Best Inflatable SUP for Surfing

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The best inflatable SUP for surfing waves is the Red Paddle Whip 8’10”. Its extra-stiff rails, narrow tail, and exceptionally lightweight design make it perfect for catching swells

Of course, we’re not all surfing ocean shores. River surfing is growing more popular, with play waves popping up in rivers across North America. Many stand-up paddle boarders want to surf sometimes but need a board that handles varying conditions. 

Stand-up paddleboarding is my passion, and I’m no stranger to the SUP surfing world. Having paddled around many lakes in southern Ontario to getting my SUP Surf on in Tofino. At this point, I like to think I know what to look for in an inflatable stand-up paddleboard, and I can help you spot the best ones too. 

In these surf sup reviews, I’ll cover the best inflatable SUPs for surfing in various conditions. So whether you’re catching ocean swells, riding jump waves on the river, or need a board that can handle both, I’ll guide you through your best options

Best Inflatable Paddle Boards for Surfing

  1. Red Paddle Whip 8’10” – (Wave Surfing Pick) 
  2. Earth River SUP DUAL 9- 6 S3 – (Most Fin Configurations) 
  3. Red Paddle Co-Ride 9’8″ – (Premium Pick)
  4. NRS Whip – (River Surfing Pick) 
  5. Fantastic 8’6″ Stubby Air Premium – (Travel Pick)

Finding the best iSUP for surfing can seem a bit difficult. Even though SUP’s were originally designed for surfing, the majority of their inflatable cousins veer towards calm water conditions and other SUP related activities

Still, there are many paddle board companies to consider, but you can’t go wrong when you start with a prestigious brand like Red Paddle.

#1 Red Paddle Whip 8’10” (Wave Surfing Pick) 

For the best paddle board for surfing, look no further than the Red Paddle Whip. 

Comparable Features

  • Length: 8’10
  • Width: 29″
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 200 lbs. 

Types of Waves

The highly maneuverable Red Paddle Whip is perfect for waves of all sizes, from river whitewater to ocean swells. 

That said, it excels in steep sections, where its narrow tail allows you to manage speed. Conditions permitting, you might even ride along the wave’s crest, performing a floater that makes you feel almost weightless.  

Surfing Specifications

The Red Paddle Whip features RSS (Rocker Stiffening System) battens that may initially seem like a pain. They’re a little tricky to slide into the rail sides of your board, but once you ride with them, you’ll understand why they’re there

The RSS battens provide a stiffness you won’t get in most other inflatable surf SUPs, and that rigidity makes surfing much easier

On top of that, the Red Paddle Whip comes with a single fin from FCS, the leader in surf accessories. And, of course, there’s the narrow tail that allows you to make sharp turns quickly


The Red Paddle Whip comes complete with a spacious wheeled backpack and pump. There’s enough room in the pack to fit all of your other gear if needed, and the wheels come in handy while traveling.

What It’s Made Of

Red Paddle Co. uses monocoque structural laminate (MSL) and a unique fusion process to keep its boards lightweight and extra stiff at lower pressures. MSL is a high-definition drop stitch material fused with a reinforced laminate or high-density structural PVC. It makes the whip durable, ultra-lightweight, and incredibly stiff. 

What Customers Think

Overall, customers love the Red Paddle Whip for surfing ocean waves. It’s a favorite amongst those who usually use a hardboard but find an inflatable more convenient for travel purposes. 

But even users who don’t have a hardboard love the Red Paddle Whip 8’10. They love its clean, smooth look as well as its nimbleness. 


  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to travel with
  • Exceptional stiffness for stellar maneuverability
  • Narrow tail for easy turns 


  • Does not come with a paddle
  • Does not come with a leash 
  • Great for waves, but not ideal for other environments  

#2 Earth River SUP DUAL 9- 6 S3 (Most Fin Configurations) 

Essentially an all-around paddle board in a compact package, the Earth River SUP Dual is the best option if you want to ride the occasional wave but need a board that can handle anything.  

Comparable Features

  • Length:9’6″
  • Width: 31″
  • Weight: 22 lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 220 lbs. 

Types of Waves

The Earth River SUP is ideal for whitewater and small waves. Thanks to its many fin configurations, it also handles touring and regular paddle boarding fairly well. You can take this board everywhere, from flat water to small ocean swells. 

Surfing Specifications

With multiple fin configurations, you can quickly make the Earth River SUP an ideal surfing paddleboard. Simply use a single shortfin in the center position, and you’ll be able to make decent turns through the waves

Plus, the Earth River SUP Dual features an “Enhanced Dynamic Rail.” Unlike the boards from Red Paddle, there are no rods to insert after inflation. Instead, the rail is stiff and ready to catch small waves from the second you’re done inflating it. 


