The Portofino 10ft inflatable stand up paddle board kit includes all the accessories you need to get started with this popular watersport. And with an RRP of £299.99, it's one of the most affordable options around. So is it good enough to rank amongst today's best paddle boards for beginners, or is that saving a false economy? We reviewed one to find out.
Modern stand-up paddle boarding has been around since the early nineties, but not everyone has the space for a 10-foot hard board at home, or the ability to transport such a big beast to their favourite body of water. Fortunately, the availability of decent quality inflatable paddle boards over the last couple of years has made the sport far more accessible. Today's best inflatable paddle boards deliver on performance and features, but also pack down to a manageable size for storage and transportation. They've been key in turning what was once a fairly niche pursuit into what is now a hugely popular watersport.
With inflatable paddle boards being much thicker and far less rigid than their hard-bodied cousins, you're unlikely to be surfing 10-foot waves like Laird Hamilton does on a performance SUP. That said, with practice, you should be able to catch mellow waves on the more rigid inflatables (such as the Ride MSL from the Red Paddle Co). Budget-priced inflatable stand-up paddle boards are generally better suited to calmer waters, such as lakes, gentle ocean conditions and slow-moving rivers.
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Portofino 10ft inflatable stand up paddle board review: design and accessories
Portofino 10ft SUP review: specs
Board size (LxWxD): 10 x 33 x 4.75"
Board weight: 7.8kg
Total weight (inc. accessories): 10.58kg
Max weight capacity: 120kg
Pack size (LxWxD): 35.4 x 15 x 7.4"
Paddle: three-piece aluminium
At 10-feet long and 33-inches wide, the Portofino has plenty of length and width which provides a stable feel. It's also 4.75-inches thick which gives a slightly lower centre of gravity than many rival 6-inch boards, which also makes it a little quicker to inflate. A broad nose and wide, flat tail help make the Portofino even more beginner-friendly by increasing the board's surface area for additional stability.
With a £299.99 price tag, the Portofino is definitely one of the most affordable inflatable SUPs around – in line with the M.Y Pointbreak stand-up paddle board. Just like that model, it comes complete with all the accessories (paddle, pump, ankle leash, removable fin and repair kit) you'll need to take to the water and everything fits nicely into the zip-up backpack.
Unlike most other SUPs around though, the Portofino can be converted into a sit-on kayak. An additional £39.99 gets you the Kayak Conversion Kit (opens in new tab), which consists of a seat with backrest, a foam padded footrest and an extra blade that converts your single-bladed paddle into a double-bladed version. The additional accessories attach to the board via stitched-in mounts and despite a simple design, they do a good job of keeping the seat and footrest where you want them and there's enough room in the Portofino's backpack to house the kayak kit too.
Portofino 10ft SUP review: portability and set-up
With a total weight including all the board's accessories and the bag of just over 10kg, the Portofino is one of the less weighty SUP packages around. The bag has a number of carry straps, including backpack-style shoulder straps, which make it fairly easy to travel over short distances.
Setting up the board is straightforward too and despite the pump being of the single action variety (rather than double action where you add air when extending as well as depressing the plunger), it takes only a few minutes and not too much effort to reach the required pressure of 15psi. The removable 18cm fin easily slides into place and the paddle can be adjusted to the required length once on the water. A carrying handle in the centre of the deck helps in transporting the inflated board to your launching spot.
Portofino 10ft inflatable stand up paddle board review: performance
On the water, the Portofino's super-wide deck gives a really stable platform from which to paddle. While the EVA deck pads provide plenty of secure grip, even at its maximum inflation pressure, there is a little sag underfoot which takes a bit of getting used to at first. Similarly, when paddling through even small lines of swell, compared to more expensive boards (that can handle higher inflation pressures) you can feel a bit of board flex from the Portofino which can unbalance novice riders.
Unlike cheaper boards that can resemble a giant floating banana, the Portofino's drop-stitched core (nylon threads that run between the upper and lower faces of the board) give it a very uniform shape that helps it move efficiently over the water.
While the paddle works well enough, the inter-connected sections twist slightly when pushing the blade through the water which can be a little distracting. In kayak mode, the three-piece twin-bladed paddle does feel a touch on the heavy side as you lift the paddle overhead.
Portofino 10ft inflatable SUP review: verdict
With a £299.99 price tag, the Portofino inflatable stand up paddle board represents good value for money and is ideal for novice SUPers who want to explore lakes and sheltered coves. While it is a little annoying, the movement between the paddle sections is fairly typical for boards around this price and we'd recommend buying a better paddle should you decide to take SUPing more seriously.
Despite a somewhat weighty paddle, the Portofino works very well as a sit-on kayak. It's super-easy to use and moves across the water far more rapidly than when stand-up paddling, making it a good option for less able water-users or when travelling longer distances.