You can find hundreds of inflatable SUPs online, but you have to know how and what to choose. For instance, lakes and rivers are extremely different in terms of conditions so you need a SUP that can face those conditions.
Your paddle board’s performance is more important than its price tag or brand name. As such, if you want a stand-up paddle board, you need to take into account factors like stability, handling ease, and glide performance.
That’s how you can find the best inflatable paddle board for your needs, whether you’re a beginner with a small budget or an expert paddler.
Here’s the good news:
We did the research so you don’t have to. We selected the five best inflatable SUPS on the UK market and we’ll explain their features in terms of benefits to you.
What to Look for in an Inflatable Paddle board
But before we jump into the reviews, we’ll quickly talk about the most important things you need to look for in an inflatable SUP. There are two mistakes people make when purchasing one.
The first one is not reading through the features and taking their time. This lack of research translates into getting a SUP that sinks in water or one that’s not fast enough.
The second mistake is getting lost in your inflatable paddle board’s details. If you don’t understand your goals and needs, the marketing jargon can overwhelm you. As a result, you’ll end up purchasing an expensive but useless board because you’re focusing on the wrong features.
To avoid that, keep reading through the most critical factors to consider before purchasing an inflatable paddle board:
Type of Activity
The first thing you’ll have to pinpoint is the type of activity you’re planning on doing on that inflatable paddleboard. That’s because SUPs have different designs and characteristics to facilitate specific activities.
For instance, racing boards are narrow and thin. Yoga boards are wider and thicker to promote stability. If you’re unsure of what you’re going to use that SUP for, choose an all-around paddleboard.
Here are the distinctions to keep in mind:
- Long paddleboards are better for gliding and tracking. Conversely, shorter paddleboards are easier to manoeuvre.
- Wide boards with high weight limits are more stable, whereas narrow boards are faster.
We have this article explaining which size paddle board you need.
Paddleboard thickness is essential too.
Thicker paddleboards have lower performance, but they have higher weight limits. If you’re a beginner or have more equipment, you can consider sacrificing performance for stability.
While beginners are better off testing several paddleboards before ordering one online, you can keep in mind these two factors: larger width and higher weight limit.
Pro tip: If you’re using this paddleboard with someone else, don’t just consider the weight limit.
For example, a board that withstands a maximum of 200 pounds isn’t automatically okay for two 100-pound people. You also need to consider the SUP’s width, thickness, and length, plus the manufacturer’s specifications.
Thus, some SUPs are created explicitly for shared use with one or more people – or even a pet!
Consider the accessories you need through the lens of your activity. For example, you will need:
- A preinstalled action mount if you’re a nature photographer or influencer and take plenty of photos while paddleboarding
- Bungee cords if you’re using your inflatable paddleboard for touring or if you’re carrying more equipment
- Fishing mounts if you’re also doing some fishing while at large
There are three central fin systems to choose between:
Permanent tri-fins are best for beginners because they keep you stable and offer medium performance. Besides, the three permanent fins are equal in size and not particularly deep, so not over 4 inches. As a result, you will be able to handle the paddleboard well in deep and shallow waters alike, even rocky waters.
The centre removable fin system means your board has two permanent fins on the side and a detachable one in the centre. The idea behind this design is better performance in deep, calm waters such as lakes. However, these boards don’t work well on shallow, rocky waters because the two side fins are extended.
Configurable-fin paddleboards are best for experienced paddlers who want to tackle different waters. As such, these boards allow you to remove all fins and change between their positions.
For example, you can place the largest fin in the centre if you want your paddleboard to go faster in deeper waters. If these waters are also rough and you need extra stability, you can mount the shorter fins on your board’s sides.
Alternatively, if you want to go fast in shallow waters, you can attach a short fin in the centre position. If speed isn’t essential, but instead you’d like to keep your board scratch-free in shallow, rocky waters, assemble just the two short fins on the sides.
The materials and craftsmanship are valuable clues about your paddleboard’s performance.
Usually, you can expect a quality paddleboard to have several heavy-duty PVC layers over a drop-stitch core. This construction offers firmness and extra protection.
One layer of PVC protects your paddleboard from scratches and drops. Conversely, multiple layers increase your performance and paddleboard’s stability.
Is there such a thing as too many layers, though?
More PVC layers offer better stability, but they also increase the board’s weight, thus making it slower. So, if you’re planning to use your paddleboard for speed racing:
- Consider a paddleboard with 2-3 PVC layers
- Purchase a more expensive SUP that uses lighter, albeit equally strong, materials
Inflatable paddleboards require something to inflate them with. Needless to say, this tool has to make your life easier, not harder, so it must be:
- Included in the pack
- Easy to carry
That said, single-chamber pumps are easy to use and lightweight. Conversely, dual-chamber pumps allow you to inflate your paddleboard quicker and with many options.
But manual pumps are still a lot of hard work.
If you want to make your life easier, consider an electric pump that can be connected to either a portable battery or your car.
