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The Best Inflatable SUP Under $500 Of 2023 Tests & Reviews

Best inflatable SUP under $500

Stand up paddleboarding or SUP is a lot of fun. It’s one of the fastest growing watersports today for good reasons. It is easy to do. It is a great outdoor exercise. It lets you improve your balance and cardio at the same time. You can use a SUP to explore almost any waterway from lakes to waves at the beach. $500 is a great entry level price point for a paddleboard. It will get you a good performing durable board with high quality accessories. If this sounds like a good idea then let’s have a look at the best inflatable SUP under $500.

Below are our top pics. We considered price, options, on water performance, and customer reviews in our selections of the best under $500 inflatable SUPs. Keep reading reviews, specifications, and stand up paddleboard guide.



1 – Bluefin Cruise 10’8″

☆ Top Pick
Bluefin Cruise Walking towards water
image courtesy of Bluefin
What we liked
  • Very complete package including a kayak seat and 2 blade paddle
  • Croco-diamond EVA deck pad with kick pad at the rear
  • Very stiff and durable board
What we didn’t like
  • The board is a bit heavy carrying around
  • Fin attachment can be tricky to use and replacement fins are hard to get

Summary

The Bluefin Cruise 10’8″ Paddleboard is a very stiff sturdy board that comes in a very complete package. It includes everything you need to paddleboard and also a kayak seat and paddle that can be set up with 1 or 2 blades.

This board is one of the stiffest inflatable boards available. Bluefin claims they use the highest thread density in their drop stitch available from any board maker. They use a very thick 2 layer laminate construction. The board feels noticeably thicker and heavier when you roll it out to inflate it. It is much stiffer inflated on the water. This board weighs in at 29 lbs making it one of the heavier inflatable SUP boards.

The fin uses a flip lock fitting. The whole fin box can be replaced if you break the clip on it. People’s experience with customer service hasn’t been great at getting replacement fins. Use some care when attaching the fin to make sure it is fully attached.

The board is 10′ 8″ by 32 inch wide. This gives enough width to be stable and a little better tracking than a 10′ board. It is still easy to maneuver and suitable for a first time paddleboarder. The included kayak seat helps for those who aren’t comfortable standing up on it.

The board has 9 D-ring attachments and a GoPro mount built into it. It has a carry strap in the middle as well. It includes a kayak seat that can attach to the center set of d-rings. The paddle has a 2-3 piece fiberglass shaft and can be assembled as a single blade or 2 blade paddle.

The deck uses a croco-diamond EVA pad that is comfortable and gives good grip and drainage. They include a kickpad at the rear of the board to use for kick turns as a nice added feature.

This board has one of the better backpacks available at this price range. It doesn’t have wheels but it has heavy-duty construction with thick comfortable straps.

Overall this is a great package for someone looking to get a good performing paddleboard. It is suitable for beginners and more experienced paddlers. The kayak seat makes it good for people who aren’t coordinated enough for standing.

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 8″ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 287 lbs
  • Board Weight – 29 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer
  • D-Rings – 9
  • Paddle – 4 piece fiberglass convertible
  • Pump – double action pump
Bluefin Cruise Product Image


2 – iRocker Nautical

☆ Top Pick
Paddling Nautical Stony Creek
What we liked
  • Fiberglass paddle
  • Durable and stiff 2 layer construction
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Lots of D-Rings and carry handles
What we didn’t like
  • Lower weight capacity than other iRocker boards
  • Not as stiff as more expensive iRocker boards

Summary

The iRocker Nautical is the best value out there in paddle boarding right now. It is a 10’6″ x 32″ all around board with 2 layer construction and a really nice fiberglass paddle. It comes in at the same price as many single layer boards with junk aluminum paddles. Everything in this package is just better than anything you’ll find in any other $300-$400 paddle board. If you are looking for the best value inflatable SUP under $500 you have found it.

The board has 3 removable fins. The fin use latches to stay in place so there is no plastic tab to worry about losing or breaking.

The board is made of a 2 layer PVC laminate for durability. The deck has a groooved deck pad. The board has 17 D-Rings with bungees and handles at the front and rear. The deck pad is decently sized for standing on extending back into the tail of the board.

Overall, the iRocker Nautical is the best value out there for an entry level under $500 paddle board.

