Best Inflatable Paddle Boards of 2022

Last Updated:

The best inflatable paddle boards are the Nixy Newport Series and the iRocker Blackfin XL series. 

The Nixy Newport is the editors choice (my personal favorite choice after about 40 hours of testing in different conditions) while the iRocker Blackfin series is the popular pick. 

The Blackfin XL ended up being the popular pick based on consistently having the highest ratings across the board and by a result of a poll that was conducted in an Inflatable Paddle Board Owners group.

inflatable paddle board poll

I decided to have two top picks in this article because not everyone has over $1100 to spend on inflatable stand up paddle boards. Budgets vary across the board

But don’t despair! We have budget picks as well for those who just want to get on the water!

For those who want to put together a little list of criteria on how to choose a board for their requirements head to the Buyers Guide! 

Check Our Inflatable Paddle Board Buying Guide<

The Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Reviews

Picking this inflatable paddle board reviews list was no easy task let me tell yeah! The foundations of this article easily took me about 22 hours to plan and about 54 hours to write. The problem with picking the top inflatable SUPs is that “Best” is a relative term

Instead you should consider what is important to you and find an option from the list that will best suit your needs. If you are unsure how to do that take a look at the buyers guide where we hold your hand and walk you through SUP’s that matter to YOU and your requirements.

But if you had a gun to my head, here is how I would personally order my Top Rated Inflatable Paddle Boards.

SUP ImageSUP NameFeaturesMore Info
1. Nixy Newport G41. Nixy Newport G4
  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 300 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Laminated Drop Stitch
Check PriceSee Review
2. iRocker Blackfin XL2. iRocker Blackfin XL
  • Dimensions: 11’6 X 34” X 6”
  • Weight: 29 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Materials: Triple Layer Composite PVC
Check PriceSee Review
3. iRocker All Around 113. iRocker All Around 11
  • Dimensions: 11’ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 26 Lbs
  • Maxi Capacity: 435 Lbs
  • Materials: Triple Military Grade PVC
Check PriceSee Review
4. Atoll 114. Atoll 11
  • Dimensions: 11’ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer Drop Stitch Technology
Check PriceSee Review
5. Gili Meno 11'65. Gili Meno 11'6"
  • Dimensions: 11’6” X 35” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual layer, fusion laminated PVC material
Check PriceSee Review
6. Bluefin Cruise Carbon 10'86. Bluefin Cruise Carbon 10'8"
  • Dimensions: 10’8 X 32.2” x 6.2”
  • Weight: 32 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer Exo Surface Laminate PVC/ Dual Chamber Inflation
Check PriceSee Review
Thursosurf Water Walker 126Thursosurf Water Walker 126
  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 31” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 180 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer PVC Construction
Check PriceSee Review
8. Sea Gods Diatom Ten68. Sea Gods Diatom Ten6
  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 34” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 340 Lbs
  • Materials: Super reinforced 12800/M2 Drop Stitch Fabric
Check PriceSee Review
9. Isle Pioneer9. Isle Pioneer
  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 34” 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 285 Lbs
  • Materials: Fusion Laminated Drop Stitch
Check PriceSee Review
10. Serenelife Free Flow10. Serenelife Free Flow
  • Dimensions: 10’5” X 30” X 6”
  • Weight: 19.6 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Materials: Single Layer Drop Stitch PVC
Check PriceSee Review

Below are the best specialty SUP’s

This list is continually updated year after year for the most accurate information. Lets jump in!

When looking at the below reviews list, pay more attention to the labels I’ve given them as opposed to the number. This will help you better categorize what SUP fits your needs.

1. Nixy Newport All Around Paddle Board (Editors Pick)

Me with Good Ol’ Nixy

Features:

  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Laminated Drop Stitch 

Nixy is rated the #1 Best ISUP because of the accumulation of small details both with the board and accessories it comes with. A Lot of it’s features are items you would find on boards that are higher than its price range! This company has been gaining a lot of steam in the last couple of years so let’s find out why.

On Water Performance

This SUP is a joy to paddle in waters that are a bit more calm. It’s like your own personalised balance board for the water, the more you use it the more you excel and improve your balance. The wider the stance the more “play” you have while paddling this board. Fantastic board for “edging” (leaning to one side to add more tracking performance to the board).

Despite the board being 33 inches wide I found it tracked almost as well as iRocker which I was very surprised with. I actually found it more maneuverable than the iRocker All Around board as well. Thanks to it’s 10’6” length. 

Would I recommend this board for a beginner? If you want a board that you can grow with and improve your balance and SUP skills with this is a fantastic board to do that with. But if you crave primary stability (the feeling of standing on a solid object) and want that security of standing on a platform this may not be the best board for you.

Board Features and Design

One of the big pluses I loved from Nixy was how they thought out not just the board but the design of the accessories. The accessories that come with the Newport are very close to on par with more expensive brands like the Blackfin

The Newport’s bag is especially well designed with 3 wheels on the bottom, plenty of space on the front pocket and smartly designed side pockets for the 3 piece paddle. The 3 Piece paddle is also excellent quality made of carbon hybrid material making the paddle blade particularly sturdy. 

The overall design of the board is very useful with 5 action mounts available on the front and back. The Newport features 14 D Rings with 2 on the sides for a kayak/ inflatable paddle board seat and one on the underside of the bow and one on the stern for towing and anchor capabilities. These features make the Newport very versatile with lots of adaptation for accessories.

One thing I did not like is the fact that on the stern of the board the deckpad goes around the D rings. In my experience, after continuous folding, the edge of the deckpad is starting to come off on those edges.

Set-Up and Disassembly 

Folded ISUP

One of the things that I have really grown to appreciate about the bag is the wheels! The bag is very comfortable to wear if you have a fair distance to walk, and it is even better to drag along! It could tackle grass, sand, pavement with relative ease. 

I won’t lie though, the bag is pretty bulky! The assembly process is made easier with it’s manual typhoon pump that has 3 pumping settings. I used a really crappy manual pump for a while and let me tell you, that was a ^%*#^.  

Disassembly of this board was a bit different. WIth most ISUPs you usually have the inflation valve at the rear. With the Nixy it’s at the front! At the time I thought this was poorly thought out but after folding more than a dozen times it works just fine. You just need to follow the first folding pattern of the fins.

What Customers Think

Clearly reading this review so far you can tell I’m a fan but what about other people who bought the board? Most customers that have reviewed the board appreciated the accessories like the bag, typhoon pump and the paddle that came with it. They also marveled at how lightweight the board is to carry and how almost anyone can carry it with one hand. 

Some of the more critical inflatable paddle board reviews were about the old previous generations fin design (G4 onwards no complaints from me). One customer complaint that I felt rang true about this board was paddling in wavey conditions. 

Because the board has a bit of play while standing on it, navigating wavey conditions can be a bit challenging. I remember the first time I tried Newport it was supremely wavey. I couldn’t even stand on the thing! But as I got more experience on it it became easier to manage. 

