Looking to get into stand up paddle boarding? Fantastic! paddle boarding is a sport that I thoroughly enjoy in the warmer months because it is like therapy on water! No I don’t have a therapist that sits on the nose of the stand up paddle board while I paddle, although I would imagine that it would be an experience! I say stand up paddle boarding is like therapy because floating gives off meditative qualities that gives your mind a rest from the hoopla of life similar to yoga and meditation.
Cheap inflatable stand up paddle boards have come a long way in the last 10 years thanks to their roaring popularity which has given way to more competition and therefore better built and more affordable paddle boards.
Best Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards Over $500 Quick List
Paddle Board Durability Stability Maneuverability Speed Total 1. Ten Toes Weekender
2. Tower Adventurer 2
3. iRocker Cruiser
4. Xterra Board
5. Peak Inflatable Paddle Board
Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards Under 500 Quick List
Paddle Board Durability Stability Maneuverability Speed Total 1. Serene Life ISUP
6.5/10 2. Solstice Bali
6.5/10 3. Pathfinder Isup
6.5/10 4. Aqua Marina Monster
6.5/10 5. Hydroforce ISUP
A few years ago stand up paddle boards were easily priced at over $1,000 but thankfully that is not the case anymore. There are many different stand up paddle board brands out there, and I mean a ton! We have done our research and have compiled a list of paddle boards that are over and under $500.
Why Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards?
If you are in a similar position like me, you want to get out on the water but, not have a big board to store and lug around with you. While traditionally Hard Boards do produce better performance in the water you are probably more concerned about where to actually store the stand up paddle board and how to get it to the lake or ocean.
In enters the Inflatable Paddle Board and you are halfway to the solution. However you start looking around on different sites and there is a ton of stand up paddle boards to choose from. Let us take the guess work out of it and steer you in the right direction of where you want to go.
In General Inflatable Paddle Boards Over $500 are:
- High Quality Brands from Industry leaders
- Are Innovative
- Provide Great Customer Service
- Will Provide Better Performance in the Water
- Have Better Quality Accessories and Instructions
In General The Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards Under $500 are:
- Are Smaller Private Brands
- Are made with Cheaper Materials
- Have Lower Quality accessories and may have unclear instructions
- Some are Made offshores
If you don’t belive me take a look at this video
So what is this video telling us? Imagine paddling on either board in the water. One glides along the top of the water while you paddle while the other sags. As a result you have to exert more effort into each paddle stroke which will be a lot more tiring and result in you paddling a shorter distance because of it.
Talking from personal experience I always feel that it is better to spend a bit more money on bigger brands. I bought a cheap inflatable paddle board local, and while I do like it and have not had any major problems with it, I kind of feel that I should’ve just gone with the bigger brand names. I say this because the board I have came with a cheap paddle which is almost impossible to unlock out of place on the water. This limits me to kneeling while I paddle. I also feel that the board is not as stable as it could be despite pumping it up to 15 PSI.
Having said the above I have scoured the web in search of the best 700 and 500 and under inflatable paddle boards that have high customer rankings and praise which is usually the best indicator to the quality of the board. I will also be posting a mini guide on how search for the best cheap air boards below.
Inflatable Paddle Boards Over $500 Reviews
- Made of Miltary Grade PVC Material
- Five D rings (4 on nose one on the tail)
- Bungee Deck Lacing
- Comes with Three Piece Aluminum Adjustable Paddle
- Three Nylon Removable Fins
- Non Slip Pad
- Comes with Hand Pump
- Two Year Warranty
- Maxiumu Weight Capacity 275 Lbs
We think the Ten Toes Weekender is perfectly named as it is an ideal board for casual board users who want to have some fun floating. If selecting colour is important to you than the Ten Toes Weekender gives you a full selection of Black/Red, Ocean Blue, Blush Pink, Green and Sea Foam Blue. If you are looking for a solid quality inflatable SUP board to start off with the Weekender would be one of your best choices for a variety of different reasons.
For one The Weekender is very stable, thanks to it’s shape and design. It can handle a variety of different water conditions and is equally inept on a slow moving river as it is with a bit of surf play. It’s tracking ability is also quite impressive for an all around board. This is thanks to all three Fins being removable. This is huge because you can essentially change the setup to suit the different water conditions.
If you want the board to track well in open water you can use all three fins, while if you were wanting to paddle in the shallows you can remove all the fins. I will say that it is usually a good idea to keep at least two of the smaller fins on as this greatly helps tracking ability. Without any fins the board will not track nearly as well.
In terms of Speed the Adventurer 2 has this one beat. This is because of the Adventurers narrower shape and longer length. In Terms of Set up though, the Weekender has the advantage because of it’s removable fin set up. The Adventurer 2 does not have removable smaller fins.
The Weekender has a 275 maximum weight capacity which is about 75 lbs less than the Adventurer 2 making it a bit more ideal for smaller people.
The Ten Toes Weekender is about as all around as you can get with a SUP. Nothing really makes this paddle board stand head over heels over other boards I have reviewed but it is reliable in most categories which makes it great for what it’s made for.
In terms of features you get with this board it’s similar to the Adventurer 2. The package includes the standard Paddle, Fins and Hand Pump that you would expect but at least it is enough to let you get into the water ASAP. The board also features standard bungee deck lacing, D rings and a handle at the center of the board.
Despite a few quality anomalies with this board most customers that buy it end up being extremely happy with their purchase and point to it’s ease of use, bright colours and stability as major factors of buying this board.
