Inflatable SUP Guide - Beginner's Guide for Inflatable SUP Boards

SUP, short for Stand Up Paddleboarding, is one of the fastest growing water sports all over the world. The SUP sport is very versatile and has a lot of various sub-branches, making it an activity for all to enjoy. SUP boards are longer, wider and comes with more buoyancy than traditional surfboards and windsurf boards. This makes SUP boards both easier and more comfortable to balance on.  

The lastest trend within the sport is the inflatable SUP boards, which is a much more versatile, neat and clever type of a SUP board. This stand up paddleboarding type makes it easy to keep your SUP board around and transport along with you without needing a big car or much storaging space at hand. Furthermore, is the inflatable SUP boards also far more durable and can handle hits without taking damage in forms of bums or scratches. Inflatable SUP boards pretty much has the same sailing attributes as traditional hard SUP boards, but with their new production methods they have improved a lot over the years so they now appeal to far more people than hard SUP boards.
 
When buying an inflatable SUP board, it is important to know which SUP board suits you and your needs best.
SUP boards comes in various shapes and sizes, an each SUP board applies for something different. Some are made to handle waves, others are best for still waters while a third one might do both fairly well. Down below we have gathered the information we find necessary in order for you to choose the right SUP board suitable for your needs.

Check out our whole selection of inflatable SUP boards here
Check out our offers of both SUP boards and SUP accessories here
Check out our selection of SUP boards for leasing here




Volume
The volume is an indicator of how much buoyancy the infatable SUP board got. If you're on the heavier side of surfers you will need a SUP board with more buoyancy, while a surfer on the lighter side won't need as much. An inflatable SUP board with a high volume is less maneuverable than an inflatable SUP board with a low volume. It is therefore important to choose an inflatable SUP board with just volume suitable for your weight.
The table down below gives an idea of how much volume a SUP board for you requires.
Although, keep in mind that this is only guiding and we know that volume varies and also depends on sailing style.
Weight of SUP board surfer: Volume:
50 - 70 kg 140 - 180 L
70 - 90 kg 180 - 280 L
+ 100 kg + 300 L


Shape
It is enssential you pick the right shape for your inflatable SUP board. To best do this, you have to decide upon whether you want to use your SUP board for waves or still water and whether it should be easy to use for beginners, sailing at fast paces or a SUP board the entire familiy can enjoy. These are but some of the questions you can ask yourself before deciding on which SUP board is the right one for you.

ALLROUND
Inflatable SUP boards known as the "standard" SUP is called Allround SUP boards. An allround SUP board is as the name implies, a SUP board for just about everything within the sport. It is not specialised in one particular field, but rather capable of all of it. It is a great choice for the beginner or those looking for a SUP board the whole family can use. An allround SUP board is typically 9-12 feet long and 28-32 inches wide, and the sailors' weight determines the required size. An allround SUP board can be used for touring as well as simple play with medium sized waves. Therefore, this board applies for you who wants a SUP board capable of a little of everything.   

RACE
A Race SUP board is designed for speed. This type of a SUP board has a narrow design, which due to less water resisstance provides more speed much faster. Therefore the race SUP board is perfect for those who wants to go out on trips, both long and short, or who wants to race with others. The disadvantage of a race SUP board is that it does not lay as stable on the water surface. This makes the SUP board slightly harder to balance on, compared to an Allround SUP board. There exists two Race SUP categories defined by the international competition standards, the first is called Battle of the Paddle. It is a special type of race where the competitors sail out to round a wave, the one who after this then returns back to the beach first wins. For this race type the SUP board is typically 12'6 feet long. The other category of the two race types is the SUP Race, the SUP boards are often 14 feet long for this one. This type of a race SUP is fast and directionally stable, which means you can paddle more times on either sides of the board without the SUP board changing direction. Race SUP boards are usually between 22 and 28 inches wide, and the narrower they are the faster they'll sail. However, this also makes them less stable. 