Accessories

The board comes as a complete package including a 3 piece fiberlgass paddle and a dual action pump. Almost every paddle board under $500 has an aluminum shaft paddle so this is a nice upgrade.

The backpack is nice with optional rollers. It has a couple of mesh pockets and bungee on for storing accessories. It has plenty of room for the board and accessories inside. The only complaint I have with the bag is lack of handles. A handle on each side would be nice.

On the water performance

The iRocker Nautical is a 10’6″ x 32″ wide board. It had decent glide. It has plenty of stability for new paddlers. The board has a good all around shape that is easy to turn and maneuver. The 3 fins keep it tracking straight once you get it moving.

Review

Read iRocker Nautical Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 10’6″ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 240 lbs
  • Board Weight – 20 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer
  • D-Rings – 17
  • Paddle – 3 piece fiberglass
  • Pump – Double action
iRocker Nautical Product Image

Get a FREE KAYAK CONVERSION KIT with every SUP from iRocker for the month of December


3 – Freein Stand Up Paddle Board Kayak SUP

☆ Best Value
Freein SUP Kayak on water
image courtesy of Freein
What we liked
  • Convertible paddle has drip rings
  • Low cost for a complete package
  • Carbon reinforced rails make board stiffer than most single layer PVC boards
What we didn’t like
  • Seat could use a little more support
  • Not as stable as wider 32-34″ boards

Summary

The Freein SUP Kayak is a good value kayak SUP combo that comes with eveything you need for both. It has a seat and convertible paddle good for any adventure. The board uses single layer PVC construction with carbon reinforced rails. This gives it extra stiffness beyond the normal cheap 1 layer PVC boards. It is available in several colors as well. The board is 10’6 x 31″ so it will glide faster than a wider board but gives up a little in stability. It will still work well for most beginner paddlers.

Accessories

The board comes with a complete package including the board, double action hand pump, bag and convertible paddle. It also includes a coiled leash and an H3 to Schraeder valve converter. The paddle works well both ways and has drip rings which is a nice touch. The double action pump works well for inflating the board. The backpack easily fits everything inside.

On the water performance

The Freein SUP kayak is an all around shaped board that is 31 inches wide. It will have better glide and tracking than a wider board. It will go through chop easier. It won’t be as easy to balance as a wider 33-34 inch wide board. It is a nice compromise since it is meant to be used as a kayak also where the extra width and stability aren’t needed. Tracking is good with the 3 fin setup.

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 6″ x 31″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 18 lbs
  • Board Weight – 286 lbs
  • Construction – Single Layer PVC with carbon reinforced sides
  • D-Rings – 9
  • Paddle – 4 Piece aluminum convertible
  • Pump – Double action
Freein SUP Kayak product image

Get $30 off using coupon code FS30 at Freeinsup.com


4 – NIXY Newport G4

☆ Best Under $700 Inflatable SUP
Newport paddling on lake
What we liked
  • Very stiff and light woven 2 layer construction
  • Slightly faster board shape that is still stable enough for beginners
  • Carbon paddle, 3 wheeled bag and double barrel pump
  • Loads of D-Rings and action mounts with front and rear bungees for gear storage
What we didn’t like
  • Front bungee cord is a bit small
  • Price is a stretch above $500 but worth it

Summary

The Nixy Newport G4 All Around is a step up from most under $500 paddle boards. It has several advanced features such as a woven construction, carbon paddle, and lots of D-Rings. It has a slightly performance oriented board shape. At 33 inch wide it is still stable and easy to paddle making it great for beginners too. The NIXY G4 paddleboards have the best construction and accessory package out there right now for $700.

The board is made from woven 2 layer PVC laminate. This is one of the stiffest inflatable paddleboard construction methods available. We have tested a few boards with woven construction and they are very stiff boards. The board also has carbon fiber reinforced rails for even more stiffness.

The board has 16 D-Rings and 5 action mounts built in. This is plenty for attaching a seat, fishing rod holders or cameras. This makes it a very versatile board.

The board has the traditional 3 fin setup. The middle fin is larger with 2 small side fins. All 3 fins on the latest version are removable with finger bolts. The center fin uses a standard US fin box allowing you to customize board performance.

