Over the last decade, the popularity of stand-up paddleboarding and using inflatable paddleboards has exploded due to various unique benefits that this addictive and fun water sport provides.
It is our aim to share with you our passion and to provide an in-depth look at the benefits of using an inflatable stand up paddleboard (ISUP). We will also guide individuals thinking of buying an inflatable board with a full buyers guide of what you need to consider before making an ISUP purchase as well as in-depth product reviews.
Brand: Tower Boards
Our pick for versatility and all abilities
Brand: Ten Toes
One of our favourite all-round boards
Our pick for those on a budget & 1st timers
Our pick for a racing and touring ISUP
The answer is simple, ISUPs are a peaceful, powerful and simple way to enjoy being on the water that can be done by anyone at any level. Stand-up paddle boarding is now one of the most preferred water sport activities for families, couples, friends and individuals (particularly throughout the summer season). But that doesn’t necessarily mean those looking for more excitement miss out too, on the contrary.
ISUP For Thrill Seekers: For any thrill seeking individual, inflatable stand-up paddle boarding can be a heart-pounding and adrenaline pumping activity when performed in the intense currents of a fast-flowing river, or when catching a giant wave in the open ocean.
ISUP For Peaceful Souls: For those looking to make the most of ISUPs restorative qualities or who cannot participate in high intensity activity, inflatable stand-up paddle boarding is a dream. Take an inflatable paddleboard cruising across the gentle waters of a lake or beach shallows and try telling me you’re not relaxed!
Full Body Workout on Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboards
Stand-up paddle boarding is an activity that will genuinely give your body a workout – strengthening, toning and working muscles you didn’t know you have! The intensity of the workout naturally depends on of the type of water that you’re paddling on, but either way your body will thank you later.
ISUPs help to make use of most of the body’s muscles whether it’s staying balanced, propelling yourself forward on the water or taking corners and turning.
The leg muscles work hard to maintain an upright steadiness, stabilizing your center of gravity while the arms, shoulders and back muscles function to drive you and your ISUP forward on the water.
In essence, your back, core, and abdominal muscles are constantly working to ensure that you maintain your balance – increasing your body’s exercise endurance levels whilst improving balance.
Anyone who uses their inflatable stand-up paddleboard on flat, calm waters will absorb all the benefits low impact exercise while being much less likely to damage joints, tendons and ligaments.
It’s the ideal sport for recovery too. In fact, many athletes who are experiencing hip and knee pains or shin splints are commonly advised to stand-up paddleboard as a means of physical therapy to rehabilitate their injuries.
Paddleboarding offers similar health benefits that are comparable to those obtained from aerobics, running or cross-training – predominantly the burning of calories (up to 400 calories or more per hour).
This can also translate to increased weight loss, which in turn will aid the relief on weight-related pain in joints and muscles.
Scientific research in numerous studies have stated that senior citizens who actively participate in stand-up paddle boarding have seen additional health benefits such as decreasing their likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease or suffering from a stroke. This doesn’t only apply to the elderly – in my opinion, anyone can take motivation and encouragement from this!
Taking my ISUP out on the water is the perfect way of relieving accumulated or day to day stresses that I may have. Once on the water, I instantly relax.
Nature is the key ingredient here. I’m not the first and won’t be the last to talk positively about the healing and calming effects of being surrounded by trees, water, sand and soil.
And as you focus your mental energy on the physical action of paddling and maintaining balance, your mind will drift to a very peaceful place and, in my personal experience, this melts away any stress or negativity that has been building.
Combine the powerful elements of sunshine, fresh air and water with yoga and you’ve got a serious recipe for relaxation, focus and meditation (as well as relieving any stress-related anxiety that I spoke about earlier).
ISUP yoga works to tone, strengthen, and stretch your body – just like regular yoga. However using an inflatable stand-up paddleboard as your yoga mat makes the entire process that bit more challenging!
Rather than have a firm platform to provide stability, an inflatable stand up paddleboard is that bit less stable on the water and you’ll need to recruit all of your core muscles to provide stability and balance. You are forced to improve your stance by advancing your balance skills and tap into your upper body strength when paddling in and out of the water. A great test of focus for any yoga practitioner and I highly recommend giving it a try.
