travel with.
- Length – 12ft 6
- Width – 29″ (74cm)
- Thickness – 6″ (15cm)
- Board volume – 314L
- Recommended Rider Weight – Up to 120 kg
Best Racing Boards
Red Paddle – 17’0 XL Ride
Inflatable paddle board racing has come into a class of it’s own recently with brands such as Naish and Red Paddle setting up their own inflatable board races.
This sets a level playing field for all competitors with everyone racing on exactly the same board. The race comes down to who is the strongest and fastest paddler.
There are also team races that have started with teams of up to eight people paddling on one board!
The XL Ride from Red Paddle is one such board which is a whopping 17ft long and is a lot of fun to race on with your friends.
Technically, the XL ride is an extension of its sister Ride boards. It has a wide deck and tail so it’s nice and stable, even when you have eight people on it.
It has multiple valves so a group of people can inflate it at the same time, and multiple grab handles so they can carry it together.
- Length – 17ft
- Width – 60inch
- Thickness – 8inch
- Volume – 1298ltrs
- Number of riders – 8
Red Paddle – 22’0 Dragon
If you are looking for a more serious race to do as a team then Red Paddle have launched a four man race on their new 22ft Dragon race board.
- Length – 22 ft
- Width – 34 inch
- Thickness 8 inch
- Volume – 984 ltrs
- Number of riders – 4
Red Paddle – 14ft Race Board
The Red Paddle 14ft race board is a very clever board.
The longer an inflatable board is, the harder it is to keep it ridged and to keep a good race shape. But Red Paddle has gone and blown that theory out of the water with this brilliant board.
Using their MSL construction they have managed to keep the board really stiff. Not just that but they have added Forward Flex Control or FFC is a patented innovation by Red Paddle Co that stiffens the front section of the board to remove the flex created in sprinting phases of a race. It also increases board speed to give you the competitive edge.
The system is made up of a carbon compression strut that works in combination with RSS to deliver a more rigid ride. It is attached during the inflation period.
At 14’ long and just 25” wide, it has been shaped to cut through the water like a hot knife through butter.
It rides high at 150mm thick, reducing drag, while double nose runner fins keep the board tracking straight without creating drag, a combination that lies at the heart of what makes this board so fast and so easy to control in race conditions.
- Length – 14 ft
- Width – 25 inch
- Thickness – 5.9 inch
- Volume – 340 ltrs
- Rider weight – up to 120kg
Best All-Round Boards
If you are looking for your first stand up paddle board then you will want to look for an all-round board.
These are the most stable, durable and in my opinion the best boards to learn on.
An all-round board will pack up into a carry bag very easily and are very easy to inflate. A good board will take around 5mins to inflate using the pump provided with your board.
A good size board to start with would be either a 10ft board or a 10ft 6 board. These boards will be perfect for a wide range of height and weighted people learning to paddle board. You will also need to look for a board that is around 30inches wide. This is a nice width for a stable platform to stand on.
Red Paddle – 10’6 Ride
The Red Paddle 10’6 Ride is a brilliant board for someone looking for their first paddle board.
You will be able to paddle in most conditions due to the stiffness of the board and the stability of the board. I have tested this board in the surf, on the River Thames and also in some fun races and it is a great board to get all the family on.
If you like the idea of cruising down the river with a picnic and stopping to enjoy the sunshine then this is the board for you.
With some great features such as cargo straps, easy carry handle and a carry bag that turns into a rucksack or that you can pull along on its wheels it is one of the best boards on the market.
- Length – 10 ft 6
- Width – 32 inch
- Thickness 4.7 inch
- Volumer – 240 ltrs
- Rider weight – 100 kgs
RRD AirSUP 10’2
The RRD AirSUP 10’2 is the most popular board from RRD.
This board is perfect for all beginners and for anyone who likes cruising on flat water. You will not be missed with the crazy graphics RRD have become renowned for.
A very stylish and exciting board to have, this super friendly and all-round orientated type of board glides smoothly on flat water and effortlessly in small surf allowing you to enter a new dimension of excitement.
Rocker and scoopline together with a perfect fin placement allow for a great experience of pleasure in an incredible variety of conditions.
Built with a new ‘Sandwich Dyneema Belt’ that wraps the whole contour of the board on the deck and bottom as a stringer the board becomes about 30% stiffer than any conventional Inflatable board.
- Length – 10 ft 2
- Width – 32 inch
- Weight – 7kg
- Rider weight up to 150kg
Fanatic – Fly Air 10’8
The Fanatic Fly Air 10’8’’ is a board that took me by surprise.
I was expecting just another all-round board that was easy to paddle and did everything I wanted it to. But this board had something that made me want to paddle it more.
I felt like the board was stiffer and glided better than other inflatable paddle boards that I have tested. It was light, stiff and a heck of a lot of fun to paddle.
- Length – 10’8
- Width – 32 inch
- Weight – 8 kg
- Rider weight – up to 150kg
Hopefully you have found this article helpful. There are a lot of boards to choose from online and I hope that when you are reading this, you will find it of some help when choosing your board.
If you are still worried about what board to get then head down to your local paddle board club and try some out.
There will be demo days around the country where you can find a selection of brands and boards to test out. The most important thing to remember is that you are out there having fun! So enjoy picking your board, getting it out on the water and enjoying one of the best sports around!