If it’s summer and there’s water around, there must be a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on the horizon. This sport that grew out of the surfing culture shows no sign of stopping. You can use a SUP to go for a quiet paddle on a lake, test your skills on an ocean bay and maybe attempt gently rolling surf before you know it. Use it for SUP yoga or take your kid or dog along for a paddle.
It’s an egalitarian piece of sporting equipment that most reasonably fit people can use. They can also use it to develop a higher level of fitness.
My first experience with SUP’s was maybe 15 years ago, when I plied a lake on a heavy, solid SUP. Those boards closely resembled a seriously heavy surfboard and were the only way to go back then. It took two of us to car top it, and while we had rented it, it was clear that storage would be a major issue.
Here’s to the genius who came along and decided that an inflatable SUP was what we needed. Inflatable SUPs typically have a PVC exterior and an air core. They come with a pump and storage bag and become surprisingly solid and rigid when fully inflated. Better yet, you can travel with them.
Planning on a trip to the lakes of Maine, Minnesota or Michigan? Or maybe just bopping around the Outer Banks, Cape Cod or the beaches of Southern California? Now there’s no excuse to leave your board at home. Take it to Europe for that week on Mykonos or to the Caribbean or to Australia, where the opportunities to paddle are endless.
Inflatable SUPs are ideal for those with limited storage space. They are easily carried — when deflated — in their storage bags, many of which have backpack straps for easy carrying. Inflatable SUPs can easily be stored in a closet or kept in the trunk of your car. They’re also ideal for air travel, so go ahead and stuff it in the overhead bin if you can or make it checked luggage.
Here are three inflatable SUP’s worth checking out. Note that these boards are already on sale since it’s mid-summer.
Body Glove 2022 Performer 11 Stand Up Paddle Board
This 11-foot board is 34 inches wide, 5.4 inches thick and has incredible heft for an inflatable. I found it to be very stable and that’s due to its width, the laser engraved foot placement guides and the three fixed fins. It comes with a hand pump and an electric pump that connect to your car’s cigarette lighter. Using the latter, it inflated in a couple of minutes, making it ideal for quick trips. The single handle makes it easy to carry the 24-pound board. It’s puncture-resistant and once deflated, rolls up into a sturdy but lightweight backpack that’s easy to carry. I also like the appealing faux-wood grain design and the thoughtful inclusion of a dry cell phone pouch. At home, this SUP is easily stored in a closet. It comes with an adjustable paddle, pump and carrying bag. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and find it suits my easy paddling style. MSRP $999. If you’re a Costco member, it’s yours for $399.
ISLE The Pioneer 2.0
This board weighs 24lbs and fits into an easily managed 15″x38″ backpack. The board is 34 inches wide and at 10 feet, six inches long. It’s on the shorter side but maybe a touch more maneuverable for beginners. It comes with a paddle, pump, board, and removable fin. For those starting out, it’s a good choice and easy to paddle. MSRP $795 but is currently on sale for $595.
Aimed at novices, this 10-foot-four-inch board is good for newbies getting into the sport. BOTE is a well-respected paddleboard company, so even in this lower-level model, the quality is there. It weighs just 20 pounds and comes with a hand pump, a removable center fin, a coiled leash and a travel bag. MSRP $529 but is currently on sale for $476.10.