ARE INFLATABLE SUPS THE BEST OPTION?
I’m not going to be the one to settle this argument, but before we get into the factors that you’ll need to consider when selecting a suitable ISUP, there is one key difference that has made ALL the difference for me when choosing between a standard paddleboard and an inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
The weight and transportation problem is solved by ISUPs, it’s that simple. Standard paddleboards are heavy and cumbersome regardless of your stature. That are very few people that make carrying a paddleboard look easy, period. Some people are shorter, some can’t carry that much weight and it’s a genuine struggle - I’m including myself in this.
Then there’s the issue of transportation. Not everyone has a car and those that do own one don’t necessarily have roofrack or the space to feet 10 feet of board in the trunk. For me, inflatable stand-up paddleboards solve this. Clean, deflate and pack up your board and you’re ready to go.
More and more manufacturers are putting a lot of research and development into the carry bags that come with new ISUPs and we’ve got some example on the site to show you. Yes you sacrifice that solid inner core, but seriously the quality of material that the latest ISUPs on the market are made from (often military-grade PVC) should put your mind at rest.
Specifications at a glance
A stunning all-round option that both looks and feels great on the water. The Ten Toes Weekender offers a high maneuverability and stability all in one well designed ISUP. Not to mention it comes in at a great price point, meaning this board is accessible to most budgets and certainly all skill levels. Ten Toes have put together a great package for The Weekender and you won’t go far wrong with this board.
Specifications at a glance
The Adventurer 2 is a stunning all round, versatile board that has some marked improvements from it’s predecessor. As well as an increase in size (10’4”) and thickness (6 inches), the board retains all of Tower’s great design and build features meaning this is one of the best ISUPs on the market at this price. Tower have thrown in some superb additions to the package too, including a front bungee, carry handles and a detachable fin. This ISUP package comes with Tower’s 2 year warranty too.
Specifications at a glance
The Pathfinder is our pick for first time buyers and beginner inflatable paddleboarders on a budget (or for anyone on a budget in fact). The board and accessories are available at a startingly low price yet they deliver on quality like no others at this cost. Pick from their vibrant colour scheme and get practicing out on the water straight away with a package that includes a detachable fin, a backpack carry bag, pump and valve wrench. The ultimate ‘start-up’ kit!
Specifications at a glance
The Naish One is our pick for the touring, racing or flat water ISUP enthusiast. It’s designed perfectly for all three yet adapts to other conditions with ease making it a popular choice for riders of all abilities from beginners right through to the most experienced boarders. The Naish One has itself a stunning design too, while the board itself is made from the highest quality poly skin (which is UV protected).
Brand: Tower Boards
The Adventurer is an inflatable paddleboard that will work hard for you on the water and in your wallet. Glide (almost) effortlessly across flat water on a smooth and very stable board that performs exceptionally well despite it’s relatively unusual dimensions.
The Adventurer is a compact ISUP at just 9’10” allowing you to roll it up into an easy-to-carry bundle and for simple storage. The price point is extremely competitive too, meaning you won’t break the bank if you opt for the Adventurer ISUP by Tower.
The Starboard Astro Whopper Deluxe is a giant all-round, versatile and stable board that packs up into a stunning carry bag that is the best we’ve seen on the market.
And despite it’s measurements the Astro Whopper Deluxe also ticks the box of being an agile mover which makes taking corners and simply turning a breeze.
This board is a popular choice for families due to it’s accessibility for a range of riders from beginners to experienced paddleboarders.
There are several factors that are important to consider before buying an inflatable stand-up paddleboard:
An additional, yet no less important, consideration when researching and buying your ISUP is the type of activity you intend to perform using your new board. This largely depends on where and how you plan to paddleboard. Let me explain in more detail:
Peaceful Paddlers: Flat Water For most people, an inflatable paddleboard is chance for them to get out on a nice calm expanse of flat water to spend time with friends and family or to engage in a new hobby. As such you won’t be looking for a ‘performance’ board here. Yet finding an ISUP that suits you is still the most important thing before you make your purchase.