Pros

  • 2 Year company Warranty
  • Fantastic Tracking Ability
  • Very Lightweight to carry inflated
  • Good Maneuverability
  • Can Maintain decent speed for an All Around Board
  • Bag has a lot of room and pockets as well as 3 wheels for extra support
  • Paddle that comes with board is good quality (It’s actually the main one I use now) 

Cons

  • Not the Best “Primary” Stability
  • Deck Pad around Stern D Ring starting to coming off
  • Bag is pretty Bulky

2. iRocker BlackFin XL (Premium Pick)

Product Picture by iRocker

Features:

  • Dimensions: 11’6 X 34” X 6”
  • Weight: 29 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Materials: Triple Layer Composite PVC

Fisherman and Stability enthusiasts unite! The iRocker Blackfin XL is one of the top of the line SUP’s that offers lots of add-on features, quality accessories and a very well built paddle board. And if you buy it at the right time you could even get a good discount!

Infact, in a poll of 226 Inflatable Paddle Board Owners 69 of them thought the Blackfin series was the Best inflatable SUP Board! As a result it ranked as the #1 result. 

On Water Performance

The Blackfin series by iRocker is the top of the line series, it can be compared as the Rolls Royce of Inflatable SUPs. If you are looking to do some touring with a lot of extra gear or you are one of those fishermen that needs to throw the kitchen sink at the water this is probably the best board for you to get. 

The Blackfin is a very stable and rigid board with its 34” Width and triple layer composite pvc construction. If you are a beginner and budget is not a very big issue for you, you’ve probably found your board. 

Picture Rights go to @justbeingfarley and irocker.com

Those who are into touring probably raised their eyebrows when I mentioned 34” and touring in the same vicinity. But it’s true! The XL has a slightly pointed profile that allows it to glide easier than other paddle boards that are stability picks. When I tried a friend’s board the speed was also particularly impressive as you got momentum going. 

Of course you won’t be winning any SUP races with it but you will find sufficient speed with this board. 

Board Features and Design

Paddle Boarders who want all the bells and whistles, you’re in for a real treat! The Model XL features 8 different mounting points on the board which can be used by any iRocker accessory. It also has 6 free D rings that can be used for many things. 

I find the iRocker company has the greatest range of accessories for paddle boards and with the Blackfin XL you can utilize many of them to make it the ultimate cruise board. 

I’m sure fishermen are waiting for me to say more. Some setups you can have on this board include adding a cooler, multiple rod holders towards the back, a drink holder (I’ll leave this one to your imagination) as well as go pro mounts, phone holders and much more. 

The quality of accessories that come with the paddle board are also among the best. The bag has big pockets, wheels and has support straps to ease pressure off the zippers. The paddle is a 3 piece carbon shaft with a sturdy nylon blade. The pump, much like the Nixy, is a 3 setting dual chamber pump.

Set-Up and Disassembly

If you have a lot of accessories the Blackfin Model XL may not be the quickest thing to set up and disassemble. Still the process is relatively pain free. Pro tip, if you add an electric iRocker pump to your purchase you will get the pump at a discount. Sometimes iRocker even has sales where the electric pump is included so stay tuned!

When pumping up the Blackfin XL its recommended PSI is 15, thankfully it has a dual action triple setting pump that comes with the board. 

Once the board is pumped up the fins clip on using iRockers custom locking mechanism that comes with all of their boards. These are actually the quickest fins to install in the industry as it doesn’t require screws. Only downside is that you can’t use US Standard fins and are at the mercy of what iRocker has to offer. 

What Customers Think

One commonality I saw with the Blackfin XL was the fact that many people brought their dogs on excursions as well. This makes a lot of sense as the Blackfin XL is one of the most stable paddle boards on the market. It also has one of the highest maximum capacities I’ve seen on an all around board. So go ahead, put your Doberman on it and go for a nice little evening cruise. 

Many first time paddlers also remarked how remarkably stable this board was and often many of them were able to stand first go. Which with many inflatable boards can become a difficult feat. 

The only downsides I’ve seen were about the iRocker customer service and shipping time. Some customers say parts of their shipment were missing while others have said it’s taken iRocker over 9 days to respond to their queries. 

I’ve seen this play out a few times with friends of mine who have ordered iRocker boards As well as people in the inflatable paddle board Facebook group. So keep this in mind. 

Pros

  • Supreme Stability
  • The Bag is excellent quality made of good quality materials
  • The Nylon blade of the paddle is stiff
  • The Paddle Board Glides surprisingly well for a board that’s 34”
  • Has a 485 lb maximum capacity which s great for extra weight
  • Great Fishermans board due to all the mounting points for accessories you can add
  • Can also be a great touring/ camping trip board due to its glide and max weight capacity

Cons

  • Towards the Heavy side when it comes to All Around Inflatable SUP’s
  • The Price Tag is more than many people are willing to spend
  • iRocker Customer Service and Shipping not always On-Par

#3. iRocker All Around 11 (All Around Pick)

2020 iRocker Model I tested

Features:

  • Dimensions: 11’ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 26 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 435 Lbs
  • Materials: Triple Military Grade PVC

A lot of review sites and customers are in love with their iRocker paddle boards so why did I only rate it #3? I had the privilege of trying my friend’s 2020 iRocker All Around board right after testing the Nixy Newport and while I was very impressed by it, I was happy with my Nixy Newport. I’ll go a bit more into why below. 

On Water Performance

One of the first things I noticed when I hopped off my Nixy and onto the iRocker All Around board was the fact that the iRocker All Around board had more primary stability. The board felt more stable and did not have the play that the Newport had. 

I have no doubt in my mind that the iRocker is a better bet to have in more wavey conditions. Infact my friend has proved it!  But.. it lacked the maneuverability and playfulness that the Newport had. 

If I could compare it, it’s like the iRocker was a Mustang while the Nixy was a Porsche. Both are great makes, but they serve slightly different purposes. If we were sticking to car analogies. The Nixy could corner better while the iRocker felt better going straight at a touring speed. 

Board Features and Design

Back to our Newport vs iRocker comparison I actually thought that Nixy had the better accessories, and in some ways that’s what made me choose Newport over the iRocker All Around board. The wheeled bag, double chamber pump, the carbon matte 3 piece paddle. On the outside this is the same as what Nixy has, but if you take a closer look there’s some differences. 

Starting with the accessories, Nixy has a bigger bag with more support I found. The padding on the Nixy bag was better while it’s bag had 3 wheels to iRockers 2. The pockets of the Newport were also significantly bigger meaning you could carry more stuff around. The front pocket of the iRocker bag left a bit to be desired. Especially if you got the electric pump with it as well. 

Set-Up and Disassembly

irocker bag
2020 iRocker Package

I got the chance to set up and disassemble the All Around by iRocker and overall it was a pretty hassle free experience. The electric pump is definitely worth it, especially if you are someone who paddle boards quite often. I can’t tell you how many expletives I call myself for not originally ordering one when manually pumping the boards up. 

One thing I will say is make sure you use the crocodile clips extension and not the cigarette lighter! Sometimes if the pump is overrun it can blow the fuse to your car’s cigarette lighter.

