6 Things to Keep In Mind When Shopping For A High-Performance Inflatable Paddle Board

High-Performance Inflatable Paddle Board

Having the best paddling experience will require you a high-performance inflatable board. Using the best gear possible allows you to explore paddling aspirations. The weight, size, and the materials of the board are few of the determining factors that will define how far you can explore paddle boarding. However, the amount of ads circling around the internet might cause confusion and poor purchasing decisions, especially to new paddlers.  

In this article, we will provide only the necessary things to keep in mind when shopping for a high-performance inflatable board. Factors that both beginners and pros can benefit – nothing more, nothing less. 

1. What Are The Optimized Board Shapes and How Does This Affect Me?

What Are The Optimized Board Shapes and How Does This Affect Me

Board shapes influence the speed and performance when paddle boarding. The dimensions, curve, and overall outline will define the agility of a paddle board. Width, length, and thickness – are the three dimensions of paddle boards that influence the overall performance when paddling. 

  • Width is the main determinant for stability.
  • Thickness is the main determinant for rigidity. 
  • Length is the main determinant for speed.

If you are looking for stability, go for wider boards. If you are into speed-optimized boards, consider buying thinner boards. For tracking and gliding, longer boards will do the job. For best maneuver, you may opt for shorter boards.

A person’s height and weight must also be put into consideration when purchasing inflatable SUPs. Most inflatable boards available have ample volume for paddlers up to 200 lbs. You will want to look at other dimensions for stability if you weight more than 200 lbs. or planning to paddle with a child or a pet.

When you blend these considerations, the outcome is a paddle board that is flexible and performs well to various activities and water conditions.  

2. What Are The Advanced Fin Setups?

For flexible and genuine performance, a configurable fin system for your gear will allow you to adapt to various paddling activities and water environment. A board with fin boxes such as US center fin box and FCS compatible side fin boxes will give your board more room for different fins. These fin boxes will not limit you to the single fin setup provided with the board.  

Boards that are designed for performance have a center fin box that you can use for different types of fin. Here, you can move the selected fin with more flexibility and mobility. For a more versatile fin option, you may opt for a US Fin Box. The freedom to shift from paddle racing to simply enjoying the shallow water will no longer be an issue, as so many fins fit with a US Fin Box.  

Another option for a fin system customization is through adding a pair of side fin boxes that suits to various kinds of removable fins. Adding a pair of side fin will allow you to experiment different combinations for different conditions; for a faster board, you can use a single long center fin. Using three short fins will allow you to paddle on shallow water, or minimizing it with two short side fins for a quick maneuver. 

Having the freedom to configure you board with a fin system will allow you to tune the ability of your board and meet your paddling aspirations.

3. Deck Pads – What’s The difference?

If you are planning to venture the waters through surfing, you will need traction on your deck pad. Here are the elements of deck pads to keep in mind: 

  • For best performance - diamond or square grip patterns will give you the best traction when paddling in choppy water. 
  • For more power – a demountable grip allows you to win an obstacle that abrupt your footwork when paddling.
  • For protection – a contoured tail pad area with an elevated rear edge to help you protect your back foot from slipping off the board when executing turns and drops. Or, an arch bar, an elevated rectangular bump in the tale region of your deck pad, will protect your back foot so you don’t have to monitor your feet when paddling.

You may also choose a one piece or multiple pieces of traction for your deck pad. Most pads come either a single solid pad or a blend of pieces. The common setup is either a two-piece or three-piece setup. The primary advantage of a single traction pad is that it’s easy to install. However, they may not fit to all kinds of boards. Two to three piece or more traction pads offer more customization that meets the formation of your board. 

4. What’s the Difference Between Accessories, Riggings, and Better Materials?

Paddlers that are taking SUP paddle boarding into the next level design their gears that meet their skills and paddling aspirations. To advance their board’s rigidity, paddlers opt by putting another layer of material to their boards. Also, there are boards that have detachable battens on the edges that hardens some areas on the board. 

There are also performance boards that are used for rescues or safety training that will need stainless D-ring attachments at the tail and nose of the board. Performance boards will need more accessories such as rolling travel case, dual action air pump for board inflation, and a handy gauge for the paddle board’s pressure reading. 

In terms of portability, you must also consider riggings when building your high-performance inflatable SUP. You will need riggings to secure your items especially when travelling. One of the most necessary configuration is a single crisscross bungee system for towing and leash attachment. 

Accessories, riggings, and other materials will offer you another level of performance and portability to your overall paddling experience. So, it is important to identify which accessories that meet your skills and needs. 

5. Ask Yourself How You Will Be Using The Board

The best SUP board will depend on what activities you wish to do. So, it is vital to ask yourself how you much and how far you will be using the SUP board. If surfing is your priority, then a shorter board will work best for you. If you are into fishing or yoga, we would recommend a wider board built for stability. If your goal is to try almost a little of everything – an all-around inflatable SUP board may be just what you need. 

Identifying your needs will help you cross out other options that do not suit your aspirations and instead focus on what truly matters to your paddling journey. 

In your paddling experience, you are likely to go beyond your initial intention, so choosing a board with versatility is a great long term option. You will be able to keep this board as you develop your skills. 

We would recommend you to look and weigh the features, decide where and what kind of water you wish to paddle, and choose the features that serve your needs. A paddle board that will meet your expectations will bring out the best in you and your paddling experience.

6. Get to Know The Background of The Paddle Board Brand You Are Buying

The manufacturer is as important as the product itself. Different brands offer different policies and customer support assistance. If you damage your board, you are likely to rely on the manufacturer to solve or fix the problem. Researching the manufacturer’s customer service reviews will help you identify if the product and the brand will work with you in the long run. 

You may also want to know how the company started and how they got into the paddling business. Did the manufacturer develop out of passion and love for the water sport, or did they found an opportunity somewhere along the demand? 

Learning about the brand is vital, since paddle boarding is increasingly growing in popularity. Manufacturers that produce water related products may have found a marketing spot, regardless of expertise. If you miss out on this tip, you may end up buying from a brand that do not have the knowledge and only care about the selling aspect. 

The problem with these boards is that they look appealing in ads, but lack the features and the attributes that make a high-performance SUP paddle board. These manufacturers will add elements that have no benefit to the overall performance of the board, leading you to a poor purchasing decision.




Choosing the right SUP board will be a determining factor, especially for beginners, if the watersport works for you. The attributes of what makes a good SUP board will influence how far you can go with paddling. Asking the right