Take time to research your own personal preferences; such as the practicality and feel of the board. Figure out if you need stability over maneuverability or speed for example. There’s a little bit of sacrifice in each design yet there are some fantastic all-round inflatable stand-up paddleboards on the market that fit the bill for so many riders.
A great tip to find out how you will feel on a particular model or size of ISUP is by renting out the different types available and personally testing them out on the water. You can read so much, but you’ll truly know once you’re stood on a board a paddling it away from shore.
Adventure Paddlers: Open Water and Whitewater Any journey out on an ISUP is an adventure for me, but in this case I’m talking more to those who intend to take their boards on open water or on rivers in whitewater.
For whitewater specialists, you’ll want something short (>10’) but with a large volume, meaning the board should be thick (6” and above). This gives stability and maneuverability in unpredictable and changing conditions. Also look for a board with a detachable fin or very short fins – you won’t need the tracking that these provide.
Open water is another different environment. The common name for the board type you’ll need is a ‘touring’ board which can be used in any condition but excels in open and flat water conditions. These boards are long and ergonomically designed for speed. Attach a centre fin for tracking, particularly in the waves.
Stability is a key controlling factor in stand-up paddleboarding. In this sense, stability refers to the amount of side to side rocking motions that you when standing upright on an ISUP, and the level of floatation your body weight gives you on the board. Your stability and balance are affected by the width, length, and thickness of the ISUP.
As a general rule of thumb with board measurement, an ISUP that has greater volume provides better stability. A wide ISUP provides better stability and balance due to its wide surface area.
Long boards also help with stability however you are more likely to sacrifice turning and cornering prowess with the greater length you have. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer here.
It depends on what you want from a board and what you feel comfortable on (take into account your own body weight too). This can all be very hard to judge for a beginner so I highly recommend getting some assistance in an inflatable stand up paddleboard store or rental shop – they’re often very keen to help out.
Ensure you check the weight limit of your board. Many people often want to take out dogs, children, multiple riders so think about what your board is able to hold in order to stay afloat.
All board specs will include this. Most new ISUPs can handle a great deal of weight and will likely be able to be used by both adults and children.
Look after your board, it’s by no means a needy animal but it does need some attention. All stand-up paddle boards require to be cleaned and stored safely after use.
ISUPs are easily cleaned (often a wipe down will suffice) and will deflate in minutes. Get into a good habit of doing this as soon as you get out of the water and you’re off to a good start.
When looking to buy an ISUP, take into account the ease of inflation and deflation (is there a pump included?). Then consider how you will transport your board to and from the water – most manufacturers provide carry bag or backpacks however they all differ in quality and style.
ISUPs Aren’t Invincible
There’s certainly a note of caution to be made or rather a reminder that ISUPs are inflatables. Despite how they feel when they’re fully inflated, there is a chance they can tear, no matter what material they’re made of. Particularly take care around the edge of lakes and in rivers as these are the most likely areas to find rocks and other sharp objects. Also remember to remove any centre fins if you’re heading into shallow waters as they can be damaged much more easily.
Grab yourself a repair kit and know how to use it. Often, in ISUP packages when bought online they’ll include a repair kit which includes waterproof glue and patches that will efficiently patch up any holes or tears.
Truly, the only way you can choose an inflatable stand-up paddleboard is by doing your own thorough research on the various models that are available in the market. We’ve tried to take a lot of the heavy lifting out of your research process by featuring 6 stellar ISUPs that we think offer the best value and quality on the market today.
Some of the boards we feature specialise more in certain areas than others and vice versa. But I encourage you to take your time on the site and read through the ISUP reviews at leisure.
Most local ISUP store staff members are commonly experienced at stand-up paddle boarding and can provide expert advice and information that will help you make an educated decision when making your selection.
During your search for the most suitable inflatable stand-up paddleboard, ask (and take note) the day that your local SUP store has demo days and attend them. You’ll be able to see each of the boards in the ‘flesh’ and make your own review of the ISUPs available while you have them all in front of you.
Copyright 2017 by ISUP Master