I get that iRocker are trying to keep their board as compact as possible with the smaller bag but it can be a bit of a pain fitting the board PLUS the paddles into the bag. It requires a bit of experience and special planning.

What Customer Think

Barring the Nixy Newport comparison I enjoyed paddling the iRocker 11 All Around board. I personally think it’s a great board to use if you live along the coast or want to paddle for the day

Customers seem to think so as well. Lots were happy with the All Around boards performance on the water. One common thing that I picked up on was the fact that a lot of customers loved the fact that this paddle board could easily convert to a kayak thanks to their kayak kit. I’ve seen my friend use this many times and it’s honestly a game changer.

As for real complaints on this board there really weren’t many! And I looked! The only thing I could really see is that some of the stripes on the deck padding started to come off. Another stated she lost one of the fins because of the locking mechanism for the fins. It hasn’t happened to my friend though.  

Pros

  • Is Truly a Great All Around “All Conditions” type of board
  • Great board to get if you are a beginner because of its stability
  • Has lots of accessories that can be added
  • Kayak Conversion kit add-on is a great addition to this board
  • Tracks very well in the water
  • Carries good glide speed on the water

Cons

  • iRocker has customer service and shipping issues sometimes
  • You can’t get different fins on the board unless its iRocker made
  • Bag leaves a bit to be desired (no big front pocket)

4. Atoll 11’ (Big Guys Pick)

Derek standing with Atoll board

Features:

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer Drop Stitch Technology

The Atoll 11 is one of the few boards on our list that just has the one model. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it am I right? This 11 foot model has a maximum capacity of 400 lbs but on their website they say it’s been tested to up to 700 lbs. Big guys perk your ears!

On Water Performance

Perhaps one of the biggest strengths of the Atoll 11’ is the fact that it blends glides with stability very well. In my experience touring hybrid boards usually take some time to get used to standing on but Atoll seems to have mastered this with their board. 

On Top of that, it perfectly blends tracking with maneuverability thanks to its 21 lb frame. When I tried this board at Salt Spring Island. it reminded me a lot of my Nixy Board’s on water capabilities. The main difference being this board was just a hair quicker.

If that weren’t enough, it also has one of the heaviest maximum weight capacities out there. Hence the Big Guys (or Gals) label I’ve put on it. People who are a bit heavier often have a harder time looking for a board that can be steady for them and come in at a decent price. This board fits both bills.

Board Features and Design 

In terms of board add-ons the board does have a bit to be desired. While it does feature 8 free D rings for coolers and kayaks, it does not have a D ring on the front of the board for towing nor a handle in the same space. All the handles also don’t feature any neoprene handle covers to help protect your hands should you be carrying the SUP inflatable paddle board for a long distance.

The accessories that come with the board are a bit underwhelming compared to the top paddle boards on the list. It comes with a single pump, carbon paddle with a Nylon blade and a lightweight bag with side pockets. If you are looking to do some hiking or backcountry paddling this could be a good thing

Setup and Disassembly

The whole package is a bit more compact compared to other boards on this list and thats because its an ideal board for those who are doing some backcountry touring or paddling. 

I was a bit confused at first as to why there was no bungee deck rigging in the back. I saw a video and realised ohh you can use your regular car bungee cords to strap things onto the back like a cooler, tents, camping equipment. Which when you think of its heavy load capacity makes more sense. It’s a do it yourselfer kinda board!

In terms of setup the process does take longer with this board if you use the pump that comes with the board. This is because it’s a single pump, which is not very pleasant at all if I’m being honest. The board has one detachable US fin box fin which requires you to put a washer into the box and then place it. Which takes more time than the iRocker or Nixy Fin set-up process. 

What Customers Think

This is definitely one of the more popular boards out there for true outdoorsmen and bigger folk. It also has one of the best review ratings I’ve ever seen from a board on Amazon.com. Reddit Also features a lot of rave reviews in favor of it

People really appreciated the stability of the SUP and the fact that Atoll had excellent customer service that responded quickly to requests. I saw a lot of review of people over 200 lbs saying that they never felt unstable while paddling this SUP, some of these people even paddle with their dogs!

Pros

  • This Board has some Fantastic Stability
  • Great Glide and tracking ability
  • It’s lightweight design allows you to maneuver around relatively easily
  • One of the faster all around boards around due to its slightly pointed nose and slightly uplifted rocker profile
  • Can take on a lot of weight, ideal for other passengers, camping accessories, coolers, dogs
  • Great pick for bigger people because of its high maximum capacity
  • Fantastic Customer Ratings

Cons

  • Outside of the paddle the accessories that come with it are underwhelming
  • Valves have been known to leak
  • Comes with single pump, while lightweight takes a lot of effort to pump up

5. Gili Meno 11’6” XL (Stability Pick)

Photo by Gilisports.com

Features:

  • Dimensions: 11’6” X 35” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Materials: dual layer, fusion laminated PVC material

The Gili Meno package is one of the more accessory rich boards that you can choose from. It also has two different board lengths, the 10’6” for smaller paddlers and the 11’6” for heavier paddlers. The maximum weight capacity is one of the best coupled with its 35” width making this a supremely stable board and good beginner pick for padders of all sizes.

On Water Performance

The Gili is a very interesting board in that it is one of the most stable boards out there, but it blends some good tracking and glide with it thanks to the fin setups (more on this below). If you are new to paddle boarding, but you don’t want to spend over $1000 this is a great board to get because it has the capability to grow with you as you advance your paddling journey. 

Because of its relatively light weight construction the Gili Meno 11’6” board can maneuver fairly well depending on the fin setup you have used. Still I found the maneuverability of this board was not as playful as the Nixy Newport G4. 

Board Features and Design

This was where this board really shined. One of the things I really love about this board is the fact that they have 3 different center fins that come WITH the board. The center fin is a US Fin Box setup so you can swap it around with the 9” racing fin, 4.5” speed fin or the 3” river fin. There are no other paddle board manufacturers on this list that include the 3 different fins, There are also 2 snap lock side fins used as the support cast.

Photo by Gilisports.com

One of the biggest differences between the 11’6” and the 10’6” is that the 11 foot actually has 3 built in Scotty mounts for things like rod holders, go pro mounts and drink holders. Not too sure why the 10’6” does not have these features. I’ll have to update this when I ask them.

Setup and Disassembly 

The inflation process is similar to the iRocker, Nixy boards in that it comes with a 3 stage pump that makes your life a bit easier. As the board is being inflated you can strap the paddles to its paddle holder. After that you can choose between fin setups. Most of the time in deeper waters I’d go with the 9” racing fin, but if you are going through some creeks the smaller fins will be better as they are bendable. 

The Gili Meno bag has some nice labeled compartments like a mesh fin bag and some front holsters to store the paddle. The bag has plenty of room to store the board inside. Only downside being that this limits the front pocket room for extra stuff. 

What Customers Think

Gili has high customer ratings because it is a very well constructed board. Lots of customers commented on the quality and craftsmanship of the board while many like me, loved that the Meno package came with 3 different center fin setups.  Some people even managed to fit 3 people plus cargo on the board!. 

I really could not find a lot of things wrong with the board, only a complaint about the fact that the glue in the repair kit got loose inside the container. 