This Earth River SUP comes with a wheeled backpack and double action pump. It also comes with plenty of fins. There are four center fins at varying lengths, two sets of side click fins, a custom ERS fin, and an accessories bag to keep them all in.  

What It’s Made Of

This board features a PVC core with thermal flex layering. That’s a fancy way of saying there’s a second layer of military-grade fabric fused to the board’s core. The coating allows the manufacturers to control the board’s strength better and flex so that you get a SUP that performs well in various environments. 

What Customers Think

Customers who want to go from white water rapids to small swells to flatwater can’t get enough of the Earth River SUP Dual. They love its versatility and lightweight build

Riders with a more petite frame especially enjoy this SUP. It’s easy for them to maneuver whether they’re on a river, lake, or beach.  


  • Multiple fin configurations ideal for any environment
  • Lightweight and compact, especially for an all-around style board
  • Durable construction lasts the test of time


  • Does not come with paddle or leash
  • Not great for larger waves
  • Width creates stability but inhibits snappy turns 

#3 Red Paddle Co-Ride 9’8″ (Premium Pick) 

For lightweight riders who want a board that moves easily from flat water to waves, the Red Paddle Co-Ride 9’8″ is a high-quality pick. 

Comparable Features

  • Length:9’8
  • Width: 31″
  • Weight: 19 lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 155 lbs  

Types of Waves

The Red Paddle Co-Ride can handle everything from flat water to ocean waves. That said, Red Paddle designed it with surfing in mind. 

Flatwater paddling is feasible, but the narrow and short design does best when put to the test on whitewater or waves.  

Surfing Specifications

Red Paddle’s signature RSS railings keep this board exceptionally stiff for an inflatable. That, along with the thin nature of the board (it’s technically less than 4″ thick), keeps riders tracking at the perfect depth for surfing swells. 

The tapered tail helps ensure top-notch maneuverability, so you can carve waves like a pro, while the rounded nose keeps the board stable. 

On top of that, this board features a kick pad which is helpful for beginners. They can easily feel the back of the board when getting into a surf position. 


The Red Paddle Co-Ride 9’8″ comes with a pump and wheeled backpack that readily fits any extra gear you might need. Everything else with this board is sold separately. 

What It’s Made Of

Like other Red Paddle Boards, this one features monocoque structural laminate (MSL). The dual-layer drop stitch material is very durable and stiff. Still, it remains a lightweight board that’s easy for smaller riders to transport

What Customers Think

Users love the exceptional quality of this board, and small-framed riders love its versatility. 

As an all-around board, it works best for smaller riders. Larger reviewers say they have a hard time in flatwater conditions. But for those who want to ride waves solely, they might get away with being a little larger than the suggested weight capacity. 


  • Short design creates exceptional maneuverability
  • All-around board doesn’t exclude any activities 
  • Rounded nose provides stability 


  • Low rider weight capacity 
  • Small tri-fin setup isn’t ideal for much besides waves
  • Wide nose makes it tricky to track straight  

#4 NRS Whip (River Surfing Pick) 

If your weekends consist of catching your local play wave, the NRS whip is for you. Short, rounded, and maneuverable, it rides river waves exceptionally well.  

Comparable Features

  • Length: 7’8 or 8’4 
  • Width: 33″ or 34″ 
  • Weight: 20 lbs or 22 lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 7’8 board: up to 150 lbs 8’4 board: up to 180 lbs 

Types of Waves

NRS created this board specifically with river waves in mind. Of course, it can also handle flat water, small ocean waves, and rapids, but some of its features, like its flat middle section and significant nose rocker, excel in river conditions.  

Surfing Specifications

Much of the magic of the NRS Whip comes from the shape of the board. The flat middle section gives riders the chance to keep their speed when trying to catch river waves. Meanwhile, the curved nose ensures you won’t pearl on a steeper wave, while the tail rocker provides exceptional maneuverability. 


The NRS whip comes with removable and interchangeable fins that allow you to customize your setup, which is ideal when you’re dealing with changing river conditions. 

It also comes with a high-pressure pump, carry bag, and repair kit. So, all you’ll need to buy on top of the NRS Whip is a paddle and, for river surfing, a helmet!

What It’s Made Of

NRS uses PVC drop-stitch construction for stellar durability. On top of that, this board features NRS’s “Axis Technology.” Axis is an acrylic stiffener that promises to add rigidity without making the board heavy. The result is a top-notch iSUP ideal for river surfing. 

What Customers Think

Overall, river surfers love the NRS Whip. They say this board is stable and maneuverable, allowing you to literally whip around the waves

Plus, according to them, it’s easy to pack and carry, and the fins are a cinch to switch around. It’s no wonder the NRS whip has been known to occasionally sell out! 