Bodies of Water
Great in Coastal and Lake conditions. Excels in both Deeper and Shallow Water Provided the right Fin set up.
See The Full Review on the Weekender Here
- Choose your colour! Comes in 5 Different Bright colours
- Is the definition of an All Around Board, does everything well
- Track Better than many All Around Boards
- Interchangeable Fin Set up allows customization to deep/ shallow water
- Easy to Set Up
- Great Board for Beginners
- Great Looking Board
- Two Year Warranty on Materials
- Could come with more Accessories such as back pack
- Not the best cheap inflatable board for Big and Tall individuals because of it’s weight limit
- Accessories specifically the paddle are not made with the strongest quality
- Two Year Warranty
- Front Bungee Deck Lacing
- 3 Removable Fin Set up (2 Smaller and 1 large detchable)
- Front and Rear D Rings
- Hand Pump
- Fiberglass Paddle
- Repair Kit
- Made Military Grade PBC Material
- Branded Deck Pad
- Front and Rear Carry Handles
- Maximum Weight Capacity 350 Lbs
The Tower Adventurer has revolutionised the the Paddle Boarding industry and has been one of the reasons why we see higher quality and affordable paddle boards on the market. Before Tower many inflatable SUP boards were only around 4” deep meaning the middle of the board where you stand sags in the water which increases the boards drag in the water. Tower came up with the 6” paddle board that allowed more weight on the board without increasing drag. The end result was a faster smoother paddle with a more durable board that lasted all at an affordable price tag.
Performance wise the Tower Paddle Board Adventurer tracks well and has a 3 fin set up which increases the boards straight line performance on the water. The 3 removable fin set up can also be used for some long board style surfing to a degree. The cool thing with this board is that it is a decent all around board where it can be used for a variety of different purposes. It’s pointed nose allows it to be used as an all around/ touring board hybrid while it’s 4 inch nose rocker allows you to have a bit of fun in the waves with some surfing capabilities. There is no tail rocker though, making surfing a bit tricky than other boards that have more tail rocker. I also would not use this board in any races as it belongs in the recreational category. Racing SUP’s usually are hard boards or at least have a pointed nose for less drag in the water.
Did you know Tower was on Shark Tank? Probably so because a good number of people who watched that episode of Shark Tank looked for Tower Paddle Boards on the web. While the owners pitch started off a bit shaky he struck a deal with Mark Cuban and is now doing very well for himself and Mark as seen in the below interview.
Adventurer is the way to go because it is a quality board that grows with you. Many people who initially buy a budget SUP find after a while that they outgrow it. That is to say, that once they have perfected how to use the board they want something that paddles better and drags less in the water. The Adventurer 2 provides a faster ride ,supports more weight and is about as durable as they come. The Adventurer 2 is also better for bigger people as it can take more weight at a 350 lb maximum capacity.
The features of this board are pretty basic but unlike many other inflatable stand up paddle board manufacturers the package includes a good quality carbon paddle. This is a big selling feature as carbon paddles are a bit more expensive and can range anywhere from $100 to $200. It also comes with a basic foot pump , repair kit and centre detachable fin. If you are looking for a whole range of accessories such as a bag and an ankle leash.
Bodies of Water
This paddle board can take a wide range of different conditions but is best at home on calmer lakes and rivers. As stated before you can take board in coastal conditions and even do a bit of surfing on it.
See The Full Review Here
- Very Durable and Ridgid
- Can take up to 350 Lbs
- Solid Tracking Ability thanks to it’s 3 Removable Fin Set Up
- Comes with Fiberglass Paddle
- A bit of a Revolutionist in Terms of the Paddle Boarding Industry
- Adapts well to most bodies of Water
- Great board for Bigger and Taller People
- Invested into by Mark Cuban
- Two Year Warranty on Materials
- Not the Fastest Board Around
- Could come with more Accessories such as a Backpack and Ankle Leash
- Pump Looks a bit Cheaply Made
- Does not stand out as much, as other Manufacturers have replicated their Design
- Comes with Backpack, Fiber Glass Paddle, Pump and Coil Leash and repair kit
- Paddle is made of Fiberglass
- 2 year warranty on materials
- Eleven D Rings
- 33” Wide
- Middle Handle
- Maximum Weight Capacity of 350 lbs
The iRocker Cruiser 10’6 board is an ultra stable beast. That can only be good news to beginners who want to enter the world of Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards. The iRocker Cruiser is a gigantic 33” Wide and has a slightly wider tail than other SUP’s on this list. Another great thing about this board is that it can support up to 350 lbs which makes it a great board for taller/ heavier paddlers who are just starting out.
The iRocker Cruiser lives up to it’s name in that it is not going to go anywhere fast anytime soon. This may sound a bit harsh but the way it is designed the extra wide width of the board definitely gives it a bit more drag in the water. Being wider has it’s advantages though. The iRocker Cruiser would probably be the best cheap inflatable board on this list for fishing for several reasons. One It’s wide tail and extra width allows it to be as stable as possible so you don’t have to worry too much about rocking it when casting. Two, the iRocker Cruiser also has a separate kayak bundle (double paddle and seat) that you can purchase. This allows you to get to your fishing spots quicker while being able to sit or stand while you cast.
The Cruiser SUP would also be a prime candidate for Paddle Boarding Yoga. It’s Wider stance definitely gives PEAK a run for it’s money. It also appears to have just as much grip pad surface area as the Peak as well.