Pros

  • Having Multiple Fin Setups is a Massive Plus
  • Board has great customer reviews
  • One of the more stable boards out there
  • Features good glide and tracking (especially with 9” fin) 
  • The bag is of great quality and the labeled compartments are a great idea
  • You can load this thing up with a LOT of gear

Cons

  • The bag could do with more front pocket room
  • Return Policy has a 20% restocking fee

6. Bluefin Cruise Carbon 10’8” (Europe/ UK Pick) 

Photo by bluefinsupboards.com

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’8 X 32.2” x 6.2”
  • Weight: 32 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer Exo Surface Laminate PVC/ Dual Chamber Inflation

One of the things about this list is that many of these boards are based in North America, so shipping to places like Europe, the UK can get a bit pricey. Thankfully Bluefin is based in the UK so you folks across the sea can get your hands on some great boards

On Water Performance

When you go into the Cruise Carbon line you will notice that the SUP will have less bend to it compared to the regular Cruise line from Blue Fin. This is thanks to the dual inflation chambers which we will speak more about below. 

This is definitely one of the stiffest boards on the list which lessens the boards drag in the water. This means more glide per stroke. If gliding is your main preference, consider going up a size to the 12’ model. 

Board Features and Design

Something that really sticks out about this board is the fact that it has two inflation chambers! One Internal and one external chamber. This helps the board become more rigid as well as giving you that extra bit of backup buoyancy in case there’s a leak. It also comes complete with carbon rails, much like our other top picks have.

In terms of features that come with the board it comes with a 3 stage pump (note the cruise only comes with a single action pump) as well as the bag, ankle leash and US standard fin box with supporting clip on fins. This is where the Cruise loses a bit of its points, the bag seems fairly standard as it does not feature any wheels or bigger pockets. 

Setup and Disassembly

Overall the Setup does take a bit longer with this board thanks to its dual chamber system. Both rated at being pumped to 12-15 psi. Thankfully you can use an electric pump to save your back from the extra pumping. 

This board is a decent touring pick as well as there is bungee deck rigging on the front and the back of the board, allowing you to use this for overnight trips. It is one of the more reliable SUP’s to do this with because of its dual chamber construction. 

What Customers Think

Many customers were overall very happy with how the board and its on water performance. There were a few complaints from Amazon though. Some stated that the customer service was unresponsive after product leaks and paddle breakage. 

Pros

  • The Dual Chambers is very interesting and Unique
  • Very Sturdy Board
  • Great choice if you are looking for a good quality board in Europe/ UK
  • Had good glide for a shorter board thanks to its rigidity
  • The board is stable to stand on in the water

Cons

  • Some complaints about customer service and warranty honoring in the past
  • The Bag could have wheels 

7. Thursosurf Water Walker 126 (Stiff Pick)

Photo by thursosurf.com

Features:

  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 31” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 180 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer PVC Construction

The Thurso Water Walker 126 is definitely a looker with its wooden sheer that blends nicely on a multicolor deck pad. Lots of review sites have recently picked up this board and have given it high ratings. How does it rate here?

On Water Performance

The Thursosurf Water Walker is able to glide through the water with relatively low excursion of effort from the paddlers side. This is thanks to the carbon side rails and its improved stiffness for 2021 and beyond. It’s also thanks to its lighter weight which comes in at 24 pounds. 

Board Features and Design

The Thurso Surf Water Walker package comes with a good quality bag, snap on fin system, a color coded leash as well as the paddle with the carbon shaft and nylon blade. One of the first things that I noticed with this package is the fact that it uses the same pump as the Nixy G4. Out of all the handpumps I’ve used I definitely prefer this style as it’s sturdy when you are pumping up your board.

If I had one slight qualm about this board it would be the fact that the fins snap on. Now if this is your first board and you just want to cruise it’s perfectly fine for that. But I’d prefer to see a US fin box on there so that you could tune your board further with different fin setups. 

Setup and Disassembly

For 2021 onwards, Thurso has increased the size of their bags to make the 12 foot sup fit more easily inside. Much like many of the other SUP’s the bag does feature wheels which is always super handy when the water is a bit of a walk away. I do wish the bag had separate compartments for certain items like paddles and fins though. There also could be a bit more room in the front pocket as well. 

What Customers Think

Some of the most common compliments I’ve seen about this board were about its hand pump.Luckily their customer service were able to replace these in a relatively timely manner. Lots of beginners also appreciated the quality to price ratio that they would not have gotten with big box store brands.

Pros

  • One of the better looking Paddle Board Decks
  • Has Carbon Rails that keep the board sturdy
  • Minimal Flex in the water
  • Lots of Cargo Space at the front
  • Pretty good for light day touring
  • Customer Service is very responsive to issues

Cons

  • Not a very big weight capacity
  • 31” width can be a bit challenging to get used to by beginners
  • Have been reports of warping in the past
  • Some reports of the clip on fins breaking

8. Sea Gods Diatom Ten6 (Best Design)

My Home Beach! Photo from Sea Gods Facebook

Features:

  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 34” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 340 Lbs
  • Materials: Super reinforced 12800/M2 Drop Stitch Fabric

I just couldn’t do this list without giving a shout out to my local home town SUP shop! Over the past year Sea Gods have been making quite the name for themselves. The unique thing about this brand is that it works with local BC artists to create some truly magnificent graphics

On Water Performance

This board is built for stability so if you are looking for a board that can take a lot of gear and get a lot of onlooker comments this may be the board for you. If you are a beginner and are not afraid to drop a bit of dough down on a good looking board then this is a great board as well! The stability of the board is definitely one of the big pluses.

One of the first things you may notice about this board is the fact that it does not have supporting fins, just the single fin setup. This makes it a very maneuverable board which is great for smaller spaces but as a result it sacrifices a bit of tracking compared to the other top boards on this list. 

Having said that, because of it’s lighter weight it actually gives you a pretty good glide if your paddle stroke is on point!

Board Features and Design

I was impressed with the quality of this board when I researched the materials. It’s made of a dual layer fusion material (similar to Nixy, Gili and Thursosurf).This makes the board very stable, which is something you need from a board that is an all around- cruiser hybrid. 

On their website they state that the board can go up to 20 PSI and beyond! Which is a really good sign that the board is not skimping out on materials. 

One thing thats pretty interesting about this SUP is the fact that it uses a US fin box setup BUT it’s got a fin that locks in. It is pretty cool that within a short time period Sea Gods is already innovating their own fin setups. But it’s also great that it’s compatible with other fins which make it a more versatile board to use. 

Setup and Disassembly

In terms of accessories Sea Gods didn’t skim out. Their bag is made of a strong vinyl material while the zippers are heavy duty. Which I believe is a must for any blow up stand up paddle board. In some ways the bag reminds me a bit of the one that comes with the Nixy Newport in terms of how there are pockets for the fins and how the bag itself is a bit bigger. 

One thing that I found slightly disappointing was the fact that they used a two stage single chamber pump. Ideally in the future they upgrade this to a dual chamber. Blow up paddle boards that are almost $400 cheaper come with a dual chamber pump.

