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All Inclusive Inflatable Paddle Boarding Guide

All Inclusive Inflatable Paddle Boarding Guide: If you are about to go for a weekend trip and like to be discreet about your activities, a paddle board is the last thing you want nosy people to see. An inflatable paddle board is fantastic because it allows you the freedom to do things that you love without having to worry about others finding out where you’re going.

If you’re having a weekend getaway by a lake, river, ocean or any body of water,  inflatable SUP is excellent if you don’t have a roof rack or it’s already full with kayaks, paddles, surfboards or other gear. The reason we love them is that they deflate to resemble a rolled-up sleeping bag. It does so in about 5 minutes, and the size allows you to store your luggage, life jackets, back up paddle- the works. The convenience of it means that carpooling is possible instead of you and your companions taking different cars to your destination.

The reason why many people love paddle boarding is because each time you do it, you always get to learn something new. It could either be a technic, a characteristic of the water mass, or even the types of insects that fly around. With a paddleboard, you get to explore water better than you could in a boat or kayak. If you’re new to this sport, this article hopes to give your more insight into what it’s about and how to go about it.

How Do Inflatable Paddle Boards Work?

An inflatable surfboard is made using ‘drop stitch technology.’ The inside of the board is woven with small fibers that once the board fills with air, they interlock to form a hard surface. Most boards hold between 14-18 psi and some hold as much as 25 psi. The outside of the board consists of an extremely hardened rubber material designed to last and withstand wear and tear. The top and bottom form into a single unit with a rail wrapped around for reinforcement. This design is not applicable to all brands; there’s a wide variety in the market. When the paddleboard is rolled up, it weighs 30-40 lb.

Inflatable Paddle Board vs. Traditional

There are two types of boards: epoxy and fiberglass.

In this comparison, it’s not to say one is better than the other. An epoxy paddleboard and an inflatable paddle board are made of two different materials, and both excel differently. It all narrows down to what you want to do. So don’t let the salesperson misguide you – do your research and know the facts.

When deciding what type of paddling board to settle on, three factors will affect your decision: performance, budget and storage space.

Your average traditional paddleboard has a foam core, and depending on the brand, have some layers of fiberglass, carbon fiber, wood, Kevlar or bamboo. Their weight tends to make them more suitable for heavier people.

Epoxy and fiberglass boards do beat inflatables on a performance level. Pros and serious paddlers settle for epoxy boards because they board maneuvers quickly and move at an increased speed. The people who’d benefit more from inflatables are first-time riders. The overall performance is again also a significant difference in these two SUP. The responsiveness and rigidity of the fiberglass board still trump that of an inflatable despite the technological advancements. The stiffness of an inflatable is mostly dependent on air pressure, so maneuvering with speed isn’t easy. If you’re using the board for leisure activities, this is not necessarily a disadvantage.

When it comes to what’s more comfortable, the inflatable SUP is better if you’re standing for long periods of time. You also get a smoother ride than you would a fiberglass or epoxy board. If you prefer a rougher feel to your experience, then an inflatable won’t be quite to your liking. It’s also slower meaning it’s better for leisure than for anything else.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Safe?

Like with any sport, safety starts with you. Being out in the water does pose some risks, but there are guidelines you can follow to ensure your safety.

The first thing you should do is wear a life jacket. It is especially so if you are a child, a beginner or not a confident swimmer. This point cannot be overemphasized. Thankfully these days you can get life jackets that won’t restrict your movement.

Always use the leash. In case you fall off, you won’t have to spend a considerable amount of energy going after it. It also prevents you from putting yourself at unnecessary risk in case it goes off to a rock or dangerous section of the water. Having the leash on also prevents it from dislodging those around you from their paddle boards as well. If you don’t have a leash for your paddle board here is a great one on Amazon.

Research the spot you are going to. If you’re in a new place, ask the locals about the terrain. Are there rocks or a waterfall? At the ocean, take time to learn about the tides and rips. In such a case, you are advised to wear a life jacket.

SUP is a fantastic solitary activity. In this case, let someone know where you are off to. In case something happens to you, there is someone who can raise the alarm and have you rescued. Most people think that nothing wrong can ever happen to them, especially if they’ve been paddle boarding for a long time. Nature can be quite unpredictable, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

With that said, keep an eye on the sky. Ocean fronts tend to have unpredictable weather, and you wouldn’t want to be caught in a rainstorm far from shore. Watch for clouds and wind changes. When you notice a significant weather change, make your way to shore immediately.

