Photo by Aviv Perets
Paddle boarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular water sports. It presents a daunting yet exciting challenge that many beginners find easy enough to master. However, one of the integral parts of the paddle boarding journey is acquiring a decent paddle board.
Are inflatable paddle boards worth the money? Although there are several aspects in which the traditional hard paddle board trumps inflatables, you can still get your money’s worth if you choose a decent inflatable paddle board. For one, they are the best option to spend your money on if you have limited storage. Also, they are considerably lighter and easier to move around.
With the internet saturated with wrong paddle board information and unreliable reviews, it becomes so hard to make a decent paddle board choice. To help you overcome this complication in choosing, we have selected and reviewed 8 best inflatable paddle board for rivers.
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1. Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
What you want to do when buying your inflatable paddle board is get the most durable material at the lightest weight. The Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is made from high military-grade material, yet it manages to remain relatively lightweight.
Measuring 10′ x 33″ x 6″, it comes with an extra-wide design that makes it more suited to all skill levels. Regardless of the fact that it’s an inflatable, it is versatile enough to go on rivers, oceans, and freshwater lakes.
Another reason why this stand up paddle board is worth it is accessories. The package includes: paddle board, a safety leash, a hand pump, a collapsible aluminum paddle, a waterproof bag, and a backpack. To further assure you of the quality, the manufacturers have provided a 1 year warranty.
2. Goosehill Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The highlight of Goosehill inflatable stand up paddle boards is the unique SCE material strength-enhancing technology. This Goosehill Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is made from enhanced military PVC material for durability. It is quite interesting that Goosehill offers customization services for those who prefer custom boards.
As strong as the material is, it doesn’t compromise on lightness. The 10’6” x 32″ x 6″ SUP board is wide enough for boarders of all ages and skill levels. Attached to the board’s nose are some flexible straps that allow you to bring along some personal effects when boarding.
Talk of a versatile SUP board. It is perfect for a range of other water activities like racing, fishing, and yoga. Thankfully, the EVA deck pad on the board provides sufficient friction to ensure stability across these various activities. The package comes with the important accessories: a pump, center fin, paddle, repair kit, and backpack.
3. iROCKER Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board
Like you would expect from any decent inflatable paddle board, the iROCKER Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board comes with an extensive board surface for stability and a typical sporty shape that improves speed. You can rest assured that it’ll support your weight plus your additional accessories, as it is rated to have a weight limit of 240 pounds.
We would love to comment on the high-quality fiberglass paddle that comes in the package. It weighs considerably less than the typical aluminum paddles and is easier to paddle with. Other included extras include a single chamber hand pump, 3 removable fins, and a comfortable EVA deck pad.
The deflated board and other included accessories can be easily fitted in the accompanying backpack. You get a 1 year warranty offer from the manufacturers to douse any concerns you have about the durability.
4. FunWater Inflatable Ultra-Light SUP
The FunWater Inflatable Ultra-Light SUP board is one of the most durable you can get – at a very reasonable price also. It has a dual PVC layer construction. The additional PVC layer offers a significant improvement in strength and sturdiness. It measures 10’6″ x 33″ x 6″ when inflated – wide enough to support different ages and skill levels.
Thanks to the 3 removable fins construction, you, as the user, get incredible balance, whether on moving rivers or stagnant water bodies. The inflation does take a bit of effort, but when compared to the average inflatable board.
You get everything you need to immerse in a smooth and exciting SUP boarding experience, including a high-pressure pump, an adjustable aluminum paddle, a waterproof bag, a coil leash, and a backpack for mobility.
5. YASKA Allround Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
These boards cost some money, but if you’re on the lookout for more affordable options, you should check out the YASKA Allround Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board. Like all the other options on our list, it is perfect for all ages and skill levels. The 32″ width ensures stability, while the sporty profile helps to gain more in the aspect of speed.
Through a multilevel stitch layer approach, the manufacturers were able to ensure improved sturdiness. The paddle included in the package, through quality EVA and drop-stitch construction, can withstand high pressure without getting deformed.
Furthermore, the EVA deck pad has a non-slip design to keep the feet comfortable and stable when you’re out on the river. To further improve the stability, there is a large detachable control fin provided. What’s better? You get all the important accessories that will enhance your paddle boarding experience.
6. ACOWAY Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
If what you need is an inflatable SUP board with a high weight capacity, here’s the ACOWAY Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board. It features a durable PVC material and a mesh structure that can withstand up to 400 pounds. In particular, we are able to appreciate the cushioned non-slip pad on top of the deck. It boosts the stability of the rider.
The pad measures 10’6″ x 32″ x 6″- that’s sufficient width to accommodate riders of all ages and skill levels. It inflates relatively fast and folds easily into the travel bag provided for storage and mobility.