What Customers Think

One thing I will say before getting into what customers think, is the fact that the board is pretty expensive for what it is. Yes the design is amazing but from what I have read and seen there is nothing that jumps out at me to suggest it’s worth that price point just yet. I also understand though that they are a newer company and they need to start seeing some money for their investment. 

One thing that does stand out massively with Sea Gods is the fact that they have a Lifetime warranty for their SUP. So clearly they are backing themselves for this board to hold up for a long time!

Sea Gods seems to be relatively new to the SUP game so there are not a lot of comments. You can however take a look at their Facebook page to get some idea of how they are. 

Pros

  • Very Stable,
  • Great for Beginners and even SUP yoga
  • US Fin box with a unique fin design
  • The Design is really one the best we’ve seen
  • Very maneuverable and easier to turn than SUP’s with 3 fins
  • Bag is really good quality
  • One of the more lightweight SUP’s
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Pump is single chamber
  • Newer Company
  • The Board is more expensive than most on this list

9. Isle Pioneer (Best Beginner Pick)

Photo taken from Isle Youtube

Features:

  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 34” 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 285 Lbs
  • Materials: Fusion Laminated Drop Stitch

Isle is a well know SUP manufacturer of both hard and inflatable paddle boards. Their best selling board is the Isle Pioneer board. It’s marketed heavily for beginners as it is 34 inches wide base allows first time buyers to get their water legs early. This SUP is the hybrid that dips between the high quality SUP’s and the budget category.

One Water Performance

As beginner friendly as we’ve made the board out to be, the board does have some decent on water performance to boot. The board can turn and maneuver fairly easily thanks to its fin placement, the side fins are pretty small as well allowing this to happen. However because of these smaller side fins the tracking is not as great as other top boards on this list. This is a common thing I see with boards that have smaller support fins. 

Board Features and Design

If there was a direct comparable with this board it would be the Thurso Surf Water Walker. This is because both have similar deck rigging displacements and sizes. With this configuration you can fit more gear as you have one extra row of bungees. That’s where the comparison ends though as the Water Walker does provide better glide and performance due to its carbon side rail construction. 

The one good thing is that the fin is US Finbox standard which means you can play around with fin setups which is always something I appreciate when I get a board. It means you can configure it to whatever your environment is. 

One thing that irked me a bit is that the deckpad does not have any grooves, it’s just a flat deck pad which could be a bit tricky if you are trying to do SUP Yoga. The Pad also does not take up a lot of space compared to the other boards on this list. 

Setup and Disassembly

The items that come with the board are pretty vanilla if I’m being honest. There’s not a lot in terms of innovation when it comes to accessories. The bag is pretty standard with one pocket and straps that keeps the sup compacted while you zipper. No wheels included, I can understand this perspective if it’s an Atoll, as it’s a more backcountry board but this is a beginner board and I’m pretty sure folks would appreciate some wheels to roll along with. 

The pump is a single, which really, you should just upgrade to an electric one. The paddle has better prospects about it though, as it is made of a carbon shaft with a nylon blade. 

What Customers Think

Lots of the isup reviews on this board were from beginners who have either never paddle boarded before or had a hardboard but wanted something more transportable. One customer even remarked that the board rolls smaller than other inflatable boards which is something to consider if you are limited on space.

The Isle Pioneer has been around for over 7 years so there have been obvious improvements to the board throughout the years. The most recent reviews customers didn’t like the fact that it’s easy to lose the fin screw. Another complained about a manufacturer defect with the paddle now being able to come together. 

Pros

  • Wide Berth allows for great stability
  • Great Beginner board
  • Fin is US Fin Box compliant
  • Has a lot of reviews and ratings over the years that are generally positive
  • Lots of storage available in front bungee area

Cons

  • The accessories are nothing to write home about
  • Bag could be made better
  • Only includes single pump 
  • Tracking could be better

10. SereneLife Free Flow Paddle Board (Best Budget SUP) 

Testing out the 2021 Serenelife Free Flow

Features:

  • Dimensions: 10’5” X 30” X 6”
  • Weight: 19.6 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Materials: Single Layer Drop Stitch PVC

Some of you may be surprised to see an “Amazon” board here but, they too need representation. Plus I tried the Freeflow last summer and it actually blew my expectations out of the water in certain areas. I’ll explain further below. 

On Water Performance

In terms of stability, I was really not expecting much. I knew it was marketed as a yoga board but I looked at the specs and was a bit dismissive. My friend kept telling me how stable it was and how much she loved it so she wanted my opinion. Ok cool. So I paddled on it and I agreed with her! It was actually remarkably stable! Which is pretty surprising considering I weigh about 180 pounds and the board’s width was only 30”! 

So folks, there is hope for budget boards. As I paddled and tried different things like sweep turns, leaning from one side to the other it held true on the calm lake water. So for activities like a nice Sunday afternoon cruise or some SUP yoga this is actually a great board to get.

Of course things aren’t all peachy when it comes to this boards on water performance. It definitely lacked speed and the glide of other All Arounders on this list. Also paddling against the tide in this thing is not an easy task whatsoever! But you also have to keep in mind the original purpose of the board which is yoga and casual paddling in calm water

Board Features and Design

Let’s start with the board’s design. Theres nothing that’s particularly special about it but I’m still scratching my head as to how a 180 pound man can find this 30” SUP more than stable.  The board is about as flat as they come, so you will get a bit more drag as you are paddling. It features a 3 fin set up with a detachable center fin that is a standard US box fin system.

*Update* After a year of using the Serenelife board unfortunately the pink model shown has sprung a leak near the glue of the valve stem area. We are in the process of looking at what we can do.

The accessories are what you would expect from a budget board. Flimsy bag, cheap (and heavy) paddle with a plastic blade and a single chamber pump

Setup And Disassembly

I found the board’s setup to be a lot more labor intensive. If anyone asks you what’s the difference between budget and mid tier paddle boards it’s the setup. 

Pumping up this board made me realize how much I loathed those single pumps. It definitely takes more time and effort compared to a dural chamber or even better, electrical pumps. 

Getting it onto the water was a breeze, but folding it and putting it back into its bag definitely was not. The bag was made of cheap materials and you really had to compact the board just to fit it in the bag. Throwing the paddles and pump into the bag was a whole other battle in itself. I think I ended up cutting myself in the process of doing it :(. 

What Customers Think

Many customers like me, remarked at how surprised they were in terms of it’s stability. There’s even a review on there that was updated from someone who bought it in 2018 and it’s still going strong! Lots of reviewers really liked the colors that the board came with as well. It is one of the best rated boards on Amazon with that amount of reviews.

A few customers commented on how the valve leaked and they had to return it. Others did not like the quality of accessories that came with the board, with one person actually losing their padde from it sinking! There are other reports of manufacturing defects where the board is actually warped and twisted. Making it rather miserable to paddle. 