  • Very stable but still capable of snappy turns
  • Includes two sets of fins 
  • Excels in all river conditions 


  • Relatively low weight capacity 
  • No tie-downs for securing gear 
  • Board is durable, but board graphics wear off fast

#5 Fantastic 8’6″ Stubby Air Premium (Travel Pick)  

Super lightweight and ultra user-friendly, the Stubby Air Premium is the best iSUP to take on the road. Whether you’re headed to a remote ocean shore or an exotic river. 

Comparable Features

  • Length: 8’6″
  • Width: 29.5″
  • Weight: 19 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 200 lbs 

Types of Waves

The Stubby Air Premium mimics a surfboard in many ways, making it ideal for ocean waves. 

Its tri-fin configuration also allows it to track straight, so you can use it for touring and river cruising if you need to. That said, the short length and stiffness on this board are best suited to snappy turns and quick surf-style movements

Surfing Specifications

The Stubby Air Premium gets its name from being short and lightweight, two features that also make it ideal for surfing while traveling. This iSUP’s parallel rail and double diamond tail create extra rigidity without adding too much weight, giving you plenty of grip and drive on the waves. 

The Stubby also features a ¾ length traction deck pad with a kicktail, making it that much easier to navigate ocean swells. 


This iSUP comes with a roomy travel backpack, a power pump, a repair kit, and additional fins. The pack is large enough to hold your extra gear, like your travel paddle. And, of course, all accessories are color-coordinated. 

What It’s Made Of

The Stubby Air Premium features construction on par with Red Paddle’s MSL fabrication. Its double-layer drop stitch light construction is lighter and more rigid than traditional double-layer technology. That makes it an ideal board for traveling. 

What Customers Think

Customers find the Stubby Air Premium to be very user-friendly and simple to pack and carry. In addition, they say that this board makes it easier to catch a wave and is excellent for novice users. 

That said, the design still allows for snappy turns and creative movements that keep riders of all skill levels entertained. 


  • Includes windsurf attachment 
  • Very easy to use and set up 
  • Suitable for a broad range of skill levels
  • Kick tail on deck pad for better surfing 


  • No bungee storage 
  • Too lightweight for choppy lakes or overly windy conditions
  • Few included accessories 

How to Choose the Best Inflatable SUP Board For Surfing

If you’re hoping to catch waves on your inflatable SUP, it’s essential to pay attention to a few things. Technically, you can go iSUP surfing with any board, but some make it easier than others

As this below video by Sup Boarder explains, picking the right size, shape, and thickness is essential for surfing on an iSUP. Also crucial is finding the right type of rails, tails, and deck padding.


For most riders, the best iSUPs for surfing measure 7-10′ long. You’ll want to pick a board that’s on the shorter side if you have a smaller frame or if you’re a little more advanced when it comes to riding waves. Shorter boards give you better maneuverability so you can turn in and out of the surf. 

However, you need to be able to stand up on your board easily. For larger or beginner riders, that may mean finding something on the longer side. Longer boards are harder to turn, especially if the rider has a small frame, but they can offer a little more stability

Shape of the Board

The ideal iSUP for surfing will have a shape similar to an all-around SUP, except it should curve more at the tip. More curves in the board’s shape will create a better glide when you catch a wave. It will also prevent pearling. 

If you can find it, a pulled-in tail is excellent as well. If the tail narrows, you’ll have more grip on the waves, allowing you to make turns that a wider board can’t make. 

Ideal Thickness

Inflatable SUPs on the thinner side will perform better on waves than their thicker counterparts. Ideally, your iSUP will be 4-5″ thick if you want to surf unless you, as the rider, have a larger frame. 

Riders under 200 lbs will do well with a 4″ thick board. They’ll naturally push the rail into the water just enough to give them grip and drive on waves. However, riders who weigh 200 lbs or more may need a 6″ thick board to accomplish the same thing. 

Ideal Types of Rails

The rail or edge of your stand-up paddleboard can significantly affect your board’s overall performance, especially when surfing. Typically, manufacturers create an iSUP rail by joining the top and bottom board sheets with strips of reinforced PVC.

Low-quality boards only feature a single band of PVC around the rail, which is prone to leakage and vulnerable to puncture. For surfing, you’ll want to avoid this type of rail. 

Dual rail bands feature two layers of PVC, a thinner inner band and a wider outer band. Dual rail band construction is the most common rail type for iSUPs. 

For surfing, though, you might want to seek out a board that features dual rail bands and a stiffening layer. This gives you the most rigidity in an inflatable board. The extra rigidity provides resistance when you apply force, allowing you to glide through waves with ease. 