The complete accessory package includes an aluminum paddle, a waterproof bag, a bidirectional hand pump, repair kits, and more. With a 30-day money-back guarantee and 1 year material maintenance, you are well covered against any defect or problem.
7. SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Check out the SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board. Basically, it is a great option for anyone planning to paddle in relatively calm water conditions like lakes, bays, and marina. We love the upgraded wide design that makes for improved balance. Another interesting upgrade to this model is the soft anti-slip deck that prevents slips and accidents.
Another highlight of this SUP board is the exceptional maneuverability and surf control it offers. The three bottom panel fins make handling and steering considerably smoother. It is not the most affordable, but it offers much more value than what you pay for it, taking the excellent quality into consideration.
The only thing we were not impressed with is the heavy aluminum paddle. Thanks to the included ankle cuff safety leash, your board will remain close to you if you ever crash into a wave. Don’t worry, all the important accessories you require for mobility comes in the package.
8. Awesafe Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The manufacturers’ claim that the Awesafe Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is 22 percent lighter than most may not be entirely true, but what is true is that at 17.2 pounds, it is one of the lightest SUP boards you can get. It measures 10′ x 32” x 6″ and can support human weights up to 320 pounds.
It comes with a double-deck valve to prevent water from getting in and reduce the chance of leakages. Thanks to the 6-spot elastic bungee system, you get to bring your personal effects with you on the board and secure them tightly.
Amongst other included accessories, you get a 3-piece aluminum adjustable paddle. The board is made from military-grade PVC material and carefully stitched, so you don’t have anything to worry about as regards durability. In fact, you get a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
How to Choose a SUP board for Whitewater or River Surfing
Whatever your paddle boarding or surfing plans are, choosing the right board is one factor that determines how great or disappointing your experience will be. If you hope to make the right choice of a paddle board for whitewater or river surfing, here’s how you can go about that.
Solid or Inflatable SUP Board
This decision you have to make before you start shopping for a SUP board. Solid boards offer the best performance, but there are a couple of reasons you may want to favor an inflatable board.
For one, inflatable boards are lighter, easier to move around, and take up less storage space. Also, inflatable SUP boards are the best option for whitewater paddling. They are better equipped to survive the occasional bumps against rocks.
To choose the right board, you need to know how the dimension relates to volume and weight capacity. As a rule of thumb, the longer the board, the more volume, and capacity. Medium length boards are still the best for all-around use.
The width is another important question to consider. Typically, wider boards offer more in the area of stability, but as they get wider, speed gets negatively affected. Beginners will feel more comfortable starting out on boards with extra-wide boards.
Also, you should choose a width based on your body size. Smaller body types can achieve balance on narrower boards.
This is the third dimension to consider on a SUP board before making your selection. The thicker a standup paddle board is, the more volume it has and the more weight it can handle with proper displacement.
Stand Up Paddle Board Fins
You cannot achieve much progress using a finless paddle board. Fins boost tracking and maneuverability in paddle boards. There are different manners of fin configuration on paddle boards, ranging from single fins to 3-fin setups.
With relatively large fins, you get improved tracking and stability over long distances. In contrast, smaller fins are easier to maneuver with.
Any decent paddle board should come with important accessories to enhance whitewater or river surfing. So, you should be on the lookout for some extras when buying a SUP board. Most importantly, you want your board to come with a decent SUP paddle.
Look out for bungee straps, as they are needed to secure your personal effects to the board as you float on. Inflatable boards must come with the tools and accessories that enhance quick setup and mobility, like backpacks and hand pumps.
River Running vs River Surfing
Running a river is a sport that entails coursing through river waves and river rapids while sometimes maneuvering around naturally formed obstacles. River running is done in a kayak.
Compared to river surfing, river running requires more skills, presents more excitement, and is more dangerous. It may not be the best choice for someone just getting into water sports.
River surfing, on the other hand, involves surfing standing waves, upstream waves, or tidal bores on rivers. While it is basically done on a surfboard, river boarding can also be done on a paddle board that’s rigid and responsive enough.
This is another thing to consider when choosing a stand up paddle board – whether it is versatile enough to serve as a surfing stand up paddle board.
What Makes Inflatable SUPs Great for Rivers
Different from the fact that they are lightweight, portable, and mobile, inflatable SUP boards are perfect for rivers because they are usually wide enough to ensure stability for beginners and experts alike.
Also, many inflatable stand up paddle boards come with a significant curve from the nose to the tail. This design ensures a smoother and quicker movement of the board with as little effort as possible applied to the paddling.
Paddle Board Fin Replacement
Replacing or installing a paddle board fin is a pretty straightforward process, whether hard paddle board or inflatable. Commonly, you either have the screw and plate fin setup or a quick release system.