TOURING
The modern choice is a mix between an allround SUP and a Race SUP board, and this type of SUP is called a Touring SUP. A touring SUP board has a narrow design at the tip, which makes the board aquire speed faster, whereas the area where one stands is much wider, making it easy to balance on when compare to the Race SUP board. Touring SUP boards derrives from the race SUP category Battle of The Paddle, which demands a fast SUP board with great stability. A touring SUP board is best suited for the one who wants to go on long trips on still water, on open sea or everything between all that. Touring SUP boards are for just about everyone, they give an effective gliding on water and requires almost no strength to increase your speed.  

WAVE
Within a category of itself are the inflatable Wave SUP boards. Wave SUP boards are known for being very short, very maneuverable and very rigid. Wave SUP boards are therefore perfectly suited for waves. Of course they can also be used on still waters and they do actually perform quite well due to their ease when it comes to control, which is why they are great for shorter people and/or children. 

Size
There are many sizes for inflatable SUP boards. The size of the SUP boards is measured in feet and typically follows the volume. It's therefore important, when picking a SUP board, to choose one with the right volume. The actual size is not as important to have in mind when looking for a SUP board. By simply finding the right shape for you, as well as the proper volume, the size of the board will usually fit you too. Most SUP boards for women has a size of 10'0 to 10'6 and most for men has a size of 10'6 to 11'6. Racing SUP boards are however typically above 12'6, since they got a more narrow design than a typical allround SUP board. A wave SUP board would often be much smaller with sizes of about 8’0. 

Paddle
Choosing the right paddle is just as important as picking the right board. Paddles for SUP boards are usually made of aluminum, which oftenly is standard equipment for a SUP package. Should you want a lighter and more rigid paddle, one made of carbon would be better suited for you. SUP paddles made of carbon are far more rigid and lighter as well. Making them very effecient in water as you will not need to use as much strength and energy to sail at the same speed. Carbon paddles are however a bit more expensive than paddles of aluminum, which is why a lot of manufactuers choose to make paddles of both materials. Hereby providing the best of both worlds. 
There exists a lot of sizes when it comes to paddles, both in length of the shaft, but also the size of the blade at the end of the paddle. As many sizes as there are, there is equally many opinions as for how big or small a paddle or blade should be. Like there is various types of SUP boards, there is too, various paddles. Where some goes best for certain areas within the sport. A rule of thumb is that the faster acceleration you want, the smaller the blade should be, though should you instead want a higher topspeed the blade of the paddle needs to larger. The weight of the surfer also plays an important role, the more you weight the larger a blade you want. A small blade is usually 80-90 in2, a normal blade for allround SUP boards ranges between 90-100 in2 and a big blade is between 100-155 in2. If in doubt on what to go for, we recommend to start off with a normal blade within the allround class, and then here after decide whether you need a larger or smaller blade.

Most importantly, is it to decide upon the correct length of the paddle. Again, it also depends of what you intend to use it for, which type of SUP board sport and so on, but you can almost always count in that for an allround SUP and a wave SUP, the length should be 15-20cm higher than yourself. And for race and touring the length of the paddle should be around 40-50cm longer. Another way to find the proper length for your paddle is by standing up straight and waving your arms 90 degrees forward. The place where your hand hangs out from your body is the length your paddle should be for allround SUP boards. If in doubt, we recommend buying an adjustablle paddle and after finding your prefered length you upgrade to a paddle with a fixed length. 
The advantage of adjustable paddles is they go well with just about everything within the sport and can be used by more people, be it friends or family. 
The advantage of paddles with fixed lengths is that they are more rigid and lighter, making them much more effective. 
Check out our whole selection of paddles for your SUP board here