The board tracks very well with 3 fins. It floats well up to its maximum weight. The narrow tail lets it turn easily and gives it a little extra speed.

The paddle has a 3 piece hybrid carbon shaft with nylon blade. The Nixy G4 paddle is the nicest paddle we have seen included in a paddleboard package for any manufacturer. The bag has 3 wheels and a ton of webbing loops and D-Rings. It is also the winner for nicest bag we have seen for under $1000. The double barrel pump is the best hand pump we have seen.

The price of this board is a stretch above $500. It is worth the extra money. You get a really stiff light board, excellent paddle and bag and a geat double chamber pump. If you want to stretch a little above $500 I would highly recommend checking out the Nixy Newport G4.

Review

Read NIXY Newport G4 Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 10′6″ x 33″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 300 lbs
  • Board Weight – 21 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer Woven with Carbon Reinforced Rails
  • D-Rings – 16
  • Paddle – Carbon 3 piece
  • Pump – Triple action pump
Nixy Newport G4 Product Image


5 – iRocker Cruiser Ultra

☆ Best Under Compact Inflatable SUP
Cruiser Ultra Paddling
What we liked
  • Heavy duty stiff woven construction
  • Big stable board on the water with good performance
  • Compact bag that you can easily take anywhere
  • Carbon paddle and electric pump
What we didn’t like
  • Costs a little more than $500
  • Big easy to use stable board needs a little more effort paddling into chop

Summary

The iRocker Cruiser Ultra is one of the best beginner paddleboards out there and a great value at just a little over $500. The Ultra Cruiser is the latest version that fits in a bag half the size of the old Cruiser. It has a very easy to paddle relaxing shape that any paddler will enjoy. It comes with a carbon paddle, electric pump and roller backpack.

The Cruiser is 10’6″ x 33″ with a wider tail section giving it some extra stability. It is a great board when you just want to go for a relaxing paddle and not have to work hard to stay balanced. It is easy to paddle and turn. The only downside is that it takes a little more effort to paddle into chop when the wind picks up.

The board has 2 removable fins that use flip locks and tethers so you will never lose a fin. The board tracks very well with this design.

The board uses 2 layer woven PVC construction that gives it good stiffness and good durability. iRocker woven boards perform very well in our bending test.

The board comes as a complete package including a 5 piece carbon paddle, and compact backpack. The Cruiser Ultra comes with an electric pump so you won’t have to wear yourself out inflating the board with a hand pump.

Overall, the iRocker Cruiser Ultra is a great package that is worth it’s extra cost above $500.

Review

Read iRocker Cruiser Ultra Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 10′6″ x 33″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 300 lbs
  • Board Weight – 21 lbs
  • Construction – 2 layer woven
  • D-Rings – 21
  • Paddle – 5 piece carbon
  • Pump – electric pump
iRocker Cruiser Ultra Product Image

Get a FREE KAYAK CONVERSION KIT with every SUP from iRocker for the month of December


6 – GILI AIR 10’6″

woman paddling GILI Air
image courtesy of GILI
What we liked
  • A portion of every GILI board sold goes to charities that support ocean health and marine life
  • Stable board good for beginners
  • Lots of D-Rings, action mounts and handles
  • Good bag design with pockets and molle loops
  • Racing/touring center fin and removable side fins
  • Lightweight board that is easy to carry
What we didn’t like
  • Only comes with an aluminum paddle
  • Board has noticeable flex in it for heavier over 225 lb paddlers

Summary

The GILI Air is their entry into the very competitive budget inflatable SUP market. It goes in guns blazing with lots of features such as action mounts, diamond groove deck pad and nice bag. A portion of every GILI SUP goes towards charities supporting ocean cleanup and marine animals.

The GILI AIR is available in 2 sizes. The 10’6″ and 11’6″. The 11’6″ is the better choice for larger paddlers over 200 lbs. The board is 32 inches wide with plenty of volume at the nose and tail for stability. The board is good for beginners and new paddlers looking for a stable board.

The AIR uses 2 layer PVC construction. It has okay stiffness. Paddlers over 200 lbs will be able to feel the board flex more than stiffer woven or 3 layer boards. Overall the construction looks and feels high quality and above what you expect for a $500 SUP.