Be mindful of others. Do well to be respectful of the people around you. Be watchful when maneuvering to avoid any accidents. If there’s an area designated for SUP, stick to those and opt out of overcrowded breaks. Take good care of yourself as well. Wear sunscreen always, and if you are out in the water for a long time, wear a rash vest or wetsuit and a hat for increased protection from the friction and the sun.

Pros

The reason we like inflatable boards is because of the sheer benefits of them.

Compact: You could easily backpack with it or have it as your carryon luggage for a flight or train ride. In your car, it takes up little space in the trunk. They are much easier to store in your house or garage as they take up the same space your camping gear would.

Cost friendly:  You don’t have to rent a board when you travel or pay premium fees to transport it as you would a fiber or epoxy board.

Convenience: You don’t have to worry about security or damage as you would if you have a $1200 board on your car rack. It does not limit your favorite activities when you’re on holiday.

An inflatable board also lets you explore part of a waterway that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to on foot especially in the case of a river. As compared to other alternatives, these work best for rocky shores and river paddling.

Sturdy:  The surface is softer so when you fall, especially when you’re a beginner or child, it’s not as painful as it would be on hardboard.  They are more comfortable to lean or lie on because the material is softer as compared to its counterparts. The board is rigid and therefore works just as well as a traditional board. Inflatable boards also tend to be more stable than the hardboard meaning you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy paddling on a water surface.

Your weight or height mostly doesn’t matter when it comes to these boards.

Durable: When it comes to rocky terrain, an inflatable board just bounces off the rocks, a luxury that you do not have with other boards. Unless you throw it over a sharp object or a stray sharp object pierces the rubber, you don’t have to worry much about repairs.

Child-friendly: This sport is not just limited to children. With a few lessons and a life jacket, they can have just as much fun as the adults.

Animal-friendly: You and your beloved pet dog can enjoy the water and remain dry. The surface won’t have your furry friends sliding off the board as they would if they were on a fiberglass board.

Cons

Pricing: Contrary to what you might think, inflatable boards, are not that much cheaper than regular fiberglass boards. The pricing does, however, reflect the material used and the quality of it.

Maneuvering:  You won’t make corners as fast as you’d like. It also takes time to get used to paddling with it for a comfortable ride.

Sturdiness: Though this is one of its benefits, losing a bit of air can be problematic. You won’t be able to enjoy the rigidity of it.

A problem also found with this inflatable paddle board is that it sinks in the middle. The sinking can take away from the experience especially when you’re first starting out. A simple solution for this is to pump in more air.

Note: Your weight determines how much air you pump into the board

Why own an Inflatable Paddle Board

There are a lot of reasons why paddle boarding is a fantastic activity to engage in especially if you love being outdoors. With a board specifically for what pursuits you prefer, you’re well on your way to a good time.

One of the notable benefits is that it keeps you moving. When paddling, you’ll find that you’re engaging your upper body, core muscles, and your legs as you work to balance as well. Though not as physically intensive as what your gym trainer dishes out, it’s one that’ll burn calories and get you toned all at the same time. It also requires focus, and once you’re back on land, both your body and mind will feel rejuvenated. If you like a good competition, you can sign up for one. You can select what annual events to attend. You can also take the initiative and plan your race and invite people to participate. For this, you’ll need a slimmer board.

If you don’t see paddle boarding as a workout, it’s still a fun way to explore the outdoors. The places you can explore are not limited to your locality. You can enjoy the ocean down under or rivers in Iceland. It can easily be a hobby where you check off water bodies you went paddle boarding. A bigger board works best because it can carry additional weight and is more comfortable for longer distances. You don’t have to paddle alone. You can take your child or dog with you. For team building activities with family, friends or colleagues, you can get a multi-person inflatable SUP. These days you can get one that supports 5-7 people.

Your skills at paddle boarding can also be improved to get the most out of the sport. What most people enjoy about it is that no two paddling experiences are the same even though you’ve been to the location before. There’s always something about the water and surrounding that changes, just like with your capabilities. Surfers are not left out. For thrill chasers, a SUP on small waves is still just as fun. It serves as good training option if you’re starting out as a surfer.