Ideal Types of Tails

There are dozens of tail types for SUPs, but for surfing iSUPS, there are only a few you need to pay attention to: 

  • Squared/squashed tails
  • Swallow/fishtails
  • Round or pintails 

Squared or squashed tails will give your board nimbleness, allowing you to carve the waves.

Swallow or fish tailboards are harder to find, but they do exist. They’re great for small surf but not ideal in bigger waves. 

Round or pintails are common and work well for big waves. They give longer boards more maneuverability, but that comes at a cost. Round or pintails are the least stable and can create a challenge for beginner riders. 

Ideal Deck Pad Types

Unlike regular stand-up paddleboarding, surfing on a paddleboard requires you to stand in a surf stance. That means your rear foot will control the board. And, it means the deck pad is exceptionally important. 

Ideally, the deck pad will contour towards the tail and will feature a raised rear edge. The raised rear edge helps your back foot from sliding off and gives you a little more leverage


If you still have questions about the best inflatable SUPs for surfing, it’s understandable. There are a lot of nuances to surfing on a stand-up paddleboard. If you are interested in some of the differences between a paddle board vs surfboard click here.

Below, we answer a few of the most common questions surrounding stand-up paddle boarding and surfing. 

What’s Better for Surfing? A Hardboard or an Inflatable?

If you ask a SUP surfing enthusiast which is better between a hardboard or an inflatable, there’s no doubt what their answer will be. The hardboard is the better option for surfing if you’re purely looking for excellent performance

Hardboards are inherently more rigid and offer superior nimbleness and glide. 

However, there is no beating inflatable stand-up paddleboards when it comes to portability and storage. iSUPs can fold down to the size of a hockey bag. So, you can travel with them easily, making them perfect for surfing in remote places. 

ISUPs are also the more durable option. Dropping a hardboard leads to chips and cracks that will affect your board’s performance. But if you drop an inflatable, no harm is done! 

In fact, many inflatables are virtually indestructible. The Red Paddle Co. 8’10” Whip, for example, was run over by a tractor during testing – it survived the trauma easily. 

Are Inflatable SUPs Good for the Ocean?

There’s a myth floating around that inflatable SUPs and ocean waters don’t mix. Luckily, it’s only a myth. 

Salt is corrosive and can cause problems for low-grade inflatables over time. However, manufacturers usually construct inflatable SUPs from highly durable, military-grade PVC. So using them in saltwater won’t harm them. 

To keep your board in good shape for the longest period, though, you should rinse it off with fresh water after your surfing session. Rinsing off the salt will keep any corrosion from happening

How do I Ride a Wave on an Inflatable SUP?

Learning to ride a wave on an inflatable SUP takes some practice, and if you’re a visual learner, you may find this video more helpful while learning. Essentially, though, you’ll want to start by learning and perfecting the surf stance. 

In the surf stance, you’ll place your feet along the centerline of the board, with your dominant foot towards the tail and your non-dominant foot out in front. If you ride a snowboard or skateboard, you probably know which foot is dominant. If you don’t, go with the stance that feels most comfortable. 

Once you master the basic surf stance, you need to learn to steer straight while in that position. Most beginners unconsciously turn horizontally or diagonally towards the shore

However, it’s much easier to catch a wave if you can steer your board straight. So, practice keeping the board straight in the surf stance as often as possible. Once you have that down, you’re ready to go!

Seek out a spot with gentle waves and few, if any, hazards. You don’t want to surf near submerged rocks or swimmers, especially when you’re starting. 

Once you find a spot, paddle out past the break. Then, paddle as hard as you can into the whitewash of a wave. Keep your weight on your back foot and try to pop the nose of the board over the foam

Using your momentum, you’ll find your board punches through the front of the wave, and then you’ve got it! You’ve caught your first wave on a stand-up paddleboard! 

Can I use an All-Around Paddle Board for Surfing?

Yes, you can use an all-around paddle board for surfing, but some all-around boards will be easier to use than others. Look for a board that’s at the shorter and thinner end of the spectrum. 

All-around paddle boards are longer and larger than other paddle board types, so you won’t find one that’s 7′ or 8′. Typically, the shortest all-around paddleboard is 9’6″ and 5″ thick, which will be your best bet for surfing purposes. 

So? What Is The Best Inflatable SUP For Surfing?

The best inflatable SUP for surfing will depend on where you plan to surf. If you’re riding the play wave at your local river, you’ll want the NRS Whip. Conversely, if you stick to ocean waves only, the Red Paddle Whip 8’10 is the best surf sup. And if you plan to travel the world looking for that big wave to surf. Check out the Stubby Air Premium.

Once you’ve found the Best Inflable Paddle Board for you, head out and catch a few waves on your new inflatable stand-up paddleboard!

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Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.