Outfit
When you want to go paddleboarding on your SUP board, it is always important to wear the proper outfit. Your muscles must always be kept warm and as a beginner you are likely to fall into water a lot, it is therefore a very good idea to wear a wetsuit. Keep in mind that the wetsuit should be flexible, so you properly can move around freely without any trouble. Another thing, keep up with the weather before heading out into the water with your SUP board. During summer, we recommend that you use a 2-3mm wetsuit with either short or long arms and legs. During the winters however you will need a thicker 5mm wetsuit to keep nice and warm in the harsher weather conditions. If you have moved on from the beginner stage and aren't falling off as often anymore, you can go with a thinner wetsuit. Alternatively, you could use a rashguard, which is a thin T-shirt/lycra that protects you from the wind and the sun. If doing yoga on your SUP, we recommend that you wear your usual yoga outfit. 
Check out our selection of wetsuits here
Check out our selection of rashguards here

Accessories
When buying an inflatable SUP, a pump, a reparations kit and sometimes a paddle is included. Besides these, there is quite a lot of extra accessories for SUP boards, one would find practical to have. We have made a list with all the accessories you could find necessary when out paddling on your SUP board here down below:
  • Leash (A leash is the leash you put on your SUP board so it does not float away from you, we recommend a leash with about the same length as your SUP board.) Check out our leashes here
  • Bag for your board and paddle (When you have to transport your SUP board and paddle, a bag is quite useful as it not only makes it easier but also keeps them safely kept.) Check out our bags here
  • Waterproof phone cover (It's nice to have your phone around with you, especially out on the water! Therefore, it's practical to have a waterproof cover for your phone.) Check out our waterproof phone covers here
  • Roof rack (These are some soft paddings, to tightly secure your SUP board on the roof rack on top of your car, making sure no damage will be done to the board.) Check out our roof racks here


Construktion
Inflatable SUP boards are produced with layers of PVC plastic with woven fibers which goes vertically from the deck through the cavity, making the board parallel, and completely rigid as well as extremely resisstant. This technology is called drop stitch. Some inflatable SUP boards are made of one layer of PVC plastic, others with two. The advantage with only one is the low weight achieved, and the advantage of having two layers is more rigidness and improved durability for taking hits or damage. Furthermore, having the decks covered, on most SUP boards, with EVA foam padding, provides a comfier and less slippery surface. 

The illustration down below shows the construction of a one PVC layer SUP.


The illustration down below shows the construction of a doubled PVC layer SUP.

After you have bought your first inflatable SUP board, it can be a bit tough to get a hang of the actual paddleboarding. But down here you can follow a step by step guide on how to use it, making the first times easier and more fun:

Step 1: At the start and end
Place the inflatable SUP board in knee deep water, and sit in middle of the SUP board on your knees. When on your knees grab your paddle and paddle out onto deeper waters, where you, should you fall off, won't hit the bottom. If uncertain and still haven't gotten your balance on the board, stay seated on your knees for a little longer till you feel confident enough to take the next step.

Step 2: Stand up
After you have found your balance it is time to stand up. The easiest way to do so, is to place the paddle across the SUP board while supporting yourself with your hands as you get up. It is important to have placed yourself in the center of the board with a foot on side of the handle, to easier keep your balance. The feet needs to be placed at should width and your knees must stand fixed. Find a point in the horizon and keep an eye on this, then take your paddle in your hand, one hand on the T-handle and the other on the shaft of your paddle. 

Step 3: First meters
Now you're in position to paddle your first meters on you new inflatable SUP board. Place the SUP paddle on the water surface and push it through the water, following next to your board. Repeat 1-2 times and switch side. When switching side, also change placement of your hands. Looking good already, paddling down the stream!

Step 4: Time to turn around
You are at the end of the world and wish to return home. To do so, push the water towards the end on one side and towards the tip on the other, the further out your movements are, the faster you turn. As you improve you can experiment a bit with standing on the end of your inflatable SUP board, while simutaneously turning around normally, and by that turn around even faster.

Step 5: In case of an emergency
Should you end out on waters too deep, figuratively, the best you can do is to lie down on your SUP board with the paddle under your chest, then use your hands to row to the safest coast nearby. If unable to do so, the best is to call out for help while remaining calm. Do not swim away from your inflatable SUP board!