If you want to push your body’s limits, you should try SUP Yoga. It remarkably challenges your balance and strength. The benefits apply on land- you become toned and more graceful. Nature’s soundtrack will get you into an intense state of Zen. An inflatable paddle board is best because it has a deep and wider deck pad. Also, you will want to be in very calm water or have a paddle board anchor like this one from Amazon. 

There are also other things you can try. Fishing is a timeless sport to participate in on an inflatable paddle board. These days SUP is the trend to follow. If you’re extra romantic, you can take your partner out with you for an outdoors date. You can find an island or rock to have a picnic.

With an anchor, you can leave your paddle in place as you snorkel or scuba dive. With a SUP you have the luxury of paddle off to explore uncharted waters. The coolest thing about SUP is that they can act as hammock holders. After paddling for long, you and your friends can add support for your hammocks. You can set up as many as five beds between two paddle boards.

How to Choose an Inflatable Paddle Board

There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing a paddle board. Here is my personal pick for the best inflatable paddle board.

Brand: Companies spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising, and while it’s useful in creating brand awareness, choose to look beyond the messaging. It’s easy to go with a company that uses flashy ads to get your attention. Look at the price of the board and see if you are getting value for money. Customer service and a guarantee are also crucial things you should look into before committing to purchase. It’s even better if you can get free shipping.

Size: This is mainly dependent on your weight and experience. A beginner should get a board with more volume because they are more stable than slimmer ones. You should therefore look for a longer, wider, thicker board. You can check out this guide to determine which inflatable to get. When you’re more confident or a pro, you can get a smaller volume board and sell or hand down your previous board.

Use: What you want to do will also determine the type of paddle board you purchase. Do you want it for travel? Is it for fishing or yoga? For leisure, you can get an all-round SUP that you can use for any occasion. There are many guides for what boards work best. Yoga and multi-person (or pet) inflatables tend to be larger in volume than the rest.

Price: This is perhaps the most critical factor when choosing an inflatable paddle board. You can check out sites that compare brands and prices and see if you can get the same features for cheaper. Other factors that affect the pricing are they type of bag the inflatable comes in.

How to Paddle Board for Beginners

The rigidity of a SUP board means you can carry things with you. For those who don’t have a place to store their items, a small dry bag will be suitable to place your belonging. Keep it light, so this means water, sunscreen, your wallet, phone and other lightweight odds and ends like a chap stick.

Before you set off, make sure that you have a life jacket. Even though you’re an excellent swimmer, beginners are strongly advised to wear one for safety.

Once you’re on the paddle board- we will discuss later how you get on- how you stand matters. Your feet should be waist length apart, knees slightly bent and back straight. Bending your knees acts as  shock absorbers in waves and helps maintain your balance. A straight back is not only good posture, but it helps you engage your core muscles and avoid back injury.

When starting out, it’s typical to use your arms to paddle. That, you will soon find out, tires you out. To get more power in your paddling, while keeping your back straight, engage your core muscles and your legs as well. Using your whole body will get you toned faster and proportionally, something we all wish to be.

The right way to hold your paddle is to grip the top of the paddle with one hand and have the other placed near the middle. To paddle, you either take long powerful strokes on each side, switching the hand placement on the paddle accordingly or 4-5 short strokes on each side before making the shift. If you want to turn right, paddle continuously to the left until you achieved your turn. To do it quicker, paddle backward on your left side until you reach the desired trajectory. Do the opposite to turn to the left. For robust paddling, plant the blade fully into the water before pulling. The aforementioned applies to each stroke. It also acts to stabilize you. The curve of the paddle should also be away from you.

Your location on the board also matters. The common rookie mistake is to stand too close to the nose of the board or further back towards the tail. Doing so makes it harder to control the board; you also exert a lot more energy when paddling. The carry handles at the center of the deck pad act as a maker of where you should stand on the board. Another mistake people do is look down while paddling. From a yoga perspective, this arches your back, and after an extended period, your back will start aching. Looking down will also likely cause you to lose your balance and fall into the water. Focus on something far off and make your way toward it.

Lastly, bring water and snacks with you. Your body is working out, and it needs to replenish the energy used. Water will keep you hydrated and a light meal, preferably something healthy, will keep you going for longer. An adventure doesn’t need to come to an end because of an empty stomach.