Pros

  • Remarkably Stable for a budget board
  • Price tag is a good value
  • Good amount of positive reviews for this board
  • Great for SUP Yoga and causal paddling
  • Ideal for lakes
  • Lightwight

Cons

  • The Bag is Cheaply Made and its hard to fit everything back into it
  • The paddle is heavy and the blade is flimsy.
  • Paddle does not float
  • Pump that it comes with is pretty meh quality
  • Not a lot of storage room on this SUP

Specialty Inflatable Paddle Boards

While the above boards reviewed were all around inflatable boards we also wanted to do a section on inflatable boards that are made for more specialist purposes. 

With the above options there are some great boards that you can use for a lot of the suggested activities below. But if you want a specialist feel sometimes you just gotta drop the dough to fine tune your paddling experience for your preferred activity.

Since we have designated pages for each of the below activities we will instead give a brief summary with a link to each category designation. 

Red Paddle 13’2” Voyager (Top Touring Pick)

Photo from redpaddleco.com

Features:

  • Dimensions: 13’2 X 30” X 5.90”
  • Weight: 25.3 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 240 Lbs
  • Materials: MSL Drop Stitch 

If you are a touring enthusiast then your tongue should be rolling out of your mouth. Paddling this board is like swapping your Honda Civic for a finely tuned Ferrari or Mclaren (Car buffs I’ll let you argue). 

The Red Paddle 13’2” Voyager has a few new features from 2021 onwards. It features a revolutionized V Hull to which the board has a keel right on the hull of the board to help cut through the water like a knife with hot butter. The V Hull has a displacement which breaks the tension and follows a keel to the front middle part of the board. 

If you are doing some SUP touring/ Racing with folks who have hard SUP’s this may be the extra advantage you’ve been looking for! It also features a twin fin setup. Why the two fins? Well it allows the board to go in shallower waters and it actually increases the stability of the board compared to the one fin! Less rocking means more cargo you can load up.

While you may not get all the bells and whistles with this package you get pure quality accessories. The All Terrain Backpack is made of Cyclepet Fabric which has an environmentally friendly footprint used from recycled plastic bottles. There’s also plenty of foam and airflow to help keep your back cool when you are doing those backcountry excursions. 

Also included are two fins that are 7” made to slide in and be hand tightened. As you would expect you can use US Fin box approved fins to suit the terrain you paddle on.

Pros

  • One of if not THE Best inflatable touring SUPs on the market
  • 2 fin system helps increase stability of SUP
  • V Hull allows board to cut through a variety of waters with relative ease
  • The long length allows this to be an optimal solo paddling SUP
  • 6 rear D rings readily available to strap in gear
  • Deep diamond deck grooves for traction
  • 5 different carry handles that make carrying this SUP a breeze
  • The board is remarkably lightweight for its size

Cons

  • I personally don’t see the advantage to how Red Paddle makes their deck bungee system horizontal
  • The board is definitely not cheap by any means
  • Does not come with a lot of accessories (No Paddle)

Red Paddle Whip 8’10” (Surfing Pick)

Features:

  • Dimensions: 8’10” X 29” X 3.93”
  • Weight: 16.3 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 209 Lbs
  • Materials: MSL Drop Stitch

Probably the closest thing you can get to a hard paddle surf board is the Red Paddle Whip 8’10”. When looking at the stats one of the first things you may notice is the board’s thickness. The 3.93” thick rails are able to carve into waves better than just about any 6” board could which gives you more control in steep sections. 

To keep the rails stiff the Whip comes with an RSS (Rocker Stiffening System) which slides into the board. This helps you to increase your ability to carve some waves. 

Much like the above Red Paddle Voyager, Red Paddle makes their SUPs from MSL (monocoque structural laminate) coupled with a unique fusion process that allows the board to weigh only 16.3 lbs. Light boards are much easier to maneuver on and do sharper turns on waves. 

This board is best served by surfers who want performance from their board but also want the portability to travel all over the world with it. Unfortunately you will have to buy a separate paddle before you take this thing out. 

Pros

  • RSS side rails that slide in that harden the rails
  • Made of one of the best materials SUP’s can be made of
  • Really Light Weight which makes this a great travelling pick
  • Bag is very high quality 
  • Boards rounded nose can be used in white water
  • Traction pad in the back of the board is very grippy
  • Has 5 year warranty
  • Extremely thin profile

Cons

  • On the Expensive side
  • No Paddle Included in Package
  • Minimal Accessories

Nixy Venice Cruiser (Best Yoga SUP)

Photo by nixysports.com

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 34” X 6” 
  • Weight: 23 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 Lbs
  • Materials: dual layer advanced fusion laminated woven drop stitch technology

This was a hard one to pick as there are not as many variable factors that go into choosing a SUP yoga board than say a surfing ISUP paddle board. It’s either stable or it’s not. All models scored really close but the edge goes to Nixy Venice Cruiser. 

The 34” Width allows you to practice a lot of your yoga poses with confidence. And its relatively lightweight design makes it easier to transport the board from land to water. The platform of the board as well is actually designed very cleverly.  The deckpad takes up almost the entire paddle board meaning the entire board can be your yoga studio. 

Another thing I noticed was the fact that the front deck rigging is smaller compared to the All Around model. This gives you more room to use up the entirety of the board to do poses where you need to stretch out the entire length of your body. It also comes with a paddle holder in the side of the board so you don’t have to worry about knocking your paddle off in mid pose!

If you couldn’t tell from my Newport board summary I really like Nixy’s accessories. I think they are some of the most well thought out in the industry, especially how the bag is designed. If you don’t feel like carrying the board all the way to the water you can wheel or carry it in the comfortable backpack it comes with.

Pros

  • Deck Pad takes up entire board almost
  • The bungees are out of the way of the “action” area
  • Paddle holder on the bottom
  • Multiple deck mounting points to broadcast your yoga
  • Bag is well made and well thought out
  • Very stable on the water thanks to it’s 34 inches width
  • Bag features 3 wheels and plenty of padding for backpack configuration
  • Board is light weight

Cons

  • May be a bit more than you would want to spend on a yoga board
  • Only 3 color designs to choose from (2021)

Sea Eagle FS126 (Best Fishing SUP)

Photo from seaeagle.com

Features:

  • Dimensions: 12’1” X 40” X 5.9”
  • Weight: 44 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 489 Lbs
  • Materials: 110 Decitex Reinforced Drop Stitch

You probably may have been a bit confused as to why I skipped over the Blackfin XL as the best fishing SUP. I mean just look at this thing. It’s built for almost any kind of fishing you can handle. To start off with this board is 40” wide! This gives you incredible stability. No, it’s actually like a custom fishing platform!

What’s more is the fact that you can choose what comes with your board. You can go for the minimalist approach of having the board, bag, pump paddle, and deck bag. OR you can go full out and get a 2 person package that features 2 swivel fishing chairs, a trolling motor and an electric pump with of course all the usual accessories. 

I actually wish more SUP companies did these types of “pay for what you want” types of packages as it really unravels the possibilities that you can include with a SUP.

On top of the accessories you can add it also comes with 12 stainless steel D-Ring attachment points, a long non-slip deck pad as well as rod holders and an attachment bar on the back for trolling motors. The possibilities with this SUP really are endless. 