The board has a standard 3 fin setup with fliplock removeable fins. The center fin is a 9 inch racing/touring design which is a little upgrade over the standard dolphin fin that most boards come with. The board will perform well on flat water without the side fins with some paddling practice.

The board has a 18 D-Rings and 3 action mounts for mounting seats and accessories. GILI sells a wide range of accessories to use with thsi board including a kayak conversion and fishing rod holders. There are also 7 handles making it easy to carry. At 19 lbs it’s already a very easy board to carry.

The accessories are what you expect at this price point. The bag has good padding and some molle loop for attaching things. The bag doesn’t have wheels or an option to add them. The board comes with an aluminum paddle which is the biggest negative of the whole package. A standard double action pump is included which gets the job done.

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 6″ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 280 lbs
  • Board Weight – 19 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer
  • D-Rings – 18
  • Paddle – 3 piece aluminum
  • Pump – double action pump
GILI Air Product Image

A portion of every GILI Paddleboard goes to charities that support ocean reefs and endangered sea animals


7 – Freein Overall 11

Freein Overall Paddling
What we liked
  • Double layer PVC construction makes board stiff and not bouncy
  • Fun and easy to paddle board
  • Fiberglass paddle
  • Good double barrel triple action pump
What we didn’t like
  • Difficult to get back into the bag
  • Not many handles or accessory mounts on board

Summary

The Freein Overall is a solid basic paddleboard with good performance and good accessories. The board is 11′ x 33″ making it very stable and forgiving for newer paddlers. It’s length gives it better glide than shorter boards.

The board comes as a complete package with one of the better accessory packages available under $500. The board comes with a fiberglass paddle, roller backpack and double barrel, triple action hand pump. The hand pump is one of the better double barrel designs I’ve seen. It can inflate and deflate. The dial for switching modes is easy to read and operate. The paddle is several notches better than a cheap aluminum paddle.

The board uses double layer PVC construction and performed well in our stiffness test. The board itself is a bit plane without a lot of extra handles, D-Rings or accessory mounts. They had to cut corners somewhere and decided to give you good stiffness and a good paddle instead of extra handles.

On the water the board is easy to paddle and fun to use. It is very beginner friendly and easy to stand on. It’s stiff enough to not feel bouncy or wobbly. The 3 fins give it good tracking. When you are ready you can leave off the 2 small fins for a faster board.

The board is a little tricky to get back into it’s bag with the large pump. This is one area that could use a little improvement. After you have done it a few times you’ll figure out how to roll it and make it happen.

Review

Read Freein Overall 11 Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 11′ x 33″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 265 lbs
  • Board Weight – 23.8 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer
  • D-Rings – 15
  • Paddle – Fiberglass 3 piece
  • Pump – Triple action pump
Freein Overall Product Image


8 – BOTE Wulf Aero 10’4″

BOTE Wulf Paddling
What we liked
  • Stylish looking design
  • Very stable board perfect for beginners
  • Lightweight easy to carry package
  • Good stiffness for an entry level board
  • Good double action hand pump
  • Fun to paddle on the beach or anywhere else you wnat to go
What we didn’t like
  • Would prefer a fiberglass paddle at this price
  • The bag should have wheels at this price
  • No D-Rings for attaching a kayak seat

Summary

The BOTE Wulf is the new entry level board from BOTE. It brings all the style and technology we have come to love from BOTE in a lower cost, more stable package.

The Wulf uses 1 layer PVC construction using BOTE AeroUltra technology. This makes a board that is a little more stiff than the average entry level single level board. The board uses BPA deckpad with embossed B pattern for good grip and feel. The board has 7 D-Rings and a bungee for storage. It does not have enough D-Rings to mount a kayak seat.

Accessories

The Wulf comes with an aluminum paddle, double action pump, leash and carry bag. The hand pump is one of the better double action pumps we’ve seen with a knob for switching modes. At this price many boards come with at least a fiberglass paddle and a wheeled bag which are missing here.

On the water

The Wulf is aimed at beginner paddlers who need stability more than anything else. The Wulf is 34 inch wide with a decent tail width giving it good static stability. The 3 fin arrangement gives it good low speed tracking and helps with balance once you get the board moving. The Wulf won’t win any races for speed, it still glides okay on flat water and will keep up with most other 10’6″ all around boards. The Wulf is a fun easy going beginner friendly board with good looks and good construction.