In terms of tracking ability the iRocker Cruiser does a good job despite being a wider board. Wider boards typically do not glide as well across the pond but the Cruiser has a 3 fin setup. This 3 fin setup allows the board to stay a straight course while you paddle.
You also do not have to worry about the durability of this board, it actually has a triple layer of military grade PVC Material with drop stitching that allows you to scuff over rocks or any hard surface really. Not that you would want to do that on purpose but, as you know the water can be a harsh mistress as a sudden bump can come out of nowhere in the shallows.
iRocker gives you a good amount of quality extras to go with your Inflatable SUP including a paddle, higher quality backpack, coil ankle leash, repair kit and a tracking fin. If you read my previous review on the Xterra 10’ you will already know that a good quality backpack is an often under looked and undervalued quality. Believe me though, it is just as important as any of the other accessories that it comes with and you will come to realise the value of one when you are lugging it around for a while on a hike or excursion.
Another feature that stood out (that I almost missed!) is that this board has 11 D rings! Yes 11! You may be asking yourself what could I possibly use those extra 4-5 D rings for? Well these types of features are greatly appreciated by fisherman and kayak hybrids alike. The extra D rings that are in the middle of the board act as a tie down for things such as coolers and seats (which is an extra add on you can do with this board). You can simply use a bungee or ratchet strap to secure your cooler and or tackle to avoid it from going overboard. This is a feature that none of the other boards on this list has.
Although truthfully I would have a set of the D rings a bit further down towards the tail of the board. I say this because in the place it’s set at now it forces the paddle to move further up on the board from where they should be, but hey, that’s just me.
Overall if you don’t have your sea legs yet or want to start paddling with the goal of yoga or fishing in mind this is probably your board. In terms of value this is probably one of the better packages because of it’s included accessories and high quality carry bag.
Bodies of Water
Calmer bodies of water. Most at home in smaller lakes and calm rivers but can be used in calmer coastal conditions. I would not use this for touring purposes though because it is slower than the other boards reviewed on this page.
See The Full Review on the Cruiser Here
- Probably the best cheap board on this page in terms of stability
- Lots of Accessories included in this package
- Has Eleven D rings which makes customization possible
- Ideal for Yoga and Fishing Enthusiasts
- Backpack and Fiberglass paddle are higher quality than other packages
- Comes with Coil Ankle Leash
- Great for Taller and Heavier Paddlers who are starting out
- Nice looking design
- Has great all around customer reviews
- Probably the Slowest board here
- Not great for surfing
- Not great for Touring purposes
- Only Comes in the one colour
- Includes Coil Ankle Leash, Backpack, pup, Removable Fin and Aluminum Paddle
- Diamond Traction Pad
- Nose Handle
- Made of Military Grade PVC Material
- 5 D Rings
- Bungee Deck Lacing
- Macimum Weight Capacity 240 Lbs
Made by one of the major paddle board companies Isle, it is aimed at bringing value while contributing high quality elements that make Isle Paddle boards so successful. It’s overall quality is on par with the above two boards but brings a bit extra to the table.
The Isle Peak is the clear winner here when it comes to Accessories as it comes with everything you would need and want with an inflatable sup board. Many Inflatable Paddles Boards like the Weekender and Adventurer 2 Come with a fin, paddle and hand pump. the the Peak goes a step further by introducing a backpack and coil leash to the mix. The backpack is nothing to snuff at either. It is actually quite well made and is more than durable enough to absorb wear and shifting of the board.
When rolled up the board is also the lightest at 23 lbs and takes up the least amount of space. While you may not think too much about it, space is key for inflatable paddle boards and is often under looked. The inflatable board I bought takes up a lot of space, there is no way I can fit it in the closet so it has to stay in the trunk of my car. Looking back, if I bought this SUP I probably could of fit it with the food and friends I had in my car to go to the lake last year! Dang!
If you are looking for a board that you can buy and, not have to purchase anything additional the Isle Peak Isup would be the one to get. Where this board starts to drop off is the on water performance aspect.
The Above two Paddle Boards provide the three fin setup which allows your board to track better and adjust to the different water conditions. With the PEAK is just has one fin. While the one removable fin does provide decent tracking it will not track or perform as well as the Adventurer 2 and Weekender. You can also tell that this is the lower end model of Isle because, it’s paddle is cheaper made and, it only has the one fin while Isle All Around Inflatable SUP board comes with a carbon shaft and the three fin setup. That being said the Isle All Around Inflatable is a more expensive board.
The good thing though, is that both Isle’s Peak and All Around Inflatable are made with the same board material which really should be the most important factor. I would much rather that a sup board cheap out on things like a paddle or a air pump then the actual board quality itself.
If performance does not matter to you very much then this is a solid board to purchase. Similar to the Weekender is is great for all purposes such as All Around , Recreational , Yoga as well as even fishing use. You can use this board for touring purposes as well but, there are better inflatables for that.
If you are looking to use this board for fitness purposes such as SUP yoga it would be the best pick out of the top two because, of the amount of area the Pad takes up. Looking at it the deck pad takes up at least ⅔’s of the board which in turn gives you more confidence not to loose your footing on the board while doing those complicated poses like downwards dog.
At the End of the day the Peak inflatable Paddle board is a good pick because it is made of the same high quality materials as it’s parent company while, giving you a larger than normal deck pad for activities (So many Activities!) such as SUP Yoga or even joy riding with your best furry friend around the lake.
Bodies of Water
Prefers Calm water but can be at home with coastal water conditions. Recommended that you use this paddle board for deeper water conditions due to fin.
