This year has seen the best inflatable paddle boards market explode in terms of range and affordability of products, a rapid reaction to the stand-up paddle board craze going truly mainstream.
Indeed, today in 2022, SUP-ing has never been more popular, with inflatable paddle board brands and retailers popping up left, right, and center. Going stand-up paddle boarding has now overtaken many other traditional water sports in terms of popularity.
And that popularity is understandable, too, as paddle boarding is super fun and accessible to get into, and the boards themselves continue to get cheaper and more high-tech.
Inflatable SUPs are so popular now due to the fact that they’re easily portable in a small car boot, can be carried in a rucksack to the water's edge (a pair of the best water shoes will take you comfortably from shore to water), then inflated, often with an included pump. Finally, storage is a simple matter of removing any salt, drying off, and stowing the rucksack bag somewhere dry. That’s a pretty hassle-free package, and as inflatable boards now offer good performance too, rigid boards are on the decline except for very specialised applications like racing. Many of our best paddle boards for beginners are inflatable options too.
The major benefits of a SUP are their very shallow draft, often around a foot or so, which means they can be used in anything deeper than a puddle. This opens up even smaller streams as well as rivers, lakes, ponds, canals, watersports reservoirs, and a host of coastal locations too. A second dual benefit is the standing up – great for sightseeing and clocking any hazards in the distance – but also a solid core workout and potentially a good cardio one too, depending on your pace.
A good touring board can cover quite a decent distance over a few hours too, in almost complete silence, making them a good choice for nature-spotters of all types. There’s also a growing movement towards using SUP boards for Pilates and Yoga workouts, adding an extra dimension both literally and visually to a workout.
Most importantly though, SUP-ing is a lot of fun, as well as being a great way to access hidden and beautiful parts of the outdoors you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. One final notice before we start: anyone but the most confident swimmers on the calmest waters (and perhaps even those) should invest in one of the best life jackets as a safety precaution.
The best inflatable paddle boards for 2022
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The Ride 10'6 is a bit of an SUP classic, and for good reason – the makers describe it as a 'Swiss Army knife of paddle boards', and there's plenty of truth in that. Equally at home in surfing or SUP mode, it'll suit most casual board users to a tee. A versatile shape adds stability in all situations, while the near indestructible ‘iFins' on the underside don't require tools to keep in shape. A six-point bungee is perfectly capable of keeping your dry bag where you want it, and a simple diamond-cut rear deck and EVA deck pad prevent slips and increase control.
In a complete package format with a specially designed backpack for transport, dual-barrel pump to inflate on site and a range of paddles to suit your taste, this is a strong all-rounder in a potent package, and at a competitive price point. The only things left for you to decide are where to go, what to wear, and where to put the car keys... Find out more in our Red Paddle Co. 10'6 Ride MSL Package review.
If you're looking for your first inflatable SUP and don't want to spend a fortune, but don't want to get lumbered with a cheap and nasty board, the Wave Woody SUP package is a tough one to beat. It's sold as an intermediate board, but in our tests we found it to be easily stable enough for beginners, and while it comes at an almost suspiciously reasonable price it's built to last and comes complete with everything you need to get out on the water, fast.
Once out of the box you can have it unrolled, inflated and on the water in about five minutes, and you'll find it comes with features normally reserved for more expensive boards, including a GoPro mount, D rings for extra storage or even adding a chair on the back, and a comfortable ankle strap that you can wear for hours. It won't take an age to deflate if you're in a hurry, and thankfully there's plenty of space in the backpack for you to put it away even if it's not completely deflated. In short, this one's an unmissable bargain for your first inflatable SUP; get more details in our Wave Woody SUP package review.
The Portofino 10ft SUP Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board earns a place in our best inflatable paddle board ranking thanks to hitting a sweet spot in size, being light and portable yet also stable in calm conditions. This complete kit is all you’ll need to get SUP-ing, so represents great value for money. The telescopic aluminium paddle is good and durable, the coil leash will cover all the bases, and the removable fin helps in-water tracking and handling, but packs away neatly for transport.
The Portofino is 4.75 inches thick, and features internal and external stiffening rails to improve handling over thicker 6-inch models. All the usual elements such as a carry handle and cargo bungee are present and correct, although there’s no camera mount for GoPro addicts. It’s such a flexible package that a small conversion kit is available to convert the Portofino 10ft SUP Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board into a kayak, for those that really want to hedge their bets on a new watersport. Head to our Portofino 10ft SUP inflatable stand up paddle board review for more info.
If you're looking for an inflatable touring board that won't break the bank, the Decathlon X100 could be a good choice to help you get started. Available in 9ft, 10ft and 11ft versions (we tested the 10ft option), this paddle board feels robust, with a grippy standing surface. In our Decathlon X100 stand up paddle board review, our tester commented that the narrower nose makes it easy to get some good speed up, while the wider body still delivers good stability. A nice touch is that Decathlon has printed setup and pack-away instructions on the inside of the carry bag, and overall it's a cinch to get onto the water – although we weren't too impressed with the flimsy carry handle. Be aware that you don't get the pump and paddle with this kit, so make sure you sort those separately. An excellent, fuss-free inflatable SUP for touring beginners or those looking to progress on flat water.
For a beginner-friendly inflatable SUP that hits the perfect combination of price, quality and features, you should take a look at the Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star. For the price you get pretty everything you need to start out with paddleboarding; the board itself has plenty of length and width and feels wonderfully stable, and its slightly thicker than the 10'6" Red Ride MSL, which means a higher centre of gravity (but also that it takes a bit longer to inflate.