Specifications

  • Size – 10’4″ x 34″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 250 lbs
  • Board Weight – 20 lbs
  • Construction – 1 Layer
  • D-Rings – 7
  • Paddle – Aluminum 3 piece
  • Pump – Double Action hand pump
BOTE Wulf Product Image


9 – COOLWAVE 10’6″ Inflatable SUP

standing with coolwave board
What we liked
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Complete package for very affordable price
  • Good board shape for general use. Easy for beginners to paddle with decent glide and turning
What we didn’t like
  • Pump pressure gage shows green up to 18psi when max safe pressure is 15psi
  • The realistic weight limit for the board is closer to 300 lbs

Summary

The COOLWAVE paddle board is a good value board for those on a budget. You can get it for under $300 with our discount code making it one of the cheapest paddle boards available. It has 2 layer construction (on the top surface) and comes with decent accessories. It uses the typical 3 fin set up that most low to mid range paddleboards use. The board looks well made without any major signs of sloppy manufacturing.

Accessories

The COOLWAVE SUP comes with a dual action pump, backpack, 3 piece aluminum paddle, and leash. The paddle has clear markings on it and a groove that keeps the handle aligned to the paddle blade. I haven’t seen this on any other low end paddle. The double action pump works well. You must pay attention to the pressure gage as the green zone goes well above the recommended pressure. The backpack is basic with a zippered opening and some padding on the straps.

On the water performance

The board has a typical all around shape making it easy to paddle and turn. The 10’6″ length and 32inch width mean it has decent glide and stability. It will go through waves a little easier than a wider 34inch board. The 3 fin arrangement gives it good tracking. The manufacturer claims a 400 lb weight limit. 250 to 300 lbs is a more realistic max weight for this board based on it’s size and stiffness.

Review

Read COOLWAVE Inflatable SUP Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 10′6″ x 32″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 400 lbs
  • Board Weight – 22 lbs
  • Construction – 1 Layer
  • D-Rings – 9
  • Paddle – 3 piece aluminum
  • Pump – Double action hand pump
COOLWAVE SUP Product Image

Use the Coupon Code ERO30 for 30% off at HiCOOLWAVE.com


10 – Outdoor Master Chasing Blue Infinite

man paddling outdoormaster sup
What we liked
  • Very stiff board construction
  • Stable, easy to paddle, and works with paddlers up to its 320 lb weight limit
  • 22 D-Rings and lots of handles for versatility and easy transport
  • Quality accessories such as roller backpack and 3 piece paddle
What we didn’t like
  • The width makes it stable but also a little harder to paddle into chop on windy days
  • Could use more pockets in the carry bag

Summary

The Chasing Blue Infinite is a great all around board that can be used by beginners and experienced paddlers. Outdoor Master has these on clearance sale now for under $200 using code SUPAFF making them an incredible deal. OM changed the name of these from all around boards to fishing SUPs. The Infinite is their best all around design and the only one using 2 layer construction.

The Infinite is 10’6″ long and 34″ wide. The weight capacity is rated at 320 lbs and we have tested with an over 300 lb paddler. The tail is narrowed to make it easier to turn and suitable for small wave surfing. This makes the board very stable and easy to paddle. It is a great beginner’s board and would be great for fishing or surfing too.

The Infinite uses 2 layer woven PVC construction. It has board stiffness almost as good as a high end board from Red Paddle Co or Blackfin. It hits way above it’s price point for board construction. At 22.5 lbs it is still easy for one person to carry.

Besides its size and stability, this board is loaded up with features. It has 22 D-Rings and 7 handles for attaching bungees and accessories. It comes with a front and rear bungee. It also includes a variety of GoPro, Camera, and accessory mounts you can attach to the board.

The deck pad is really well thought out. The footpad is grooved for easy water drainage and foot comfort. The tail kick pad is a diamond grid pattern to give you a bit of extra traction for kick turns.

Accessories

This board includes all the accessories you expect from an inflatable paddleboard package. It includes a double action pump, 3 piece aluminum paddle, ankle leash, paddle leash, repair kit, and waterproof cellphone case. It has a great roller backpack to make carrying easier. The bag is very well made. The only complaint is that the bag has no extra pockets for accessories or other items. It’s big enough and easily fits the board and pump without any struggle.