- Takes up less room than many other Inflatable SUP’s
- Made of the same High Quality Materials as Parent Company ISLE
- Larger than Normal Pad makes this a good SUP Yoga or Tandem Board
- Comes with a Wide Range of Accessories including High Quality Backpack
- The Paddle colour matches the board which is pretty cool
- One year Warranty on Materials
- Lighter than many Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards
- Smaller backpack gives you more room to play with when storing the PEAK
- Does not Track as well as Adventurer 2 and Weekender
- Only has One removable fin set up
- Some Complaints about the quality of the paddle
- Not a particularly fast Board for the Water
- Made of Military Grade Drop Stitch Material
- Comes with Backpack, Paddle, hand Pump, Fin, 10’ Coiled Ankle Leash as well as Repair Kit
- Six D Rings
- Bungee Deck Lacing
- Middle Handle
- Go Pro Mount
- One Year Warranty on Material Defects
- Five Year Warranty on Repairs
- Maximum Weight Capacity 250 Lbs
If you frequent this site you will notice that I have reviewed the touring model in quite some depth, so why is it not on here and why did I go with the 10’ instead? The Xterra Touring 12.6’ board is a great board and it does fall under this price range. However it is a touring board which makes it less stable and harder to get used to, especially for a beginner. Chances are if you are reading this article you are in the beginning or intermediate stage of your SUP journey.
The Xterra 10’ inflatable SUP board is a bit of a hybrid between a standard and touring paddle board. The shape of the board is that of an all around recreational board but, it does offer great in water performance. The board paddles very smoothly and tracks well for a board of it’s price thanks to the three fin setup that is provided. If you take a look at the Xterra Boards Comparison chart this one falls under the cruising and surfing category meaning if you are a beginner this will be a board that you will have to get used to a bit. Let me explain.
This board is 30” wide and while it is more stable than it’s 12’6 cousin, it is not the most stable board in this list. I have seen a few videos of people brand new to paddle boarding having a bit of trouble with balance on this SUP. Having said that though I would much rather have a paddle board that can grow with me rather than one I master and outgrow. That is to say that I would rather practice honing my skills with a more difficult paddle board as opposed to buying a super stable board only to not be able to go very far. It’s one of the reasons I jumped straight into getting a recreational/touring board combo.
The closest comparable on this list to the Xterra 10’ Inflatable SUP is the Ten Toes Weekender. Both have very similar dimensions but the main difference is the Xterra is a bit more performance based. The Weekender works best in shallower and calmer conditions and can hold more weight as well as gear. That’s because the Weekender’s maximum capacity is 25 lbs heavier than the Xterra and 6 of the 5 D rings are designated to it’s front bungee deck lacing. Xterra has 6 D rings but only 4 are designated to bungee storage.
Out of the boards in this category the Xterra 10’ inflatable stand up paddle board is probably best suited to rougher conditions. It is just as durable, if not more so than the other inflatable sups (as seen with the car driving over it) but it also seems to excel in the ocean, making it a great board to travel around the coasts with. You can also surf smaller 3-4’ waves with this SUP which make it a fun SUP to paddle in a variety of different conditions.
Now let’s talk about this board’s features. Looking from afar this board seems to look standard if not a bit more heavy duty compared to other boards we are reviewing. Yes this is true, the Xterra is about as durable as they come but in this package it also comes with a good amount of features. Coming with this board includes a hand pump, paddle , backpack, coil ankle leash , removable fin and repair kit which is just as much as the PEAK inflatable. While the Paddle seems to be the same quality as the above SUP’s it’s backpack could be constructed better. The Board I purchased comes with the same style of carry bag, and while the concept of mesh netting to help dry the board out quicker is appreciated, it makes it more flimsy. The two supporting fins, when rolled up tend to stick out more which can puncture the mesh netting and ruin the carry bag.
Another query I have with this board is its pad. I think Xterra Cheapened out a slight bit when it comes to the grip pad because if you look at the other SUP’s they have diamond groove grip. The Xterra has straight lines on it’s grip pad which when wet can bet more slippery than diamond grove grip.
Overall if you are looking for a performance SUP that does well in coastal conditions across the world and is durable enough to handle them this is a good board for you. Despite it’s little quirks here and there, the Xterra is a quality board that comes with more than what you would need it for. It also comes with a pretty nice price tag as well. A bonus to getting this SUP is if you are a Go Pro (or the less expensive faux pro like I have) owner. The Xterra 10’ Inflatable SUP comes with a Go pro mount which is great if you are the kind that likes to record their adventures!
Bodies of Water
Can do them all, but is best at home in coastal waters. If you are looking for a bit of surfing this board is not a bad pick either.
- Affordable Price
- Great Paddle Board for Coastal Conditions
- Can do some surfing with it
- A good amount of items included like backpack, paddle, coil leash, fin
- Very Durable (as you can see a car ran over it)
- Quick Inflation Time
- D rings located at front and rear are great for safety or tieing up to a dock
- Great for paddling longer distances
- This board has good tracking perfomance
- Grip Pad is not the grippiest
- Backpack quality in question (because of the mesh)
- Paddle will probably not last as long as the board
Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards Under $500 Full Reviews
- Nine D Rings
- Three Fin Setup
- Middle Carry Handle
- Diamond Grove Deck Pad
- Comes with Adjustable Paddle, Hand pump, Backpack Storage, Ankle Leash and Repair Kit
- Made of PVC Material
- Maximum Weight Capacity at 275lbs
The Serene Life Inflatable Paddle Board certainly has rave reviews from many customers. When you first look at it it does not look like anything particularly special. The board design does look plain and a bit cheap. However the price appears to be about as good as you can get from an inflatable paddle board. The Serene Life paddle board comes with a good range of accessories including a carry bag, pump,removable fin and aluminum paddle as well as Coil Leash and Repair Kit. Did I mention how good the price is on this ISUP?
