Guide to buy your inflatable Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

How to choose an inflatable Stand Up Paddle?

The choice of your stand up paddle board, also called a SUP, is related to the type of paddle boarding that you will do. Depending on whether you are going to ride waves or participate in amateur races, the paddleboard you choose will not be the same at all.

If, like the most people, you want to do a little SUP in your free time to relax before or after a job, again you’ll need a different type of board. It will certainly be the same board if you want to paddle recreationally and fun to discover the water near you or for weekend trips. For that we can buy an all-round SUP or a touring SUP. It is therefore necessary to decide on what area of the sport you want to focus on how you want to make use of your paddle board.

F-One SUP MATIRA Lightweight 12'6 Pack

Solid SUPs vs Inflatable SUPs

For a recreational SUP practice the paddle board can have different shapes and different construction technology depending on what it’s used for. Why buy a rigid board rather than an inflatable one (also called an i-SUP)?

Rigid paddles are built like surfboards, with a foam interior structure (EPS in general). They are obviously stiffer, more efficient and turn better than an inflatable paddle because the volume is better distributed on each end. Storage is the major problem with rigid SUPs. Transport is not, there are inflatable roof bars, (Photo, link) if you have a car of course! You will not need to inflate it unlike the i-sup which requires a little effort before the fun. Often people with i-SUPs do not deflate their board for transportation. Inflatable paddles are very popular because their size makes them convenient. They are also less expensive than the rigid ones and are a sufficient starting point for the majority of the practitioners. We will therefore be interested in the choice of an i-SUP.


How to choose your inflatable paddle board?

We’ll begin to guide you in choosing an I-SUP. Then, at the end of the article we will talk about rigid boards. We will not go back to the different price ranges of i-SUP that are normally related to the technologies used, as there will be another article all about that (link). Here we are interested in the size of the board according to its use (style of ride and program). In addition, as discussed in another article (link), there are different ways to practice SUP.

All-round Paddle Boards vs Touring Paddle Boards

The all-round paddle board is the most stable because it is wider and shorter than the touring SUP board which will have a sharp nose to better cut through the water. The touring board will be about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) smaller than the all-round board. So it’s all about aerodynamics in the water. You will be able to paddle longer with a touring that requires less effort. You will of course go faster but that’s not really the focus of a touring board, because we are talking about multipurpose boards and not racing board called race SUPs. The hull of a touring board is very much inspired by that of a purebred board but it is much more stable than a race board.

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Chilled / Free Paddling

We are talking here about the recreational practice of Stand Up Paddling, which is important to the majority of users. You’re going to need a stable board, but no longer a liner. It is for this therefore that one would choose an all-round i-SUP. The size of the person plays a role in the choice of paddle but you must also define whether you want to be alone or if you plan to take a dog or a child on the board. For solo use, go for dark green. For use with a child of 25kg for example go on a size above – either light green or yellow. According to your ability to learn and according to your level of balance acquired by training in other sports you can reduce the size of the board. Conversely if you have poor balance, a little apprehension of the water or look for more comfort in practice you can increase the size of the board slightly according to the table below.

What inflatable SUP size depending on your weight ?

Table SUP Paddle size and weight

Table inflatable stand up paddle size per rider weight


How to choose a touring board?

A touring board will be faster because it is thinner and longer, the volume will be more important. Generally a touring board is between 29 ‘and 31’ wide and 12’6 to 11 ‘long. Volumes are in general around 300L. These boards suit most people, however they are less versatile than an all-round one and they require a little more effort to maintain balance (Especially early on). However after a while you’ll get used to it. To summarise, it can be said that the narrower a touring iSUP  is, the less stable it will be. If it’s your first Paddle and you’re going on a touring board, go for a 31 ‘wide board. The thinner the board is, the closer the board will be to a racing board.

Racing iSUPs vs Touring SUPs

Even if the bow of the touring board looks like that of a race board they really are a different category all together. An inflatable race board must be as rigid as possible, so they are always double skinned boards ideally with fusion technology. The price obviously shoots up. Few people really buy an inflatable race board because a rigid one is much more powerful. So finally there are less and less I-SUP races.

What accessories are available for ISUPs?

  • The fact that the paddle is in three parts is a plus for an inflatable because it enters the carry bag easily. However, pay attention to the paddles that come with the entry-level packages, they are generally of very poor quality and sink because they are often very heavy.
  • The leash is a cord that you will attach to your leg. Thanks to the leash you are connected to your paddle. It is strongly advised to use the leash, to avoid leaving your board vulnerable to the wind and therefore finding yourself helpless in the middle of the body of water!
  • The pump must be able to build up pressure, the hose and the inflation tip must also be of good quality. You can also get also electric pumps which plug into your car’s cigarette lighter or stand-alone pumps with an integrated battery pack. Finally the transport bag, must be big enough to easily place all the equipment.


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