Pros

  • You can choose your own custom package which is right for you
  • 40” width is like a fishing platform
  • Can include or have a trolling motor attached to it
  • Packages with Swivel Seats are a good addition
  • Supreme stability on this SUP
  • Can have at least 4 rods going at a time
  • Built in fish ruler

Cons

  • The Package can get pretty pricey 
  • Only one bladder (would be nice if there was 2 where one would be the fail safe)
  • It can be a really heavy package. Probably need a cart to transport

The Do-it-Yourself Inflatable Paddle Board Buying Guide

That’s a lot of paddle board options and they all seem pretty cool but how do I choose good inflatable paddle boards that fit my lifestyle and budget?  We walk you through step by step as to what you need to look for to get the right inflatable paddle board for you. We break this down based on two sections. 

Whats Important to You

Important Factors to Consider

This allows you to choose your board based on a custom preference based on you or a series of important components that help people understand what are important things to look for in a paddle board. 

What’s Important To You

Our first few options we go through allows you to browse paddle boards based on Need, Activity and Price. These cover some of the most important paddle board metrics so we will go through each of their meanings below.

Paddle Board Activity

When we talk about activity we are referring to a specific undertaking that you want from you SUP. Similar to our Specialty boards list they can include SUP’s that are:

We realize people buy their SUP’s for different undertakings and locations so we wanted to make lists that reflected that

Click the picture above to see the complete list. 

Paddle Board Need

What do we refer to as a need when it comes to inflatable paddle boards? 

We describe a Need as a more internal factor based on the individual’s preferences. This can include things you need your paddle board to carry related to body type, cargo or passengers. It’s based on needs such as:

To see the complete list click the picture above

Paddle Board Prices

This one is pretty simple to understand. We have top rated inflatable paddle boards based on price selection such as

  • Paddle Boards Under $300
  • Paddle Boards Under $500
  • Paddle Boards Under $1000

Price can be a big factor when choosing a paddle board. And it can be tough to find exactly what you are looking for scrolling constantly through checking the prices of each board. That’s why we created a custom curated list just for you!

Click the Above Photo to see the price ranges of paddle boards we have available. 

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing an Inflatable SUP

We recently polled inflatable Paddle Board owners (Shout out to iSUP Owners Club on Facebook) where I asked the question:

What was the one criteria that was (or is) most important to you when looking for an ISUP? 

Below are the results of the poll

I was actually a bit surprised with how many people thought Build Quality was that much more important to other factors such as price, stability or company reputation! So let’s start off with that!

Build Quality of the ISUP

If you want a quality paddle board that you can use many times throughout the year that maintains its build and on water performance then listen up! 

Realistically if you want a SUP that will last for years and years and years you will be looking for a SUP at about the $700 price range and above. There are a few differences between inflatable paddle boards that are above and below the $700 price range. 

ISUP’s made from quality materials are: 

  • Hand Crafted and have inhouse Design teams
  • Made of Fusion Layer or Triple/ Dual Layer Construction
  • Will Last at Least 10 Years if treated properly
  • Have Better Accessories and Board Add-ons

ISUP made of Cheaper materials:

  • Are Massed produced in China, sometimes different boards get manufactured in the same facility
  • Made of a SIngle Layer Construction
  • Will last 3-5 years if treated properly
  • Accessories are cheap and there limited customization available

Now, I’m not trash talking cheaper made paddle boards because they definitely have a time and place in the paddle board ecosystem. 

If you are starting out paddle boarding, it might make more sense just to buy these cheaper SUPs. Especially if it’s going to be used only once and a while.

Paddle Board Sizes

Some All Around SUP’s are a bit more suited to certain activities than other kinds. See Our Activities section for more specific lists. 

SUP Company Reputation

As some members pointed out in my poll, company reputation goes hand in hand with the quality materials of the SUP and I agree for the most part. Company reputation refers to how well the Paddle Board company not only designs the quality of materials that go into their board. But also how their warranties and return policies reflect the product and how their customer service handles concerns.

Warranties, return periods and customer service are very often very overlooked factors that need to be looked at more closely. So what type of warranty and Return period should you be looking at? 

At Least A 30 Day Return Policy

Minimum 1 Year Warranty (Preferably 2) 

Most of the choices on this list have these criteria met but some return and warranty policies just stand out head over heels. The Companies with the best warranty policies are:

Sea Gods: Lifetime Warranty

Red Paddle Company: 5 Year Warranty

Bluefin: 5 Year Warranty

Sea Eagle: 3 Year Warranty

BlackFin and iRocker Boards: 3 Year Limited Warranty

A good way to judge a company’s reputation is how customer service treats its customers. It’s pretty important for most bigger purchases actually. You can find this information out by looking at reviews

The reviews to pay most attention to are the ones around the 2 -4 star range. The 1 star customers are usually just very upset while the 5 start customers are very happy. Both do not lead to a lot of room for learning about how the company deals with customers. 

With customers in the 2-4 star range you will usually get more detailed write ups from the customers and many of them will pertain to customer service. 

Paddle Board Cost

Price will obviously be one of the major factors in your buying decision. If you plan to use the paddle board quite frequently for multiple seasons I would say there are a lot of reasons to get a mid-range to more expensive board. Red Paddle explains some of the reasons why not to invest in cheaper boards here

As stated in our intro we also understand that not everyone will want to become full time SUP enthusiasts. Instead they just want a board for their cabin, for the kids, or perhaps an extra board for their friends to join them on excursions. So think of how often you want to use your board and for what purpose before taking out your wallet

Where are You Paddling?

This one is also a pretty important factor, and one that pertains to safety more than anything. 

You can’t control the outside conditions so it’s best to choose a board that can handle what the environment throws at you. Now if you are starting out I’d stick to clear days with very little wind and waves. Best place to do this is a small to medium sized lake.

I live in the coastal waters of B.C. just south of Vancouver. We are lucky enough to be sheltered by Vancouver Island so it’s a rarity that we get waves that are harsh. Still too often I see beginner paddlers go to the local paddle spot and before they even know how to paddle they start getting pushed by the tide coming in. 

The Red Circles are my friends that got swept by the tide! (They made it back alright)

Most of the time they figure it out and make it back but the point I’m trying to make is the conditions can really make or break your paddling experience for the negative or positive.

Inflatable Paddle Board Sizing

We don’t go into all the details about sizing here as we’ve written a more specific paddle board sizing guide about it. Still the size of your board relative to you will reflect it’s on water performance for a variety of different factors like stability, maneuverability, speed and tracking. 

As a general rule of thumb the taller you are the bigger your board should be to support your weight. Sizing comes in different variables depending on what you are looking for. See our sizing guide for more details on how to do this. 

On-Water Performance

At Inflatable SUP Authority we measure on-water performance based on stability, speed, maneuverability and tracking ability of the board. We’ve put together some Youtube videos of us tracking these metrics with different boards and comparing them against one another. 

Stability

Stability refers to how stable the board is when you first get on. It also represents how stable it is when doing a bunch of maneuvers such as paddling straight, doing sweep and tail turns. 