The accessories that come with it do not look like they are made of the highest quality materials but hey, you get what you pay for. One thing that does stick out with this paddle board package is the custom design on the fin. It’s a great idea and I am really not sure why none of the bigger manufacturers do this. Not only is it cool to look at but it also stands out, if you happen to lose it chances are you would be able to find it again (provided it is not in 60 foot deep water).
What this board does have going for it as well is the four extra D rings located on the Mid- Sides of the board. This allows you to attach a cooler or kayak chair to the board if you are not interested in standing the entire journey.
Perhaps the thing that surprised me the most is all the positive reviews directed towards this SUP. I cannot find anything about the Serene Life Paddle Board that features less than three starts which is pretty remarkable for a smaller brand.
Performance wise this SUP is ok for beginners. Yes it is almost half the price of the above SUP’s reviewed but it is 30” and is a bit tippy. Really that can be seen as a good and bad thing in my mind. The good is that your body gets used to the handling of the board which will allow you to advance to better boards such as touring down the line. The not so good is, well you fall in the water.. This should not be a big deal though because at some point if you own a SUP you will fall in the water! Just be prepared with the right gear to match the conditions.
Despite the tippiness of this SUP the diamond traction deck pad and the 3 fin setup gives this SUP pretty good all around speed and manoeuvrability.
Bodies of water
I would limit this SUP to calmer Coastal Bays, Lakes and Slow moving rivers.
- The Price and What you get for it
- Comparable with more expensive SUPs in terms of Speed and Maneuverability
- Comes with everything you need to get in the Water
- Has a Three Fin Setup
- Middle Removable Fin has a unique design
- Has rave Customer Reviews
- Can be customisable with Kayak Seat and mid-board D Rings
- Very Lightweight weighing in at 19 lbs
- Not the most Stable board for Beginners
- Not the best board for Heavier and Taller Individuals
- Serene Life is a manufacturer that mass produces many things(not specialised with paddle boards)
- I would be slightly worried about the quality of materials, it just mentions PVC Material
- No Brand Website at all
- Made of 1000 Denier 3 ply PVC Material Reinforced Fabric
- Comes with Carry bag, Tracking Fin and Pump
- Middle Handle
- Five D Rings
- Three Fin Set Up
- Maximum Weight Capacity 250 Lbs
Running off of the point that some inflatable paddle boards do not go too much into details about the materials used this one does! Look at the Diagram below!
The Solstice Bali is made of 1000 Denier 3 ply PVC material or double overlap drop stitch construction. While not Triple Military Grade PVC Material this method does do the job. Having said this the board is only 4” thick which pales in comparison to the 700 and under boards that are at least 5 ½ “ thick and up. As a result this board will produce a bit more sagging in the middle which will produce significantly more drag on the water.
Despite the Solstice Bali being 4” thick it is relatively stable. At 32” in width the Bali does provide a bit more of a stable platform than other inflatable SUPs. Although 4” spread out over 32” makes the board a bit more flimsy than if it were spread out over 30”. Since this board is 4” thick the weight limit would probably be in the range of 200-250 lbs. Which is not ideal for bigger or taller folks.
The Bali’s on water performance is comparable. It has a three fin setup, and can track better than a board with one fin. The only problem is that the one fin on this board appears to be shorter than other fins which makes a bit of a difference in terms of tracking ability.
In terms of features you are a bit robbed. Yes it comes with a backpack, find and pump but there is no paddle or ankle leash coil that comes with it. The biggest thing is that this board does not have an deck bungees that come with it! As a result I have seen some people use actual car bungee cords being hooked on the front. This is far from ideal as I do not believe bungee lacing costs the manufacturer all too much.
Bodies of Water
Can be used in most but be wary that your board and your butt (if you choose to sit) will get wet.
- Mentions Materials used in board
- Can be used in most bodies of water
- Great if you like sitting lower in the water
- Features seem cheap
- No Paddle, Bungee Deck Lacing or Leahs Coil
- Only 4” thick which makes the board sag
- Quality issues with some boards after a year
- No Manufacturer Website
- Comes with Carry Bag, Paddle, Pump and Fin, Valve Wrench
- Five D Rings
- 9’9” Length
- Can Hold up to 240 Lbs
- 5” thick
- Bungee Deck Lacing
- Maximum Weight Capacity of 240 Lbs
The Pathfinder inflatable SUP is the smallest board on our list at a length of 9’9”. While the Pathfinder is 5” thick it’s 9’9” frame helps compensate for this so that the board can still perform well in the water. One thing I will say however, is that it is only rated to 240 lbs. In fact I will just say rather bluntly that if you are a bigger person you should probably look else where. Boards that are in the 9’ and 30” width range are built for smaller folks.
Admittedly the Pathfinder SUP is actually the sister company of Vilano Bikes which makes Paddle Boards as well. This is a way for these types of companies to test the water before actually putting their branding on to see what works.
The PathFinder’s on water performance is decent but tracking ability is a bit of an issue with this board. A single fin setup will do that. Coupled with the fact that the board is only 9’9”. Having said this shorter boards are typically more manoeuvrable, specifically in calmer surfing conditions.