How to get on a Paddle Board (from a dock, sand or after falling)

Most people frown at the prospect of being able to stand, and comfortable so, on an inflatable SUP board. When inflated, they are between 80 to 90% as stable as the traditional board, depending on the brand and make. With that in mind, especially if it’s your first time, be more confident. Within a short time, you’ll be getting onto your board like a pro, at least on flat water.

Sand: To get onto your board, move it to knee deep calm water. Make sure the fin is not touching the sand as it may break or cause you to fall off. Place your essentials on the board. Take the paddle and plant it in the ground on the other side of the board. Using it as support, place one knee a little past the halfway point of the board followed by the other.

The other alternative is to place the paddle horizontally near the front of the board. Place your hands on the paddle on either end of the board. Place one knee past the halfway point of the board and quickly place the second next to it. Sit on your knees and paddle away from the shore.

Dock: Getting on board from the dock is quite easy. Place the board on the water and use your paddle to keep it from drifting off. There are two ways you can get one. If you’re super cautious, you can first sit on the dock and place your feet on the board. Use the dock for support as you find your balance. The other way is to bend and step down on the board, using the dock for assistance.

After falling: If you have the right equipment or using the proper techniques, falling off is quite unlikely. To reduce the anxiety, you are however advised to jump off to mimic falling and learn how to get on again. To do so, use the carry handle to pull yourself back horizontally on the board. Now move your body parallel onto the board and get to the kneeling position. From there slowly get back up.

You can also get on from the tail. Pull it down into the water with both hands and slide on using your chest. Proceed to the kneeling position to stand up.

Should you fall, do your best to land away from the board feet first as you never know what could be in the water. Use your leash to pull back the board, get on and use your hands to make your way to the paddle. If you don’t have a strap, always go for your board first.

How to Stand up on a Paddle Board

Once on your knees, tuck your toes in and look to the horizon. This last part gives you more balance when you start getting up. One by one, bring your knees to your chest and plant your feet on the board as you would in a squat position. With the paddle in your hands, slowly push yourself up as you would when getting up from a squat. You may wobble a bit for the first time but use the paddle and your body weight to your advantage. Once balanced, start paddling as it helps with balance.

Once you’re standing, keep your feet facing forward and hip distance apart with knees bent slightly. Your core should be engaged to help with balance.

Hold the top of the paddle with one hand, and the other should hold about halfway down the paddle. Adjust according to your comfort. The curved part of the paddle ought to face away from you. Your arms should be a comfortable length apart. To paddle, extend your arms forward with each stroke. Ensure that the blade goes all the way into the water. Paddle perpendicularly and not at an angle.

To find a board’s sweet spot, plant your paddle onto the board and a small step at a time move up or down the board. Stop when the nose and the tail are balanced. This action is known as trimming.

If paddling while standing gets uncomfortable, get down to your knees and paddle from that position until you feel rested enough to get back up. Sitting on the board makes standing up a lot harder.

How to Paddle Board with your Dog

What most people like is the fact that you can paddle, and comfortably so, with your dog on board an inflatable. What you will need is a life jacket for you and your furry friend. To keep them well behaved, have some treats and leash with you. Before you set off, allow your dog to explore and sniff out the area. Get their paw wet as well.

Put a life jacket on them and allow them to familiarize themselves with the paddle board. Take however time you need. While they are onboard, push the paddle board to the shore and into the shallow water. Make sure that they are on the front end of the paddleboard. For larger dogs, you may have to get the board into the water first and have a friend hold it steady so that you can help your dog up.

When it’s your turn to get on, the best spot to sit is just behind the carry handle. This way your weight balances theirs, and you’ll be able to stand comfortably. Depending on the circumstance, you can either launch yourself or have someone push away from the shore. At this point, your canine friend might begin to panic. You know your dog best so use whatever tricks that work to keep them calm or reassured. Make sure that they do not jump off initially. Once you’re far from the shore and they still want to hop out, allow them to swim around, of which after a while they’ll realize their only other option is to stay on the paddle board. At this point, call them back and pull them aboard. At this point, they’ll be pretty heavy because of the wet fur so pull them up by the lifejacket and not the collar.

After some time, your dog will want to explore the inflatable SUP and create an imbalance. You can tag at the leash or use the paddle to restrict them. If they get too close to the edge, you can block them using the paddle to let them know they can only go so far. With every order obeyed, give them treats to keep them motivated to stay on.

Tip: Do not make the mistake of tying the dog’s leash to the paddle or yourself. If the canine decides to jump into the water, they will most certainly take you with them.