When choosing between a manual vs electric pump, remember you’ll also have to deflate your paddleboard before going home.
That’s a hassle, especially when tired, sore, and hungry. If you’ve been paddleboarding with your kids, too, the situation is even more volatile.
However, an electric pump helps you deflate that board fast, so you can get home and rest.
Carbon fibre paddles are light and extremely easy to handle, but they’re also pricey. Thus, a good compromise is getting an inflatable paddleboard with a carbon fibre-blend paddle.
Fibreglass paddles offer excellent value for money if you have an even lower budget, though they’re a bit heavier. Finally, the most affordable option is getting an aluminium paddle, but remember that aluminium is the heaviest of the bunch.
The manufacturing company is essential for customer support, shipping and return policies, plus overall experience and trustworthiness. So, read reviews about the brand, too, not just about the individual paddleboards before buying a product.
Best Inflatable Paddle Boards in the UK
Below, you can read an in-depth comparison between the best inflatable stand up paddle boars on the UK market. We picked popular SUPs and compared them to see if they step up to the plate.
Disclaimer: You’ll find plenty of cons here, so brace yourself!
Bestway Hydro-force Oceana Stand Up Paddleboard Set Review
Bestway Hydro-force has good ratings for all stats according to Amazon reviewers. People rated this board as 4/5 stars for manoeuvrability, speed, stability, and tracking. Also, the Oceana gets 4.6 stars for beginner ease of use.
People agree that the Oceana is a steal at this price because it’s in the low to mid-range price category, but it has top features and extra accessories.
Do you know what will happen if you look at the price tag now?
You’ll become sceptical.
You’ll think these features are too good to be true.
That’s how the majority of customers thought and they were extremely surprised to find such good features and qualities in an affordable SUP.
For instance, the digital pressure gauge on the pump makes inflating and deflating the Oceana extremely easy. It’s worth noting that this digital pressure gauge is a Bestway addition after many customers complained about the old Oceana pump. So, this brand actually listens to you when you have something to say. Kudos to them.
Here’s another advantage:
You can learn to ride on the Oceana in no time. As such, Oceana is among the best value and the best beginner paddle board around.
The reason is that the Oceana is 10 feet long and 6-inch thick, whereas most inflatable paddle boards in this price range are 4 to 4.75-inch thick.
More padding ensures increased buoyancy and stability because the board doesn’t bend, and increased length equals easier manoeuvrability. Add the non-slip mat to that mix, and you can go from kneeling to standing up and even moving confidently in the span of a morning.
Besides, Bestway says you can even do yoga on this paddle board thanks to the non-slip mat. How neat is that?
Here’s another reason to consider this inflatable paddle board:
It has top-quality additions. The paddle attachments and comfy seat are easy to take out when you’re sailing in rough conditions with lots of currents. You can also use the seat and paddles if you want to acquaint your child to the beauty of sailing. Basically, this SUP turns into a kayak whenever you need it.
Now for the biggest disadvantage.
Hope you’re ready.
The Oceana is heavy and big. If you have to walk a lot on land, get some carry straps or something.
Bluefin Cruise SUP Package Review
The Bluefin Cruise SUP Package is best for expert paddlers who want to ride on the sea. This mammoth paddle board is about three times more expensive than Oceana, but it’s made from tougher materials and has better extras.
All reviewers highlight the stability and ruggedness of the Bluefin Cruise.
In fact, some say you can even bounce off rocks and still the SUP survives these impacts.
Others emphasize that you can carry a lot of gear with enough room to stretch.
So, when Bluefin advertises this SUP package as the most versatile on the market, they’re not far from the truth.
Here’s another good news:
The 5’ stand-up paddle board is sturdy and durable, backed by a 5-year warranty. The 1000 Denier Laminate PVC and Pro Weave stitching render this SUP tough and stable so that you can face big waves. This design is also an advantage for the big & heavy or couple’s fun.
Compare this with Oceana, and you’ll see the difference. Oceana is a resistant paddle board, but it can’t face so much wear and tear.
Besides, Bluefin Cruise has heat-welded double-layer side rails and a gentle rocker. That way, you can face both high waves as well as flats without falling even if you’re a newbie. The coiled leash for your ankles will keep you steady as well.
And there’s more:
Bluefin’s fibreglass paddle is almost half as light as aluminium paddles you get with cheaper models like Oceana. That means you can spend more time rowing without getting tired. Plus, the grip is very comfortable.
Plenty of reviewers also like the extra padding, the comfy chairs, and the SUP-to-kayak conversion kit. The Kick Pad Thermo sealed crocodile deck pad is worth every penny, ensuring you won’t slip or wobble. Some people say they even took their dogs for a ride on this board!
This paddle board is expensive and big. You may need help carrying it to the water if you don’t want to inflate it on the shore.
That would be the best idea, though, considering that you’ll only need about ten minutes for the job.