The board bundle itself comes with a carry bag, pump and paddle, none of which are of particularly great quality but at the price that this package is available at, the board is pretty solid and it does have the backing of a name brand behind it in Vilano.
Bodies of Water
Good in calmer conditions but can be used as a surf paddle board for smaller waves along the coast.
- The board constructions seems to be pretty solid
- Great board for shorter people
- Backed by name brand Vilano
- Price is pretty reasonable
- Maneuverability on this board is good
- Some complaints about the quality of accessories
- Some complaints about the valve stems of the board
- Tracking ability is not the greatest
- Not a great board for bigger and taller people
- Double Wall Drop Stitch Material
- Honeycomb groove EVA Deck Pad
- Comes with Fin, Carry Bag and Pump
- 12’ long
- 5 D Rings
- Bungee Deck Lacing
- Maximum Weight Capacity of 352 Lbs
I decided to choose the Aqua Marina Monster for the fact that you get more for your money. That is you get a 12’ inflatable Paddle Board for under $500 which is pretty much unheard of. I also choose to do a review of this SUP because it features a maximum weight capacity of 352 and is rated for people who weight 265 lbs and under. In laymen’s terms this is a great SUP for bigger and taller individuals who may have trouble balancing on SUPs that are rated at the maximum weight capacity of the 250-275 range.
As you can imagine this board wins at stability. At 32” thick and 12’ long you can feel comfortable being on the water and not second guessing yourself in terms of balancing. It gives folks of the taller and bigger variety more support while paddling the waters.
In terms of on water performance you will most likely not be winning any races anytime soon with this board even though it does have a more slender profile than many all around boards of it’s size. It is also a more difficult board to manoeuvre because of the added length, but the rule thumb with paddle boards is usually more length= less manoeuvrable, less length = more manoeuvrable.
The tracking ability of this board is pretty good, thanks to it’s length but, could probably be improved with a three fin setup.
In terms of features this board does not come with any surprises, mostly the standard , carry bag, fin, pump and of course the board. It would be nice if the folks from Aqua Marina would include a paddle as well though.
Overall this is one of the better quality under 500 inflatable paddle boards. It has a brand behind it , some reputable reviews and a good amount of information on its website.
Bodies of Water
Can take on most bodies of water including coastal and calmer lake conditions.
- Great for people who are taller or heavier
- One of the few 12’ boards under $500
- Has great stability thanks to its size and width
- Could be used as a good fishing SUP
- Could come with more accessories
- Probably not the best cheap inflatable board to surf with (Little nose or tail rocker)
- Not the fastest Paddle Board out there
- Comes with Kayak Seat and Backrest
- Aluminum Oar (Both kayak and regular Paddle extensions)
- Bungee Deck lacing
- Comes with Travel Bag and Pump, Foam footrest
- 4” thick
- Three fin setup
- Maximum Weight Capacity of 794 Lbs
The first thing that will stick out at you is the fact that it has a kayak seat and foot rest. So what is it a kayak or a paddle board? Well it’s mostly a paddle board but the fact that it includes a seat on foot rest is a great idea. I know from experience on my board I don’t always like to stand as after a long period of time my feet can get sore so often times I find myself sitting on the board. It is a cool idea but there are other boards that are higher quality in construction that feature the same thing. Still though the fact they included it with the price being offered definitely says something.
In terms of on water performance this board has a bit of a hard board feel to it in that you are not as high up as today’s standard of inflatable paddle boards. This is because the board is 4 inches thick which is 2 off of the industry standard of six. As a result your feet (or butt) will be getting wet!
The HydroForce White Cap SUP is stable though, thanks to it’s 32” width and 10 foot long build.
You may notice that this SUP has three fins so the tracking performance must be pretty good right? Well, I mean three is better than none but no the tracking ability is not the same as other three finned paddle boards. This is because all the fins are the same size! The whole point of the three fins is to have two fins on each side as support and the one main one in the middle to be significantly larger. The longer the middle fin is the better the paddle board will track.
In terms of quality this board is alright for the price but there are several complaints about it leaking from the valve, the paddle being relatively low quality and breaking as well as the carry bag not being able to fit all of the items properly.
The lesson with these boards under 500 is that really, you get what you pay for, as you go lower down in the price, there is a good chance that they use lower quality materials which means that the board will not last as long as you the customer would of liked. If you do want a SUP to just get your feet wet (literally!) to, see if you like the sport than this is a decent one to start off with.
Bodies of Water
I would stay in calmer lakes and bays with this SUP because of its 4” thickness.
- Inexpensive and fairly priced
- Can be used as a kayak hybrid
- Comes with the kayak seat and paddle
- Has diamond grip traction pad
- The board is pretty stable
- Only 4” thick
- Middle tracking fin should be bigger
- Tracking is not too great
- Not the best board for bigger people
How to Choose an Inflatable SUP (Step By Step)
Step 1: Where are you Paddling?
When choosing the best inflatable paddle board for you and your lifestyle you have to keep in mind a few different factors. The first is where are you paddling and what kind of paddling would you like to do? When I first bought my inflatable paddle board I went for a Recreational/ Touring hybrid as I could see myself wanting more speed from the board. What I completely underestimated was the fact that it was tippy and tricky to get used to when attempting to stand on the board. I definitely was not the kind of person that had good balance from the get-go. As a result I had to adjust my learning curve by kneeling on the board and standing when I was paddling in lakes that had calm water.