Sometimes the board is bundled with the OutdoorMaster Shark 2 electric pump making it an even better value. See our review of the Shark 2 pump to learn more.

On the water performance

On the water, the Chasing Blue Infinite is very stable due to its 34 inch width. It is one of the easiest boards available for a beginner to stand up on. It still glides reasonably well. Better than a 10′ or shorter board. Its 3 fin setup makes it track well. This board will grow with you and will be fine for trying out small wave surfing or yoga.

The board glides and paddles very easily on calm water. It takes a little more effort to paddle into chop and wind due to its wide width and 10’6″ length. It turns very easily thanks to its narrowed tail.

Review

Read Chasing Blue Infinite Full Review

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 6″ x 34″ x 6″
  • Weight Capacity – 320 lbs
  • Board Weight – 22.5 lbs
  • Construction – 2 Layer
  • D-Rings – 22
  • Paddle – Aluminum 3 piece
  • Pump – Double action hand pump
Chasing Blue Infinite Product Image

Use the Coupon Code SUPAFF to get paddleboards as low as $129.99 at OutdoorMaster.com


Inflatable SUP Guide – What should you look for when buying a paddle board?

Now that you’ve decided to get an inflatable SUP, what should you look for when buying a paddle board? What size paddleboard should you get? Let’s take a look at the most important things to look for when buying an inflatable paddleboard.

What size inflatable SUP should I get?

The heavier you are, the bigger a board you need. A board with more volume can float a heavier weight. If you are over 6′ or over 200 lbs you should look for a board that is at least 10′ 6″ long. If you are under that a 10′ board will be fine for you.

In the under $500 price range, there is some difference in board size and shapes. Most boards run around 32 to 33inches wide. The wider a board is the more stable it will be. The wider it is, the slower it will paddle also because more width equals more drag.

Board lengths at this price point can run from 10′ up to 11′. An 11 foot board will glider faster and easier on each paddle stroke than a 10 foot board. A 10 foot board will turn easier. If you are interested in touring or paddling long distances, a longer board is better. If you want an easy to turn board or maybe want to try surfing small waves with it, a shorter board will be better. If you want to learn more about how length affects a paddleboards maximum speed, go here to learn about the concept of hull speed.

Materials

A $500 paddleboard should be made from a 2 or 3 layer PVC laminate. 3 layers better. 99% percent of inflatable SUPs are made from PVC drop-stitch construction. It is the only way to make a stiff thin inflatable structure. Go here to learn more about drop-stitch construction. 2 layers will be stiffer and more puncture resistant than 1 layer. 3 layers will be even better. Using a higher density of threads in the drop-stitch will also make a more rigid board.

It should have an EVA foam deck pad that covers all the area you might stand on. You won’t find a fully padded deck. You should have enough pad area for standing, sitting any normal activity such as SUP yoga. Textured or grooved EVA pads give your feet better traction and are usually preferred over smooth EVA pads.

Board Stiffness

One of the ways to measure how well an inflatable board is made and how well it will perform is how stiff it is. To measure this we set the board up on 2 stands 8 feet apart. We loaded the board up with 120 lbs of weight and measured how much the board deflected under load.

A stiffer board will act more like a rigid paddleboard. It will glide better, go through waves better and perform better in every way. A 1 layer board will not be as stiff as a 2 layer board. 3 layer boards or boards with advanced construction such as MSL or woven will be stiffer.

SUP Board

Construction

Deflection (inches)

Nice C -10'6" x 32" (15 psi)

1 Ply PVC

2.6

DAMA - 11' x 33" (15 psi)

1 Ply PVC

3.0

Coolwave - 10'6" x 32" (15 psi)

1 Ply PVC

3.3

iRocker Nautical - 10'6" x 32" (15 psi)

2 Ply PVC

2.8

Chasing Blue Orion -12'6" x 32" (14.5 psi)

2 Ply PVC

1.6

Chasing Blue Infinite - 10'6" x 34" (14.5 psi)

2 Ply PVC

1.4

Freein Overall 11 - 11'' x 33" (15 psi)

2 Ply PVC

1.4

iRocker All Around 11 - 11' x 32" (15 psi)