AQUAPLANET ALLROUND SUP Review
The Aquaplanet Allround Ten SUP is the best cheap SUP package you can find, as most reviewers agree that the price is amazing for the quality.
So, just like with Oceana, you may be a little sceptical when you look at the price.
After all, why does Aquaplanet Allround Ten Sup cost three times less than Oceana? Where’s the scam?
The thing is that this inflatable paddle board package is reliable even though its performance doesn’t measure up to that of Oceana.
It’s obvious that the quality is good from the minute you unpack it. The PVC material feels rugged and you only need a few minutes to inflate it.
And you won’t fall off it.
The EVA deck is soft and non-slip, you get ankle straps, plus really good accessories (except for the pump, which could be much better).
Besides, the traction pads and 10’ length will help you hold your balance and change directions smoothly. You can also paddle along gently to enjoy the views or thrash it at high speed.
But just like we said before, its performance isn’t as good as Oceana’s. Firstly, Oceana has higher-end accessories made from better materials.
Secondly, you can’t take this SUP to open-sea every day. If you want to do that, Oceana is better because it’s thicker, so it has increased buoyancy and it’s better for balance. Also, Oceana doesn’t tear in rocky terrain and you can use it with more people.
But, if you want a cheap complete SUP package for general paddling and some fun in mild rivers and bays, the Aquaplanet Allround Ten SUP is your best bet.
Freein Cruise SUP Set Review
Freein Cruise SUP Set is the best budget option if you want similar functionality to that of Oceana at a reduced price.
The first thing you’ll notice about Freein Cruise stand up paddle board is that you can share it with more people, and even pets, unlike the Aquaplanet Allround Ten SUP. Sure, it costs about £100 more, but it’s well worth the investment if you’re a sharer.
Here’s another difference:
Freein Cruise board feels more rigid than the Aquaplanet Allround although they’re both made from PVC. However, Freein Cruise SUP’s PVC is a military-grade combination of liquid PVC with PVC Tarpaulin, and the board is thicker so that the SUP is more rigid.
We’re not saying the Aquaplanet Allround is low quality or we wouldn’t have included it in this review. It’s just that the Aquaplanet SUP is best for general paddling, whereas the Freein 310 can endure more abuse.
And don’t forget that the Freein Cruise SUP is best for people who need a lot of room.
The six-point bungee system allows you to pack plenty of gear and the 6-inch design ensures your things won’t get wet when you’re gliding through the waves.
Which brings us to another advantage:
It’s really comfortable to paddle on this thing. The extra padding, wide straps, and adjustable, easy-to-use aluminium oars help you maintain a correct posture and prevent muscle fatigue. Besides, the 8-inch centre fin keeps you stable in most waters.
Now brace yourself for the cons.
This SUP is good, but its carry bag sucks. That might not seem like much, but, if you get an inflatable paddle board, you’re interested in portability, right?
Besides, remember that the Freein Cruise SUP is almost £100 more than the Oceana, but it doesn’t have an included seat. That’s an important shortcoming if you want to transform your stand-up paddle board into a kayak.
WOWSEA Inflatable Standup Paddleboard Review
The WOWSEA Inflatable Standup Paddle Board is a good choice if you want an affordable, average-quality complete SUP package to get you at sea quickly.
The WOWSEA paddle board might not seem like much when you’re looking at its general features.
After all, it has an average construction with one PVC layer even though the official description says it’s military-grade. It has the complete package of an average pump, backpack, repair kit, paddles, and coil action leash.
So why include an average paddle board in this review, you ask?
Because it has a special feature.
One that makes this board perfect for beginners and tangled routes.
Introducing the three modelled fins:
You don’t usually find three fins at this price range. Not to mention that they’re flexible and durable so that they can resist all sorts of impacts. As such, you can minimize drift so that you can stay stable when you’re changing directions.
In combination with the rigid platform and the Thermo sealed anti-slip layer, you will be able to hold your balance on different waters.
Plus, the composite drop stitch ensures this board can handle a lot of wear and tear.
Sure, other SUPs have better materials. Take the expensive Bluefin Cruise SUP for example or even the Freein Cruise SUP’s PVC composite.
You also saw that other SUPs have better extras, including comfy seats or a SUP-to-kayak kit converter.
But remember, the WOWSEA’s unique selling point is its three fins, which promise increased directional stability. The WOWSEA may not be best for high waves, but it’s certainly best for lots of twists and turns.
Since you made it till the end, it’s now time to decide.
You saw some of the best SUP models on the market and you now know which fits your needs best.
Here’s a little summary so that you can click on the right product.
Aren’t you excited? You’ll be riding those waves in no time!
- Bestway Hydro-force Oceana: best value-for-money paddleboard; best for beginners
- Bluefin Cruise SUP Package: best all-around package for high waves and flat waters alike
- Aquaplanet Allround Ten SUP: best cheap SUP for flat waters
- Freein Cruise SUP Set: best budget all-around package
- WOWSEA Inflatable Standup Paddle Board: best directional stability for rapids; best for beginners