The point of my story is that you should get an ISUP that will best represent the skill level you are at now and what you plan on doing with the board in the future. If you are a bit like me and you want a challenge, by all means you can get an inflatable touring paddle board. Just know there there will be an adjustment period in the beginning.
Types of Inflatable SUP Boards
Now that you have an idea of where you will be paddling, and what skill level you are. Now we will show you the different types of inflatable paddle boards there are and what purposes they serve.
Recreational ISUP Boards
These are usually the most common inflatable paddle boards on the market and they are usually the best for beginner to intermediate paddlers. They are also the main types that we will be reviewing in this article. These boards typically have a round snout and tail which allows them to act as an all around type of board. They are also the most common fishing paddle boards as well.
When looking at these types of inflatable boards some factors to look out for are the width, length and thickness of the board. The width will give you a good idea as to how steady the board is. Typically if you are new to paddle boarding you are looking for a board that has at least 30” in width. Anything less and you start getting into tippy territory. In terms of length with these boards anything within the 9’ to 12’ range is a pretty good starter range, with 10’ being the most ideal all around board. The length of you board relates to your height. The taller and heavier you are the longer the board should be for ideal stability.
- Smaller People 140 lbs and Under : Use a 9’ + Board
Example: Aqua Marina Breeze, Pathfinder ISUP
- Average Size 140 lbs – 200 lbs : Use a 10’ + Board
Example: Ten Toes Weekender, SereneLife Premium Inflatable Paddle Board
- Larger People 200 lbs + : Use a 11’ + Board
Example: iRocker Cruiser, Atoll Inflatable Paddle Board
Thickness of the board should preferably be at least be 4” but more preferably in the 6” range. I say preferably 6” range because as soon as you start going under that thickness the board will drag in the water making you have to paddle harder and exert more effort per stroke.
These paddle boards are typically best for lakes, calmer bays but can handle some surf and waves if need be. Different ISUP manufacturers will be good for different conditions so read carefully what the paddle board is best for. These are the jack of all trades types of stand up paddle boards that are meant to get you out on the water.
Touring / Racing ISUP’s
These boards are made for intermediate to advanced paddlers and are typically above the price range of this particular article. Touring ISUPs are meant for long distance paddling and feature a pointy nose and a more skinnier build. Racing ISUP’s are even thinner and are meant for advanced users who actively take their boards out to race.
We did a full review on Yoga Paddle boards that goes more indepth. Inflatable Yoga SUP boards are meant to act as a yoga mat but on water. A common feature of Yoga SUPs is that they feature a wide width to insure stability while doing those yoga poses you love.
Typically hardboards are better for surfing because of their rigid structure but there are a few surfing sups out there. Some common features of these boards is that they feature smaller fins that come in 3’s or 5’s instead of the larger center removable fin that are typically found on most paddle boards. This is to help the surfer with quick turns and maneuverability while in the water.
Examples of Surfing ISUP’s: Hala Milligram
Step 2: Anatomy of a Good Inflatable Paddle Board
- The Longer the board is the quicker it is. Longer Paddle boards tend to glide on the water quicker than shorter ones.
- The Longer the board is the less maneuverable it is. It is harder to turn a 12’ board than say a 9 or 10 foot inflatable SUP.
- Beginner and Intermediate Paddlers are best to go with ranges of 9’9-12’6 paddle boards. All the Boards reviewed here are in those ranges
- Longer Boards generally track better although that is not the only factor in tracking ability
- Wider Boards mean more stability. A 32” board would be better for a beginner than say a 28” board.
- Wider Width also equals more drag. As a result wider boards are usually slower than skinnier ones.
- Many Good quality Paddle Boards are now 6 inches thick. This is because they keep you higher out of the water and keep shape better.
- Boards that are less than 6 inches thick will usually not be as firm
Nose and Tail Rocker
- While not the most important factor when choosing a board it does make a difference.
- More Tail and Nose Rocker means that the front and rear of the board point upwards.
- Having more Nose Rocker is ideal for for more wavy conditions.
All of the boards I have reviewed on this page are All Around Boards. I did this because these are usually the best cheap inflatable boards to start off with. If you want to read more about the differences between paddle boards heres a great article by REI
Step 3: Portability and Weight
Not a lot of people put as much thought into this criteria as they should. Most times when people buy an ISUP they assume “ohh it will be around the size of a backpack” when really this is not so much the case. Keep close attention of how big the board is when folded up and in its carry bag. In my case the board that I bought folds up to be the equivalent of a hitchhiker’s backpack, maybe even bigger. This limits me from being able to walk long distances with it. A good way to avoid this problem is contact the manufacturer or look at their website to see how big the board is when it is folded up.
Step 4: Quality Materials
Another thing that seperates a cheaper stand up paddle board from a higher quality one is the materials used. Cheaper paddle boards (typically ones that are under $500) have a single layer of PVC material which will result in more sag in the board. It will also not keep its rigidity as long as a higher quality ISUP. A higher quality ISUP will typically have a double or triple layer PVC which allows the more expensive brands to keep their rigidity for a longer period of time. In the long run it makes more sense to pay a few hundred more to get a board that you can use for a long time.
Step 5: On-Water Performance
On-water Performance can be broken down into 3 different categories. Stability, Speed and Maneuverability. This is a particularly important factor because ideally you want buy a SUP that can do what it’s expected to do in the water. Otherwise you may be paddling an over glorified pool toy that lasts less than 2 years. Unfortunately if you want more on water performance you will typically have to pay a bit more for a few different reasons. Cheaply made SUP’s typically do not put a lot of effort in the materials that go into the board. As a result you have to paddle with more effort to travel less distance.