The board comes with a paddle, pump, ankle leash, removable fin and repair kit, as well as a waterproof phone case and and a backpack for carrying everything in. There's even an action camera mount with a universal thread, something you rarely see on cheaper boards. Find out more in our Surfstar 10'6" Advance Star inflatable stand up paddleboard review.
The Shark Family Tandem SUP is a giant SUP for family groups or tandem adults, built to last and with an ingenious trick up its sleeve. Just aft of the bow cargo net there's an underwater viewing porthole, which is pretty much guaranteed to keep at least one child entertained for quite some time, and probably an adult too.
The board is a substantial 8-inches thick to maintain stiffness under the maximum 300kg load, but only needs inflating to 15 psi, good news for parents struggling with the pump (included). Fortunately, there are a whopping six carry handles, so the kids can at least help out on the transport front. Also in the package is a carbon shaft paddle, as well as a waterproof phone case to top things off.
Why SUP alone when you can SUP with a friend? Obviously you can both go out on your own boards, but inevitably one of you will go faster than the other, resulting in you eventually getting separated or one of you having to wait around, muttering darkly. However with the enormous Red 15'0 Tandem MSL Inflatable Paddle Board, two of you can paddle together, with plenty of room left over to safely stow all your gear, making it ideal for a paddling and camping adventure.
This 15-foot board's a little unwieldy on dry land, but once you get it on the water it's impressively nippy and manoeuvrable, and it comes with all the extras you're going to need: a backpack, pump, paddles, leash and repair kit. It's not cheap but it's clearly built to last, and if you've ever fancied paddling with a partner we're sure you'll get your money's worth. Get all the facts in our Red 15'0 Tandem MSL Inflatable Paddle Board review.
The Mistral Adventure is a fantastic all-rounder SUP that comes in a solid package with all you need to get out on the water in good order. The Woven Fusion Layer Technology provides good tip stability, and the longer 11.5 version here offers a little extra speed over the shorter 10.5 option, making distance paddling easier and longer trips much more approachable.
At six inches deep, it’s very buoyant, and that extra depth adds rigidity which in turn improves the handling. Handling is also aided by the triple-fin setup, with a removable 8-inch central fin playing the central role. As you’d expect, there’s a bow cargo net for drybag portage, a stainless leash D-ring, and a centre carry handle, which doubles as a paddle holder to allow you to lift both SUP and paddle at the same time with ease. In our Mistral Adventure paddle board review, our tester was very impressed with this board, although felt it was slightly let down by less high-quality accessories.
The Gul Cross 9'8 Inflatable SUP Board Package is a fantastic starter pack that has plenty to offer the more experienced too. Stable and easy to handle in the water, the Gul is perfectly capable of a little surfing as well as SUP, with a three-fin (two side & one longboard) array to increase handling predictability. The package includes a three piece alloy paddle, leash, simple pump and a backpack to lug it all around in – with the board weighing in at a mere 8kg, that's not too much of an ask either. Overall there might be compromises on outright performance here, but as a beginner setup for casual use there's nothing wrong with this popular package.
The iROCKER All-Around 11 is an updated version of the original iROCKER 11. Released in 2020, this inflatable paddle board is 20% lighter, with a larger deck pad and a larger rear cargo storage area, and a lighter, stronger paddle. The higher weight limit of 197kg makes this board suitable for taller, heavier SUP-ers, as well as being a great option if you're hoping to take your kids along for the ride with you. iRocker claims that it has 'military-grade durability', so it should be pretty much indestructible – although there's a repair kit included for any mishaps that do occur. Also included in the price is a handy backpack and pump, as well as paddle and ankle leash.
It's not the best quality SUP on this list by any means, but if you're on a budget, the M.Y PointBreak 10' paddle board kit does a decent job for a very affordable price. In this kit, you'll get everything you need to get started with stand up paddle boarding, in one handy backpack that you can sling into your boot or onto your back, ready to start finding your sea legs. The board itself is basic, but perfectly serviceable, and a good choice for children or occasional SUPers. Head to our M.Y PointBreak 10' paddle board kit review to find out more, or see how it compares to our top pick in our M.Y Pointbreak 10' paddle board kit vs Red Paddle Co Ride MSL faceoff.
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How we test the best inflatable paddle boards
At T3 we place a high value on the authenticity of the product advice we offer, and each of the inflatable paddle boards featured here has been extensively tested by our outdoor-expert reviewers. The boards have been taken out and tested on various aquatic adventures - on bays, beaches, rivers and lakes in different conditions - to assess how easy they are to carry, inflate, use and pack away again. Each has also been tested against a set of criteria, including design, functionality, features, stability, style, tracking, material quality and robustness.
How to choose the best inflatable paddle board
The big questions to consider when buying an SUP is where and what you plan to use it for. Longer boards and better load-carrying abilities are vital for touring long distances, sharper lines and more pronounced rockers important for carving through the surf. Beginner boards tend to be super-stable, which does compromise speed and wave-handling, but are much more tractable for casual use. If you're planning extended trips around the coast then choosing a dual-chamber touring style board adds an essential layer of safety too, something that isn't as useful in the surf and close inshore.
However, there are plenty of all-rounder boards that'll see you comfortably taking on the challenges and enjoying the pleasures of SUP life, without compromising on much at all.
While choosing the best inflatable paddle board is of course the main event, it's important to not forget the accessories too, as they can make or break an otherwise perfect day out. That might be a leash if not already included in a package deal, a decent wetsuit for surfing in the cooler months, sun protection for the height of summer, a good dry bag for carrying spare kit, and most importantly in almost all situations a really good waterproof pouch for valuables like your phone and car keys (neither of which like salt water). Red Paddle Co's dry pouch (opens in new tab) delivers particularly well on the latter, being waterproof, big enough for a phone/keys/cards/etc, and – vitally – buoyant.