How to Store an Inflatable Paddle Board

Storing an inflatable paddle board is super easy. Before doing so, make sure that it is dry. That way it doesn’t get the damp smell that we all dislike. Let the air out, roll it up, place it in its bag, and put it away. When deflated it’s about the size of a large suitcase. It can go pretty much anywhere you’d keep your camping gear when traveling or when at home. To increase its lifespan, do not expose it to elements when not in use. Ideally, store it in a cool, dry, dark place.

If you don’t like the bag it comes in; you can always purchase your own. A bag with wheels, for example, would be convenient to have.

How to Repair an Inflatable Paddle Board

The great thing about inflatables is that each one comes with a repair kit. What’s even better is that, with good care, you’ll never have to use it. The rubber material means that paddle, dock or rock bumps don’t cause damage as it would on a traditional SUP. In case you do get a small hole, you don’t have to get a professional to fix it. The manual that comes with the kit will show you how to repair the hole.

In case you notice holes in the seam, check if the issue falls under warranty and return it to the manufacturer for a replacement.

How to Clean an Inflatable Paddle Board

To maintain your board, purchase a board cleaner designed explicitly for inflatables. The regular all-purpose detergent can also be used to clean your paddle board. It works on both dirt and scuff marks caused by your paddle or other materials. Rinse off the soap with fresh water and leave it a shade to dry out completely. If you don’t have the time, carry a towel with you to wipe down excess moisture before rolling it up and packing it for storage.

A 303 aerospace protectant spray like this one on Amazon acts as water, dirt and stain repellent. Spraying a coat on your board will have your inflatable looking new for longer and will require less cleaning in the long run. The good thing about this protectant spray is that it’s not oily or greasy. It also acts a sunscreen- the UV light will not cause the paint to fade.

Warning: Do not use 303 protectant sprays every time you clean. Doing so can damage the board. Once or twice a year is sufficient.

Sometimes moisture will get on the board. When this happens, use a pump or vacuum to blow air into the board. Dirt gathered on the valve is easy to remove. Once you’ve pumped air into the board, open it. A blast of air will be released and it’ll blow away the dirt or debris. If anything remains, you can lock the valve in the open position and use a cotton swab to clean out what remains.

To make your cleaning easier, do not drag your inflatable board. Gravel, rocks or sharp debris will leave stain marks that you’ll end up having to scrub off. Though the rubber is though, it is best to apply extra caution.

How to Maximize your Inflatable Paddle Board

Don’t keep your inflatable paddle board in direct sunlight for a prolonged period when on land. It will cause the air in the boat to expand and damage the seals. The color of the board will fade as well giving it a beat-up look. Placing under canvas is not enough. Place it under a shade near your paddle boarding site.

To get the desired performance and rigidity, inflate your paddle board to the recommended 12 PSI. Any less and your experience will be unpleasant; your board will flex, and you’re more likely to be thrown off on rough water.

Tip: After a few hours of paddling in the hot sun, release some air pressure when you get back to shore. Doing so frees the warm air and doesn’t strain the material. In cold weather, the inflatable might begin sinking a bit after several hours. Its normal- air contracts in cold weather. When this happens, just add air pressure to return to the desired rigidity.

Conclusion

There is no reason why you should not get an paddle board, especially an inflatable one. If you love being around water and outdoors in general, this activity is perfect for you. The thing that makes this sport the ideal hobby for you is that it engages both your body and mind. Like taking a drive or doing an activity that requires repetition, paddle boarding allows you to clear your mind, leaving your thoughts to roam freely. Pair with the water’s calming effects and its ability to facilitate inner stillness and meditation, you are guaranteed to return to the shore rejuvenated.

Using this guide, and many others like it, if it’s your first time, you don’t need to be intimidated. Even the pros you see in the water had to start out somewhere. With an inflatable paddle board with you, there are almost no limits of the things you can do in water. You get to enjoy leisure activities for most of the year, only taking a break to enjoy what winter has to offer.

The price and convenience of inflatables have revolutionized paddle boarding. It has expanded the age and weight bracket of who can take part. It comes with relatively fewer hustles as well when it comes to storage and travel. Do you see paddle boarding being your thing? Head on over to an inflatable paddle board vendor today and explore the hidden wonders of water. If you prefer to buy online I have also created a buying guide with the top inflatable paddle boards here.

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