How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board: Inflatable Paddle Boards

How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board: Inflatable Paddle Boards

So you are finally ready to invest in your own stand-up paddle board but what kind of board do you buy? With the popularity of SUP, there are many options and a range of prices.

There are essentially 4 types of stand up paddle boards:

Touring – wider, longer, more stable
Racing – longer, narrower, pointy nose, long fin and more unstable, but fast
Surf Style – shorter, narrower and lighter for use in the surf zone
Inflatable – thicker, lighter and easier to transport

Height, weight, and goals of the rider all come into play when choosing a board.

An inflatable paddle board is a great choice for a wide range of users for a number of reasons. In recent years, manufacturers of inflatables have even tailored their technology to create boards better suited for touring and surfing small waves. Inflatables are not just for beginners anymore.

There are many pros to purchasing an inflatable stand up paddle board:

Stand Up Paddle Boards Inflating
An inflatable paddle board can be assembled in under 10 minutes

Easy to TransportThe most appealing aspect of an inflatable board is how easy it is to transport. After deflating the board, it can easily roll up into a bag/backpack. You can fit it in into the trunk of a car without the need for a roof rack or even bring it on a larger boat. Your inflatable can even be checked on an airplane where a large fiberglass board would cost extra for its size.

Store in a Small SpaceIf you live in an apartment or do not have extra storage space an inflatable board is another plus. Usually, the paddle, fins and pump fit in the bag. Small enough to fit in a closet there is no need for a garage.

DurableWhen paddling in a river or rocky shore, inflatable paddle boards can actually be more durable than fiberglass. They tend to bounce off when hitting a rock or wall where a fiberglass board might ding or scratch.

Soft SurfaceThe softer surface on an inflatable board might make some feel more confident if they fall. This is a benefit to kids and beginners because everyone is bound to fall at some point. The soft surface is also nice for those who use their paddleboards for yoga and exercise.

Stand Up Paddle Board Fins

Removable fins allow the board to roll up, replace if damaged or use alternate fins for conditions.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Adjustable Paddle

Two or three piece aluminum paddles are lightweight and are easily assembled.

Inflatable paddle boards offer a convenience and ease a fiberglass board does not. There are lots of inflatable options on the market to support beginners as well as more advanced paddle boards. XTERRA BOARDS are one of our favorites which is offered in a 10' Sup as well as a 12'6" Touring option. 

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Mary – I had the same issue with our Xterra boards. I could not get the boards to a high enough PSI with the included pump. I purchased a High Pressure SUP inflator valve and am in love with it. It allows me to fill my boards up at the gas station or with my air compressor. I can finally get my boards to the desired PSI. Even better, I do not have to spend the 10 minutes to pump up the board.

Here is a link to the valve I purchased from Amazon


My Xterra SUP is not pumping up as readily and to enough firmness. Is this a pump problem or other?

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