Usually as a rule of thumb the wider and longer the paddle board is the more stable it will be. Of course there are always exceptions. In the above list we found the usual suspects of the Blackfin XL Paddle Board (Premium Pick), Gili Meno (Stability pick) and the Sea Gods Diatom Ten6 to be the most stable of the All Around boards. 

Surprisingly though, the budget board Serene Life rated very highly in this category, especially in flat water when I tested it. I’m about 6’1 and 180 lbs and it felt really stable in the water, when paddling and when maneuvering and standing still. If you want a budget yoga board and you are a smaller person this could be a steal for you.

Speed

The speed of the board or as I or many other reviewers refer to as “the glide” is how much effort per stroke you have to exert to make the board move. This is where as the price goes up you start to feel a difference in the board. 

Obviously if you go with a touring board like the Red Paddle 13’2 Voyager you are going to have a pretty epic time on the water. But for those who don’t want to spend well over $100 on a board. The Atoll 11’ and the Blackfin XL were really good picks for this. 

Maneuverability

Maneuverability of the board can refer to a few different things when it comes to paddle boarding. The most common meaning is the turning of the board. However there are few different ways to turn a paddle board, each with different skill sets. WIth this list we mostly did sweep stroke turns as most of the people who read this list will be in the beginner to intermediate level.

When measuring Maneuverability based on this main metric I was impressed by the performance of my Nixy Newport G4 board, especially in calmer waters. The Isle Pioneer was also particularly impressive given that its side fins are smaller which allows you to maneuver tiger waterways with a bit more ease. 

Tracking

Tracking refers to how straight of a line the board goes when paddling. The less fishtailing, the better the tracking ability of the paddle board. The thing I look for here is paddle boards that have US Fin Boxes mounted on the board. Having this will allow you to swap out fins for something a bit longer to give you more of a tracking advantage.

Having said this, it will make more of a difference as your paddle stroke improves as most of the improvement in tracking will actually come from your paddle stroke in the beginning. 

The most impressive tracking boards from the All Around selection were the Black Fin XL, iRocker All Around 11 and the Gili Meno with it’s custom 9” fin attachment. I also thought the performance of the Atoll 11’ and Nixy Newport were very close to the above picks as well. 

Of course if you were wanting to go all out in the tracking dimension you would pick a touring board like the Red Paddle 13’2” Voyager or the StarBoard All Star for touring and racing respectably. 

Durability 

Along with On-Water performance, Durability is also another area that really makes the difference between a cheaper SUP and mid range to higher range SUP’s. 

Cheaper SUP’s are usually made of cheaper materials and are mass produced using single layer PVC drop stitch material. As a result you can typically expect to get 3-5 years out of these boards. Meanwhile SUP’s that are made of better quality materials like fusion layered or triple drop stitch material can last for 10 years and beyond if taken care of properly. To be honest it’s really tough to judge the durability of these boards on this list especially after testing them for a session or two. 

Paddle Board Materials

So when looking for the durability of a SUP take a look at customer reviews and warranty periods (especially the terms of these). Often you see these SUP tests of various vehicles running over SUP’s and while it’s an innovative way of judging a SUP. It’s not very exclusive to what the SUP might actually experience on the water. 

Set-Up Time and Disassembly

Because they are all inflatable paddle boards that have somewhat similar sizes there will not be a massive difference in terms of time used to set-up your inflatable paddle board. What I judged instead was the package that the SUP came with and how easy it is for everything to fit together. 

Lets face it, if you have a manual pump about 75% of the battle is pumping this thing. So what’s the quality of the pump and is it a single pump or double pump with 3 settings? I can tell you from experience that once you try the double pump with 3 settings, you can never go back to the single pump plain and simple. Just like when you throw an electric pump into the mix, it’s hard to go back into manually pumping your boards. 

Another factor is the bag, and this is something a lot of beginner paddlers overlook. Let me paint you a bit of a picture here. 

You just came back from a 3 hour paddle around your local lake, you just did the whole trip standing (good for you!). Now you get back to the shore and you still have to deflate the board and put it in the bag. Sounds like a simple enough task. 

But.. The board is deflated and you are now wrestling the folded board into the bag like the crocodile hunter (Crikey!). You try to squeeze the accessories in as well but this proves difficult and you have to take the board out and rearrange the contents again. Dangit! 

This scenario played out a lot in our tests, especially with the budget paddle board bags. Out of all the All Around Boards I found the Nixy Newport G4 and the Blackfin XL had the best bags that fit all the necessary accessories with relative ease. 

If I was to give a nod to a budget board it would be the ROC which has the best bag of the boards in its under $500 price range. 

Transportation and Storage

Lastly is transportation and storage. Its an inflatable paddle board package, how big could the differences be!? Actually pretty big. Go hiking with a Serene Life package in the bag vs the Atoll package and you will know within 200 feet of walking. 

The biggest thing you have to ask yourself here is How far away is your paddling spot from your car or truck. If its within a few hundred feet any bag will do honestly. BUT if you have to go further than you need to have more considerations as to what kind of bag you want.

Me packing the iRocker All Around Board away

Bags with wheels (Like the Nixy Newport, iRocker boards) are a personal favorite of mine, especially if I have to walk a ways to the beach. But if you have to hike to get to your destination, wheeled bags will just add more weight which you probably will not appreciate. A package like the Atoll 11 may appeal more to you in this case. 

A proper paddle board bag can also help weather the SUP from the elements and make it last longer. So keep this in mind when doing your research!

So What is the Best inflatable paddle board?

Wheww!! You made it till the end(or maybe you just scrolled to the bottom) in any case thanks for putting some eyes on this best inflatable stand up paddle board review! 

A lot of these SUP’s are amazing picks and I’ve tried to single out what are the strengths of each of them. But based on my criteria the All Around boards that came out ahead were the Nixy Newport and the Blackfin XL by iRocker. Both scored highly in on-water performance, board design, onwater performance, setup and disassembly and had high customer review ratings. 

If you are looking for a board for your own needs check out our Inflatable Paddle Board Activities, Needs or Price categories that show specific models that may suit what you are looking for. 

If you are looking for criteria on how to choose the best inflatable stand up paddle boards for you, just follow this simple formula.

  1. Look at Quality materials involved in the Board
  2. Check the Company Reputation (What customers think and warranties/ Return Policies)
  3. FInd the Most Common Areas You Will be Paddling in and Find a suitable board
  4. Check the SUP Sizing and if it meets your weight and height needs
  5. Figure out What On-Water Performance criteria are important to YOU
    1. Stability
    2. Speed 
    3. Maneuverability
    4. Tracking
  6. The Durability of the Board based on Previous Customer Experience
  7. How Easy the Board is to Transport and Store
  8. The Boards Set-Up Time and Disassembly

Got any suggestions of criteria you think are good or got some boards that you think should make the list? Come and tell us on our Facebook Page!

Testers bust out a pose

I hope this guide was of some use to help begin your inflatable SUP journey. Until then, happy paddling!

Photo of author
Author:
Hey, My name is Derek and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports. My new-found passion is learning about and testing SUP's. I love teaching people what to look for.