For a quick release fin, you need to align the metal dowel to the hole in the center of the fin groove – with the point of the fin facing backward, of course. Slide the roller into the slot in between the fin box and snap tight.
To install a screw and plate fin, fix the plate and screw into the middle of the groove, with the screw sticking out so you can easily move the plate as you wish. Align the dowel with the space in between the fin groove and fix it in. Set the screw hole on the fin into the fin groove, line the plate with the screw hole, and tighten the screw.
River Paddle Boarding Tips
To stay safe on the river and have an enjoyable river paddle boarding experience, here are a few tips to help you:
- Ensure that your gear and personal effects are stored securely under the bungee at all times.
- It doesn’t matter how much of a professional you are, protective gear is very important. Most importantly, you should have a personal flotation device on before setting out onto the river.
- Also, don’t ever try to go against the river current as this will rapidly sap your energy and leave you fatigue in no time. Move along with the flow of the current and utilize it to have a more enjoyable experience.
- Beginners should stick strictly to small fins. Large fins are more likely to catch on to some underwater current.
- Don’t make the mistake of standing too far back on the board, as that will cause you to lose considerable balance and stability. Instead, stand with an unstaggered stance in the middle of the boards.
What Is the Best Sup Board for Beginners?
There are several suitable stand up paddle board options for beginners. The best SUP board for beginners should be characterized by lightness, stability, and durability. We recommend that beginners looking to journey into the world paddle boarding choose a decent inflatable SUP board. One of the several options we have reviewed should do just right for you. They offer an impressive level of stability, they deflate for portability and are very durable.
What Size Paddle Board Do I Need for My Weight?
To get a vague idea of the best paddle board length for your weight, check out the SUP size chart below.
|Weight of Paddler (in lbs)||9’ – 10’6||10’6 – 11’6||11’6 – 12’6||>12’6|
|50 – 125||✅||✅|
|125 – 150||✅|
|150 – 175||✅||✅|
|175 – 200||✅|
|200 – 225||✅||✅|
|225 – 250||✅|
|250 – 275||?|
Questions People Ask Stand Up Paddle Board for Rivers
How to Put Fin on Inflatable Paddle Board
There are three types of fins that are used with inflatable paddle boards: Surfers fin, slide and snap, and double-fang. Surfers fins and slide and snap fins can be installed when the board is inflated or deflated, but double-fang fins can only be installed when the board is deflated.
Surfer fins are designed to slide in easily into the groove opening on the board. Slide the fin backward until line up the screw lines up to the flat nut. Push down and tighten the screw. For slide and snap fins, slide all the way back into the groove, insert the tethered part into the groove until it snaps securely.
Double-fangs are the hardest to install. Make sure the board is sufficiently deflated, insert the back part of the fin into the back slotted knob while pressing down in between the knobs to get them closer to each other, make sure the fangs secure tightly into the knobs.
What Is The Best Brand Of Inflatable Paddle Board?
It’s quite impossible to pick one brand as the best inflatable paddle board brand, considering the excessive brands that offer durable and functional boards. Roc and iRocker are two of the most reliable brands you can choose from, but all the brands we have reviewed have decent offerings as well.
Can You Paddle Board Without a Fin?
You should have at least one fin on your paddle board, if you hope to maneuver easily and get some form of control. Without a fin, you are pretty much left to the mercy of the wave, even in the calmest conditions. Nevertheless, you can always give it a trial to see how you’ll fare.
What Size Inflatable Paddle Board Should I Get?
You’ll need to put your weight, skill level, and tracking into consideration when choosing a size. For general paddle boarding, you can for the more common sizes (10′ – 11′ length and 32″ – 34″ width). This dimension can also support a wide range of human weights.
If you don’t weigh much, say below 150 pounds, or if you’re that skillful, you can make do with 9’6″ length and 30″ – 32″ width. Inflatable paddle boards are available in several other dimensions as well.
How Do I Choose An Inflatable Paddle Board?
Choosing the right inflatable paddle board requires some technical knowledge of the sport and the requirements. As a beginner, you want to choose an all-around inflatable paddle board. After garnering some skills, you can move up to performance boards. Also, choose a board with the right dimension to support your weight, skill level, and paddling activity.
What’s The Difference Between Inflatable Paddle Board And A Regular Paddle Board?
Essentially, both inflatable and hard paddle boards perform the same function, but they differ significantly in features. The deflating nature of inflatables makes them the more portable option. You don’t need extensive space to store them.
Many find it surprising that inflatable boards are rated to be more durable than regular paddle boards. Consider this – impact with the ground or other solid bodies can’t do much damage to an inflatable board. Hard paddle boards, on the other hand, are more likely to break on impact.