3 Ply PVC

1.3

iRocker All Around 11 - 11' x 32" (15 psi)

2 Ply Woven PVC

1.1

iRocker Cruiser Ultra - 10'6" x 33" (15 psi)

2 Ply Woven PVC

1.1

Blackfin Ultra CX - 10'6" x 32.5" (15 psi)

2 Ply Woven PVC

1.0

Blackfin Model V - 12'6" x 32" (15 psi)

3 Ply PVC

1.1

Nixy Newport G4 - 10'6" x 33" (15 psi)

2 Ply Woven PVC

1.1

Nixy Monterey G4 - 11'6" x 34" (15 psi)

2 Ply Woven PVC

1.0

Red 12'6" Sport - 12'6" x 30" with RSS (20 psi)

MSL with Battens

1.2

deflection test setup annotated

Fins

Almost all boards in the under $500 price range have a 3 fin setup. 2 smaller side fins and one larger center fin. The center fin is always removable. Flip Lock attachments are the most common for the center fin. They are a standard feature across many brands. You can get a replacement fin or a larger fin if you have this feature.

Some boards may have removable outside side fins but this isn’t that common. If they are removable it gives you the option to use a larger single fin and no side fins. This will give you a faster board for touring. For surfing and easier maneuvering, 3 fins are preferred.

D-ring attachments

D-Ring attachments are nice for attaching accessories. You need a set of them across the middle of the board if you want to add a kayak seat. You can use them for paddle holders or attaching bungees. More D-Rings is better. Some boards may have as few as 7. Some boards may have as many as 17. If your board doesn’t have them, you can buy D-Rings to glue on so it’s not a must have feature. It does save you some effort if you need them.

Bungees

Almost every paddleboard has at least one bungee across the front of the board. Some have a second bungee across the rear. Bungees can be used for storing gear bags, coolers, clothes, etc…. A front and rear bungee is better than a single bungee if you plan on taking a dog or a child out on the board with you. You can’t store anything with the front bungee if someone is sitting on it.

Paddle

Almost every inflatable SUP under $500 comes as a complete package including a paddle. The paddles are not all created equally. When it comes to paddles, carbon fiber is the best, fiberglass is next and aluminum comes in last. A carbon fiber paddle will be stiffer and lighter. An aluminum paddle will have much more flex and be heavier. Fiberglass will be somewhere in the middle.

You are not likely to find a carbon fiber paddle in an under $500 SUP package. The better under $500 packages do come with fiberglass paddles. All the paddles are 3 pieces so they can be put in the bag for carrying with the board.

Accessories

Almost all inflatable SUPs come in a package with accessories such as a carrying bag and pump. In the under $500 price range, you should expect the following:

  • Carrying bag – A backpack that will hold the board, pump and paddle. Better bags will have more padding on the straps and be made from heavier materials. They will have more pockets and compression straps.
  • Pump – A dual action, single chamber pump. This pump will be able to pump on both the up and down strokes.
  • Leash – This is a safety item for keeping yourself attached to the board.
  • Repair kit – A small repair kit containing a tool for replacing the air valve and some PVC patches to fix punctures or scratches.

Some inflatable SUPs come with some other accessories such as kayak seats, a second blade for the paddle, or waterproof cellphone bags.

No inflatable paddle board comes with an electric pump. An electric air pump is far and away the best accessory you can get for your inflatable paddle board and I highly recommend you get one. See our guide to the best inflatable paddle board pumps to learn more.

We use the Outdoor Master Shark 2. See my review of the Outdoor Master Shark 2 to learn more.

Outdoor Master Shark 2 Electric Pump

OM Shark Product Image

Use the Coupon Code ERO2022 for up to 20% off at OutdoorMaster.com

See our guide to the best inflatable paddleboard accessories to learn about other fun and useful accessories for paddleboarding.

a couple paddling on inflatable sup

Inflatable SUP FAQ

Q: Are inflatable paddle boards worth the money?

Inflatable paddle boards are much cheaper than rigid paddleboards. You can’t get an okay level rigid SUP for less than about $900. You can get a good inflatable SUP for under $500. Inflatable SUP’s are much easier to store and transport. You don’t need to load and unload from a roof rack or find garage space for it. A good inflatable SUP can be almost as stiff as a rigid paddleboard.