This is typically a factor that is important to beginner paddle boarders. Qualities of a good stable cheap paddle board is that its length is at least 9’6” it’s width is 30” and up and the thickness of the board is at least 4” but preferably in the 6” category. When looking for a stable ISUP it’s best to stick to the leaders in the paddle boarding industry as they have years of experience making these boards. I would also look at customer reviews as a good way to judge stability. Many beginners express their opinions (both good and bad) in these customer reviews.
This will not be as important a criteria for those starting out but it is something to think about in the future. In the long run if you are looking to do longer paddling excursions you probably don’t want to spend more money on a different kind of SUP. Some characteristics of a fast SUP is as slender build, pointed nose. These SUP’s typically are in the 12’ category and are less than 30” wide. If this is the route you want to go one day you may just have to accept the steeper learning curve and get a touring inflatable paddle board.
Depending on where you are paddling you may want a SUP that does not feel like you are drive a giant boat. These SUP’s will usually be shorter in length and their fins will be shorter in length as well. While I would not say this is a main criteria you do ideally want your board to have some steering capability to it. This especially comes in handy if you are paddling tighter quarters like the mangroves in Florida.
Step 6: Whats the Maximum Weight Capacity?
The maximum weight capacity is how much weight you can take on the ISUP. You also have to take into consideration what you will be bringing with you when you are paddling and add that to your weight. Paddle boarders for the most part are minimalists compared to kayakers and canoers but there are definitely activities like fishing, diving or even camping where all these little items add up quick.
Step 7: Inflation and Deflation Time
So I touched on this a bit in portability and weight but it is still a pretty important factor in my mind. It is often a very looked over criteria but it is important as it represents how much time you occupy before you can go into the water and leave the site.
As a stand up paddle board owner I will just say this outright. Get an electric SUP Pump (or be creative like the man in the video) ! I cannot tell you how much time this saves and how much less stress you will cause your back. While almost all inflatable paddle board manufacturers come with a SUP Pump they often are a bit clumsy, cumbersome to use and are often not the right size for the person doing the pumping.
Deflation is a bit of a different animal but with most SUP’s you will just have to wrestle around with it and roll it up/ deflate it like a sleeping bag. Some SUP’s are easier than others to deflate so do some research beforehand.
Step 8: Accessories that Come with the ISUP?
Finally last on the list is accessories. What does your blow up paddle board come with? Typically the bare bones cheap paddle boards come with a SUP Pump, a removable fin ,a repair kit of some sort and a carry bag to store it in. Some SUP manufacturers even throw in a paddle, SUP leash and a waterproof phone holder. While more an more Inflatable paddle boards come with a paddle these days don’t assume that it does unless it specifically says so in the product description. Some other accessories you should have with you include:
- A PFD Belt or Vest
- A SUP Ankle Leash
- Small waterproof backpack
- A Whistle
- Bathing suit
We go into more detail on what to expect when you first go out on a paddle board.
Ask an Inflatable Paddle Board Owner
How Durable is an inflatable paddle board?
Good quality paddle boards are made of military grade PVC, the same material as zodiacs and river rafts. While it is not impossible to puncture any inflatable a high quality inflatable SUp can take a beating on rocks and other sharp objects you may encounter like logs ect. Below is a video of what a good quality paddle board can take
What if there is a Leak?
If it is within the warranty period talk to the manufacturer otherwise most ISUP’s come with some sort of repair kit that you can use to patch it up. Talk to the manufacturer if there is a leak in the valve, often times it just needs tightening with a valve wrench.
What PSI should I inflate my board to?
This depends on how sturdy you like the board and what the manufacturer recommends. I definitely do not recommend going over what the manufacturer says for obvious reasons. I typically like to Pump my inflatable board to 15 -17 PSI but this is dependant on what kind of ISUP you have.
Should I Keep my Inflatable paddle board inflated when storing it?
I personally wouldn’t recommend it because it will put stress on the materials and stretch the PVC bonding. As much of a pain as it is I always make sure to rinse and deflate my paddle board after I use it.
Where Can I store an ISUP?
Anywhere undercover is what I say! Depending on the size of the ISUP and how dirty it is I usually like to store it on the balcony undercover to protect it from the elements. You can by all means store it inside but just make sure that you rinse your board first before doing that. Believe me sand can get everywhere.
Hand Pump or Electric Pump?
Definitely Electric SUP Pump. It will cost more money but the time and stress it saves on your back is well worth it. You can definitely try out the pump the manufacturer gave you first. But after a while you will quickly see what I mean 🙂
Is it necessary to attach my fin to my sup?
Definitely. The fin is your sole tracking device that allows you vessel to go straight. Without it you will have a tough time tracking in a straight line. Especially since inflatable boards sit on top of the water instead sit in the water like hardboards do.
PFD or a SUP Leash?
I say both :). The PFD helps you keep safe incase you bump your head and become unconscious while the leash helps keep the board with you at all times.
Can I Attach a Go Pro to Document my awesome SUP journeys
Yes , some models like the Xterra come with a Gopro Mount. If it doesn’t come with one, there are lots of ways to document your sup journey including chest straps, poles ect.
How long does it take to inflate an ISUP?
Depends on the manufacturer but typically between 7 and 15 minutes. You can probably half that time if you use an electric SUP Pump.
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