Q: Why are inflatable paddle boards so expensive?

Inflatable paddleboards look simple. It’s just a flat board. Why can’t you get one for under $100 like a cheap inflatable kayak? To make a thin inflatable structure you need to use drop-stitch construction. Drop-stitching can only be bonded to PVC. You can’t use any of the cheaper inflatable boat materials. That is the biggest reason why there are no $100 SUPs out there. About the cheapest anyone can manufacture a drop-stitch board, pump, and paddle is $200.

Q: Is it OK to leave inflatable sup inflated?

You can leave an inflatable paddleboard inflated for storage. Keep in mind that UV rays from the sun and exposure to the elements will degrade the PVC material. If you store it inflated outside, find a nice sheltered place in the shade. Over time the SUP will slowly deflate. You may need to top off the air inside with each use. There is nothing wrong with it. There is some porosity to the PVC material and leakiness to the valves no matter how well they are made.

Do not leave a board out baking in the sun fully inflated to the max PSI it can handle. As the board heats up, the air inside will expand and the pressure will go up. This is a great way to pop the seams and drop-stitching in the board.

Q: Are cheap paddle boards any good?

You can enjoy paddleboarding with a cheap board. What you will get when you spend more is more durable materials, a more rigid board, and a better paddle. A cheap flexible board will not feel as stable on the water. It will feel bouncy floating over waves. A cheap board will work a lot better for a child or lightweight adult who won’t notice the flex. If all you can afford is a cheap board, don’t let it hold you back from trying out paddleboarding. See our guide to the best cheap inflatable paddle boards to learn more.

Another option is finding a used board. Like most outdoor activities, it’s possible to find used high end equipment that is a few years old. Usually, it is cheaper than new mid to low end equipment.

Q: How long do inflatable SUPs last?

An inflatable paddleboard should last you anywhere from 5 years to many years. There are PVC inflatable boats out there that have lasted for 10 to 20 years. If you take good care of it, keep it clean, and store it out of the sun it can last a long time. An inflatable paddleboard built from high quality 3 layer PVC laminate will outlast one made from 1 layer PVC.

Q: What is the best paddle board for beginners?

Most inflatable paddleboards in the $300 to $700 price range are designed to be easy to use by beginners. They have a straight forward all around design that is wide enough to be stable and long enough to track okay. As a beginner, you should avoid a narrower board under 30 inches wide. You should look for a board with a weight capacity well above your actual weight. More buoyancy equals more stability and easier to stand on.

Q: Are inflatable paddle boards good for the ocean?

You can have a great time surfing waves with an inflatable paddleboard. There is no reason you can’t take one out to the beach on the ocean. They are good for anywhere with flatwater like bays or inlets. The PVC material will not get damaged by use in saltwater. Like anything else you use in saltwater, you should rinse it off after each use with fresh water.

Q: How dangerous is paddle boarding?

Paddleboarding is a safe sport. It is as safe as kayaking or canoeing. Most boards have padding so they don’t hurt when you fall on them. You can only go as fast as you can paddle. You should use caution on really windy days or in areas of high current. You don’t want to get blown or pushed by current out where you can’t get back. It’s a good idea to wear a PFD or at least take one with you in case you need it.

Q: What should I wear to stand up paddle boarding?

When you go paddle boarding there is a good chance your getting wet. Quick drying clothes are key. A bathing suit with a rash guard is good for most warm days. On cooler days you might want to add a spray top or wetsuit. Some people like to paddleboard barefoot. Others like wearing water shoes. See our guide for what to wear paddle boarding in the summer for more information.

Q: Is paddle boarding good exercise?

Paddle boarding is an excellent form of exercise. It takes balance to stay standing on a paddleboard which is a good core exercise. You need some arm strength to paddle and move along. It can be as strenuous or relaxing as you want it to be. If you go out on a windy day or need to paddle against current it will add another level of paddling intensity. Paddle boarding can be a good way to build muscle and lose weight.

ALSO READ: See our Guide To The Best Inflatable Paddle Boards for other good options of all paddleboard types.

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selfie for info block

About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an outdoors enthusiast always looking forward to my next adventure. I spend as much time skiing, biking, and paddleboarding as I can. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things outdoor adventures and to help other people have as much fun as me.